It used to be that if you were on the road as a fulltime RVer or on an extended RV vacation, it was difficult to stay in touch with family and friends back home. Then came the increased availability of cell phones, laptop computers, air cards, and Wifi in RV campgrounds. With these inventions, things started to change and it was suddenly much easier to be connected to the world outside of your RV and RV park.
As you probably know, technology changes quickly and now there have been some exciting innovations in internet phone service as well. Namely, there are some new key players in the RV phone service market. Skype, Vonage, MagicJack, Comcast and Google Voice are all providers in this internet phone service industry. Sure, your cell phone can be used nationwide and is a great option for phone service, but what if you are on a fixed budget and need a more affordable option? Or maybe you are a snowbird or just use your RV for vacations and have been wondering about internet phone service for everyday use. What do these phone service internet providers have to offer and how does it fit a possible frugal RV lifestyle? Here is a brief overview of what each one offers:
Skype permits you to make calls over the Internet and there is no cost to set up an account. A Skype call to another Skype user is free and you can see that user through video if both of you have a web cam. For a small fee, you can also use your Skype account to call someone's land-line or cell phone. With Skype, you talk through your computer.
Price: Free Sykpe to Skype. No Monthly Fee. Small Fee for calls to land-lines or cell phones.
Talk through: Computer
On Vonage, all you need is a touch-tone phone, a Vonage phone adapter, and a high-speed Internet connection. You speak through the phone, not your computer, and can even keep your old phone number. Basically, your phone uses your existing Internet connection instead of a separate phone jack. Your phone and computer don't really need each other, except for to share your Internet hook-up.
Price: $24.99 a month and up.
Talk through: Phone
MagicJack is a device that you plug into your USB port of your computer and then you plug your existing phone into the jack. You can then make local and long distance calls just like you did with a regular phone connection.
Price: $40.00 initial and $20.00 PER YEAR there after
Talk through: Phone
Google Voice and Comcast are two other options. Comcast has actually overtaken Vonage now in the number digital phone (Voice Over IP, VOIP) customers that they have. Google Voice is currently available by invitation only, but will be something to look for as a possible RV phone option in the future.
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