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What you need to know about internet phone service

Gone are the days of having only one telephone service provider offering only one phone service. Today, there are multiple providers offering many different ways for us to connect over the phone — traditional landline service, cellular mobile service and internet phone service, to name a few.

phone service

While you’re probably familiar with traditional landline phones and cell phones, internet phone service is still relatively new and didn’t start to take hold until the mid-2000s.

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What is an internet telephone for a home?

Internet telephone (sometimes referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) is phone service that connects via the internet through a cable or DSL modem instead of a traditional landline.

To establish the connection, your provider sets up a small device, known as a telephony adapter, to your modem that translates your voice into data packets that are sent over the internet.

The pros and cons of internet calling

In addition to standard local and long-distance calling, some of the pros of internet calling include:

  • Cost-effective – Many internet home phone plans start around $6/mo. and providers may offer bundle discounts for adding phone service to an internet or TV plan.
  • More advanced features – Internet calling usually comes with your standard phone features, such as Caller ID and Call Waiting, but also includes more advanced features, such as Call Forwarding to a mobile phone, Caller ID on your TV, telemarketing blocking, voicemail transcription and more.
  • Competitive international rate – Internet calling to other countries is often more affordable with some VoIP providers offering calls to Europe, for instance, for only pennies per minute.

Some of the cons of internet calling include:

  • Power outages – Unlike a traditional landline which uses designated copper lines, when your power goes out, your internet phone service will go out since it’s connected through your modem.
  • Varying 911 support – While internet phone service providers do offer 911 support, it may not be as reliable as a traditional landline. Because the calls are routed differently, there’s no guarantee that your name and address will display for the dispatch center to send emergency services immediately. Be sure to check with the provider on their 911 support.

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Who offers internet phone service?

Some of the top internet home phone providers include:

  • AXvoice – Unlimited calling within the U.S. and to Canada, plus free hardware and activation
  • ITP – No contracts, no cancellation fees, and free unlimited calling for two months
  • Phone Power – Unlimited calling, plus 60 free international minutes
  • VoIPLy – Unlimited calling, plus free phone adapter
  • VoIPo – Unlimited calls within the U.S. and to Canada, plus 45 calling features
  • Vonage – No contracts required and unlimited calling within the U.S. and to Canada

Depending on your calling needs, internet phone service may be the best way to stay connected at one low monthly price.