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Getting rid of home phone; MagicJack; Skype
Old 06-18-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
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Getting rid of home phone; MagicJack; Skype

I have done the math and figured out that we are paying $290 a year for Vonage and it works great for us. Add another $80 a year for tracfone cell service, and that is all we spend on phones for the year. I'm thinking of getting rid of vonage and just going with a $100/yr tracfone for DW and the same for me, putting total telecom costs at $200/yr instead of $370 currently (plus I'll have a full time usable cell phone).

But I also wonder about the downside of getting rid of the land line (vonage). Will we miss it? It is nice to have phone service everywhere in the house and not have to go looking for a cell phone. And there is a phone next to our bed for middle of the night emergencies (just in case!).

I'm thinking of getting skype or magicjack as a cheap way to make/receive phone calls if we need to call the bank or credit card or insurance company and wait on hold for an hour (and not pay $$ for our prepaid minutes on cell phone). Does anyone have recent experience with skype or magicjack sufficient to provide a recommendation for or against either one?

I'm also wondering if I'm going to too much trouble to save $170 a year on already low telecom costs. Paralysis by analysis??

FYI, I went through the vonage bills for the last year and we used 197 minutes per month on average, approx 1/2 of those to 1 800 numbers that are free with skype I think.
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Old 06-18-2009, 07:13 PM   #2
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I can only vouch for Skype, I bought about $10 online credit and a cheap headset for the computer and any long hold or call to relatives, I use it and so far it has worked great. It cost a total of about $35 last year, $20 for headset and $15 in charges.

Quality is nearly perfect but I think that can be variable.

I have not had a landline for the last 5 years and cannot imagine why anyone does other than you reason about convenience of being all over the house.


I more and more am leaning to ridding myself of recurring monthly charges. Sometimes with no real usage.
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Old 06-18-2009, 07:24 PM   #3
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But I also wonder about the downside of getting rid of the land line (vonage). Will we miss it?
We gave up the land line in February of 2006 and haven't missed it. We'll never go back to a land line.
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It is nice to have phone service everywhere in the house and not have to go looking for a cell phone. And there is a phone next to our bed for middle of the night emergencies (just in case!).
Pockets and night stands are handy places to keep your cell phone nearby at all times. You'll adjust quickly and wonder why you didn't ditch the land line sooner.
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Old 06-18-2009, 07:58 PM   #4
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I still have a land line but just basic services (911/local/800 numbers), no frills (no caller ID, call forwarding, etc...). I still hang on to it for emergencies. I mostly use my cell phone nowadays. I have friends and family in Europe and talk to them several hours a week. For that I use a $10 a month subscription with skype: it gives me unlimited calls to virtually any landline in the world and the US (a bit more for calling international cell phones). I used to spend $120 a month on long distance / international calls, now I spend that much in a year. I really like Skype a lot and would recommend it. But note that Skype does not allow emergency calls, so it can't completely replace a landline or cell phone.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:30 PM   #5
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I use Skype with no issue from both a desktop and laptop while on the go. Great quality and if Skype to Skype of course fully no charge vs. low per minute on other calls. No issues and very satisfied with it. T-Mobile is our cell carrier and between it and Skype amazingly happy with no complaints.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:35 PM   #6
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I have a magicJack, and just re-subscribed for a second year at $19.95. The service comes with a local phone number for receiving in-bound calls, 911 service (so they claim), and voice mail. The quality has been mostly good to excellent, although on occasion the delay is noticeable. Of course, your computer has to be on to use it, and you need a good internet connection (DSL or better).

Maybe the thing I like best about magicJack is that I can use a regular phone with the service. I have a two-line phone, and the second line is my free magicJack line. With this setup, the magicJack service feels just like regular old telephone service.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:05 PM   #7
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You may have already considered these things but here goes....


I too have thought of getting rid of the landline mainly because of all of the extra fees.

But here is what I considered in my case. If someone calls me it's a free call vs. a fee on a cell phone. So if you talk to friends or family for at least a few hours you might not came out ahead...also 1-800 calls.

I read about magic jack and i think you have to keep you computer on for it to work??

Also I forget the site I was looking at but magic jack seemed to be REALLY problematic for a lot of people.

But with that said if you could get it to work for $30 a year it would be a great savings.

After thinking about it in my case the landline was still my best option I thought.

I'm probably the minority on this though!


Jim
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:34 PM   #8
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I installed skype on my desktop and my EEE pc tonight. I need a mic for the desktop to get it to work. It works fine on the EEE pc w/ built in mic. I'll have to pick up a cheapo USB phone or headset for skype and sign up for the service or pay by the minute.

One problem w/ skype - I tried calling vanguard with it, and I couldn't enter my SS number using the keypad using the numeric tones. Is that something I'm doing wrong or what? Can you skyper's use the automated directories when you call businesses with skype? I mean "press 1 for english, omprime 2 por espanol" kind of things. Otherwise it sounded great when I was testing it.
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:15 PM   #9
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I installed skype on my desktop and my EEE pc tonight. I need a mic for the desktop to get it to work. It works fine on the EEE pc w/ built in mic. I'll have to pick up a cheapo USB phone or headset for skype and sign up for the service or pay by the minute.

One problem w/ skype - I tried calling vanguard with it, and I couldn't enter my SS number using the keypad using the numeric tones. Is that something I'm doing wrong or what? Can you skyper's use the automated directories when you call businesses with skype? I mean "press 1 for english, omprime 2 por espanol" kind of things. Otherwise it sounded great when I was testing it.
Click "call phones", dial the number. Near the top of the call window you will see a place where you can adjust the microphone volume. To the right of that you should see a small arrow pointing downwards. Click on it and choose "display dial pad" (sometimes it shows up automatically when you call a 800 number). You can now navigate through the directory. Works for me.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:44 AM   #10
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Click "call phones", dial the number. Near the top of the call window you will see a place where you can adjust the microphone volume. To the right of that you should see a small arrow pointing downwards. Click on it and choose "display dial pad" (sometimes it shows up automatically when you call a 800 number). You can now navigate through the directory. Works for me.
I'll try that again tonight. I think I did this yesterday but it wasn't able to get the tone dialing exactly right. I think the automated system on the other end heard some tone dialing, but it could not receive a 9-12 digit number.

I tried pressing the numbers on the computer keyboard and on the drop down on-screen keypad, and it sounded like it was dialing the right numbers with different tones, but it never worked quite right.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:45 AM   #11
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It looks like subscription costs to skype are $3-10 per month and an assigned phone number is $30/yr with a subscription. Did you guys get an assigned phone number?
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:48 AM   #12
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You may have already considered these things but here goes....


I too have thought of getting rid of the landline mainly because of all of the extra fees.

But here is what I considered in my case. If someone calls me it's a free call vs. a fee on a cell phone. So if you talk to friends or family for at least a few hours you might not came out ahead...also 1-800 calls.

I read about magic jack and i think you have to keep you computer on for it to work??

Also I forget the site I was looking at but magic jack seemed to be REALLY problematic for a lot of people.

But with that said if you could get it to work for $30 a year it would be a great savings.

After thinking about it in my case the landline was still my best option I thought.

I'm probably the minority on this though!


Jim
We have Verizon cell phone service. I talk a lot to my best friend and my sister who both have Verizon phones. It is "free" in the sense no minutes get used for those calls. If I called them on Skype or something they would pay because they only have cells. We have a relatively low minute plan (which is no longer available) and yet never use all our minutes. We have not had a land line for a number of years. Nothing but the cells.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:50 AM   #13
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I've been considering it, but I wonder about the 911 question sometimes as well as losing phone service in a power failure.

I just looked at my last bill for the land line. The basic flat-rate phone service is $10.50 a month -- and the taxes and fees are over $12. I can get "naked DSL" through Verizon so VOIP is an option. I just can't get myself to pull the trigger.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:53 AM   #14
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We have Verizon cell phone service. I talk a lot to my best friend and my sister who both have Verizon phones. It is "free" in the sense no minutes get used for those calls. If I called them on Skype or something they would pay because they only have cells. We have a relatively low minute plan (which is no longer available) and yet never use all our minutes. We have not had a land line for a number of years. Nothing but the cells.
Similar situation here only with AT&T rather than Verizon. Kids (and now the first grandkid who just got a cell phone for his 11th birthday - becoming a textahaulic) all have AT&T service as well so no minutes are charged for 80% of our call time. We have the minimum plan AT&T offers and never come close to using all our minutes.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:57 AM   #15
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I've been considering it, but I wonder about the 911 question sometimes as well as losing phone service in a power failure.
Can't speak for 911 (we live so far out in the sticks no one can find us anyway) but our cell phones have proven to be more reliable than land lines. Cell towers have back up generators and I've not experienced a single outage in the 3 years we've been cell only. Contrast that to our land lines that were out for 2-3 days at a time on more than one occasion when construction crews accidentally cut underground cables.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:07 AM   #16
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Does anyone has experience/has looked into this: ooma: Free home phone service. Call anywhere in the US with no monthly fees.

We do not have to pay for our land line (including domestic long distance + all other bells and whistles), so we're hanging onto it for the time being. Otherwise, I would seriously consider getting rid of it...

Also, isn't it possible to down-grade the land line service to dial tone + incoming calls only (you would pay for each out going call, but it could be used in an emergency) -- I think this would run $5-$8/mo.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:08 AM   #17
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I always wondered about 911 if I ditched my landline and stuck with my Verizon cell phone. I didn't want to dial it as a false alarm, just to find out! Last week we were in a car accident in Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans that is farther out than we usually go.

Frank borrowed my cell phone to call 911. I was thrilled to hear that he was immediately connected directly with the Kenner PD! So, apparently our 911 service on Verizon is great.

When we move to Missouri, I am thinking about ditching my landline since that was really my last objection to doing so.
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Old 06-19-2009, 10:10 AM   #18
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It looks like subscription costs to skype are $3-10 per month and an assigned phone number is $30/yr with a subscription. Did you guys get an assigned phone number?

No I didn't get an assigned phone number. People in the US can call me on my cell phone, or they can call me on Skype (as can people in foreign countries). If I am not in front of my computer when they call, the call gets forwarded to my cell phone (call forwarding is included in my Skype subscription). So I can answer any Skype call even when I am not at home. So I haven't really found a need for an assigned phone number yet.
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Old 06-19-2009, 11:08 AM   #19
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I always wondered about 911 if I ditched my landline and stuck with my Verizon cell phone. I didn't want to dial it as a false alarm, just to find out! Last week we were in a car accident in Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans that is farther out than we usually go.

Frank borrowed my cell phone to call 911. I was thrilled to hear that he was immediately connected directly with the Kenner PD! So, apparently our 911 service on Verizon is great.

When we move to Missouri, I am thinking about ditching my landline since that was really my last objection to doing so.
One of the issues people had with relying on cell phones for 911 calls was if you were not able to give your location if you needed help. For landlines the systems knew where you were. This is changing with gps in cell phones. The FCC has rules it is phasing in on requiring 911 location information from cell phones for 911 calls: Wireless 911 Services
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Old 06-19-2009, 02:55 PM   #20
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Update: I ordered this device from amazon: Amazon.com: D-Link Skype USB Phone Adapter: Electronics

$10 after rebate. Looks like I can replace my vonage adapter with this and quickly wire the whole house w/ Skype. Just have to leave a computer on all the time (or whenever I want to use Skype). We'll see how it works.

Now I have to buy a Kill a Watt device to figure out the cost/benefit of keeping the computer on vs. building a barebones superlow energy consuming cpu. I'm just looking for excuses to buy gadgets at this point...
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