I happened to catch a post on my Facebook page from Tablo this morning, referencing the site cutcabletoday.com, 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?