Broadband Phone Services

vonage – skype – magic jack

Announcement: Broadband Phone Services an Introduction

Thursday Jul 29, 2010

Broadband phone services, called VoIP (voice-over-IP) are services offered by different companies, as an alternative to landline telephones or even mobile phones. Either way you look at it, you’re going to find these services cheaper than a basic landline telephone service. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be better in terms of quality. Not to mention that some might simply not enjoy using their computer to make their phone calls.

Not arguing why you should or should not give this type of services a try, we’re going to provide you a short list of benefits of Broadband Phone Services and also a couple of disadvantages, so at the end of this article you’ll have a little more insight of how things are with VoIP services.

Broadband Phone Services Pros:

Reduced costs. Since the process of VoIP calls happens over the Internet, the infrastructure and communication costs are greatly minimized. Just think of how much you pay per month for your landline or mobile phone and compare that to how much you pay for your Internet access per month.. You see, the classic telephone calls are charged per minute or second, depending on the provider company. Voice-over-IP calls, or the Internet calls are charged per megabyte (MB that is), meaning per amount of data sent across the Internet and not the time spent to send that data.

It’s very flexible!  Leaving aside those companies that offer even video calls for the same charge as the common VoIP calls, we’re presenting just the major advantage of being able to take your toys with you anywhere you travel. Providing that the Internet signal is of some decent quality in the places where you decide to travel, VoIP calls can be made from pretty much anywhere because nowadays broadband phone servicesbroadband phone services offer portable devices that you carry in your pocket. These devices may vary in size and form, but the most common models will easily connect to your (or anyone else’s) computer’s USB ports, pretty much making the annoying landline phone cables ugly history.

Those being the major advantages of Broadband Phone Services technology (believe us, you don’t need more than these), we’re moving on to the disadvantages, so that you’ll know to be aware how to make your choice regarding broadband phone services.

One problem is the fact that once your Internet is down or the power runs out, you’re left without a phone. Also, poor Internet signal will significantly decrease the quality of your calls, if not make them unavailable at all. You should really keep this aspect in mind, in case you decide to take your VoIP with you on your mountain climbing trip.

Another aspect you should be aware of is the fact that, due to VoIP portability features, some emergency call services might not work for you in different areas and that is because it’s not always easy to keep track of an IP, especially a dynamic one. However, there are good quality VoIP providers out there who will advise you what’s the best way to keep the emergency call services updated with your location.

So if you’re considering getting on board with broadband communication services, be sure to do a lot of research before settling down with one company. Check a lot of websites which provide you users’ reviews of such services, ask your friends and trusted ones and ultimately, read extremely careful the agreement contracts before signing them.


Smart Long Distance Shopping

Saturday Apr 12, 2008

The following information warns you about some deceptive techniques used to sell telephone service. It can help you avoid marketing abuses today and alert you to tactics that may be used in the future.

Slamming

You have the right to choose your primary long distance company and to change companies whenever you wish. Over the past few years, the number one consumer complaint in the telephone market involves a practice called “slamming” — when your chosen long distance telephone service provider is switched to another company without your consent or knowledge. This practice may involve deceptive marketing tactics or outright fraud, and it could affect your local service. If your service is slammed, you could lose important service features, get lower quality service, or be charged higher rates for your long distance calls. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules prohibit slamming. The FCC’s rules require a long distance company to obtain your authorization before changing your long distance service provider. Your service may be switched through no fault of your own. You could be misled by marketing techniques used to sign up customers for telephone service. To avoid this, you should carefully read all promotional material and all forms before signing, including the sweepstakes, contests, promotional checks or other marketing devices some companies use to induce consumers to authorize a carrier switch. FCC rules require that the forms provided by long distance companies to change long distance service be clear and not confusing, signed and dated by the consumer subscribing to the telephone line involved with the change, and easily separated from the promotional material. For instance, the form could be printed on a piece of paper that does not include any promotional material. Or, the form and promotional material could be included on a sheet of paper with perforations so that the form can be easily torn off and separated from the promotional material.

Checks in the Mail

Closely examine checks from telephone companies offering money to switch to their service. While it may be wise to take advantage of special offers, make sure you are signing up for the plan that saves you the most money. Some companies may not put you on their best savings plan. You could end up paying more than the value of the check in higher monthly rates. In some cases, customers need to mark a box on the back of the check to receive the discounted service. A check must clearly state that the customer is authorizing a change in service, but read the entire offer. Look for a full explanation of the changes you are authorizing next to the signature line on the back of the check. If you do cash the check, call the customer service number provided soon after cashing it to make sure you have been placed in the best discount program for you.

Discount Plans

Carefully examine telephone or mail solicitations that offer big savings if you switch your service to a new company. These claims usually compare only the highest rates of well-known carriers. A calling plan with your current company may have lower rates and fewer restrictions than the program being offered. In any case, ask more questions and find out about any hidden costs or restrictions associated with discount plans. Do the discounts offered fit your calling habits? Will the company provide other services you need, such as 24-hour customer service and reliable billing? If you are not getting straight answers, you probably have reason to be suspicious.

Five-Digit Discount Codes

Pay close attention to mailings offering big savings if you use a so-called discount code of five digits at the start of each call you make. These offers promise not to change your long distance company, which is technically true. Dialing the five digits before the number that you are calling will connect you to a long distance company with rates may be higher or lower than the rates charged by your long distance company.

Short-Term Bargains

“Bargains” that provide certain services at a discount or for free often last for only a few weeks or months, then automatically continue at a much higher rate unless you specifically request cancellation. Remember also that your local telephone company charges a fee to change your long distance company. Some long distance companies will pay this charge if you switch to their service.

Package Deals

Package deals can offer a good value as many companies begin to offer deep discounts to customers who buy all their telecommunications services from one source, such as Internet, cable TV, pager, local and long distance services. It could, however, be cheaper to buy separately only the services needed, rather than an entire package. Make sure you purchase what you truly want and can afford.

Selection Freeze

Your local telephone company may tell you that you can avoid negative marketing tactics by signing up for a program that requires you to directly contact your local telephone company to change carriers. Some local companies require written permission. While written permission will help protect you from slamming, it can make it more difficult to take advantage of new competitors offering lower prices or better service.

Prepaid Calling Cards

Depending on their per-minute rate, prepaid calling cards can save money on long distance calls of short duration. If you use prepaid cards for calls from home or for local calls, however, you may pay more than if you used your regular telephone service. In addition, some companies that sold consumers calling cards have gone out of business before the customer can use the full value of the card. Only prepay if you know and trust the company making an offer.

Pay Phones

Be aware that pay phones may be connected to operator service companies charging high rates and added fees. If you make calls away from home, consider getting a calling card that allows you access to the company of your choice by dialing its access code, usually an 800 number. Though illegal, some pay phones are set up to block your ability to reach your company. If you have trouble reaching your carrier or using a calling card, try to find another nearby pay phone.

What You Can Do
Verify Your Company

If you suspect your long distance carrier has been changed without your permission, call 1-700-555-4141 from your home phone and a recording will state which carrier is connected to your home line. Its name will also be listed on your bill.

Get a Refund

If your telephone company is switched improperly, call your local telephone company and your original carrier and arrange to be switched back immediately at no charge. You have the right to demand a refund if you were charged a switching fee or were billed at higher rates than your own carrier’s rates.

Get Help With a Complaint

For advice about a telephone-related problem, contact your state or local consumer protection agency, or your state Attorney General or public utilities commission. If necessary, they may take a complaint from you or refer you to another agency that can help you. Send a copy of your grievance to the company so they know you are dissatisfied.

To File a Complaint

If you are unsuccessful in resolving problems about interstate or international long distance service with the company, you can write to the Federal Communications Commission. Your complaint should include your name; address; the telephone number or numbers involved with the complaint; a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours; the names of your local and long distance companies and, where appropriate, the company that slammed you; and copies of bills or other documents related to your complaint. Be aware that complaints can take several months to process.

For additional information about telephone advertising or service plans, please call the FCC’s toll-free number (voice) 1-888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322) or (TTY) 1-888-835-5322. You can also write the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20554. Information is additionally available through the internet at www.fcc.gov.

You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by contacting their Consumer Response Center by phone: at toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) (voice); 202-326-2502 (TTY); by mail: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580; or through the Internet using the online complaint form. Although the FTC cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations.