Your Guide to Cutting the Cord to Landline Phones

Hardware: The Ooma Telo connects to your high-speed Internet connection and you plug your existing phone line into it.

Price: $250. You need to pay taxes and fees each month, usually a few dollars, for unlimited U.S. calls; international calls are cheap per minute or you can pay $5/month for 500 minutes to 70 countries.

Learn more here.

magicJack

Description: "magicJack is an easy-to-use portable device that allows you to use a traditional telephone handset to make and receive calls. magicJack utilizes a dedicated telephone network and provides cystal-clear call quality. magicjack provides a free telephone number and free voicemail."

Hardware: Small device plugged into computer's USB port, and you plug your phone into it.

Price: $40, but a limited free trial is currently being offered; $20/year after the first year, plus more for international calling packages.

Learn more here.

Google Voice

Description: "Google Voice is a service that enhances the existing capabilities of your phone numbers. With it, you can access your voicemail online, read automatic transcriptions of your voicemail, create personalized greetings based on who is calling, make cheap international calls, and more."

Hardware: You provide your own cell phone, but can get a new number free.

Price: Free; currently invite-only.

Learn more here.

Many of these services, including Skype and Google Voice, have mobile apps that will run on smartphones such as the iPhone. Plus, Vonage recently announced support for T-Mobile and Android mobile users.

Conclusion

Ultimately, your decision on cutting the cord to landline phone service depends on where you make the most calls and whether you're using it for business calls.

If you are dead set on saving money but aren't as worried about call quality, then solutions like Skype and magicJack would work. Or if you want higher quality calls, you might pay more for Vonage or Ooma. If you are hooked on a cell-only setup, buying a femtocell extender might do the trick.

Just as with cutting the cord to cable TV, it might take some experimentation -- and multiple solutions -- to figure out what works best for your situation.

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