VoIP Internet Phone Service Boom and Effect on Telecommunications Services VoIP Internet Phone Service Boom and Effect on Telecommunications Services The summer of 2006 has been a competitive time for VoIP providers, as they battle for new sub scribers within this hot new market that’s starting to catch on like wildfire. Although VoIP intern et phone service has been popular in Asian and European markets for a while now, internet ph one service is really starting to take off in the U.S., and we’re starting to see some interesting t hings happening in the world of telecommunications. This is great news for us consumers, beca use prices on telecommunications services are dropping and providers are adding more free s ervices and features. As more and more consumers think about disconnecting their land line phone service in favor of cheaper internet phone service, other telecommunications service providers have changed t heir strategies in order to either hold onto market share or gain new subscribers. VoIP service i s so unbelievably cheap however, that most thrifty shoppers with broadband internet connectio ns will ultimately choose internet phone service over anything else. Cable television companies have started partnering with VoIP providers in an effort to re-sell un limited local and long distance service under the fancy new name “digital phone service”. In or der to capture their share of the internet phone service market, they’re selling re-branded VoIP service to current television subscribers at a minimum 100% markup, which is still less than tr aditional “land line” phone service. “Digital phone service” can cost between $40 and $60 per m onth for unlimited local and long distance calling. Traditional “land line” phone companies are rapidly losing their customer base to VoIP service, a nd have now started offering unlimited long distance plans at deeply discounted rates in an eff ort to hang on to the customers they still have. Unlimited long distance plans normally cost betw een $30 - $50 per month, in addition to the monthly cost for “basic service”. Cell phone companies are trying their best to convince customers that they don’t need traditiona l phone service or internet phone service, and that cellular phone service will meet all their nee ds. In an effort to make cell phone service seem cost-effective, providers now offer “family plan s”, “rollover minutes, “circle of friends” unlimited calling plans, “unlimited nights and weekends”, and other similar features designed to make cellular the “service of choice” for consumers. Ce ll phone service plans vary, depending on the amount of minutes you need each month. The a verage consumer using cellular as their only telephone requires a lot of monthly minutes, whic h can easily cost between $60 - $200, depending on calling habits. VoIP internet phone service costs between $17 and $25 per month for unlimited local and long distance service, depending on the provider and plan chosen. This is way below the cost of eve n the cheapest “digital phone service”, cellular service, or phone company “unlimited long dista nce” plan. All that’s required for VoIP is a broadband internet connection, which is becoming ve ry commonplace. Internet phone service is easy to install, works just like a regular telephone, a nd comes with tons of free calling features (like voicemail, call waiting, caller id, etc…), that mo st phone companies charge extra for. If you’re considering switching to internet phone service, the hardest part is deciding which VoIP provider to use. Phone service is an important part of our daily lives, and it’s important to choo se a VoIP company that has a reputation for high quality service. In my opinion, the best intern et phone service providers for residential use are Vonage, Packet8, and Sunrocket. All three a re well known, large, stable companies with a good reputation for quality and excellent custom er service. If you limit your choices to these VoIP providers, all you need to do is find the inter net phone service plan and price that is right for you.