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Internet phones could signal the end for landlines

CHOICE survey shows consumers are embracing free and low cost internet phone services

17 October 2013

A CHOICE review of the growing market for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services which allows consumers to make calls over the internet has found 51.2% of those surveyed used VoIP to make calls*.   
“For too long telcos have been slugging consumers with pricy installation and connection fees to set them up with expensive landline services,” says CHOICE Head of Media, Tom Godfrey.     
“VoIP offers people relief from the potentially unnecessary fixed line services that have seen consumers ringing up big bills before they have even made a call.” 
“While there are a number of variables that can compromise reception including internet congestion, call quality for users of VoIP has improved, with the Australian Communication and Media Authority claiming VoIP reception can now be superior to landlines.”
The quality standards and safeguards governing traditional landline service do not currently apply to (VoIP) products. Such standards lay out minimum benchmarks around dropouts, interference, echo, volume, and many other aspects taken for granted on traditional landline services today. 
“Services offered by Skype and Viber are among the most popular options for consumers using VoIP, with Apple’s FaceTime, Google Hangouts, PennyMobile Pro also having a say in the growing market.” 
“CHOICE found that in some cases, the price of a 10-minute Skype call from Australia to mainland New Zealand or the UK is more than six times cheaper than a Telstra service, so switching to VoIP can save consumers a lot of money.”
“There are many VoIP options available. Some services require both the maker and the receiver of the call to be using the same service, while others allow you to call any number in almost any country.”
“If you already have a fixed line at home and are not keen on using an intermediary to call overseas there are other options through internet service providers (ISP). Some ISPs, including iiNet and TPG, set up home line rental and cheap calls straight from your regular phone.”     

ACCAN is conducting a survey at to find out whether current VoIP users are happy with the quality of service. Their aim is to ensure that, if there are problems with VoIP services now, that these are rectified and quality assurance standards are maintained before everyone is migrated to NBN VoIP services.
VoIP Provider Pros and Cons:
  • Skype is cheap, popular and easy to use. 
  • It  allows you to call regular phone numbers.
  • Skype Number is a paid service that provides you with a normal landline phone number that people can dial, which is diverted to your Skype account.
  • Skype group video calls cost extra.
  • Skype credit expires after 180 days of inactivity.
  • Some Skype plans charge a one-off connection fee every time a call is made, which can make Skype more expensive to use.
  • You must be online to use it. 
  • Viber is free, convenient and available for most platforms and operating systems.
  • Free group calls are supported.
  • You can only call other people on Viber.
  • Storage of your contacts, without your express permission or that of the third parties, is a privacy concern . 
  • You must be online to use it.

  • The review of VoIP services was included in the 2013 CHOICE ISP Satisfaction Survey.
  • The survey was conducted amongst 3945 CHOICE members from 15-29th July 2013.
  • All survey participants were members who had a desktop, laptop or ultrabook and were mainly or jointly responsible for decisions about their ISP. 
*2013 CHOICE ISP Satisfaction Survey

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