Because I live in the technology armpit of Southeast Texas, (AKA Orange, TX), traditional voicemail service provided by the local phone company (SBC, now AT&T) is not available, nor is DSL. This never ceases to amaze me, as I thought I’d already lived in a technology armpit, my rural hometown of Jasper, a town of 8000, 65 miles in any direction from a city of any size. Despite its location, however, I was surprisingly able to get both DSL (in 2001 or so) and voicemail (when I moved there in 1998) without any difficulty. Orange, a small city which has a population of 20,000, probably closer to 30,000 when you count all its outlying suburbs, and is only 25 miles from a city of 115,000, offers me neither option.
I’ve been limping along using my partner’s DSL, as he opted in for the SBC DSL starter pack in his area when it was offered a few years ago, but the service is so poor that AT&T no longer offers it. And, I’ve had to resort to using an answering machine for voicemail, something I haven’t used in roughly 12 years or so. It’s a system that’s very annoying for both me and my clients, as they are unable to reach me if they call while I’m on the phone.
So, after hearing rave reviews about Vonage, I signed up. My technology armpit status prevented me from being able to transfer my landline number to Vonage, as suprise (!), that service isn’t available in this area. So, Vonage had to assign me a new phone number, which, of course, I had to publicize to all my clients and change on all of my collatoral materials. When I got the equipment to hook up the service, I discovered that the DSL signal wasn’t strong enough to support Vonage. Sigh…
So, after much wrangling with Eric, he finally agreed to installing Roadrunner broadband. (The hassle here came from the fact that parent company, Time Warner, wouldn’t let me put the Roadrunner account in my name because there is already a cable account at this address, so it had to be added to his account). Once Roadrunner was installed, however, I hooked up Vonage and the setup was seamless.
However, that’s when the problems began. Initially when I would call someone, I could hear them clearly but they couldn’t hear me at all. So, I went in and upgraded the amount of bandwidth alloted to Vonage. Now, I can be heard, but not all the time, as my voice cuts in and out. I’ve never had a problem hearing the other party. A friend suggest separating the modem and the router by about 4′. but I’ve only got space to separate them by 2′. I haven’t really noticed any difference, and have had to use my landline (which I retained) for many of my calls.
The next discovery was that Vonage doesn’t permit landline numbers to be forwarded to a Vonage-assigned number. Sigh number 2. So, now I have my landline forwarded to my cell phone, since I’m unable to forward it to the new Vonage number.
Problem #3, that’s still not resolved, is that any time someone with regular landline phone service calls me and I try to answer the call, the call disappears on my end and the caller hears a fast busy signal on their side. If I let the call go to voicemail, that feature works perfectly fine. Then, I have to listen to the message and return the call. This is especially annoying when I’ve got a telephone appointment and the other party is calling me..:)
So, has it been worth the $30 I’m saving over my landline phone bill? Not yet. I’m between a rock and a hard place, either annoying my clients by having an answering machine substitute for voicemail, by not being able to pick up a call when they phone me, or worse, not being able to be heard and understood by my clients when on a call.
If things don’t improve soon, I’ll be back to all of my features with my AT&T landline and using the answering machine again. I used to say that as a virtual business owner, I could do business anywhere. Orange, TX, has certainly proven me wrong on that score.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.