The telecom wars are heating up again and this time, consumers might actually come out ahead. Internet phone service promises to change the way we make phone calls and the price we pay. Vonage is currently facing lawsuits but is allowed to operate. In the meantime, competitor Skype comes up with new pricing models. While the ultimate fate of Vonage lies in the court’s hands, one thing’s for sure, internet telephone service is here to stay.
Vonage allows users to connect their phone to a broadband internet computer and make unlimited phone calls anywhere in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and select European countries for under $25 per month. Compare that to your local phone utility service and you’ll see that with Vonage, you are already ahead even before you make your first call. They also offer a 500 minute plan for under $15 per month with low per minute charges for any calls exceeding the 500 minute limit.
Skype is a little bit more complicated. It has both free and paid plans as well as internet chats, group calls, video calls, SkypeCasts, and other features. Some plans allow you to make free calls to other users, other plans open up your calling abilities (both inbound and outbound) to non-Skype users.
Vonage lets you connect a phone to your PC and make and receive calls regardless of if the other user is online or not. In fact, you can even keep your existing phone number, simply follow the instructions for transferring your phone number with no interruption in phone service and make and receive your calls. When you move, you can take your phone number with you. How cool is that?
Skype has an option to get a Skype number that other callers can use to contact you. In fact, with Skype, you have many options but it seems like it’s harder than it needs to be. With Vonage, it’s simple, choose the 500 minutes or Unlimited plan and get tons of included features such as three-way calling, voicemail, call forwarding, CallerID, and more. Adding these features on traditional phone service will nickel and dime you to death however with Vonage, they’re included.
To be fair, the paid service of Skype is incredibly low. In fact, their Unlimited plan costs less than $30 for the entire year. In addition, international calls cost just pennies per minute. Remember when calling overseas would cost you a good twenty dollars for just a few minutes of chatting? Those days are gone now that Vonage and Skype are leading the way.
When considering moving to an internet phone solution such as Vonage or Skype, you will need to think about your internet service, how reliable is it? If the internet service goes down, your ability to make calls does too. If you have a cell phone, this may not be an issue. Vonage does automatically transfer incoming calls to a number you designate when the internet service is not working.
Another consideration is your ability to make 911 calls. Vonage has a 911 service but you are responsible for setting up your account and letting them know where you are physically located. Because Vonage is portable, you must let them know your new location whenever you change locations. Skype does not have a 911 feature. You cannot make 911 calls from Skype as of this writing.
Skype is more of a computer-based service with the user typically using a microphone and headset whereas Vonage users connect actual phones to the appropriate Vonage adapter or router. You can get special Skype phones if you wish.
If you want to use multiple phones with Vonage, consider getting an expandable cordless phone set because you will no longer use your home’s phone wiring.
Either internet phone service delivers inexpensive calling options that are significantly cheaper than your phone company. You may have to make a few adjustments at first as you get used to this new way of calling but the payoff is inexpensive phone bills.