The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Here's another non-genealogy article about a very low-cost telephone service.
I have been experimenting for years with telephones that communicate over the Internet. I am very impressed with the advances in technology. Years ago, the only method of making phone calls over the Internet meant you had to wear a headset and leave your computer running all the time in order to receive calls. Call quality varied, usually from mediocre to worse than mediocre. Boy, have the times changed!
Today's VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones can look like regular telephones. In fact, some of them are regular telephones that you simply plug into a box that connects to the Internet instead of to a wall jack in your home. With most of today's VoIP systems, there is no need to leave your computer running all the time. Since these devices do not connect to your computer, there is no need to leave the computer on. You can turn the computer off and continue to use the VoIP phone. However, you typically do need to leave your broadband Internet router running all the time. Routers consume approximately the same amount of electricity as a typical nightlight.
With today's VoIP systems, there are no special commands to learn. If the phone rings, simply pick it up and say "Hello." If you wish to call someone else, you just pick up the phone and dial the number in the same manner you have always used. Even a child can do it. The child or any other user doesn't even need to know that it is an Internet telephone connection. The "special phone numbers," such as 911 emergency calling, are also fully supported with most of today's VoIP telephone systems, although not with all of them.
This week I have been using a new VoIP system. It operates in the same manner as any other telephone. In fact, I use a normal phone with it. I purchased the phone at a local department store perhaps ten or fifteen years ago. However, it now plugs into a very small box instead of into a normal phone line. That box also has two other connectors: one has a normal ethernet cable to connect to the router in my home, and the other connects either to a small power supply or to a computer's USB connector.
That's right: the device works either with or without a computer attached. I can also optionally transfer my existing telephone number to the new phone service although I elected to not do that.
I can also take the new device and a telephone with me when I travel. This means that I can have my local number with me anywhere I go, as long as I can connect it to an Internet connection. In fact, it even works outside of the country. If I am in England or New Zealand or China, as long as this device is plugged into a broadband Internet connection, I can receive and make FREE calls to the United States and Canada and low-cost calls to other countries. I can even buy this for someone I know who lives overseas and give him or her the gift of free calls to friends and family back in the U.S. and Canada. All that person needs is the telephone system I purchased plus a broadband Internet connection.
Sound quality also has been excellent on the dozen or so calls I have made so far. The new device has call waiting, caller ID, voice mail, emergency 911 calling, and directory assistance.
Best of all is the price: $19.95 a year for the telephone service plus a one-time purchase of the device for $60 or $70 plus shipping, plus you must obtain a regular telephone someplace. A free, 60-day trial is also available so that you can "try it before you pay for it." For a day or two, I used an old AT&T Trimline phone I had stored in the closet. Once I decided I liked the service and wanted to continue using it, I purchased a new cordless phone at a local store. I then switched phones and placed the old, corded Trimline phone back in the closet. If I wished, I could even plug in additional extension phones in other rooms in the house. However, I have little need for extensions when using a cordless phone.
The $19.95 charge per year includes unlimited telephone calls to any numbers in the U.S. and Canada. That's right, no toll charges for calling anyplace in the U.S. or Canada. This means I can call any normal telephone and talk for hours and hours for about five cents a day. International calls are also available for very, very low prices.
The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only. SUBSCRIBE NOW to read this article.
If you have a Plus Edition user ID and password, you can read the full article right now at no additional charge in this web site's Plus Edition at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=19020. This article will remain online for several weeks.
If you do not remember your Plus Edition user ID or password, you can retrieve them at http://www.eogn.com/wp/ and click on "Forgot password?"
If you decide to subscribe to the Plus Edition right now, you will be able to immediately read this article online. What sort of articles can you read in the Plus Edition? Click here to find out.
For more information about subscribing to the Plus Edition of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, visit http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/plusedition.html.