While more than 50 percent of households in the US are now using cell phones instead of landlines, there are other options for a dedicated home number. We’re looking at 3 of them in today’s post.
What is a VoIP Phone System?
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. A VoIP system allows you to make and receive phone calls over the Internet. The technology interprets a caller’s voice as data, then decodes the message and replays it as a message to the receiver.
VoIP systems are becoming increasingly popular because of the low cost, compared with traditional landline phone service. The systems are also relatively easy to install and easy to use.
There are potential drawbacks to using a VoIP system at home. Call quality is dependent on several factors, including the broadband connection and quality of hardware. Because the system relies on hardware that needs to be plugged in, you won’t have phone service if the power goes out. Finally, what might be the most important drawback of VoIP, the services aren’t obligated to have the same emergency call services as cell phones.
Ooma lets you make free calls within the US and offers a low rate for international calls. To use Ooma, you’ll need to purchase the hardware for about $100 and connect it to a modem. Connect a phone and you’re ready to make calls. If you want to keep your old landline number, you’ll need to pay a one time fee of $39.95.
When you sign up for Ooma, you can choose the Basic or Premium service. The Basic service will only cost $4.09 in taxes and fees/month.
With a basic Ooma account, you’ll get the following.
- Free US calling
- Free Ooma mobile HD app
- Ooma Pure Voice technology for crisp and clear calls
- Compatibility with Amazon Echo
- Emergency calls enabled
- International calling for 1.4 cents/minute
- Answering machine feature
- Caller ID and call waiting
- Online call log
Upgrading to the Premium service will cost an additional $9.99/month. With this level, you’ll get everything from the Basic plan, plus the following features
- Call blocking
- A second phone number
- Integration with Nest, Amazon Echo, Dropbox, and other home technology
- Free calls to Canada and Mexico
- Three way conference calls
- A send directly to voicemail option for calls
- Call forwarding
If you frequently make international calls (outside of Canada and Mexico), you can also add the Ooma World Plan to call more than 60 countries for $17.99/month.
Using Magic Jack starts with purchasing Magic Jack Go for $35. The device will need to be connected to a modem and a phone, then you’ll be ready to make calls. Using your existing phone number will cost a one time fee of $19.95.
When you purchase your device, you’ll get 12 months of free service with the following features.
- Unlimited calls in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands
- Free magicApp
- Free calls to and from Magic Jack users (even internationally)
- Free conference calling
- Caller ID
- Voicemail service
- Call forwarding
- Call waiting
- 911 emergency service
Magic Jack doesn’t require a contract. However, after your year of free service has ended, you’ll have to pay to use the service. You can choose to pay one year at a time for $39/year or a 3 year plan for $89.
To make international calls, you can purchase pre-paid cards. Each country has its own rate/minute and calls will count toward your balance.
OBi200 for Google Voice
To use your Google Voice account as a home phone, you’ll need to connect to the OBi200 Phone Adapter, which you can find for around $50. After that initial cost, Google Voice is mostly free to use. Some remote areas in the US and Canada will cost 1 cent/minute. You can check the rate of international calls on the Google Voice Calling Rates page. To make paid calls, you can purchase credits through the website.
You can find our video review here:
With your Google Voice account, and when connected to the OBi200, you’ll get the following.
- Use your current number for a $20 fee, if eligible
- Free calls in the US and Canada, low rates on international calls
- Call screening
- Sending and receiving SMS messages
- Voicemail service and transcripts
- Call recording and online archiving
- Ability to forward calls to mobile phone
One important note about Google Voice is that you can’t use the service to make 911 calls. You’ll need to use your mobile phone for emergency services calls.
Phone service might be a necessity, but with mobile phones and VoIP systems, you can have everything you need from a landline without the monthly bill.
Have you considered cutting the phone cord? Let us know what alternatives you use in the comments.