Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Quest For The Best VOIP Provider

If you have been looking for VOIP service for any amount of time, you are probably totally confused about how to select the best VOIP provider. Residential and small business consumers are attracted to VOIP because it is a great way to avoid long distance fees. The price point at which VOIP service is offered is typically much lower for more features than what your traditional phone line would cost from the phone company.

For example, a traditional phone line from the phone company costs about $25 per month for just basic service and dial tone, which might include unlimited local calling but really not much of anything else. Now compare that to the service that a VOIP provider can offer, which includes unlimited local calling, unlimited long distance in the continental US (sometimes also Canada and Puerto Rico), voice mail, call waiting, caller ID as standard features, and a traditional phone line cannot even begin to compare. Getting all those features on a regular phone line would easily cost three or more times more than what VOIP service would cost you.

In addition, two callers using the same service could talk to each other for free anywhere in the world as long as they both had a good high-speed Internet connection. It is also a great way to keep in touch when on the road. Take your VOIP phone with you, and then plug into the high-speed Internet connection at your hotel or your brother's house in Denver or your aunt's house in Chicago. Even though you might live in Houston, you will still receive calls on your VOIP phone wherever you are.

But how do you find the best VOIP provider? According to the marketing literature that each of them puts out, you would think there was a 100-way tie for the best one.

Before selecting your VOIP service, the very first thing you need to do is take a good hard look at your high-speed Internet connection. How reliable and stable is it? You need to understand that your VOIP provider is going to assume that your high-speed Internet connection is rock solid, stable, and reliable. If it's not, it's not their problem and you will not be happy with your VOIP service.

As far as finding the right VOIP service, definitely choose one that has implemented the E911 service. This is now required by the FCC. This allows you to call 911 in case of an emergency and for them to be able to find you. If the VOIP provider has not implemented this for their service, you need to run in the opposite direction.

Beyond that, you need to compare the overall value. Do not include the cost of your high-speed Internet connection in your evaluation because chances are high that you would have that anyway for surfing and email. How much long distance calling do you do each month? How much do you spend on long distance calling with your traditional phone? Could your calling needs be just as adequately handled by your cell phone, or do you need to talk more than your affordable cell phone plans permit?

VOIP services can be incredibly cost effective, but if you decide to implement it from a reliable VOIP provider, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and not just for the sake of technology.

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