VoIP Providers comparison

Getting a clear message about who does VoIP best

t's still safe to say that VoIP is a young industry and you can expect that many new VoIP providers will crop up over the next few years. That's typical of any new industry, and it will probably take at least a few more years to see who will emerge as the clear winners in this race. Those companies may not even exist yet, in fact. (Remember the days when there were more than a dozen search engines competing for your search traffic? Do you remember that Google was launched five years after search engines were well used?)

Today, SunRocket is rated tops in a number of surveys. They're new and out to prove themselves. Among the typical strategies they are using to lure customers and make them happy is to undercut all the competition and give away free stuff. Let's see how long that can last. Vonage, Lucent and Verizon have the names that people are beginning to recognize and associate with VoIP.

According to the FCC, there are over 200 companies currently engaged in the VoIP market. That makes it difficult to track them and evaluate them all by pros and cons without creating a washout. We can, however, take the top names in VoIP today and compare their basic services. However, there are new providers coming on the market everyday. One of these may soon emerge as the one to give people everything they want.

Before you begin, here are some things to bear in mind when choosing VoIP:

  • Start with your local Internet provider. The one you are currently using may offer you a lower rate on VoIP, if you combine this with other services they offer.
  • Know your telephone habits. For example, a flat rate on VoIP is going to be a good value for you if you use long distance a lot. However, if you barely use your phone for anything other than local calls, flat fees are not going to be advisable.
  • Specific features.You might want a bare-bones phone service, so extra features may not interest you - so you won't want to pay for them. In many cases, people are impressed with the services of VoIP over traditional phone lines. For example, conference calling at no extra charge is a given with VoIP.
  • Watch international rates.This is where you can really get "dinged" in a phone bill, and that's no less true for VoIP. If you call abroad on a frequent basis, make sure you are aware of which carrier has the best international rates.

Regarding rants and raves

When reading reviews of VoIP providers, there is sameness to people's complaints and comments. Be aware that comments are more generally about VoIP than they are about any specific company. Complaints may be based on people's perception that problems with phone lines, power outages or low bandwidth are the responsibility of the VoIP provider.

People complain of interrupted service for every company, but this is something that might apply to all of VoIP, since it's a new technology - it's not always fully understood by customers or even technicians. Keep in mind that technicians may be hired because of need, not necessarily because of their qualifications in a young industry.

Another common complaint is dropped or lost calls, and many people do not realize that this is quite often due to a loss of connection by their Internet provider (who likely has no relationship with the VoIP provider). In other cases, a loss of power to their modem can be due to power blackouts (again, having nothing to do with the VoIP provider).

On the other hand, many people rave about the low price paid for the expanded phone service from VoIP; even though they rave about the company, they are more often only commenting on the efficiency of the technology. VoIP is more robust than traditional phone service offered by phone companies, so it's easier to offer more for a lower price.

In our pages that review VoIP providers, we sift through the noise about VoIP to get to the truth about the difference between providers.

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