Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The VOIP Plunge

Currently I have Cingular/AT&T as my cell phone provider. When it was just Cingular, the service was awesome. Rarely a dropped call, full signal just about everywhere, and great service. Now that Cingular has been taken over by AT&T, things have just gotten bad. I didn't think there would really be any perceptible change, but there definitely is. The most notable is that I often get next to no signal at my house. This is really puzzling because I live in one of the inner Minneapolis suburbs so it's not as if I'm off in the outback somewhere. I have also had numerous problems with bad call quality and dropped calls since the switch as well.

Because of this, and because I want to make calling people easier when I'm working from home, I decided to dive into the Skype world. I downloaded the service and played around with it for a bit, paying for the SkypeOut service (so that I can call any US/UK/Canada phone number) as well and found that it works pretty well. I only had one dropped call, and it was a conference call I'd been on for about 35 minutes. I chalk it up to an internet hiccup from Comcast.

Liking the service, I decided to go with a home VOIP phone so that I'm not tethered to my computer for making calls. Not wanting to spend a lot, I went with the Phillips VOIP 321 phone, which is designed to work with Skype. I set it up last night and it seems to work great. I plan on giving it a test run for a week or so and, assuming it works great like it currently is, I'll invest in a SkypeIn phone number so that it will work just like a land line (with the obvious caveat that my computer must be on and the internet up and running).

So has anyone else taken the VOIP plunge and given up on landlines? I have to admit, it's a ton cheaper than a land line, Vonage (which is just proprietary, crappy-ass VOIP), and a strictly cell plan. For a number and unlimited outbound calling, it's about $90 a year, which is the equivalent of about 3 months of Vonage or a landline. The only thing I'm a little sketchy about is having to leave my computer on for the line to be available.

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