Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Internet Phone Service - Is It For You?

I have not had a home land line phone for almost 10 years now, and rely strictly on cellular communication. I have over the past several months been looking into the possibility of VOIP Internet Phone service using my broadband connection. Would you or have you considered VOIP service? I have checked into Vonage and Skype and also another site I came across with pretty good rates iConnectHere.com. They seem to have really good prices compared to vonage. I did some checking on them and the site is the direct to consumer side of deltathree. Deltathree is a publicly traded, NASDAQ I believe, company and is a leading provider of integrated VOIP solutions and private label VOIP. I checked into the financials and they seem pretty sound. The stock has taken a hit over the last year but overall they seem financially sound.

iConnectHere.com offers pc-to-phone, like Skype, and phone-to-phone, like vonage, VOIP service. I compared their prices and features against the big dogs Vonage and Skype to see how they stacked up. Their per minute rates overall seem much better than Skype. Comparison to Vonage is a bit trickier though.

Vonage offers several packages with the most popular being the advertised unlimited calling with lots of features for $24.99. This to me seemed to high for what I was wanting although granted it is lower than normal residential service through say ATT. Now Vonage also offers a $14.99 plan that has 500 included minutes and 3.9¢ after that. Now for me this was a little better. I still thought that the 500 minutes was more than I would ever need and felt I would be paying for minutes and service I didn't need. The other drawback as that you lose some features when stepping down to the lower priced plan. The prices from Vonage always are what kept me from signing up. I know, I know $15 isn't much but why should I pay for something I don't use?

Well that is the reason I am leaning toward iConnectHere.com. They have only a $6.99 monthly fee and pay-as-you-go minutes. So I did a comparison based on their per minute price of 2.0¢ for US calls vs. 2.4¢ for Skype and Vonage doesn't offer per minute pay as you go. Okay so comparing the $24.99 Vonage package against the iConnectHere setup I would have to use more than 900 minutes a month to go over the 24.99. I will never come close to using that many minutes on a home phone so in this comparison iConnectHome works out cheaper. Comparing the Vonage basic of $14.99 with 500 minutes against iConnectHere shows that If I used all 500 minutes then Vonage would actually be a slightly better deal. Though even 500 minutes is more than I would use so in this case at less than 500 minutes iConnectHere comes out cheaper.

iConnectHere offers has a 30 day guarantee, free phone adapter, and a $30 dollar bonus. They offer the low flat rate of only $6.99 with a pay as you go per minute setup. For me I figured about 150 - 200 minutes max per month. So my monthly cost would be $6.99 + (200 * 0.02) = $10.99. This would be my high end and you can see that it is cheaper than anything Vonage offers. The features comparison is pretty much a was so for me it really comes down to price and in that arena iConnectHere wins.

The website was nice and clean and easy to navigate. The FAQ was very complete and answered all of the questions that I had. There was a very nice video demonstrating how the Internet phone to phone service would be setup and work in the home., This was great in answering many questions. My only issue really was that there was some ambiguity what they differences were between the PC to phone and Internet phone to phone services that I think might be confusing.

Would you or have you considered VOIP service? Do you use or know anyone that uses VIOP service? What is your experience? Do you like or dislike it? Let me know.

later all and have a profitable and productive blogging day

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