4 things to consider when you compare phone service
Compare phone service and you’ll be able to find the best phone plan for your needs. There are four simple questions you need to ask when you compare phone service.
- Traditional phone company or VoIP?
- Limited or Unlimited?
- Local, Long Distance, International?
- Which features?
1. Best phone plan: traditional phone company or VoIP?
Standard phone lines have been a staple in most homes for many, many years. Unfortunately, standard phone lines have had a high price tag for just as long. But if you compare phone services today, you’ll find that there are savings to be had, using new technology: VoIP.
Instead of using AT&T’s or Cox’s expensive nationwide network, your calls are routed over the Internet. You don’t have to pay high prices to the large telecommunications companies and you benefit from increased competition between VoIP providers.
VoIP also charges you a lot less international and long distance calling (we’ll explain more later).
VoIP does need an Internet connection in order to work correctly. Try our VoIP Speed Test to check your connection speed.
How does VoIP compare to a phone company bundle?
Companies like Cox and AT&T usually advertise that you can save money by bundling services: that is, combining your phone service with cable TV and high speed Internet. Sometimes, it seems like you might be able to save more money bundling your phone service in this way.
To this, we pose the question: which is less? $20 a month or $60 a month or $120 a month.
Obviously, $20 a month. That’s the difference when you compare VoIP phone service to the phone service in a bundle. You’re still paying the cable company $60 to $120 as opposed to paying the VoIP company $20 (at most).
Bundled services are usually a limited time promotional price that increases after the first 3 or 6 months of service - after you’ve locked yourself into a 1-year contract.
You’ll still save money with a bundle (maybe) but even with a bundle, you can’t match the cost savings of VoIP.
2. Compare phone plans: limited or unlimited?
Before you compare phone plans, figure out how much how much you actually use your phone.
It’ll save you money and get you the best phone plan, in the long run. Most VoIP providers (and old school phone companies, too) offer cheap basic plans that give you a certain number of minutes every month: maybe $10 a month for 300 minutes with VoIP and $15(+!) a month with standard phone service providers.
If you use your phone a lot, get an unlimited calling plan. You’ll keep your costs consistent and you won’t have to pay overage charges. If you select a limited plan, check the per minute overage charge. You need to know what you can expect to pay if you use too many minutes. If the minutes cost more that 6 cents each, walk away. Just walk away.
3. Local, long distance, international?
Limited calling plans (with the traditional phone company) usually feature local calling only. Even VoIP’s basic limited plans feature nationwide long distance calling. Canadian calling also is included in most VoIP calling packages.
All VoIP providers can offer unlimited long distance calling because they never have to make a long distance call: VoIP uses computers and IP addresses to make calls, which never have a physical location. So, if you call from New York to California, VoIP treats the call just like it came from next door.
VoIP providers are also the best phone plans for international calling. The local telephone company can’t compare to the cost savings VoIP providers give for international calls. Some VoIP services even offer unlimited calling to certain countries for a low monthly rate.
ITP, for example, offers unlimited calling to 60 countries worldwide for $24.99 a month; an excellent deal, especially compared to what a local phone company would charge for the same service.
4. Comparing phone service features
If you want to stick with the traditional phone company and get more advanced calling features, expect to pay a lot of money. VoIP, however, offers tons of calling features for the same low rate.
Your best bet is to consider features you use regularly or could take advantage of - like caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding. Caller ID tells you who’s calling so you can choose whether or not to ignore their call; call waiting lets you know you have another incoming call while you’re on the line with someone else; and call forwarding allows you to forward calls from, say, your home phone to your cell phone, so you never miss a call.
VoIP offers even more features than this, such as voicemail, call block, call conference, call hold, and more. You don’t even have to purchase any other services to use all the features given by VoIP.
The traditional cable company, by comparison, requires you to buy extra services to use some features. For example, if you want on TV caller ID, you have to purchase your phone provider’s television plan for the feature to work. It’s just another cost on top of your already expensive phone line.
Business phone services
Business VoIP phone service will save you a ton of money over the phone company’s business phone services. And there is a VoIP service out there to suit almost every business. So whether your business is small or large, growing or not, you can find something to fit your company at a more affordable price with VoIP. Some companies we like are Nextiva and Jive. They offer abundant features at affordable prices and have a record of reliability. Check out their websites for more information on their plan options.