VoIP on the Cheap

By | October 10, 2004

VoIP Market Leaders Declare a Price War – Voxilla.com

The recent drops in monthly rates for AT&T CallVantage, Vonage, and Broadvox Direct suggest that the consumer VoIP market is heating up and that these companies all expect adoption rates to take off at a much quicker pace soon. When the inflection point occurs, you don’t want to be the most expensive provider.

Unlimited calling plans from VoIP providers originally started out at around $40/month. I’m sure that this would have been a cost savings for some people, but I very rarely spend $40/month on non-cellphone or broadband telecom charges. I use my cellphone for almost all long distance calls. With the most recent price cuts, you can get unlimited calling plans across the US from the above trio for anywhere from $20 to $30. Those prices are now reaching levels that are tempting even for me.

Of course, the pure geek appeal of replacing my old school POTS connection with a VoIP connection is mighty tempting, but my geek to-do list is already too long. Also, there’s plenty of free, do-it-yourself VoIP software for me to while away my time with. A list of the software I’m looking at will be the subject of an upcoming post.

Since EarthLink is my ISP, I wanted to try EarthLink OnlineCalling. But, the software they are OEM’ing is Xten’s X-Lite, which runs on Windows and Mac OS X, only. It looks cool, though, maybe a bit too gratuitously puffy. Maybe I’ll try it on my wife’s Powerbook when she’s not looking.

One major drawback of OnlineCalling/X-Lite is the Earthlink license. When you sign up for OnlineCalling, Earthlink displays in a tiny little text box a grotesquely lengthy license covering pretty much every product and service they offer. Why couldn’t they have separated out just the part that was relevant! Must … control … anti-bad-license fist of death.

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