If all you want to use VoIP for is having calls with your mother, you don't need to go through the expense of signing up for subscription-based services offered by most cable operators or independents like Vonage. These services are usually replacements for your current phone service, and the commitment may not be warranted if this is all you want to do. Also, these plans typically offer free long distance within North America, and while international calls are cheaper than what your phone company charges today, you will still have to pay for these calls.
A better solution may be to use an Internet based VoIP service, the best known of which is Skype. These services work on a similar principal as Instant Messaging, where you can communicate very efficiently within your buddy group. Services like Skype offer the same capability for voice communication, although these calls are usually made on your PC. However, you could easily connect your IP phone to your PC and the service would work fine. Calls to others on the Skype network are free, and for this reason, services like this are very popular. Instant Messaging platforms such as Yahoo, MSN or Google offer similar capabilities, but they're not nearly as popular. As such, all you really need is to sign up for is a service like this, and for the most part, calls to your mother will be free.
This was first published in September 2008