Unbundle Yourself: Part 5 - VOIP one month update (Phone Power Review)

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By Ed

Today we got back from vacation and checked our paper mail - Bell had sent us a "Thanks for being our customer" Card. And we're done. No messy late night break-up calls, begging to have us back. We've moved on and so have they.

Or maybe they're just getting call blocked by our new Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) service.

We love it. Here's Why...

First off, lets do a cost breakdown. Our benchmark will be our average monthly Bell bill before the switchover, which was around $65. Multiply that by 12 and you get:

Annual Bell Cost: $780

Here are the changeover costs for VOIP:

  • Additional Internet " Dry-Loop" Cost $8/month = 96.00/year
  • Changeover fee (one time cost) $50

Total VOIP Cost for 1 year = 308.17

Annual Savings: $471.83

If we take out the changeover cost of $50 (we won't pay that next year), we will save over $500 per year going forward. But what else is good? Is that it?

Nope - our Pros list is pretty solid too:

  • Completely Smooth Transition.  
Other than calling Phone Power, Bell and our Internet Provider to make sure the transition date lined up across all the companies, there was no real issue. We had absolutely zero down-time between Bell's cut-off and Phone Power's start-up.

  • All the extra Call Features for none of the extra cost. 
We love call display, and filtering out unlisted, unkown numbers, but we've never been willing to pay for them before. Now we have them as part of a basic package.

For those of you who dig call forwarding and call waiting, you can also have them too.

Yes, you can still use your normal home phone, but I've been so interested by the possibilities of the "softphone" App, I've included two pictures of it. Rest assured, we use our normal phone most of the time with no problems at all.

  • "SoftPhone" 
Our new provider,  Phone Power (and others, I'm betting) offer downloadable Apps (see above image) for smartphones that turn them into handsets for your home phone. Not a big deal around the house, but we were able to use my old iPhone at our rental cottage by using their WiFi to make calls to family.  For free!

This basically means that anywhere you have wireless internet access, you can make free phone calls on your cell.

  • Check messages anywhere. 
Yeah, I know most answering machines allow for this and certainly Cell and Landline companies have been offering call answer services for years, but we've never bothered. With the Softphone App from Phone Power, I was able to check messages.  And even if they didn't leave a message, I could see who tried to call in using the call log history.

This feature has allowed us to see where many call centre calls originate from and block those numbers - DOZENS each day!  This is another free feature from Phone Power and is hands down Robin's favourite feature of all.

  • Free "Cloned" second line. 
The picture below is the VOIP box that Phone Power supplies. It allows you to activate a cloned second line, so if you hook up another phone, you can actually receive two calls at your same time on your current phone number. We don't use that feature currently, but our kids aren't teenagers yet either.

CONs - The list ain't big, but we thought we'd share some negative thoughts too:

  • A bit of tech skill required
You'll need to unplug and plug in some cables for phone and internet in your house. If this sounds like a pain, you might want to do some more reading with whomever you are considering VOIP service from to see a diagram. It really is pretty straightforward and for Phone Power, I can say their website and customer service is excellent at telling you the how-to details.

  • A bit of extra tech ugly.  
See that same image of the Phone Power VOIP box? The most convenient location in our house is right under our home phone and we see its blinking activity lights whenever we look at it. I'm sure Robin will come up with a way to make it hide, but for now it is a bit of a flashing eyesore.

  • No Power = No Phone. 
If we get another winter ice storm, this may be a small issue. You can set-up your account to redirect to your cell phone in the event of a power/internet outage, but that might not be a perfect solution for everyone.

So, as it stands now, one month of VOIP Service has been pretty much the same as a month of standard Bell Service, except VOIP has given us more features, the ability to use our home phone when we travel and a much lower phone bill. 

Win. Win. Win.

Anyone else planning on jumping ship with their phone provider?

1 comment

  1. Hello,
    Did you research/compare home service VoIP providers other than Phone Power? I'm hoping to leave ma Bell and it looks like Ooma ( http://ca.ooma.com/ ) is well rated.
    Thank you for sharing your experience with this transition.
    (Richmond Hill, Ont)


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