Thinking about VOIP to replace my land line. Any recommendations?

Another $38.60 (per month) bill for my land line, which I barely use. That’s made up of:

  • line rental $22.95
  • 17 local calls $5.10
  • calls to mobiles $1.62
  • silent line $2.93
  • caller ID $6.00

Almost all of the cost ($31.88) is in the line itself, rather than the calls.

My sister’s recently gone down the route of not having a land line at all; just mobile. I’m not sure I want to do that just yet, particularly as lengthy local calls to family could get very expensive.

VOIP has come a long way in recent years, and could be an option. Naked DSL (which is available in my area) along with an ISP VOIP plan could turn out to be substantially cheaper.

It appears my current Netgear DG384G version 5 modem/router doesn’t support VOIP, so it looks like I’d either need an ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter, about $60) or a new modem/router than supports VOIP (about $100).

But (taking the offerings from iiNet/Netspace as an example, since that’s my current ISP, and I’m pretty happy with them) it’s then monthly costs of $9.95. With the usage above, 17 local calls at 15 cents = $2.55, assume the mobile call would be the same cost. Unlike with a conventional phone, you don’t get a White Pages listing unless you opt in (rather than paying $2.93 per month to opt out). It’s not clear to me if I could still get caller ID, but it still adds up to only $14.12 for that “typical” month, so I’d make $100 investment in equipment back in less than 5 months.

What have I missed? What else should I take into account? What other options are there?

PS. The main thing I missed is that Netspace’s Naked DSL plans include iiTalk VOIP for free. (This is probably the same deal Julian’s comment refers to.) The Naked plan is $10 more than I’m paying now. One option for hardware would be a BoB2 VOIP phone would be another $9.95/month (and local calls are free), or $199 outright.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

16 replies on “Thinking about VOIP to replace my land line. Any recommendations?”

“What else should I take into account?”
The fact that you do a lot of radio interviews where you are on the phone. The sound quality from a land line phone is far better than a mobile.
Keep your land line so that you can get your PT message across without listeners struggling to understand you.

I recently set up an account with MyNetFone, using their offer for Whirlpool readers. $19.95 upfront cost – this gives you a phone number and $10 call credit (calls are 10c untimed to anywhere in Australia). The only on-going cost after that is a $5 annual fee for the phone number, and then whatever credit you put on the service (prepaid).

I use a Snom 300 VOIP phone, which I’ve had for about five years. It’s been a good phone, although recently its LCD display died (possibly a result of an electrical storm that killed my cable modem), but otherwise it still works. You don’t need to have VOIP support in your router for this to work. I had wondered if there would be a problem with NAT for incoming calls, but it seems that the phone just polls their SIP server every minute or so, and thus the server always knows what ports to connect back on.

I have a $32/month Telstra land line and it includes 50 local calls a month and 18 c/call after that, so I can keep it pretty close to $32 if I want to. Long distance are reasonable rates and so are international. You could try that plan instead.

Caller ID is a rip-off and the phone company knows it. $6 a MONTH? Get rid of that and just talk to people to work out who they are. I’d like caller ID so I can know who rang when I was out, but on principle I won’t pay such an extortionate amount for the phone company to send 10 bytes of data along the line when the phone rings.

I keep my landline because I object to paying high rates per minute to talk to people when they are in their houses, and I know people who want to talk to me without paying per minute as well. And landlines are always more reliable than mobile phones.

One of the main issues with moving away from ‘old fashioned’ fixed line is the access at all times. If you take up a VOIP service you will find in the small print somewhere that it doesn’t work if there is a power outage, whereas your fixed phone is powered (well maybe, depends on the phone) from your local exchange)

I recently took up a cable service with Optus and it includes a cable modem with two ATA ports, so just plug in the phone and it works. However, when the power went out one day, I was unable to call the power Co, cos the modem wasn’t working, so had to spend 40 mins in queue on my mobile.

Also, some VOIP providers, say that their service cannot be used for emergency calls. Notably Skype does this. It suspect its because they can’t provide a fixed number that would provide the emergency services with a location, but I’m not sure.

+1 for MyNetFone. Another advantage is you can use their iPhone app to make/receive calls on your MyNetFone account when you’re travelling (and have wi-fi).

I highly recommend MyNetFone, been with them for a year and a half and they’ve been pretty good. Good rates and most extras are included free – caller ID, (optional) White Pages listing, voicemail/divert, etc.

You can also transfer your current number to them (if you meet the criteria).

Their rates for Whirlpool readers can be found at , much cheaper and better deals if you go through there

It would seem to me, risky to “assume” calls to mobiles would be the same. They might be charging $7 a minuted. I’d check.

I’ve had an iiNet ‘Bob’ modem/voip phone for years now. The first unit was faulty and needed to be replaced (three times a day power cycling was necessary), but that can happen with any hardware. The second device has been much more stable. I also like that I was able to plug my old landline into the back of the modem, so I have a phone in the study, then put the spare charging station they provided in another room for the Bob handset, so I was able to plug the Bob handset in anywhere in the house, regardless of whether there was a phone jack in the room or not.

My current deal with iiNet means I get completely free local, national and 1300 calls. Calls to mobiles are fairly expensive however, so I try to use my mobile if I’m calling a mobile, and the VOIP phone if I’m calling a land line. Overseas calls can be a bit pricey, but I’ve gotten into the habit of buying calling cards, which makes them extremely cheap again, like 1 cent a minute cheap, as iiNet regards it as a local call, and the calling cards are a pittance.

It’s true that if the power or internet connection drops out I can’t use the VOIP phone, but in those instances my mobile still works, and the one or two calls I have to make during that time never push me much closer to reaching my cap, so my bills are still the same.

@Roger and Phillip – By getting a VOIP phone, Daniel will still effectively have a landline, no need to rely on the mobile with poor sound quality, or per minute charges. In fact with my VOIP deal all local, national and 1300 calls are free regardless of length.

Yes that’s true Julian and I’m attracted to VOIP for that reason. I’ve been scared off by the reliability reports from a colleague’s experience with NodePhone and at the moment I’m still in a Telstra-only area, so it wouldn’t help me, but if it can be reliable it is a good idea. It’s quite easy to use an uninterruptible power supply to keep a modem and network running during a power failure, so that gets around that problem to a large extent.

As an iinet Naked DSL user of many years, I recently converted back to landline and ADSL2+ for two reasons: I found iinet’s iitalk call quality increasingly unreliable and changing between ISPs on Naked is a costly bureaucratic nightmare – one has to reconnect the landline, change ISPs and then go back to Naked.

My plan is to now go to TPG with a landline bundle which is cheaper than iinet Naked, and TPG offer free caller ID CND and some other goodies – and with a landline I’ll be free to change ISPs with ease.

I too offer positive feedback on MyNetFone – have used the Whirlpool saver and NeoSaver plans which are market leading. Also they have some cheap ATA s.

Lastly, Julian which iitalk plan offers inclusive 1300s? I had to pay for them and can’t find a current plan with free to1300.

There are some hidden positives and overvalued features. Ive been using Internode Nodephone for many years and naked ADSL for about two. I get all calls at local rates nationally but in fact rarely call beyond local call rates, the pent up demand wasn’t there. Being able to control diversion and voicemail remotely via the web is terrific. A fixed phone line for emergency calls is for me over rated, a mobile was of more value in answering relevant questions as it brought the phone much closer to the emergency. Caller ID free is terrific, also ability to sin-bin anonymous calls to voicemail is terrific. Being able to take my ATA on holidays overseas was good. I’d make sure you don’t change the user interface to avoid resistance from the rest of the household. Number porting to VOIP good so I need never change my phone number is good.

I personally use iiNet Naked DSL and get free local and national calls with the included iiTalk plan. Mobile calls aren’t that expensive I think at 29c per minute (per 30 second block).

It is a hassle to initially set up Naked DSL as the existing phone service has to be disconnected and then iiNet reconnects the line. You may even have to wait for a free port in the exchange. But once that’s done, its easy to connect the phone. I’ve got a fairly old iiNet modem, but I just plugged a phone into the modem and it was automatically configured. Its probably even easier with BoB.

Plus I am able to see the number of who is calling before I answer, so I guess that’s Caller ID.

note also that whoever your VOIP provider is, there is an APP for VOIP, which is the 3CX that you can install on either iphone or androidphone.
I have VOIP service with internode, and the good thing about it is also, I could be in New York, Tokyo or Singapore, yet I am still available at the cost of local call by people in OZ and vice versa… from the same exact same phone that could charge me for roaming..

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