Recently we have been paying between $40 and $100 for our landline to AT&T even though we barely use it. The reason is that AT&T charges $10 for the landline plus some fees and then on top of that just for being able to place long distance calls for $20 plus high (i.e. 50 cents per minute) charges for long distance calls, which means its much more expensive to call within the US than it is calling around the globe to germany.
And on top of that we are paying $60 for comcast cable and internet, which is the price already after negotiating them down temporarily on a promotion-rate. Honestly we don’t really watch TV and just have that since comcast does not offer a cheaper cable internet service without the basic tv service. On top of that we have our mobile phone plan with t-mobile ($35 for the plan plus $10 per additional phone plus $20 if you want the unlimited wireless internet on the phone as well). With three phones one of which has the unlimited internet plan we pay about $85 max per month. Because of my work I also still have an AT&T wireless plan which just recently AT&T took the liberty of increasing the cost for their already expensive unlimited internet by $20, totaling also almost $100 .So our total cost for communication lies somewhere between $300 and $400.
Once you think about it you wonder how you got there.
In the light of our current economy we are trying to consolidate that. Our current model is that we are going to cancel the landline and the wireless service with AT&T, cancel comcast cable+internet, and instead sign up to AT&T basic DSL for $25/month ($4 of that are for having DSL without having an active landline). Most phonecalls we do within our mobile phone plan, which we will leave as it is for now. Then another component to be able to call germany without a landline nor using mobile phones will be to use Skype.
Skype cost structure highly confusing
Skype is interesting as it allows free calls between skype computers, which means potentially most of our phonecalls to my parents could be free. In addition it apparantly has reasonable rates for calling international landlines in the two cents per minute range. However their pricing model is at the very least confusing. I still have to figure it out completely.
There are three to four components that I would want:
1. a skype account that allows me to make free phonecalls to other skype accounts. Done and tested, works well.
Cost: Free after internet (cant live without internet anyways, so not really additional cost for me)
2. having an account that can be charged when calling landlines – I think its called SkypeOut. They allowed me to test it with me normal skype account for 10 minutes and I was able to call my parents in germany and have a reasonable conversation with only minor quality issues.
Cost: tbd, there are connection fees of 4 cents, plus per minute fees (pay as you go) or monthly flat rate fees ($10/month international)
3. having a phonenumber that any landline can call – I think its called SkypeIn
Cost: tbd, again connection fees plus per minute fees plus a monthly fee for getting that phonenumber.
4. Luxury version would be to own a wifi or wimax phone with skype on it, i.e. the Nokia internet tablet with wimax once it comes out, that would be awesome… there already are other existing phones from NetGear as well advertised on skypes website…
Cost: $150 for the netgear phone, around $450 for the nokia internet tablet?
So the total cost summary for the Skype portion is still highly unclear to me. Once I finish my research and interpretation of all the stuff on their website I will put it into a nice table format. Feel free to comment already with additional input and ideas.
Note that I am aware that there is no 911 service on skype currently, not sure if that will have to change sooner or later or if they stay exempt. The mobile phone service typically is less reliable in terms of 911 service than the land line was, but I am not ready to pay $30 extra just for that feature…
Note also that I don’t believe I will be willing to pay an arm and a leg for apple+AT&Ts iPhone 3G service, for all the reasons I wrote down in my previous posting about why I returned my iPhone.