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Introduction

BroadVoice BYOD VoIP Service

BroadVoice BYOD VoIP Service
Summary VoIP provider with unique BYOD plan that lets you provide your own SIP device.
Update None
Pros • Supports a wide range of SIP devices
• Low cost plan for low-volume users
Cons • Documentation errors can complicate setup
• Local number availability relatively slim

Most VoIP providers support a limited set of hardware that they either "loan" to you, or that you purchase outright in the form of a "retail kit". This approach serves the VoIP companies well, since it allows them to focus their support infrastructure around a small number of devices. But one of the dirty little secrets of VoIP is that if you purchase your hardware outright, you usually end up with an expensive doorstop should you ever decide to change service providers (see sidebar below).

Like other VoIP service providers, BroadVoice offers a number of consumer and small business plans. But they're the only VoIP provider I've found that will let individual subscribers supply their own VoIP devices - an option they call Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

This review will cover my experiences with BroadVoice's BYOD service and also cover the features of their non-BYOD plans.

Locked In

Cellphones and VoIP adapters have a "feature" that most people don't discover until they decide to change service providers. Both are usually "locked" to work only with the service providers that originally provisions them, even though they are designed to be perfectly capable of being used on multiple services.

Most VoIP providers use a "lease" model, even though they don't call it that. They provide an ATA, VoIP router or other hardware either as part of a setup fee or for free during promotions, but then charge a termination fee that is refunded if the hardware is returned.

But the bigger guys like Vonage, AT&T, Verizon, etc. also offer a "retail package" option for folks who like to own their hardware outright. But this is the way of the raw deal, based on the results of a quick survey I did on unlock policies:

  • AT&T CallVantage

    Does not offer unlocking

  • Lingo

    Did not respond

  • Packet8

    Did not respond

  • Verizon VoiceWing

    Does not offer unlocking

  • Vonage

    Only unlock Cisco ATA-186s (their original ATA) for a charge of $50. Vonage also noted "we haven't unlocked devices in such a long time because it's not of
    high interest anymore.

So before you put your money down for that shiny new "name brand" VoIP hardware, think about whether you're ready to write it off when the time comes to switch VoIP service providers.

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