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Which VOIP service is the best?

Voice Over Internet Protocol the new, inexpensive, easy to understand telephone service. However, which VOIP service is the best?

Well the best place to start is to understand what VOIP is Voice over Internet Protocol is a high tech way of saying making phone calls using the Internet.

This is a great technology because it is simple, less expensive and can make long distant calls all over the world free.

There are several types of VOIP products you can use. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. This graph will give you a small comparison. In addition, we will go over the hardware and software VOIP products.

Vonage Packet 8 Voicepulse VoiceStick
Product Type Hardware Hardware Hardware Software
Caller ID number Yes Yes Yes Yes
Caller ID name Yes No Yes No
Call Waiting Yes Yes Yes Yes
3-way calling Yes Yes Yes Yes
Call Transfer Yes in Virtual Office only No 'coming soon'
Call Forwarding Yes Yes Yes Yes
Signup Costs Activation fee and shipping = $30 Activation fee, no shipping = $30 Activation fee and shipping = $40 Activation fee = $30 but one month free service included
No extra cost for adapter No extra cost for adapter No extra cost for adapter Optional VoiceStick is $35 or software download is free
Cheapest monthly plan $16.49 includes 500 mins $19.95 with unlimited US/Canada calling $14.99 includes unlimited local and200 long distance mins $3.99 includes no minutes, 2.4c per minute used
(Vonage rates have a $1.50 a month hidden surcharge)$9.99 includes 400 US/Canada minutes
Unlimited local $26.49 includes 500 long distance mins $19.95 with unlimited US/Canada calling $14.99 includes 200 long distance mins $19.95 for unlimited US and Canada
All US unlimited $31.49 includes Canada too $19.95 includes Canada too $24.99 for 1 yr contract, $19.95 for unlimited US and Canada
$34.99 no contract

There are pure VOIP products; the main thing with these is that your computer and the computer of the person you are calling have to be on. You both have to also have the same software running.

Messenger, NetMeeting, and most other computer talk/conferencing programs are software based.

Hybrid VOIP products, as in Vonage (and in similar style, Packet 8) offers an amazing solution to the traditional VOIP disadvantages. It takes the normal VOIP concept, enhances it by using the Cisco 186 box, and then, best of all, gives your phone a regular phone number that anyone can dial to, and provides a 'gateway' between the computer phones and all normal phones, everywhere in the world.

Set up of about any VOIP hybrid product is very simple. Simply plug a regular phone into the phone plug, a network cable into the network plug, and a power cable into the power plug. I picked up the phone, and, incredibly - there was dial tone!

Ok, so simple, but does it work. Dialing out is the same. Pick up the handset and dial the number, including the number 1 and area code. Receiving phone calls is the same also. The phone will ring, same as before, and you can connect to the caller. Caller ID works also, but not exactly the same.

VOIP offers services like voicing mail, calling forwarding and messaging at no cost. This is fantastic when comparing to the cost of usually around $6.00 for the traditional phone service per month. You can also have your voice messages emailed to you.

The quality of VOIP is for the most part very good, same with reliability. As with any product there can be a few hiccups, but overall I personally have not had any issues with my VOIP product. So, review the options available to choose the best VOIP service for you.

All and all this is a very enticing new product that is simple, has a lower cost and better service. With no real gimmicks or catches, this new product is likely the wave of the future in telephones.

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