More and more, people are moving away from landline-based phones to cell phones. But some people still need landlines—especially businesses and larger homes! As the big telecom companies (like Bell Canada) continue to raise prices on landline services, is there any way of getting a landline phone that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? There certainly is.
Over the past 10 years or so, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has gained in popularity. The reliability and quality of VoIP services now rival those of landline-based services, but at a fraction of the cost. Yes, a fraction. (I helped one company reduce their monthly phone bill from $300 to under $15 by switching to VoIP.)
You can move your existing phone number over to a VoIP service, and you will continue to make and receive phone calls exactly as you did before. You’ll simply experience better quality and spend much less money than ever before. And yes, you’ll be able to call 911 just as you do with a landline.
There are two main ways of getting VoIP set up in your home or business. Which one you choose will depend on whether you want to use your existing handsets or purchase entirely new ones.
Use Your Current Handsets
If you’d prefer to use your current handsets, we will need to set up an adapter in your house that will turn all the telephone jacks into VoIP telephone jacks. This adapter is relatively cheap (around $70) and you only need one adapter for the whole house, under most circumstances.
Get New VoIP Handsets
Getting new VoIP handsets is the best way to take advantage of the high quality and flexibility provided by VoIP. Not only does this allow you to have multiple calls on the go at the same time, but you can also transfer calls around the house/business. You can get corded phones—like the one shown here (for business) or cordless ones (for home), and the price per handset ranges from around $100 to $200.
The most attractive aspect of VoIP is the cost. Depending on your needs, your minimum monthly bill for VoIP service is around $5/month. Incoming calls are always free, but all outgoing calls to the U.S. and Canada—including local calls—are billed at 1¢ a minute. If you’re a light user, you can easily get away with a monthly phone bill of under $10.
For setting up the system, I charge my usual hourly rate: $50/hour, with the first hour of on-site visits being charged at $100. If you’re ever having any trouble, I’m just a phone call away!
Of course, VoIP requires an Internet connection, so you won’t be able to use VoIP if your Internet goes down (or if you don’t have Internet at all). I always recommend that my customers get a battery backup unit so that they can continue to make and receive phone calls even when the power goes out—a one-time cost of around $100.
Q: Will I need to make calls using my computer?
A: Certainly not! You will continue to use a real telephone, exactly as you always have.
Q: Is the quality really as good as you make it seem?
A: Definitely. Traditional telephone service works over thin copper wires, which can deteriorate fairly quickly. If the wiring in your area is poor, you’ll notice a huge improvement in audio quality when you switch to VoIP.
Q: How do I pay for the service?
A: VoIP services are all prepaid, that is, you put a deposit on your VoIP account and your usage is deducted from that amount. If you are comfortable making these deposits yourself (with your credit card, through a website), you’re encouraged to do so. Otherwise, I’m happy to make the deposits myself and invoice you. I prefer to make deposits that will last 6-8 months before the next refill.