Unlike Skype, which you can often use without buying any additional equipment, Vonage requires special hardware in order to work. You can chose an Ethernet router with built-in telephone adapter, which is free after a rebate, or you can chose from a variety of other adapters, routers and phones. Another option is to change the phone wiring in your home so that you can use your regular phones plugged into your phone jacks. This is only a good option if you own your home and do not share walls or wiring with neighbors. Finally, you can make calls with a soft phone client similar to the one used for Skype, but this is an add-on service rather than part of the basic package.
Once you sign up for a Vonage account, you can use a Web interface to view your call history and change your account settings. This online guided tour can give you a good idea of the options you can add or change online.
After you sign up for your account, Vonage will ship your adapter or other equipment to you. Unless you pay for professional installation, it's up to you to install it and set it up. Exactly what you'll need to do depends on the equipment you choose and the existing equipment in your home. Complete instructions are provided, and setup is usually pretty simple. You'll need to write down the settings you use to connect to your Internet service provider (ISP) before you begin.
Skype and Vonage are very different in the equipment required to use them and the cost involved. They also use different methods to make and receive calls, which we'll look at in the next section.