Well, as much as I like Skype (pre-eBay Skype, anyway), I decided to take the plunge and sign up for Packet8‘s VOIP Internet phone service. I opted for it over Vonage for one reason – price. It’s only $19.95 per month for unlimited calling. I figured if the service or quality sucked, I could always cancel since there’s no long term contact and try someone else.
I did opt, however, for a cool Uniden phone unit at extra cost rather than the free broadband phone adapter (You can order it with your subscription or shop around). It comes with a really neat base unit that can either act as a router or be connected to an existing router, which was my case. The base unit has all kinds of features – voice mail notification, speaker phone, mute, intercom, phonebook, etc. It also comes with a cordless unit that can be plugged into an electrical outlet elsewhere in your home or office. Extra cordless hand units can also be added.
I had to tweak my firewall settings a bit to make a connection, but other than that, I was up and running. So far, the sound quality has been great. When you pick up the receiver, it sounds like a standard phone dial tone. The only difference is that when you call someone, even across the street, you dial as though it were long distance (1+area code+number).
I had to call Packet8 support to find out why my phone number wasn’t appearing when I logged onto the Packet8 member site. Unfortunately, I am not in a Call Center area where I can get a number local to me nor can I transfer my existing phone number. When I signed up for Packet8, I thought I designated an area code where I wanted the number, but apparently they needed me to phone in and give a specific city. When I called, I was only on hold for a couple of minutes and the rep was friendly and we had my new number ready to go in no time.
So far, I’m impressed. I do wish they had phone numbers available in my own area, but if they do get them in the future, I can change my number free. I don’t know if it will be worth it by then, but it’s an option. The other issues I have is that it only comes with a single voice mail box (I’d like two) and fax support is iffy.
Anywho, I’ll be saving my cell phone minutes and making lots of calls with Packet8. If my couple of days using it is any indication, the sound quality is way better than cellular.