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Summary Table & Conclusion

To aid in your selection, I've pulled the important points of each of the services I tried into a handy table. You'll note that one thing that's not included is a rating of voice quality. This is because I found very little noticeable difference in call quality among these services.

That's not to say that you won't experience an occasional garbled call or annoying metallic echo. But a recent SmallNetBuilder poll had almost 50% of respondents choose "hardly ever" as their answer when asked how often they had problems with their VoIP service.

As I said, Packet8 gets my vote as the best of this bunch tested. But remember this is only a taste of the variety of VoIP plans and providers out there. New plans, providers and pricing are appearing constantly. So if you've been waiting to try entrusting some (if not all) of your phone calls to the Internet, wait no more.

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Table 1: VoIP Service Info
  Verizon VoiceWing AT&T CallVantage iConnectHere Vonage Packet8
Monthly Rate $34.95
$29.95 w/ Verizon
DSL service
$19.99 -
$49.99
$15.99 -
$59.99
$14.99 -
$49.99
$19.95 -
$39.95
Activation Fee $29.95
Currently waived
$29.99 $29.99 $29.99 $29.99
Term 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year
Termination Fee $19.95 None, unless equipment is not returned within 15 days of cancellation $20.00-$39.99
depending on plan
$39.99, plus pro-rated unused portion of monthly bill $59
Money Back
Guarantee
30 days
$39.95 if unreturned equipment
No charge within first 30 days if equipment returned within 15 days of request, varies afterward Monthly and activation fees refunded within 30 days of activation and less than 50 minutes of usage Activation and monthly fees refunded within 14 days if service ordered online and less than 250 minutes used 30 days
No refund if equipment not returned
Encrypted connection No No No No No
Softphone included No No Yes. No extra charge Yes, but $9.95/mo. extra No
Fax May be supported. Must contact Verizon Yes, but disables voicemail & call waiting Yes Yes Yes

Number
portability

Yes Yes No, but being planned Yes, in most cases Yes
Local #
Availability
Very Good Very Good Limited Excellent Excellent
Special Features Scheduled callback, video voice mail Phone Book allows import from Outlook, Outlook Express, Palm OS Call Forking Click To Call, Call Hunt Distinctive Ringing, VideoPhone, Virtual PBX ($39.95 extra)
Note: Unless noted, all services include Caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding & 3-way calling