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mikepop

@torland.is

2 recommendations

[Rave] VoIP has given consumers back control of their phones

Landline service is terribad. When I lived in the northeast U.S. Verizon hooked up my place promptly but what was supposed to be a $20/mo plan turned into $70. They even tried to rent me a phone that was probably older than me. But that's what you had to pay in order to get what you needed and avoid (engineered?) frustrations. Caller ID was an additional fee, so you could avoid telemarketers. You had to buy, install, and setup your own answering machine to avoid another fee. International calling was done with a calling card service to dodge ridiculous rates. There was a hum on the line that Verizon didn't feel like fixing. Basically, if you wanted to do anything, the answer was either no or that it was and additional $7.99. Later when I lived in AT&T territory, it was even worse. The fees were even higher, the initial install was a week after I ordered it. I heavily used my cellphone, and got dinged with per-minute overages.

When I heard about VoIP, I was skeptical. At the time "VoIP" make me think of MSN Messenger's crackly voice chat or Skype's bloated software. Both involved trading phone company aggravation for technical difficulties. But I read some forum posts that discussed how it could be done with the help of G.729 compression. I ordered a Linksys PAP2, chose VoIP.ms, and set up the whole thing with some help found through Google searches. Calls sound perfect (G.711 worked fine), better than landline, I save $60/mo, you could block any annoying callers through the website, customer service is courteous and available through multiple mediums instead of an arrogant or aloof script reader you can only talk to after 40 min. of being on hold. I have switched all of my family members to VoIP. A lot of them were afraid to make non-local calls due to cost, or had disabled the ringer due to telemarketers. Or if they used cell phones, I can now hear them clearly instead of trying to understand garbled and mushy cell codec output (could you repeat that?). Everyone feels closer than when we could only use e-mail

Now I've found a way to dump the cell carriers. I've gotten tired of their many games. Inflating "minutes" through many means including: always rounding up, randomly adding several seconds at the end of some calls, counting received calls, 9pm actually being 9:01 PM, "in-network" calling becoming non-free if the call roams in the middle or if you the other person adds in someone else with the three-way feature, etc. If you hit the wrong key, they can add another $5 charge to your bill. 411 is $/min yet it's burned into the contact list. Charging $0.20 per text unless you buy a monthly plan or shut it off completely. Two year contracts, incompatible phones to lock you in. Republic Wireless leverages the Wi-Fi most of us already have at home. No contract, $19/line/mo. Yeah the phone is an ancient Gingerbread handset so you won't be able to run GTA Vice City or torrent over LTE, but it gets the job done decently. As a final "fuck you" from Verizon Wireless, they refused to pro-rate my final bill because the customer agreement had changed and retroactively applied to my account because I didn't contest it in writing within 30 days. My choice was to either wait until exactly the end of the month to cancel and lose my number but save the bill amount, or port which would occur on an unspecified day and probably lean over into the next billing period. They effectively held my number hostage to steal another $80.

I now pay $30/mo instead of $180 in total for voice service.


TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

I made the switch to VoIP 4 years ago and haven't looked back. I pay on average $7/month.

In fact, the landline isn't the only thing I ditched. I also ditched TV. The amount you have to pay to get half-decent channels versus the quantity of absolute CRAP that is on TV, isn't worth it. I'm not about to pay $80+/month for only 4 or 5 good shows that I actually watch, and have to put up with bucketloads of commercials on top of that.



Anonymous_
Anonymous
Premium
join:2004-06-21
127.0.0.1
kudos:2

1 edit
reply to mikepop


just watch out for vonage they trap you with 9.99 for 3 months then it's 30 -35 after "so called fees"



CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
reply to mikepop

With 2 kids - I would prefer the land line that does not go down with electrical outages (we have had them for 96 hours before - rare but happens). Answering machine was 'installed' in less than 2 minutes and has not really need to be touched in 10 years.

Though I also did not have Verizon but AT&T.

VoiP is not a end all be all omho. I know VioP via Time Warner depends on the generators they attach to the hardware art the pole. Gas runs out - no phone. Then there is needing a battery backup of a pretty decent size to run the hardware in the house. Not many will cover multiple day outages.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain


TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

said by CylonRed:

Then there is needing a battery backup of a pretty decent size to run the hardware in the house. Not many will cover multiple day outages.

True, consumer UPS aren't great for that (they're mainly designed to provide safe shutdown of computers, nothing more). Business/enterprise class UPS are quite expensive.

However, if you're handy with electronics it is possible to put together a DC backup system that will last a long time (depending what size of batteries you install).

A single 12V 17Ah battery can run a modem/router and VoIP ATA for 8 hours easily enough if you don't have the DC-AC-DC conversion inefficiency of a regular UPS.

Only issue is what kind of backup power is the ISP running? It's less of an issue with DSL as quite often it'll run on the same backup power system as the POTS on the telco side, but with cable ISPs, who knows.

For me it's not really a concern as I have a cell phone that is issued to me by my employer. It is only for business use but in a real emergency I could use that if the VoIP is down and they wouldn't have a problem with it.

H_T_R_N
Premium
join:2011-12-06
Valencia, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to Anonymous_

said by Anonymous_:

just watch out for vonage they trap you with 9.99 for 3 months then it's 30 -35 after "so called fees"

While there are a number of reasons to opt for someone other than Vonage, I'm not sure trapped is one of them. Unless, that is, you stop listening to what is said 3 seconds into a commercial. If you actually paid attention to what it is you are signing, you would realize it is a promotional rate for the first few months. Take a minute and figure out what it is you are buying and you will never be "trapped" again.


NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
reply to mikepop

It seems to me that VOIP is only as reliable as the IP service itself; i.e., no Internet, no voice.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum



ilikeme
I live in a van down by the river.
Premium
join:2002-08-27
Sugar Land, TX
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Vonage
reply to Anonymous_

said by Anonymous_:

just watch out for vonage they trap you with 9.99 for 3 months then it's 30 -35 after "so called fees"

Not if you call in and request to be locked at $9.99 for the life of the account. I did that and it includes unlimited local/long distance to the U.S., Canada, and any Vonage number world wide. After fees its about $16.
--

Fiber Optics is the future of high-speed internet access. Stop by the BBR Fiber Optic Forum

thedragonmas

join:2007-12-28
Albany, GA
kudos:1
reply to mikepop

i wouldnt mind going the voip route, except, most if not all of them wont work with devices that need modem access, i.e. alarm systems or medical devices, that last ones important for me because of dad. so for me old fashioned POTS is what i need, (and yes sadly that means ATT for me)

i never really got the whole no modem thing, is it the compression used or do they just think people would hook up a fax machine and go to town?



Jim Gurd
Premium
join:2000-07-08
Livonia, MI

said by thedragonmas:

i never really got the whole no modem thing, is it the compression used or do they just think people would hook up a fax machine and go to town?

Here's a good explanation of why faxes don't work well with VoIP.

»hylafax.sourceforge.net/docs/fax···voip.pdf

BoulderHill1

join:2004-07-15
Montgomery, IL
Reviews:
·AT&T DSL Service
reply to mikepop

Wow!? is all I can say. It sounds like you have had a really bad experience with phone companies.

Perhaps I am just lucky or living right but I never have these experiences that you and others have voiced.

In my area it is AT&T for landline service primarily.

Both my father and I have landline pots service. It comes to $22 a month with taxes and such. Always works, always has. Granted it is a local calling area plan and his need for long distance is minimal to zero however he does make several international calls a year using a call service.

I still have the landline but do not use it at all as I use my cell. I would get rid of it but it would end up costing me more money per month to do so. Because I have phone, internet and cell all from AT&T I get certain discounts on each service. I get a discount of $10 per month on my cell bill (total is $51.40 for cell service) and then I also get a discount on the DSL bill of $5 per month (DSL monthly cost $27)

If I drop the phone to save the $22 I pay for the land line I lose the $15 in discounts which leaves me $7 ahead. But now since I do not have a phone line it costs me an additional $10 for a dry loop DSL which then negates any savings I get by dropping the land line.

All in all I pay $100 a month (22+27+51.40) for DSL internet, POTS landline service, and cellular service which I think is a good deal for services that have always been rock solid dependable.



sivran
Opera ex-pat
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1
reply to mikepop

In 26 years living at my previous residence, I had exactly one problem with the landline service, despite the "phone company" changing hands several times over that period.

I'd rather have an answering machine than voicemail, and even without caller ID, I avoided telemarketers by registering on the DNC and screening calls via the answering machine.
--
Oh, Opera, what have you done?



WhyADuck
Premium
join:2003-03-05
kudos:1
reply to mikepop

I don't know how to say this without it coming across as a bit insulting, but what the h---...

I have found that people who are happy with their landline service tend to fall into one of five camps:

1. The very lucky. Somehow they have had a very atypical experience, where they only paid the rate they expected to pay, never had phone outages or similar issues, never had to wait on hold for the better part of an hour only to have to deal with the customer service rep from Hades, rarely received telemarketing calls, etc. There are such people, and they just cannot empathize with what many of the rest of us have had to deal with.

2. The very forgiving. These are the people who, no matter how bad the experience, feel that things could be worse and there's no point stewing over it. These are the same people who can wait in line for half an hour, have the window or register close just before they get their turn, and have to move to another line or come back another day and never complain about it. They just don't get why other people get angry over being treated badly by their phone company, because they never allow themselves to become upset over much of anything.

3. The ignorant. They just pay the bill when it comes, no matter how far off it might be from what was quoted when they signed up for the services, and they don't even notice if extra charges are crammed onto their bill. They think everyone else is paying the same thing, and that's just what it costs. If they have noise or static on their line, they think that's just how phone lines work. If they phone goes out and they call to have it fixed and it takes days or even weeks, they think that's just how long it takes. You can forgive these people if they recently arrived in the country from some area where that level of service was the norm, but otherwise you just wonder if they realize how much phone service has changed in the last few decades.

4. The WILLFULLY ignorant. They may suspect that they are getting ripped off or are receiving poor service, but they simply don't want to have to deal with it, so they pretend all is good. If you confront them with the fact that they could do much better, they'll actually become a bit angry, and may offer all sorts of excuses to justify why they should remain with whatever they have now. They'd rather be ripped off and suffer poor service rather than go through the (mostly imaginary) pain of changing.

5. The security freaks. They labor under the impression that only landline service gives them guaranteed access to emergency services. Apparently they have never seen a falling tree or an auto accident take out phone lines, and have never noticed how vulnerable the phone lines on the outside of their home are (maybe they've avoided "B" grade horror movies all their life). They also don't realize that because of the way phone company technology works nowadays, if they're not within a mile or two of the central office there is a good chance they will lose their phone service if their neighborhood is without power for some period of time between 8 and 36 hours, or even less if the phone company fails to replace the backup batteries regularly in some piece of equipment in their neighborhood. They will pay an extra $30 to $50 a month if they think they have guaranteed 24/7 access to 911. Which they don't, but don't try to convince them of that. Actually, come to think of it, these folks probably also belong in category #4.

Trying to convince any of these types of folks that they could do better with VoIP is often an exercise in futility.



NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC

said by WhyADuck:

Trying to convince any of these types of folks that they could do better with VoIP is often an exercise in futility.

VOIP suffers from some of the the same points of failure as copper. That car which took out the utility pool took out all of the services on that pole.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum


sivran
Opera ex-pat
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1
reply to WhyADuck

Call me #1 I guess. 26 years, one outage, one quick call to the telco.

Definitely can't say my ISP provided that kind of uptime. With that kind of utter reliability, plus the unlimited local calling, it was a no brainer to keep the landline. The only more reliable utility we had was the water.
--
Oh, Opera, what have you done?



Johkal
Cool Cat
Premium,MVM
join:2002-11-13
Happy Valley
kudos:10
reply to Jim Gurd

said by Jim Gurd:

said by thedragonmas:

i never really got the whole no modem thing, is it the compression used or do they just think people would hook up a fax machine and go to town?

Here's a good explanation of why faxes don't work well with VoIP.

»hylafax.sourceforge.net/docs/fax···voip.pdf

I used a fax machine & then an all-in-one printer with fax capabilities with two different VoIP providers with "0" issues incoming & outgoing.
--
In God we trust; all others bring data!



PotsMan

@rr.com
reply to sivran

Yes, I find the voip forum eminently enjoyable and educational.

The most learned members will tell you that voip is even better than that ancient pots system.

You might have to spend some time to find this though, buried amongst the thousands of endless problems people have with voip.

Most educational indeed.


Mango
What router are you using?
Premium
join:2008-12-25
www.toao.net
kudos:12
reply to WhyADuck

6. Those who use an OBi110 to combine VoIP and a landline, and have the advantages of both VoIP and POTS.


Ole Juul

join:2013-04-27
Coalmont, BC
Reviews:
·Callcentric

1 recommendation

reply to NormanS

said by NormanS:

said by WhyADuck:

Trying to convince any of these types of folks that they could do better with VoIP is often an exercise in futility.

VOIP suffers from some of the the same points of failure as copper. That car which took out the utility pool took out all of the services on that pole.

As mentioned earlier, experiences will vary. Where I live, the telephone cable runs along the highway. That is indeed a liability. Particularly since the cable is just lying along the rocks at the side so the road crews can snag it under the snow half the year. On the other hand, the internet is wireless. You can't block it since it's through the air, and the tower is on top of a hill so it's really hard to hit with a car. So, for physical reasons, VoIP is more reliable here.

I too rave about the consumer control offered by VoIP, but in this area I can also tout the reliability.

BoulderHill1

join:2004-07-15
Montgomery, IL
Reviews:
·AT&T DSL Service
reply to WhyADuck

I must fall in the first category.

However I would like to add that although my land line service has always been reliable and fairly priced it is a service I no longer really need but can't even get rid of it without actually paying more money.

Replacing it with a VOIP provider is not really an option since for one, I don't need this type or service as I mentioned (home phone) and for two it would still end up costing me more to do so.



NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC
reply to Ole Juul

said by Ole Juul:

Where I live, the telephone cable runs along the highway. That is indeed a liability. Particularly since the cable is just lying along the rocks at the side so the road crews can snag it under the snow half the year.

Lying on the ground? Is that even allowed by code? In the South S.F. Bay Area, utilities are being buried. Where still aerial, electric, cable, and POTS are usually all on the same poles. Internet is mostly wired; even the hotspots have a wired backhaul. From my travels around the U.S., even though underground utilities are common, aerial often has electric, cable, and POTS on the same poles. So, lose a pole and you can have a total blackout.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum