Saving $ on telephone costs with VoIP

In 2004, Comcast was my telephone, high-speed Internet, and cable service provider. Because these three services were bundled we saved money over BellSouth, but the telephone bill was still ~ $45 + an average of $15 in long distance charges. For years I'd tried unconvincingly to persuade my wife to ditch our landline telephone and just use our cell phones to save money, but safety (being able to dial 911 & have them know our address) and inconsistent cellular coverage were always barriers.

I've used the Yahoo instant messenger voice feature since 1999, so I was aware of and tried to keep up with advances in voice over IP (VoIP) technology. One company I kept an eye on was Vonage, which launched in 2002. By 2004, Vonage had several hundred thousand customers and was reported to have good call quality along with the "best of the worst" in customer service and was the only VoIP provider able to handle 911 calls. Like most VoIP providers, Vonage also offered unlimited local and free long distance (for North America) calling. The one caveat to being able to use a VoIP provider is that you must have a high-speed Internet connection.

I ran the numbers and thought we could shave half off our telephone charges by switching to Vonage. I shared the information with my wife, and to my surprise, she agreed to switch as long as it had no impact on her when she picked up the telephone to make a call. Fortunately I'd installed a 66-block in the house earlier that year (using Phone-man's website as a guide), which was going to make it really easy for me to connect the VoIP router to my home telephone wiring.

On June 17, 2004 I submitted the paperwork to Vonage for transferring my telephone number from Comcast, and by July 1 the process was complete. My telephone charges fell from over $60 per month to just $27.24. And I never had a problem with Vonage.

Over the summer of last year, I was reading in one of the FatWallet forums about SunRocket having a $99 per year special. While I was happy with Vonage, my loyalty is in saving $, so I again ran the numbers. The $99 SunRocket special was for the first year only + a $39.95 equipment charge = $138.95 per year or $11.58 per month, a savings of over 50% vs. Vonage. It was a no-brainer--I switched and have been happy with SunRocket.

I bring all of this up because I read that via:talk is running a buy 1 year get 1 year free special for $199 with no equipment fee. From what I've heard, via:talk seems to have a good quality product, and telephone service for $8.29 per month is pretty hard to beat.