The New Phone Company
Posted by pdxpogo 14 years ago
I haven't had a "land line" for several years. My cell phone has done all my heavy lifting and even then, it doesn't amount to much. I pay ~$50 a month for cell phone service. That is $600 a year to talk for maybe 90 minutes a month if I am feeling really chatty.  
In an effort to simplify and cut costs I have been looking at alternatives. I ran across the following deal $199 for a year of unlimited phone service (free National long distance).  
It is a VOIP service that gives me two phone numbers that I got to choose(distinctive ringing). The full set of "features" that are extra charges with traditional plans are included in the yearly fee. Voice Mail, *69, three way calling, caller ID, call blocking etc...  
The service comes with a web interface that lets me track calls in and calls out, an integrated contact list. I can forward my numbers to other phones by setting up a "follow me" schedule. If I get a call during my scheduled work hours my work phone rings... during commute hours my cell phone rings (if I decide to keep my cell phone).  
I can pick up voicemail via the web or have it mailed to my registered email address. All in all it is a phone service that is fully integrated with the internet. This for the cost of 1/3 what I would pay to Verizon for a traditional land line(s) with the same service package .  
I opted for the cheapest plan wich is to pay $200 up front the company also offers up a month to month plan with no commitments is $25. The company has been in business for 4 months now if you are not an early adopter you may want to wait a bit and see how things shake out, but this is a deal. If you already have cable or DSL for Internet access you might want to consider if this phone service is for you and say goodbye to your local telco.  
I'm not affiliated with this company in any way other than as a customer. if it flies it is going to push traditional telcos hard.  
pdxpogo: don't worry about it bud... I can make phone calls just fine. The trick is to do it for under $16.59 a month :-) and that includes all the long distance I can use. he he
aktaeon: Keep us updated with your take on overall quality of service.
A few downsides to VOIP
Mac: A couple of issues with VOIP as a sole telecom link.  
1. Vonage tells FCC a service provider blocked its calls  
Look for this to happen more often.  
2. VOIP handsets do not have the same level of failure resilience as traditional PSTN.  
When the power goes out, so does your phone (unless you have battery backup on the VOIP handset and all network gear it plugs into on its way to the wall).  
VOIP providers tend not to explain this very well to their client base, and someone who is looking for the cheapest phone solution may be disappointed when spending another $100 on a UPS for this level of protection.  
3. Flawed 911 handling. Unless handled properly, a 911 call will go out via the central office's local line to their local 911 point. A 911 hangup during an emergency is virtually untraceable to a location (unless they have specifically setup a separate E911 system to handle properly...many have not)  
4. VOIP can offer spotty quality, especially on the shared media of typical cable modem networks. Some networks are more suitable than others.  
Also things happening in your house can impact adversely...doing massive bittorrent downloads generates lots of backchannel traffic, which can kill a VOIP stream. Implementing some type of QOS or bandwidth management at the router can help, but is normally too complex for the average user to figure out.
Mac: Net-based 911 fight puts lives on line  
Seventeen-year-old Joyce John frantically grasped the portable phone and dialed 911. Downstairs, her parents struggled with two armed robbers.  
"Joyce, Joyce, call the police!" her mother, Sosamma, screamed. But when she did, she heard this message: "Stop. You must dial 911 from another telephone."  
Joyce grabbed another phone downstairs but got the same recording. She finally banged on the door of a neighbor, who called an ambulance. By then, her parents had been shot. They survived, but their attackers fled.  
The problem: Joyce tried to call from a phone with Internet-based technology, known as VoIP, for voice over Internet protocol. Even though the family's VoIP service provided a basic 911 feature, Joyce's father, Peter, didn't realize he had to activate it.