VOIP: Long Distance On the Cheap, High Quality and No Internet Required

I’ve decided that communication service expenses are one of my largest financial outlays. Considering how important communication is to me, both personally and professionally, this rings (pun intended) a bit ironic.So I started with looking at this area. I have DSL service, I have a cell phone plan, I have a wireless internet plan added to my cell phone plan, I have a 1-800 number, I have a standard phone line, I have a long distance carrier. That’s a lot for just one little service provider. So I’m looking at what I need to keep and what I can either eliminate or reduce.

I use Qwest long distance, which has been pretty good, after the first three months of total fiasco. Once they got my billing right, and quit sending me $600+ monthly bills (charging something inane like 15 or 20 cents per minute) for a $20 per month unlimited plan, it was pretty good. If you decide you want a good standard long distance plan, I recommend this one — but be prepared, just in case you have the “rounds” for a couple months that I did. It usually ran over $20 per month once all the fees and taxes were added, but it seldom topped $30 per month. It was still a pretty good deal. You do have to request this plan, however, they seldom seem to tell you that it’s available… so ask. Their number (if you are interested, is 1-800-860-2255.

But, if you want to save even more (50-75% more), you may want to consider ChatterBug. If you are a corporate office or a company/government agency this won’t work for you. But as an individual outsourcing provider or freelancer, it just might.

Last night, I purchased the ChatterBug device (picked it up at Wal-Mart for $21.16) and I hooked it up this afternoon to give it a test drive. After placing several calls and getting the opinion of those on the other end of the line, it appears that it’s going to be a thumbs-up solution. It also functions on the extension handsets I have for my main line. That’s nice.

The device plugs into the back of your phone. It’s really that simple. No Internet required, no muss, no fuss. It’s a great little product and the only problem I’ve had so far is that a couple of my calls didn’t go through the first try. I had to hit “redial” — but once they connect, it’s probably a better sounding (louder) connection than my standard LD company provided.

If I have any problems with this little thing over the next few weeks, I’ll yell. Otherwise, my long distance phone bill was just shaved down to a respectable $9.95 per month — unlimited to anywhere in the US AND Canada. You may want to give it a spin. To learn more, visit www.ChatterBug.com.

Read my Not-so-stellar update on this adventure after one month of trying it out. I’m back to Qwest now. Thankfully I switched back before the 35-day grace period, so I’m still “grandfathered in” with my old (and no-longer available) plan. *whew*