So I bit the bullet and got service from Vonage. Last week my modem arrived and I proceeded to lay out my network topology. I am really pleased with the service. Most notably I am saving money (about $230 a year). I chose the 14.99 plan which includes 500 minutes a month (local and long distance). I still get free incoming calls and calls to other Vonage users are free. I use my phone very little (but don't want to rely on cell for everything since my wife and I want a shared number), so this is a big savings over my previous service. I get things for free that I used to pay for like Called ID and Call Waiting, but I also get free voicemail that is sent as an e-mail attachment (with voice mail notification on phones that support it), Simulring (you can have two phones ring at the same time, like your office or mobile), call forwarding after x seconds, and lots of other features. Call quality is excellent. In short I am very pleased. I chose to continue to use my existing phone number and that isn't set up yet, but they give you a free virtual number to use (it maps to your phone). Lastly, international calls are super cheap. Easily > 60% what ATT was offering me without having to pay for the privilege of cheaper rates.

<shameless plug>
if you decide to get Vonage and you want a free month of service, leave a comment or send me an email (click the email icon or contact button) and I will send you a referral. You and I will both get a free month of service.
</shameless plug>

Setup

There were some complications because I guess I am picky. Here is the deal.

Before Vonage:

Broadband = Comcast Cable Modem

Router = Microsoft MN-700 Router/Wireless AP

Now with Vonage, I have a new Motorola Voice Terminal which is also a router. However, it has less functionality than my Microsoft router, primarily it lacks support for UPnP and is very no frills. Why do I care about UPnP? Well UPnP allows my Windows PCees to negotiate ports dynamically on the router. That means things like Messenger File Sharing, Remote Assistance and Even XBOX Live work w/o having to manually configure anything. I like this.

However, the Motorola Voice Terminal implements a very crucial feature when it comes to VoIP. Essentially, it will prioritize voice packets over data packets, otherwise known as Quality of Service (QoS). This is crucial as you do not want to hear static or loose your connection if you are downloading stuff from the web. Taking advantage of this requires that you place your Motorola Voice Terminal upstream from all your internet traffic. So, here is how I did it.

Configure Motorola Voice Terminal
  1. Connect PC to the Motorola Voice Terminal
  2. Wait for DHCP to assign you an IP address. It should be 192.168.102.X.
  3. Launch IE and enter 192.168.102.1. This is the address of the Motorola Voice Terminal.
  4. Go to the Advanced Page
  5. Disable NAT/DHCP server (this was an error, it should be enabled)
  6. Enable DMZ and enter 192.168.102.2. You will later assign this address to your router, in this case my Microsoft MN-700.
  7. Click Save Changes
  8. Click Reboot.
Configure Network

Now that your Motorola Voice Terminal is connected you can proceed with your network set up.

  1. Plug Cable Modem or DSL modem into Cable or Phone Line
  2. Plug Ethernet cable between Cable Modem or DSL Modem into the WAN port of the Motorola Voice Terminal
  3. Plug your router (MN-700) into the Motorola Voice Terminal by connecting an Ethernet cable between the PC port on the Motorola Voice Terminal and the router Modem port (or WAN port).
  4. Plug your PC, or in my case my home network into the LAN ports of the router
Configure Router

Now we will configure the router (MN-700). These steps will vary depending on your router manufacturer, these steps are specific to my router.

  1. Wait for your PC to retreive an IP address from the router
  2. Type in the gateway address of your router (192.168.2.1)
  3. Go to the WAN configuration page.
  4. Copy down the gateway and DNS server information (if it is not located on this page to back to the main router home page).
  5. Change the way the router obtains the WAN IP address from Dynamic to Static
  6. Enter 192.168.102.2 in the IP address that we configured from step 6 when configuring the Motorola Voice Terminal.
  7. Fill in the remainder of the information (DNS, Gateway etc) that you copied down from step 4.

This last part is important because it basically instructs the Motorola Voice Terminal to pass through all web traffic it receives to your Router. This is essentially the same configuration you would have if you plugged the router directly in to the Cable or DSL modem. However, the Motorola Voice Terminal will still be able to prioritize the voice data higher than all the internet traffic on your network. Additionally by disabling the DHCP and NAT server on the Motorola Voice Terminal you are allowing your router to do it's job and continue to act as the DHCP/NAT/Firewall on your network allowing UPnP to function. (you don't need to disable DHCP/NAT/Firewall on your Motorola Voice Terminal. The DMZ passthrough will take care of sending all IP data to your Router).

A final note. In my apartment I have a closet where all my CAT-5, Cable and Phone lines terminate. This allows me to connect the Vonage modem to my phone switch and all my phone in my apartment are now on the Vonage network. Cool.

Here is a diagram of my network.

Update: There is an error above. DHCP/NAT should be enabled on the Vonage Router. I mistakenly said it should be disabled.