Whether you love your landline, a.k.a. home phone, or want to say goodbye to it, with high-speed fiber internet you have the speed, bandwidth and reliability to choose from a number of options and likely save money too.  

Some people are choosing to use their cell phones or a free internet service such as Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts which doesn’t require any additional hardware or setup.  You simply use an app on your phone or download the software to your computer, laptop or tablet, and use it for voice and/or video calling. 

If you prefer to keep your home phone, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is a phone technology that allows you to make and receive phone calls using the internet instead of traditional phone lines. It is economical and just as easy to set up as the landline phone service that you have right now.  The only difference is it works over the internet instead of a traditional phone line. You probably have already used VoIP before without knowing it, through an app like Skype or Google Voice.  

Trailblazer Broadband, Estes Park’s community-owned and operated fiber broadband company, has looked into offering phone service along with internet connectivity. After much research, Trailblazer determined that in light of existing options on the market and our relatively small customer base in Estes Park, it would not be able to offer VoIP phone service at a competitive price to our community. 

While Trailblazer doesn’t endorse any specific VoIP phone provider, there are several great options to choose from including Vonage for Home and a provider called Ooma, which is a personal favorite of some associates here at Town Hall and some of our customers because of it’s low cost and ease of use.  VoIP phones also provide 911 service, provided they have the internet and electricity to operate.  This is easily accomplished in a power outage with battery backup so you don’t lose your phone and 911 service during a power outage. A UPS battery back can be found online or in stores like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or wherever electronics are sold. 

According to a recent AARP article, “At the moment, … Sunnyvale, California-based Ooma appears to be alone in offering something new that addresses reliability in an emergency. For several years, it has delivered very inexpensive VoIP service that competes with the likes of Vonage…In addition to the cost savings, the Ooma Telo 4G automatically gives first responders your home address in a 911 emergency. If you have a power outage, the backup battery will keep the phone running for up to 10 hours.”  Read more of what AARP has to say about VoIP service in general and Ooma in particular.

Other advantages of VoIP phone service include: 

  1. Most services work with many existing phones, so you likely won’t need a new phone. 
  2. You will be able to keep your existing phone number or get a new one.    
  3. Set up is pretty simple…You’ll just plug the phone into the back of your Gateway and go.  
  4. Most services come with standard features such as caller ID, call forward, call screening and blocking, etc.

Finally, many people ask about 911 and emergency services since traditionally in an emergency, a good old-fashioned landline phone has been regarded as the most reliable method of communication.  However, according to Chief Executive Michael Martin of RapidSOS, which works with thousands of 911 call centers across the U.S., “We are now entering an era where it is actually safer to call 911 from a cellphone because of all of the additional information that you are able to share.” For example, Apple iOS users can choose to share critical health information via the Apple Medical ID feature, a potentially lifesaving function.

As recently as 2004, over 90 percent of households in the U.S. had an operational landline phone, according to data provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. In 2020, that figure has plummeted drastically to about 40 percent.  As landlines become more expensive and less widely supported, it may be time to think about a change.  Learn more about how VoIP works in this helpful Beginner’s Guide

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