One of the great many ways that VoIP sets itself apart from traditional residential telephony service is the different packages. Some residential VoIP providers offer unlimited calls at very reasonable monthly rates, others prefer metered minutes. In the case of CallCentric, they give subscribers flexibility by metering both incoming and outgoing minutes – at the lowest rates available -or going unlimited. ViaTalk offers exclusively unmetered plans, at, again, very low rates. CallCentric’s plans are detailed and some include different setup or activation fees, which I’ll go into detail. But first, here’s the tale of the tape.
|Month to Month Price||$15.75/mo||$25.90|
|Blowout Sale||$189 for 2 years||N/A|
|Metered Price||n/a||Outbound: 500 minutes for $6.95; 1000 for $12.95; $1.50 activation fee
Inbound: PPM: $1.95 + $0.015/min,
|BYOD Option||Yes||Yes, suggested Obi 202|
|Conference Call||3-Way||4-way, must pay for multiple minutes on metered plans|
|Equipment Fee||Free Lease||n/a|
|Equipment Shipping||$10.95 Economy – $40.90 Rush Express||n/a|
|Included Channels (Max Concurrent Calls)||3||3 Included, More available|
|International Minutes In Basic Plan||60||0|
|Mobile App||iPhone||iPhone, Android|
|Number Porting Fee||Free||$25.00|
|SIP Credentials||Yes||Yes, suggested Obi 202, Acrobits, Bria or 3CX|
|Tech Support, Phone||M-F 9am-10pm, S/S 10am-10pm, ET, US-Based||n/a|
|Tech Support, Web||Knowledge Base, Email support||FAQ, Setup guides, Email tickets|
|Toll Free||$4.95/mo (or $36/yr) + $0.049/min||3.95 + $0.029/min, $3.95 fee|
|Voice Mail to Email||Yes||No|
|Voice Mail Transcription||n/a||n/a|
|International Option||$8.95/mo,1200 Minutes to 60 Countries||$29.95/mo, Unlimited minutes to 35 countries, $1.95 Fee|
|Included Calling Area||US, Canada + 1 hour international||US, Canada, Puerto Rico|
CallCentric Exclusive Features – IVR, included iNum number, Click2Dial, IP Whitelist
ViaTalk Exclusive Features – Toll free remote voicemail access, 7, 10 & 11 digit long distance dialing, wakeup call, Call recording
Shared Call Features – Call rules, standard call features, find me/follow me/simul-ring, privacy rules, caller ID rules, enhanced voicemail, failsafe call forwarding, softphone, free in-network calling, call recording, conference calls, speed dial, free 411 Call hunt, softphone access
In terms of the lowest possible price, CallCentric offers a limited, but completely free SIP-to-SIP plan, similar to SIP mobile apps, but for the home. You must purchase your own device, such as an ObiHai 202, or use a softphone. Under this plan, you can make calls to any CallCentric subscriber, or any VoIP user that you have the credentials for (including, for example, ViaTalk subscribers), for nothing. There is no activation or setup free for this plan.
For more traditional calls, the outbound rate of all calls is $0.0198/min, above the bundled minutes of 500 ($6.65 + 1.50 fee), 1000 ($12.95 + $1.50 fee), or none at all (no fee). In order to receive calls, you must pay either $0.015/min, or subscribe to either the free DID number plan, or to the unlimited inbound for $5.95 personal unlimited. ($5.95 fee applies.) CallCentric has an unlimited outbound for $19.95 a month, making the grand total for unlimited inbound and outbound $29.90 per month
ViaTalk, for its part, offers month-to-month plans for $15.75/mo, or $189 for two years if you prepay.
On price alone, it would seem that if you are a heavy user, ViaTalk is the choice for you, and if you are a light user, CallCentric is the way to go. But before we call it a day, consider that according to data from a major cell phone company, the average American teenager uses 469 minutes every month. Given that no one quite talks like an average American teenager on her cell phone, I think it’s safe to say that many subscribers can manage quite well with the 500 or 1000 minute plans on CallCentric.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the features of each company. There are a number of features that nearly every VoIP provider has, including caller ID, call waiting, and other caller ID and privacy rules.
Both CallCentric and ViaTalk offer Call Hunting, and call rules, just like a business VoIP provider would. They also offer call forwarding and failover forwarding, should the network be unavailable. ViaTalk offers softphone support, but CallCentric relies much more heavily on softphones and SIP devices.
Both CallCentric and ViaTalk are international caller friendly. In both cases, you can take the device with you and make international calls. ViaTalk offers an hour of international calls as part of their standard plan, and has the option, for $8.95 more a month, of raising that to 10 hours per month for selected countries. CallCentric actually has more countries on its premium list, but at a higher pricetag. CallCentric will give you an iNum number for international callers. So far, ViaTalk does not support iNum at all. As with all VoIP providers, you can make unlimited the international calls within their own network.
CallCentric and ViaTalk support 3 channels at once. What this means is that two callers within the same household can be using the phone and a third call can come in on the call waiting; One call must be dropped in order to answer the third call. CallCentric has two channels for their cheaper “Dirt Cheap DID” incoming plan, but if you are using their standard plan, you can buy additional channels. Both ViaTalk and CallCentric have business plans, which is why this option is available, and makes more sense in a business context.
Similarly, you can make three way calls on ViaTalk, but you can actually make up to a four-way call on CallCentric. CallCentric recently changed their pricing policy so that, if you are using an unlimited plan, you are not charged extra for making conference calls. So, for example, if you have an unlimited US plan, you can talk to three other callers in the US; if you have an international plan, you won’t be charged extra for calling those countries. Any number out of your plan and you will be charged. Also, if you have a metered plan, you’ll be paying for up to four times as many minutes.
One new feature that CallCentric offers is an IP whitelist. This is a security feature that ensures that only you can log into your account, on computers that you designate. CallCentric also has a Click2Dial outbound widget, so you can click your mouse on a contact in the control panel and save yourself the trouble of dialing the number with your hands.
ViaTalk has a wakeup call feature, which functions much like a hotel wakeup call. ViaTalk offers a distinctive ring, call recording, and voicemail to text.
The Final Bell – I’m going to rule this one a draw. When you take into account the real world statistics about calling, as well as the low blowout price, there’s no clear winner of price; when you compare both sets of features, there’s a huge overlap, with the few difference being a matter of personal taste. It’s fair to say that either CallCentric or ViaTalk would be a huge improvement over your phone company, but to say which one is better than the other? I say they are equal.
For more information, please read our residential VoIP provider reviews. If you have experience with either ViaTalk or CallCentric, I urge you to leave a comment or to leave your own review.