NetZero Voice: Another Skype Rival

Posted by: Olga Kharif on February 21, 2006

I just trialed NetZero Voice, a Skype-like VoIP service that’s pretty good. It allows you to make calls from your PC no matter whether you have satellite, dial-up or broadband connection to the Internet. Just as is the case with Skype, PC-to-PC calls between NetZero customers are free, and you pay extra for PC-to-phone calls.

And NetZero has several features that Skype doesn’t. NetZero comes with a free e-mail account, for example. Naturally, you also get free voicemail, free caller ID, free call waiting and call blocking. Plus, you can see a log of the calls you made online, and listen to your voicemails online. All of these features are very easy to use. You also get a free phone number when you sign up.

Just like with Skype or any Instant Messenger service, you download a piece of software onto your PC to get going. The download takes less then a minute. Then, you walk through an installation set-up, which is pretty quick. The sound quality of the service, once it was up and running, was better than Skype’s. A lot better.

And I loved the features. If you choose one of NetZero's payment plan options, you can receive alerts of voicemails on your mobile phone and get calls forwarded to you. Essentially, you'll get a set a features and functionalities you've come to expect from your traditional phone. As popular as Skype is, that service still feels more like an IM service rather than a phone replacement service to me.

That said, NetZero Voice lacks some of Skype's features, such as video-calling capabilities. NetZero will also likely end up being more costly to use (if you do end up using PC-to-phone calling, that is) than Skype. NetZero's phone plans range from free to $14.95 a month.

Yet, overall, I liked NetZero better than Skype for one simple reason: While Skype still feels to me like a service designed for geeks, NetZero is easier to use and has more of a mainstream appeal (at least that's what I think). What's your opinion?

Reader Comments

Charlotte Wolter

February 22, 2006 4:21 PM

The big difference from Skype is that NetZero has made sure its VoIP service will work well at dial-up speeds, no easy task. Regular-quality VoIP needs about 80 kilobits per second, but dial-up provides only about half that, so NetZero has done some extra engineering work.
I haven' tried them, but it's encouraing to hear that the quality is good and that the interface is friendly. That should earn them subscribers worldwide, where many people can't get broadband. It also gives them a potential entree into mobile. The data services on mobile phones--both today's services and future 3G services--provide an IP pipe that one could use for VoIP, if you can get a soft phone that runs on your typical smart phone or PDA. That mobile IP pipe, however, is far less than broadband (though usually more than dial-up), so NetZero's technology could be useful.

Joshua

March 20, 2006 3:25 AM

the only think i dislike about it is you cant use a phone you got to use your computer for phone 24-7

greggaab

March 27, 2006 5:25 PM

NetZero webpage definitely looks more like a circus than one of a trustworthy SP. I did not dare to download and will stick to Skype!

Michael Burgos

April 14, 2006 2:22 AM

Actually you can use a phone, you need to purchase a phoneconnector to do it though. They are available at phoneconnector.com for around $35. I use the service and I can say that on systems other then broadband it can be buggy. Mainly the IM feature goes on and offline randomly. The VOIP feature however is quite stable and has a decent sound quality.

agenthandyman

May 23, 2006 10:59 AM

I use NetZero Voice DAILY. I am an At Home Agent. I take calls for a national teleservices corporation at my home. I actually have two accounts 1 Voice UNLIMITED @ $14.95/month and 1 Voice 100 plan @ $3.95/month. I use the 100 plan, with the features turned off, for my tele-work because all my calls are inbound and NZ incoming calls are UNLIMITED. I have not had ANY technical issues with the software or service. Call quality... well I work 50-60 hrs/wk and have not had any complaints from callers or my clients quality control staff. It's the best thing "since sliced bread" in my opinion! Thank you NetZero!

Tony

July 5, 2006 11:48 AM

I use netzero voice and I am very very happy with its service. Customer support is great!!
I also use my phone via phoneconnector,
http://www.phoneconnector.com/
This simple pocket-sized USB-to-RJ11 device connects your telephone to your PC so you can use a cordless phone anywhere in your home or office with NetZeroVoice ,Skype,Yahoo! Messenger,eyeBeam, MSN LIVE, GoogleTalk, and more.
I prefer Netzero to Skype after trying both. I like the voice quality of Netzero.

George Bez

October 25, 2006 4:25 PM

I used Skype for short time and I quit.Tired to fight red tape.Hardest part was make payment sometime it take tvo days.Communication was fer.J make numerus sugestion in gut hop Skype vill listen its customer but it fall on Skype deft ear.Tanks God I sow lite on horizont:NetzeroVoice.So simple, ease and half cheaper then skype.Sun I got it I like it so much that I RECOMENDED io to my frend in Croatia Mario Profaca and He love it Thank NetZero George Bez

MiamiLeo

December 2, 2006 7:31 PM

Netzero is way better than Skype, at least for what I use it for. I had it installed on my laptop and signed up for the $14.99 unlimited PC to Phone plan. Since I travel out of the US a lot, I use it from overseas to call US numbers with no extra charge. (Skype didn't work there.)

phillip

March 23, 2007 4:48 AM

had nezero voice from the free to the 100 to the unlimited was told in one day today that i couldnt downgrade but had to cancel my netzero voice unlimited to than go online and upgrade. i enjoyed the 3way as well as the free canada calls that unlimited had. any way upon getting email to verify inf and give customer service a call i was very suprised that indeed my netzero voice was total canceled and they are no longer accepting any more sign ups. i cant even view my last phone calls and billing history of which i had netzero voice over a year.

phillip

March 23, 2007 4:52 AM

can any one find out more of the current status of netzero voice. their customer service reps have one brief line to read to us on the phone. we no longer are able to ccept new customers. if u are a current customer and want to cancel u will lose ur ability to use whatever plan u had. i cant even get the pay as u go plan. . nothing on their website will even mention this

jim r

April 20, 2007 5:47 PM

HELP! I'M LOOKING FOR INFO ON how to get more NetZeroVoice Accounts. They also told me they are NOT accepting "new accounts" even from current customers (who want more accounts or other phone #'s).

THIS IS "THE" BEST AND ONLY QUALITY VOIP for 31.2Kbps Dialup internet connections (like mine) that I have found. (PLEASE let me know if you have found an equally good SoftPhone that works over 31.2Kbps Dialup Internet Connections).

My friends, who have Packet 8 and Vonnage VOIP Accounts, cannot believe the Voice Quality talking with me, and they say "that sounds as good, the same or sometimes even 'better' than my Netzero Voice Phone OR 'you sound like your on a landline phone!' ". It just makes sense that a Softpnone engineered to work on low bandwidth Dialup connections would also work better on Hi Speed connections than those designed strictly for HiSpeed connections.

Netzero voice told me "Creating a reliable software phone/ softphone that works over Dialup Internet connections is not hard to do...ANY of these other companies COULD have made one, but chose not to". WHY? OMG, I can't count how many times I have tried using a Softphone from a Hotels "High Speed/DSL service" which is barely over 100Kbps many times and this NetZero SoftPhone was the ONLY thing that worked well! Why in the world other Softphone Vendors won't make a softphone to work WELL over Dialup Internect Connections, like Netzero Voice as done, is beyond me.

THIS IS A MUST IF U TRAVEL!!! not to mention if you live in a city with no hi speed/broadband/dsl, etc. I have been told for 3 years "yes we have hi speed in your neighborhood, but no PODS left to get YOU service". In other words: i can't get it!

Previous complaints here about Netzero are just competitors trying to slam Netzero Voice and convince people to signup with them.

SPAMMERS: be prepared for AUTOMATED retaliation if you email me!

jahudson

April 23, 2007 10:25 PM

i've heard rumors that United Online is dumping everything that isn't making money and/or core to its biz. not sure if that includes voice but i know it includes other UOL stuff.

agenthandyman

May 27, 2007 12:12 AM

I to am disappointed in United Online no longer offering NZ Voice. I still have my unlimited account as well as a privatephone account. but would be sorry to see this go. I read somewhere that Best Buy was working with UO or taking over the distribution... something along those lines. Not sure if that is part of the agreement... Best Buy getting exclusive distribution rights, none the less, it does reduce it presence in the marketplace (I'm a NZ customer and I don't normally shop at Best Buy). I will do whatever it takes to maintain this account, as my email to NZ 'Billing Support' was answered with "...be assured that your acount will remain active until you cancel the account".

My 2 Cents 4 The Day...
AgentHandyman

Syed

July 3, 2007 6:24 PM

Good

Ramon Partagas

January 31, 2008 8:54 PM

I want to cancel my account because of economic problems.
Thank You
for your service

Daenri

February 2, 2008 1:39 AM

Netzero Voice is the best service out there when it comes to quality, features ease of use.
Nothing else works well with Dial Up.
I'm very sorry to see them fail.
I Hope this experience shows 'net comm service' providers to offer very affordable service with a maximum of four month trial period.

Maggie

January 4, 2009 2:20 PM

I had never heard of this company until today when I saw a charge on my credit card for their service. I have no idea how to got my credit card number and a phone call to the company provided no help. They kept asking me for my credit card number so they could look up my account. I kept telling them that I don't have an account and wouldn't give them my credit card number. After going in circles and getting no where, I've contacted my credit card company to dispute the charge. Google searches reveal that I am not alone with getting charged by this company for a service that was never agreed to or purchased.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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