Setting Up Vonage with Your PCby Russell Shaw
If you are tired of high, fee-laden "traditional" wire-line phone bills, you might want to consider a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Dozens of such services are available, most of them at significant savings from what you are paying now. Vonage, which charges a flat rate of $24.99 per month for unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, has more than 700,000 subscribers and is one of the largest of these services.
In this article, we'll walk you through the necessary steps to establish and then hook up your Vonage service to your PC in order to make phone calls over the internet.
Activate Your Account
Before you set up your PC for Vonage service, you will need to sign up for, and activate, your Vonage service.
The way you do this depends on whether or not you order your Vonage service and equipment from the Vonage website, or if you buy your Vonage equipment at a retailer.
To set up your account, go to the Vonage site and review the list of calling plans and prices. Signing up is straightforward, with just one thing to consider. You'll be asked whether to keep your existing phone number, or get a new phone number assigned by Vonage, with your choice of area codes. Because porting your existing number can take weeks, you may want to have Vonage assign you a new number. Then again, if you've had your existing number for years, and most people know to contact you there, you may want to consider keeping that number.
After you make that choice, you'll send Vonage your contact and financial information, and then purchase and arrange for shipping of the Vonage equipment you need.
If you have already purchased your Vonage equipment from your retailer, and have brought it home to use, you will need to activate your device with the Vonage service. This procedure involves completing a few short steps before that equipment is enabled.
To activate the Vonage equipment you've bought from your retailer, point your browser to https://subscribe.vonage.com/retail-subscribe/retailActivate.htm, and go through the guided steps. These will vary depending on the retailer you purchased your Vonage equipment from, and the exact equipment that you've bought.
Once you've completed the activation process, give your new Vonage service about an hour or so to be configured.
Set Up Vonage with Your PC
Well, you've gotten that out of the way. Now, you're ready to get started setting your PC up for Vonage service.
After you open the boxes, take note of what's inside. Make sure that you find:
- A Vonage router such as a Linksys WRTP54G. This is the device that you will use to connect your phone to your broadband internet connection.
- Two Ethernet cables. One cable will be yellow and one will be blue. In most installations, the blue cable is all you'll need.
- A power adapter. This device will supply the electrical power to your Vonage router.
Your first step should be to determine if you have a built-in router that came with your cable or DSL modem, or if you have a DSL or cable modem without a router.
The odds are highly favorable that you already have a built-in router. To determine if this is the case, look on the back of your modem. If your device has multiple ports, it contains a built-in router.
In this case, the set-up process will involve hooking up your Vonage router to the router included with your broadband modem, and your phone to the Vonage router.
Here are the steps you should follow:
- Leave your Vonage router unplugged for now. Take the blue Ethernet cable out of the plastic wrapping it came in. Locate each end of your blue Ethernet cable.
- Connect one end of your blue Ethernet cable to the blue port labeled "Internet" on the back of your Vonage router.
Connect the blue Ethernet cable to your Vonage router's internet port.
- Pick up your cable or DSL modem with your built-in router, and locate an unused Ethernet port on the back of that router. That port will probably marked "Ethernet," and be wider than a standard phone port.
- Connect the other end of your blue Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port on the back of your broadband modem with your router.
Connect the Ethernet cable to your broadband modem's Ethernet port.
Remove the power adapter from the box it came in.
- Connect the power adapter to the power port on the back of your Vonage router. Plug the other end into a convenient electrical outlet. Note: Do not use another power adapter. This adapter is especially configured to work with your Vonage router's power demands.
- Open the plastic bag containing the phone cord that came with your Vonage equipment.
- Connect your phone cord to the green phone port #1 on your Vonage router. You'll hear a dial tone. This means that you are set up. Note: You will only need phone port #2 if you ordered a second phone line or a fax line.
To get a dial tone, connect your phone cord to your Vonage router's phone port.
Some older cable and DSL modems do not come with broadband routers. In this case, your Vonage set-up procedure will be a bit more complicated. You have the option of contacting your broadband provider and asking for a newer modem with router included, or instead following these steps:
- Turn off your PC and unplug your broadband modem's power cord. Disconnect any cables attaching your computer to your modem, but leave your modem attached to the internet.
- Connect one end of your blue Ethernet cable to your Ethernet (wide) port on your broadband modem.
- Connect the other end of your Ethernet cable to the blue port labeled "Ethernet" on your Vonage router.
- Take out your yellow Ethernet cable. Hook it up to the yellow Ethernet port on the back of your Vonage router.
Connect your yellow Ethernet cable to your Vonage router's Ethernet port.
- Plug the other end into the Ethernet port on the back of your PC. This will be the same port from which you just unplugged your modem.
- Plug your broadband modem's power adapter into an electrical outlet. Wait at least 60 seconds for your broadband modem to power up.
- Connect your power adapter to your Vonage router's power port. Plug the other end into an electrical outlet.
- Turn on your computer. Check to see if the Ethernet #1 light on the front of your Vonage router is lit.
- Test that you are connected to the Internet by opening your web browser and typing in an address such as www.vonage.com or www.oreillynet.com
- Connect your phone cord to the green phone port #1 on the back of your Vonage router. You should hear a dial tone. This means you're all set and ready to go.
Russell Shaw is an Internet and telecommunications author, journalist and consultant.
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