At the near-begging of my wife, I have switch back to BellSouth/ATT, which, truth be known, has become a relief to me as well.
First of all, my service had been steadily deteriating, and the provider's service department has "opened" two tickets in the last few months, but not, as far as I know, actually done anything...not even contact me! In the last couple of weeks, it had reached a point where I could call out alright, but incoming calls were one-way: I could hear out but nobody could hear us. It finally ended up that I had my voice mail instruct callers to call my cell phone or leave a message.
It surprised me how the same company that had provided me faultless (and cheap) long distance service for several years, had such a terrible VoIP service. I thought that they might have just gone outside their level of competence, but I also found out that they had been bought out by another company the beginning of this year, which may caused a turnover in policies as well as personnel.
But this will not be too much of a hardship: we became interested in the service because my wife's mother was in failing health in CT, and my wife would want to call her as often as possible. after her passing the end of last year, we really have not been placing many long distance calls, and what one's we do, we can do by cell phone on weekends and evenings.
And, besides, there are certain reservations I have about VoIP in general, based on not just my own experience, but by a general overview of the situation.
1. There are so many potential weak links in the system, as was mentioned before. When you pick up an Internet phone and not get a dial tone, it could be due to a power outage (unless your modem and ATA have battery backup), cable system down, some electronic component in your system blown, or your provider might have gone out of business...(it could happen that fast.) With a traditional system, you could usually just blame the phone company.
2. A supposed attraction is that you can have a phone number from any part of the world. The flip side is that, depending on your provider, you not only might not be able to use your old number, you might not be able to get one listed in your part of the world. For example, if I wanted to switch to Vonage (who, the last I heard, wasn't allowed to get new customers), even though it is the largest provider, the closest city I could get listed for would be Eastman, which is about 40 miles away. [That doesn't sound like much of a nuisance unless you are calling a pizzeria with caller ID, and you are trying to convince them that this is a local delivery...
3. Much of the economical advantages of VoIP is based on fewer local and state fees and taxes than phone lines. This advantage could easily disappear.
4. The much tauted free "Caller ID" is not quite real. Yes, you can usually see the phone number, but the only way it will be tagged with a name is if you manually feed in to the system or in your own phone, if so equipped.
5. The prioritization issue. Broadband companies have the capability of setting priorities on internet traffic based on addresses. There is talk that they might try to sell faster access to companies, such as those selling downloadable products, who might be willing to pay. There are some federal investigation as to the legality of such things, but if a broadband provider also markets their own VoIP product, what prohibits them from deciding to slow down, or otherwise inhibit, a competitor's VoIP service going over their lines? [And don't think that hasn't crossed my mind as I tried to figure out why my service was suddenly getting so bad.]
As I said, these are just personal observations and gleanings of industry trade talk. I don't have a crystal ball to know if VoIP is the wave of the future, or if it is already waving bye bye. I have friends who have had similar stories about bad service with other companies, while others are happier than a lark with theirs, though one was surprised to hear one the radio that their provider had gone under, though he was still getting service. [The company's website wasn't functioning, though...]
As alway, "Buyer beware!"