How Does Vonage Phone Service Work?

by Dan Stone

The Vonage phone service works by utilizing a phone adapter box to convert analog phone calls into digital and send the call data over broadband Internet instead of over the public switched telephone network. Vonage is what's called a Voice over IP digital telephone service; in layperson's terms, Vonage is an Internet phone calling service. VoIP can reduce phone bills by piggy-backing on the existing reliable and high-bandwidth broadband Internet network. Additionally, services like Vonage reduce public reliance on the PSTN.

Voice Over Internet Protocol

VoIP encompasses any telephone service that uses the Internet or a private network to transport calls. Unfortunately, you can't just plug an analog phone into a broadband modem and make phone calls. Instead, you can make VoIP phone calls from an analog telephone with a phone adapter or over a computer. VoIP calls work through both hardware and software solutions. Depending on the service, the VoIP protocol may vary, but the service is always sending calls over an IP data network. Additionally, businesses often employ localized VoIP switching to handle internal phone calls.

VoIP Phone Adapter and Softphone

You can make and receive phone calls using the Vonage service by either using an analog phone routed through a Vonage Box phone adapter or through a computer by using the Softphone program. Both services require a broadband Internet connection. To set up the Vonage Box with an existing phone, connect the Vonage Box to your existing broadband Internet connected router or network switch via an Ethernet cable and connect your existing phone cables to the adapter's "Phones" sockets instead of your home wall sockets. You can enable the Softphone without any additional hardware; just install it on your computer. The Softphone will use the computer's microphone and speakers.

VoIP and Landline Compatibility

You are not limited to making calls only to other VoIP numbers with Vonage. Just like cellular phone calls, VoIP calls over the Vonage service can be routed to PSTN phone lines; the Vonage service handles the call conversion. Vonage can also work in tandem with your landline or mobile service during a power or Internet service outage. Setting up a Network Availability Number will have Vonage forward calls to another service if there's a network issue. Additionally, you can transfer your existing number to your Vonage service.

The Technical Journey of a Call

An outgoing Vonage phone call from a free-standing telephone travels to the phone adapter, gets converted to a VoIP call, travels through the local network to the broadband modem and heads out on the Internet. The Vonage service receives the call on the Internet and redirects the phone call to the PSTN or mobile phone network if the call recipient is not using a VoIP service. The call then connects to the recipient.

About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images