UPDATED: How Can You Tell if You Have VoIP Home Phone Service?
Public Policy Fellow
In the past year that we’ve been working on our End Robocalls campaign, we’ve learned that consumers typically have a lot more options for robocall-blocking services if they have a modern, Internet-based phone line, called “VoIP” (for Voice over Internet Protocol).
For example, only consumers with VoIP service can sign up for Nomorobo, the call-blocking service that won the Federal Trade Commission (FTC’s) 2013 contest for the best robocall-blocker. Nomorobo piggybacks on a feature that is already available to many VoIP users, known as simultaneous ring. Thus, many VoIP customers can sign up for Nomorobo through the Nomorobo website.
But how do you know if you have a traditional landline (copper) phone service or a VoIP service? It can be difficult to tell, since many companies offer both. For example, in many areas, customers can get traditional copper service through AT&T. But AT&T also offers VoIP service through AT&T U-verse, their VoIP brand.
In addition, many customers use a regular phone plugged into the wall to access VoIP service, so their Internet-based service may not appear to be very different from traditional copper landline.
There are a few ways to determine your type of service. If you answer YES to any of these questions, you probably have VoIP service.
Has your phone service gone out during a power outage? Unless you have an in-home battery backup, your VoIP phone service will probably go out during a power outage. But traditional copper landline users will continue to have a dial tone despite loss of power.
Is your phone service offered by a cable provider, not a phone company? For example, Time Warner Cable and Comcast are primarily cable companies – not phone companies. They don’t have any traditional copper landline holdings. But, they provide voice service through VoIP technology.
Is your phone service part of a Voice-Internet-Cable bundle? Typically traditional landlines aren’t able to transmit that much data, and these types of bundles are often only possible through VoIP.
Are you able to add a lot of features to your home phone service for free? Basic copper landline service customers are typically charged to add features like Caller ID and Anonymous Call Block. But VoIP customers usually can add 10 or even 20 services to their phone service at no extra charge.
Is your phone service compatible with Nomorobo? Nomorobo is currently only supported by VoIP service. Here are many of the compatible providers: Ooma Premier, Time Warner Cable, Vonage, Wave, Verizon FiOS, Optimum, AT&T U-verse, Comcast Xfinity, Broadvoice Phone Power, VoIP.ms, VOIPO, and Sonic.
We’re also pushing the phone companies to offer technology to protect your cell phones from unwanted robocalls – especially as many of you have ditched your home phones and rely exclusively on your cell! If you receive robocalls on your cell phone, please click our survey here so we can better address your needs.
Whether you have traditional landline, VoIP, or wireless service, we think your phone provider should offer you advanced call-blocking tools, for free. Please sign our petition to call for an end to robocalls!