Sunday, December 27, 2009

IP Phone - Magic Jack vs Vonage vs Skype

When I decided to R2I, carrying an IP phone to India was one of the important things that I had in my R2I planning list. I wanted to stay in touch with my friends in US & be contactable from US. I wanted to carry something that is 'Always ON', so that I can make and receive calls anytime. So, I decided to get an IP Phone connection with US number.

Many of my friends, suggested to buy a Magic Jack, because it was cheap (just $40 for the first year & $20 for subsequent renewals). However, I was not very excited about that option because I've to connect the phone to the computer & the computer has to be kept ON, always. Also, Magic Jack has an upper limit on the total number of hours that you can use in a calendar year (A few of my colleagues used Magic Jack for about 6 months and their services were de-activated due to excess usage - I'm not sure about the 'actual' limit). Also, Magic Jack doesn't provide you an incoming phone number. So, you cannot receive incoming calls. One advantage of using Magic Jack is that you can use your regular phone for making calls using the 'Magic Jack'. You don't have to buy a new phone.

Vonage service is good - the only drawback is that you've to be on a hefty monthly plan, irrespective of whether you use the service or not (approx. $20 every month, which is $240 for the whole year).

I decided to go for the Skype phone service. I bought a Skype Belkin Phone ($80) & signed up for SkypeIn Service (this provides a US phone number for $30) & SkypeOut Calling Plan ($3 every month). They provide 10,000 minutes of talk time, every month (which is more than enough for me). Every year, I had to pay approx $66 for Skype. Also, the voice quality is excellent. So far, I don't have any issues with the Skype Phone Service.


The Internet connection in India is at times, very unreliable (unlike US). Hence, any IP based phone connection cannot be guaranteed to work 100% of the times.

Also read:
R2I - 25 things to do / checklist
R2I - List of things to pack/bring from US


  1. Though its a bit old blog post, with new options in Vonage that allows calls to 60 countries included in their 24.99 plan ($32 / months with taxes), I think its better off to have vonage at this point as it covers your outgoing calls in India too. Our local landline outgoing bill itself is Rs1000. Next time I head to US, I'll switch my existing IP based phone from Viatalk to vonage..

    - Anand

  2. Yes. If you are making lots of outgoing calls within India, it makes sense to own a Vonage.


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