Technological improvements have affected everything, and phone service is no exception. Years ago everyone had a regular phone plugged into the wall and an answering machine to take messages. Cell phones are so ubiquitous that roughly one third of adults dont have a regular landline anymore. That means the majority of people still use a home phone, but there are new options available now that the digital world has crossed over into voice service, bringing new features and service.
One of the areas of improvement in phone service is VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol. This is a way to use your Internet connection to make phone calls. But is it worth it? How does VOIP stack up against a regular landline?
To compare these two services, lets look at three different factors:quality, cost and features.
When was the last time you can remember that your home phone didnt work? It was probably a long time ago, if ever. You also dont ever have to worry about what kind of reception youll get, dropped calls, or how well you can hear the person on the other end.
For a VOIP phone, the service has to convert analog signals into a digital one, transmit it over the Internet and then convert back into analog. Youllneed some extra hardware, but often it is included for free when you subscribe. This means the main factor in call quality is your Internet connection.
If youre trying to make a call during peak hours, you could hear areduction in quality or experience a slight delay. Youll need an ISP that offers DSL, cable or fiber optics to guarantee a quality connection, but bad equipment could potentially interfere with your connection. If everything is running normally, the quality will be the same as a standard phone line.
Beyond Caller ID, call-waiting and 3-way calling, there really arent any other features available for a traditional home line. Some digital improvement can allow customers to see who is calling on their TV or allow some online access, but beyond that there isnt much.
VOIP phones offer a wealth of features. Not only do plans include all the normal features like caller ID and 3-way calling, some VOIP providers offerplans with 45 different features! Services like wake up calls, voicemail transcription, receiving voicemail over email, and the ability to record calls are all options that traditional phone owners can only dream about.
VOIP plans have all the same options youd see on a traditional landline:local, national and international calling for one monthly fee. The FCC even requires VOIP providers to have 911 access for its customers.
Home phone owners dont need the extra cost of an Internet connection to make calls, but the typical cost for a phone line is more than VOIP.One of the biggest reasons people get a VOIP plan is the cost. Many companies provide service for less than $20 a month.
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There are fewer and fewer reasons not to choose VOIP over a traditional home phone. For the same cost you can get more features. Youll be able to take advantage of growing technologies that are only going to get better.
One hurdle to making the switch is that people feel safer with a traditional line because thats what they know. Its less confusing and requires less technology. Integrating a well-known service with the Internet can intimidate some people. But those willing to take a chance can get similar phone service for a smaller cost and more features.