Phone service for your home can be extremely expensive, especially if you live in a rural area like I do. On top of that the monopoly telephone companies make it extremely hard to know what you are paying (in state, out of state, out of you mind!). Now, some people have dropped their home phone all together in favor of cell only service, but I do not recommend this option since 911 services still do not work nearly as well on cell phones as they do on land line service. Instead, try these two alternative ways to save money on your home phone.
1. Only use your home phone for local calls and emergencies.
This works mostly for people who do not talk on the phone a lot. With the way people move around these days you likely have friends and family that are long distance from you. This means you are stuck using a calling card or your wireless for these calls. Personally I find calling cards to be a pain and heaven forbid you go over the minutes on your cell phone (35, 40, 45 cents a minute anyone?). This can, however, be a really viable option with certain types of cell phone plans and I will be covering wireless plans in part two of this series tomorrow.
2. Switch to a VOIP service
VOIP stands for voice over Internet protocol. Basically you use the Internet to make your calls. There are two types of voip: software based and hardware based.
The biggest player in software base voip is Skype . Skype is cheap at only $3 per month for unlimited local and long distance but it is also not e911 capable so it doesn’t really solve the problem with giving you the best emergency service and you are tethered to a computer, making all of your calls from a computer headset.
Hardware based Voip offers many options when it comes to providers. Vonage is the big dog in the hardware based voip arena and they have really broken the ground for all the other players when it comes to public acceptance of the technology. With this form of voip you use a voip router to generate phone service. It looks like a small box with two or more network ports. One port connects to your high speed internet connection, the other to your computer(s). The advantages to hardware voip is that you can keep your current phone number, it is e911 capable, comes with all the perks (unlimited long distance, voice mail, caller id, call waiting, etc.), you can use the phones that you currently have in your house, at $25 per month it is reasonably inexpensive , and the hardware is easily tied into your house wiring so everything acts the same as before. The downside is that not all the carriers are customer service oriented and if there is a problem you may have to wade through the mess yourself.
Personally, being someone who talks on the phone a lot, I use hardware based voip. I have very few problems with the technology and the calls are very clear. I also like that if I have an emergency that I can be located quickly and, most of all, I don’t have to listen to people tell me I am going to get cancer from my cell phone. On Wednesday, in the final part of this series, I will give reviews on some of the different voip companies out there.