When I changed my internet provider from Telstra to Clubtelco, I also ported my home phone over to take advantage of the 5% discount for the home phone/broadband bundle. As you can see from the table below, this is a better deal. With Telstra, a connection fee of 45 cents is charged for every national, international or mobile call.

To further reduce my phone expenses, I signed up for Pennytel VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Freedom Plan. VoIP is a way of making phone calls through the internet. For a monthly subscription fee of $5, I can make 150 free calls (up to 2 hours per call) to over 80 destinations, including Australian landlines. After I have exhausted the 150 free calls per month, calls are charged at 8 cents per call. We do make regular international calls to Singapore and China landlines and mobiles, which are included in the list of 80 destinations. Unfortunately, this list does not include calls to Australian mobiles. However, calls to Australian mobiles are still cheaper at 10.5 cents per minute compared to 35 cents per minute if I use Clubtelco landline.

After reading the FAQs and Call Features sections of PennyTel, I found out that:

To use the VoIP using a handset, you will need to connect an equipment called the ATA (Analogue Telephone Adaptor) between the handset and the modem. I had bought a Cormain GW211 VoIP Adaptor for $35, including delivery, from this webpage. Alternatively, you can use a modem router with VoIP capability such as Netcomm NB9WMAXN.

This Freedom plan provides one free traditional Phone Number (with the area code 03 if you are in Melbourne). If Naked DSL or cable broadband is available in your area, you can actually do away with the landline phone, save the monthly phone rental and sign up with a VoIP service instead. Other people can still call you using this traditional Phone Number provided by the VoIP provider, as though you are having a landline.

So far, my wife said that she heard echoes when she made calls to China but did not experience this issue when she made local calls. If you are looking for better quality VoIP, you can consider MyNetFone or WorldDialPoint.

Company Telstra Clubtelco Pennytel (VoIP)
Plan Homeline Plus ClubTalk Freedom
Monthly Line Rental/Subscription $31.95 $30
(+$50 annual fee)
5% discount on total bills if bundled with broadband
(+ 50 cents with credit card payment)
Included Value 150 free calls to 80 destinations, including Australian landlines & 50 free SMS.
Local Calls 18c per call 20c per call 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
National Calls 20c per min 20c per Minute 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
National Cap $2 for 1st 20 min (7am-7pm)
$2 for 1st 3 hours (7pm-7am)
$2 for 1st 2 hours (anytime) 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
Calls to Mobile (all networks) 36c per min 35c per min 10.5c per min
Mobile Cap $2 for 1st 20 min (only to Telstra mobiles) $2 for 1st 20 min (all networks) N.A.
13/1300 Calls 30c per call 30c per call 25c per call
International Calls Various rates Various rates 8c per call (after using 150 free calls)
Connection Fee per call 45c for National, International and Mobile Calls 39c for International Calls only Nil
Billing for Timed Calls Per minute block Per minute block Per second