Switching from a landline phone service to VoIP offers several advantages, including:
Lower Cost. If you get VoIP as part of a bundle with your Internet and TV service, youíll pay less than you would by buying all three services separately. If you currently get landline service from your TV provider but donít qualify for a bundle, you can probably save money by dropping the phone service in favor of an inexpensive VoIP service such as VoIPo or AXvoice. Software-based services, such as Skype and Google Voice, can even be completely free.
More Features. Most VoIP services come with features that typically cost extra on a traditional landline phone, such as call forwarding and caller ID. And many VoIP services offer features you canít get with a typical landline phone, such as video calling or forwarding of voice messages to email.
Portability. Many VoIP services can work through your mobile phone as well as your home phone number, so you can use them wherever you go. That can make calling home cheaper when youíre vacationing overseas. Also, itís easy to keep your phone number when you move.
Easy Installation. All you need to use VoIP is a phone, a broadband Internet connection, and an adapter thatís usually included with your VoIP service. You can easily hook everything up yourself, so thereís no need to make an appointment and wait for a service person to show up and connect you.
Disadvantages of VoIP Services
If youíre thinking about switching from a traditional landline to VoIP, be aware of these possible downsides:
Call Quality. Voice calls donít always sound as clear over VoIP as they do over a traditional phone line. Some reviews on GetVoIP complain of problems such as static, dropped calls, and interruptions in audio.
Power Outages. Unlike old-fashioned copper landlines, VoIP canít work without electricity. That means that during a power outage, you lose your phone service along with your access to email. You can address this problem by purchasing a battery backup, also known as an uninterruptible power supply or UPS. According to VOIPReview, a good UPS costs between $50 and $150.
Internet Service Interruptions. Because VoIP works through the Internet, itís only available when your Internet is working. That can be a major inconvenience if the Internet goes out, because you have no way of contacting your provider about the problem.
Emergency Service. Like mobile phones, VoIP isnít always a reliable way to connect to 911 emergency service. The FCC warns that VoIP calls sometimes incorrectly route you to an administrative number rather than the emergency line or fail to transmit your phone number and location. You also risk being unable to reach 911 during a power outage or Internet service interruption ñ two things that are likely to happen during a severe storm when emergency service is especially vital.