Save your PHONE BILL thread - VoIP Networking

Folks, lately with the bad economy I’ve been looking over my bills and see what I can save. Something I have been very scared to explore in the previous years were VoIP (Voice over IP - essentially using your internet bandwidth to handle phone calls). Well times have changed and my bandwidth is much greater than 768Kbps download/256Kbps upload. Its time to explore that area again and try to save some $$$ by utilizing VoIP. Its kind of stupid to pay high a premium on your home phone which is under utilized, when you use your cellphone most of the time. Lets get down to business!

Therefore, if you already have VoIP service please share with us

  1. What ISP (Internet Service Provider) you use
  2. What your download and upload speed is
  3. What Voice over IP service/technology you use to save money

For starters lets look at some services that offer VoIP (that is not a scam). The caveat of course is price, voice quality, and customer service. Oh yea- one last thing, how do you handle incoming fax when you need it, without landline?
One work-around is E-fax which is as low as $10 a month.

  1. ooma - Just pay for their equipment and they provide service with NO monthly charge. Besides the fee that you pay for your internet bandwidth, these guys don’t change any phone calls made within USA (as mentioned no monthly fee). They make money through selling their equipment and their premium service cost $99 per year. I personally don’t need premium service - that’s why I want to convert my landline into VoIP phone.

  2. Magicjack - You put a USB converter on your PC and insert your phone into the adapter. The magicjack adapter cost $20 and comes with a phone number. When you fully want to subscribe I think it cost $40 per year. Of course, USA is free (again, you bring your own internet service in order for this to work.) My co-worker says the quality is on par with land line. If you are single, and need a separate phone number besides your cell-phone and also have your computer on most of the time, this one is for you! (Although I think ooma is the smarter investment in the long run.)

  3. Vonage - YES! you heard of it and the most expensive option in this category.
    Free USA calling (meaning there’s no long distance changes), with montly fee of $25.00 - promotion I think. More expensive than the two options mentioned above.

SRKers’ let me hear your VoIP stories and how you save your phone bill! :rofl:

Of course, you got some home PBX setup using ASTERICK or FreeSWITCH, let me hear those stories too and hows it workin’ out for you guys!

thanks for the heads up! That’s -1 for vonage so far. LoL
Now, for fee of $40+, did you think the features were worth having?
Also, I’m so shocked that they won’t send you a bill? Could it be that they were sending you e-bills through your email?

Thanks in advance.

I had vonage with a local ISP, and it was alright. Not the best, but not great. Like 4 Meg down, 768 up, and I could set the call quality to match that of a normal telco (which requries less bandwidth), and without my internet doing anything but transmitting this call, the other party had problems with it breaking up on them.

Moreover, when I called to disconnect the service in Feb. (as I had disconnected my internet to move, and was just going to get a cell phone and not deal with home phones anymore), they gave me one of those 30-minute AOL-esque customer retention calls where I was screaming over them “DISCONNECT MY SERVICE!” repeatedly, and they wouldn’t listen.

Needless to say, I will never get Vonage again.

Also, their customer service is the crappiness of India.

The ONE thing I liked was their international calling plans. When I was calling S. Korea and Japan on the regular, $10/month for unlimited calling to landlines in Asia. For someone that wound up on the phone for 2 hours to one of those countries at least every other day, that saved money.

They e-mail you bills and post them up on their website. I never got paper-bills either.

That was the other gripe I had, that as far as I knew, there was no possible way to get rid of the auto pay.

I also like the Ooma possibility, and if it wasn’t $250 JUST TO BUY THE EQUIPMENT, I would totally get that, and make full use of my Google voice account. Maybe I should get MagicBox instead? I just don’t like it plugging into my computer; despite it staying on the vast majority of the time, I move it from place to place in my house, and don’t want to have to lug around a cordless phone receiver with me.

feature were good (voicemail/call waiting/caller ID/etc) since it is free and dont know why they did charge me $40 (well more like forgotten been over a year now)…

my mom did call international (Philippines but she was using a pre paid card and it was only for 5min and at there site the rate is only $0.13)…

no e-bill but there was an e-mail with the bill and which you can see at there website…

connection at that time I had yahoo dsl pro package and knew the the calls would be bad (which I was right) there were alot of times when im speaking to someone (local or international) there would be 5-10sec when you would be able to hear anything…

also note there have been issues with vonage when you cancel your terms they actually either do not do it and will keep charging you…

that’s the defintion of an e-bill.

partially co-signed, they disconnected mine, but begrudgingly.

Folks, there you have it. Do not get vonage… 30-minutes or more of yelling “DISCONNECT MY SERVICE” is not service worth having no matter how you put it. Thanks for the heads up.

MagicJack is definitely a safe experiment if you will. Little investment upfront and if you don’t like it, you just lose $20 for the jack.

I hear what you say with ooma cause if you don’t lke the quality… BAM over $200 as a door stop. However with ooma, there’s no monthly charges. As for the quality - well I made this thread so the experienced players can give feedback. If UnKwOwn415 was paying 40+ dollars for vonage, in 5 months, that’s already 200+ dollars - close to the ooma equipment fee. Within a year, you defintely get your return on investments. 2nd, 3rd year and so on, would be even sweeter… you get the idea.

Wooo~ that’s -2 for vonage… so far two ex-customer complaints… Lets keep this thread going.

That’s -2 for vonage and +1 for MagicJack since UnKnOwN415 says that MagicJack has been better.

aww I see not sure if it was the same since I dont usually pay my bills thru the internet since I usually dont buy anything with my CC unless its more then $1000…

edit: not sure what issues has been when canceling your terms with them so its not really like they say lets not cancel it, my guess would be there is some sort of problem with cancellation process which does not get thru to the system…

I don’t know if this would count but I’m fairly sure. A few months ago I swapped my phone company with this Tmobile @ home thing. I have RoadRunner as an ISP with 10mb dl/horrible upload that i’m embarrassed to say :sweat:

I pay next to nothing for it, the quality isn’t 100% perfect or anything but it gets the job done for me. I’m not a heavy home phone talker so with what it is. It works very well. I’ve had some hiccups every so often but it’s nothing major or worth noting really :lol:

Sounds perfect for a replacement home landline, if your primary phone is your cellphone.

Found this link -

Fine Print says:

*You must have at least one qualifying T-Mobile wireless service plan to be eligible for T-Mobile @Home service. Prices are exclusive to and valid only with new service activation. T-Mobile @Home General Terms: 2 year agreement required. Per line activation fee, $200/line early cancellation fee and other upfront and monthly charges may apply. Nationwide voice-only plan; all data, messaging, international use, and other services billed according to your regular rate plan and other pricing.

I don’t think its a bad deal if you already have T-mobile service and if you have the intent with staying with T-mobile for 2 years. With a good deal like this, you lose the flexibility of changing your providers for 2 years. cool. :rofl:

Usually with VoIP, you don’t pay or shouldn’t have to pay taxes like you do with regular land lines - how does T-mobile handle taxes for this program? thanks

This is the webpage here:

Essentially all you need to do is pay for a t-mobile branded linksis router that has a phone jack in the back. I forgot how much I payed but par for the course in terms of price for wireless routers these days I’m sure. Just hook your modem line to it and it’ll doubt as your router as well hub for phone lines.

After I purchased I forgot to mention and feel bad about forgetting that I’m almost fairly sure to do this you need to already be in a wireless contract with t-mobile. T-Mobile isn’t the best of mobile services I’ve used in my days but gets the job done and with my phone and this T-mobile @ home thing I make free calls from home :wgrin:

But I do feel bad for not mentioning that before, may have got you all excited for something you can potentially not use :sweat:

edit- I’d have to dig up one of my bills to say if there are any lol, it’s so cheap I never bothered to check :P. If you’re avid about swapping services every so often in the course of a year then it’s not the best of options but if you’re like me and honestly don’t give a shit it’s a sweat package.

So today I decided to give ooma a try… I did some research and OOMA is **not completely free. **

From OOMA website -

*16. Is there a maximum amount of minutes per month?

Like all other “unlimited services” such as cell phone data plans and other VoIP services, we do have a limit of 3000 minutes per month (for outbound calling) that we can enforce on a case by case basis in the event that a subscriber is clearly abusing the service (i.e. call centers, commercial purposes, etc.). We have never terminated a customer that has used the service for residential purposes. *

So, yes its limited to 3000minutes of outbound calls, else you pay 0.019 cents per minute after the 3000 minutes.

I use my cellphone as my primary phone and the home phone… well with the home phone it doesn’t even come close to 300 minutes per month. Therefore since ooma is a good candidate for home phone for me, I decided to head out to Frys. It cost me $200 + tax and they gave me cordless panasonic DECT 6.0 free with this purchase. :rofl:

I unpacked the ooma package and the setup was pretty straight forward. Connect the ooma hub into your router, and connect the Phone into the hub. Oh before hooking onto the router, I had to register the MAC address of my ooma hub online and receive a phone in the same process. After that, everything was gravey. The online portal called ooma lounge provided other configuration and stats you can view. You can opt to hear your voice messages on your ooma appliance or from ooma lounge.

I’ve called several friends around the country and the call quality was good. Not perfect but better than cell phone quality. Right now, I’m perfectly happy with the purchase and there’s no contract, only the price I’ve paid for the equipment for $200 + tax.

Then as the final icing on the cake - I’ve registered my phone number on the national Do Not Call List -

I’ll update you guys time to time if there are any caveats worth mentioning. :tup:

Eh, that basically just says, “If you are using this service in a call center to try to cut your costs by using our ‘unlimited long distance’ service, we are going to charge you past the first 3000 minutes.” Basically only enforced in those obvious cases.

And what kind of home phone user is going to log 50 hours on the phone? Ok, maybe a few, but unlikely.

You said it, as in my case, 50 hours is basically unlimited for me since I barely use my home phone. Whew… no more regular landline bills for me finally. As for my equipment, I use Verizon Fios and Cisco 871w router (verizon router is in bridge mode). Since I do not have network congestion, QoS need not apply.

I did see a 1-star complaint from amazon where this guy said 3000 minutes is too small for his whole family. Obviously he uses his home phone as the primary phone. :rofl:

i dont use any of the voip stuff. i mainly stick to using skype. its not the greatest service but its free. living in italy due to military reasons skype has been a blessing with keeping in touch with family back in the US. you dont really need a webcam its just an added feature and the voice clarity is almost perfect. Just about everyone in the world has a computer and skype is retardedly easy to setup and use. even my 79 year old grandparents use skype to keep in contact with everyone in my family.

:rofl: Dr. Dew you’re genius comedian in disguise. Have you been studying how Ali-G makes his joke? He made this joke -

“My friend doesn’t have any technology. I swear, he doesn’t use any - I saw it on his website.” :rofl:

UnKnOwN415 said he doesn’t get e-bills and says he gets bills through this email. I think you guys are doing this on purpose to give me an extra hard time.

Anyhoo, my friend is also in the military and he also uses skype. He does however uses a DID (dial in direct service) which gives him a phone number so people can call him through normal phone dialing means. He told me it costs around $40 and probably $50 if you use it frequently and of course free skype to skype calls.

Skype has probably the clearest voice quality even if you call from the opposite sides of the world. It’s great for overseas use, especially talking to your loved ones.

I decided to go with ooma because:

  1. Skype uses a PC and I don’t have a PC that’s on all the time.
  2. My family members need transparency - I can’t change the way they work. With ooma, they do not notice the difference since we’re still using the same phones around the house.
  3. As a network administrator, I do not like the fact that I’m volunteering to be a skype relay if I’m using skype service - sort of like Napster P2P where everyone is a server/client in terms of transfering files.

To get over problem number 1, I thought about using a belkin dedicated skype phone to use without a PC however if I wanted two - it would cost $160 + TAX.
That is the desktop corded phone… Now if I wanted Belkin wireless skype phone… well wireless drops packets and with WPA2 with AES encryption, its not going to help in the speed/reliability department. And two of those will cost $260 + Tax.

With ooma, I have the flexibility of using my existing cordless and also don’t need a dedicated PC. Another flexibility with ooma is that I can do a “home-run” by connecting the ooma hub as the gateway for all of my phones in the house - this would enable all of my land line phones to use ooma as the voice gateway without purchasing any more of the ooma scout appliance.

Yes, so in the end, the hard choice was to go with ooma for its flexibility and no monthly bills (as long as you don’t go over 50 hours). :wgrin:

OMG wow. yeah you caught me there sometimes my fingers type faster than my mind thinks.

honestly i never think of skype as a VOIP. You can cordless and usb corded phones to use with skype as a voip service. I was mainly talking about the…

ah hell you know what im just gonna say i have no idea what im talking about :slight_smile:

Haha, basically, even if you use skype for PC to PC calls, the fact remains that if you break down the anagram VOIP, it means Voice Over Internet Protocol. That means your voice is traveling over the internet to another party who is also using their voice to engage in a conversation. So even though you aren’t using it as an actual replacement to a phone service (like most VOIP services you think of–Vonage, Ooma, et. al), you are still engaging in a voice conversation over the internet, which is the very definition of VOIP.

You could stand to reason that voice chats through MSN, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, Ventrilo, Teamspeak, and Google Talk are also VOIP, however they are not fully dedicated options for that.

But the general, laymen, description is that a VOIP is a replacement from POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), in that it essentially can replace your phone service, but still allow people with POTS to contact you using said service. Skype can do that, but even in its PC-PC funtion, it still classifies as VOIP.

Ah man, you should’ve just played along and say you are the new generation of comedy and got fresher jokes than what Ali-G can come up with. :rofl:

Whew~ my phone bill is definitely going down. Skype is definitely a fine competitor to ooma and magicjack. $40~$50 per year (for dial in direct phone number service) with extremely clear voice quality - the best I’ve heard in my life.

Also if you own T-Mobile, I think that is the least expensive in the round up - $10 on top of your existing cell phone. I used to have T-mobile, until I moved. T-Mobile would not work in my house.

T-Mobile costs $10 a month which would add up to $120 a year. MagicJack and Skype has a lower yearly rate but depending on your config, you will have to choose wisely - i.e. if you wanted skype for $40 per year and if you decide you want skype dedicated wireless phone for $130 - thats $170. Magicjack has low cost but do not have the option of dedicated phone like skype - you will need a PC.

Missing Person, have you tried Asterick or Freeswitch to play around with? The only thing that kept me from using it is because the DID service cost about $20~ a month. Almost the same price as vonage on promotion except you have even more features than you know what to do with - and you of course are in total control of the PBX system. I think in Asterick, you can also have a connector to connect to SKYPE service directly into their system. Pretty damn flexible. Imagine playing with these systems and also studying along CCME for cisco voice. Definitely would make you knowledgeable. :wgrin:

I do the Tmobile @home for my mom’s house and she has no complaints. I’d do it for my house but my alarm system requires a landline at the moment so i’m stuck. I pay like 25 bucks for the most basic service…(no caller id, call waiting, or long distance…).

I’m not sure if tmobile is still doing it but a few months back when I switched my mom’s phone line over tmobile was doing a 135 credit if you were porting your number from a different provider (cell or landline). You do pay for the router and activation fee but in the end it’s still like 60 bucks in your pocket.