The world continues to change around us. I have written a number of times about telephone service that runs on the Internet instead of on old-fashioned telephone lines. These are usually referred to as VoIP phones, meaning "Voice over Internet Protocol.")
I canceled my regular telephone service several years ago and have since used two phones: (1.) a cell phone and (2.) a VoIP phone. I am very happy with the change and especially with the much lower prices. The call quality of the VoIP phone is usually as good as or better than the old-fashioned phone service. I doubt if I will ever go back to old-fashioned telephone service again.
Apparently, I am not alone. Millions of other Americans are doing the same: abandoning PSTN (public switched telephone network) in favor of VoIP phones. The National Center for Health Statistics now says that only 6% of the US population will still be served by the public switched telephone network (PSTN) by the end of 2018.
Of course, with a small customer base, providing regular telephone service will no longer be cost-effective. The expenses of maintaining miles of copper wires, along with all the required switching equipment, will be far too expensive as the number of customers to share those expenses declines. Computer switching equipment is much, much cheaper. If the numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics are correct, I would expect the telephone companies will abandon old-fashioned PSTN long before 2018.
The Technical Advisory Council (TAC) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommended last week that the FCC set a date certain for the sunset of the PSTN rather than let the service fade slowly into oblivion as it is doing now. The council recommends action be taken now to guarantee availability of emergency 911 services as well as high-speed Internet connection availability in rural areas.
You can read more at http://goo.gl/gZySl and in a related article, The Ugly End of the Phone Network, at http://goo.gl/8QgKS.
If you are thinking about switching to a VoIP service, I would suggest you do what I did: do not abruptly cancel the telephone service you have used for years. Instead, install the new service as a SECOND LINE in your home and use both systems in parallel for a few months. Everyone's usage will be different from everyone else's. You won't know if VoIP will work for you until you try it for a while. Eventually, you might decide to "pull the plug" on the old service, as I did. However, I would suggest there is no need to hurry.
In a related topic, I just installed a new FREE VoIP telephone service in my home. I did have to pay about $50 for some new hardware, but the service is totally free of charge. There is no monthly fee. All incoming calls are free and outgoing calls to any telephone in the United States and Canada are free. Calls to other countries cost a few pennies each, much cheaper than the equivalent toll charges of the telephone companies.
The new service runs on a standard cordless telephone I purchased at a local department store plus one new "black box" that I purchased. I do not need to leave my computer running all the time; the new service works perfectly even when the computer is turned off.
I'm going to use this service for another week or two and, if it continues to work as well as it has the first few days, I will probably write about it in a future newsletter.
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