Phone Home

I know its an easy target, but its fun to pick on Comcast. They try so hard to make us believe that they “care”, but just how caring can a monopoly be? But this post is not really about Comcast as a company, or its fancy new commercials (which I happen to really like) instead it is about one of their products and how its pricing just doesn’t seem right.

The service is called Comcast Digital Voice and essential it is a broadband phone service. The way it works is that you have a device in your house that converts your analog phone touch tones and voice into digital packets that are transmitted over your internet connection like anything else. The system then routes your “call” to a device where you are calling and that then converts it from digital back into analog and the call goes through. Its really a very cool technology and it is why “long distance” is free, because the packets are just flying over the internet. The service includes all the usual goodies like voice mail and caller id.

Now let’s talk pricing. Comcast charges $39.95 a month for service, which includes unlimited calling and free long distance. This isn’t exactly cheap. Especially when you consider that the typical “local land line” will cost you about $30 a month (Plus taxes of course). Now if you make a lot of long distance calls or go with a plan with unlimited long distance, you probably will end up at the same price of about $40 anyway. So it is a wash.

But what about the “other guy”… you know Vonage? They offer the same service, same features, same everything and it all runs on the same lines and over the same internet. Yet, Vonage charges only $24.95 a month and has a better promo deal.

1 Year Comparisons – Vonage vs. Comcast

Comcast Vonage
Price Per Month $39.95 $24.95
Promo $29.95 for 3 months $9.95 for 3 months
First Year Cost $449.40 $254.40

Note: Even when you “bundle”, I keep finding that Comcast, Verizon, etc charge a good $150 more a year for their “phone service” than Vonage does.

Having said all that, why exactly do you need a home phone anyway? My wife and I have been living very happily without a land line for almost 6 years now. All I have is a cell phone and that is something I need and you are probably paying for already anyway. When you think about it, I have saved on average $35 a month for the last 6 years by not having a land line. I only had to up my cellphone plan by about $10 a month to get the extra 100 minutes or so needed to handle the offset usage. So that is a delta for $25 a month times 72 months, for a total savings of $1,800. That’s not chump change and has been happily collecting interest in the bank over that time.


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