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MagicJack: Cheap VoIP
Old 01-25-2008, 08:57 PM   #1
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MagicJack: Cheap VoIP

These guys have the worst marketing, almost non-existent customer support, but they were cheap, so I tried them:

magicJack - Official Homepage

$40 for the first year, $20 for the next year. Unlimited long-distance via a cute little USB VoIP dongle that you plug your regular phone into.

You get a real phone number, E911 service, and probably some other goodies too. I've only played with it for a few minutes, but it works, and the voice quality is pretty good. Better than Skype, not as good as a "real" phone.

And they don't pay me to say this. Google around for reviews before you pull the trigger, but supposedly they have a money-back guarantee.
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:13 AM   #2
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What kind of Internet connection do you have?

This seems like a reasonable idea. We spent $75 last year on long distance calls. Perhaps we should try it for a while, and if it works, eliminate our AT&T line (savings: $325/year).

We've got an old laptop that we could dedicate to the phone.

Any disadvantages?
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:52 AM   #3
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Based on my extensive experiences with VOIP, this is what you'll receive:

- Frequently tinny calls with echoes and delays. Things like jitter, QOS, packet delay and pauses rarely show up as problems in regular internet usage. Real time interactive voice is another matter.
- Problems with your internet connection, modem, router, computer, and voip adapter = you leaping into action as the tech support guy since everyone involved says its someone elses fault
- Many VOIP features are patented by verizon and they're suing the pants off of everyone. They've probably mortally wounded Vonage.
- A lot of solid VOIP companies have gone under. So have a lot of little guys with bad marketing and bad customer support. So dont give the number out or come to rely on it.

When I used the services, vonage was pretty good but they took a week to answer questions by email and calling them for support was often a 60-90 minute wait. I wasnt comfortable with hours and weeks delays to get support for a telephone line.

AT&T's callvantage worked surprisingly well and we dropped our land line while we had it. Then we started having trouble with their voip box. The rep assured me it was the internet connection. Then the modem. Then the wiring. After having all new cable pulled by the cable company out to the corner of the street, buying a new modem, replacing the router with one that specifically favored VOIP traffic, and changing every network cable in my house...it became apparent that it was the voip box. They refused to replace it, saying that they tested it remotely and it was okay. A few months after I canceled the service and spent a few minutes running over the box with my car, they suspended all service and went out of business.

We went to Sunrocket. Horrible. Bad call quality 90% of the time. No support whatsoever. We dumped them and a short while later they went out of business with no notice. Just posted a thing on their web site saying they were gone.

Fun to play with, okay to use as a secondary line if you dont mind regularly having bad calls and having to say "let me call you back on the other phone", and great if you love troubleshooting advanced networking problems.

There are a bunch of VOIP tests you can run online to see how good your connection is. Raw speed isnt an issue...a G. compressed phone call will run well in under 100k bandwidth. Cleanliness of the line, delays, packet losses, jitter...those are a lot more important.
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Old 02-12-2008, 10:12 AM   #4
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Great info, thanks Bun.
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:17 PM   #5
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I just updated this thread on my CallVantage experience.

CallVantage AT&T VOIP - 2007

Readers Digest version - I'm satisfied. $23.86/month unlimited local/LD, and since it is through AT&T fewer worries that they go bye-bye anytime soon.

Phones plug into the adapter box which plugs into your internet connection directly - no computer required for the phone call (like most VOIP, but unlike MagicJack).

-ERD50
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:23 PM   #6
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Since MagicJack requires a computer - how does it compare with Skype? I have not checked them in a while, and I forget all the ifs/ands/buts.

I mentioned to the kids to get some back up system like Skype or voice-chats so they can keep their cell minutes within the limits for daytime calls. They don't use many now, but patterns could change.

-ERD50
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:42 PM   #7
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I've never been really impressed by VoIP, but I got the dongle thing as an alternative to SkypeOut for long-distance calls for which I don't really care about quality.

Like out-of-state banks with dimwitted customer service. And government offices that put you on hold for a long time.

I'm currently doing some estate administration work, and the dongle has already saved me more than I paid for it.

The voice quality seems to be a bit better than Skype, and you can use a regular phone with it. Otherwise, it should be pretty comparable to SkypeOut + SkypeIn.

I'm happy with it, but I wouldn't want to rely on it as my only line. I view it as a cheap second line with unlimited free long-distance.
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
since it is through AT&T fewer worries that they go bye-bye anytime soon.
As you may or may not have read above, the at&t callvantage service was already abruptly discontinued once. Its only SBC's purchase of at&t and some other businesses that they've recently elected to put a VOIP product in service.

One of the big pieces of indigestion some people have had with some of these VOIP submergences was been when they ported a home number or much used number to a VOIP service that went *poof*, and it took weeks or months for them to be able to get a new VOIP or traditional phone company to seize the number and make it available for service. Ports generally require that you agree to both the incoming and outgoing company, and when there ISNT an outgoing company, theres a bit of a problem.

I lucked out since I ported from SBC and wanted to port back to SBC at the end of it all. Since they originally "owned" the number, they could just grab it back for me.
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Old 02-13-2008, 07:59 AM   #9
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When time period did CallVantage drop service? I did see that in your post, but I had never heard that before, and was wondering whether your words got twisted a bit (or my understanding of them) and you were actually referring to one of the other services.

No guarantees of course, but I have a bit more faith in CallVantage's future than I do a with a company that issued a $17 IPO when they didn't get bought up as planned, and the stock price pretty quickly went to $2.

But yes, I also saw it as an advantage that for porting, it was the 'same' company on each end of the port. And it did go smooth, and I assume it would if I had to switch back. Though you wouldn't know that they were the same company, based on all the mail and email I got from the AT&T 'landline' company asking me to come back to AT&T because they are so great. Hmmm, is AT&T better than AT&T?

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Old 08-12-2008, 07:53 AM   #10
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If you are a MagicJack user who’s experiencing that constant bad phone connection where you just can’t decipher or make sense of what the recipient on the other line is saying, well, I found the solution!!! It has to do with you network card not being optimized. I know, what does that have to do with MagicJack as it’s plugged into your USB. The answer, your pc is not not utilizing your full Internet connection messing your VOIP connection. Here’s how to fix this issue.



Good Luck Tony Alfeo
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Old 08-12-2008, 08:20 AM   #11
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What would be the reason to have a land line in the cell phone age?
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:31 AM   #12
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What would be the reason to have a land line in the cell phone age?
$25 unlimited local/LD.

5 extensions in my home on the same line ( maybe more, I'd need to run around and count). Pick a phone up anywhere in the house.

I recently got 3 handsets with superior sound quality and superior keypads and usability compared to a cell phone for just $86. No contract. I can add handsets to that for ~ $25 each.

Good enough reasons for me.

Plus, cell phone reception can be spotty inside our house.

If the cell phone option works for you, great. It's not a good solution for everybody.

-ERD50
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
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$25 unlimited local/LD. It's not a good solution for everybody. -ERD50
Never said it was a good solution for everyone. If you don't get good cell phone reception, you should check out other carriers.

25 a month, or a year? Let me see, start up costs of 85 and 25 a month for 30 years at 8% is pushing close to 40,000 dollars. If you already have a cell phone anyway....well.....
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Old 08-12-2008, 10:18 AM   #14
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?

$25/month - CalVantage VOIP.

My current cell phone is ~ $8 month (prepay). Tell me how I can add unlimited calling to that (or a cell alternative) for less than $25 and get all the other features I mentioned ( high quality handsets throughout the house).

I'm all ears. -ERD50
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Old 10-30-2008, 09:25 AM   #15
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On the contrary, VoIP is a good cheap solution for sky rocketing long distance cost. I have 2 voip accounts, one for MagicJack and one for Onesuite. I use them side by side. MJ needs a PC turned on all the time, Onesuite can be use with IP phone or ATA device so PC can be turned off.

MJ can only call with US and Canada, Onesuite can be also use for international calls.

This is a lot cheaper than using your phone provider long distance rates which is about 2 or 3 times higher some even more than voip rates.
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Old 10-30-2008, 01:17 PM   #16
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What I love is when I'm talking on my hard-wired AT&T phone to some idiot with their cheapie undercharged cell phone (this includes the 3 grown daughters), and the line starts breaking up and the person on the other end says, "There must be something wrong with your phone!!!"--I don't think so. I'm an old dinosaur and have lived in my house for 33 years--Whenever I'm talking on the phone I have a stool and a table next to the phone on the wall (gotta have somewhere to set the drink), and I must be sitting on that stool or I can't seem to follow the conversation. Son-in-law is the exact opposite--has to be pacing with the cell phone constantly.
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Old 10-30-2008, 01:19 PM   #17
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Payin, I am a pacer, too! I was so happy when we got the extra long cord at home as a teenager! Now I pace the front porch if I'm on the cell--the only place with decent reception out here in the boonies. But I do keep losing my drink....
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Old 10-30-2008, 01:57 PM   #18
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I got a Magic Jack registered here in the US with a local number and sent it overseas (Asia) to my wife's family. I can now call up that local number and talk to them ad libitum. This, I think, is the best feature of Magic Jack. The biggest drawback is that you cannot dial a foreign number more than 10 digits long to connect abroad from here. However, calling Canada or Mexico (10 number phone dialing also) is a breeze.

If you were anyplace in the world with a computer, internet access, and a Magic JAck, you're in business. Calls to the US, Canada, or Mexico would be a local call.
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