I recently had someone tell me about how they were paying upwards of $55-$60 per month for their number! Um wow. I do not have a land-line nor do I plan to have one. If someone needs to get a hold of me, they call me on my cell. Simple as that. But after listening to them about why they needed a land-line, I began to to discern alternate possibilities:
1. AT&T offers a phone line monthly plan that costs around $30; it allows 25 outgoing call to be made, each one has an unlimited amount of time to it. After that, it’s $0.10/minute. It also allows for an unlimited amount of incoming calls.
2. Use Toktumi VOIP service – their plans start at $15/month for unlimited minutes. I have a 1-877 phone number with them & I only pay $15 buck per month & I don’t have to worry about anyone paying for minutes. It’s a win-win situation. Also did I mention they also allow for a virtual assistant (press 1 for… etc) and there’s always the nifty voicemail that comes with it. What I truly love about Toktumi is their ability to work with mobile phones. I have an old iPhone that sits around at home, so when someone calls in on the line, the iPhone has their Line2 app running on it and I can pick up the call on the iphone! Of course this uses the Wifi in my home. On the audio quality note, the sound is awesome (they advertise HD audio when using wifi) Now lets say you have an iphone that you are already paying for a data plan on, you could easily use their service over 3G or Wifi without using any minutes up! They even claim to be capable of porting numbers over if you want. Connection times have never been more than 5 seconds for me. It also seems that later this year they will be handling SMS services through the lines as well, which in my opinion, is above & beyond for the price. It’s much appreciated if you use the referral code: 196 34 8212
3. Use the MagicJack (VOIP) device – MagicJack is another VOIP choice. They charge you $40/year which includes the cost of the unit you purchase. This seems to be the cheapest, paid scenario, but I’ve heard mixed things about MagicJack. I’ve heard (literally heard) bad audio during a call and it wasn’t on just one occasion either. Connection times are less than 1 minute in length. One major downside I see to the magicjack is that it has to be plugged into a computer at all times and it has been on in order to work. Some strengths to this service is that it allows you to plug in land line phone into it and it comes with voicemail. You however, cannot transfer a phone number to their service… yet.
4. Google Voice – while Google Voice could potentially get you a number, it requires you to already have a phone – whether it is a cell phone or erm, land-line… essentially the number forwards the caller to your phone. It still uses your cell minutes (if applicable). If however, is free and can also handle SMS and can transcribe voice-mails. You definitely cannot transfer a number, but you will probably be able to find a number with and area code close (or even the same) as yours. More than likely everyone has heard of “Google” and because of that Google has web apps and other applications that can run natively on mobile phones. (For iPhone users, take a look at BlackSwan)
I’m sure there are many more choices, but these are ones I have personal experiences with and can’t say I’d recommend something, I’ve never used. Overall, the easiest & cheapest way to go, is with Google Voice. Once set up, you can discontinue the phone that you activated the account with and just make sure that the Google Voice account goes directly to voicemail when an user calls in on the line. If your not much for the forwarding-phone type, then I recommend the Toktumi service. If you must have a hard-line connected and have a AOC (always-on-computer) to spare then, go with MagicJack.