Voice Over IP (VOIP) telephone service just got even more affordable. I've been a happy AT&T's CallVantage VOIP (or "phone service for broadband," as they call it) user since early this summer. I signed up with a half-rate deal. Since that time, AT&T has slashed rates and increased services. On Wednesday, their newsletter announced a bunch of new services, including unlimited VOIP calling to Canada at no additional charge ...
When I signed up for the CallVantage VOIP service, the initial cost was $39.99 per month. The half-price offer cut it down to $19.99 per month for the first six months.
CallVantage service has just dropped down to $29.99 per month, with the first month free. Not to be outdone, competitor (and market-leader) Vonage has cut the price to their Premium Unlimited plan (with unlimited calling to the USA and Canada) to $24.99.
AT&T's also just launched "Simple Reach Numbers" that allow you to add up to 9 additional phone numbers to your account (at $4.99 per month for each number). VOIP allows you to place your Simple Reach Number "anywhere in the country AT&T CallVantage Service is located." The intent is to make your Simple Reach Number a local call--perfect for far-flung family members who needs to make frequent calls at no expense (to them, that is).
Of course, VOIP isn't for everyone. You'll need a good 2-way cable modem or DSL connection if you plan to run it at home. (Business applications will need a much more serious pipe.)
To help spread the word on VOIP, AT&T is trying the viral thing, pinning a couple of twenties onto a string. Their latest CallVantage email offers a $40 Bill Credit for existing users: "The AT&T CallVantage Service Refer A Friend program rewards current AT&T CallVantage members when they refer friends, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers to the service. Just click the Refer A Friend link and provide us with the name, email address, and location of your friend. We will send your friend an email describing the service. If your friend signs up you will receive a $40 bill credit off your AT&T CallVantage Service!"
You might want to take advantage of the current lack of VOIP taxes while you can. It's not bound to last forever.