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Unlimited Broadband Phone Service Options - Who's the Best?
By Jim Davis 
ProvideTechnology, Investigative Reporter

In the mid 90ís consumers rejoiced as long distance rates tumbled from an average of 25 cents per minute to a national average of 7 cents with discount carriers pushing rates as low as 3.9 cents per minute. Today though a new chapter has been opened in telecommunications with unlimited long distance plans available from many companies via what has become to be known as Broad Band Phone Service. 

For clients with high-speed Internet connections (DSL or Cable Modem)  broadband phone companies provide unlimited calling options over an Internet connection at prices lower then any service has ever offered. High-speed access is required to use this service but for those with broadband, unlimited calling plans now start at 19.95 a month including calls to Canada along with one provider that includes unlimited calling to Western Europe at a price point under 20 dollars a month. The providers featured offering this type of service include Packet8, iConnectHere, Lingo, Vonage, MyPhoneCompany and Opex Internet Voice are clearly the leaders in the consumer industry.  Recently we put all of these providers to the test and while a full report is due out later in the year the preliminary results are as follow.

1.  All the above providers got acceptable marks for customer service but Opex Internet Voice scored highest in customer service followed in a close second by MyPhoneCompany.  The other providers were all outclassed by the two at the top but customer service from all of them was more the acceptable.

2.  All offered rock bottom rates but Packet8 ranked best for Quality of Service and tied with Lingo for the lowest unlimited rates to the US and Canada.

3.  While edged out for Quality of Service by Packet8, Lingo offered more then acceptable quality and included unlimited calling to the US, Canada and much of Western Europe at the sub 20 dollar price point offering a truly unique pricing and value point.  All in all if you call Western Europe go with Lingo if not go with Packet8 as the quality is somewhat better.

4.  For the lowest average international rates iConnectHere blended a top three finish on customer service with the best over all rates available for international users across the board.  They also finished at the top for over all call quality and quality of hardware provided to their users.

5.  MyPhoneCompany came up with an excellent rating for service and while not the lowest they did have one unique value point that made them stand out.  That was local number availability.  For those that really want a local number for inbound calls who live off the beaten path you may pay a bit more to have Canada in your local calling area (24.99 vs. the 19.99 price point of Lingo and Packet8) but if you live in a rural area odds are that MyPhoneCompany will still have a local number available for you.  Further if you don't call Canada they offer a plan for unlimited US calling only at the 19.99 price point.

6.  The features race was pretty much a dead heat between most of the providers.  Opex however had the most unique features that people would tend to actually use on a regular basis.

7.  Vonage was the only provider that did not come out on top of any given category.  While they got exceptional to good ratings in each category no where did the Broad Band Phone Giant come out as the "best".  This was not much of a surprise as the biggest companies in any service industry never tend to be the best at any one thing.  Instead they focus on being consistent across the board.  Vonage was Very Good or better in all the categories save for customer service where they could use the most improvement.

For a great break down of each provider just visit our compare plans page.

- Jim Davis
Investigative Reporter
ProvideTechnology, LLC

 

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