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Old 04-21-2008, 10:03 AM   #21
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One thing that surprises me is all the concern about 911 during a power failure. I have never used 911 and I think the odds of needing it during a power failure is just about zero.
I guess it depends on what problems you can expect where you live. I've lived in my current home for 20 years and can't recall my phone service ever being disrupted. Electricity goes out for brief periods from a less than a minute to as much as an hour or two several times a year. Storms, construction mistakes, cars running into a power pole, demons in the lines, I don't know what causes it, but it happens.

We haven't had a hurricane induced power outage of any significant length in years, but I remember being without power for almost a week once and my telephone worked just great.

Right after Katrina hit New Orleans a friend and I volunteered to go down there to help out. We wound up in St.Charles Parish were they did not have power for about a week in most places. The telephones still worked, and all of the Sheriff's offices had wonderful backup generators that powered their 911 system just fine. There was a steady flow of folks coming out of New Orleans - a few of them weren't nice people - and there was a high number of people calling for help, or to check out something suspicious. Plus there were still accidents and the usual medical emergencies going on. Every house was dark, unless they had a generator like some, but the phones all worked and emergency services showed up just like they always had.

A paramedic, a cop or a firefighter are all people that most folks don't think much about until they need one. And when you need one of those people the need is usually urgent and often important. There's not much I'm afraid of, and there are not a lot of dangerous situations likely to happen at my house that I don't think I'm prepared to handle. But I respect the unexpected nature of bad things that happen and prefer to be prepared. Simply stated, if I call 911 it's because I really need some help right now, and I don't want anything preventing that help from getting to me.

Edit: From what I have seen and read, if you really want to be able to communicate in a disaster, I would have a landline, cellphone, and a VOIP. I know that a lot of people couldn't communicate in New Orleans because landlines went out and cellphones were dead or unreliable. But while I had a lot of trouble making a cell phone call, I learned that the SMS function worked just ine and I used that extensively while I was there. Also, I heard that the city government was using VOIP to call outside for help - not sure how they made the connection but it did work for at least a while. I've read of a few instances of other emergencies where cell or landline was not connecting but someone used VOIP to call for emergency services.
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Old 04-21-2008, 10:13 AM   #22
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These major weather events usually take down land lines as well...
It must depend on where you are.

I lived in an extremely exposed storm prone place prior to moving to my city place. I lost electric power for extended periods at least 10 times per year, and for 2-5 hours more often than that. But in all that time, I think phone lines were down only once.

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Old 04-21-2008, 10:29 AM   #23
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It must depend on where you are.

I lived in an extremely exposed storm prone place prior to moving to my city place. I lost electric power for extended periods at least 10 times per year, and for 2-5 hours more often than that. But in all that time, I think phone lines were down only once.
No doubt true. My experience with land lines where I live (rural area) was just the opposite. Phone went out 2-3 times a year, sometimes for days, but we rarely lost electricity.
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:06 PM   #24
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Financial stability is also an issue. Sunrocket was gleefully collecting multi year pay in advance deals right up until they day their web site turned into a single page "We're out of business! Sorry!" message...
Yessir

The MagicJack promo gives you 5 years for $96. Pay as you go would cost $120 so how much risk is worth a 20% discount? For me, I will pay as I need to.
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:38 PM   #25
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I've probably said this before, but poor quality in general in the phone system is common, and very irritating. Poor cordless phones, garbling with cell phones, etc. Pick up an extension, and quality drops further.

I know I sound like an old guy, but I bet sound quality was better, on average, in 1960.

It would be great to have CD-quality sound over the phone.
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Old 04-21-2008, 01:04 PM   #26
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I've probably said this before, but poor quality in general in the phone system is common, and very irritating. Poor cordless phones, garbling with cell phones, etc. Pick up an extension, and quality drops further.

I know I sound like an old guy, but I bet sound quality was better, on average, in 1960.

It would be great to have CD-quality sound over the phone.
Either that or your hearing was better
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Old 04-21-2008, 01:32 PM   #27
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I have no landline or VOIP and I'm fine without it. I have two activated cell phones on different carriers, one deactivated cell phone that I use as an alarm clock always charged, and another deactivated cell phone in the car with a 12V cord.

In a true disaster like the Big Earthquake, 911 would be useless because emergency responders would be instantly overwhelmed. The main concern I would have would be letting family and friends know I'm all right, and that can be done with email (over DSL or cell SMS).

My building has a 24 hour security attendant who is probably a better resource than 911, and worst case could call 911 for me.
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Old 04-21-2008, 04:26 PM   #28
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It would be great to have CD-quality sound over the phone.
I keep thinking that also. I can get very good (not CD) quality music streaming over pandora on my computer, and still have plenty of bandwidth left for other stuff.

I think it is largely based on traditional expectations (you're a musician, you expect more in terms of sound quality) - and standard phones don't need to have any better sound quality than the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) network, so they may not sound so great when run through a quality connection (weakest link).

But, you got me curious - I may see if I can utilize any of this -

Voice over IP (Voip) - an introduction

Quote:
Codecs are software drivers that are used to encode the speech in a compact enough form that they can be sent in real time across the Internet using the bandwidth available. Codecs are not something that Voip users normally need to worry about, as the Voip clients at each end of the connection negotiate between them which one to use.


Voip software or hardware may give you the option to specify the codecs you prefer to use. This allows you to make a choice between voice quality and network bandwidth usage, which might be necessary if you want to allow multiple simultaneous calls to be held using an ordinary broadband connection. Your selection is unlikely to make any noticeable difference when talking to PSTN users, because the lowest bandwidth part of the connection will always limit the quality achievable, but Voip-to-Voip calls using a broadband Internet connection are capable of delivering much better quality than the plain old telephone system.
After all, the VOIP provider doesn't care how much bandwidth you use (unless it's the same provider), so why not go for quality?

check the link for some tech details. I gotta run, will look later.

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Old 05-02-2008, 09:10 AM   #29
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MagicJack Report: Just installed it and it seems to work fine. It's neat to be able to "pick up the phone" and get the dial tone, and know that I can call anywhere in the US for free...I have mine connected to a two-line phone, and it's real simple to access when I want.

MagicJack also comes with a voicemail account, inbound and outbound calling, and caller ID. I was even able to get a local number right in my city. Of course, your computer must be on and connected to broadband to work, but I am using a low-end DSL line and it seems to work fine.

Next up--canceling ATT long distance (in CA). Does anyone have experience with canceling long distance (and keeping local service)? I'm paying $4.58 per month (including $3 monthly fee and $1.22 in taxes) for service that I don't believe I will ever use (also have a cellphone and the Costco calling card for backup).

Any helpful hints about canceling long distance?
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Old 05-02-2008, 09:49 AM   #30
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I'm not keen on the fact that the computer needs to be ON to make/receive calls. Can't even sleep it, from what I can tell (yes, you can shut down the display, etc, but not sleep it).

With most other VOIP, you get an adapter box that needs to be on. I can't see the power rating w/o unplugging it, but it's just a tiny wall wart, can't be more than a few watts.

If you don't think you will use your land-line - why not just drop it? I did, I'm still alive. $23/month VOIP, unlimited local/LD and a host of features, versus $38/month for landline and having to watch every single phone number we call to make sure it isn't LD or 'out of band' and no features. Pretty happy with VOIP so far.

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Old 05-02-2008, 09:51 AM   #31
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We canceled our AT&T long distance years ago; nothing special that I recall, just called and canceled. BTW, even if you don't have magicjack, it's much cheaper to cancel AT&T long distance and use a dialaround -- at least for us.
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Old 05-02-2008, 11:00 AM   #32
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We use Vonage at home and at the lake. Put a UPS on the modem and router so they work in a power outage. The ISP also has generators so the power outage has not been an issue. Had several outages at the lake and received calls from my monitoring system (telling me the power is out) until the UPS dies. Really not an issue.

I'ld trust my cell phone before ANY land line ... one tree branch and the land line is toast.
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Can you change from Cable to DSL ??
Old 05-14-2008, 07:50 PM   #33
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Can you change from Cable to DSL ??

After registering your Magic Jack with you using either Cable or DSL can you later change this so your Magic Jack will work over seas.... in other words... my home system is cable and that is what I registered it as but I already know that when I go to Europe this summer I am going to connect to a Pc that is using DSL... will my Magic Jack work or do I need to change something with Magic Jack and if so how is this done?
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Old 05-15-2008, 09:52 AM   #34
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It should work fine -- it won't matter to the Magic Jack software how your Internet connection is made.

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Old 05-15-2008, 12:32 PM   #35
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After registering your Magic Jack with you using either Cable or DSL can you later change this so your Magic Jack will work over seas.... in other words... my home system is cable and that is what I registered it as but I already know that when I go to Europe this summer I am going to connect to a Pc that is using DSL... will my Magic Jack work or do I need to change something with Magic Jack and if so how is this done?
You will have a longer transmission pathway which might result in delays. Also, Magic Jack seems to indicate they can only get out to the phone system in the US and Canada, which probably means there is no way to make a "local" call while you are in Europe. Calling back to the US (free) should be uneventful.
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Old 08-01-2014, 11:32 AM   #36
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I've been considering getting a Magic Jack for making calls home while overseas. I would be interested in what people think of the device, especially when using it from outside one's home country. Thanks.
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Old 08-01-2014, 03:25 PM   #37
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Little bit of an update to my May 08 post.

Now use OOMA at the lake. One time fee of $199 ... NOTHING after that. They loose money on me since I bought before taxes and 911 fees were billed. Just cut the land line at home. Paying for 4 cells .... comcast bill dropped $60/mo when I "unbundled"; increased the internet speed and dropped to a 40 channel package.

Filled a trash can with 4 phones and associated wires and adapters. Fax machine replaced with efax and a scanner.
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Old 08-01-2014, 03:30 PM   #38
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I've been considering getting a Magic Jack for making calls home while overseas. I would be interested in what people think of the device, especially when using it from outside one's home country. Thanks.
I've had MagicJack here in Mexico for 2 years now and it works quite well MOST of the time. I have a number with area code that corresponds to where I used to live in the U.S. Friends and family call me and don't know the difference. Sometimes there will be a poor connection but can solve this by hanging up and calling back. Had Vonage for 2 years before that and I believe the Magic Jack has better quality and reliability.

Did get a surprise last night when I called into a teleconference. Magic Jack recognized the telcon line and would not grant me access until I went to their website and bought minutes at $.02 each. Not a big deal but wish I had known beforehand since I ended up joining the call about ten minutes late.
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Old 08-01-2014, 03:30 PM   #39
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I've been considering getting a Magic Jack for making calls home while overseas. I would be interested in what people think of the device, especially when using it from outside one's home country. Thanks.
I'm curious, also. We plan to try it out next summer.
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Old 08-01-2014, 03:36 PM   #40
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I forgot to mention that call quality can deteriorate if someone else on your network is downloading lots of video while you're on the phone.
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