Your thoughts regarding VoIP telephone, please?

by DaniGirl on August 26, 2013 · 14 comments

in Consumer culture

I have been waffling over switching to Rogers “Home Phone” service for more than a year now. Under the current offer, we stand to save about $45 per month for the first two years, and about $20 per month thereafter, which would be pretty sweet. But what I am really coveting is the bonus offer of $10 extra per month for (be still my heart) unlimited Internet bandwidth.

(We upped our Internet plan once already this summer and we’re still hitting our limit a couple of days before the end of the month. Between my day job, my various part time jobs, and the kids’ recent discovery of Minecraft tutorials on YouTube, we need ALL THE INTERNET. Sigh.)

Anyway, it’s a good deal, no doubt. Except here’s the thing. I may be an early adopter in many areas of technology and an outright evangelist in others, but I’m a little old lady when it comes to this. I am very, very nervous about giving up our landline Bell service. Old skool, right? Even though we have not one but two cell numbers in addition to our landline (heck, three if you count my work blackberry), I just can’t imagine cutting that cord.

I have two disaster scenarios that play out in my head every time I even start considering this issue. The first is some sort of epic disaster along the lines of the ice storm of 1998 or even the mass blackout of 2003. With my luck, something like that would happen when I’m already at 10% battery power on my iPhone, and we’d be cut off entirely.

The second is more pedestrian but more annoying. I suspect that our Internet access here is sporadic, and having sporadic telephone access makes me uneasy. Opinions vary as to whether this would actually affect the phone portion of the service, and the interruptions are usually on the order of minutes rather than hours of inconvenience, but still. We’ve only been completely without Internet a few times since we moved here, but still.

And, there may be a latch-key child in our not-so-distant future. Now, he’ll probably have yet another cell phone of his own, but… well, sigh. Maybe I’m just making things up to worry about?

So here’s my question: do you have Internet-based home phone and do you love it or hate it? Have you had access problems? Am I inventing problems to obsess over? I like the cash savings, I really do, but the unlimited Internet access practically makes me drool with covetousness. Any other alternatives you can think of? (First person to say “spend less time on the Internet” gets a raspberry!)

Also, could someone please send me a list of the scheduled upcoming apocalypses so I can appropriately plan for them?


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jody August 26, 2013 at 7:43 am

It’s not really an option for us because we have terrible cellphone coverage in our neighborhood (I don’t get a cellphone signal in half the house, with any carrier — I actually do random checks with other people’s phones in the hopes that Verizon has built new towers and out-competed AT&T). But FWIW, I am extremely reluctant to give up a landline because of what happens in power outages. And not just power outages, but cellphone tower failures. I want my kids to have reliable access to 911, because I am paranoid like that. Although I’m way behind the curve on this issue, and I know lots of people in cities at least who don’t have landlines anymore.

Then again, we don’t have limits on our Internet usage (yet). We just have crappy too-slow DSL. šŸ˜‰

I am not helping, am I. What’s your cellphone coverage like? Do you know very local people who’ve switched? How much are you paying for Internet overages? (Please tell me they don’t just cut you off.) Those would be the deciding factors for me.

2 Suze August 26, 2013 at 8:04 am

We were very early adopters of VoIP (well, Mike was a very early adopter. I was just along for the ride.) When it works, it works great. When it doesn’t work, I get very frustrated by it. It more often than not works fine. And for those other times, we have cell phones for back up. The one and only time we’ve needed 911 (when the back door was kicked in) we got through with no delay and cops were at our door in minutes.

I am a big advocate of unlimited internet usage though – it makes for stress-free Netflix watching for when I’m binge-watching things like Breaking Bad… We’ve never paid for internet overages, but they are not cheap (much like Cell data overages).

One option for comparison, is to look into an unlimited plan with Distributel or TekSavvy and VoIP with another carrier (if you want to go this route, I can find out some company names for you) and compare the prices. We found the savings to be significant, but with a bundle you might not…

Good luck!

3 alison August 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

We switched to Rogers home phone 2 years ago in Carp. Only once has it cut off, and it was not due to weather or anything, it was a service bug issue. I can’t tell the difference between the service we have now and the old service we had with Bell. We also upgraded to the unlimited bandwidth, which was just in time, as we had just subscribed to Netflix, and Rachel’s watching of 7 seasons of The Nanny was about to put us over our bandwith limit. I have my Internet, home phone (which includes 200 minutes of long distance in Canada/US), cell phone, and basic cable with Rogers. With all the discounts for bundling, I pay around $170 per month for all those services. I’m quite happy with it.

4 DaniGirl August 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

Ha Jody, imagine if they cut off my Internet? You’d hear the howls of outrage all the way to your place from here! We do get good cell coverage in the house, so there’s that, and it seems reliable, but I don’t access it much. It’s an extra $1.50 per GB for overages – in July we paid an extra $10.

Suze, you and Mike walked me through this debate on Twitter months ago – you can see I’ve made no progress! I am so change averse that jumping providers entirely may be too much for me at once. At least I know Rogers is mostly reliable due to their sheer size and market penetration – but of course that comes with all the trappings of a virtual monopoly. I’ve been with the same bank since I was 7 and have been using the same shampoo for a decade. So. Not. Good. With. Change.

We don’t watch any sort of Internet TV yet but even for online backup of my photos, I want to have more generous limits. The overage charges are not huge, but I am sick of pinching my GBs along with counting my pennies and watching my calories!! šŸ˜‰

5 DaniGirl August 26, 2013 at 8:40 am

Alison, I was typing while you were. That’s very reassuring – we are in similar circumstances, I think, in a semi-rural village coverage area. Wow, your total package is less than mine for just cell, TV and Internet. Hmmmmmm.

6 alison August 26, 2013 at 8:46 am

Mind you, I don’t have a data plan on my cell. Just unlimited texting and BBMs, plus 200 daytime minutes for talking. The unlimited bandwidth is wonderful. I’ve stopped worrying that the girls will watch too much Netflix and stick me with overage charges.

7 Karen August 26, 2013 at 9:09 am

Sorry, this might be a tad long.

So, I have VoIP. We cut our landline way back in 2006. Prior to switching to Vonage (not Rogers, which isn’t quite the same I understand), we paid anywhere from $60+ to $120/month. I have been paying $20/month for 7 years – using $80 as an average ($120 bills were rare), that’s over $5000 saved over the years I’ve had Vonage. Vonage has a flat monthly rate which includes long distance for US and Canada, which was really what sold me on switching given that I like chatting with my family in the US so much. Bell, Rogers – no one has been able to give me a competitive rate (not even with bundling). We are cord cutters, though. we haven’t had cable for over four years now.

Things we’ve figured out we can’t easily do with Vonage:

– Monitored alarm service *can be* expensive, but it depends on who you’re dealing with. Had we gotten Rogers Home Phone, we wouldn’t have had as much trouble.

– I have to wait until I’m off the phone to microwave things, which is fine. And I think this particular hiccup is getting better as the technology improves.

Here’s one of the best things in the world about switching (not sure if this would apply to Rogers HP, tho):

When we moved into our current house (six years ago), we were roughly the 7th closing in a brand new subdivision. The first closing happened all of two weeks prior to us taking possession of our new home. Neither Rogers nor Bell had ANY of their services live and I’ll spare you my I’m-still-irritated-by-this-stupidness rant about that. With Vonage, we were able to forward our home phone line to our cell phones (yes, to two different numbers!) so we could still get calls. No waiting for our Internet access to get up and running. Plus, it doesn’t matter where we go, we get to keep our number AND it’s automatically unlisted, which I prefer. Best of all, if I want to add call forwarding or any other feature, I just log in to my account online. I don’t ever need to talk to a customer service agent. Seriously, it’s beautiful.

The phone companies think I’m crazy for not getting bundled services any time it comes up, but as a cord cutter, I pay WAY less by keeping things separate. I always try to negotiate on rates and data with my Internet plans anyway. With services like Teksavvy out there, Rogers can’t justify the prices they charge so easily anymore. I had Internet and cable through Rogers and when we cut the cable, we saved ourselves $100/month. That’s another $5000 since we cut it and I don’t miss having live TV. I can stream shows or watch Netflix whenever I want.

I had major doubts before we made all these switches, but you’re considering it at a good time. It’s proven to work and a LOT of people are doing it. Two months in and you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated.

8 Anonymous August 26, 2013 at 9:38 am

We have used Rogers home phone for 5+ years and have had no issues. I live in Bridlewood where the power goes out all the time and the phone still works. Also, Rogers home phone is not VOIP. Our phone use is separate from our internet usage. I copied this from Rogers website:

“Rogers Home Phone service does not require or use the public Internet as VOIP services do. This difference ensures that potential slow-downs that occur as a result of load and other factors on the Internet do not affect
Rogers Home Phone. Using a state-of-the art, managed, dedicated network, Rogers Home Phone service provides our customers with high-quality, robust telephone services. Rogers Home Phone service is not VOIP. Rogers Home Phone service is delivered over the Rogers privately owned and monitored secure packet cable network that is NOT accessible to the general public, unlike VOIP services that run over the public internet.”

Hope that helps!

9 Catherine August 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

That was me (Catherine) commenting above and while Rogers says it is not VOIP, upon further research it seems that it is a matter of semantics and some people say that it *is* VOIP regardless of what Rogers says. In any case as I said, we have had no issues. The box they provide has a battery back-up in case of power outages, but I do not know how long it lasts which may be an issue in the case of a prolonged power outage.

10 DaniGirl August 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thanks you guys – you are inching me towards a certain level of comfort in making the switch!

11 Chantal August 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm

we switched to VoIP a few months ago and it has been a frustrating process. Like Suze says, when it works it is great, when it doesn’t it is a huge pain. We don’t use our home phone a lot (thank you facetime) but when we need it we want it to be there and be clear and reliable. It hasn’t always been. We are on the fence as to whether we keep it or not.

12 Carly August 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm

We switched to VOiP with Primus in 2005 because of major issues we had with Bell. And back then, Rogers was offering home phone service, but they were renting their lines from Bell (in our new neighbourhood, Rogers actually owns the lines and Bell rents from them) and I refused to give them a dime of our money, even indirectly. Almost 10 years later and my blood still boils over the run around we received from Bell.

We used to have both a cell phone and internet with Rogers, now we have only the internet.

We love the VOiP and have rarely had issues with it. I’m in love with the level of customer service we receive from Primus. Case in point . . . once, about five years ago, Primus’ service went down in our area. Or so we were told. We were at work at the time and never noticed. Nevertheless, Primus credited our account to reflect the loss of service during that time. We never complained, never said a word about it.

Since then the only time we’ve lost service is during a power outage. Since you need the modem to connect to the internet in order to use the phone, you can’t use your VOiP system during that time. But we both have cell phones for work and can use those in an emergency.

Right now we pay around $24/month for the VOiP service, plus tax. We chose to buy the modem and have not had to replace or service it since buying it. The fee provides us with unlimited long distance anywhere in North America, 24/7, call waiting, call answer, conference calling, call display, call forwarding and who knows what else?!?

I love it, love it, love it, love it. The only time we’ve had quality issues with our calls was when our 15 year old cordless phones were dying and needed replacing.

Good luck!!!

13 Kerry August 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I loved the Rogers home phone. It’s a phone line. You plug it into the jack and everything. It’s really rather amazing. I’d still have it if I hadn’t switched to all cell.

14 Jasmine August 26, 2013 at 7:15 pm

We have Bell internet and the very basic home phone. They now offer unlimited Internet, which we have, and it’s great. We find we’re able to “haggle” prices with them to an extent. They are always trying to give us a better deal. Try threatening to go to Rogers and you’ll probably find they will offer you a deal to stay. šŸ™‚

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