I’ve had landline phone service all my life. I’ve had cell phones for a long time, and Vonage for about 6 years. Even with Vonage and cell pones, I’d never brought myself to get rid of the landline. Rationalizing it was not too hard – we occasionally get power outages as well as internet outages, so having a stable line would be at least moderately useful for these minor occasions. However, the monthly bill got landline service seemed to go up continually each month, regardless of how little we used it each month.
A few months ago the bill started going over $50/month, and this is for *nearly* no bells and whistles – no voicemail, no ‘warranty’ on the line. Wait, I tell a lie – we had an ‘international calling plan’ package, so that when we called my wife’s family overseas it would only cost 10 cents per minute instead of $1.25 (approx). That said, we still rarely used the thing. The base rate was a bit over $30/month, and taxes/fees – even if we made no calls at all, added another $16/month – > 50% tax/fee rate, basically. So keeping a solid phone connection to the house was $46/month before *using* the stupid thing.
A few years back the taxes seemed lower – I would swear total fees before making any calls was below $40 back in 2006. I may fish out an old bill and compare if I can find one. In any event, when bills for minimal usage started creeping over $50, I’d had enough. We already have a Vonage line, so I looked to port over the existing number (which many of my wife’s customers have used for years) to our Vonage box, and – great! – it was possible. The process took almost two weeks, and the service was working before we were actually notified by email that it was working, but it was fairly seamless all in all.
So, now I’ve come kicking and screaming in to the ‘no land line’ age, and it feels a bit odd. What was funny, though, is when I called to cancel service. The *2nd* option on the provider’s phone tree was ‘If you’re calling to cancel your service, press 2’. *2*! They must be losing customers right and left. While I’m paying some taxes via Vonage, I suspect it’s only a few years before we start seeing punishing taxes applied to VOIP systems to make up for lost revenue from land lines. If the govt was recouping $192/year from me via landlines, and might only be collecting half that from Vonage tax collection.
Scratch that – nope. They’re still collecting around $16/month from me in taxes already. My minimum monthly Vonage bill is now $42.94. Hrmm…. So… I’ve sort of traded one price point for another. And actually, there’s another $5 on top of that because we have an incoming virtual number from the UK. So… $47.93 minimum. About the same as the CenturyLink line we had before. So why cancel?
Vonage is giving us much more. Unlimited calling, which many US-based VOIP providers also offer, but *every single ad* I hear/see from TWC, CenturyLink, etc – all focused on ‘unlimited calling in the US!’. I couldn’t care less, as half my family is overseas – UK and Australia – as are many of my wife’s customers. Vonage gives free calling to Australia and most of Europe in that $24.99. We pay $5 month for a UK line which rings in to us for that flat $5, and allows most of her UK customers to call for the price of a local call in the UK. Voicemail calls transcribed and sent to email for free. And… a web interface to manage it all. CenturyLink and other traditional landline monopolies have a long way to go to catch up to the value provided by Vonage. If we got a Vonage program *just* for the amount of calls we make in the US, and didn’t have international needs, we’d at least $20 off that $47, so, we’d probably be paying $25/month. And the ability to physically take the phone number (via the physical box) with you around wherever you travel is pretty nice (though I’ve only done it once).
Before Vonage, even using landline ‘calling plans’ to get international calls down to a few cents per minute, our bills were easily over $100/month, sometimes $150. Now with Vonage, two lines, a third incoming number, and *more* calling than we used to do, $55/month is about average. *Huge* savings, and more convenience. Can’t ask for much more, can you?
That’s my rant. Glad I did those numbers. It wasn’t specifically the $50/month that was necessarily upsetting, but given how little value we were getting for that $50, that was the breaking point.
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