Residential VoIP providers?
January 9, 2012 12:47 PM   Subscribe

What is the best residential VoIP/landline provider out there?

We just moved to a new house and, because of a number of factors, have decided we'd like something other than just our cell phones. This has to do with bad cell coverage in our house, phones only ringing upstairs (so people downstairs can't hear them), wanting to have a "house phone number," etc.

I know many of these problems can be solved using other solutions (e.g. Google Voice, microcell, etc.), but I'm interested in what people think is the best VoIP provider out there. Or should we go with a "true" landline?

I did have Vonage a while back and, while their service was fine, canceling with them was unpleasant (probably an "8" on a 1 to 10 scale where 1 is a Costco return and 10 is canceling AOL). So, on principle, I'd like to hear what else is out there. If everyone says that Vonage is still clearly the best, I'll go with them, but I'd like to know my options.
posted by Betelgeuse to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've had great luck with Ooma. The only other one I ever tried was Vonage, and Ooma has been way better.
posted by spilon at 1:00 PM on January 9, 2012

I use CallCentric, but they are an a la carte provider. Basically, unlike Vonage who provides you the hardware (which is locked to Vonage), Callcentric just provides the service -- you have to buy and configure your own hardware to use their service.

Actually, if you really want to you don't need hardware; it's possible to just use a softphone program running on your computer. (Similar to Skype.) But to be similar to a landline, what you want is an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). I use a Linksys model which is now discontinued, but there are a bunch of them on the market. I'd recommend picking one of the ones for which they provide setup instructions.

It's a bit of upfront work, but it's all prepaid, no-contract, and quite cheap. You can sign up for a monthly all-you-can-eat plan (domestic or international, but beware that some countries aren't covered in the plan) or just pay per minute for outgoing. Incoming is always free. Renting a number (a "DID" in VOIP lingo) is about $5/mo plus a few extra bucks for E-911 service if you're in the US.

I like them and have not had any problems, but they are on the DIY end of the spectrum as far as VOIP services go.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:01 PM on January 9, 2012

Best answer: My parents use Ooma. The benefit is you pay once for the hardware, and your only ongoing costs are roughly $3/month for taxes & fees. There have been a couple of outages (on the order of a day or so) since they joined, and a couple of dropped calls (on their end, not mine) but overall it's been reliable enough. My biggest complaint (and this is pretty much true of any VoIP service) is the latency. It's noticeable to me; when I call them we always end up talking over each other and doing that little verbal "go ahead -- no you go ahead" dance. When they're on a landline we don't have that problem.
posted by Nothlit at 1:25 PM on January 9, 2012

I have been a happy Ooma user thanks in large part to Google Voice. Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter.
posted by davidvanb at 1:31 PM on January 9, 2012

Best answer: Obihai works directly with Google Voice, so if that's a big factor for you that would be the way to go. This is, of course, predicated on GV remaining free long enough to make buying the hardware worth it. Skype also has their own proprietary ATA (as in, you can't use the adapter with any other VOIP services, just like Vonage) solution.
posted by calistasm at 2:02 PM on January 9, 2012

I used Voicepulse, and was very happy with them, until I figured out that I could replace their service with the Obihai/Google Voice combination mentioned above, for basically free after the $45 or so for the Obi adaptor. But if I wanted to go back to a regular VOIP service, I'd be right back with Voicepulse. Their customer service was so good that when I had problems (a few, over several years), they not only fixed them, they called me to tell me they'd fixed them. Surprised the crap out of me.

My experience with Vonage was awful, and really don't see much reason to have a landline.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 4:38 PM on January 9, 2012

I used to have Vonage, switched to Ooma. Call quality took a dive, and also there've been a number of times when I'd get a busy signal/"your call cannot be completed as dialed" from the Ooma line but it would work fine from my cell phone. I stay with Ooma 'cause it's cheaper and hasn't reached the point that I'm completely fed up with it. It also took multiple emails and links to Google searches before they straightened out their cellphone vs landline database for Denmark. Once the Ooma is paid for I'm pretty certain I'll be porting somewhere else.
posted by Runes at 9:21 PM on January 9, 2012

I've been with Viatalk for years, never had a problem.
posted by JujuB at 12:04 AM on January 10, 2012

If you go the DIY route: VOIP.MS offers a dial in DID number for 1 US$ a month.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:04 AM on January 10, 2012

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