A product allowing customers to utilize the Internet to make inexpensive telephone calls, Magic Jack costs $39.95 plus shipping and handling as of this writing. This fee includes one year of phone service. Additional years cost $19.95. Other services exist using voice over Internet protocol, or VOIP, that let users utilize the Internet to make inexpensive calls, saving money over the cost of using their local phone company.
A free download, Skype allows users to talk free of charge over the Internet to any other registered Skype user. Skype gives users the option of making telephone calls or video calls, unlike Magic Jack, which only offers telephone services. The program utilizes video cameras on user's computers, creating free online video calling capability. Skype members may also call cell phones or landlines around the globe for charges starting at $0.23 a minute as of this writing. Using a free Skype application for smartphones such as iPhones and Android allows Skype users to make free calls to other Skype members on their mobile phones. Users wishing to use a standard telephone can purchase Skype-capable phones or video phones from the company. As of 2010, these proprietary phones cost between $93.99 and $249.99, depending on features. Skype offers services similar to most local telephone services, including voice mail and caller ID.
The VOIP telephone service ViaTalk includes services such as voice mail and caller ID. ViaTalk gives customers the option of having voicemail messages forwarded to their email. Users may also record calls. Like Magic Jack, ViaTalk customers must install hardware to connect their telephones with their computers, so they may access an Internet connection. The service costs $16.95 per month as of this writing. A mobile app allows clients to use ViaTalk service on their mobile phones. ViaTalk also offers customers a user interface. They can access this dashboard anywhere there is Internet access to get voicemail, settings, and billing data.
The Vonage VOIP telephone service gives customers access to unlimited local and long distance calling at lower rates than those of typical telephone providers. However, unlike Magic Jack, Vonage does not require use of a computer. Customers may attach Vonage adapters to their existing telephones and their high-speed Internet connections. As of this writing, pricing plans for Vonage begin at $9.99 a month for 200 minutes of use and cost up to $34.99 a month for an unlimited minute plan.
- Photo Credit woman talking on cell phone / mobile phone image by Katrina Miller from Fotolia.com
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