Internet Phone Comparison

After years of having a POTS line (Plain Old Telephone Service) at home in Austin, TX, I converted to an AT&T U-verse internet phone in April, 2008. I previously switched from Time-Warner (TW) cable/internet to U-verse but AT&T did not offer voice capability with that service then. See my Austin Cable BLOG for a log of my installation experience.

Overall the service is solid and has lots of features - my home phone is now more like the big PBX attached phone I use at the office.  The quality is indistinguishable from my old traditional phone and the cost is lower. 

Here is a table prepared by AT&T that compares features of all the major Internet phoe providers: AT&T U-verse Competition. Here are some of my comments on the features but without just reproducing what AT&T has already done.

Comparison Summary

Feature

AT&T

Time-Warner
Web site
AT&T U-verse Voice
TW Central Texas Digital Phone
Plan
1000 minutes per month to US
Unlimited minutes to Texas only
Cost
$30 per month
$29.95 per month
Requirements
Must have u-Verse Internet
Must have TW digital cable
Options
Unlimited minutes to all US for $40/mth
Unlimited minutes to all US for $39.95 per month
Second Line
$20 per month
$29.95 per month
Outlaying areas included
Canada, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern MarianasCanada, Puerto Rico
Battery backup power included
Yes - Belkin UPS installed for gateway
No

Voice Mailbox
Setup and manage by phone or Web


Share mailbox with wireless phone
Yes if using AT&T wireless phone


View missed calls on TV
Yes


Multiple mailboxes per account
up to 8 additional


Replay mailbox messages
via phone or web


Mailbox message notification
email, SMS msg to cell phone, pager


Forward all calls
Yes


Forward call if no answer
Yes


Forward call if busy
Yes


Priority Ringing
No
No

Forward selected incoming numbers only
Yes


Locate me - forward calls to a list of numbers
Yes - up to 4 numbers


Call screening
White list of 20 incoming numbers, all others get message


Call blocking
Black list of 20 incoming numbers


Do not disturb
All incoming calls get busy signal


Block calls to Directory Assistance
Yes


Block outgoing international calls
Yes


Call transfer
Yes


View call historyat web site or on TV

Speed Dial
No
Yes

Address book
Online list, segment into groups, automatically send message to everyone in a group


Transmission
Separate bandwidth for voice from your house to AT&T voice network


Recommendations

Don't schedule your install for a Saturday.  AT&T is still developing processes and training their staff for this product. If things go wrong like they did for me there will not be as many people in the second, third, and fourth tier support to fix everything. 

AT&T still needs to fix their overly complicated, disconnected web sites.  And it would be helpful if the email they sent you to tell you about a new voice mail message had a link to take you to your web site to check the message instead of an email address link that is always "unknown" for sending email to the person that called.  I suppose if I added all the telemarketers that call me to my contacts list I could get a valid email address in the message...
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