The old home phone is becoming obsolete. Many people are cancelling their landlines and relying on cell phones alone. But Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones are cheaper, plus in most cases you get to keep your old phone number. VOIP phones use high-speed internet. The service is carried through your internet connection. You’ll need broadband internet (cable or DSL) and a phone or phone adapter. Then make calls as normal—but for less money!
The main disadvantage of VOIP is that it relies on your internet connection. If your connection is down, for example in a power cut, you’ll have no phone access. And a bad connection can result in fuzzy or dropped calls. But if your electricity supply is reliable and internet connection is good, then VOIP should work for you.
Once you’ve decided that VOIP is the way to go, research your options thoroughly. Finding the best VOIP home phone provider can be daunting, but doing some research now will save you money. You can start right here: this article reviews the main VOIP providers: Vonage, Comwave, Yak, Primus, G3 Telecom, and ZiDVOX.
Make sure you know what you want from your new home phone. Investigate the features you’ll need, and don’t get carried away with ones you won’t actually use. For example, if you make a lot of international calls, make sure you choose a reliable company which offers good rates to the country you call.
Details to consider include:
Billing. Will you be billed by the minute? The second? What is the refund policy? Will you only be given credits, instead of cash refunded onto your credit card? Will you have to sign a long contract? If so, what are the penalties for breaking it? Do they offer “unlimited” service? If so, find out what the limit actually is: number of calls, or amount of minutes.
Contracts. Will the contract be automatically renewed? If so, make sure you note the day on your calendar because you may find yourself facing another monthly bill. Read all the terms and conditions before signing up to a service and committing yourself. If possible, get the company to send the details, rather than relying on a phone conversation, particularly if the salesperson is offering a deal which is not on the website.
Reviews. Read customer reviews, as well as the company’s own websites. And make sure you read recent reviews. Problems which customers complained about in the past may have been fixed.
Here are the VoIP Home Phone Comparisons
Vonage was a VOIP pioneer, and is now one of the largest providers. It has a good reputation for reliability, and offers a wide range of options.
You may be able to keep your existing phone number.
There are several residential and world plans, which you’ll choose based on your calling profile.
The basic U.S. & Canada Unlimited plan with a one-year contract is $9.99 per month for the first three months, then rises to $24.99 per month, plus taxes and fees. This plan offers free shipping and free activation. This plan includes:
- Unlimited local and long distance calling in Canada, the U.S., and Puerto Rico
- Option to choose up to five other numbers in these countries to ring when your Vonage number is called
- Free calls to other Vonage customers
- Call forwarding, Voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, anonymous call block, 3-way calling
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Emergency 911 calls
If you choose the Basic 911 service, and call 911, the local operator might not see your number and address, which you’ll have to provide before help can be dispatched. You can upgrade to Enhanced 911 for a fee.
Vonage has a good reputation for excellent customer service. The website has a great FAQ, too.
Setting up is easy. Connect the phone adapter Vonage provides with your high-speed internet connection, and connect your existing phone to the adapter. You can connect your account to your cell phone, too. The first extension is free, others are $4.99 per month.
Vonage charges a setup fee and requires a yearly contract for many of its options. Opting out of the contract results in a cancellation fee. The unlimited calling depends on the number of unique numbers called, minutes used, and other factors. In other words, it is not unlimited.
Comwave is the largest VOIP provider in Canada, and they offer aggressive pricing. Comwave offers a variety of services: home, business, and internet.
You can keep your existing phone number at no charge with Comwave.
There are various plans you can subscribe to. The Basic Plan is $14.95 per month, for no contract, or $9.95 per month for a three year contract. The plan includes:
- Unlimited local calls
- Free long distance calls to Comwave customers
- 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee
- Caller ID block (the enhanced plan has 14 free features)
You can also get a toll-free number for 99¢ per month. And Comwave offers a CityFree number, which for $4.95 per month you can add on. This in effect gives you a local number to the city you choose, so people calling you don’t pay long-distance charges.
The long distance bundles are varied. What you choose will depend on your calling profile. For example, with Global 1000 you get 1000 minutes to certain countries for $10 per month.
Comwave uses a third-party service. You will have to provide your address and phone number to the operator before help can be dispatched; however, you can update your 911 address online, in your Comwave “My Account”.
There’s an extensive FAQ on Comwave’s website, plus Canadian and international numbers.
You can connect to either a cable high speed internet or DSL high speed internet. Comwave has clear installation videos on their website. There is no charge for the hardware, just a $50 refundable deposit.
Unused minutes from the long-distance plans can’t be carried over into the next month.
Yak has been around for over 12 years, owned by the privately-owned Canadian-based Globalive since 2006. There are no contracts with Yak.
You can keep your existing phone number.
There are several digital home phone plans. The basic plan is currently $9.50 per month and includes:
- A promo where the first two months are $4.75
- Unlimited local calls
- 200 minutes of North American long distance calls
- Unlimited calls to other Yak phones
- Call forwarding, call display, caller ID, call waiting, call return, speed dial
You will have to provide your address and phone number to the operator before help can be dispatched.
Yak has 100% Canadian customer service.
You can purchase or rent the hardware. Connect your modem to your regular phone with the Cisco ATA box.
The 200 free minutes for the basic plan is very low. “Unlimited” Canada and U.S. minutes are $17.95 per month for 1500 minutes. International rates vary. And though transferring your existing number to Yak is free, Yak charges an activation fee for a new number.
Primus offers internet and phone services. They won the Consumer Choice Award in 2013.
You can keep your existing phone number if you’re within serviceable areas.
The basic digital plan is the Basic Home Phone which is $9.95 per month for a two year contract, with the first three month free. It includes:
- Unlimited local calls
- 5¢ per minute to Canada and the U.S.
- Choice of two calling features: the list includes call display, call blocking, call forward, call hold, call transfer, and call waiting
Primus World rates vary. Calling India, for example, is 7¢ per minute. Adding unlimited worldwide calling is an extra $5 per month.
Adding features such as call display, call blocking, call forward, call hold, call transfer, and call waiting, etc., is extra, as you only get two of these features with the Basic plan.
Basic 911 service is routed through a specialized call center. You’ll need to provide your address and phone number to the operator before help can be dispatched.
Primus offers E-Care as well as a help line.
You can set up your Digital Home Phone Starter Kit yourself. Plug the Adapter into your cable or DSL internet connection.
The website is difficult to navigate, for instance it is hard to find emergency 911 information. It can take up to 21 business days to switch over to Primus, during which time you can’t receive calls.
G3 Telecom may offer new customer promos, so make sure you get the best deal. You don’t have to sign a contract, and all plans offer new customers one a month free trial.
You can keep your existing number, but it may cost you.
The basic home phone plan is the Unlimited Local plan, which is currently $9.95 per month. The plan includes:
- Unlimited local calling
- Free unlimited calling to other G3 customers
- 1 month free trial
- Extensive calling features include: call display, call forwarding, call waiting with caller ID, voicemail, voicemail to email, and more
- 30-day free trial
G3 also offers Unlimited North America, and Unlimited World plans. Some plans offer free long distance from your cell phone.
You must log onto your G3 account and input your address to ensure the 911 service will work. Like the other VOIP phones, 911 calls are routed through a specialized call centre.
The FAQ on the website is extensive.
Setup is easy. Connect the G3 adapter to your high speed internet. You can also take the adapter with you if you are travelling.
Some reviews mention inconsistent network connections. Insufficient bandwidth could result in poor quality phone calls.
ZiDVOX is a division of ZYMOS Computer Systems Inc, a player in the internet services industry. They offer internet service as well as phone.
There are three phone options. The basic plan is LocalVOX, which is $9.95 per month. This plan includes:
- Unlimited local calls
- 3¢ per minute long distance calls in Canada and the U.S.
- Free calls to other ZiDVOX customers
- 6 second billing on all long distance calls
- Calling features include: caller ID, call waiting, 3-way calling, advanced voicemail, advanced call forwarding
International calls are different rates. For instance, calls to western Europe are 4¢ per minute.
Like the other VOIP phones, 911 calls with ZiDVOX are routed through specialized call centres, which transfer you to your local emergency service.
There’s only one number on the website. ZiDVOX would prefer you to email your problem—there is a form on the site.
Installation is easy, simply plug the supplied telephone adapter into your DSL or cable broadband internet connection and your phone.
Local number portability isn’t available throughout Canada. The local coverage area only includes Alberta, BC, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec.