I have a traditional phone line from Verizon but am considering switching to a different service. Can someone please explain to me the differences between the phones services Comcast Voice, Verizon Fios, Vonage, Magic Jack and the traditional landline that I currently have? The only thing I am pretty sure of is the service I have now is the only one that does not require a battery back-up during either an electrical or cable outage so long as I have a corded phone attached to a jack. Are all of these other services VOIP? Do they offer 911 and calling features like call waiting, caller ID and call forwarding and what is the sound quality compared to what I have now?
Vonage and Magic Jack operate over the public internet. Verizon FiOS and Comcast operate over IP, but over a private, managed network. A traditional landline is over traditional copper lines, and is analog rather than digital. Even though Comcast operates in a digital format, it is transferred to analog at the customer's premises. A battery backup is needed for when the power goes out in order for it to function (unlike landline). Although, when I used to have an AT&T landline, and the power went out, the phone did not function! So, in my experience landline hasn't been reliable when power goes out. The battery backup with the Comcast digital service should last about 8 hours.
The sound quality of Comcast Digital Voice is the same as my landline was or better. Comcast offers 911 service, call waiting, caller ID, etc. If you visit the product page on this website, it will explain the different options depending on the level you subscribe to.
Overall I have been very happy with Comcast Digital Voice. Unfortunately, I can't really speak for the others as I have not tried them.
Thank you for all that information. If I switch to Comcast Voice, will I need new phones and/or jacks? How many phones/ handsets can I have with it? Also, I have a VOIP phone by Packet8 I use occasionally by plugging it in my router connected to my Comcast Modem and the call quality if pretty bad. Will it be similar with Comcast Voice? FInally, when dialing a number with my VOIP phone, if I pause more than about 1 second while dialing or if I dial too many digits like when I call 1 800- SIMPLICITY and dial past the C the call will not connect. Will I have same issues with Comcast voice? Did I also read this forum was closing in December 2011? Is it still closing?
If you switch to Comcast you can use your current phones and jacks. You can have as many handsets as you want as long as you have enough jacks. All of the handsets, however, will feed off of one line. For example, if you're on the phone on one handset, and you pick up the phone on any of the other handsets, they will all enter the same conversation you're having. You will have to pay an extra monthly fee if you want more than one "line". One example would be if you wanted a fax machine. Then, it would be useful to add a second line for two separate connections. That VOIP phone that you plug in to your router will be inferior because it is traversing the public internet, and may not even have Quality of Service implemented (meaning your phone session is not assigned priority over the rest of the data). Comcast Digital Voice (or Xfinity Voice) should be the same quality as your Verizon land line. As far as dialing a number, I have not tried dialing over the allowed number of digits. As for pausing while dialing, you should not really have any issue with Comcast Digital Voice. The Comcast phone will function like your Verizon land line essentially, but just using a different technology and a modem. From a user experience perspective, you really shouldn't notice any difference (if anything slightly better call quality). I have not heard anything about this forum closing. I hope it doesn't, it's a very helpful place!
Also, what they advertise on the website may not be your final bill. For example, in order to get phone service through Comcast, you will need a modem (technically it's called an eMTA) in order to get service, which will cost you an extra $7/month unless you buy your own (but I would recommend renting it for numerous reasons). Plus, there's government fees, etc. but you should be used to that from your current Verizon bill.
Overall I definitely think it's worth the switch from outdated land line telephone service.