How Do Wireline Voice Services Measure Up?

If you are like me, then you’re one of the many millions who have cut the cord with their landline and gone all wireless. However, that doesn’t mean people don’t want phones for their homes. Of course, for them, there are many options — some that use traditional telephony like AT&T and others like Vonage, which provide broadband-based voice service. It’s hard for folks to pick the one that is the best and most reliable.

Audio Quality Rankings
  • Comcast Digital Voice
  • Verizon VoiceWing
  • AT&T Landline
Service Reliability Rankings
  • AT&T landline
  • Time Warner Digital Phone
  • Verizon VoiceWing

Keynote Systems recently conducted a study (link to PDF) of some of the more popular services — AT&T VoIP, AT&T Landline, Comcast Digital, Time Warner Digital, Verizon VoiceWing (VoIP), Packet8, Vonage, Lingo and Truevoice. According to their study, AT&T’s landline service was the most reliable service, while in terms of voice quality, Comcast’s Digital Voice came out on top.

I wish Keynote had not been stingy and shared complete rankings instead of these teaser results. Nevertheless, even the very limited data they made available show that pure-play VoIP services ranked pretty low, hinting at poor quality and less reliability.

More importantly, not a single service measures up to being both reliable and exhibiting good quality; and though Verizon VoiceWing is a good enough compromise, it’s not clear if you can actually sign up for the service. I tried on their web site and failed — only existing customers can seemingly log into the site.

These results align closely to my own findings — while AT&T used to work, the quality of the calls was just horrible. I could not make a single call to India without redialing. So I gave up that service and then opted for Comcast. I very quickly realized that spending $40 a month for a voice service when I could easily get nearly unlimited minutes from my mobile phone just didn’t make much sense. Good-bye, Comcast.

I would love to know which service you use and what your real-world experience is.

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