There are many things to consider before switching to VOIP. My wife and I switched to VOIP in March out of frustration with our phone provider, Bell.
After two months of VOIP phone service we’ve decided to go back to a standard phone line. There are many reasons that factored into our decision:
- It was very unreliable
- It cost more than a standard phone line
- It didn’t work with our security system
I’ll expand on each of these in detail.
The line would go dead several times per week. Our VOIP provider was working closely with us to resolve the issue but we never really got to the bottom of it. It seemed to be caused by an incompatibility with our router (DLink DIR-655).
I don’t mind not having service occasionally but the thing that bothered me the most was that there was no way to know unless we tried to make a call, and we typically receive more calls than we make.
Our phones display a “check phone line” message on a standard phone line when there’s a problem with the line but that feature didn’t work on the VOIP line.
Bell charged us a $30 disconnection fee. I don’t think this is legitimate but I wasn’t prepared to get into a drawn-out debate with them. Our internet service provider charged us $50 to switch over to a dry loop. They charged us again when we switched back.
The per month rate of the VOIP line was cheaper than a standard line from Bell, but it wasn’t unlimited service, and my wife enjoys long phone conversations. We chewed through the included 350 minutes pretty quickly and then had to pay 4c/min for the overage. Our total bill was approximately the same as our old bills from Bell.
The cost of our internet service also went up $11/month. This is because Bell charges more for a dry loop than they do for a wet loop. Obviously this wouldn’t be a factor for cable internet subscribers.
We toyed with the idea of switching from satellite TV and DSL over to cable for both but didn’t want to have to buy/rent another PVR because we already own the one for Shaw Direct.
Our security system uses the phone line to call back to the security company if there’s an alarm. This didn’t work with VOIP. We are tied into a 3-year contract with them and had to keep paying the $35/month for monitoring that we weren’t getting.
They suggested that we could switch to a cell-network monitoring solution but it was going to cost and extra $10/month plus $300 for the component.
We also get a reduced rate on our home insurance because we have a monitored security system. We stood to lose this $30/month discount.
So here are the things to consider before switching to VOIP.
I was quite happy with the call quality. The sound was clear and there was never any noticeable lag. We never had a dropped call. It also didn’t seem to affect the speed of our internet service.
The process of switching is a bit painful. I had to spend hours on the phone with both our ISP and Bell to get them co-ordinated. This was even worse when we were switching back - our internet service was offline for 10 days while our ISP waited for Bell to fix the DSL line.
If you have reliable cable internet then VOIP might work for you, but don’t forget to consider your bandwidth cap because all that voice data may push you over your limit and end up costing you more.
If you have a monitored security system then check with them first to see which VOIP providers they support, and whether it will cost you anything to switch over.
I’d also suggest that you go with a VOIP solution that offers simultaneous ring so that you still get your calls when your internet service is down.