Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Review| Voice over Internet protocol

Review: Internet-based phone services save cash

Years ago communities were served by only one phone provider. There was simply no alternative.

Today the market is flooded with choices, which have dramatically lowered the price of phone service while adding many more features. One such choice is VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) that uses your existing cable broadband Ethernet Internet connection in place of a phone line. The advantage of VOIP is that you already have a link to the outside world, so shopping for service plans becomes the only additional cost. The key is to compare the offers.

Things to consider are price, calling areas that are included, features such as message waiting, caller ID, voice mail and the reliability of the company. Some of the better-known providers are Brighthouse

(, Time Warner (, Vonage ( and Knology ( An interesting point is that Vonage has been hit by several patent infringement lawsuits brought by some of its competitors, but so far seems to have satisfactorily resolved these issues and remains very much a player in this competitive field.

How does VOIP work? The company you select will either install or provide you with a modem, a device that converts the digital signal to work with the existing telephones in your home network. You may also request your old phone number be transferred to this service.

The modem, the size of a paperback book, simply connects to your existing router, which in turn is connected to any telephone jack in your home. Now you have connectivity between the Internet and the phones in your home network. Your computer does not need to be on or plugged in for this to work. Pick up any phone in your home network and start talking. You can even take the modem with you when you travel, providing you have access to a broadband Ethernet Internet connection. This permits you to still receive and make all your calls from your home number wherever you are.

The downside to VOIP is that you are dependent on a good broadband Ethernet connection. Faster speeds mean better voice quality. If the power goes out, so does the phone; however, this is easily remedied by adding a low-cost battery backup system, better known as a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). Heavy Internet network system usage can cause busy signals or dropped calls. Also, many fax machines and digital video recorders have difficulty communicating with VOIP service.

There are many benefits to VOIP, such as lower costs with a greatly expanded calling area. Vonage, for example, treats all of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the United Kingdom as a local call. It also provides local access numbers in Canada, France, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States that allow free calls to be made to customers from these countries. Furthermore, you may check your messages not only by dialing into a mailbox, but also by going online.

Business plans are often available, too, but you would be well advised not to switch all your lines to VOIP. That way you have a backup in case either service has a major outage. I have benefited from significant cost savings over landline service. Generally, I am very satisfied.

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer who may be contacted at

Review: Internet-based phone services save cash 04/20/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 20, 2008 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rose McGowan will replace Val Kilmer at Tampa Bay Comic Con


    Well, that was fast. Less than a day after announcing that one-time Batman Val Kilmer canceled his appearance at Tampa Bay Comic Con, organizers say actress Rose McGowan will take his place at the geek-tastic event running Friday to Sunday at the Tampa Convention center.

    Rose McGowan and her then-husband Davey Detail in 2013.
  2. Bradenton museum where Snooty the manatee drowned reopens to public (w/video)


    BRADENTON — A Florida museum where a 69-year-old manatee got trapped in a maintenance tube and drowned has reopened to the public.

    Four-year-old Katie Blair pays her respects to Snooty at a makeshift memorial in front of the museum on Sunday. Katie and her family has visited the aquarium to see Snooty four times this year. 
Snooty was the world's oldest living manatee in captivity and celebrated his 69th birthday Friday at the aquarium. Aquarium officials described Snooty's death as a tragic accident and is being investigated. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30


    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  4. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles



    Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.
  5. Ros-Lethinen: Trump wrong on transgender ban


    WASHINGTON - Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen criticized President Trump's announced ban on transgender people serving in the military.

    Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.