IP Telephony/VoIP for the Beginner

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Question
Mr. Magill,

 My mother thinks, for reasons of cost, that she wants to change from standard land line telephone service to what I think would be a VoIP service.  She has seen commercials for the "Magic Jack Plus", and thinks it is what she wants.  I suspect that something else would be a better choice, but I could be wrong.  My parents have no computer, and don't want one.  I am aware that they would require a high speed internet connection, but that is about the limit of my knowledge on the subject.  One of the bigger problems that I foresee, is that neither of my parents is particularly inclined to put much effort into learning anything new.  Can you please tell me what options are available in through-the-internet telephone services.  Is any option available, othe that the land line, cell phone, or two cans and a piece of string, that wouldn't require an internet connection? Do you have an opinion or recommendation as to the best choise(s) of service provider(s) and package(s)? Any information you can offer on the subject of alternative, and particularly VoIP telephone service, would help.  

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Gary Skinner

Answer
The trouble with "saving" money on phone calls, is that you must first invest in a high speed internet connection. Maybe she has that already via her Cable provier and just doesn't use it. However, if she does not yet have high speed internet such as DSL, Cable, etc. then it really will not be worth it for her to invest in VoIP unless she is making lots of long distance calls that are putting her bill over and above around $50 a month.

If they are making long distance or international calls, then it may be worth while looking into getting them a high speed internet connection.

If they don't want a computer, then Majic Jack is of no use to them. They will have to look into something like Vonage. They provide you with a little box that plugs into the high speed internet connection and has a normal telephone jack on the other side to which they can stick in their exiting telephone.

http://www.vonage.com/how_vonage_works_adapters/?refer_id=WEBSR0706010001W1&lid=

However, Vonage is also not free. You will have to choose one of their plans which start as low as $10/month depending on where you want to call.

http://www.vonage.com/us-canada-calling-plans/?refer_id=WEBSR0706010001W1&lid=su

So if you recon on around $50/month for internet plus $10/month for VoIP, thats a lot of calls on a normal land line.

If they were using the internet for other things like Email, keeping in touch with friends, surfing the net, etc. then its a viable choice.

Another alternative they might want to look at it getting telephone, tv and internet all from one provider such as Comcast. They offer what they call Triple Play, which provides you everything (VoIP, TV and high speed internet) for one flat fee per month.

http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/Learn/Bundles/bundles.html

However, if they live in a community it may not be possible to opt out of their current TV cable plan.

Let me know if I can help further.

IP Telephony

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Gerry Magill

Expertise

I am a Software Architect employed by a large multi-national communications company providing VoIP and tradtional TDM communications to Enterprise customers.

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Past/Present clients
IBM, SBS, Siemens, KPMG, Bank Berlin, Commerzbank

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