In Today’s economy, many people are getting rid of their landline services to save money. With landline subscriptions around $25 per month, it’s outrageous what some are expected to pay. There is a wide range of alternatives for your traditional landline service; here I’m going to show you some of the best ones.
Why not use my Cell Phone?
A cell phone can be a good alternative to your home phone; you also won’t miss calls while you’re away from home. The downside is that most cell phone plans usually have a maximum number of minutes; going over the limit may cost heavily.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Another alternative is a VoIP service which can be a cheaper alternative for people who still wish to keep a home phone. With VoIP most plans will have an unlimited number of minutes, and will work in a similar way to your landline plan.
In my opinion, I’ve found that Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services are a better alternative to the traditional landline service.
What is VoIP?
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology used to make a phone call over an Internet connection, instead of a phone line. Since you’re reading this online, it’s safe to assume that you have an internet connection; VoIP allows you to make local, long distance, or even international calls over this connection.
VoIP vs Traditional Phone Service
Unlike traditional phone services, VoIP requires a stable internet connection (cable, DSL, or fiber-optic) running at around 10Mbs. A traditional phone service is less dependent, but usually requires a 12 month plan with a phone company.
A plus for Traditional phone services is that they work 99.9% of the time; even without power you can still make a call using your phone line. VoIP requires an internet connection which will require constant power. On the other hand, with VoIP it doesn’t matter if you’re calling next door, across the country, or even across the World as you pay the same rate.
VoIP Companies & Their Services
There are many VoIP companies to choose from; here I’m going to focus on the well-known brands and discuss each one. The most well-known VoIP companies are: Skype, Magicjack, Ooma, and Vonage. I’ll discuss only plans which include over 1000 minutes of calling to US and Canada.
Just about everyone knows and has, at some point, used Skype. Skype can be used on your computer or cell phone, but a more unknown neat feature about Skype is that Skype offers a home phone plan. Skype offers a standard plan, similar to the other major VoIP companies.
Skype’s home plan features are:
- A home phone adapter which connects your phone cable to Skype’s servers.
- Unlimited calls to the US and Canada for 12 month. Local and Long-Distance.
- Free Skype-to-Skype calling.
- See incoming calls on your computer.
- Caller ID as well as voicemail, so you never miss a call.
- 200+ minutes of international calls to landlines and cell phones.
Skype’s plan will cost you $60 for the phone adapter + $3 a month. With such low prices Skype will pay for itself in under a year. Unfortunately Skype does not offer emergency calling, so any security system or 911 calls will not work with Skype.
Next we have Magicjack. Magicjack is known for its massive amount of advertising on TV. Magicjack is one of the first VoIP to ever reach out to its customers; no other VoIP company has ever advertised VoIP on TV. Originally Magicjack required a computer with a constant connection to receive incoming and send outbound calls. Magicjack has just added its newest product Magicjack Plus, this allows you to plug your Magicjack adapter right into the wall avoiding the need for a computer.
Magicjack’s plan offers:
- 30 day free trial.
- Portable home adapter.
- Use with a computer or use the Plus version which plugs into the wall.
- Free calling to the US and Canada. Local and Long-Distance.
- Added Caller ID and Voicemail.
- 911 calling.
- Port your current Phone number.
With Magicjack (standard version) it will be $40 for the unit; if you want to buy Magicjack Plus (Non-computer) it will cost you $60 for the unit alone. No matter which version of Magicjack you buy, the plans will both cost $20 a year.
Next we have Ooma. Ooma is a new company which has recently joined the VoIP market. Ooma works similarly to Skype; with Ooma you buy a hub which replaces your whole phone system. No computer is needed with Ooma, and it works with your DSL, Cable, or Fiber-Optic internet connection. With Ooma you pay $250 for a unit/hub which plugs into your home phone lines. The basic plan is set at $0 + $4.52 taxes per month, or in simple terms: $4.52 per month. Ooma only takes the taxes for 911 calling, and an Ooma Fee.
The basic plan contains:
- Free calling to the US. Local and Long Distance.
- Number ID and Call waiting.
- Port your old phone number.
- 911 Calling.
Ooma, unlike other VoIP services, offers an advance plan. They call this plan Ooma Primer costing $10 per month or $200 a year.
You receive extra features like:
- Instant Second Line.
- Back-Up Number.
- Free Calling to Canada.
- Blacklist numbers.
- Do not Disturb setting.
Vonage is known for their “no contract” paper-less bills. What is less well-known is that Vonage is a VoIP company. Just like Skype, Magicjack, and Ooma Vonage gives you a home receiver/adapter that uses your internet connection. Vonage can also provide a cell phone service with your home phone service, acting as a bundle. Unfortunately Vonage is the most expensive of the four companies. At $15 per month it might not be worth the switch.
Vonage’s plan includes:
- Unlimited Calling to US, Canada and Puerto Rico. Local and Long-Distance.
- Caller ID and Call Waiting.
- Vonage Extensions, which connects your cell phone.
- Port your old phone number.
- Portable home adapter.
- Free Vonage Hub (Adapter).
- Free Vonage-To-Vonage calls.
VoIP and your Internet
VoIPs require a constant, stable internet connection. High-Speed internet (Cable, DSL or Fiber Optic) with High-Bandwidth running around 10Mpbs is needed.
A home security system makes a call in a similar way to a fax machine. For most VoIPs to dial a fax/security system the device needs to use a *99. The problem with this is that security systems are designed to use a home phone system and use their own phone numbers. Most companies will change your security device to call with a *99. With ADT their security system uses the * key as a program key. As a result of that it cannot be programed with VoIPs. The only solution is to change your security plan to a cell phone plan which is around an extra $3 per month.
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