My telephone charges creep upwards, almost every month, mostly due to
increased government mandated charges. I pay AT&T now $ 26 a month for what
is essentially local service. Long Distance is on a separate bill from ECG.
What are the alternatives to increasingly expensive land-lines? We live in a
low area and have poor cellphone connections. What is this Magic Jack thing?
Does it work? What are the drawbacks?
What is VOIP? Just heard about it? Is this another valid alternative.
Thanks for any input.
We have VoIP from Vonage. You get a box that plugs into you router (much
like a computer). Then you plug your telephone into the box. That's it. The
telephone jack on the box is identical in every way to an incoming trunk
line (our two VOIP lines go to our PBX system - just like a telco trunk line
For $19.95/month* you get:
* A telephone number
* A host of goodies like call-waiting, caller-id, voice mail,
* All the long distance you can eat.
VOIP requires an always-on high-speed internet connection (DSL or Cable).
With some VOIP vendors, you can keep your existing number. With all vendors
you can choose your area code. Suppose you live in Little Rabbit, Montana
but all your relatives live in Boston. By choosing a 617 area code, when
your relatives call you, to them it's a local call.
I think the MagicJack gizmo works pretty much the same way, but it uses your
computer to replace the "box."
As an alternative, contact your local AT&T office and tell them you just
cannot stand this outrageous charge and that unless there's some adjustment,
you're going to switch. They WILL lower you bill. By as much as half.
An obvious alternative to the alternative is a cell phone.
* The $19.95 (or whatever) is the total. No 9-11 fee, no Al Gore Tax, no
Spanish-American War Excise tax, no sales tax, nothing. It's $19.95 period.
One of the negatives of VOIP has been calling 911. The vendors were to make
improvements in this area. Not having VOIP I don't know the current status,
but others can jump in with their 911 experience.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
If especially elderly folks or young children are involved 911 is the
main weak point of VoIP because unlike a POTS line which gives your
location information to the 911 system the VoIP carriers simply connect
the call to a regular number at the call center.
The other weak point is that many broadband carriers do not have backup
power on their equipment. So unlike a regular phone if the power goes
off the Internet connection may go off which also disables your phone
on 9/25/2009 8:22 PM (ET) George wrote the following:
Magic Jack supports 911. You have to put in your address when first
setting it up and the address is recorded with the 911 system.
Your 911 address can be changed at any time and whenever you want, so if
you go anywhere, like on vacation somewhere, you take the MJ with you
and plug it into someone's computer, or your own laptop, and change your
911 address to where you are temporarily staying. Reset the 911 address
when you return home.
Good to know, about my house, but I'd never get around to changing it
when I was someplace else. I'd have to be being chased by killers,
like in the movies. Then I'd do it.
I realize you are making a point that it's as good as a regular telco
wired phone, and better I guess than a cellphone, where you iiuc you
can't do that.
You may want to. A relative of mine died and is alive today because of
911. He came home before his wife, felt bad, dialed 911, dropped the
phone and died. The paramedics and police are automatically dispatched
on such calls. They got his heart started and he is still going strong.
I don't know how VoIP 911 works and how much I would depend on it. My
understanding it is some kludge and doesn't work like "normal" 911. In
"normal" 911 the phone switch includes information about your lines
location and it comes up directly on the comm centers screen. I think
the VoIP systems just make an automated call to the regular comm center
That much I'm set up for. I have but rearely use a cordless phone and
don't have an internet phone. I do have a real phone, one in almost
every room. But I challenge the notion that anyone has died and is
alive today. If he's alive now, whether his heart stopped or not, he
was never dead.
If you have a high speed internet connection the "poor mans" VOIP is the
"MagicJack" which is touted on TV late at night. It's sold at Wally World,
The problems are: 1) you have to have your computer ON to take or make
telephone calls. (It provides an "answering machine" function that sends
messages to a mail account.); 2) it tends to "hog" computer resources.
Many folks unplug the MagicJack when they are doing a lot of surfing.; 3)
you may not be able to get a "local" phone number -- this means that it
might be a toll call for your next store neighbor to call you.
When you "set up" the Magic Jack you can provide 911 information. ALL
domestic calls and FREE! The purchase price $40 includes free telephone
service for a year.
If you take a trip out of the US, you can take along your Magic Jack and
make calls to the US (but not anywhere else.)
$40 isn't much is you make a fair number of LD calls.
The federal government has gotten quite gready at the expense of folks with
land line telephone service.
If you don't take/make many calls, you may find it cheaper to dump your
land line service and get a "throwaway" cell phone. Basic service can be
less that $10/month plus the call charge. Your phone would always be with
IIRC VOIP stands for "voice over internet Protocol. You can purchase the
service from Vonage (about $30.00 per month). Free VOIP is available
from SKYPE, however you may not have incoming service (others can
elaborate about this).
I have a Magic Jack (MJ) and use it quite a lot. I believe that it is
also a form of VIOP. It costs about $30 initially and then about $10.00
per year. Even though I have the MJ I still maintain my land line
because the MJ is not 100% reliable.
MJ, SKYPE and Vonage all require a high speed internet connection (i.e.
cable, HS digital or equivalent).
Each of these services(and there may be more), have their strong points
and weaknesses. For example I don't think that MJ has provisions for
international calls, whereas SKYPE does. I'm not sure about Vonage.
Rather than going into them all here I suggest you start goggling them
EJ in NJ
After reading the responses so far, I have decided to pay my 25 bucks and
keep my landline. At least I know that I have highly reliable service, when
I need it.
I also have a tracfone (cheap cellphone) which I keep in the car for
For long distance calls I use ECG which is a LD service that costs only
pennies per call, instead of ATT LD, which costs plenty dollares per call.
Thank you for replying
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.