Dear Internet Friends,
Hundreds of thousands of consumers collectively save millions of dollars each month by replacing (or supplementing) their traditional telephone service with personal voice over IP (VoIP) telephony.
Using IP to transmit voice is not new. Large corporations and long distance carriers have used IP to transmit voice on their private networks for years. Likewise, private citizens have used their computers and the Internet to talk with other PC users for a few years now, but in the past users of such solutions have had to contend with poor voice quality and the need for at least one computer to be connected to the Internet.
Widespread adoption of broadband Internet service (cable or DSL) in the last few years though has in turn fueled a surge in the growth of much-improved personal VoIP
Most VoIP service providers offer all-inclusive calling plans that provide you with unlimited local, regional and long distance (within the United States) at flat rates starting as low as $24.95 per month. Some offer usage-based plans at a lower monthly cost and most provide inexpensive per minute rates on international calls as well. In addition, VoIP service providers include a smorgasbord of advanced features such as name and number caller ID, call forwarding, call blocking and voice mail that traditional phone companies sell as premium services.
When you sign up for VoIP service, many service providers give you the option of choosing the area code, and possibly the exchange, for your service. You can select from any area where the VoIP provider has local service.
So what are the drawbacks of a personal VoIP solution? The main drawback is the need for a reliable broadband connection; without one a VoIP solution is probably not for you.
Power outages present another hurdle. Since VoIP requires a live Internet connection, losing electricity means losing your phone service.
The voice quality of your VoIP call is also another consideration. Since the data travels across the Internet, there's the potential for dropouts or "burbles" similar to what you might experience on a cell phone
Most people we called during our tests were surprised at the quality of the calls, and didn't realize they were on a VoIP connection until we told them. Keep in mind that the call quality for VoIP providers who don't manage their IP networks and depend on the Internet for routing will yield varying and sometimes disappointing voice quality and unreliable connections.
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