Q: I've had my phone number for 20 years, so it's really important for me to keep it. If I change to VoIP services, would I be able to keep my current phone number?
A: We know how important it is to keep your long-time phone number and luckily all the Home VoIP services we review — except Skype — allow you to transfer, or port, your phone number to the VoIP service for no extra charge. This process is simple and begins the day you sign up.
It's important that you do not cancel your existing phone service before the transfer is completed because cancelling before the transfer's completion can cause you to lose the rights to your phone number. In most cases, porting takes about five to 10 business days and once the porting is complete your previous phone service will automatically be cancelled.
In order to begin the porting, you'll have to provide the VoIP service with information from your current phone service, so it's helpful to have a copy of your current bill nearby to make sure you enter the information accurately. This information usually includes your name, phone number, current phone provider and account number for that provider.
Porting can be confusing and the process may vary from service to service, so we encourage you to contact the VoIP service directly to get complete details about how you can port your phone number to that service.
Q: I have a fax machine that I depend on for work. If I switch to VoIP would I still be able to use my current fax machine?
A: Good question! You might be able to continue faxing on your fax machine, depending on the service you choose. Most of our reviewed business VoIP services offer traditional faxing with an additional line or Internet fax — which is usually included for free with the service. Internet faxing is completely paperless, so there is no need for the physical machine. Faxes are sent as a PDF attachment via email, a web-based interface and/or dedicated software. Visit our Internet Fax FAQs to learn more about how Internet faxing works.
Please be aware that some home VoIP services — such as Vonage — do not offer any faxing with their home VoIP services, while others — including VOIPo — only allow one-way faxing, meaning you can only receive faxes with their home VoIP service.
However, if you work from home and need the ability to send faxes, you still have the option to change your home phone service to VoIP and send faxes by signing up for an Internet fax service. Even with two different services for calls and faxing, you will save money because both VoIP and Internet fax services are cheaper options to traditional phone lines and traditional faxing.
Q: I have high-speed Internet from Comcast at my home. Will my Internet work well with VoIP?
A: Since you have high-speed Internet, VoIP should work well for you because all the the VoIP services work the best on high-speed. Below are the exact download and upload speeds required for each of our home-VoIP services in case you'd like to double-check your Internet speed. If you're unsure of your current Internet speed, you can get the details by calling your Internet provider.
Vonage: Our top-rated VoIP service requires a minimum of 1 Mbps download and 180 Kbps upload speed in order for their service to work correctly.
VOIPo: Our other top-rated VoIP service requires a minimum of 1.5 Mbps download and 125 Kbps upload speed.
Phone Power: This VoIP service requires a minimum Internet speed of 768 Kbps download and 128 Kbps upload.
Phone.com: The minimum Internet speed requirement for Phone.com is 2.5 Mbps download. Phone.com doesn't have a requirement for upload speed because the upload speed that automatically comes with the download speed will work fine with the service.
Via:Talk: This VoIP service requires a minimum speed of 128 Kbps download and 128 Kbps upload.
AXVoice: The minimum Internet speed requirement for AXVoice is 128 Kbps download and 128 Kbps upload.
Voip.com: This VoIp service requires a minimum speed of 128 KPS upload and 728 download.
Lingo: The minimum Internet speed requirement for Lingo is 2 Mbps download. Lingo doesn't have a requirement for upload speed because the upload speed that automatically comes with the download speed will work fine with the service.
Skype: This VoIP service requires a minimum speed of 512 Kbps download and 256 Kbps. Skype requires different Internet speeds depending on how you intent to use their service. This speed is for the basic plan.
Check out our Home-VoIP compare page to learn more about our reviewed VoIP services.
Q: I'm very interested in getting VoIP, but I live in a somewhat secluded area where the power goes out relatively often. I'm worried that if I sign up for VoIP that I'll lose service every time we have a power outage. Is that a legitimate concern? Do these VoIP companies completely lose service when the power goes out?
A: Great questions! In the event of a power outage you technically would lose the VoIP service at your home because you would lose access to the Internet. However, all of the services that we review do offer features that allow you to still have access to your service in the event of a power outage.
These features are call forwarding or emergency forwarding, depending on the service you choose. Both of which do not cost you any additional money if you choose any of VoIP plans that we review. Call forwarding feature — which is what most services use during a power outage — forwards your call from your VoIP number to an alternate number of your choice. Most of the services — such as Vonage and VOIPo, among others — offer this service all the time, and not only when the power goes out. Other services — such as Phone Power and Voip.com, among others — offer emergency call forwarding which will only forward calls in the event of a power outage or any other emergency when you would have a loss of service.
Both the call forwarding and emergency forwarding features allow you to forward calls to a mobile or land line, so in the event of a power outage, you can still get your service on your cell phone.
Q: I'm looking for a phone service for my new business and am unsure about what phone service will be best for me. I have ten employees and need desk phones for eight of them. Would it be cheaper for me to get a traditional phone line or VoIP business?
A: Good question! VoIP is definitely the cheaper option when it comes to business phones because the service uses your high-speed Internet to send and receive calls and faxes. Depending on the service that you choose, you can spend as little as $21.95/month per user. There are numerous benefits, besides the price, that make business VoIP appealing to small, medium and large businesses.
Here are the some of the benefits of using business VoIP:
Features: One of the main reasons why businesses opt to sign up for VoIP, besides the budget-friendly price, is that the plans include features that you'd pay extra for with a traditional phone service. These features can vary depending on the service you choose, but the basic features usually include call forwarding, voicemail, conference calling, virtual PBX for menu-based call routing and Internet faxing. If you're looking for a feature-heavy business VoIP service, you might want to check out Alliance Phones. That service includes a lot of special features — such as custom on-hold music and voicemail-to-email — that other business VoIP services charge for.
Equipment: Because VoIP uses the Internet to connect calls, you can literally use it anywhere. All of the business VoIP services we reviewed sell phones that are compatible with VoIP, however a handful of the services — such as Alliance Phones and 8×8 — are also compatible with your computer or smartphone, so you don't even have to purchase extra equipment to use the phone. Some services — such as Ring Central, Nextiva and Phone Power— even allow you to use your current phone and just connect an adapter that makes it compatible with VoIP. If you decide to purchase IP phones for your business, they usually start at $70 and raise in price depending on the type of phone you choose.
No contracts: All of our VoIP services that we review offer month-to-month options that require no contract or long-term commitment. Services such as Phone Power and 8×8 also give you the option to sign up for long-term contract, if you decide that you'd prefer the long-term commitment.
No activation or set-up fees: Unlike traditional phone services, all of the business VoIP services that we review don't charge for activation or set-up. And, if you decide that business VoIP isn't the right service for you, nearly all of our reviewed business VoIP services offer some sort of money-back guarantee.
For more information about business VoIP check out our Business VoIP compare page, and use our Business VoIP Quote tool to get a free quote as well as see which VoIP service will best fit your needs.
Q: I've been thinking about signing up for Vonage World, but I am hesitant because the country that I want to call, Costa Rica, isn't included in the unlimited plan. That means I'd have to pay per minute for each call to my family. Why aren't all countries included in Vonage World's unlimited calling?
A: Good question! Vonage World does not offer unlimited calling to all countries because some countries are too expensive to call. Vonage negotiates the rates of phone calls with the countries and telecommunications in other countries, and if the rates are low enough, then Vonage can offer unlimited calling to that country's landlines, mobile phones or both. If the rates are too high, then Vonage cannot offer unlimited calling to that country.
Vonage World is a good option for people who have family members in another country. Even though unlimited calling isn't offered to every country, VoIP service is still offered to all countries for prices ranging from 5¢ to $13.92 per minute depending on the country that you're calling.
Q: I have been thinking of getting VoIP for a while now. I am hesitant because I've heard that my computer will have to be turned on in order for VoIP to work. Is that correct?
A: Great question! No, you do not need to have your computer on in order for VoIP — or voice over Internet protocol — to work correctly. That is a common misconception about VoIP. These services work just like a traditional telephone — you pick it up and dial or answer it when it rings. Instead of using a telephone wire, like traditional phones, VoIP uses a broadband Internet connection — which can be cable, DSL or satellite — and a telephone. The VoIP services we reviewed provide you with an adapter that you will plug into your modem or router and also plug it into your phone. Once you have connected the adapter, you'll be all set to start talking.
VoIP is a great option for someone looking to save a little money on their monthly phone bill because VoIP costs less than traditional home-phone services. Most VoIP services offer unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada, and some VoIP services, such as Vonage World, even offer international calling to more than 60 countries, so it can help you stay connected with family members or friends all over the world. Prices of VoIP services vary depending on the service and plan you choose.
Q: I've had VOIPo for a long and I've been happy with the service. Recently my service was shut off and when I called the customer representative told me that VOIPo has cut off service to parts of Mexico. Why did VOIPo do this? Is there another service that I can use to call my family in Mexico?
A: We're sorry to hear that your service was unexpectedly cut off. VOIPo only officially supports unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada, so even though VOIPo also offers 60 minutes per month of international calling, the service doesn't support all countries. VOIPo has the ability to block areas at its discretion based on different factors set forth by VOIPo's security department. The service still does offer calling to certain parts of Mexico, but not all of Mexico. To see a list of the countries that VOIPo offers calling to, visit VOIPo's website and click on "click here" at the bottom of the International Rates box.
Another solid choice for VoIP service to Mexico is Vonage World. This plan offers unlimited calling to land lines in more than 60 countries — including Mexico — as well as unlimited local and long distance calling throughout the U.S. and Canada for $9.99 first three months. After the first three months, the price is $25.99 per month — not including fees and taxes. You can check out our full review of Vonage to learn more about the service, or visit Vonage's website to sign up. If you feel that Vonage might not be a good option for you, visit our compare page to learn about all the VoIP services that we review.
Need a little extra spending cash for the summer months? We are giving away a total of $500 to 4 of our lucky Google+ followers! We will be drawing 4 winners over the course of a month. The first winner, picked March 22, will win $50. The second winner, picked on March 29, will win $100. The third winner, picked on April 5, will win $150. And the last winner, picked on April 12, will win $200. You must follow all instructions below to enter. Good luck!
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Terms and Conditions for NextAdvisor $500 Giveaway
- To be eligible, participants must fill out the survey by the closing date, April 11, 2013 at midnight PST.
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- Anyone over the age of 18
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- Contest opens: March 13, 2013
- Contest closing: April 11, 2013
- Drawing of winner: March 22, 2011; March 29, 2011; April 5, 2011; Grand Prize: April 12, 2011
- There will be a $50 prize (March 22), a $100 prize (March 29), a $150 prize (April 5) and a $200 prize (April 12). (All prizes are in USD.)
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One of our top rated VoIP services — VoIPo — goes head-to-head with Facebook's VoIP services to determine which service is best for consumers.
Price: VoIPo offers two years unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada for $6.21 per month or monthly unlimited calling for $15 per month. Facebook's VoIP services are free through Facebook, however the services run on data, so if you have a set amount of data, then you risk the cost of paying extra fees to your phone provider for going over your data plan. The fees can cost as much as $10 per extra one GB used — that amount can add up very quickly. VoIPo is the cheapest domestic VoIP service out of our reviewed services, and is a cheaper option than Facebook VoIP services if you have a limited data plan with your cell phone provider.
Equipment: VoIPo offers a free small adapter — which turns data into voice and voice into data — that plugs into your home cable modem and your router. Facebook’s VoIP services are only offered to its iOS users, or iPhone, iTouch, iPad and iPad mini users. The prices of the Apple products differ based on the product and the memory size, but the most expensive product of the bunch — an iPad with 128GB memory — can retail as high as $929.
Call Quality: VoIPo service’s call quality overall is solid. The voice sounded fair and warm, and it lacked any noticeable delay or echo. On the other hand, Facebook’s VoIP service’s call quality was not very good. It sounded as if the person on the other end of the call was sitting in a tunnel, and there was a noticeable echo that began to get annoying after 30 seconds or so into the conversation.
International calls: Both VoIPo and Facebook say they offer unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada. Whether you get the 2-Year Unlimited plan for $6.21 per month or the monthly unlimited plan $15.00 per month, VoIPo truly does offer unlimited calling. Facebook’s VoIP service does offer unlimited calling, but only if you have unlimited data. Also, the call only works if both of the users are Facebook friends and have the most recent version of Facebook app or the Facebook Messenger app.
Bottom line: Both VoIPo and Facebook offer unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada, however if you are looking for a dependable option that is more cost effective and has better call quality, we would recommend trying VoIPo for your VoIP needs.
If you'd like to compare the VoIP services we review, check out the compare page to see what each service offers.
Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.