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Time Warner Home Phone not that great a deal

Time Warner is certainly advertising the hell out of their new home phone service. I’m guessing it’s because it’s really not that good of a deal. When I had my landline phone and DSL package from Verizon, on average I paid about $49 a month for the phone portion of my bill, taxes included. We don’t make a lot of long distance phone calls, usually using the cells which have free long distance for that. We had the standard phone features like caller ID and call waiting, but no voicemail.

When it came to moving time, I really wanted to keep our phone number. Since you can’t port your landline number out of that exchange to a different landline exchange, I decided to go with a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone instead. For the geek-lites out there, that means that instead of your voice heading down the phone company’s copper wires, your call is sent through your internet connection instead. Vonage certainly has the advertising lead in this area, but Verizon offers their own service, called VoiceWing. Having heard bad things about Vonage, I opted to work with Verizon. They shipped the phone router to my inlaws’ house, where were were staying at the time, and all we had to do was plug it into their internet connection, wait for the number transfer to go through, and voila! Our old phone number was ringing in our new, temporary location. Now for $29.99 a month, taxes included, I was getting unlimited local and domestic long distance, every calling feature known to man (including simultaneous ring – my favorite) and voicemail. You also get a web-based management system that allows you to turn on and off features, listen to or download your voicemail, and see all your incoming, outgoing, and missed calls. All that for $20/month less than the old phone.

When we moved into the new house, Time Warner’s home phone wasn’t yet an option, but as soon as they got my internet hooked up, I just plugged in the VoiceWing router and my phone was working again. Seeing all the advertising for Time Warner Home Phone got my hopes up that I could save even a few more bucks, since I was now a customer of theirs. Unfortunately, their home phone service is offered in true cable company style – too expensive and you’ll pay extra for the features you really want.

Their service is priced at $39.95 per month, before taxes, and voicemail is an extra monthly charge. Their web-based management site is also a bit limited, not yet offering the ability to access your voicemail online. If you’re already a digital cable and RoadRunner subscriber, they’ll knock $10/month off. So, best case scenario you’re paying around $35-$40/month once you add back in the taxes and voicemail to make it on par with with VoiceWing. Still $5-$10/month more than VoiceWing for a seemingly inferior service, and that’s assuming you have digital cable and RoadRunner as well.

My experience with my VoiceWing service has been pretty good. It’s certainly not as mature a technology as the old landline system, and the fact that it isn’t available if your power goes out could be a big detractor for some people. Twice, I’ve been unable to make outgoing calls for a period of several hours, which is definitely a Verizon problem, and the VOIP modem needs to be reset on average of once or twice a week, which could be either Verizon or Time Warner’s fault. Their email support leaves MUCH to be desired.

On the flip side, one unadvertised benefit to Time Warner’s service is that, at least according to the cable guy who installed my stuff, if you purchase the home phone service, they’ll bump up your internet access bandwidth. Could be a nice perk, if it’s true, but you’re still paying for it one way or another.

I really would have expected better bundle pricing from Time Warner if you’re getting the “triple play”. As it stands now, I’m actually saving money by not switching to Time Warner for phone. Sure, it’s going to save people a few bucks if they’re still paying for copper, but if you’re going to make the jump to VOIP, why not go all the way and get a service that’s better and cheaper? Time Warner – if you want to attract more customers, how about offering an actual good deal – and I’m not talking about introductory rate gimmicks. When you have cable, internet, and phone for $100/month, call me.

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