Checkpoint: VOIP Edition

checkpoint-voip-edition

It’s done. I moved my parents’ home phone to a VOIP service. Their number and voice quality were preserved but most importantly, their monthly phone bill was drastically reduced. It could cost as little as $3 per month!

Billing

VOIP.ms comes with two billing options:

  1. $0.99 per month for the number plus a “pay as you go” rate of
    1. Value rate: $0.0105 per minute for USA48 & 0.0052 per minute for Canada
    2. Premium rate: $0.0105 per minute for USA48 & Canada
  2. $4.95 per month for the number which comes with 3500 minutes worth of talk time.

Do you want it cheap or really cheap? Domestically there shouldn’t be a difference in call quality with the Value or Premium rate. These two rate types determines how a call is routed. According to the VOIP.ms FAQ: Premium rate ensures calls are “routed through established and renowned tier-1 carriers always delivering the same level of quality”.

It’s nice to have options.

Features

We’ve always kept to the bare minimum when it came to phone features. We were paying $27 per month and getting the most basic services. Now we could be paying $5 per month and we’re receiving caller id, call waiting, voicemail, the ability to setup an IVR and even play call waiting music.

Lots of features for a ridiculously low price? Why were we paying for Bell again?

Caveats

There are several caveats and disadvantages to a VOIP service which can be mitigated if you have the know-how.

  1. Not always on РTraditional telephone service will keep on trucking even without Ottawa Hydro electricity running though the house. Unfortunately without power, there is no internet and without internet, there is no VOIP home phone service.

    Solution: A UPS. A small UPS that goes on sale at Dell.ca should provide plenty of power for a cable modem, router and VOIP box to continue operating.

  2. 911 - Dialing 911 doesn’t work right now. Due to the restrictions with VOIP, 911 call centers are not able to determine the location of my home anymore.

    Solution: I need to pay an additional $1.50 per month to enable the 911 service so they will be able to find our house without the caller having to explicitly state it. I’ll be enabling it at my parent’s new place.

  3. Initial Start Up Cost - ~$60 for the VOIP box and $25 to port our existing number to VOIP.ms. That’s our initial start up cost and that’s because we already have an internet service and router.

    Solution: Look for deals on the VOIP hardware. Unfortunately there’s nothing I could do to avoid the $25 porting fee.

  4. Installation РSetting up the hardware and the integrating it into an existing network can be a daunting task for the uninitiated.

    Solution: Read the documentation. Read the VOIP.ms Wiki and the documentation of the VOIP box itself. Also: try! Try plugging in different cables and ports and eventually it’ll work out. Steps on integrating the VOIP box behind my network router was not explicitly stated in any of the documentation I read. I had to do a bit of guess work. I didn’t know if it was my network or the fact that the DID wasn’t working so I had to keep trying and eventually everything was working.

Smooth Sailing Thus Far

It’s been a positive experience thus far and I would recommend moving towards this service if you can accomodate all the caveats outlined above. It’s not a difficult process but it isn’t for everyone.

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