Most of Silverdale has hyperfast broadband available. Provided by B4RN, a community benefit society, the standard offering is a highly reliable 1 gigabit per second Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) connection for £30/month including VAT.
Once one has hyperfast broadband there is little point in paying for a separate landline as high quality phone calls can be made over the internet. To enable this many B4RN customers subscribe to Vonage. It provides a little box that connects between your existing phone and the B4RN router. Its standard plan is £10.25/month including VAT and this includes unlimited calls to UK landlines.
My experience of Vonage was good. One can transfer ones existing phone number to Vonage and it includes various free add-ons such as caller id, voicemail (i.e. an answerphone in the cloud like BT’s 1571 service) and an app that enables you to answer and make (free) calls from your mobile.
After a while however I wondered whether there was a service that suited me better. Whilst Vonage’s plan is good value for those who use their landline phone a lot, we did not. I therefore looked at what else was available.
There are many VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) providers out there. Other than Vonage, most are focused on businesses but this does not mean residential customers cannot use them. After much research I choose yay.com. It is British, has good support with excellent reviews, and has cheap call rates with no connection charge. When I signed up it offered a basic package for a single phone number of £3.59/month including VAT with calls to landlines costing 1.2p/min including VAT. (Its cheapest offering to new subscribers is now £5.38/month including VAT with 100 free minutes of calls included).
Yay has lots of nice features. Like Vonage it includes caller id, voicemail and a mobile app. It also allows you to configure how calls are handled. For example, at night I divert my calls to a message asking the caller to leave a voicemail unless the call is urgent. They then have the option to go to voicemail or ring my phone. Mobile calls and foreign calls are cheaper than Vonage and have no connection charge. Calls are PAYG so you have to keep your Yay account in credit (although they do have an auto top-up feature).
Unlike Vonage, Yay does not provide a box to connect analogue phones (as used with BT etc) to the B4RN router. These can be purchased but it makes more sense to buy a VOIP phone. As I had a nice set of DECT cordless handsets I just needed to buy a VOIP base station and chose the Gigaset N300. This replaced my original phone base station and plugs directly into the B4RN router.
For the bigger family or home worker VOIP and Yay offers other advantages. For example, extra users (i.e. phone numbers) can be added cheaply with no need for extra hardware (other than a phone handset if you only have one).
Be warned however, you do have to do a bit of configuration both of the Yay service and your VOIP base station. This is straightforward if you are at all techie and, as I said, Yay’s help is very good in my experience.
After a year with Yay I am very happy with their service.