The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business
Comparing VOIP Service Plans
Voice-over-IP service is the ability to use the Internet to route voice calls instead the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). One of the biggest attractions of this technology is the cost savings in long distance and overseas calling.
When choosing the best plan, consider both the VOIP service provider, and where you make or receive calls. Plans generally divide into residential plans, business plans, and international plans.
Plan Comparison Tool
QuickStartVOIP.com has partnered with www.voipreview.org to provide you with searchable and easy to use VOIP service provider comparison tool.
Most VoIP service providers are marketing something called a residential plan. This usually means unlimited local and long distance calling within a specific geographic area such as within North America, the United Kingdom, or India.
Vonage for example, considers calls from the U.S to Canada and Puerto Rico local so they are âfreeâ, or included in the plan. Some services have even lower rate plans for calls within a state or province. For example Broadvoice has a rate plan of $9.95/month for unlimited in-state calls.
Vonage also has plans for U.K. residents. For Â£9,99/month unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.K. and Ireland.
Small Business Plans
Small or home businesses who want to cut costs in their long distance or overseas calling should also look into VoIP. Broadband phone companies are aggressively marketing business plans that include a wide range of phone features, such as fax, voice mail 3-digit extension to extension dialing, 3-way conferencing, multiple call handling and more.
Normally, to get these features businesses have to invest in an in-office PBX (Private Branch Exchange) or rent these services from their local telephone company. Click here for more information on the VoIP features that are virtually included in every VoIP plan.
For example, Packet8 offers a basic small business plan for around $40 per month. Included are unlimited minutes anywhere in the US and Canada, a hosted Internet PBX with powerful business class features such as an auto-attendant, extension to extension dialing, 3-way conferencing, and voicemail, and a business quality LCD programmable phone.
International plans are for subscribers who make frequent overseas calls. VoIP or internet telephone is a low cost alternative to traditional PSTN international calling.
For example, if you make a lot of overseas calls, you want a package that includes these calls in the basic monthly fee. There are packages that include calling to anywhere in the United States and Canada, and packages that includes overseas calls.
If you receive most of your calls from a certain city, try to find a service provider that offers a PSTN phone number in that location. This will allow people to call you at local rates.
For example, if you live in Colorado, but your friends and relatives in England want to call often, try to find a VoIP service provider that will give you an alternate number based in London. That way, people can dial your London phone number and reach you in Florida at the same cost as a local call.
Lingo has phone numbers available in these countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and the UK. This means that if you have relatives in any of these countries, Lingo will give you a local telephone number that your family can use to call you. They are charged for a local call, not a long distance call.
Comparing International Rates
If the a country is not included in the service plan, you pay by the minute just like in regular long distance. Here is a general survey of rates compared with regular long distance:
Or have a look at Vonage International Rates here.
Look for Hidden Charges
On a final note, make sure you read the fine print. Hidden charges can include the rental fee for VoIP equipment such as phones and routers, shipping charges, network activation fees, additional phone numbers, directory assistance charges, overage charges (minutes beyond whatâs specified in your plan), and state and federal taxes where applicable. Not all plans have all these hidden charges. Just be sure to check them all out before signing up.
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