Monday, May 16, 2005

Updates + I'm Sold on Voice Over IP

It's 2:30am, and I'm just about to hit the sack. Greg and I spent the day with my parents touring the tunnels below the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. We walked around the Christian, Muslim, and Armenian quarters freely, stopping along the way to chat a little bit with shop owners, which was pretty cool. Then we went out to a Hookah bar near the Russian Compound.

In 4 hours, we're waking up at 7am to rent a car and drive (through parts of the West Bank) to Masada and the Dead Sea, and then on to Tel Aviv. I think I'm more concerned about driving on Israeli streets than driving through the territories.

So, get this. My friend, Adam, who has been here for nearly a year, has a Vonage Voice Over IP box he bought in the US. For $25/month, he gets a US phone number and unlimited calling to anywhere in the US (and Vonage users worldwide with the same setup). Compared to T-Mobile's roaming rates of $3/minute, and even the local cell phone rates of about 20 cents/minute to call the US, I'd say that's pretty amazing.

I used the service tonight -- a regular cordless phone connected to a Vonage box connected to his Internet connection here (dsl or cable, not sure which), and it worked incredibly well. For 99% of the conversation, I couldn't tell it was VOIP. There were a few seconds where the quality wasn't so great, but the person on the other side was on a cell phone, so who knows.

Anyhow, I'm not sure what Vonage's policy is on taking their hardware/service overseas. But it's apparently all the rage among kids here studying abroad, and I think it's pretty damn neat.

In the name of self-preservation (spending all day tomorrow hiking up a 450 meter high mountain and in the sun), I'm off to sleep. I can't wait to tag and organize all my photos! So far I've uploaded over 300.

Update: Sorry if some people are seeing repeats of recent posts in their Atom feeds. I've been playing with time zone settings a bit. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't allow you to set a time zone on a per-post basis. Oh well. [5/17 - 2:59am]


Mike said...

Interesting that you decided to talk about Vonage. There was a news story recently about it on local news and I think it might have been national too (I know you hate local news). One flaw with Vonage is that they aren't 911 compatible. This meaning that the dispatcher cannot track where a person is calling from when using the Vonage service. Vonage has been ordered to fix this within 120 days. Just an FYI, plus I'm sure you'll enjoy that I actually posted on your blog. Enjoy the last few days in Israel.

adamjh said...

Interesting.. I've heard about that issue as well. I thought they worked something out though, at least in some areas. I'll have to do some Googleing.

And yes, I did enjoy that you actually posted on my blog. ;-)