How-to Guide: Find a Residential VoIP Service Plan

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According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, more U.S. households are going without a landline: one in five homes has no traditional telephone. With so many Americans relying on a combination of cell phone use and VoIP service for their telephone needs, many phone users have begun to wonder what all the fuss is about: Is it worth it to give up your landline and switch to VoIP service?

VoIP: The Basics
VoIP, or Voice over internet protocol, is a type of phone system that uses an internet connection, rather than a traditional landline (PTSN, or Private Telephone Switched Network) connection to place and receive calls. VoIP users need the following:

Broadband or wireless internet connection: Because call data travels over an internet connection, you’ll need one fast enough to accommodate the additional traffic that call volume can create. Residential VoIP service providers typically require a connection faster than 90 kbps for the average home user. You can also use an existing wireless connection for VoIP if it is fast enough and works properly, but keep in mind that some companies might require a broadband connection in order to provide service.

A residential VoIP service plan: Residential VoIP service plans range in quality and price from very basic (and free) such as services offered by Skype and similar companies, to very advanced and somewhat more expensive for services offering features like voicemail, online call tracking, find me/follow me, and other features. The costs of the service plan are just for the service itself- you’ll still need to pay for your internet connection.

System-compatible telephones or other devices: Some companies (typically those that offer more advanced calling features) require users to install VoIP telephones or VoIP adaptors. You can also use VoIP on a cell phone that has the capacity to connect to the internet. Check with your service provider to get an idea of the kind of equipment you’ll be able to use with your system.

Benefits of Residential VoIP
The benefits of using a residential VoIP service can be immense: for one, you’ll never incur long distance charges. Since VoIP calls are placed using an internet connection, the origin of the call cannot be traced- all long distance calls cost the same as regular calls. You can also choose your area code, and in some cases choose your phone number. You can get a “vanity” number that’s easy to remember, or an area code in your local area (or in an area where most of the people who call you reside).

In addition to cost savings on long distance calls, VoIP is also usually less expensive than a traditional residential phone service plan. Plan costs typically start at about $15/month for a standard residential VoIP service plan with voicemail, 3-way calling, and other common features.
If you need help getting started, check out a few vendor quote comparison sites, like and Comparing price and service options is one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the cost of residential VoIP service plans.

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