$999 VoIP for life? Let's take a look at the ROI

The general-interest media, computer press, and other IP telephony bloggers are all abuzz about Dedham, Mass.-based RNKVoIP's new Phone For Life offer for a lifetime of phone service for a flat $999.

The general-interest media, computer press, and other IP telephony bloggers are all abuzz about Dedham, Mass.-based RNKVoIP's new Phone For Life offer for a lifetime of phone service for a flat $999. For now, the service is available only in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Your and Rhode Island.

The division of RNK Telecom says that for the fee, you get a line, a phone, a phone number, unlimited outbound and inbound calling to the U.S., North Am,erica and 20 other countries,- and oh, yes, 911 and 411 services.

Phone For Life also has a $99 measured plan that offers most of the same services, plus free inbound calls. Outbound calls to the same freecalling area as the full plan are only 1.9 cents a minute.

The best analysis I've seen thus far has been on Tom Keating's VoIP Blog. Tom has crunched the numbers,and concluded that based on a $22 a month subscription fee common in the industry, it would take you 3.78 years to recoup your $999.

To that point, Tom adds two well-considered caveats, both of whichI'd like to comment on here:

Tom writes that VoIP service should become cheaper as time goes on, lengthening the presumed Return on Investment Interval. I think that is a given. The counter-argument would be that due to inflation, $999 now will buy less in a few years, so you might as well get your bang for the buck now. But it's a given that VoIP subscription prices and rates will drop faster than inflation will rise.

Tom also wonders what happens if RNK "goes bankrupt" or "decides to renege" on the offer? That's just pure supposition, but is a view that is shared by Al Bredenberg of The Reluctant Geek. Al's skepticism is predicated on the fact that a lifetime guarantee could encompass 50 years (or more) - and that this RNK has only been around since 1997.

I gotta tell ya, this is another case of The Blogosphere's capacity for analysistrumping standard media coverage, which is too often rote.

On sister site advancedIPpipeline,weekly technology publication Information Weekpretty much offers a non-analytical summary of RNK's Phone For Life press release. Same with MSNBC.com, which offers a wire-service feed of the same announcement.

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