Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Local Telephone Service Provider Options

Every home and business needs local telephone service of some sort. Not so long ago, the solution was simple. Just call up the local phone company and make an appointment for them to come and install a telephone set or a dozen. Nowadays there are more options and more decisions to make to ensure that you'll get the best deal possible.

The traditional local phone service or "dial tone" service is the same analog technology that's been around for 100 years. The technology is well established. The required copper pair wiring has been pulled into nearly every building in the United States. You can still walk into a local telephone company office and request service. But you might do better to consider offers from both the incumbent local exchange carrier and competitive carriers that have established themselves since deregulation made this possible.

Analog phone service is a viable option for residential, home office, and small businesses that need only a single line or a few lines. But once a business is large enough to have more than half a dozen outgoing lines, there are digital options that start to look more attractive. Integrated T1 line service gives you telephone and broadband as a bundle with a price that may be better than buying them separately. A full T1 line or ISDN PRI service offers up to two dozen phone lines. These are commonly used with PBX telephone systems connected to phones throughout the company. Check prices on digital phone service options to replace analog lines.

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is a digital service that is even newer than T1 "digitized analog" phone service. The technology is designed to mimic the format of computer data packets so that it runs on commonly available broadband services such as DSL, Cable Internet, and T1 Dedicated Internet. A regular analog phone plugs into an Analog Telephone Adaptor provided by the VoIP supplier to make the broadband connection.

A popular ultra-low cost residential service is MagicJack. This company provides an ATA that's about the size of a pack of cards and plugs into a USB connection on your broadband connected PC to get access to the Internet. The computer needs to be on to use the phone, although incoming calls will go to voicemail when the computer is switched off.

Other VoIP providers offer a stand alone ATA that connects to a broadband router or modem and doesn't require the use of a PC for phone service. The phone is active as long as there is an active broadband connection. There are many competing services available today. Use this Affordable VoIP Service Finder to compare offers.

Larger companies use enterprise VoIP solutions that are based on private line or network connections that do not use the Internet. An service growing in popularity is SIP trunking, a digital line service based on the Session Initiation Protocol that is common to many VoIP systems, including IP PBX systems that manage multiple phone lines and handsets.

An increasing trend among younger phone users is to make their cell phone their primary telephone, perhaps to the exclusion of a landline service. For those who are on the go a lot, including independent sales professionals, the ability to make and receive calls anywhere has a lot of value.

The latest phone models include a high resolution digital camera, the ability to download and play videos and full HTML Internet browsers, as well as multiple messaging options that include email. It's not inconceivable that some individuals may be able to use their smartphone as a substitute for even a desktop or laptop computer, as well as a traditional fixed location telephone. Compare cell phones and wireless plans to see if any of this makes sense for you.

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