Verizon is our phone company. If you have an internet connection, there are good alternatives to Verizon including Vonage, Ooma, Skype and services from Microsoft and Yahoo among others.
Verizon Regular Phone Service
Verizon is our local phone company and its main website for residential service is a very good way to manage your account and make informed choices about the service you need. Verizon only provides the most basic services in our town. “Advanced” services like voice mail are not available. Verizon’s service works when the power is out so you can make a call during a power failure.
The absolute cheapest way to keep dial tone costs $13.85 a month. but then you pay for every call. Most people pay in the range of $35-100 per month which is expensive. People are switching to cell phones and VoIP phones that work with your internet connection.
Internet Based Phone Service (called VoIP), No PC Required
These services work just like your regular phone, except they don’t work during a power failure unless you are on a generator.
You can get move your existing 576-xxxx to this type of service. You can set it up to work with 911 emergency calls.
They offer rich sets of features like caller ID, call forwarding, voice mail, which Verizon does not offer in Keene. These services are far cheaper than Verizon’s and your savings will pay for most of your internet connection.
Vonage currently offers plans as low as $9.99 a month. It has a variety of very good international calling plans that can be very attractive. For example, you can get a number in Keene and a local number in the UK, making calls the the UK “local”. We use Vonage in Argentina (it has a 576-xxxx phone number there) and it works fine. Others use it locally in Keene. Initial costs are minimal.
A popular service in Town is Ooma. It offers phone service around $10 a month but the initial cost is around $250. Free/cheap phone service like this will go a long way to paying your internet bill. One unique feature of Ooma is that you can use a basic dial tone line from Verizon (about $13 a month) as a low cost backup that will work during power failures. Or, of course, cell phones can be your backup too.
All these services run using a box connected to your router or modem. Seasonal residents can take the box home, connect it to their home router, and get calls on their Keene number at no cost all winter. Or they can use a Vonage or Ooma box at home, bring it to Keene, connect it to the KVVI internet service here and just use their winter home number while there are here. The Ooma box gives you 2 numbers so the same unit can get you a 576-xxxx number and your winter number and you just bring the unit back and forth with you.
It you have an internet connection there is no reason to pay the rates charged by Verizon.
PC Based Voice and Video Calling Services
These services require your PC to be running.
Skype offers voice and video calling for free or very low prices, world-wide, via your PC and the internet. It will not work with the 911 emergency system. Skype works by including your computer in its system when you have Skype loaded. Even when you are not using Skype, it will be using your machine. The voice and video quality are excellent. You can call worldwide phones, cell phones, send SMS messages, etc. You can attach a phone to your computer to use with Skype, but the service needs your machine to operate. They work astonishingly well and cost nothing.
FaceTime on Apple devices, Hangouts on Android/PC devices, Facebook and other major social networks offer a variety of real-time voice and video services.