Consolidating communications bills – internet and phone in a SOHO

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BronwenWeeGo.jpgWhen we first started working in a virtual office we looked at our internet and phone usage.  It’s been awhile since we last looked at how it’s going so it ‘s time for me to review what we need and should have.

What we have now: Mobile phones,  Telstra cable, Internode ADSL2, Telstra Business Landline, Engin landline, Skype/Skype Out

What’s important: Fast reliable internet that can have a fixed IP address and handle 2 people using bandwith consecutively, Mobile phone for availability, some form of landline to keep friends, family and ppl like banks happy.

So what can i do to improve these: Pretty much, prices/offers haven’t changed.  About the only thing I can see is to get rid of the engin phone to save some $$ and/or upgrade the cable to the faster upload speed.

The history of how we got here:

In the beginning we had Telstra Bigpond cable and an optus landline.

Back then we were paying $50-60/mth to make a couple of calls per month interstate etc. The worst part of the landline was the 12+ telemarking/charity calls a day we were getting which are 1. annoying and 2. distracting.  John decided the landline had to go.  So we dumped the landline and signed up for Engin.  It gave us free calls to others on Engin and 10c untimed calls nationwide with a $10/mth access fee.  So we pretty quickly reduced our phone bill.

When we were both working virtually, we quickly discovered that if someone was on the phone and the other was on the internet downloading something it was causing issues.  We both couldn’t be on skype at the same time effectivly etc.  We get an ok download speed from the cable but the up speed is pretty bad – 128K.  This is really frustrating when you want to upload holiday pics etc.  The best we could do with cable was to go up a plan to 256k up so we looked into ADSL.

After John did a lot of hunting around we decided to go wither Internode as they were getting ADSL2 in what we assumed to be our exchange.  The annoying part was noone could give us an indication of what speeds we could expect until you put it in.  For some reason, they also couldn’t guantee which exchange we’d end up on as we didn’t have a real phone line anymore so couldn’t test it.

Pretty much we had to get a Telstra landline.  As it was for a business we had to get a business line and the cheapest one is $35/mth.  It cost $299 to reattach the old line…doh!  So we kept both cable and ADSL2 going at once till we could evaluate it.  We quickly discovered that we weren’t going to get as good a download speed on the ADSL as we were 3k from the exchange.  The upload speed is pretty decent..close to 1MB.  The important feature when getting the ADSL2 was to get one that provided a fixed IP address.  A few customer and services we use require you to have a fixed IP address.

So our problem was clear…cable gave better download, ADSL2 better up.  So we kept both which effectively doubled our internet access bill.  While this is annoying it had been useful.  Quite often one or the other service will go down randomly for a few hours and we can both switch to the other service.

So now we effectively have 2 landlines.  One we never use as it just provides the ADSL and the Engin line for calls. 

We use skype more and more each month and have been using Skype Out accounts for customers that don’t have a skype account.  This makes it pretty cheap to call a mobile number overseas etc.  So we can save a few $/mt by getting rid of the Engin line, getting ppl to call us on the Telstra landline and using skype and our mobile phones to make most of our calls.

So I’m up for suggestions on how to improve this…