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Internet Telephone Services for Individuals and Small Businesses

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and other landline replacement services offer an array of communication benefits and options that can save you and your company money.

May 2009
by Steven Oster/Journal of Accountancy

In a typical home or small office the traditional wired phone line has undergone many changes. High-speed Internet service and advances in voice and data compression have improved voice quality tremendously, making conversations possible without a telephone network while significantly lowering communications costs. Larger organizations have been using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for their phone needs for some time. Individuals and small businesses that mix landlines and cell phones can also benefit from this communications revolution.

VoIP technology allows voice calls to take place over an Internet connection instead of the traditional wired phone system. VoIP is a competitive and evolving technology that either requires or works best with a high-speed Internet connection. Numerous companies offer low-cost, high-quality services with an array of benefits. For some people more than one service may be useful. This article explores some of the options. Because these technologies are evolving rapidly, confirm all features and prices before signing up.

Landline Replacement Services

Landline replacement services are offered by local broadband providers such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner and RCN. A technician comes out to replace or bypass the exterior connection from the phone company. You continue to use your old phones, and your phone number stays the same. You don’t have to be a broadband subscriber, but you’ll need to be within the broadband service area of your new provider.

Third-party providers, such as Vonage and Packet8, require an existing broadband connection. Their equipment is designed for self-installation: A phone plugs directly into a small adapter. Professional installation is available in some areas for those who aren’t comfortable with this process. Self-installation can be more complicated when dealing with multiple phone jacks throughout a home or office.

VoIP services offer attractive rates compared with a traditional landline service.

This article has been excerpted from the Journal of Accountancy. Read the full article here.