Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To Keep or Cut the Land-line

I've toyed with the idea of getting rid of our landline and just using our cellphones, or VoIP (Voice Over IP). Currently my wife and I are trying to pay as little as possible by remaining on our parents' cell phone family plan. The only bad thing to this is that we both have different carriers, so it negatively affects both of our bills to talk to each other, but it's been working out OK for the last year and a half. Since neither of our cell phones have local area codes, we decided to get a landline so that people can get a hold of us without dialing long distance and without negatively impacting our families' cell phone bills. We then realized that you just can't have local service because the person down the street from you has a different area code, and local service isn't good enough, so we had to tack on long distance, a whopping $40/mo. increase. It is definitely a rip off.

What are the options I've considered?

  1. Get rid of the landline and just use cell phones, Skype, and Grand Central. Grand Central will allow you to create a phone number with whatever area code you like. You can then make that phone number ring to your cellphone, your wife's cell phone, your landline, or all of them together, it's pretty cool (which is true for most things owned by google). The con to this is that if you call 911, they can automatically know where you are if you call from a landline, but not with a cellphone. Cell phone batteries can die if you have long power outages, or can easily be misplaced, calls dropped frequently. The pro is that you can affor to buy that fiber optic package AT&T is offering with digital TV, all for the same price as your previous phone and internet package!
  2. Just strip down our phone to the most basic service around, and still use Grand Central with your cell phones. Depending on how low you can get your phone service cost, this may be a good option.
  3. Voip is only $25/mo for unlimited long distance. Lower quality, lower dependability.

Any other options you all have seen?


Lindsay said...

We just ditched the landline all together and only use our cell phones. Blake and I are on the cheapest family plan we could get together, so calls between us are free. It was just getting too expensive to have both a cell phone and a land line -- especially here, where even your next door neighbor could have a different area code that you. Actually, the land line alone was too expensive. We just had to find another way. Just having the cell phones have worked out well for us because most of the people who call us either have free long distance or only cell phones, so it's really not costing anyone any more money.

Brandon Malan said...

Landlines are useless. Cell phones all the way. Esp. when i moved to Lehi and it was long distance to call anyone on the other side of the mountain 2 minutes away! TMobile is pretty cheap, just as cheap as having a landline for sure. thats what i would suggest to do. and you dont have to worry about long distance

Anonymous said...

we had a landline in our house for a while--but we did it the only way we even saw feasible.. we did it through our cable company. i think it was an extra $20 a month for a cable phone landline--and it includes unlimited long distance. worked for us, until we all decided to get cell phones (there was one of my roommates still stuck in 1999) and we also live in a really old house (build circa 1940) so the wiring became an issue. -andra

Stephen Z said...

I have skype and it works well for me. With skype though you can buy the "skypeout" and/or "skypein" and it doesn't cost that much. However, you do need high speed internet, and if you want to use it away from the computer you still have to buy the equipment for that (it all adds up). I have to have a high speed internet connection, if I want to spend any time at home, due to the requirement for some of my classes to download and upload large files. So skype wasn't that big of a cost change. Actually it has saved us a lot of money because we dropped the contract cell phones for a prepaid, which rarely gets used. By the way, skype generally shows up as "unknown," "private," or some long unrecognizable number when you call out. That's not something I'm fond of.
What I'm saying in a nut shell; our circumstances made skype a good choice, but weigh the pros and cons for your circumstances. There are other VoiP providers like yahoo voice and gizmo that you could also consider if you've considered skype.

robbienmeri said...

Land lines are dying in favor of cell phones and VoIP. Anyone under about 25 will prefer cell phones, despite the fact that they tend to be the MOST expensive option; they also tend to be most convient.

There are a ton of VoIP options, too numerous to list. You can kind of group them into categories though. There are services that are basically beefed-up IM clients (Skype, Yahoo, etc.); those targeting land-line replacements (e.g. Vonage); and those provided by cable and satelite providers (e.g. Comcast). Each of these categories have pros-and-cons and are listed from cheapest to most expensive. One disadvantage of the IM clients is that you either have to buy a special phone or have your phone hooked up to your computer all day. They also tend to be less reliable and lower quality. The land-line replacements tend to cost approx. the same as a land-line but offer many more services (unlimited long distance, web access to voicemail and settings, etc.). They also usually work with normal phones. I don't have a whole lot of good things to say about ISP-provided phone services which tend to be more expensive and less reliable, though they are feature-filled.

One thing to consider about VoIP is whether or not you want your phone to rely on your internet connection. Internet connections tend to be much more unreliable than a traditional phone. Also, using the phone can take up significant bandwidth, usually 64k up and down stream. In at least two households, whenever they use the phone, their internet is shut off.

Most people that get Vonage love it. However, it is the most expensive service in its class and there are many others that offer similar features, reliability, etc. for cheaper.

If you do choose VoIP, I would choose one that is QoS compatible; also consider upgrading your router/switch to one that can handle QoS. That will result in better call quality and reliability (at the expensive of data traffic). Finally, not all VoIP products allow emergency calls to be made on them.

I might point out that the option I am considering is MagicJack. It is only $20.00 a year for unlimited incoming and outgoing; the converter jack is only $20.00. You will have to have your computer all the time and it is only windows compatible. In a few months you should be able to transfer your existing phone numbers.

Officer Leeroy said...

we're currently with Vonage and not having any complaints ($15/mo.) When magicJack allows you to transfer your existing phone numbers, I'm all over that :)