Get Your Home Phone Bill Below $10/month
Get Your Home Phone Bill Below $10/month, If you’re buying home phone service from a traditional provider, you’re paying too much. Internet phone products sell service via your broadband connection at dirt-cheap rates. Here’s how three stack up.
Extra features. Ooma Telo is a stylish, wedge-shaped box that’s roughly the size of your old answering machine. It costs $200, and the company advertises that it provides free, “unlimited” calls within the U.S. Caveats: There’s a 5,000-minute monthly limit on outbound calls (that’s more than three days of talk time), and you’re responsible for government taxes and fees. But these should add up to just a few dollars a month. Check your total at go.ooma.com/tax_calculator.
A glitch with the first Telo we tested gave us a chance to try out Ooma’s customer support, which was very responsive. The Telo has a one-year warranty.
The device comes with cables to connect your router and cordless or corded phone, and setup is easy. You may select a new phone number, or port your current number for a $40 fee. The optional Ooma Premier service ($10 a month or $120 a year) offers free number-porting plus a bundle of advanced features. In our tests, Ooma’s call quality on a 6-megabit-per-second (i.e., reasonably fast) DSL connection was very good—in most cases it performs on par with landlines.
The product’s biggest downside is its $200 initial cost, but the Telo is pretty inexpensive over time. If, for example, the device runs five years, and your monthly tax bill is $3.50, your phone bill would average less than $7 per month. Can the cable guys come close to matching that?
As seen on TV. Its TV ads may be cheesy, but MagicJack Plus works rather well. Roughly the size of a matchbox, the $70 gizmo plugs into an AC outlet and has ports for your phone and for your router.
Although MagicJack won’t add to your desktop clutter, it lacks Telo’s convenient touch controls for accessing voice mail. And setup is a bit tedious: You have to plug MagicJack Plus into your PC’s USB port and work through a series of start-up screens. First, you select a phone number or port your current number for $20. What follows is a series of upsell offers, including one for prepaid international calls (at really low prices) and another for replacement insurance—useful if your dog decides MagicJack is a chew toy.