As we proceed in the digital age more and more we are leaving behind our home phone lines and moving towards cell phones. There are many reasons why you may still want a useful home phone line, however. For things like calling for 800 support lines where you might burn an hour or so, mostly waiting on hold, for example. Or if you are trying to carry a minimum of minutes on your cell phone plan or want to be able to dial 911 without hunting down your cell phone in an emergency situation. Sometimes it can just be nice to use a normal phone instead of trying to rely on potentially spotty wireless coverage in your home.
Traditionally, you would have been tied to the phone company and an expensive minimum fee for your phone line. With the internet, companies like Vonage and Ooma have started to provide services that utilize the Internet to carry your voice across the country. This eliminated the concept of domestic long distance but you are saddled with typically either a big upfront cost (Ooma ~$200) or a still sizable monthly bill (Vonage). Furthermore, some companies that gave a decent multi-year contract price (SunRocket) have gone out of business due to how easy it is to get into the business versus the old phone line model. Magic Jack was a revolutionary product that allowed you to use a PC for a home phone. It was/is cheap, but the quality of service and customer support have long been suspect.
Now, for the more tech savvy, you can get the reliability of small business equipment with the call quality of an established VOIP provider on a month to month and minutes used basis.
First, you take this:
Add service from a provider like this:
Add a handset and an hour or so for getting your existing router and your new VOIP gateway configured and presto-change-o you are in business. As near as I can tell, with voip.ms you simply have a minimum of $25 of credit in your account and you pay about 1.25 cents per minute. So if you use your phone for 100 minutes per month, that’d be a whopping $1.25. Outbound calls to “toll free” numbers are indeed free. Plus, you get all the fancy caller-id and features you might normally pay extra for.
You don’t need to plug a phone directly into the VOIP router – you can just plug it into your existing phone line wiring where you might normally plug in a phone and all the other jacks in your home can then be used for handsets.
Potentially, you could spend $50 on the router, add $50 to you account, use an existing handset and not pay for your home service for quite some time.