A while back, my hubby did a guest post for me on how he helped us cut our cable costs by $150.. that's been over a year now, and we haven't missed cable at all! This post is how he also helped us reduce our phone bill, which was originally bundled with our cable....
From the hubby:
Here's what we did to cut home phone costs. We switched from a land line via the cable company to an internet-based phone service, thus saving $25 a month ($300 per year). Of course, you can eliminate your home phone altogether, and just go with your mobile phone. However, we prefer to have a separate home phone number to provide for all account setup (credit cards, utilities, etc.) and not have that number be associated with our mobile phones and get lots of solicitations (yeah, so much for the no-call registry).
There are several options with going with an internet phone service. There is no real free phone service. Any number you get will have federal excise taxes and fees, and possibly some state taxes/fees, or 911 fees, even if you don't pay anything for monthly service or to have a number. The government wants 'their’ money.
You can go with services like Skype, which can be on your mobile phone, computer, tablet, etc. If you want to be able to receive calls on-demand, you would always need to be logged in. This option means your calls always come through one of those devices.
Another option is to go with an internet based service such as Magic Jack, which allows you to use the traditional phones with a phone line going to your internet router or modem. These services cost about $30/year, which is really just paying for the average monthly taxes/fees for $2 to $3 per month (paid in total annually). You just pay $35 to get the Magic Jack box, hookup to your internet, get a new number, or transfer your existing. The service provides instructions on how to do this. With these pure VoIP (voice over internet protocol) type services, and with Skype, the call quality is inconsistent. Most of the time, it is pretty good -- very clear, and then once in a while the call gets garbled or cuts in and out. With this option you get free or nearly free phone service, but can have intermittent call quality issues. This is probably the cheapest option to save the most money. The main issue is inconsistent call quality.
Still another option is a service like Vonage -- which is internet based, and charges $15 to $25 per month. These types of services don't require devices, just getting your home phone hooked up to the internet via your router or modem. The call quality is pretty good, but can also cut in/out. I don't favor a service like this as it defeats the purpose of eliminating the monthly cost of having a phone line, and you can still have call quality issues, although it's better than Magic Jack, but not as good as Ooma.
You can also setup 'home’ phone service with handheld phones using a wireless base that is cell based -- that is, it's just another service through your mobile provider. We have Verizon, and they provide a home based unit with extra cordless devices for $10+ per month, assuming you have an existing service. You can assign your home number to it, and it works just like a landline, although it's using the cell service. This is a good option, but does cost $120+ year, at least.
We went with the Ooma phone service. You pay $150 (prices range between $130-$150) for a phone device to connect to your internet, and then just pay on an annual basis for monthly taxes/fees for a phone line (about $35 per year). The Ooma device connects to your home router or modem, and you connect your home phones to the Ooma device. To get the use of several phones throughout the house, we used our existing phone with a base, and with the phone line connected to the Ooma device, and then the other 3 phones are cordless to the base. With Ooma they control the call quality (referred to quality of service QOS), so you don't get the issues as with Skype, Magic Jack, or Vonage. This is a significant difference and benefit. The setup was very easy, and included a test to verify that the service would work using the internet connection (via cable) before committing. The entire transfer took 3 weeks, which was mostly waiting on the cable company to port over the number to Ooma.
The Ooma option is the best to meet our needs: After the one time cost of the device, you get a hone phone service with very high call quality service at minimal costs (about $3/month). We've had Ooma for several months, and it works great. We can audibly screen our calls using our existing base phone, and using a traditional answering machine. By the way, this is a key consideration -- there are many internet based phone services, like Skype, that provide voice mail -- but you don't get the audible call using your traditional phone and answering machine so you can screen calls by listening. And we can access our answering machine remotely when traveling, which was a feature it had already.
Now, there are several other options that I read about, but mostly deal with rigging your computer up in some goofy way to get phone service. If you're geeky and want to mess around, go for it. We wanted a phone service that works like a traditional service in the home -- phones that you can have several in the house, an traditional answering machine, and virtually no cost. Ooma fits the bill -- after the one time cost to get the device. We cut the $25+ per month for cable phone service (AT&T would be the same), and will pay for it in 10 months, and get great call quality.
If you haven't yet, it's time to do something to eliminate or nearly eliminate those monthly phone bills!