Last week I switched from using Verizon for local phone service to using VOIP through Vonage. My primary motivation was value, as Vonage offers more for less. I used to pay some $21 a month for local phone service. Through Vonage, for $14.99 a month, I receive 500 Anytime Minutes for calls in the U.S. and Canada, and additional minutes are 3.9 cents per. In addition, I get Voicemail, Call Waiting, 3-Way Calling, Caller ID, Call Forwarding, Repeat Dialing (useful in NYC when battling millions to try and secure a dinner reservation, or tickets to a concert), Call Transfer, and *69, among others. I can also technically bring my landline with me when I travel. Heavy users can pay $24.99 a month for unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada.

Setup was fairly painless. Vonage sent me a router which I hooked up to my cable modem, and then I plugged my phone directly into the router. I still need to muck around with the router they sent me to configure it to solve the occasional conflict on certain ports, but otherwise it was plug and play. Call quality is fine.

VOIP makes sense; data is data, regardless of whether it's voice or HTML or video. I'm glad to see heightened competition for telecom companies in the voice market. Vonage offers service in most states in the U.S., with the exception of a few states like Idaho and Montana, Alaska and Hawaii.