Phone bills are increasing in cost, and since many people have mobile phones anyway, a lot of the people we've been talking to have been considering doing away with their home phone bills. Makes sense. After all, if you don't use your home phone often enough to justify the high price, then may as well do away with it.
However, if you do away with your home phone, you can easily replace its functionality with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system. This is basically phone service over the Internet, and works remarkably well. Technology has improved drastically over the past few years, and VoIP is nearly indistinguishable from phone services now.
The low cost of VoIP service can often save hundreds of dollars off your phone bill per year, if you are prepared to make the leap from home phone line to VoiP service. While many people may find the frustration involved in transitioning to VoIP to be too great, it might be worth the transition.
Far and away the most popular VoIP service is [Skype]. Skype allows you to make voice and video calls for free to any other Skype member, and you can buy a Skype Pro account with a phone number and have the full functionality of a home phone service (Note: Skype does not allow you to make emergency calls. Therefore, if you go this route, you should also have a mobile phone in case you need to call 9-1-1.)
For most users, Skype is the best VoIP option. It is low cost, supports conference calling, and allows for free calls from Skype to Skype. Also, if you want to, you can host video calls via Skype. This can be especially useful during meetings, as you can often communicate much more via video than via voice.
Long distance calling is also an area in which Skype excels. For one, you can simply do a Skype-to-Skype call over long distance to save on long distance expenses. You can also buy Skype Credit and make long distance calls to phone numbers at a much lower rate than the telecom services charge.
Another popular offering for VoIP is [magicJack]. Sure, the Web site and included videos look like a late-night-TV infomercial, but the product is remarkably sound. Here's how it works: You plug in a device to your Internet-connected computer, and on that device is a phone jack. After setting up the included magicJack software, you can plug a *regular phone* into your computer and use it as you would a phone.
For users who absolutely want a phone that is less like a computer and more like a well, a phone magicJack is the ideal option. Given that it has no monthly keys and integrates with your current telephones, it’s worth considering magicJack. Be aware that you will need a computer that is constantly connected to the Internet in order to use magicJack, so it is not a complete phone replacement.
Note: Skype was recently purchased by Microsoft