…and can’t decide how to communicate! I’ve been looking into getting a ‘landline of sorts’ at home since we moved in but I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. This is where you, my learned readers, come in very handy. I’m seeking the benefit of your experience. A bit of background; I didn’t get a physical phone line installed at home, primarily because I’d rather melt my eyeballs with a lighter than give eircom €25 a month to rent a crappy out of date copper cable. So I got symmetric 1mbit wireless broadband from nova networks to fulfill my internetty needs. As I see it currently, I’ve got two options.

1. Get skype. I’m already on skype, so all I’d have to do is create a ‘home’ account, buy something like this for €180 ish (incl delivery) and use skype pro @ about €50 a year (incl geographic 021 number). Upsides are free landline calls in Ireland and cheap as chips for worldwide calls. Downsides include the inability to ‘text chat’ from the phone and the apparently inability to send text messages from it. I’d live without both as I have a mobile. Also, skype is a closed network so I’d be unable to call regular VoIP phones. Err, don’t currently know anyone that has a VoIP phone.

2. Get Blueface. They were my original first and only option. Skype only entered into it a few weeks ago when it broke that they are now offering Irish geographic phone numbers. I’d have to get a phone; something like an s450IP (Siemens Gigaset) and probably get the second package for €99 a year. Instantly, that’s about twice the price of the skype option. It is a more open and adaptable system but is that so important?

Both have a minimum charge of around 2cent per call (connection charge) so I fail to see how an unlimited national landline package (skype) compares with a 300 minute national landline package (blueface) compares. I know I could do additional mad stuff with blueface like connecting it up to the sky box and possibly a monitored alarm and maybe even home automation, but that’s just fanciness for the sake of it. I could setup my own asterisk server, if I so chose. I could get a fax to email phone number with blueface, if I so chose.

Landlines these days are coming with broadband and calls packages that come in around €40/50 for something around a 2mbit (asymmetric) line and in some cases, unlimited calling in Ireland and the UK. I suppose at the end of it all, is blueface worth twice the price of skype? Does Blueface have twice or more of the functionality of skype? I’m not talking about all of the posh stuff either. Just talk, voicemail and maybe some text. How well does €5 per month (roughly) compare with €10? Skype is by far a more user friendly system as far as I can see. Anyone with even a fundamental knowledge of computers can download and install it. It might take a bit more insight to go out and buy a headset to use with it, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for even a novice user. Blueface, while not much more complicated, can get confusing for the layman with all the talk of ATA’s and SIP settings. In skype, if you can remember your username and password, you can use it anywhere.

Finally, for my own interest… How many of you are either on skype, have VoIP services or have both? I welcome your thoughts on the above.