Author Topic: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution  (Read 8412 times)

cbr shadow

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Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« on: March 18, 2013, 08:06:36 PM »
My wife's employer pays for all but $20 of our cellphone bill, which is great.  She's in sales and this month in particular has her on the phone a lot.  We have Sprint and a 1500 minute plan and unlimited data.  This month I used 13 minutes so far (mobile to mobile doesn't count towards this) and she has used almost 1400.  We got a notice from Sprint saying they're going to charge us $0.40 per minute over the 1500.

Most of the time my wife is working from home and using her cellphone right here in the house, which seems silly.  Time to ask the Mustachians the best solution.  I've heard chatter here about Google Voice, Vonnage, Magic Jack, etc..
What's the simplest and most mustachian solution?

Some Ideas here looked interesting but I didn't want to commit to something until I ran it through the gauntlet here.
http://gizmodo.com/5654683/how-to-replace-your-landline-with-google-voice

Thanks,
Ryan

Daley

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2013, 08:56:32 PM »
I wouldn't recommend or rely on Google Voice for a multitude of reasons that I've gone over repeatedly elsewhere on these forums that I'd rather not repeat again, but I will nutshell the major points most relevant to you:

-Zero customer support
-Unreliable
-Laggy when dealing with other VoIP callers

You are ultimately going to get what you pay for, and free solutions (especially when dealing with high volume business calling) just aren't going to hack it... and completely cheaping out isn't going to work either because you'll need something dependable and of decent quality given the nature of what this'll be used for.

I've got a good list of VoIP providers in the superguide, but I'll just lay out the best option for the money: VOIPo. Well reviewed, good support, up to 5000 minutes a month, all the useful features that Google Voice supplies (excluding the notoriously terrible transcribed voicemail - no big loss), free ATA rental, network failure fallover, and SMS support amongst a bevy of other features, all for $7.71 a month after taxes currently if you buy two years of service up front ($185)... and the ability to renew and extend services in the future at similar price points. 30 day money back guarantee, too. Now given the 5000 minute cap, if there's even the most remote chance of brushing up against it on a regular basis, you're not going to qualify for continued use of this calling plan... so keep that in mind. If that might be an issue, VOIP.ms might be a better solution. Otherwise, stick with VOIPo... it'll be cheap and easy to set up.

Before starting down this road, however, make sure your internet connection's reliable enough to handle VoIP service. Speed isn't near as important as latency is. A couple good tests for you to make sure your connection's robust enough would be Pingtest.net and Visualware's Voice over IP testing (run this last one with the G.711 codec... if it passes that, you're golden).

That should get you!
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

Daley

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2013, 09:10:14 PM »
One last quick addition, sorry for forgetting this... once you've gotten VOIPo set up and you don't need all those mobile minutes or the data plan, you might want to consider switching over to Ting as you could take over your existing Sprint handsets. I imagine the cost reduction through these two changes would likely save you far more than the $20 a month you're paying out of pocket already... could theoretically save your wife's employer some cash, too.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

innkeeper77

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2013, 10:42:42 PM »
EDIT: I have been metaphorically punched in the face by I.P Daley later in this thread (in a good way). DO NOT GET AN OOMA. Do further research. See his post on VOIPo or Nettalk insead.

For reference, here is my original post:

Take a look at Ooma- you pay only taxes (about $4 to $6 per month depending on area) or can get "premium" for an additional $10. Phone can be ported easily, and the quality is great! I have my families behind our router, and it is still fine because I set up QOS. If you have basic internet needs, you can place it between the modem and router for the best possible call quality. (can mess up some more rarely used technical stuff though)

My roomate recommended this, and I know a few people who use it. You just need the base, and can use a standard telephone with it. $140 (refurbished) or $180 buy in for that, but it is a one time cost.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 06:27:27 PM by innkeeper77 »

Left

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2013, 01:19:16 AM »
if coverage is good, why not use t-mobile's 4g plans? It's $30/month for unlimited text/data and 100minutes of calling (I see this for you since you don't use many minutes, if you don't text/data a lot then you could go cheaper). Then use the $50/month plan for wife with has unlimited minutes/text/data. Anyways T-mobile has their wifi calling app that I've used before and have been fairly happy with. I can't say much on the reliability of long calls because I only make calls for 5 minute or less normally. But I haven't had problems during those few minutes before. I only suggest this if her employer gives her a lump sum each month and doesn't care which service she uses.

Else if you are stuck with sprint, yeah like I.P. suggested, would be great. I don't know that I trust magicjack, I hear bad things about them but no experience personally...

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2013, 08:04:37 AM »
Take a look at Ooma- you pay only taxes (about $4 to $6 per month depending on area) or can get "premium" for an additional $10. Phone can be ported easily, and the quality is great! I have my families behind our router, and it is still fine because I set up QOS. If you have basic internet needs, you can place it between the modem and router for the best possible call quality. (can mess up some more rarely used technical stuff though)

My roomate recommended this, and I know a few people who use it. You just need the base, and can use a standard telephone with it. $140 (refurbished) or $180 buy in for that, but it is a one time cost.

Every one of these threads, someone always recommends an Ooma device... and you know what, if the VoIP telecom market were filled with nothing but Vonage and BroadVoice, maybe the math would work out. People who suggest Ooma are na´ve folks who can't do the math and get blinded by the magic word "free". No offense intended, Innkeeper. The services for what you pay is terrible and the quality of their proprietary equipment for what you pay is sad. I've done this before, but I'll do it again because I can't find the other post.

Quote
You just need the base, and can use a standard telephone with it. $140 (refurbished) or $180 buy in for that, but it is a one time cost.
Quote
you pay only taxes (about $4 to $6 per month depending on area) or can get "premium" for an additional $10.

Only paying "taxes" qualifies as a recurring cost, and Ooma's taxes and fees are more than twice what everyone else pays for taxes on their VoIP lines for e911 and regulatory fees.

We'll run the math here for a $140 refurbished and proprietary Ooma base station with this closed provider that requires only their overpriced equipment to operate... with number porting and their "free" service. A two year window is a good start, and we'll take the cheapest monthly fee quoted.

$140 for the ATA
$96 for taxes ($4/month for 24 months)
$40 for number porting
$276 TOTAL for two years of "free" telephone service, or aggregated out, $11.50 a month for 24 months. And surprise! If you want the ability to have a failsafe rollover for network outages with your service on Ooma so you don't miss calls, have your voicemail recordings forwarded to your email address, three-way calling, or want Caller ID NAME provided for incoming calls (all things that pretty much every other VoIP provider includes as basic service without an added premium)? That's an extra $10 a month. Also, if you read their Terms and Conditions, you exceed 5000 minutes, they review your account.... and that "free" service is only supposed to be for residential use only, and any business use requires a different plan that coincidentally starts at $20 a month, and you still have to use their $140+ proprietary ATA that has a general history of not lasting more than 2-4 years due to capacitor issues. (For context, I'd like to point out the average consumer ATA price averages about $50... they might not have all the bells and whistles Ooma has, but that's just what Ooma's additional features are... unnecessary bells and whistles needed to overcome the deliberately limited features provided in their "free" service.)

Now, let's crunch VOIPo's numbers, keeping in mind that they provide free number porting, a free ATA, they unofficially support BYOD through the community forums, and all of the features that you have to pay Ooma extra for included in their base price.
$185 for two years service ($6.21/month + $1.50 taxes and fees)
$185 TOTAL for two years of telephone service. VOIPo offers that price for residential or business, and their Terms of Service just has you billed for overages from 5000 minutes so long as it doesn't happen regularly. This is $91 less than Ooma in a two year period.

Now, let's assume if you were to stay with either beyond the two year period, and completely ignoring that VOIPo runs discount bundle packages in annual or two year allotments for existing customers and you opt instead to pay their $15/month monthly fee, or $16.50 a month after tax and Ooma stays $4 a month if you could live with their limited features... it'd still take another seven months (91/12.5) on top of that two years to even break even... and that's assuming you haven't bought the Telo at full price or any other equipment from Ooma or needed to replace anything in addition to dealing with no failsafe or forwarding options with incoming calls and hoping you didn't get audited and nailed for using their service for business use on top of not even trying to get another bundle price from VOIPo. These numbers weigh very quickly in VOIPo's favor over Ooma if you need call forwarding or failsafe or or or or... with Ooma never being able to come in cheaper.

Now, if you don't care about voice quality quite as much, there's NetTalk. They too provide all the features you have to pay Ooma extra for. Their cap is 3,000 minutes a month for home or home office usage, they allow FAX service if necessary, their device is under $50 and includes a free year of service, and each additional year is only $30+tax, and the call quality and support is generally far better than MagicJack. I still wouldn't recommend NetTalk for this particular application due to the service's shortcomings... but I'd still recommend them over Ooma any day of the week except the Shabbat, because I try not to discuss business then. If asked and I did respond however, it'd still be Nettalk over Ooma.

As you can see, Ooma simply doesn't hold up when you do the math. This doesn't mean that Ooma customers aren't happy with their service for what they're paying... it just means they're not getting the great deal they think they are and it's simply not worth spending money on if you spend any real time researching and know the alternatives available. When you look at the real numbers and the way it's set up, Ooma is clearly a racket designed to bleed you for more than you need to pay.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

adam

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2013, 11:47:37 AM »
Does your wife make a lot of long distance phone calls for work?

innkeeper77

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2013, 06:24:27 PM »

Every one of these threads, someone always recommends an Ooma device... and you know what, if the VoIP telecom market were filled with nothing but Vonage and BroadVoice, maybe the math would work out. People who suggest Ooma are na´ve folks who can't do the math and get blinded by the magic word "free". No offense intended, Innkeeper. The services for what you pay is terrible and the quality of their proprietary equipment for what you pay is sad. I've done this before, but I'll do it again because I can't find the other post.


Interesting! Thank you for the info- I will use this info in the future when I purchase my own setup. Ooma was simply the only device I had exposure to, and therefore have my (suspicious) parents test prior to switching. They will break even next month, so it wasn't the worst possible outcome. (Also, due to a sale and reselling additional unneeded extras that were bundled, the price was significantly less)

I will edit my earlier post to prevent anyone being misled.

Thanks!

(PS: I will say that by one time cost I was referring to the tech cost, not the small recurring portion. Though apparently is has capacitor issues... dang it. Oh well, I can repair it, and it is behind a good UPS)
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 09:03:45 PM by innkeeper77 »

Daley

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 09:07:26 PM »
Interesting! Thank you for the info- I will use this info in the future when I purchase my own setup. Ooma was simply the only device I had exposure to, and therefore have my (suspicious) parents test prior to switching. They will break even next month, so it wasn't the worst possible outcome. (Also, due to a sale and reselling additional unneeded extras that were bundled, the price was significantly less)

I will edit my earlier post to prevent anyone being misled.

Thanks!

Not a problem! I'm especially glad you took it in good spirits, because the Ooma cheer squads in the past usually haven't taken the news that well.

The thing with Ooma is, it appears their primary market is people who have money pit traditional land lines, have heard about this "voip" thing with "the MagicJack" commercials, and have this really low price expectation set through their prices but are disappointed by what they hear and encounter from real users. Enter Ooma.

But, the real measure of how honest a service really is can be found in their pricing. Their equipment is 2-3x the price of the going market, and proprietary to their services. Their taxes and fees are 2-3x the price of the going market. Their fully featured offerings are 1.5-2x the price of the more competitive end of the market. Their advertising relies heavily on both advertising sucker words "free" and "unlimited" which should always be red flags (this is even an axe I grind with my most recommended MVNOs and even VOIPo, and why I recommend actually aiming to pay for what you use), and their other "major" selling points like encryption and call quality are rubbish talking points when you actually know how SIP services, wireless and POTS services work (it's a public phone network, if people want to tap your calls, they'll tap your calls - and you're lucky to ever get 64kbps GSM codec equivalent line quality end to end, and usually skews far lower). Of course, at this point, I'm preaching to the choir... but it's good to touch on for others anyway.

Anyway, I finally fought the search tool and dug up a few other relevant links from the forums in the past regarding the topic and specifically Ooma, Nettalk, and pricing VoIP providers.

Details on how MagicJack and Nettalk operate on such razor thin margins:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-isps-voip-cell/msg13394/#msg13394

My second hand experience with Ladymaier and her Nettalk service when we powwowed last year:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-isps-voip-cell/msg28122/#msg28122

Ladymaier's experiences with Nettalk:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-isps-voip-cell/msg28556/#msg28556

The previously referenced Ooma math breakdown:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-isps-voip-cell/msg47654/#msg47654

This last one's got tighter numbers than this thread's mathapalooza, but as you can tell, pricing can be fluid with all services from even month to month... the principles stand, however, as does the repeatable math.
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tongzhi

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2013, 09:59:38 PM »
Whoa, I think the server transition caused a few posts to get lost today - including my original question...

At the risk of sounding naive, why isn't Skype a potential solution here? $3 a month for unlimited US/CAN calling plus $30 a year for a fixed number

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2013, 10:50:49 PM »
Tongzhi-

It's in the math. $5.50 a month to duplicate phone service with none of the convenience or any of the available hardware allowing for usage of anything but your computer and a headset or their buggy software on your smartphone. An extra couple bucks a month gets you proper service with real support.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 07:49:47 AM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

cbr shadow

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Re: Landline - Simplest most mustachian solution
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2013, 08:52:28 PM »
This is all great info - thanks everyone.
IP Daley, I took your advice and signed up for Voipo after running some of the tests you linked to.