VoIP for Life for $999

RNK Telecom believes those who make the jump to VoIP are in it for the long haul. So the company is offering a plan that allows a customer to make unlimited phone calls in the US — for the rest of his or her life — for less than a grand. The plan is non-transferable so it may be a great deal if the customer — and, of course, RNK itself — can hold off the grim reaper for a while.

VoIP pricing is continuing to get cheaper and pricing plans are continuing to become more innovative.

RNKVoIP, a division of RNK Telecom, has announced a phone for life calling plan, providing users with unlimited phone service for a one-time fee of $999.

For this suggested retail price – RNK markets the service through resellers – residential users will receive a VoIP line, telephone, phone number, full feature set and unlimited outbound and inbound calling. RNK provides 911 and 411 services, and can port existing numbers to its VoIP service.

The company is offering this and two other “phone for life” plans in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. Though a customer can take the service along if moving to a new home – as long as a broadband connection is available – the service itself is not transferable between people.

The other plans, one for residential and one for businesses, provide a phone line, and equipment as well as the features of the (suggested retail price) $99 plan: Anonymous call rejection, blacklist, call filter, call forwarding, caller ID, caller ID block, call return, call transfer, call waiting, do not disturb, international call blocking, music on hold, speed dial, and voice mail with e-mail and Web notification. With this plan, users still pay a suggested 1.9 cents per minute fee.

RNK Telecom is offering users a two-month money back guarantee and if a user is unhappy after 5 years they will give half of the money back minus the cost of some international calls.

With either plan, a customer could recover his investment in as little as 18 months, according to Richard Koch, president and CEO of RNK Telecom, who says that features and per-minute charges run the typical user $50 to $60 per month.

As a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), with its own lines, switches and other equipment, the cost of offering these features is next to nothing for RNK Telecom and similar telecom companies that own their own infrastructure, Koch adds.

Koch cited three factors prompting the launch of the “phone for life” pricing packages: “It made business sense to do it; we would develop a loyal base of customers; and it would create a lot of publicity to separate us from the pack [of other VoIP providers].”

Perhaps the most important is customer loyalty. While RNK is selling services now that it would no longer earn monthly income from, Koch expects to more than replace the revenue with sales of other products and services.

In addition to currently offered value-added features like additional phone number in a different area code, a second phone line, outbound conference calling, toll-free service, and “Find Me, Follow Me,” Koch expects additional sales from “features that haven’t been invented yet. “Five years ago, no one would have expected to make anything from ring tones, now it’s one of [a phone company’s] most popular features.”

Koch added that the company’s lifetime calling plan was already in the works before SunRocket announced its annual pricing plan a couple of weeks ago. SunRocket’s $199 plan undercut the monthly prices of other VoIP providers, many of whom cut their fees in September.

Koch expects to see continued creative pricing as VoIP evolves.