Broadband phone service enables voice telephone calls to work over your high-speed Internet connection. A broadband phone (also known as a VoIP or Internet phone) utilizes the same IP network as your Internet service. Hardware adapters connect a standard telephone to the high-speed Internet connection to create a broadband phone.
Broadband Phone Service Provider Internet Compatibility
Most broadband phone services work only with DSL or cable modem Internet. If you subscribe to dial-up, satellite or wireless broadband, these telephone services will likely not work in your household.
Broadband Phone Service Plans
Service providers offer many different broadband phone subscription plans. As with a cell phone, some service plans for these telephones feature unlimited local calling or large numbers of free minutes. However, the cost of broadband phone service is highly variable; international, long distance and other calling charges often still apply.
Broadband Phone Reliability
Compared to an Internet-based broadband phone network, the standard home voice telephone network is extremely reliable. Calls cannot be made with the broadband phone whenever your home Internet service is down. Additional failures within the broadband phone service itself will add to any downtime caused by the Internet connection.
Broadband Phone Number Portability
A popular feature associated with broadband phones is number portability. This feature allows you to keep the same telephone number you had before subscribing to the Internet-based plan. However, this feature may not be available depending on your number and the local broadband phone company involved. You are normally responsible for requesting and paying for the broadband phone number portability service.
Broadband Phone Service Lock-In
The contract you sign with a broadband phone service provider may restrict your ability to change providers at a later time. High service fees may be charged to change your telephone number, service plan, or switch to another broadband phone company. Likewise, the local telephone company may charge high fees to restore their service, should you change your mind later.
Broadband Phone Sound Quality
In years past, the sound quality supported by broadband phone service was significantly less than with traditional telephone services. Though it can vary by provider and location, in general, the quality of broadband phone audio is very good. You might notice a small delay ("lag") between when you speak and the other party hears your voice.