VoIP: Better, Cheaper and Tax-Free

Small business owners looking to cut telecommunications costs should take a close look at wIPphone, one of the newest companies to offer VoIP services. The company competes directly with traditional landlubber telcos such as AT&T and Verizon along with other VoIP startups like Vonage. wIPphone’s variety of products, plans, features and low pricing certainly made us stand up and take notice.

VoIP technology converts analog voice into digital information &#151 bits and bytes &#151 and sends it over the Internet in small packets, which makes it a lot less expensive than a standard telephone system. And while the technology’s been around since the 1990s, it was never widely used &#151 due mainly to poor sound quality and the speed constraints of dial-up connections. Today, the increasing availability of broadband access, along with improved technology, has made VoIP a more viable solution for both residential and business use.

Although wIPphone may be a new company, “new” in this case does not equal inexperienced. Its parent company, Worldwide Telco, started out as an international private line carrier in 1996. Small business owners &#151 whose businesses often live and die by the phone &#151 could benefit from wIPhone’s competitive rates &#151some of the lowest we’ve seen &#151 on both domestic international calls.

Dialing for Dollars


wIPphone provides VoIP services and products that can seriously reduce small business communications costs.

Using wIPphone, you can call other wIPphone users &#151 anywhere in the world &#151 for free, or call anyone with a standard telephone for as little as 0.8 cents per minute for North American calls, 2.9 cents for Western Europe and ranging up to a high of 15.1 cents per minute for Paraguay (rates vary country-to-country depending on the plan you select, but all remain highly competitive).

How does pricing compare to other VoIP providers? Vonage charges $29.99 per month to make unlimited calls anywhere in the United States and Canada. wIPphone charges $19.95 for the exact same plan. (Note: the prices quoted are for residential plans &#151 appropriate for companies with a few employees &#151 companies that have their own PBX systems and typically spend thousands of hours a month on the phone would pay the business rates &#151 $44.95 and $49.99 per month for wIPphone and Vonage, respectively).

Unlike other telcos, wIPphone sells minutes in bulk. For instance, if you make overseas calls frequently to Japan, but occasionally to Germany, you can purchase minutes accordingly and tailor your calling plan to your exact needs.

Another cost-cutter: VoIP is an unregulated technology, so you don’t pay any surcharges or taxes. The per-minute price is the only fee you pay. Period.

Features and Products
wIPphone also provides the same telecom features you’ve grown to depend on from Verizon and At&T, but the primary difference here is &#151 they’re free. The features include: call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, voice-mail (available in two weeks), six-way calling, and star-69 call return.

WIPphone offers a range of products suitable for businesses with one or two employees up to the enterprise level. The pricing for the hardware varies, depending on the plan that you choose. The listing below shows the cost based on a pay-as-you-go plan. Buying any of the monthly plans will reduce or eliminate the price of the hardware.

&#8226 WP25: This basic system features the softphone a headset, and a splitter so you can use the speakers and the headset. This product works with both dial-up and broadband Internet connections. Requires a PC. Price: $29 retail, but you can download the software online for free and the company will ship you a headset at no charge. Plus you get 30 minutes of calling time for free, too.

&#8226 WP50: Features a USB telephone adapter that lets you make VoIP calls using an ordinary analog telephone. You can also connect the WP50 to a standard phone line from the local telephone company and can switch between traditional and VoIP calling by pressing the pound key. Works with both dial-up and broadband and requires a PC. Price: $29.00

&#8226 WP75: This Internet telephone set includes a built-in router that works only on a broadband Internet connection, and can be used as a standalone Internet telephone. The unit includes WAN and LAN ports (for optional PCs), power adapter and a network cable. Does not require a PC. Price: $59.00

&#8226 WP100: A good choice for both home and small business broadband customers., Plug a standard telephone into the device to make VoIP calls. The WP100 includes a built-in router, one telephone set port, a WAN port and a LAN port (for optional PCs) and a network cable and power adapter. Doesn’t require a PC. Price: $39.00

&#8226 WP200: Designed for broadband customers who have an existing data network. You can connect up to two telephone units or PBX analog line ports and conduct two simultaneous conversations. The unit includes two telephone set ports, a WAN port, power adapter and network cable. No PC required. Price: $49.00

One last convenient feature: while wIPphone assigns you a VoIP number, you can have as many phone numbers associated with your wIPphone as you want. Say you live and work in Cleveland, and you travel frequently. You can assign a local or toll-free number to your wIPphone, and your family and colleagues can dial a local number &#151 no long distance charges &#151 to reach you. Your wIPphone will ring no matter if you’re in Cleveland, Canada or Katmandu.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallbusinessComputing.com

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