Assuming you haven’t already.
A few years ago, my wife and I tried out a number of the VOIP players (in Canada) to save money on our landline. We tried Vonage and it was horrible…although I suspect it was possibly either a crappy Linksys router I had at the time or traffic shaping by my ISP that was causing the poor audio quality.
We eventually decided to ditch the landline altogether and simply increase our cellular plans to the point of being more practical as a landline replacement. The money we were spending on a landline (VOIP or otherwise) was greater than making a few adjustments to our cellular plans. We currently have a family plan where we can call each other unlimited locally and have a few hundred long distance minutes between each other a month for anywhere in Canada (I can call her in Vancovuer from Toronto and it’s treated like a free local call).
We don’t do a lot of long distance but needed to find a better, cheaper way to make long distance calls on our cell phones. Our provider didn’t really have any compelling options for long distance that were affordable so we looked elsewhere.
We actually use two different services which I’ll explain in a minute why.
The first service is Yak.ca. They have decent rates for North America and bill you monthly. Make sure you don’t get a paper invoice to save the admin fee. The thing we like about Yak is that they have a callback service. We have unlimited incoming calls on our phones and this means we place a call to the Yak service number, hang up and then 2 seconds later, the service calls us back and then we dial our number. This works great during the day or anytime outside of the evenings & weekend hours. They also have local access numbers you can use as well.
The other service we occasionally use is XpressCall which is a prepaid service. We use this service typically on weekends or during free evenings as their rates are slightly better than Yak. They regularly have top up deals where you put $10 on your account and they give you a bonus. This service is a dialaround one where you dial one number, then dial your destination number – it also tells you how many minutes you have left based on the number you dialed and how much you’ve prepaid which is a nice feature. I have a number of pre-programmed contacts that use this service so I don’t have to remember the digits for my parents for example.
Both services work great with our iPhones and Yak also has a calling card you can use with any phone (if you’re at work or a friend’s).