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Justin recently claimed Skype was an alternative to landlines when he took a detailed look how to ditch your outrageous phone bills Keep Your Landline, But Ditch The Phone Bill, With This Simple Device Keep Your Landline, But Ditch The Phone Bill, With This Simple Device Landlines cost too much; you should ditch yours. Here's how to do that, save hundreds every year, and still get unlimited long distance calling from a familiar device: your current home phone. Read More – but is Microsoft’s service too expensive?
While it’s true that Skype is still the undisputed king of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) in terms of subscriber numbers, there are plenty of other excellent options out there.
Here we take a look at four alternatives, focusing on how much they cost and what services you can expect in return.
Skype – The Benchmark
Skype is the VoIP benchmark. We’ve looked at the service lots of times on MakeUseOf, but before we look at its competitors we still need to review what it’s currently offering.
Skype offers two methods of payment for most countries – either Skype Credit (pay-as-you-go), or via a subscription. Sneakily, Skype doesn’t make its rates for different countries very easy to compare – instead you have search by country and can only see one location at a time.
If you purchase a subscription, 60 minutes of talk time to U.S. phones will cost you $1.04-per-month (1.7 cents-per-minute). An unlimited package costs $6.99-per-month.
By way of comparison, 60 minutes of talk time to UK phones costs $2.09-per-month (3.5 cents-per-minute). There is no UK-only unlimited package – instead you need to purchase the Unlimited Europe option. It’s $19.99-per-month and only includes calls to the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany.
If you use Skype Credit, a call to any US phone is 2.3 cents-per-minute. A call to a UK landline is also 2.3 cents-per-minute, but a call to a UK mobile jumps to a mammoth 10 cents-per-minute.
Skype’s list of features is impressively long. Aside from the obvious, it also offers group calling for up to 25 people and free video calling for up to five people to free users. Subscribers can also get a “Skype number” connected to their account so that people can call from their own phones, the ability to forward calls to any number, a caller ID service, and a voicemail service.
Check out the website for a full list of services.
OoVoo has been steadily gaining in popularity since its launch back in 2007. Like Skype, it offers free video calls and instant messaging, but here we take a look at the paid services.
OoVoo’s rates are the same no matter where you are calling from, which is a big plus if you live in an obscure place or are spending a long time travelling.
Unlike Skype, it doesn’t offer subscriptions, and works through “ooVoo Credits” instead. A call to a United States landline will cost you 2 cents-per-minute, as will a call to a US mobile.
Calls to a UK landline are slightly cheaper, coming in at 1.9 cents-per-minute, though calls to mobiles will set you back 3.9 cents-per-minute.
It also offers a “Premium” version. It costs $2.99-per-month but includes 1,000 minutes of video call storage, no in-app adverts, and an ad-blocker for multiple platforms.
OoVoo has a good range of free services, including unlimited free text and video messaging to anywhere in the world, 12-way video calls on your computer, and 4-way video calls on mobiles or tablets.
It does have some drawbacks, however. For example, credits support outbound dialing only, when you call someone the Caller ID will always be 646-300-8760, and you cannot get your own personally assigned inbound ooVoo telephone number.
Google Hangouts is hardly a new service, but it has really started to pick up steam in the last 12 months. Its VoIP service is now arguably more reliable than Skype, and it’s certainly cheaper.
Like ooVoo, Hangouts doesn’t offer subscriptions, instead opting for an entirely credit-based model.
If you live in the US and you want to call another US (or Canadian) phone, it’s almost always free. There are certain US-based numbers that’ll incur a charge of 1 cent-per-minute, but it’s still much cheaper than Skype’s entry price of 1.7 cents.
A UK landline will also cost you 1 cent-per-minute, while a call to a UK mobile is only 3 cents-per-minute – 7 cents cheaper than Skype’s pay-as-you-go rate.
The first thing to mention is availability. While Skype can make outbound calls from almost any country in the world, Hangouts is much more limited. In fact, if you live outside of Europe, the US, and Canada, the chances are the service won’t be available.
Services offered include free video-conferences for up to nine people, free caller ID (if you have a Google Voice number), and free text messaging.
Vonage is a true VoIP service – if you sign up to its service you’ll receive a phone adapter in the post which will let you plug your existing house phone straight into your high-speed Internet line.
Vonage differs from the previous two options in that it only offers subscription packages. It’ll set you back $9.99-per-month if you’re willing to sign up to a year’s service, and $24.99-per-month for a contract-free deal.
That rate will get you unlimited free calling across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. An international call to the UK will cost 1 cent-per-minute for landlines and 2 cents-per-minute for mobiles.
Vonage offers lots of cool services not offered by the Internet-based providers on this list. For example, you can keep your existing landline number, you can link your home phone service to two smartphones, there’s free calling to all other Vonage users, and you can keep the same phone number if you move house. You also get a virtual number, a fax line, and call forwarding.
PhonePower is a direct competitor of the better-known Vonage, but has at least two major advantages.
The first big advantage is that its service is cheaper. Its 12 month contract is only $8.33-per-month, while its contract-free option is only $19.95-per-month.
Those cheaper rates will also give you more for your money – they include 60 minutes of free international calls every month.
If you use all your free minutes, the landline rate to call the UK comes in at a staggeringly cheap 0.4 cents-per-minute. It easily makes it the most cost-effective of the all services listed if you need to call your transatlantic cousins regularly.
PhonePower also offers some “World” packages. For $19.95-per-month (12 month contract) you can get unlimited calls to 25 countries around the world. For $5 more you can increase that to 75 countries.
The second big advantage is one of the services they offer – namely, it lets you make phone calls Leaving Voicemails, and Other Prickish Phone Habits Leaving Voicemails, and Other Prickish Phone Habits Having private number on, leaving voice mails, not returning calls, or calling unnecessarily all ruin voice calls for the rest of us. Read More from your computer via a softphone app without charging extra to do so.
Like Vonage, you can keep your existing phone number (at no charge), you’ll be able to plug your existing handset straight into the Internet by using an adapter, and there’s a smartphone app which will also ring if your landline is ringing.
Will You Abandon Skype?
Have we convinced you to abandon your fixed landline (or find a cheaper alternative to Skype?). Perhaps you’ve already taken the jump and can provide some feedback to our readers?
As ever, we’d love to hear from you. You can leave us your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.Take Control of Your Finances and Become Fiscally ResponsibleHow to Slash Your Household Expenses in 7 Easy Steps
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December 12, 2016 at 10:24 pm
I'd love to see a review using REAL costs. Vonage is subject to all sorts of taxes and surcharges. Their $25 annual plan cost $440 after all the regulatory fees. How can we tell which other plans also have outrageous fees (no fault of the plan, but it does mean we're comparing apples and oranges here.)Reply
May 18, 2016 at 12:39 pm
I have been a long time Skype user and appreciate its free VOIP calls.
I also like that I can buy credit to voice call to any phone, landline or mobile and the android version works well, so far as I can determine. More importantly, that credit only gest used as I use it. If i don't use it, it is there waiting for me. The problem with so many mobile phone [packages has crossed over, it seems, to many of the packages here..... you get unlimited calls etc for a fixed monthly fee but your credit expires at the end of the month, whether you used it or not.
I have refused the latest upgrades because I am required now to accept Microsoft terms and conditions. Not a set of Ts & Cs specific to SKype, but, when I follow the link and get that first page from the first link and it says:
"Your privacy is important to us." my blood boils.
It seems that MS thinks it has the right to access all our files, photos, anything on cloud, our emails and contact lists and anything else that it would take the security services a court order to access, for free and it can then do what it likes with all that information. There must be a very good reason why MS can give away Windows 10 for free - they presumably have another better source of revenue in this era of "Big Data". Thanks, but no thanks. Once, as the source of the Microsoft wealth, its customers were the people who use the OS and Office. Now, it seems, we are its cash crop and what we want no longer matters to them. Where else will its users go? And of course this also means that despite the money it makes it wants more. Lots more. That means everything is now geared to having a Microsoft account and buying from the app store and any free apps - like solitaire, are now so badly designed and laden with adverts as to be unusable.
But above all I resent being forced to accept irrelevant terms and conditions.
It gets worse. The last time i added more credit, I signed in with my skype account.
This is now impossible. Every time I try to log in i get to enter my skype name or email and the moment i try to click the password box it takes me to a page that says to sign in with a microsoft account. Don't have one? Get one here.... but you have to accept their terms and conditions. Or you can get a one time code. It doesn;t say so but this automatically creates/joins your skype and microsoft accounts...... and after all this I still can't get online to buy more credit.
Oh, and if you want to separate your skype and microsoft accounts, Microsoft will dump all your skype contacts in the waste bin.
MS is no longer treating us as its customers. I don't like that and for this reason I am looking for a good alternative. A free VOIP app with dial out and dial in options at a fee, but not a disappearing fee. I resent paying out good money only for it to be pocketed when I don't use in in the time allowed.Reply
September 22, 2015 at 12:58 am
Vonage tends to be expensive after the first 30 days! You missed a cheaper/better option, Ooma... Basic Service at $0... And Premium Service at $10 per month! Have used Vonage for several years... Cancelled... Now have used Ooma for over 2 years! Haven't missed Vonage, at all!!Reply
September 18, 2015 at 5:10 pm
Does the ridiculously cheap magicJack count here... been using it for yearsReply
September 18, 2015 at 2:00 am
I use Vonage for business, which I like because it's very straightforward to configure my private number to ring IP phones I already have and/or my personal cell number rather than my actual office line. It also means I can easily make calls to people I'd never want to have my cell number.Reply
September 17, 2015 at 11:12 pm
We use a provider called Rynga. They do free calls to a lot of countries Inc US and UK. When you purchase credit, it does not expire for up to 6 months if I recall correctly. Definitely better than some of the providers listed aboveReply
September 17, 2015 at 8:35 pm
I have been using Hangouts older version, google voice since last 6-7 years with SIP trunking. Now using it is even simpler with http://www.obitalk.com/obinet/ . It is the best Cord Cutting solution in USA as of now.
Source : http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/cut-the-cord-voip-phone-plans-cheaper-skype/