Compare Phone Service
When you want to compare phone service, where do you start? What's best for you? Learn about all phone service options first, then consider features and pricing. We'll get you started.
What are the options for phone service?
In the United States and other countries, there are three types of phone service available. We will teach you how to compare these phone services.
3 types of phone service
- Cellular or mobile phones
Landline services use traditional fixed wires, and have different plans and prices for local/long distance calling. Fixed wires are made of metal, like copper. Pricing depends on user location.
You likely own a cellular phone, which is excellent for personal on-the-go communication. Cellular technology sends signals between satellites and towers. Users can be (most) anywhere to make a phone call.
VoIP uses the Internet to make phone calls.
Businesses or consumers can use VoIP to completely replace their landline phone. VoIP is comparable to traditional phone service, but it offers more features at a lower cost.
Compare Phone Service Offers by VoIP Providers
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What's the difference between phone services?
Before you can compare phone services, you need to know which kind of phone service you want.
Cellular phones offer mobility.
A cell phone offers mobile phone calls. Cell phones can also send emails and text messages.
Newer features on cell phones allow you to access the Internet, use mobile apps and play games. Usually, these extra features cost more to use.
Problems with cell phone service
Cell phones are also less reliable than a home phone setup that uses VoIP or a landline. Spotty connections and dropped calls are common.
Cell phones are also very expensive. Every cell phone company has a range of plans for individuals, businesses, or families. It is rare to find a monthly subscription for under $30 without very limited features.
For example, Verizon has basic, unlimited calling for individual users at $69.99 per month. Unlimited calling, text messages, picture messages, video messages and instant messages cost $89.99 per month.
Landlines offer traditional, hardwired phone service.
Landlines, or Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) phone lines, are the traditional phone service product.
PSTNs are common in most developed countries. More and more, landline phone service providers are digitizing their phone networks or integrating the Internet to route calls. Unfortunately, digitizing the phone network has little cost benefit for the consumer.
Landline phone service plans are often bundled with other services like Cable TV and Internet for residential consumers. Individually, the cost of the phone plan ranges from $20 to $40. Business plans can start around $35 per line. These $35 lines are for local calling only; they also don't offer many useful features.
For example, landlines might charge $5 a month for voicemail. Cell phones and VoIP phone services don't charge for voicemail.
VoIP offers newer features in extension to its traditional phone services.
Voice over Internet Protocol uses a broadband Internet connection to make phone calls.
There are a wide variety of VoIP plans. VoIP service providers offer different plans for residential or business users.
Residential plans range from $10 to $20 a month, but special promotions can lower that price to between $6 and $8 a month. With taxes and fees, the price is around $10 a month.
VoIP features are covered in the monthly fee. Features include voicemail, Caller ID, call waiting, and three-way calling. Many companies offer unlimited long-distance as part of their service. Some providers also offer address books and user interfaces for customer convenience.
For a household in our current economy, saving money is a priority.
Family cell phone service plans are expensive and entirely dependent on how many features and minutes you want.
For example, the AT&T family plan: the starting price for two lines and 550 shared minutes is $59.99 per month. If you want more shared minutes, you can get plans with 700 minutes for $69.99, 1400 for $89.99, or 2100 for $109.99. All of these phone service plans have a $36 activation fee.
Landline phone service is often bundled, as mentioned above. Just local phone calls at AT&T cost anywhere from $19.95 to $26.98 per month (depending on your local area). Long distance phone calls start at $20 a month, on top of your local plan (that's $40-50 for basic local and long distance phone service). You can pay per minute for long distance phone calls with local calling plans, but that can be extremely expensive.
If you want features like Caller ID, call waiting, or three-way calling, local rates start at $26 with a $7.50 activation fee.
VoIP phone service has very competitive prices. Features are free with your subscription. If you want more features, there is no installation or activation fee; all it requires is a software upgrade.
For example, ViaTalk offers residential phone service at $8.47 the first three months, not including tax and e911 fee (one reviewer says it totals to about $13 a month). Features include call waiting, Caller ID, and voicemail. There is no activation fee.
Similar fees are included for cell phone plans and landline phone plans. As you can see, VoIP is the cheapest choice for phone calls.