Your Guide to Cutting the Cord to Landline Phones

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Sprint Airave

Description: "Works with any Sprint phone -- up to three users at the same time. Installs in minutes with your existing broadband Internet access, such as DSL, cable or T1."

Price: $100, plus $15 to $25 per month for unlimited calling.

Learn more here.

VoIP Services

If you'd prefer not to go the cell-only route at home, there are various VoIP calling services, many of which allow you to use your existing phone. With VoIP, your calls are routed via the Internet, which means quality can vary depending on your high-speed connection and data loads.

While the charges for long distance calls are usually tiny or free, there are a few other downsides with VoIP services, as reported by John Ewoldt in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: VoIP won't work in a power outage; you need a broadband connection; fax machines won't work with most VoIP setups; and you may need the computer to be on to receive or make calls.

Alan Pearlstein, CEO of Cross Pixel Media, told me that he tried the magicJack VoIP service (see info below) but dropped it after call problems.

"MagicJack was easy to install and was working well for me until I had a few negative experiences that led me to stop using it," he said via email. "My calls were full of static and were being dropped every so often. It became unreliable for any important call. If I needed a second line at home I would probably use it for that, but not a main line."

Dan Frommer, deputy editor of Business Insider, told me he loves magicJack and thinks the company will be bought out or go public in the next six months.

"I love it," he said via email. "Pros: Cheap, reliable, cheap, reliable. Cons: Software not very elegant, need to leave it plugged in to computer (and need to leave computer on), blue LED keeps [my] bedroom slightly lit up."

If you're still undaunted, here's a rundown of some of the more popular VoIP services:


Description: "Your computer doesn't have to be on to use Vonage. The people you call don't need to have Vonage or the Internet to get your call -- just a phone. And when someone calls you, your phone rings as usual."

Hardware: The Vonage V-Portal device costs $80 but is free when you sign up for a one-year service contract.

Price: Vonage World is $15/month for first six months, then $26/month afterwards for unlimited long distance calls in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and unlimited calls to landline phones in 60 countries; Vonage Pro for $35/month; and Vonage Basic 500 for $18/month.

Learn more here.


Description: "Do amazing things for free: voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype; conference calls with three or more people; instant messaging, file transfer and screen sharing."

Hardware: Will work through your computer or laptop microphone and speaker, or you can get dedicated phones or headsets. Accessories here.

Price: Free for calls or videoconferences to other Skype users; cheap rates for calls to mobiles and landlines around the world; unlimited U.S. and Canada calls for $8/month or unlimited calls to 40 countries for $14/month.

Learn more here.


Description: "Ooma lets you make free U.S. calls over the Internet with outstanding voice quality. No PC or headset required, just use your existing phone. The award-winning Ooma system offers 911 service, free U.S. calls, voicemail, caller-ID, call-waiting and low cost international rates."

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