Before many of us came to rely on cell phones to make long distance phone calls, our only option was to commit to a long distance phone company. Long distance carriers charged what were at times exorbitant by-the-minute fees to make calls to friends and loved ones often living only a few hours away. When cell phones came into prominence, they brought with them service plans that gave us such luxuries as free night and weekend calling anywhere domestically. Alas, even cell phones had their drawbacks, in that their reception was often broken up, and calls could be dropped unceremoniously. When along came VOIP, a new choice in long distance phone calling was on the horizon. VOIP has many different options, and now it seems that we have the choice of combining VOIP technology with cell phones. The prospect of VOIP cell phone service brings with it the potential for even more freedom and convenience, along with lower prices. Or does it?
Normally, VOIP service is available in three modes: ATA, IP phone, and computer-to-computer. All of these services are common and available for use at your home computer. ATA, or analog telephone adapter, lets you connect your regular home telephone to your computer and use it for VOIP service by converting analog sound bits into digital data. IP, or Internet protocol, phones are telephones that are specially designed for use with VOPI service. These phones look just like a standard home phone, but are wired differently to be VOIP capable. You can have a cordless IP phone that allows you to move freely through your home or office as you talk. Computer-to-computer VOIP is achieved by installing software that you can get through a provider. You make long distance calls from your computer, and talk through a microphone that is hooked up to your machine. All of these services are convenient in their own ways, but do not have quite the portability that cell phones offer. That is why the idea of VOIP cell phones is so appealing. Potentially, it is the best of both worlds: portability and low cost phone service.
Cost savings is by far the most attractive aspect of VOIP. With typical VOIP, you can expect to pay anywhere from $19.95 to $34.99 per month for a service that consists of many features, including free domestic calls, dirt cheap International calling rates, Caller ID, Call Waiting, 3-way Calling, among others. This, of course, is in addition to your current monthly ISP charge, which for broadband is usually around $40 per month. The combined cost for your ISP and VOIP services is likely to still be less expensive than if you were to remain in service with a traditional telephone company. However, this is not necessarily the case if you were to switch your cell phone over to VOIP as well.
Providers that offer VOIP cell phone services usually charge a monthly fee in addition to a per-minute fee. If you don’t use your cell phone often enough to meet or exceed your current allotted plan minutes, then it is simply not cost effective for you to subscribe to VOIP cell phone service. VOIP and cell phones go well together for those customers that regularly exceed their plan minutes or make International calls on their cell phone on a regular basis. And, if your Internet connection if prone to outages, you could experience the same dropped call occurrences that you might often get with a standard cell phone service.
There is no doubt that VOIP is a reasonably priced and convenient way to bundle all of you communications together. VOIP service is improving all the time as technologies moves forward, which will allow providers to offer more reliable and even more affordable service down the line. Currently, VOIP cell phone service is in its infancy, and the kinks are being worked out. If you do the math, and feel that your monthly cell phone bill would benefit from a reasonable VOIP service plan, then it is worth the switch. If you do not make International calls on your cell phone, and you rarely or never go over your plan’s allotted monthly minutes, then you are probably better off sticking with your traditional cell phone service for now than putting out more money for VOIP cell phone service.
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