Some one million people are expected to use a new kind of phone service this year.
Calls go over the Internet instead of through phone lines.
It's called Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP for short.
At this point, Internet calling is cheap $25 to $40 a month for unlimited calling anywhere in the U.S.
They look like regular phone calls, but Joan Murphy is able to talk over the Internet. So is her husband Andy. Their phones are connected to an adapter that sends calls over a high speed connection. They've got a cable connection. You can also use DSL.
Consumer Reports just tested Internet phone service from five leading providers, AT&T, Optimum Voice, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Vonage.
For the most part, quality was very good, although some of our panelists reported an “echoey” sound on some of their calls.
And in some cases, incoming calls didn't get through.
Jon Linkov and other panelists who tried to install internet phone service themselves found it difficult.
“It took me 3 attempts before I called tech support. All told it was over an hour and a half to get it up and running." Said Jon
Overall, Consumer Reports found cable connections like Andy's seemed to have fewer problems than DSL connections. But neither type works in a power outage. And with both dialing 911 can be a real problem.
With a regular phone service you dial 911. It automatically gets routed to the proper emergency response center. They see your address. They know who you are. It's guaranteed. That's not true with internet phone service.
So if you decide to try internet phone service, consumer reports recommends doing what Andy has done and keep a regular line as a back up. Even so he says he's cut his phone bill by one third.