Another informal survey - Home phone service for cordcutters

I happened to catch a post on my Facebook page from Tablo this morning, referencing the site, which has a lot of great recommendations for cord cutters. He does a comparison of OTA DVRs (recommends Tablo), makes recommendations for streaming services to supplement OTA broadcasts, antenna recommendations, and recommendations for those afraid of breaking up the “bundle” for inexpensive VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service. His recommendation is for BroadVoice.

Even before cutting the cord several months ago, I long ago ditched my home phone service for VoIP, and tried several different companies over the years, because really, with good high speed internet, there’s no reason anyone should have to pay more than $10/month for unlimited local and long distance phone service, and there are some pretty good choices for VoIP services out there. One cautionary note here, is that most of these “unlimited” plans actually are not unlimited, but have a very high threshold of a certain number of minutes per month you can use without incurring their wrath, in some cases topping out at about 5000 minutes/month. Unless you’re running a call center out of your house, the monthly allotment should be more than sufficient, but check your TOS to be sure.

Initially, I went with a company called VoIPo, which averaged out to about $5.88/month when you pay for a year in advance, and they threw in the second year for free. The service was great, offering good quality and high reliability, but at the end of two years (do you see it coming?) they wanted to jack up the monthly price, so I started looking around again. In the early days of VoIP, companies would often come and go, here one moment, and gone the next. So, looking at what was out there, I knew a lot of people that were using MagicJack at the time, but most complained about poor quality. There was another, similar company called NetTalk which came in at about the same price, and I decided to give it a try. I think at the time the VoIP adapter ran about $60, and included one year of telephone service. I really tried to like it, but after about 7-8 months, I decided it was so bad that it wasn’t worth keeping, so started looking around again. The Vonage deal didn’t look bad initially, until you realize that the low rates they quote are introductory, and the price shoots up dramatically after that introductory offer expires. Their voice quality is very good, but there are lower cost options out there that sound just as good.

Ooma had gotten some really good reviews, and had been around for a while. I remember back when they started offering home phone service for free. So, the local Costco was having a sale on the Ooma device for about $100, and I decided to give it a try. The service is “free” but they do ding you for taxes and fees that vary from state to state.
My price fluctuates (not sure why that should be) around $3.84/month, and I’ve been using the service for just over 4 years now. I’ve long since recovered the cost of the $100 box with my monthly savings, and have been very happy with the service. My family lives on the other side of the country, and calls to my mom back there are crystal clear, sounding no different from calls I make to my neighbors. Ooma does offer some “premium” features that are available at an additional cost, but I didn’t sign up for them as all I really wanted was the ability to make and receive calls, voicemail and caller ID. I can even get voicemail notifications and listen to messages with an app on my smartphone. Additionally, they offer low international rates, which I don’t need, but some might.

Anyway, I’m happy with Ooma, have had it for a long time, and don’t see myself switching anytime soon. I posted this mainly to let my fellow cord cutters know that there are other cost saving options out there that they may not have been aware of, beyond a hard wired land line from the local telephone company, or VoIP service offered through their cable provider. With a high speed internet connection, it’s a good option even if you’re skittish about cutting the cord.

So which VoIP service are y’all using?

I’m single and don’t have ANY VOIP. I cut the phone prior to cutting the cord. I had Sprint cell phone for a long time, but they would not fix a problem I had. I told them to fix it, or I KNEW how to fix it. While I dumped Sprint and switched to T-mobile. It cost a little more, BUT IT WORKS every place I need it to.

I’m using Ooma with the premium service. A lot of extras for little money. Very happy with the service.

My mom uses Ooma, but every time I talk to her (and other family members have complained) there is a noticeable latency that constantly frustrates our conversation, like the older speaker phones that were not full duplex. We both have high speed internet, so that shouldn’t be the issue. Based on that experience I was not that impressed with Ooma, but sounds like your experience is better. I wonder what the difference is.

Haven’t had home phone service close to a decade.

I don’t understand the point of VOIP (yes, I’ve had it, maybe things changed) --> you have your cell phone! Also VOIP (maybe things changed) can’t do emergency 911 calls when the power is out… so… if I were to ever get home phone service, it’s going to be the old-fashioned kind.

Magicjack - 35 bucks a year - plugs right into the router.

A lot of folks I know dropped their home phone service a long time ago and just use their cell phones. With my T Mobile plan, I have unlimited calling/text/data, so I don’t really need a home line now. It’s a carryover from when I moved in to this gated community, which needed a landline for their call box out at the gate. Also, I didn’t previously have a cell plan with unlimited minutes. So though I don’t really need it, it’s so inexpensive and the quality is so good that I hate to drop it. $5 per month or pay per use (depending on how much you use it…it could be as low as $1.50 a month.

I have seen occasional issues with VoIP, but usually it’s the quality of the internet connection and not the terminal adapter being used, as most companies know how to build a good ATA (Analog Terminal Adapter). On my Ooma, I sometimes notice that immediately after a connection is established, there could be an issue with the first “Hello” either way, but after that, the call quality is perfect.

Generally when I’m tracking down an internet problem, I’ll do a series of pings to various points in my internal network, then a good reliable external server to check for latency and packet loss. Also do a check in with speedtest,net as well.

What is (IMHO) most important with VOIP performance is:

  • QoS (Quality of Service aka “traffic shaping”) capabilities on your router
  • Latency on your internet connection. This is NOT the same as “bandwidth” that is so widely advertised and compared.

QoS is the single most important factor if you have any half decent internet connection.

I have tried more services than I care to list; some include:

  • Magicjack (original, plus, etc)
  • NetTalk Duo
  • Various services using numerous different ATA’s (Sipgate, Gizmo Project, Free World Dialup/FWD + IPKall)
  • Just picked up a Obihai to try it out as well
  • etc


  • Magicjack Plus has been most reliable (and easiest to deal with while traveling). I do not like “service charge” added to renewal price; and the price was NEVER as low as $19.95 per year. Also, the additional costs if you ported a number to them.
  • NetTalk would mysteriously/randomly disconnect (more than one device).
  • Vonage billing practices were … well let’s say questionable. They were costly and FAXing didn’t work on their “dedicated FAX” line.
  • Obihai (with just the cost of hardware and integration with Google Voice) looks promising (but honestly have not used it yet).

I agree with your comments on VoIP… QoS can be vitally important, especially if you have other things going on simultaneously, such as downloading large torrents, streaming 1080p or even 4K videos, etc., and trying to make a phone call at the same time. I suspect, tho, that most people would have difficulty configuring this properly, or if their router even supports QoS/GoS.

My experience with VoIP services pretty much mirrors yours, having played with some online only services, various ATAs, etc. Some were useful especially with international business travel that I was doing, where as long as I had access to wi-fi and an app on my smartphone, I could call back to the U.S. for free. My experience with the NetTalk Duo mirror yours. The disconnects were especially bothersome while I was on hold waiting for DirecTV’s tech support. Having to dial back in and get back in the queue… really annoying.

In Canada, we use FreePhoneLine, one time charge of $50 for the VoIP key and that’s it. No monthly fees over the past 3 years, and no issues. Free long distance across the country.

I have an obihai that I paid $40 for 3 years ago. I set up a google phone number on it and have never had another phone bill. It works great.

Only a month into my cord cutting experience, but the first step was getting an Ooma and dumping my Uverse Voice service. It was VoIP already so the quality is mostly the same. My first month taxes/fees was 3.52. The cheapest Uverse voice service was $25 (32.65 after taxes/fees), so I figured it only takes less than 6 months to pay for the device and the number porting. My only issue is with the caller ID names. Anybody who calls me from a cell phone has the name show up as Cell Phone. Ooma support said it’s out of their hands, which is ridiculous since I can look at the same number from caller Id a month ago and the correct name shows up. Since one of their premier service features is names on the caller ID, I now have no problem not paying the $10 a month for that when my free trial ends since half the time it doesn’t give me a name anyway.

If I carried a cell phone around, I could probably do without a landline. Sometimes I think my wife and I are the only two people in the state who don’t carry phones around with us.

I’ve used Google Voice via an Obihai for almost 5 years now. I haven’t had a bill for home phone service in years (except for a few months when Google Voice stopped supporting Obi Devices a couple of years back). The good think about Google Voice is that I can have it ring both the Obihai-connected phone at the house and the cell phone simultaneously. If I’m at home, I pick up the house phone…if I’m away from home, I use the cell phone…which makes it great if you have a limited minutes mobile plan.

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We also dropped our land line years ago - well before cutting the cord. We use cell phones and Ting provides inexpensive service for our phones, which we don’t use heavily.

I didn’t mention in my original post, but I have several Google Voice numbers attached to various phones… one to my home phone and one to my cell. The nice thing about that, for people who aren’t familiar with the service, is that if I change cell phone or home phone providers, I don’t have to worry about porting my old number, which often may incur a charge.

Yikes… just took a look at my Ooma bill and it took a jump this month to $4.30. Still a good deal for me, so I’m not ready to jump ship.

I have a legacy Ooma, which has a monthly cost of $0 - for as long as the hardware survives. I also use Obihai with my GV number as a way to get my cell number to have solid service inside my house - also at a monthly cost of $0 (except as another member mentioned, for a few months when Google decided to mess with us!!).

I use VoipO like the OP did. I got their 2 year special pricing a couple times early on and have ~5.88 a month service until about 2018, if they are still around.

I did have QoS issues given my combined router/modem setup, so I installed a program called Net Limiter that I use to throttle some higher bandwidth stuff (like my backup service) that when running would cause stuttering of audio.

I won’t say VoipO was without problem, at least the first 6 months or so, but currently, we only need to reboot the Voip box once every few months.

@theuser86 I use Fongo home phone which is effectively the same thing as freephoneline but is $5 per month rather than the one time fee. The main difference is you get tech support from them if you have problems. It was handy when my VoIP adapter stopped working. I just drove to their office and they gave me a new one :smile:

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