Internet Phone Service Comes To Your Living Room

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(ARA) By now you have heard of VoIP, or Internet phone. But is it really something for the average consumer?

In short: If you care about saving money, the answer is yes.

This new technology is much easier than it sounds. You have regular phone numbers, use regular phones and dial regular numbers. You can make and receive calls to and from any phone in the world, just like you do now. Set-up is simple. All you need is a high-speed Internet connection and an adapter that you plug into your cable or DSL modem and you're set.

The niftiest part of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) that it reduces home telephone bills by about half, or by hundreds of dollars every year.

VoIP has been around for years. Back in the late '90s the techno-wizards were talking across the Internet to other computer users, buying special microphones and loving the science of making it all work. But just like the Internet itself went mainstream, now VoIP has too.

The bottom line -- Internet phone service is now as good as your "regular" phone line. It is easy to install, includes those important extras like voice mail and caller ID, and the high-speed Internet connections necessary are widely available throughout America. Best of all, you don't pay for all of those added features, and it leverages the high-speed Internet access line you already have.

Cutting your phone bill in half is no exaggeration. Prices can be found in the mid $20s per month of unlimited phone service. The best similar offering from a traditional phone company selling a month of unlimited long-distance and local calls is $50 per month. And they charge extra for voice mail and caller ID. And by the time you're done with taxes and fees, that $50 a month is up to $70.

There are several heavily funded VoIP companies out there most wanting to attract the lucrative small-business market. But the real innovations are coming from some smaller companies who are targeting the home user. These companies are relying on superior service, innovative ideas and cost savings to win new business.

One such company, called SunRocket (www.SunRocket.com) offers an entire year of home service for $199 -- with no "gotchas" -- no hidden charges, activation fees, contracts, taxes, shipping and handling or other "surprise" charges you find on other phone bills. This one-year package is a first for the industry and the rate is less than $17 per month.

SunRocket was started by two telecom executives who left MCI to "build a better phone company" and saw this new technology as a way to do just that.

There are now over 400 companies selling VoIP services. So when you are ready to give VoIP some consideration, do not get overly tied up in the details until you are sure about the fundamentals of the company you are about to buy from. Are they reputable? Will this be easy to hook up? Are there going to be any hidden charges? Is there a guarantee? Will they help me if I have questions? With this much competition, it will be important to keep these fundamentals in view, because you don't need degree in engineering or put up with poor service if you want to take advantage of VoIP. VoIP is here. The future is now.


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