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,
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
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,
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.
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
however had the most unique features that
people would tend to actually use on a regular basis.
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
- Jim Davis