Author Topic: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?  (Read 4907 times)

hoosierEE

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Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« on: December 30, 2013, 12:33:55 PM »
I'm trying to ditch our $40/mo. landline.  Here are the constraints I'm working with:

* must work when the power goes out
* must tell 911 services our address

The power requirement rules out VOIP (I think) and the 911 address thing rules out just using an old cell phone (I think).

Does anyone have any ideas about drastically cutting this bill while meeting these two requirements?
Thanks,
Alex

[edit] Sorry if this is in the wrong section, I was looking at the Communications Superthread and didn't want to derail...

« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 12:37:06 PM by hoosierEE »

MicroRN

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 01:02:12 PM »
We like the reliability of having a land line too, especially with kids in the house.  If you check with your phone company, some offer a really basic package, but you frequently have to call to get those rates.  Several years ago, the company I was with would keep your line open for around $5/mo, so you could use it for 911.  If you used it for calls, they were 0.05/min. 

Spudd

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2013, 01:04:16 PM »
Is your landline at the minimum of features already? Can you take it down a level to remove call display, call answer, etc?

You could get a UPS to cover short power outages for VOIP, but a longer outage would exhaust the UPS (and your ISP may also be impacted by the outage, so no guarantee it would even work).

hoosierEE

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2013, 01:30:37 PM »
Spudd, I think I'm already at the minimum.  No long distance, no caller ID, etc. 
The UPS is a good idea too, thanks.

MicroRN, yep it's all mostly for the kids and peace of mind. I will see if there's a 911-only option available in my area, thanks for the suggestion.

Daley

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2013, 01:43:07 PM »
Hoosier, if you have a beefy dedicated UPS for your broadband modem, router and VoIP ATA, you can easily survive hours/days of power outage as that equipment doesn't draw much (you can even conserve power by shutting it off if need be). Odds are, any sustained outage that impacts your ISP might just as likely impact your phone line, too. Those closets on the copper loop don't have battery back-up systems themselves that last more than about 48-72 hours.

I know 911 support is important, and if it's this great a concern for you, you should definitely look into that with the phone company (some states/municipalities require soft connectivity for 911 access on disconnected lines)... but if you have access to both cell phones and keep your network/VoIP system on a nice 1000+VA UPS, I think you'll be fine. Safety is an illusion, after all. If 911 access is this critical, then you should consider picking up some defense, first aid, and fire fighting skills (and appropriate tools to augment that knowledge) as well as alternative communications methods (Ham license, CB, GMRS, etc.) so you don't need to rely on others for emergency services. Emergency response time of a person on site who knows how to hold their own in a crisis is immediate.

hoosierEE

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 02:26:10 PM »
Thanks for the power consumption point, Daley.
I think the kids are *almost* old enough to give a 911 operator good information in a crisis, but not quite.

The landline is essentially insurance for this scenario:
* grandma is babysitting the kids and has a stroke (no other adults present)
* power goes out
* kids DO call 911 but DON'T remember our address

The chances of this happening are practically zero, so I want to ditch the landline completely.
However, to my lovely (but very risk-averse) wife, "practically zero" means "much more than zero".

Daley

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2013, 04:11:10 PM »
Glad to be of help, and let me heap on a few extra points to your response and your understanding of how 911 services operate.

If you're able to strip down to a 911 only landline connection, there will be no phone number and no account connected to the service. If the call is disconnected, the operator has no means to ring back. If the person calling cannot provide accurate location information over the phone, they will have great difficulty locating and dispatching first responders.

Inversely, in order to make 911 services work on VoIP due to its nature, the E911 extension was required. This extension allows VoIP users to set a home area for appropriate PSAP routing, and automatically provides and sends the caller's name, phone number and address on record to the answering operator when 911 is dialed. It should work well and without problem. E911 is also the method by which cell phone triangulation information is sent to dispatchers, as well.

If there's still concern, pick a reputable VoIP provider that offers proper E911 support (which should be everyone on the Superguide recommended list, IIRC) and during the trial period call your local police dispatch office, express your wife's possible concern over E911 effectiveness, and request to schedule a 911 test with your local PSAP to ensure the correct information is being received on their end. Good UPS + VoIP ATA + demonstration of E911 effectiveness = soothed landline 911 paranoia.

I've had to use 911 on our VoIP line a couple times, and the usage experiences have not shaken my faith in the system. Frankly, there's far greater concerns to the reliability of the 911 first response infrastructure than VoIP vs. Cell vs. Landline. The call center connection is the easy part...

the fixer

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2013, 04:52:02 PM »
If you're considering a UPS, do your research. I had an old UPS that had two features that would be highly annoying if used as you might plan to:
  • In an outage, the UPS beeps loudly and regularly. There is no way to stop the alarm as long the UPS is still turned on
  • If you turned the UPS off, you could not turn it back on if the power is out
Granted, it was a very old unit, but it's possible some models still behave this way.

geekette

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2013, 07:29:59 PM »
If it was an APC, we thought ours wouldn't cold start, but holding down the power button for 30 seconds brings 'em back up. 

I really, really, really wish there were a way to get them to shut the beep up.

ETA: When our power went out in an ice storm, our POTS landline went out as soon as the power did, and came back as soon as the power did.  Our cable (and modem via UPS) were fine.  We switched to VoIP at that point.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 07:31:52 PM by geekette »

randymarsh

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2013, 07:59:53 PM »
Newer UPSs, like the ones we use at my company, have a button that mutes the beeping. They run ~$120 I think and give an estimated run time of 85 minutes for a desktop PC and LCD monitor. I imagine it would last hours if it was just powering a modem and router.

_JT

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2013, 08:28:32 PM »
I shut up the beeping on a giant one I use to train electricians on with some well applied wire snips.

hoosierEE

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2013, 10:10:12 AM »
Thanks for the helpful info everyone.  The home phone is also useful so the kids can call us at work sometimes.

Looks like I'll be porting our ATT landline number over to VOIPo in the near future. :)

Regular Guy

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2016, 11:06:59 AM »
I use Ooma Tel, it was about $80 bucks and has a $4 monthly fee.  It's IP based phone service that includes 911 and location.  I've used it for about 3 years now and I'm very satisfied with it.

Daley

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2016, 11:54:02 AM »
I use Ooma Tel, it was about $80 bucks and has a $4 monthly fee.  It's IP based phone service that includes 911 and location.  I've used it for about 3 years now and I'm very satisfied with it.

If you didn't catch it, this thread is from 2013.

Also, so you're aware? Ooma isn't as great deal as you think for what you're actually getting, and there are much better options for the money. Even with your current aggregate cost of roughly $6.22/month after three years between the proprietary hardware and the taxes, it's still not much cheaper than the aggregate rates offered by companies like Phone Power or VOIPo for their own "unlimited" services. These other companies also use open SIP standards, provide free ATA devices that are compatible with existing house phones, and provide most of the features that Ooma charges a $10/month premium on for free.

hoosierEE

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2019, 07:41:17 AM »
Just catching up after a long hiatus from this site, and I can report satisfaction with VOIPo since then.  I just recently replaced the net/phone adapter box because it had power supply whine causing phone calls to have static noise.  Just a call to tech support to diagnose the problem, they were like "wow your unit is super old, how is it still working at all?" But they sent a replacement in a day or two.

The VOIPo box and UPS are inside a cabinet downstairs so the UPS beep is slightly muted when the power goes out.  Works out to about $7/month on average, but you have to buy a year or two's worth to get that price.

HipGnosis

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2019, 10:21:44 AM »
iPhones with IOS 12 will share your exact location with 911
https://money.cnn.com/2018/06/18/technology/apple-911-location/index.html

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Cheaper solution for landline-like features?
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2019, 02:01:16 PM »
Check your state laws. Some state require service providers to maintain a "soft"/"warm" dial tone to out-of-service/disconnected houses specifically for the purpose for dialing 911.