Author Topic: Cheapest option for home phone?  (Read 5104 times)

CopperTex

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Mandeville, LA
Cheapest option for home phone?
« on: April 27, 2015, 12:47:23 PM »
I am paying the cable company $20/month for a home phone line. The reasons I have the line is mostly for the kids - they are 12 and 16 so we often leave home while they stay behind. The 16 year old has a cell phone but when the 12 year old is home alone I like him to have a way to call us. The other reason is in case of emergency. If something was to happen that one of us needed to call 911 I want a phone that is in a fixed location so that if the cell phone isn't nearby we would always know where a phone was. I know there are better options out there but not sure what they are. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Jeremy E.

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1947
  • Location: Lewiston, ID
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2015, 12:55:28 PM »
Skype has some options that might work and magic jack is $30/year, I've never used either of these, but they may be worth investigating

ambimammular

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 416
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Indiana
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2015, 01:23:49 PM »
We also got a home line for the young children.

Ooma. I'm thinking the box was $60 or $90. (This was two years ago, so my memory on it isn't so great.) What I do know is now it only costs us the taxes per month, usually $3.50. Downside is that it runs though the internet, so if your electricity is down, so is the phone.


jda1984

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 179
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2015, 01:26:19 PM »
We use Ooma.  The voice quality is pretty good (I'd say as good as a regular land line) and you don't need to run a computer for receiving calls (like Magicjack/skype).  It is another piece of hardware that goes between your modem and router (ideal) or connected to your modem/router combo.  There are some taxes/fees associated with having a phone number, but in our area it's less than $5/mo.

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4726
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2015, 01:26:58 PM »
The cheapest option is Google Voice + an ATA (I recommend ObiTalk; they've specially designed the software to make setting it up with Google Voice easy). Once you buy the device, it's $0/month (yes, free) unless you make international calls.

IPDaley will shortly chime in saying not to get it because it doesn't have 911 and the quality/reliability isn't high enough, but it works fine for me.

If 911 is important to you, I still recommend an ObiTalk, but you use it with a third-party VoIP provider (instead of Google Voice) for 911 support.

What I actually do is a combination of both. My ObiTalk supports two phone lines, and my wife and I each have a Google Voice acount. For mine, I set the ObiTalk's primary line to connect to a third-party VoIP provider (I chose PhonePower; $34.99/year), then set my Google Voice account to forward to that third-party account. For my wife's, I set the ObiTalk's secondary line to connect directly to her Google Voice account. That way, dialing out happens (by default) through the third-party VoIP provider, so we get 911 support, and we still get the visual voicemail, fancy features, and Android Hangouts integration that Google Voice offers.

I'm considering dropping the PhonePower part before it renews next month, and just using cellphones for 911.

FYI, I've heard nothing but bad things about MagicJack.

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4079
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2015, 04:41:29 PM »
Heya Jack! Thanks for the intro. ;)

He said it, I'm not fond of Google Voice. You kind of get what you pay for with it, but he's right in that I'm going to suggest an ATA and a VoIP provider. My solutions are not the "cheapest", but they're certainly frugal, high quality options. Start with the guide if you haven't already (unabridged here).

The guide is in the process of a major update and overhaul, especially on the VoIP end, but all the listed providers I'd still recommend. That said, look into Vestalink as well. Bottom line, you can get some amazing phone service for under $8/month for basically unlimited talk time (around 3-5000 minutes most providers), and only spend less than $40 for the device (if anything needs to be purchased at all).

Regarding Ooma... *sigh* Cut'n'paste time again:
Ooma’s actually a bit of a racket as their “unlimited” free phone service still costs about $3-5 a month for the phone number, e911 support and regulatory fees, their “unlimited” comes with fine print as well, and their hardware is proprietary and starts at $200. Unfortunately, the Ooma hardware also has a bit of a track record of dying due to shoddy electronics components just outside the warranty period (around the 18 month mark, likely cheap capacitors – as is the bane of all electronics these days) and the issues with customer support themselves. You also have the same limitations on flexibility with the service as you do with MagicJack, and all of the useful VoIP features that get given away with other providers (Canada included in call area, Caller ID name, call forwarding during outages, anonymous call block, voicemail to email, call routing rules, etc.) winds up costing more per month to add to the Ooma account than competitors charge in total for an equal number of “unlimited” minutes with all the same features and without the overpriced proprietary hardware buy-in.

If you’re still interested in MagicJack and Ooma despite the caveats already cited, read these posts on the math. It’s not pretty. If you insist on going with an ultra-cheap, proprietary service, go with netTALK instead. It’s forum user approved within limitations.

Even with the cheaper hardware, it's still not worth it. There's better out there for the same money or less, especially if you factor hardware costs.

GetSmart

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2015, 05:19:51 PM »
Per IPD's Superguide I went with Voipo - paid for 2 years up front. I don't think I paid anything for the device.  It works fine - caller ID, unlimited calls (even faxing! to domestic numbers) and all that jazz.  I think it works out to less than $8/month for 2 lines.

southern granny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 534
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2015, 06:58:16 PM »
We went with Ting.  I bought a cheap phone and had our landline number ported over to that phone.  It stays at the house and only costs an extra $6 a month.  Mostly I use it to call my cell phone when I can't find it.

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4726
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2015, 12:24:32 PM »
Regarding Ooma... *sigh* Cut'n'paste time again:

<snip>

Even with the cheaper hardware, it's still not worth it. There's better out there for the same money or less, especially if you factor hardware costs.

Exactly. My ObiTalk (~$40) + PhonePower VoIP service ($2.91/month) is cheaper both initially and on an on-going basis than the Ooma (with it's allegedly-"free" service), and has the distinct advantage of not being proprietary.

AH013

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2015, 01:13:22 PM »
Have you considered a deactived smart phone (to remain plugged into a fixed location at all times)?

A smart phone with no service can still call 911 using the integrated phone feature, so long as there are towers within range.  That solves the true emergency usage requirement -- real 911 with high voice quality.

A smart phone without service can also be set up for a myriad of VOIP options for free (magicJack, Google Voice, etc.).  As long as there is WiFi in the house, you've got a serviceable option to get in touch with them a number of ways -- call, text, email, etc.  Call quality may not be the best, but it should be fine for non-emergency check ins.  It's less user friendly than a standard 12-button phone, but a 12 year old should be able to easily figure it out.

Total cost upfront, $0 if you have an old smart phone, or else you can easily pick up a no-contract phone for $10-20 and never activate it.  Total ongoing cost, $0/year for life (unless every free VOIP option shuts down).

I have a cell phone with service, but keep an extra old smart phone plugged in and ready to go by the nightstand for exactly this purpose.  Repeat setup as many times as you'd like if you want extra "lines" around the house for easier & quicker access (i.e. one for each bedroom, one in the kitchen, etc.).  Don't expect excellent call quality outside of 911 calls, but it's great for a free redundant way to keep in touch which sounds like what you're looking for.

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3406
  • Location: WDC
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2015, 02:53:05 PM »
I have a 4 story home and don't like carrying around my mobile phone all the time, so I use a panasonic cordless phone with bluetooth.  When I come home, I leave my phone by the door and then every other phone in the house rings in and out using my cell phone.  You can have 2 cell phones connected to it, but that's all.  There is no charge other than the cost of the phone.  I have a base station and 5 handsets. 
I like AH013's idea of the deactivated cell phone.  I'm going to do that tonight as my second line.

NorCal

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 813
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2015, 10:14:46 PM »
I'm a happy Ooma customer.  Call quality is good, and you can't beat ~$3.50/mo, including a number and 911 access.

My only complaint is on the bluetooth adapter.  My cell seems to always "forget" the Ooma.  But you probably don't need that anyways.

CopperTex

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Mandeville, LA
Re: Cheapest option for home phone?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2015, 09:38:14 AM »
Thank you all for your replies! This is all invaluable information and looks like I have a lot of research to do to find the solution that works best for me!