Trying to create a more serious looking infrastructure for my consulting business, I decided I needed a non-mobile phone number, and a way to receive Faxes 1. While I would use this as a secondary business number, it's just my home phone.
Since the costs for old-fashioned phone service in Argentina are stupid 2 I started investigating VoIP alternatives.
On a subway ticket, I found an ad for Metrotel which is quite interesting.
First, there is the numbers:
No installation fee
$35 for 1000 minutes
Cheaper long distance service
What they do is provide you a simple Handytone 486 box, and you plug it to your Internet-connected LAN on one side, and a phone on the other.
You can also plug in your land line and use the phone to call on either one, and another ethernet device (example, a computer o switch). If you have only one computer, you just stack it onto your cablemodem or whatever.
Absolutely trivial installation... unless they ship you the wrong gadget, as they did to me, sending me one that was disabled. But that's ok, they fixed it in a couple of days.
I have three small issues:
You have to sign a 12-month contract. However, if you take the smallest plan, the 12-month contract is cheaper than the connection fee for Telefónica de Argentina! And you still get 1200 free minutes in that year!
You must use the gadget. While it's a simple SIP device, they won't give you the user and password, so you can't use a softphone or a real VoIP phone with this service (unless you hack it, but why bother).
Because of that, it's kinda tricky that the ads say you can use this phone line "everywhere". I mean, it's true... if you have broadband internet connections with ethernet connections "everywhere".
However, if you do your due dilligence and figure out what you are getting into, it's a very nice service, which works well, and has great cost advantages over the traditional alternative.
It's specially great if you want to have a Buenos Aires phone number and work from somewhere else (for example, labour costs in other provinces are usually below 75% of those in Buenos Aires).
Although Faxes make no sense whatsoever in 2007, some companies still ask me for a fax number.
How about $181.50 to install and $36.50 monthly with no minutes included? And that's for home service. Commercial service is more expensive still. Those are pesos, but trust me, they look just as high to me as dollars would for you. The beauties of local monopoly!