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P.O. Box 1989
West Palm Beach, FL 33402-1989
(561) 355-2754
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Mary Lou Berger
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Hal R. Valeche

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Steven L. Abrams

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Robert Weisman



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Electronic Press Release

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Consumer Traps & Tips # 69 - Are Phone Alternatives (VoIP) for You?

For immediate release: March 22, 2010
Contact:Dennis Moore, 561-712-6600 • PBC Consumer Affairs Division

A weekly service of the Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs Division

Trap

Maria from Lake Worth likes to keep in contact with her family living in South America but doesn’t like the long distance phone bills. She saw ads on TV claiming to be able to save her money. Maria called and got an adapter sent to her but couldn’t get it to work. She called the business and was told she also needed a broadband connection. The added expense was not something Maria had considered.

Tips

  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows you to make calls using a broadband (high speed Internet) connection instead of a regular phone line.   You can use a cable modem or high speed service such as DSL or a local area network.
  • High speed Internet connection as well as a computer, adaptor or specialized phone is required.  Some services work over your computer (you will need some software and a microphone), while other services allow you to use a traditional phone connected to a VoIP adapter.  Special VoIP phones plug directly into your broadband connection and operate largely like a traditional phone. All VoIP services require your broadband Internet connection to be active.
  • Advantages - You may be able to avoid paying for both a broadband connection and a traditional telephone line. Some services may only allow you to call other people using the same service, but others may allow you to call anyone including local, long distance, mobile and international numbers. 
  • Disadvantages - Not all VoIP services connect directly to emergency services through 9-1-1, and some VoIP services do not work during power outages. 
  • Resources: http://www.fcc.gov/voip; http://www.ConsumerReports.org

For more information, contact Consumer Affairs at 561-712-6600 (Boca/Delray 888-852-7362 toll free), or visit http://www.pbcgov.com/consumer.

 

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