VoIP Service Providers
Your Gateway to Internet Telephony
A price and service war started brewing as VoIP services entered mainstream consumer markets. Today, you can choose from a variety of VoIP service plans from a variety of providers. The primary advantage of VoIP services is how inexpensive VoIP long-distance plans are. People who make a lot of long-distance calls will find plans involving unlimited long distance use particularly appealing. Depending on your plan, it does not matter how many calls you make or how long you stay on the phone. Your VoIP service plan can be used in conjunction with a standard phone line, or, if you choose to go with cable internet access, you can choose not to use a local telephone carrier at all. VoIP can handle both local calls and long-distance calls.
All consumers should be aware of the drawbacks to going 100% VoIP. In instances where you have a power outage, you’ll have no phone at all with out power for your high-speed modem, IP phone, or Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA). All of these pieces of hardware are required to make phone calls through the internet. The advantage of you local phone company is that their phone lines aren’t dependent on the local power grid. An option is alternative to use a battery backup system for your VoIP equipment.
If I already have DSL or Cable high- speed internet access, why do I need a VoIP service at all?
The most basic way to describe what a VoIP service does for you is to say they provide nothing more than an interface between your phone and the internet. Your VoIP service is what will connect your voice from the IP network to the telecomm or PSTN networks you’re calling. The VoIP service is specialized to initiate that connection and when you’ve finished speaking it terminates the connection between the networks.
Here is a basic rundown of the ten most popular VoIP providers in America.
- AT&T / Call Advantage: The old phone company is also the most popular with monthly plans in the $30 range for a one year contract.
- Broadvox Direct: The cheapest rate we could find at $10 a month with no contract.
- Lingo: Discount provider at $15 a month with $50 a month business plans.
- Packet8: Impressive line of hardware support including video IP phones for $20 a month.
- Speakeasy: The complete package offering broadband services with VoIP together at reasonable prices for both business and home.
- SunRocket: Plans that start at $10 a month with no limited contract.
- SureVoice: Budget service with $15 a month plans under no contracts. Cheap and possibly unreliable.
- Verizon VoiceWing: $30 a month for their unlimited plan. But it’s hard to deny Verizon has clout in the telephony industry. Expect interesting features.
- VoIP.net: Another discount VoIP provider with a $20 minimum plan that isn’t such a discount.
- Vonage: The most popular service provider with approximately one million subscribers. Vonage is also recognized as one of the most reliable. Not exactly discount services at $25 a month for the unlimited plan, but you get what you pay for.
If you’ve already decided to try VoIP, your next decision is where it gets difficult. You now have to decide which provider to use.