With the web being used for nearly every other form of human communication, it only makes sense that an increasing number of people are making the switch to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service from more traditional telephone service providers. For the most part, Internet telephones work in the same way as their traditional counterparts, except the calls are conducted over an Internet connection.
Eight VoIP Service Providers
There are many VoIP providers and options. The service you select should be based on your needs and budget. Some providers may offer a lot of extras, but the additional cost won't be worth it if you don't have a need for those services. A few of the popular Internet phone services providers, and the services they offer, include:
To use the Vonage service you will need a broadband connection, a special adapter and a corded or cordless phone. The home phone connection can be conducted through a device called the Vonage Box, but there are also smartphone applications that allow you to access your Vonage account through a mobile phone. The basic Vonage service starts at $11.99 per month, plus taxes and fees. This plan includes 300 outbound minutes to US, Canada and Puerto Rico with special rates for 10 other countries. Inbound and Vonage-to-Vonage calls are free.
While Skype is perhaps better known for offering free Skype-to-Skype phone calls between computer users, it is also possible to use Skype as a full-fledged Internet phone service. Using a compatible SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) telephone connected to the Internet, it is possible to link up your Skype account and make phone calls to anyone in the world, whether or not the person you are calling is on Skype. Skype-to-Skype calls are always free, while calling numbers within the United States start at 2.3 cents per minute with the option to pay $2.99 per month for unlimited calls to Canada and the United States. Similar plans are available for North American and world calling.
This VoIP offers services to residential and business customers with phone service to the U.S. and many other countries. Basic calling plans start at $8.33 per month with free calling to the US and Canada. Plug the free Phone Power home adapter box into your existing router and you're ready to start making phone calls. It is also possible to bring your own compatible VoIP device, as well as use the available softphone program or iPhone app.
ITP requires a broadband connection and an adapter boxes. The phone adapter and router are typically free without the need to sign a contract. The company also offers VoIP business phone services, such as PBX and e-faxes. Subscribers can choose from several calling plans including unlimited premium or unlimited global and multiple lines. For entrepreneurs, the $49.99/month Home Office Unlimited plan can be a good fit. It includes two lines, unlimited calling, on-hold music and a free auto-attendant.
Lingo requires a broadband connection and an adapter that you can use with a corded or cordless phone. This provider offers phone services similar to most local analog phone companies. Lingo is geared mostly toward people who make a lot of international calls, as the entry-level world unlimited plan includes unlimited calls to the US and 45 other countries for $23.95 per month with the first month free. Many features are included for that price, like caller ID, three-way calling, caller ID block, directory assistance, voicemail, and the ability to port your existing phone number.
Phone.com offers Internet calling services for businesses, home, mobile and virtual calls via a PC. The required phone adapter is provided for free with no need to sign a contract. You can choose your phone number with your local area code or transfer an existing number to the service. You can add extra numbers to your plan for an additional fee. The basic Home Phone Plus plan, which includes 300 minutes, is $9.88 per month with a 30-day free trial.
VoIP.com offers unlimited calls to the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The average monthly fee is less than $20, making it very competitive if you don't call outside of the U.S. They also offer a 200-minute plan for budget-conscious customers. International calls will cost extra. Businesses may consider the premium business phone service with Cloud PBX with onsite support in the Los Angeles area. Cloud PBX is a service where the actual call platform is hosted by the service provider.
Axvoice offers subscribers 45 countries to call at rates as low as 1.5 cents per minute. There are also monthly plans that include unlimited local and long distance calling, like the basic $8.25 residential plan. Adapters are provided at no additional cost with free activation. One of the more unique features is called alternate caller ID. With this, you can make any number linked to your account appear as the outbound caller ID number. Other features include simultaneous ring, music on hold, anonymous call rejection, blacklisting, call filters, distinctive ring, and free in-network calling.
In addition to the number of minutes included each month and the rates for international calls, people considering a VoIP service should also keep these points in mind.
- VoIP providers may require an activation fee for their phone service. These fees typically range from $25 to $30.
- While many VoIP providers will send you the necessary adapter for free, they will likely charge you for shipping and/or taxes on the device.
- Some of the adapters have to be leased rather than being provided at no cost. These are the adapters that include a built-in router.
- It is very important to note that most VoIP providers offer 911 services, but the user has to activate them. Each time you move you will have to notify your local 911 service of your new address because VoIP providers won't do this for you.
A VoIP system is a cost-saving way for many people to obtain great phone service, especially if they make frequent international calls. There are also cost-saving benefits for individuals who only make calls within the U.S., as the average phone service with many great features is less than $35 per month. If you are ready to make the change to a digital quality phone from landline service, then Internet phone services may be the right choice for you.