There are so many options other than using a traditional phone service. Chances are you have several telephone lines. A cell phone or two, home phone, office phone. Did you know you can consolidate these lines and save money too.
At this time, most of us have 2 different types of phones, cell phones and landline. I’ll show you how to replace your landline and keep your cell phone but more importantly add more functionality to your cell to make your life easier. That’s really what it’s all about, right.
You may be confused as I was when I first learned about this. There are many options to replace your landline phone like Ooma, Net Talk, Vonage, Obi Talk, Magic Jack, Google Voice and many more. Some services are pay and others are free. So let’s break it down and see what’s best for you.
What are your options:
First, most of these services use the VOIP technology. Simply, it uses the internet to send and receive voice calls instead of a traditional phone line. It is much cheaper.
Ooma is a pay service. It typically costs $180-$200 for the unit. It is a device that you plug into your existing high speed internet on one end, and plug your existing phone into the other end. That’s it. You get free unlimited calling throughout the U.S. and pay low fees for international calls. Included are most of the extra services that a regular phone company would charge you extra for like voicemail, call blocking, caller ID, conference call, etc. You can choose a new phone number or transfer your existing number for a small one time fee. You do pay monthly taxes and surcharges using this device. You can find Ooma at most retailers like Costco or Best Buy. Ooma is coming out with new devices so check their website ooma.com for more details.
Net Talk is a small device that plugs straight into your existing high speed internet and also has a connection to plug in your existing home or office phone. Typically, $40-$60 depending on which device you choose plus a $30 yearly fee. Net Talk is a small device where you pay only for the device and a yearly fee and can talk free and unlimited throughout the U.S. Additional services like visual voicemail, caller ID, conference call, etc. are all included. They also have a smartphone app where you can integrate your calling with Net Talk through your iPhone, Android, Tablet or iPad. You can purchase Net Talk online at nettalk.com or at any big retailer.
Vonage is the mother of all the VOIP providers. Vonage is one of the oldest and most well-known VOIP providers. Their service is slightly different than the rest. They have calling plans you pick from that provide different amounts of minutes from 300 or 750 minutes a month to unlimited. Prices range from $12 a month to $25 a month for residential service and up to $50 a month for unlimited business service. Included are a plethora of standard features like called ID, anonymous caller, conference calling, voicemail, call return and much more. Vonage does charge more than the other VOIP options but they have customer service options the others lack. For instance, you can log into their website, access your account and change any settings you want. You can always call customer service for help. Setting up service isn’t much work. Sign up, pick your calling plan, they send you a Vonage router box which you’ll plug into your internet connection and plug your existing phone .
Obi Talk by Obihai gives VOIP access. Although hearing what it is capable of doing sounds very complex, it is surprisingly very easy to setup and someone that has never setup a VOIP connection, will be up and running in less than 5 minutes. Obi Talk does a series of things but most likely, you’ll only be using one. It provides VOIP telephone calls to anyone in the U.S. but also works as a PSTN, public switched telephone network, what your familiar with when you’ve used an office telephone system. It also makes calls to other Obi Talk members outside of the VOIP system. But the best and most important feature of Obi Talk is that it integrates seamlessly with Google Voice. Nevermind all the other things Obi Talk can do, it’s the integration with Google Voice makes this the reason to buy. Google Voice is a powerful tool by itself but it lacks an actual telephone you can connect it to. Obi Talk takes care of that. All you do is connect your Obi Talk to your internet connection and plug in a regular telephone. Log onto their website, and sign in with your Google account. The Obi Talk will connect itself. Your done. Now you can make calls using Google Voice using a regular telephone. You can also sync it with your cell phone where you can receive and make calls also under your Google Voice number. Another benefit with Obi Talk is that you add two seperate lines and the developers update the service on a consistent basis so there is always improvements to the system. Extra features like called ID, 3 way calling, etc. come standard.
The Obi Talk service is FREE and all you have to do is buy the box. No monthly or yearly fee. There are a couple of models but the most popular is the Obi Talk 110 which does all the mentioned above and retails around $50. There is a newer model Obi 202 which offers 4 VOIP lines and fax capabilities and costs about $75. You can find it either on Amazon or Fry’s Electronics.
Magic Jack has made a big push in the last couple of years. It’s a portable low cost alternative to other VOIPs. The original Magic Jack is a small device, like a big thumb drive, that plugs into your computer via USB and has a phone jack to connect your phone. You can take it with you and use it with your laptop wherever you have an internet connection. It does come with extra features like caller ID, voicemail, etc. and you can make calls anywhere in the world using the same local phone number you choose when you sign up. You can also port an existing number if you wish. It costs about $40 for the unit and includes a year of service. Each year there is a $30 fee. There is now a new Magic Jack Plus that lets you make phone calls without plugging into a computer. That unit is $70 and and includes a year of service and also has a $30 yearly fee.
Google Voice is becoming the most popular choice of service for a couple of reasons. It’s FREE and it’s easy to use. It’s integrates nicely into other Google products like Gmail and Android. An important note, Google Voice is not a VOIP. It provides a phone service that either works straight from your computer, laptop, tablet, Android, or you need to integrate other VOIPs like OBi Talk to use as a phone. Sprint offers mobile phones that have Google Voice already included. A powerful tool Google Voice has is that you can also text directly from your Google Voice number. For instance, you have a mobile phone and you can make calls and text with your mobile phone number. You can also make and receive calls or texts using your Google Voice number on the same mobile phone. I use my Google Voice number as my business direct line so when I make or receive calls or texts it’s always from my business phone line number. Google Voice offers voicemail and visual voicemail so you can either read or listen to your voicemails. You can also text straight from your computer to someone. Google also keeps all your contacts and matches them with emails or other information you have about that specific person or company. Plus there is much much more!
There are so many useful uses for Google Voice, it is our number one choice for an alternative phone. Linking up Google Voice with Obi Talk makes it an all around workhorse. It doesn’t just cost less than a regular phone system or any other VOIP system, it is a time saver and will be an intricate part of your business. Your database of clients will be effortless as a call history, text, voicemail and contact information will be synced to all your devices and integrate to other Google services you use.