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Old 12-08-2012, 10:11 AM   #1
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Phones

The experiment begins:
Received an offer from MagicJack today, for the newer no-computer needed internet based VOIP service. $34.95 plus $7.95 shipping, plus $2.10 regulatory fee (whatever that is), and including 1 year service.

This after having the older MJ for three years, and only using when on the road. No complaints, and good enough service, but a nuisance to keep computer on all the time.

A little more background. Have used Vonage for 5 years, starting back when there were no charges other than the initial modem, and $14.95/mo. unlimited service. That gradually grew to $25.00/mo., when four or five added service charges entered in (apparently state and federal charges, but as I found out later, were partly just names for Vonage charges. When I threatened to cancel, they looked at my phone usage, and said there was a special (unadvertised) deal for $9.99 for people like me... the lower price for 200 minutes outgoing calls. That turned out to be $16 when the extra charges were added. Last month, they notified me about another extra charge which puts the $9.99 cost up to $17. Vonage was good service but getting expensive (comparatively).

The clincher is that now MJ will transfer the phone number... which they wouldn't before. (not sure of cost for this)

So begins a new experiment, which I'll follow up on when I get the phone.
.................................................. ........

Next... Cell phone. Since we'll use only for emergency (to call home or insurance company in case of an accident) ... and maybe a few more calls (less then 20 minutes a month)... thought to get get the cheapest plan available. Bought a clearance Net10 phone for $10 which included 300 minutes and 60 days... great deal... worked perfectly... but now for 30 days service will be $15. I found online, a Tracfone for $79.95 with 1 year service, and 400 minutes, tripled to 1200 minutes, which looks like the best deal.
.................................................. ......

#3... Have to look at another alternative long term... comcast "triple play" phone, internet and TV... this gets complicated because Comcast is not one company, and Comcast in Florida, doesn't know about Comcast in Illinois... deals aren't available for snowbirds, plus they want a montly "hold fee" when we're not there $7, I think.
.................................................. ......
AT&T... available in Florida with lowspeed internet, but also contract, and a big installation fee... No other internet service here in IL other than the Comcast monopoly.
.................................................
Of course, there's the part about phones and internet with the computer phone etc... What I've heard about multiple year contracts, service fees, and cancellation costs is frightening.

Finally... am I alone in this confusion? ... and is it my imagination, or are all of these contracts and offers, and "best deals" a matter of words?

If we have an FCC... isn't it a part of their responsibility to work in the public interest?

Am interested in your own feelings about this, and any ways you've found to REALLY understand and get the best deal. Or maybe the charges are so small compared the rest of living costs, that it doesn't matter.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:44 AM   #2
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Hmmm....you appear to be writing in "stream of contentiousness" format.

Ever considered a career as a novelist?
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:46 AM   #3
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Have had the MJ Plus for a few years now and love it. No need to keep computer on although you do need to keep your modem on. Take mine from Colorado to Arizona and works great in both places. Also works with my fax machine. There is a cost to port an existing phone number (I did not as I wanted to end all the political and fund raising calls) but I don't recall what it was.

Paid like $69 for the MJ Plus which includes one year of service. Also did a five year renewal plan for $20 a year. Total in: $169.00 for six years of phone service or a whopping $28 per year. I used to pay like $360 per year to Qwest/Century Link.

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Old 12-08-2012, 10:59 AM   #4
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It wasn't clear to me what the ongoing MJ annual cost will be for you.

For 20 min/month cell phone - look into T-Mobile pre-paid. Put on $100 to get to 'Gold Status' - that gets you 1 year and ~ 1000 minutes that roll over if you renew before the year ends. You can renew for another year for just $10. That only gets you ~ 100 added minutes, but with the ~ 800 of the first 1000 rolling over, you should be good for a long time. And you can put $25 or $50 (IIRC) to extend the year as well, if you end up using more.


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If we have an FCC... isn't it a part of their responsibility to work in the public interest?
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:51 PM   #5
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We use Ooma for phone and have been pretty satisfied. ~$150 up front for the unit and ~$3.75 a month for unlimited US calls. We happen to have two lines so we have an annual $120 for the Premier service plus ~$3.75 a month.

If you have good cell service where you are a neighbor recently went with AT&T. They provide him with a unit in his house that he plugs his cordless phone system into and has unlimited US calls through the AT&T cell network for ~$15/month IIRC. The nice thing about his set up is that if the internet goes out you still have phone service.

For cell phones, we have switched to AT&T gophones. After an initial cost of ~$50 for a phone the cost is $100 a year for 1000 minutes, which is adequate for our needs.

So if you went with one line for Ooma and two gophones, your annual cost would be about $245 a year and your up-front costs would be ~$250.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:11 PM   #6
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I'm no help at all. I went the other way, and have an iPhone on Verizon ($76/month), plus AT&T landline ($29/month).

So, both together cost me $105/month, = $1260/year. For quite a while I have been thinking of dropping the landline. It has gone up from $22 to $29 in the last five years or so.

I am getting disgusted with the iPhone. It is nice to have, but it used to be much faster than it is now.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by W2R
I'm no help at all. I went the other way, and have an iPhone on Verizon ($76/month), plus AT&T landline ($29/month).

So, both together cost me $105/month, = $1260/year. For quite a while I have been thinking of dropping the landline. It has gone up from $22 to $29 in the last five years or so.

I am getting disgusted with the iPhone. It is nice to have, but it used to be much faster than it is now.
W2R, what is the hold back in dropping landline? I held out till 2 years ago, then just went solo with my $30 a month Virgin 1500min1500 text with Internet ( that I never use). Haven't missed it a bit, especially tele calls. When I had a landline I would lose my cell for days at a time, so initially I was concerned, but I guess my awareness of keeping an eye on my cell has improved as I have not lost it once since I cut the line.
Imolder, concerning the "bundling", I have avoided it. Some I see give you a decent savings upfront for a year, but lock you into 2 year agreements so you can get beat up on the back end of the contract. So far I have been successful in just calling every year jawing them down on the price after the "yearly special" expires ( you know the special that is never advertised but the telemarketer says they have just for you because you called to discuss canceling ).
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:35 PM   #8
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What if I tell you, my landline costs $0/month and my usage is about 800 minutes a month?

I use ObiTalk 100 and google voice. There is no 911 otherwise all is great.

If google voice goes paid tomorrow, I will use a service that charges me 1c/min and it will be $100/year but it will be more reliable than MagicJack.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:12 PM   #9
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What if I tell you, my landline costs $0/month and my usage is about 800 minutes a month?
...
Cost is one thing but I need to be sure the (real landline) is up even in an earthquake. So we have an ATT landline at $30/month + Tracphones at $14/month for 2.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:13 PM   #10
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...(snip)...
I am getting disgusted with the iPhone. It is nice to have, but it used to be much faster than it is now.
Interesting comment. Maybe I should short Apple stock?
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:53 PM   #11
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I'm no help at all. I went the other way, and have an iPhone on Verizon ($76/month), plus AT&T landline ($29/month).

So, both together cost me $105/month, = $1260/year. For quite a while I have been thinking of dropping the landline. It has gone up from $22 to $29 in the last five years or so.

I am getting disgusted with the iPhone. It is nice to have, but it used to be much faster than it is now.
Used to be much faster - do you mean internet usage over the cell connection?
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:38 PM   #12
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Used to be much faster - do you mean internet usage over the cell connection?
Yes, the Verizon 3G connection seems slower to me now than it did a year or two ago. I do not use it much, so I cannot imagine why that would be.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:54 PM   #13
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Okay... here's a question that I think has been answered, but don't know if I read it right.
Many of my friends are confused as I am about this stuff. Almost everyone I know...(seniors 70's. 80's and up) has a land line AND a cell phone for one simple reason. Cell phone when they go out, and land line when they're at home.
Reason?... When you're home, you don't wanna carry a phone around with you, or hunt for it when it rings. Also, at home, one phone isn't enough, when you're in another part of the house, and two people cant talk at once... like to the grandkids.
So... there must be a device where you can pop your cell into a cradle, and have it be connected to another two phones in different rooms of the house.
Sound pretty simple, but where is it, and what is it called?

Quote:
What if I tell you, my landline costs $0/month and my usage is about 800 minutes a month?

I use ObiTalk 100 and google voice. There is no 911 otherwise all is great.

If google voice goes paid tomorrow, I will use a service that charges me 1c/min and it will be $100/year but it will be more reliable than MagicJack.
To tell the truth, I looked at Google, but got confused...
Gotta go back and concentrate on the phone part. Been fighting Google+ because there's too much there to comprehend... circles and all that stuff. . Have just started using Google voice, as well as Naturally Speaking...
Will look at ObiTalk...
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:46 PM   #14
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imnotmuchyungrnu, but this doesn't appear to be confusing and will turn your cell phone into a multi-handset "home phone".

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Now you can use your cellphone to make phone calls in your home without the inconvenience of carrying your cell phone around, losing service or being tethered to a wall outlet because your battery is running low. The Panasonic KX-TG7642M allows you to make and receive cell phone calls through your multi-handset home phone system.
Amazon.com: Panasonic KX-TG7642M DECT 6.0 Link-to-Cell via Bluetooth Cordless Phone with Answering System, Metallic Gray, 2 Handsets: Electronics

You don't place your cell phone into a cradle, you use your bluetooth (wireless two-way) connection to tie your cell phone to the home system. Comes with 2, 3, 4 or 5 handsets.
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:05 PM   #15
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Cost is one thing but I need to be sure the (real landline) is up even in an earthquake. So we have an ATT landline at $30/month + Tracphones at $14/month for 2.
Point noted but the govt. needs to understand this. In many neighborhoods, copper wires not even installed anymore (like mine), so all we have is a VoIP phone that pretends like a landline for majority of folks (until they have an outage). And BTW, who do you think is going to answer your 911 call during really crazy earthquake? This is no Japan..

Compare to that I am happy with the setup..

@imoldernu,
I am a firm believer that every senior should hang that emergency one button calling thing around their neck. One of my uncle did some adventurous garage cleaning and ended up lying on the floor until his neighbor arrived after work.

To your google voice comment, honestly it is very straight forward, let me know if I can be of any help but for senior citizens I have to concur to Lsbcal's comment. S/he may be in earthquake prone CA but otherwise all senior citizens should have copper wire connection if available. Don't try to play around this stuff at this age, just because depending on your health, you never know when emergency strikes and every line should connect to 911. Google voice doesn't.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:23 PM   #16
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imnotmuchyungrnu, but this doesn't appear to be confusing and will turn your cell phone into a multi-handset "home phone".

Amazon.com: Panasonic KX-TG7642M DECT 6.0 Link-to-Cell via Bluetooth Cordless Phone with Answering System, Metallic Gray, 2 Handsets: Electronics

You don't place your cell phone into a cradle, you use your bluetooth (wireless two-way) connection to tie your cell phone to the home system. Comes with 2, 3, 4 or 5 handsets.
Thanks... I figgered there'd be a way... Have some friends who will thank you too.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:47 PM   #17
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When the power went out a month ago I tried to use our cordless phones. I assumed they'd hold a charge but they were totally dead. The old Princess phone connected to that same landline gave that comforting dial tone.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:18 AM   #18
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A less costly alternative for a non-data phone, Pageplus. This is what I use.

$72/year. 2000 minutes that will rollover if you deposit more time (even if it is only 100 minutes) before the original minutes expire. No setup costs. $0.50/month service charge. Verizon network. Many phones can use it, but there are some models to stay away from. If you use it for awhile, or want it as a pure emergency phone, you can string together three $10 100-minute cards each year so the cost goes down to $30/year.

I don't need a computer anywhere near me. If I'm at a computer I can use either google hangout or skype to call someone for free, I think hangout is much more stable though.

The one touch emergency button calling devices are a very good idea for seniors, I would get one when I reached Medicare/SS age, or if I had some sort of permanent impairment.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:25 AM   #19
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The one touch emergency button calling devices are a very good idea for seniors, I would get one when I reached Medicare/SS age...
You are assuming a Medic Alert system needs to be included with a Medicare card? You must not know any healthy 60 and 70 year old folks...

EDIT: Ah, I see now you are in your 20's. Assuming all "seniors" need this is about as accurate as assuming all 20-somethings are clueless about life.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:38 AM   #20
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You are assuming a Medic Alert system needs to be included with a Medicare card? You must not know any healthy 60 and 70 year old folks...

EDIT: Ah, I see now you are in your 20's. Assuming all "seniors" need this is about as accurate as assuming all 20-somethings are clueless about life.
I don't think all 20-somethings are clueless about life. Most, but not all.
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