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Cell phones and DSL and cable, oh my!

Michele and I are currently enmeshed in the process of sorting out all of our phone and internet options. It started out as a simple mission--"Let's reduce our phone bill!"--but it has morphed into a gargantuan research project.

Should we drop the landline entirely and go voice-over-IP? If we're doing that, should we switch from cable modem to direct-line DSL and get a bundle deal? And while we're doing that, should we finally cave in and buy cellphones (that's right, we've never owned a cellphone) so we'll be covered in case the power goes out and we lose VoIP? Or do we dare trust the phone company's oh-so-amazing DSL-cellular-landline bundle deal, when they're the ones whose overpriced phone service kicked off this whole process in the first place?

When researching this sort of thing, you eventually reach a point where the sheer number of variables involved--pricing options, extra features, bundle possibilities, terms of service, activation fees--becomes overwhelming. I think I'm about at the point beyond which I simply cannot process any more information on this subject. So if you're a pushy salesperson and you've got a great deal you can offer me on internet and telephone service, now's the time to call; I'm far too weary to resist.


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I've done a good bit of analysis on this actually.

First of all, packaged deals can be dangerous. Check this link out: http://credit.typepad.com/credit/2004/11/utilities_mimic.html

Second, if you get cell phones, you'll enjoy the flexibility of using them outside of your apartment as well, and probably won't need VoiP. Unless you get one with about 20 minutes on it for $4 as a backup for your VoiP.

Lastly, if you go VoiP, you'll probably want a cable connection, since you'll then be able to kill your phone line completely.

My suggestion is to either go with cell phones and either cable or DSL based on price, OR cable and VoiP.

I wouldn't rely on VoIP at this point; DSL and cable just don't have the reliability you'll want/need. Also, VoIP doesn't do 911 very well yet.

Of course, cell plans aren't cheap. A good cross-tool solution might be Skype, which lets you buy "Skype-out" credit for 2cents a minute. That lets you do Skype-to-POTS calls (e.g., computer to land line) calls. That doesn't help with incoming calls, but you're not locked into any contracts, either. What's your long-distance vs. local can ratio?


First off, I don't think that DSL will give you any more reliability than cable. Comcast hardly went down when I was in Michigan. I wasn't famliar with many DSL outages, though either.

Regarding VOIP: Unless you have a FAST DSL connection (1.5Mbit) you'll find that your phone calls go all wacky and delayed if you do other things on the phone.

I have VOIP at work, on my 960 kpbs DSL, and for the most part, it works. If I fetch a big web page, or my computer makes a big request, or something like that that downloads a few hundred K of stuff, my phone conversations get all digitaly, I miss words, and occasionally the majority of some sentences.

I NEVER had that on cable. Why? Well, the 3Mbit ceiling on cable left me enough headroom to view web pages, call up stuff, and occasionally download files WITHOUT interrupting my phone call.

Now that I'm on DSL.. wow. I miss a lot of stuff.

Don't buy into the 'Cable is shared bandwidth, DSL is dedicated" crap. On cable, I had at least 1.5 Mbit, and more often had 3Mbit. Now, I have 960kbps, for more money, with more VOIP problems.

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