The last time I suggested readers nix their land line for a cell phone or computer phone line I was practically booed off the blogosphere. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad. But I was surprised how resistant people were to giving up their land lines.
I’m not campaigning for the end of land lines again, but I am pointing out the cost of two alternatives. A reader named Diana prompted this post when she asked:
Have you ever checked out Vonage, or any of the internet phone line companies? Our AT&T bill is so high for very small usage and I have been wondering about Vonage. Rather nervous about trying it because if you are not happy and want to go back to AT&T, you have to get a new phone number and I imagine they impose fees for reinstating service. We’re not ready to give up a landline for cell phone only.
To help out Diana, and anyone else looking to lower their phone bill, I compared the price of two phone services that operate through your computer. Both require a high-speed Internet connection.
Vonage (most customers can use for 911 calls)
Plan 1: Unlimited local and long distance calls in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico costs $10 for the first 3 months, and $25 per month after that. You also get free calls to five pre-selected European countries. Includes voicemail, caller waiting and caller ID. Caveats: must be a new customer and sign up online. Yearly cost: with taxes and fees it comes to $326.53. Effective monthly cost: $27.21.
Plan 2: Upgrade to $35 a month for 25 visual voicemails and directory assistance. Caveats: must be a new customer and sign up online. Yearly cost: with taxes and fees it comes to $448.35. Effective monthly cost: $37.36.
Plan 3: For $18 a month you can downgrade to 500 outgoing minutes (you have unlimited incoming minutes) for calls to the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. Additional minutes are 3.9 cents each. Includes call waiting, voicemail and caller ID. Caveats: must be a new customer and sign up online. Yearly cost: with taxes and fees it comes to $289.84. Effective monthly cost: $24.15.
Skype (cannot be used for 911 calls)
Plan 1: Download Skype software and it is free to call any other Skype number. Monthly cost: free.
Plan 2 (monthly subscriptions): $3 per month for unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles in the US and Canada. $6 per month for unlimited landline and mobile calls to one country of your choosing. $13 per month for unlimited landline and mobile calls to 40 countries. You can make outgoing calls but not receiving incoming calls as part of these monthly subscription plans. If you want to receive calls you must purchase an online number, which costs $30 for a full year if you have a subscription. Otherwise it is $18 for 3 months or $60 for a full year. Yearly cost, excluding taxes and fees: $36, $72 or $ 156 depending on the plan. Monthly cost: varies.
Plan 3 (pay as you go): Buy Skype Credit to pay a la carte for making calls and sending text messages. You pay a flat rate of 2.1 cents per minute to over 30 countries or pay the going rate to a specific country. Connection fees apply. See all of Skype’s pricing here. Monthly cost: varies.
Vonage seems to be a more direct replacement for a landline, while Skype is great for folks who make a lot of international calls or are not worried about giving up their landline.
How much do you pay for your land line? Would you save money giving it up for a computer phone line?