What is VoIP? Want to save money?

Are you paying CenturyLink or Cox for home phone service? Cox Telephone Premier is $34.99 per month, plus taxes and fees. CenturyLink starts at $20 per month. That gets you a number for inbound calls, unlimited local calling, and nothing else. Not even caller ID. Need to call Aunt Sally in Kalamazoo? It’ll cost ya!

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for Vonage, Magic Jack, Ooma, and NetTalk. That’s VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol. Typically this is a hardware device you plug a phone into, and the device connects to your Internet router. Instead of plugging a phone into the device, you can connect direct to a wall jack to power all the phones in your home. If a wall jack is not available near your router, a Wi-Fi adapter may be used to connect wireless to your router. One thing to note, however, the VoIP adapter can be sensitive to voltage on the phone line. Before connecting the adapter to a wall jack, you will want to disconnect the jack at the phone company box, usually located on the side of your house.

The VoIP provider typically offers all the standard features, unlimited long distance, caller ID, voicemail, etc.. These big four are the most well known, and their prices vary. Typically their support is very limited. Your only option is chat, an the responses are canned. When they work, they generally work very well. However, if/when the device fails you may spend hours with tech support to eventually be sent a refurbished device that’s no better than the failed one you have!

I recommend an Obihai adapter. If you look at the history of VoIP, you will find that the technology was founded by two people. The company, based in California‘s Silicon Valley, was founded by Jan Fandrianto and Sam Sin. They created the first analog telephone adapters as Komodo Technology in the 1990s. Cisco bought them in 2000. They decided they did not want to work for Cisco, so they left and formed Sipura Technology in 2002. They enhanced their technology, and were once again purchased by Cisco Systems, in 2005. Again, they did not want to work for Cisco. In 2010 they left and formed Obihai Technology. Virtually all VoIP adapters on the market are versions of Komodo and Sipura. Obihai is the latest and greatest technology available today.

The next advantage of Obihai is you bring your own adapter. You are not tied to any VoIP provider. In fact, you can have four providers, of your choice, on one adapter! Next is the price. The adapters cost about the same, or less, than anything from the big four mentioned above. I assume you want all the features such as voicemail, free text messaging, call history, conference calling, call screening, blocking of unwanted calls, and voice transcription to text of voicemail messages, and of course, caller ID and unlimited calls and long distance, most anywhere in the US or Canada. How does FREE sound? Too good to be true? There must be a catch? Okay, if you want it completely free, Google Voice offers it, but there is no 911. You must pay a fee for E911. However, you can get E911 service for $12 per year. There is one other little catch with Google Voice, you get a new phone number. Porting your current land-line number is possible, but not easy. But if you want unlimited free calling, that’s it.

CallCentric has no monthly charge options, but you pay per call, typically 1.8 cents per minute. If you don’t make a lot of calls, and just want a home phone option, this may be a way to go as well. The advantage with CallCentric is you get to keep your number. PhonePower offers an unlimited plan to Obi customers for $59.99 per year. If you don’t need unlimited, there are many plans offering 120 to 1000 minutes per month for just a few dollars per month. If you’re ever unhappy with one of these providers, just pick another. CallCentric is one of the oldest VoIP providers. While you may have never heard of them, those in the corporate world have. CallCentric has been powering businesses with VoIP service for years. They certainly know what they’re doing, and they do it well.

I recommend Google Voice and CallCentric. Use Google Voice for unlimited free outbound calling and CallCentric to host your current phone number. Their Personal Unlimited plan for your current number is $5.95 per month. Their North America Basic outbound plan is only $1.95 per month. This covers your E911 fee, and gives 120 minutes calling to anywhere in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Using both services also gives a backup should one go down. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, the city was without power for a week. CallCentric remained online until the UPS batteries gave out, then disappeared. Since that time, they have enhanced their infrastructure, but to what extent, I wouldn’t know. Google has a vast, distributed network. It is unlikely that a local event could take down Google, but a nasty virus replicating through the network just might.

If you have the Cox Internet Starter plan, you may need to upgrade. While VoIP takes very little bandwidth, it is highly sensitive to the quality of the service. High latency and Jitter will make your phone unusable. Cox heavily advertises their speed, but never mention quality. An 8 year old child can make a race car go fast, winning the race is another story! While CenturyLink may not be able to match the speed of Cox, I have found their quality of service so far superior, you’d never know. http://speedtest.net/ will show your speed, but dslreports.com has a much more detailed test to grade the quality.

If you’re in the Phoenix area, we would be happy to help set everything up for you. Just give us a call at 480-382-4761 and we can take care of everything. Within two weeks, you can cancel that expensive, feature limited, phone service. Save your hard earned money, block those nuisance calls, get all the features you could want, at an unbelievable price.