It’s been almost eight years since my wife and I moved into our new home. The local phone service provider was on strike at the time and we were told that we would have to wait five months to get our service transferred.
I was working on a new VoIP phone system at the time and convinced my wife that we didn’t need a traditional land line. The local cable company had connected our cable and we had a good Internet connection as a result. Twenty minutes after my wife agreed to pass on the bell line, we had a local phone number. I pay Callcentric in New York city $5/month for my line in Ottawa and another $5/month for my line in Oklahoma City (Where my in-laws live).
Callcentric provides service in most countries allowing customers to have multiple phone numbers that all ring to the same place. All incoming calls are unmetered and outgoing calls are 2 cents/minute anywhere that is serviced by callcentric. It is really amazing how far 2 cents a minutes goes.
I currently run a copy of freeswitch behind my SIP enabled firewall and it provides me with business quality service and features for my home phone lines. Freeswitch is not the easiest to setup, but it does deliver a wide variety of options for your inner geek.
Many of the families in my neighbourhood also use VoIP because they were in the same boat when they moved in. Some are on Vonage, but there are a number of service providers to choose from. Most of the less technical families use an adapter box like a Cisco ATA186 to convert from analog to VoIP. These boxes are configured with a single web page, are easy to install and easy to maintain.
Many new families completely bypass the land line opting for wireless devices like iPhones. That is definitely and option, but I find that VoIP is still cost effective for long distance bypass and connecting international family members. VoIP is below the radar of telemarketers which is an added bonus.
I suspect that the day will come when we give up the land line, but the benefits currently outweigh the cost by a substantial margin.
You ever look at the MagicJack?
I dumped my Bell line about 4 years ago. The MJ is like $1/month (if you prepay 5 years when they offer a special). You get all the services: call waiting, 3-way, conf. call, callerID, VM with email audio of the messages, and call forwarding to ANY North American number. Plus – free LD to all of NA. Also, you can carry the thing with you when you travel and anywhere you plug it in – your phone rings there and you can still call anywhere in NA for free. I take it when I travel on business and my customers can’t tell I’m in the UK, Switzerland, or Australia.
It also does low speed data (fax and dialup modem).
The new version (MJ2) has a Ethernet port for direct connect to a router (no computer required) besides the USB. At home I plug my cordless phone base station into it. On the road I either use the soft phone on the laptop or plug the phone from the hotel room into it. At home it will actually drive the house wiring but not ring more than 2 2500 sets (barely 1 500 set, directly connected, wimpy ring).
I sat at a cafe in Paris and answered a call from a customer in the Netherlands and they thought I was in Ottawa – all for $1/month. Incredible.
And you’re absolutely correct about the telemarketers. When I had the Bell line I was getting 3-4 junk calls a day. Haven’t had one of those since I got the MJ.