I switched to Vonage and cut my phone bill in half. I was paying over $50 a month for analog phone service with caller ID and no voicemail. Long distance calls were extra. The rates kept going up all the time even after dropping the pricey voicemail and long distance plans. Vonage includes all the features that I expect, including voicemail and 911 dialing. The digital home phone service offered by my local cable company charges $4 a month extra for voicemail. They call it a "low-cost" option, I call it a money-grab.
After getting Internet service, I looked into VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for my home phone service to save money. Vonage had the most features and the most customers of any VOIP provider, and I could keep my home phone number. I ordered the service online and selected ground transportation for the Vonage Device (Motorola Voice Gateway), saving significantly on the default air freight shipping charge.
To install the Vonage Device, I disconnected the incoming phone line at the junction box, connected the Vonage Device to the Ethernet port on my Internet modem (or router, if applicable), and connected the Vonage Device to my home's phone wiring through the nearest phone jack. I turned on the Vonage Device power and after about a minute I had a dial tone indicating service.
With Vonage, I pay only $24.99 a month for unlimited calling, including long distance. Voicemail is included and I can listen to my messages online or receive them by e-mail if I'm not home. If the service is interupted for any reason, the calls are forwarded to my cell phone. I can also forward all calls to another number if I'm out of town. Vonage costs less than the bundled price for digital home phone service, especially after the cable company's promotional contract runs out.
My Vonage VOIP home phone did not work well at 768 kbps (although Skype worked fine) so I increased my Internet speed to 3 Mbps for about $35 a month and now there's no garbled audio. 10-15 Mbps is even better if you want to stream video while you talk on the phone.
I noticed my monthly bill kept creeping up and I didn't think my plan rate changed. I checked and discovered that I was paying about $10 in taxes and fees on top of the affordable $24.99 for my plan. I also noticed that I only use about 100 minutes a month since I also use a cell phone. I'm not ready to give up a home phone yet, so I switched to a 500 minute plan for $19.99 (12/2012) plus taxes and fees minutes. Vonage also has a 200 minute plan for $9.99 a month (12/2012) that has to be prepaid for a year. It's outrageous that I have to pay about 40-50% for taxes and mandated fees. Phone service is a necessity not a luxury.
The 500 minute plan is now 750 minutes for $19.99 plus about $10 in taxes and fees. The 200 minute plan is now 400 minutes for $12.99 plus taxes and fees.
I switched from the 750 (outgoing) minute plan ($19.99) to the 400 (outgoing) minute plan ($12.99) since we use our home phone primarily for incoming calls and have unlimited calling with our cell phones. The 750 minute plan is now 800 minutes for $21.99.
See also Basic Talk vs. Vonage
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