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Find the Best Home Phone Services

by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Cellphones have replaced most traditional home phones, but many people still use home phone services through their phone company or internet service provider. Read our guide to research the best home phone service company for you. We explain the different types of home phone infrastructure, phone service features to consider and what fees may apply to your service.

Compare Reviews for Top Home Phone Services

Read 2,374 Reviews

Vonage provides VoIP home phone plans for a low monthly rate in addition to taxes and fees. The company offers regular discounts and introductory offers to new customers, and all plans include free extra features.

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XFINITY Home Phone Service
Read 295 Reviews

XFINITY is a trademark of Comcast that markets the telecommunications company’s cable, Internet and home phone service. Their phone services are only available in select markets. Consumers receive a discount for bundling service.

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Ooma Telo
Read 271 Reviews

Offers free and low-cost phone service options for homes and businesses. Offers 5,000 minutes per month for outbound calling and does not require a computer. Can be used anywhere there is a high-speed internet connection.

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MCI / WorldCom
Read 159 Reviews

MCI, formerly MCI/WorldCom and WorldCom, became a part of Verizon in 2003. Customers can still sign up for service with MCI, which offers local, long distance and international plans as well as prepaid services.

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Bell Canada
Read 1,095 Reviews

Bell Canada was established in 1880 and is Canada’s largest communications company, providing cellular, home phone, television and Internet services. It’s a publically traded company with headquarters in Montreal.

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Consolidated Communications
Read 299 Reviews

Consolidated Communications offers internet, television and home phone service in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. It’s transitioning to fiber optic lines.

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Kinetic by Windstream
Read 607 Reviews

Kinetic by Windstream offers Internet, television and home phone service to residential customers in 18 states. The phone service uses VoIP technology. The company’s headquarters are in Arkansas, and it was founded in 2006.

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Read 498 Reviews

Customizable internet plans. Residential and commercial services. Offers dial-up and HyperLink, its premier service. Internet speeds up to 1 Gbps. Also offers security software, EarthLink Protect.

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Read 5,166 Reviews

Telecommunications company that offers phone, internet, and cable services for homes and businesses. Offers bundling options to save money and price for life features. Max internet speed is 940 Mbps.

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Verizon Home Phone Service
Read 838 Reviews

Verizon Communications was established in 2000 and is headquartered in New York. The company offers home phone service using fiber optic or LTE technology and offers discounts to customers who bundle multiple residential services.

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What features matter most in a home phone service?

Customer service

Home phone service is a fairly standard service, with most companies offering similar features and plan choices. This similarity makes customer service an important factor in choosing between similar companies.

  • Contact options: Look at the support section of the companies’ websites to see when and how you can get in touch with someone. Are representative available after business hours or on weekends? Can you live chat with someone so you don’t have to make a phone call—something that might be hard to do if you’re having problems with your phone line?
  • Scheduling service calls: Consider asking about the process for scheduling a service call before you sign a contract. Ask about the window of time customers are given when a technician is scheduled to come out. Companies should be able to give you a small time frame so that you don’t need to miss work while waiting on a technician.
  • Hold time: Call the customer service phone number and follow the prompts you would follow if you were an existing customer with a problem or question to see if you spend a great deal of time on hold waiting for a representative to be available. Call at the time of day you would likely call if you actually have a problem. This test call will show you how they treat their customers.
  • Social media: Check the company’s social media pages to see if customers post complaints on those sites. If so, how does the company respond? If customer service representatives respond, you’ll know that the company is concerned about customer problems. If the pages are only used to advertise and/or sell services, they may be more concerned with getting customers than keeping them.

Additional fees

Most companies’ websites have clearly stated monthly fees for their phone service offerings. However, once you start to order or after you subscribe to a service, the company may add on a variety of extra fees. Read the fine print so that you know exactly what you’ll pay for installation and what your monthly fees will be.

  • Installation: If a company has to come to your residence to connect your new service, they may charge an installation fee. This fee should be clearly stated before you commit to any plan.
  • Equipment fee: If you need a special device to make your phone work with an Internet connection, the company may charge a monthly rental fee or you may have to buy their device outright. If you will be required to pay a rental fee, add that to the monthly price when comparing plans. If you must buy a device, see if the necessary equipment is available from a third-party seller at a lower price.
  • Activation fee: An activation fee may be charged when the company can turn your service on remotely. This fee should be shown before you order a service.
  • Taxes and fees: Some companies include taxes and fees when advertising their monthly price, but some companies do not. Make sure you understand exactly what the monthly fee includes when you’re comparing prices.
  • Unlimited calling: Many companies offer unlimited calling plans but can still charge extra fees if you regularly use more minutes than they deem reasonable. If you plan to use the phone a lot—usually several thousand minutes of talk time per month—make sure to see if a company’s unlimited plan has terms and conditions.


Many companies offer some kind of discount to entice new customers to subscribe to their services. Make sure you compare similar services when looking at discounts.

  • Bundling discounts: Companies that provide multiple telecommunications service usually offer discounts to customers who have more than one of their services, or bundles. If you’re already planning to get multiple services, using a single company may save you money. With a bundle, you will also have fewer monthly bills to remember.
  • Introductory/promotional pricing: If you’re a new customer, companies often offer significant discounts for signing a service contract with them. Introductory offers usually expire after a certain period. If the introductory price ends before the contract, average the introductory and standard prices to determine if the initial savings make the plan cheaper overall than its competitors’ plans.

Contract length

Some plans are available on a month-to-month basis while others require you to sign a contract. Each type of plan has its own benefits.

  • No contract: Plans without contracts allow you to cancel if you realize you don’t need or want the service after only a few months, or even weeks. Price may change with little warning for customers without a contract.
  • Price guarantee: Plans with a contract usually guarantee that your price will not increase during the duration of the contract. However, if you decide to cancel your service early, you will have to pay a penalty fee.
  • Trial period: Some companies that require customers to sign a contract also offer a trial period during which consumers can cancel without any penalty. This option may not be advertised, so ask a customer service representative before you sign a contract.


The type of plan you choose will be determined by how you plan to use your phone. Realistically assess your needs before committing to a plan.

  • Placing international calls: If you regularly place calls to individuals in foreign countries, select a company that offers a competitive international plan. An international plan may not include all countries, so ask exactly where you can call with a plan and which countries will incur an additional per-minute charge.
  • Home business use: If you operate a small business out of your home, consider plans with call waiting so you don’t miss business calls. Also make sure to understand the reasonable limits company’s place on “unlimited” plans.
  • Cell phone alternative: Home phones may be less expensive than a cell phone plan, so if you spend most of your time at home then a home phone may be smarter financially. If could also be a more convenient choice if you don’t have great cell reception at your home.
  • Emergencies: If you only plan to use your home phone for emergencies, consider getting the least expensive plan. You will be able to dial 911 from any active landline, and you will be able to call long distance numbers if necessary, but you will be billed for these calls on a per-minute fee schedule.
  • Alarm systems: Some home alarm systems use phone lines to send alerts to your security company. Some VoIP provides may or may not be compatible with your existing alarm. Check with the phone company and the security company about the requirements and capabilities before signing up for a new service or discounting your existing service.

911 service

Many individuals want a home phone so that 911 operators will automatically know their location when they make an emergency call. Technological advances now make it easy to make 911 calls and for dispatchers to find you without a landline.

  • Registering devices: Some companies sell VoIP devices that connect to third-party Internet providers. Customers with these devices/services must register their address with that company. Only after registering will their information be sent directly to the 911 personnel.
  • Fiber optic lines: Phones that connect to fiber optic lines, as opposed to traditional copper lines, will send location information to emergency personnel when a 911 call is placed. However, individuals with a fiber optic line must have a battery backup system to make calls during power outages.
  • A note on wireless 911 calls: The development of Enhanced 911 (E911) makes it easier for 911 operators to locate people calling from a cell phone. E911 requires mobile phone providers to send information about the phone’s location to emergency services. Newer technology provides more precise location information.

What are the different types of home phone infrastructures


Traditionally, copper phone lines were used to send electrical pulses, which telephones created by converting sound to energy. Copper lines are expensive and cannot handle the amount of data demanded by internet users, so copper line are being replaced by newer technology, like fiber optics. Copper line can carry energy, meaning that phone connected to these older lines work even during prolonged power outages.

Fiber optic

Fiber optic cables are made of glass and transmit data and sound using pulses of light. This technology creates faster speeds and more reliable connections. Fiber optic lines will replace all copper lines and combination copper/fiber lines in the coming years. Unlike copper, these lines cannot carry energy, so they must connect to a back-up power source to be used during power outages.

LTE/Mobile hotspot

Mobile hotspots connect to a mobile carrier’s network to provide Internet access and phone home service. Consumers will need to purchase a compatible modem, usually from the service provider. These devices do not need to connect to any telecommunications lines, but they do need electricity.


VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and uses an Internet connection to make calls. VoIP can use a variety of technologies to do this, including fiber optic lines and an LTE network. As copper lines are phased out, all telephone calls will use VoIP technology.

Who uses home phone services?


Those with children living in their home may wish to have a home phone line for their children to use before they’re ready for their own cell phone. Having access to a home phone, with the 911 connection, may also make some parents and guardians feel more comfortable, especially if they have tweens and/or teens who are sometimes home alone.

International callers

Consumers who regularly call friends or family outside of the United State may find international home phone plans financially beneficial. Home phone plans might be less expensive than adding an international plan to their cell phone plan.

Small business owners

Anyone who operates a small business out of their home might benefit from having a dedicated line for customers to get in touch with them.


Seniors who are more familiar with home phones may want to keep one of these lines.

Rural dwellers

Individuals who live in areas that do not have good cell phone service should consider a home phone so that they have reliable access to a phone.

Home phone service FAQ

How much does landline service cost?
A home phone line costs between $15 and $30 per month. Additional services that you may add are:
  • Long-distance calling
  • Overseas calling
  • Call waiting
  • Caller ID
  • Voicemail
These other services may be included or can be an additional charge, so speak with a phone service representative for more information.
How much does a long distance-call cost?
Many landline providers offer free nationwide calling — and even calling to limited international countries — as part of their monthly cost. For those that charge separately, long-distance calls generally cost between 2 cents and 10 cents per minute. Some carriers also charge a monthly fee or have a minimum long-distance charge.
How do I find my home telephone number?
To find your telephone number:
  • Your landline provider can provide the number.
  • You can find your number on your monthly bill or paperwork.
  • You can call a cellphone from your landline, and the number usually shows up on the cellphone’s display.
  • You can call 1-800-444-2222, and after a short recorded message, it informs you of the number of the phone line from which you’re calling.
Do landline phones still exist?
Although landlines are losing ground to cellphones, estimates say that about 40% of U.S. homes still have a landline phone. There are many reasons to have a landline:
  • Many cable and satellite providers include a landline as part of their package, and frequently the bill is cheaper if you keep the phone.
  • Some home security systems require the use of a landline.
  • Families with young children often keep a landline in case of emergencies.
  • You can purchase an inexpensive landline phone at most big-box retailers.
Can you receive long-distance calls without long-distance service?
Yes, you can. Billing for long-distance calls goes to the caller. So you can receive long-distance phone calls without a long-distance service; however, you cannot make long-distance phone calls.
How do you set up a landline phone?
Setting up a landline is a simple process:
  1. First, You’ll need to sign up with a landline provider.
  2. Next, find your telephone cable usually included with your telephone.
  3. Plug one end of the telephone cable into the telephone and the other into the wall jack.
  4. If you have a wireless phone, you need to plug in the phone to a power source.
Many cable, internet and satellite companies offer landline services bundled with the other options they provide for your home.
How do I find out who my long-distance provider is?
You can call your local telephone company to ask them which long-distance company, if any, provides your long-distance service. You can also 1-700-555-4141 and listen to the recorded message that informs you which long-distance carrier, if any, is connected to the phone line you’re using.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Author reviews for home phone service companies

    XFINITY Home Phone Service

    XFINITY from Comcast offers Internet, television, smart home and telephone services. Consumers can receive discounts by subscribing to more than one XFINITY service. The company’s home phone service is available in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia.

    Read more about XFINITY Home Phone Service
    Verizon Home Phone Service

    Verizon, a publically-traded company, was founded in 2000 when Bell Atlantic and GTE merged. The new company provided both local phone service and mobile phone service. Today, Verizon Residential offers home phone, Internet and television service. Customers can receive discounts when they bundle multiple services. Plans will vary depending on whether customers have Verizon’s FiOS or LTE services.

    Read more about Verizon Home Phone Service
    Bell Canada

    Bell Canada is the largest communications company in Canada, offering mobile phone, television, Internet and home phone services. Customers receive discounts when they subscribe to more than once service. They have both traditional landlines and fiber optic lines. The company is publically traded on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company was founded in 1880 and is headquartered in Montreal.

    Read more about Bell Canada
    AT&T Home Phone Service

    AT&T is a publically traded company with headquarters in Dallas. The company has 140-year history in the communications industry. Today, it offers home phone, cellular, Internet and television services. Consumers who bundle two or more services receive discounts.

    Read more about AT&T Home Phone Service
    Consolidated Communications

    FairPoint Communications is a publically traded company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. The company offers television, Internet and home phone service in 17 states, with the most saturated areas in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Consumers can receive discounts by subscribing to multiple services.

    Read more about Consolidated Communications
    Kinetic by Windstream

    Founded in 2006 Windstream Telecommunications is a publically traded company with headquarters in Little Rock, Ark. They provide Internet, television and home phone services. Customers receive a discount when they bundle multiple services. Not all services are available in all areas. They currently have residential services in 18 states.

    Read more about Kinetic by Windstream
    Ooma Telo

    Ooma Telo devices provide VoIP calling for free. Customers connect the Ooma device to their Internet line and to their preferred handset. The device sends voice calls over the Internet for free; for domestic calls, consumers only pay the applicable taxes and fees. Ooma devices are available online and at several major retailers.

    Read 271 Reviews

    Launched in 2003, BasicTalk is a low-cost home phone service that allows unlimited talk for a flat-rate price. With no contracts or hidden fees, BasicTalk strives to deliver hassle-free service at a low cost to keep customer support simple, direct and efficient.

    • Works with internet: BasicTalk uses the consumer’s high-speed internet connection. BasicTalk ships its BasicBox for free, and the user connects this box to their modem to activate service.
    • Flat Rate: BasicTalk service costs a flat rate $9.99 per month, plus taxes and government fees. BasicTalk offers an online calculator that uses consumers’ zip code to tell them how much they will be paying after tax and government fees. There are no contracts or other hidden fees.
    • Unlimited calling: BasicTalk’s service is for unlimited calling. Local and long-distance nationwide phone calls all fall under the same basic service.
    • Keep your number: Most numbers can be transferred easily to BasicTalk’s service. Consumers who want to keep their current phone numbers can check online to see if theirs will be available on BasicTalk.
    • Voicemail: BasicTalk also includes voicemail. This service is turned on as soon as BasicTalk is activated, and users can change its settings from their online account.

    Compare Reviews for Top Home Phone Services

    Read 1,415 Reviews

    Optimum offers cable television services through Cablevision as well as Internet services. It began as a local Long Island company with 1,500 customers and now offers local news channels in that area and throughout America.

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    AT&T Home Phone Service
    Read 1,027 Reviews

    AT&T has provided communication services for over 140 years. Today, the company has television and Internet services as well as digital and traditional home phone service. Consumers can choose from a variety of plan options.

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    Read 1,013 Reviews

    Provides internet, cable and mobile services to consumers in areas where major internet providers may not reach. No annual contracts. Serves the South, Midwest, and Western U.S. regions. Prices start at $35 a month.

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    Read 370 Reviews

    RingCentral offers a free trial to give businesses a chance to try before they buy their next phone system. The service uses integrated communications via an app to bring mobile devices into the communications hub.

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    BasicTalk Read Author Review

    BasicTalk is a home phone service that uses the customer’s existing high-speed Internet connection to make unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. It is a subscription service for $9.99 per month (fees and taxes not included).

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    by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.