When you switch to internet phone service, not only do you save a lot of money – but you also tend to spend more time talking with long distance friends and family because with unlimited long distance calling – it’s free!
Anyone with a broadband (high speed) internet connection can use internet phone service as their main primary home phone. Because making phone calls over the internet does not use any local telephone wires, there are a couple of drawbacks to this service that you need to be aware of.
Since an internet phone (also known as VoIP – voice over internet protocol) requires a “live” internet connection, it’s important to note that if your internet is down the internet phone service will not work. Since your internet modem or router requires power in order to work, if the power is out your internet phone will be down also. For this reason, it is not advisable to use internet phone service as your “one and only” telephone if you live in an area that is prone to frequent power outages or internet service reliability issues.
Most people who switch from traditional “land line” phone service to internet phone service do so because the tremendous cost savings associated with VoIP far outweighs the potential inconvenience caused by occasional power or internet failure. Unlimited local and long distance plans are available from $199 a year (Sunrocket and Packet8 annual unlimited plans) to $24.99 a month (Vonage and AT&T CallVantage). This can represent a savings of $500 a year or more versus traditional phone service, depending on your long distance calling habits.
To get around the issue of temporary loss of VoIP service due to power or internet failure, internet phone service plans come with some free calling features that are useful in these situations. All of the best VoIP providers have a free call forwarding “hunting” feature that allows you to have your calls routed to different numbers if there is no answer at your main VoIP phone. If you set this up in advance to ring your cell phone for example, you will not miss any calls if your internet phone service is down. Packet8 and AT&T CallVantage offer a free feature that is specifically designed to address the issue of power/internet outages. The feature allows you to automatically route calls to another number of your choice (such as your cell phone, a neighbor’s house or office phone) in the event there is no internet connectivity. Packet8 calls this feature “network unavailable forwarding”, and AT&T CallVantage calls it “safe forward number”.
To save the most money on telephone service, most people have their land line phone service disconnected after installing VoIP service. In order to do this though, your broadband internet provider usually needs to be someone other than the local phone company. Most phone companies will not allow you to have DSL internet without also subscribing to their local phone service. Cable internet service is a good choice if you want to use internet phone service and get rid of your monthly phone company bill. Cable internet usually costs a bit more than DSL service, but the savings you will realize from VoIP internet phone service will outweigh the price difference after you disconnect your land line phone service.
These days, the quality of internet phone service is just as good as traditional land line service – as long as you choose a quality VoIP provider. It is important to choose an internet phone service provider that has a large customer base and a good reputation for service. Some excellent VoIP providers to consider are Vonage, Sunrocket, AT&T CallVantage, and Packet8.
Since VoIP requires a high-speed internet connection, it’s important to remember that the quality of your internet service has a direct impact on the quality of service you will get from your internet phone. If your broadband connection is sluggish or the bandwidth seems sporadic, you will likely experience call quality issues with VoIP. Before subscribing to internet phone service, get your internet service provider to correct any internet quality issues you are having. Once you are happy with the consistency of your broadband service, you should experience nothing but pleasure with your VoIP service.