Quick Guide: Internet Phone Services

Quick Guide: Internet Phone Services

Internet phone services have expanded to rival landlines and mobile phones. Here are some facts about five of the most popular and accessible providers.
As the price of landline and mobile phone service skyrockets, the number of internet phone services has exploded. These can provide excellent add-on services or even replace one of your phone lines. Call quality can vary (and calls may drop or “freeze”) depending on the service and your internet connection speed. If you have multiple phone lines or want to connect with relatives or archives abroad, an internet phone service can offer an affordable way to do it. 
 
 Service Name Price Calling Features Calling Region Tips
 CallTrunk
<www.calltrunk.com>
starts at $4.99/month for 85 phone and 100 Skype minutes  • primarily a recording service that works with an existing phone
• make calls from a smartphone or  landline, or by logging into the service online
• listen to or download MP3 recordings once call ends
Covers only the United States. CallTrunk doesn’t replace a current phone plan. It’s a useful add-on for recording oral history interviews. Plan many interviews over a short time period to get the most bang for your buck.
 Google Voice
<google.com/voice>
most features are free  • works with existing phone
• three account options offer different levels of service
• services include sending calls to all your phones, automatically transcribing voicemails, making conference calls, and setting personalized voice messages based on incoming caller
Get free calling from the United States; international calling is available (pay per minute). Google Voice doesn’t replace an existing phone plan. It may be a good option if you travel frequently, want voice mails emailed to you, or if you want to use one number for all purposes (work, family, genealogy).
 iCall
<www.icall.com>
 free version limited to 5-minute calls; unlimited version starts at $9.95/month  • make and receive calls from your computer, iOS device or the web to a landline or mobile number
• includes voicemail, texts, voicemail-to-email messages, conference calls and video calls
Call any US or Canadian phone number from anywhere in the world; international calling is available (pay per minute). If you don’t spend much time on the phone, iCall could replace your home phone service. Because it allows for conference calls, you can collaborate on your research with other genealogists or family members.
 Skype
<www.skype.com>
free for computer-to-computer calling; computer-to-phone calls start at $2.99/month  • make Skype-to-Skype video or voice calls for free
• free group video calls (up to five callers recommended)
• call landline phones for a monthly fee
• receiving calls from non-Skype users requires additional fee ($5/month)
Skype-to-Skype domestic and international calls are free. Fee covers Skype-to-phone calls within the United States. International calling is available (connection fee plus per minute fee, or with monthly plan). Good for keeping in touch with relatives abroad, particularly if they have Skype and high-speed internet access.
VoipBuster
<www.voipbuster.com>
free for PC-to-PC calls; some PC-to-phone calls are free (depending on country)  • make PC-to-phone or VoipBuster-to-VoipBuster calls
• use on a Windows PC or some mobile phones
• send text messages from your computer (for a fee)
Calls to US landlines and mobile phones are free. Rates vary for international calling, but some international calls to landlines are free. VoipBuster is based in Germany, so it charges in Euro cents, but you can see US currency conversions on the Rates page. It appears to be relatively inexpensive for making calls to US numbers or to countries where calling landlines is free.

 

From the July/August 2014 Family Tree Magazine 

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