Two new Linksys devices, leveraging Ciscos experience with VOIP technology and a new partnership with Vonage, provide a painless path for remote workers and small offices to migrate to Internet telephony.
Linksys PAP2 (Phone Adapter with 2 Ports for VOIP) and RT31P2 (Broadband Router with 2 Phone Ports), both of which are available now, allow users to connect two analog telephones to their Internet connection and use Vonages service to place calls.
Setting up the $59 PAP2 was simple: I plugged it into an existing network with a DHCP server and an Internet connection, connected the analog phone and power supply, and after 5 minutes for initial configuration, it was ready to make calls. However, users without a DHCP server will need to use the phone to connect to the PAP2s Interactive Voice Response menu to change network settings because there is no Web configuration page.
The $89 RT31P2 is more like Linksys broadband routers, with a WAN port and three switched Fast Ethernet ports in addition to the two phone ports. The RT31P2s QOS features let me prioritize voice traffic on the upstream connection to the Internet. Neither device lets users monkey with voice-specific configuration, so it is pretty difficult to screw up some of the more complex settings.
I found the voice quality of the Vonage service to be pretty good when using the PAP2 and RT31P2 devices on T-1 and ADSL broadband connections, with no noticeable dropouts or jitter, even during large file transfers. However, I did notice a distinct hum during most calls.
Pricing for individual-user Vonage service plans starts at $14.99 per month per line for 500 minutes of talk time and ranges up to $49.99 per month for the unlimited small-business plan. These prices include several hosted telephony features, including caller ID, call waiting and voice mail.