BroadVoice Review: Call the WorldByRobert Pepper|September 21, 2012
BroadVoice is the most geographically-conscious residential VoIP service provider I’ve reviewed. Their plans are broken down into “in-state,” “Unlimited USA Plus,” Unlimited World,” “Unlimited World PLUS,” and…wait for it…”Unlimited World PREMIUM.” It’s quirky, but it also showcases the many creative ways that VoIP providers can offer their services. The larger your calling area is, the better deal it is.
Let’s start with “Unlimited In-State,” for $9.95/mo. Having just reviewed eight residential providers, many of which offer unlimited plans to all of the US and Canada for a little more than half that, an in-state plan seems a little lackluster. But, it’s far from a total bust. You get unlimited inbound calls, per-minute rates of 3.9 cents/min, and even low international minutes. Plus, one state isn’t all that bad. California has a population of over 36 million, Texas has over 22 million, and New York has nearly 20 million. I think I could find someone to talk to if I had 20 million people to choose from. You also get a number of included features that we’ve come to expect from VoIP and a few that aren’t so common, including up to twelve distinctive rings, outlook integration, and call notification.
Moving up to Unlimited USA Plus for $17.95, you do indeed get some “plus” thrown in. You get unlimited calls to Canada, Hawaii and Alaska, and even Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, is cheap in some VoIP plans, and expensive in others. But, with BroadVoice, it’s included, so you can talk to your friends and family in PR as long as you want.
The Unlimited World, for just two dollars more, gives unlimited calling to 29 countries, and some mobile phones. While Puerto Rico and the U.S. are included, you can make landline calls but not make unlimited mobile calls to the UK, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and most of Europe.
Step it up to the $24.95 Unlimited World PLUS, you get the same 29 countries, with no additional mobile coverage in those countries, and then 51 more countries. Just to name a few: New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, Vietnam, Japan, Russia, Greece, Israel, Estonia, and the Dominican Republic. Of the additional countries, you only get included unlimited calls to cell phones in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, and Laos, which seems an odd selection.
The maximum coverage plan is Unlimited World PREMIUM, which allows you to make unlimited calling to 95 countries and 62 mobile areas, including…well, almost everywhere. You get those mobile phone calls, and even more countries, including Nepal, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, and Brunei. For $49.95 a month, it’s the most dense international plan I’ve seen yet.
I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that even if you don’t want to go for unlimited minutes, BroadVoice has very reasonable international minutes, which don’t change according to your plan. Whether you’ve got in-state or Unlimited World, you can call Lithuania for 3.4 cents a minute. It certainly makes a lot of sense to have a basic plan for mostly inbound calls and call who you want throughout the world. With all this international presence, it’s only natural that they have virtual numbers for $2.95 per month after a $9.45 setup fee.
BroadVoice has a pretty good money back guarantee. You can cancel the service with one phone call within 30 days and they’ll kick off the cancellation procedure. You can’t go over 250 minutes during that trial, and you’ll be responsible for calls that aren’t included in the plan.
You can also bring your own device, and the web page lists a number of compatible SIP phones, softphones, and iPhone apps. The web site also gives instructions on how to set up these devices, including Asterisk settings or mini-PBXs.
My overall impression of BroadVoice is that they take the old local, long distance, and international calling rate mindset and turns it inside out then stretches it to its limit. As I said, it’s a quirky way to offer plans, and the more international calls you make the better a deal it is.