VOIP Thoughts

A buddy of mine signed up for VOIP service about 1½ years ago…but he’s cheap. He found the cheapest phone company he could and had the service about six months, all the while begging me to sign on under him.

I talked to him often over the phone…I know how bad it was..and there was no way in hell I was gonna’ switch to VOIP service with what I had seen him live with.

Unfortunately, Bell South felt it a good idea to increase their rates to almost double in that six months. I considered dropping them and just using a cell, but began reading some reviews of VOIP services, and quickly realized his company was lower than whale **** on the scale.

Read…read…then read a bit more, I was torn between Vonage and Lingo for a trial run of the internet phone. I chose Lingo because Vonage didn’t offer a local phone number in my area and they were about $4 more a month. They also have about ½ the available countries you can call for free, even though I never call any other countries.

Now a bit of review….

IP phones are definitely the new wave. They are about 10- 15% of the overall calling base customers. There is no question that call quality is lower, but not so much where it’s a “turn off” for an every day user. On occasion you may get a busy signal, a “this number is no longer in service”, or simply nothing when you dial a number. There are fewer times where it’s almost as if you are on speaker phone and only one person may speak at a time…especially when calling from one VOIP company phone to another. Other than the 1 in 10 or more calls I make though, the price is simply outstanding!

For my current plan, which includes unlimited calling local or up to (I think) 23 countries (about ½ of which are in Europe) as well as a bazillion features like caller ID, call forwarding, etc, I’m paying about $22 a month. When I signed up I paid about $80 for my phone adapter and nothing for “set up”, but now there’s no “set up” and no adapter charge. Bell South (my local phone company) can offer my same service at around $80 a month.

I can carry my phone anywhere in the world (extremely nice for vacations as almost all quality motels/hotels offer high speed internet now) and simply plug it up to an internet connection. I can forward my calls to my cell or simply leave an option (“press 1” if this is an emergency) to forward my calls to me. I can block numbers or “filter spam phone numbers” at will and check my messages from any PC anywhere.

While the moments of “error codes” when dialing may be annoying, or the momentary non-duplex talking may happen, the IP phone has come a LONG way in the last year or two and it’s definitely something to consider. Take it for a trial run…if you like it, you can “import” your current phone number and never miss a beat. Once you start the process of importing your number, they notify your local phone company for you. When your number is imported, they automatically shut down your local service and you literally never miss a call on your “old” phone number.

I’ve signed up several friends to VOIP and none of them have switched back. The only requirement is high speed internet and most of them give you the first 30 days free. If you sign up under someone you know, you get an additional 30 days free and the person you signed up gets a free month.

Vonage is definitely the most popular – who can forget their commercials! Lingo is second I believe and local cable companies are next, but my local cable company is right at 2.5 times what I pay.

Email John

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