VoIP Phone Service Advantages and Drawbacks
Today seems to be a slower day in Search Engine News so with rumors spreading this week about Google getting into VoIP phone service and with AOL, Yahoo, and MSN already in the running with testing VoIP services outside of the US and/or planning them here in the States, we thought we would bring you an excellent rundown of VoIP telephone services by Michael Lemm, who authors Broadband Nation. VoIP phone service providers offer many advantages to the residential and small office/home office user. If you have a high speed internet connection then choosing a VoIP phone service might be right for you. But before you run out & buy the 1st thing you see….arm yourself with a little education 1st. The benefits must make sense to you or you are just following the crowd.
Lower Monthly Fees – The price of a VoIP phone line is a fraction of the cost of a traditional telephone line, the long distance calls are much less expensive if they are made via a VoIP provider, and applicable taxes are far lower with VoIP phone service than with a traditional phone service. Some VoIP phone service providers offer a phone line for around $9 U.S. dollars per month and will charge you for calls you make at the rate of 1-3 cents per minute depending on the provider. Most VoIP phone providers offer a bundled service offering unlimited incoming calls and unlimited long distance calls to anyone in the U.S. or Canada for one small fee. VoIP unlimited calling plans currently start at $19.95 per month. As with the traditional long distance market trend…expect even this low cost to drop over time as technology and competition matures.
Lower Taxes – So far to date governments have taken a hands off approach when it comes to VoIP phone service providers. Since the calls are being carried over the Internet, governments have not heavily taxed VoIP phone services. Right now the only tax you can expect to see on your VoIP phone service provider’s bill is a Federal Excise Tax, which is only 3% of the cost of the service. For example, if you were to choose a $19.95 unlimited calling plan, the Federal Excise tax would be 3% of $19.95, or 60 cents. Your total bill would be $20.55. Compare that to your local telephone bill (go ahead and take a close look) and you will see you are spending quite a bit on taxes each month. Therefore, choosing a VoIP provider could add up to significant savings for you and your family.
Included Features – Most VoIP phone service providers offer features that are included, while most traditional phone companies charge an extra $20 to $30 per month for these. Most VoIP phone providers include the following features in their low monthly fee: Free voicemail, call forwarding, caller ID, call waiting, call waiting ID, 3 way calling, speed dialing and much more.
Flexibility – When you choose a VoIP phone service provider, you will be sent a converter to allow a regular phone to use the VoIP phone service. Your phone number is programmed into the converter. This means that you can take your phone converter and phone number and use them wherever you travel in the world, just as long as you have access to a high-speed Internet connection. Because your telephone number is based in your converter (and not your home/office), you have the option of choosing any area code for your phone number. Some carriers will allow you to have more than 1 phone number in different area codes for a small additional fee (called a virtual phone number). For example, you can have one number in your local area code and another phone number with an area code from another city. By having a virtual phone number in another city where you have a lot of friends and family, you will be saving them money because they can call you on a local number instead of paying for long distance charges to contact you. Both phone numbers will ring your VoIP phone wherever you have your converter and regular phone hooked up to a high speed internet connection.
Connectivity issues with 911 service is still a concern with some providers. Although much progress is being made rapidly in this area across the board……it’s best to find a provider already enabling E911 service.
Despite what urban legends you may “hear” about using a VoIP phone with dial-up internet access….this is still a myth. If you want a quality credible VoIP experience you will need to have high speed internet access (DSL, cable, or satellite).
Your VoIP phone is portable & can be taken with you anywhere in the world. However, it’s not quite as unassuming & convenient as many of the newer small cell phones. But then…..cell phone calls home from Europe would be a lot more expensive too.
Hopefully the above info gives you a little knowledge to go on if you are considering a VoIP phone. Just remember to shop & compare and you’ll do fine.
Michael Lemm authors BroadBand Nation and he says you’re always welcome to to drop in and catch up on the latest BroadBand news, tips, and ramblings for the masses.