Author Topic: Ditching DSL and the landline.  (Read 11130 times)

Nords

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Ditching DSL and the landline.
« on: August 18, 2013, 01:10:16 AM »
I used to wear a watch.

I used to subscribe to a printed newspaper.

I used to subscribe to a half-dozen printed magazines (today I'm down to just one).

I used to write lots of letters.  By hand.  With a "Cross" pen from a "desk set".

I used to write a dozen checks per month.

I used to own over 3000 hardcopy books.

I used to watch VHS video and listen to music on cassette tapes & CDs.

I used to drive a gas-guzzler.

I used to wear jackets, long-sleeve collared dress shirts, and ties.

I used to have to respond to telephone musters or even recalls.

I used to have a job where people would want to call me at home.

I've found ways to either replace or eliminate those "essentials", and today even Family Handyman magazine is just tool porn an indulgence. 

Now I'm wondering why we pay for a landline telephone service.  It's "only" ~$26/month, and we can certainly afford that fee.  I've dutifully read through all the telcom alternatives (those available in Hawaii, anyway) and found no compelling reason to change.  Some alternatives require a major shift in our habits, others have a significant payback, others are only a little cheaper. 

However over the last few months we've been troubleshooting our analog cable & landline infrastructure, and we've realized that the people we care to communicate with don't use phones for voice calls very much these days.  As they've cut back on their phone calls (or gone to Facebook & e-mail) we've also cut way back on our outgoing phone calls.  I easily go 5-10 days between placing calls, and most of the time it's returning calls.

Last week Hawaiian Telcom verified that they have a bad copper cable between us and their exchange, so their DSL to us is limited to 1.7 Mbps.  They've also affirmed that they're not going to repair the cable, and they have no idea when they're going to get around to stringing fiber to our cul-de-sac.  Their best offer was to drop our DSL bill from $34/month to $20.  Our Oceanic Time Warner Cable service was fixed a couple months ago, and for the first time in nearly a decade I'm anticipating RoadRunner broadband again.  We can add it to our analog cable TV subscription for only $11 more.

Which means our landline would only be used for voice calls.

I used to worry about dialing 911 or having a landline phone in case the power went out.  I think cell phones have pretty much covered those issues, or we've stopped caring about them.

So we're considering replacing our landline with a pay-as-you-go cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter.  I've had it for a couple years but I only use it for travel.  Most months it's $15/month, but only if I use it.  Of course we'll test this for a few weeks before we actually cancel the landline account. 

It's not about the money.  We already have plenty of that.  It's about simplification and hassles and only paying for what we really use. 

Am I missing anything?  I'm aware of Google Voice and I've used Skype, but the point is getting rid of the landline because we just don't use voice circuits that much anymore.

When we kill the landline, is it worth porting that phone number over to a Google Voice account just to stash it, or does that carry a fee too?  I wouldn't port it to our cell phone because (1) I don't know whether I can, and (2) ditching that landline number would eliminate the unsolicited calls.  We'd be able to start fresh by giving the cell number out only to the people who needed it.

Daley

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2013, 09:50:09 AM »
Nords, it sounds like your best and cheapest option might actually be VOIP.ms with either an OBi100 or 110 after you switch over to Roadrunner.

Number porting costs would run $10, half the price of taking it to Google Voice, and you'd have the same finite Caller ID filtering that the Googleplex offers to gut the telemarketers. Minimum monthly cost for zero use would run between $2.49-2.99 for the phone number and e911 service (the opt-in e911 service accounting for $1.50 of that cost). For the usage you do have, it'd be around 1-1.5˘ a minute inbound and outbound to the US (excluding Alaska at ~3.2˘/minute) will run a hair north of 1-1.6˘ a minute all billed in six second increments.

As for the "or" statement on the Obihai ATA devices, it depends on what you'd want to do with 911 service. Hawaii technically requires warm dialtone, so it might be worth talking with Hawaiian Telecom about how long that warm dialtone would be in service for making 911 calls on after terminating your home phone account, and factor that availability into either using it exclusively for 911 service (falls into the stingy category instead of frugal as you'd be dodging the service fees, IMHO) or using it as a failsafe if TWC goes down. If that warm dialtone will persist beyond XX days, it might be worth getting the OBi110 as you could then set up a failsafe dialplan for 911 usage to roll over to the landline. If you plan on not bothering with 911 service on the home line at all or sticking with just the e911 service through VOIP.ms, then the OBi100 should be plenty. (EDIT: It's also worth noting that technically the Obihai ATAs can use Google Voice as well.)

Theoretically, you could go the GV route as well, but the service isn't that great. Even ignoring the whole datamining and privacy angle of using Google cloud services, it's really a case of you getting what you pay for. The only thing that keeps me on GV with the numbers I do have with them is sheer momentum and an unwillingness to give them a credit card number... but service has gotten so bad these days that I may finally buckle on that last point.

There's also the NetTalk route to consider where you'd be looking at a fixed $30/year and a pool of around 3000 available usage minutes a month (IIRC). It'd be a fixed rate where you wouldn't have to care, but that convenience and price point comes at the cost of call quality as they can sound flat to the point that you won't recognize voices as easily (if at all), and you could potentially need a new router. Number porting costs would be $20 with them if you wanted to keep your number, and you'd get the same call blocking options as VOIP.ms and GV.

If you'd like a full breakdown on going the VoIP route (which is a lot easier than it may sound), there's my writeup on how to approach it here. (There's even modest referral links there for the hardware mentioned if you feel extra generous.)

Otherwise, you're already FI. If you're happy with the prepaid cellphone idea and the costs associated with it, I say go that route.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2013, 10:02:40 AM by I.P. Daley »

Daley

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2013, 10:20:11 AM »
When we kill the landline, is it worth porting that phone number over to a Google Voice account just to stash it, or does that carry a fee too?  I wouldn't port it to our cell phone because (1) I don't know whether I can, and (2) ditching that landline number would eliminate the unsolicited calls.  We'd be able to start fresh by giving the cell number out only to the people who needed it.

I knew I missed a couple questions.

If you ported the home number to Google Voice, it'd be a one time fee... unless they started charging for outbound calls to the United States. There's also the consideration that Google likes to axe services that do not turn a profit. There is one limitation, however... you can only port in wireless numbers to Google. This means you'd have to port the landline to a wireless carrier first, and you still might not be successful from that point.

You should be able to port your landline number to any wireless or VoIP carrier without problems, but porting to a cellphone is going to open up a can of worms on the telemarketers as you won't be able to filter out incoming calls like you can with some VoIP services.

So yes, you could start fresh, but why do so if you can either filter out most of the jerkwads or whitelist only the numbers that you want to ring through in the first place and send the rest straight to voicemail?

I should also mention that if you're considering starting fresh, there are free DIDs (phone numbers) with free incoming minutes from some exchanges with some various providers (like CallCentric), but they are typically mainland numbers, and I suspect that you'd probably want to keep a local number for the locals to use.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2013, 10:26:45 AM by I.P. Daley »

markstache

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2013, 10:03:36 PM »
"I used to wear underwear."

Frankly, given your pic, you could probably toss those and just wear a wet suit all the time. Its going to be all the rage next year.

I hope this is funny. I really have nothing but admiration for you, what you have done, and all you do.

Mahalo.

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2013, 11:36:21 PM »
Thanks, I.P., looks like the Mainland telcoms have finally rediscovered Hawaii.  Choices seem much better today than even three years ago.  Although NetTalk balked at porting:  "We’re sorry.  You are currently not able to transfer your existing phone number to a netTALK device."

I think the convenience of ditching the landline in favor of a cell phone (instead of VOIP) is that I don't have to change habits.  I carry the cell phone for travel now and I can continue to do that.  Verizon requires recharging it with $15 every month, which is a minor hassle, but it's a couple years old and I could probably find a better/cheaper pay-as-you-go deal.  If spouse and I end up traveling separately for some reason then she could re-activate her cell phone.  Maybe I'd want a cell phone that would piggyback on our WiFi at home instead of using a cell tower, but I'd have to run the numbers on that.  No need for a smartphone, especially with presbyopian vision.  I don't even care about texts.

I'd keep the old landline number alive somewhere else if that had some value, but I can't discern any.  The biggest benefit of giving it up would be abandoning all the telemarketing calls.  The biggest hassle would be updating our phone number on our credit cards so that they can call us about fraudulent charges, but that's only four calls.

Hawaiian Telcom's next 10Q is going to report that they've lost more landline subscribers, for at least the fifth year in a row, and they'll claim that they're almost ready to start tackling the problem...

"I used to wear underwear."
Frankly, given your pic, you could probably toss those and just wear a wet suit all the time. Its going to be all the rage next year.
I wasn't going to go there, but I wear surf shorts most of the time!

The photo was taken on the south shore's White Plains Beach (Kalaeloa near Kapolei), and behind me is Diamond Head way off to the east.  White Plains is just 30 minutes from the house, and it's my favorite break.  That longboard under my arm is now 10 years old.

I'm fine surfing during the summer when water temps are 78-84 degrees, but I think I'm losing my resistance to cold-- or maybe that's subcutaneous bodyfat.  Last winter I finally gave up and bought a 2mm long-sleeve high-neck neoprene jacket.  Anything less than 74 degrees is uncomfortable, even with the jacket, and on those very few days when it's down in the 60s I can only last an hour before the shivering starts.  In a few more years I may be trying on shorties or even farmer johns.  The price of Paradise...

Daley

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 07:42:25 AM »
I think the convenience of ditching the landline in favor of a cell phone (instead of VOIP) is that I don't have to change habits.  I carry the cell phone for travel now and I can continue to do that.  Verizon requires recharging it with $15 every month, which is a minor hassle, but it's a couple years old and I could probably find a better/cheaper pay-as-you-go deal.  If spouse and I end up traveling separately for some reason then she could re-activate her cell phone.  Maybe I'd want a cell phone that would piggyback on our WiFi at home instead of using a cell tower, but I'd have to run the numbers on that.  No need for a smartphone, especially with presbyopian vision.  I don't even care about texts.

I'd keep the old landline number alive somewhere else if that had some value, but I can't discern any.  The biggest benefit of giving it up would be abandoning all the telemarketing calls.  The biggest hassle would be updating our phone number on our credit cards so that they can call us about fraudulent charges, but that's only four calls.

It's honestly starting to sound like abandoning the line might be the way to go. That said, I thought I'd point out something that you might not have considered if you did want to keep the home number and port it over to a VoIP provider. Technically, you don't need an ATA. It would probably run you around 2.5-3˘/minute to do it (inbound+outbound rates) for any calls you took, but you could just park your home number with VOIP.ms ($1-1.50 a month depending on exchange) and forward any incoming calls to your cellphone or just straight to voicemail. You wouldn't be able to do outbound with this setup, but it'd also save you on the 911 fee end as it would be an inbound only number. Just tossing it out there for your consideration as it wouldn't require any habit changes to use.

As for the cell phone piggybacking on WiFi idea, you'd have to go with at least a Symbian S60 handset (not an option on the CDMA end if you wanted any sort of cellular service combined with if you were to stick with Verizon), but more likely Android to get that to work... so, unavoidable smartphone in this usage scenario, and one without number buttons for proper dialing at that. All that setup is anyway is VoIP through wireless data to tiny multifunction computer posing as cellphone instead of the wired ATA to your existing wired POTS telephones that I suggested, and you could go the same VOIP.ms route as outlined in the first post to do it with to keep costs low... it's just a hardware shift on execution. You might get a greater range off WiFi than a DECT 6.0 handset, but if you have the old 900MHz handsets, those usually have WiFi beat on range. Just a couple additional technical points to consider if you want to crunch the numbers and investigate the VoIP+WiFi idea. :)
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 07:44:00 AM by I.P. Daley »

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 09:59:33 AM »
As for the cell phone piggybacking on WiFi idea, you'd have to go with at least a Symbian S60 handset... Just a couple additional technical points to consider if you want to crunch the numbers and investigate the VoIP+WiFi idea. :)
Thanks, that I was afraid that idea was too simple to be easy...

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2013, 10:50:46 PM »
Oceanic Cable fumbled around for a week but finally got our "cable modem kit" to us, and our broadband has jumped by nearly an order of magnitude.  I know that's shared bandwidth instead of (mostly) dedicated DSL, but even on a Saturday night we're over 16 Mbps. 

Oceanic gave us a Motorola Surfboard SBG6580 modem/router that we'll be asked to "rent" for $6/month, so we're going to buy a 6141 model without the WiFi (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00AJHDZSI/) and keep using our year-old Cisco Linksys E2000 router.  That Surfboard modem/router puts out enough heat to warm a slice of pizza.

I ran SpeedTest.net after I connected the cable modem and watched the numbers ringing up on the scoreboard.  When it finished I thought "Crap, that's even slower than our DSL!"  Then I looked at the significant digits and realized it was 16.3 Mbps, not 1.63.

I think my desktop PC's browsing is now limited by its graphics processor.  I'm good with that.

Hawaiian Telcom came back again on Wednesday with their $20/month DSL "best offer" and I suggested that we discuss it with the Public Utilities Commission.  72 hours ago they told us that they'll get back to us in 48 hours with a better offer.  I'm looking forward to saying "You know what?  Just close our account.  Bye!"

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 09:24:21 PM »
I realized today that I use the landline to send my Dad's monthly fax of his care facility bill to John Hancock.  Oops.  John Hancock insists on using fax to process the long-term care reimbursement claim, and I'll need to send that monthly fax through November 2014 until the claim maxes out.

After a few minutes on Google I found FaxZero.com.  (There aren't many recent articles on the Web about fax services.  One of them shows a fax machine sitting next to a typewriter.)  They don't even require an account... just fill out the cover sheet, upload a PDF, and give them a phone number.  I still have to type in Dad's info (claim number, policy number, other personal data) but I don't even have to have a FaxZero account. 

I came up with about 50 businesses and people who care about our phone number.  Most of them are credit cards, utility bills, & financial institutions.

Our rental modem/router is still working fine (I've just plugged it into our existing WiFi router and I'm not using its router), and our new modem shipped from Amazon.com today.  My spouse's laptop only shows ~9 Mbps over WiFi from our Cisco Linksys E2000 router when my desktop is getting 16.3 Mbps over Ethernet cable from that router, but I don't know what's causing the lower speed.  It could be interference from the rental router radio signal or it could be some other problem.  I'll see what her WiFi speed looks like when we get our new modem.  I can't even tell the difference in screen updates between 1.7 Mbps and 16 Mbps, so I'm not sure that she can tell the difference between 16 Mbps and 9 Mbps.  The biggest lags that I used to see were during logins to USAA's website, and downloading PDFs.  Those are much better. 

Hawaiian Telcom does not appear to care about customer retention.  We talked a week ago about reducing our DSL fee and the rep is still "e-mailing his boss for an update". 

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2013, 10:47:41 AM »
We've had the new cable modem (Motorola Surfboard SB6141) for about a week.  It's only the modem, no WiFi, so it's an inch shorter and an inch shallower and a lot cooler than Oceanic's SBG6580 combined modem/router. 

I called Oceanic Cable, read them the MAC off the new modem, watched them restart things from their end, and we were good to go.  Still 16 Mbps on Ethernet cables and 9+ Mbps on our old router's WiFi.  I don't think my spouse can tell the difference between 9-16 on her WiFi, but I can sure tell the difference after upgrading from 1.6 to 16 on my Ethernet cable whenever I'm downloading a PDF or on MANteresting.com.  I returned Oceanic's rental modem and I'll make sure they update the bill.

Motorola's engineers felt it necessary to include a blue LED on the SB1641 that blinks whenever data is going across the Ethernet connection between the modem and my PC.  I guess that's just in case, you know, data stops flowing and you don't notice it on your browser.  After about a minute of that crap I covered the LED with electrical tape.  Next morning when I came into the room (before sunrise), the rest of the big blue glowing LEDs made it look like I'd left a light on.  I finally put the modem in the desk's (ventilated) cupboard with the PC's tower instead of leaving it out in plain view.  But other than those minor user issues, it seems to be doing a good job in about the same footprint as the old DSL modem.

Hawaiian Telcom has been debating what to charge me since 15 Aug.  To see if I can move that along, I left voicemail for the guy to rebate me the difference between their 7 Mbps and 3 Mbps tiers (backdated to the 6 August troubleshooting) so that I can at least get some money back while we continue to bicker about the price difference between 3 Mbps and 1.7 Mbps.  They rebated about $25 and set the monthly rate at $20, only now they're calling it the "2 Mbps rate" instead of the "3 Mbps rate".

It looks like the rebate's on my account, so next I'm going to cancel the DSL service and the landline.  By my calculation that means Hawaiian Telcom will owe me money. 

I'll be glad to part ways with both services and the company, but financially this is just tinkering on the margins.  Our monthly Hawaiian Telcom bill is $61.51 for bundled landline & DSL, and that whole bill will go away.  I've had my low-end LG cell phone for a couple years now, and I when I actually use it (on travel) I usually spend $15/month pay-as-you-go.  Our Oceanic cable bill will rise by a net of about nine bucks because the RoadRunner service is bundled with standard (analog) cable.  (We're not going to get digital cable or digital phone service.)  We also had a one-time cost of $90 for the cable modem (instead of renting the Oceanic modem).  So overall we're saving a little over $37/month (after a ~2.5-month payback on the cable modem) for services that we no longer wish to use.

Neither company is a marvel of customer service or reliability.  Maybe someday Hawaiian Telcom will string 100 Mbps FIOS through our neighborhood and replace the broken infrastructure.  When that happens we'll start comparing prices all over again and decide whether to keep Oceanic or switch to Hawaiian Telcom's IPTV.  But if we get as few calls on the cell phone as we've been getting on the landline, I doubt we'll ever bring back our landline.

Daley

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2013, 12:05:23 PM »
Fantastic news, sounds like you've about got everything squared now!

...and if it's any comfort, what were once cool novelties (blue LEDs) have become an absolute light-polluting scourge in my book. Absolutely hate them, and they're on everything now.

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2013, 11:21:20 PM »
It's been a bit over two weeks since we canceled the landline and the DSL service.  It's been surprisingly liberating.  Again, I wish I'd done this years ago.

Our only phone is now a three-year-old LG 5600 Accolade dumb clamshell ($24 at Wal-Mart) with pay-as-you-go Verizon service.  We bought it for travel when we realized how tough it's become to find a pay phone.  It's generally $15/month, although for most of the last three years when we were home we just paid that $15 every 90 days to keep the account active.  Now it looks like $15/month is more than enough for our current use.

I disconnected all of our landline phones (and their DSL filters) and put them in our island of misfit toys closet of obsolete electronics.  Our 1990s fax machine is in the Smithsonian e-waste closet for the next pickup.  We took off the kitchen's butt-ugly wall plate and hung a small picture over the hole.  Now the clamshell cell phone sits on the counter with its charger nearby.  The ringer is turned off.  The vibration is on, although we might also turn that off to save a few milliamps of battery power. 

Now that the interruptions are gone, the old habits are fading.  It was immediately obvious that we've spent way too many years glancing at that wall spot every time we went through the kitchen:  "Do we have voicemail?!?"  Now instead of the landline phone silently pleading for our attention (or forgetting to shut off the ringers), the cell phone works for us.  I'm lucky if I remember to check it daily.  Usually the first time I realize we've had a call is when I pick it up to make a call.

Since we shut off the landline we've had zero phone solicitations or robocalls.  I've been slowly working through our list of contact-data updates (credit card companies, credit union, brokerage).  I announced on Facebook that we've canceled our landline and I've handed out the new number to only two friends (plus our daughter).  Nobody has complained that they want our number.  I'm printing up new business cards for FinCon, but they've never had my phone number on them anyway.

Most of our calls come from our daughter's weekly updates, but you should've seen the look on her face when she realized that (for the first time in her entire life) she can now text Mom & Dad at her convenience instead of having to use a second-millennium voice circuit.  I had a voicemail one day from my brother, but after I returned his call he completed the conversation with a text.  I remembered to pack the phone for our Houston trip, mainly because the Rice University campus no longer has any pay phones.  I carried it when we needed it, and it was nice to not have to check our landline answering machine every day or two.   

We've been back home for a few days and we've settled into the new routine.  One or two calls come in each week (as far as I can tell) and we make a few more.  Otherwise I pay less attention to it every day.

I'd sell our landline phones on Craigslist-- but I'm not sure that they're worth anything!

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2014, 02:04:25 PM »
Holy cow, it's been nearly 11 months since we canceled our landline service.  Don't miss it a bit.

This post is for all of you who are tired of the tech talk required to change the way you use your phone.  I'm not going to dazzle anyone with engineering updates on what we're doing now because... we haven't changed anything.  (Besides, we have Daley for dazzling tech updates.)  This post is mainly about how apathy and laziness can rule your telcom decisions.

A brief recap:
- We ditched our Hawaiian Telcom DSL and landline service, which cost roughly $60/month.
- We added RoadRunner to our Oceanic Cable "Standard" analog subscription, which added roughly $9/month to that bill.
- We bought a DOCSIS3 cable modem, the Motorola Surfboard SB6141, for $90. 

Today's running expenses are down at the bottom of this post.

Cable ISP has worked a lot better than Hawaiian Telcom's corroded copper.  Whenever service slows down at our house, it's inevitably been Oceanic Time-Warner Cable or a Mainland problem-- and ever since we fixed a water leak in the street box, it's been just 2-3 times in the last couple years.  The modem has bright blue lights that blink annoyingly, so we've tucked it away in the cupboard that houses our desktop tower.  Otherwise it's performed flawlessly, quietly, and invisibly. 

My spouse and I have both spent our careers in the military, and our duty days go back to the old-school times when you carried the duty VHF radio so that people could reach out and touch you (even in the bathroom).  Later we were "upgraded" to pagers and eventually to cell phones.  During those decades we both learned that when the telcom electronics fired up, you were going to be miserable and working.  When we retired and our landline phone rang, it was usually more of the same (or a robocall).  This negative association with phone ringers means that we really dislike getting phone calls. 

That may be our personal problem, but it means that we prefer to use our phone for outgoing calls.  If someone wants to contact us they usually end up leaving voicemail or sending an e-mail.  We like that.

Over three years ago my spouse was traveling with a volunteer group a couple times a year, and for that week the ladies would have trouble letting her know about last-minute changes to meetings & carpools.  She finally bought a pay-as-you-go LG VX5600 clamshell from Wal-Mart:  $24.  It's preconfigured with Verizon service, and it's extremely basic.  It won't even back up its data to a PC, although Verizon would happily do so to their servers for a small monthly fee.  As one tech said, "This is just a gateway drug to get you to upgrade to a real phone."  When my Dad had emergency surgery in early 2011, I bought the same phone (on my way to the airport).  The phone did a great job for two weeks of helping me get Dad out of the hospital and into an Alzheimer's care facility, but it just reinforced my negative association with ringtones.  When I got back home, I shut the phone off and put it in my desk drawer.

When we canceled our landline service last October, we started using my cell phone again.  We simply abandoned our landline number instead of porting it, which has eliminated a lot of annoying phone calls from the last 15+ years.  We've just updated our profiles with our financial companies and let people know our cell phone number when they asked for it.

The cell phone requires $15 every 90 days or your account is closed.  I add $15/month via autopay.  (Spouse has even let her account lapse, so her phone is just a 911 brick.)   The first call of the day is expensive--  $1.99-- but the rest of the day's calls are free.  I think texts are a dime, but we only get 3-4 of those per year.  Verizon also has cheaper by-the-minute plans, and I should probably look into that.  For now, though, we don't have to think about how we're using the phone.  Some months we'll spend $40 on calls, other months we barely use the $15. 

We leave the phone sitting on the counter.  It almost never leaves the house, because neither one of us cares enough to want to carry it.  It hardly ever rings.  We rarely answer it.  We leave the default ringer shut off 24/7 unless we're expecting a callback.  I try to remember to check the phone for calls every few days, but I really don't care.  (My spouse cares even less-- it's that negative association kicking in.)  We have three "important" numbers set up to ring through whenever the phone is turned on-- our daughter, my brother (Dad's guardian), and our tenant.  They all back up their voicemails with e-mails.  We added a fourth ringtone for a neighbor who will never learn to use e-mail, and who has the extremely annoying habit of walking down to our house and ringing our doorbell if we don't pick up on the cell phone. 

95% of our electronic contact is by asynchronous e-mail and social media.  Maybe 99%.  That rarely, if ever, interrupts us.

Last year, during a Bangkok vacation, we bought a $10 Bluetooth speaker pod with a tiny mic.  When our daughter calls our cell phone number, I spend 15 seconds turning on the pod and synching it so that we can all chat on the line together.  It works great.  Our conversations last for 45-90 minutes, but she's the only one who talks with us for that long.  On her ship (based in Rota, Spain) she either has to call from a government line (which has a lot of limits) or use Skype (which we do with our iPad or PC).  Now that she's finished college her calls have dwindled to monthly, and when she deploys they'll probably be quarterly.  We keep in touch via e-mail and Facebook, and we're all happy.

To summarize our expenses, we spent $24 + $90 + $10 = $124 to go from landline (and DSL) to cell phone (and cable Internet).  Our monthly expenses have dropped by -$60 + $9 +$15 = -$36/month.  We paid back the capital expense within four months, although some months we add $15-$20 in additional cell phone minutes.  Maybe we'll save a little more by going from $1.99/day unlimited calls to paying per minute, but apathy and laziness have caused significant procrastination on that research project.

Best of all, we finally feel as if we're free of the phone.  Maybe someday our negative association will fade away, but not yet. 

Could we do better?  Sure, we could buy a smartphone and go with a cheap cell/WiFi provider.  We could buy a VOIP box for our house line (fed from the Internet) and forward its calls to the cell phone.  Refer back to my comments on apathy and laziness. 

On the few days that I actually carry a cell phone, our clamshell fits my pocket a lot better than a smartphone.  Maybe I'll be motivated to make more changes when a smartphone can truly replace my wallet-- right down to the military ID, driver's license, and library card.










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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2014, 03:04:00 PM »
Glad this worked out so well for you, and I'm also glad I saw this.

We're probably killing our landline and DSL in 2015. Took a very long time to get around to this thinking, but especially in the last two years since I finally got a cell phone, it seemed redundant to have the landline, and both the husband and I actually hate the phone ringing (traumatized by abusive family members) so the idea of never having to listen to that damned ringer again is also a plus.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2014, 04:11:18 PM »
I'm a few years older than Nords, and until recently, I thought I would always have a landline.  I was talked into a smartphone about a year and a half ago, and it's good for checking e-mail and the price of gas on the fly.  Surfing the net?  Not so much, and I'm not inclined to do my banking on unsecured Wi-Fi.  I never got the hang of texting, trying to use a virtual keyboard is extremely frustrating.  I always tell people, if you want to reach me, call me on the landline.

However, about a year ago, the Comcast folks "accidentally" published the unlisted telephone numbers.   Despite an apology and a penance credit on the bill, and being on the "do not call" list, the volume of unsolicited sales calls has skyrocketed.  It has gotten so bad that the house rule now is not to pick up the phone unless you recognize the caller.  To add insult to injury, Comcast continues to charge extra for the "unlisted" number.

The debate in the last few months has centered on changing the landline number.  After over 20 years, there are a lot of folks that have that number and the effort to find and tell everyone the number has changed is not particularly palatable.  The 911 argument for the landline and the less than perfect reception in some spots gave keeping the landline the edge.  However, the 911 argument is weakened by the number of internet outages experienced here that take down the phone line.  And reception has improved with more Verizon antennas in the area.

Since I have to change the number I give out anyway, I'm thinking the time has come to give up the landline.  The bundle "discount" expires soon, and unless Comcast wants to throw in the landline for close to nothing and change the number at their expense, they may lose that business.

I see in another thread that someone that was going to switch providers got Verizon to knock the cost of unlimited text and talk and 1.45 megabytes of data down to $38.  My contract expires soon as well, and I'm going to see if I can get a similar deal.  With taxes added in, that would save over $40 a month.  Ditching the landline would probably save another $25.  Not earthshaking, but nothing to sneeze at.

I don't have the phone ringing phobia that Nords has, but the incessant unsolicited calls are disturbing the peace here.  Getting rid of that and having only one piece of equipment to track is mighty appealing.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2014, 06:35:13 PM »
... so the idea of never having to listen to that damned ringer again is also a plus.
... the phone ringing phobia that Nords has...
Good words, and very alliterative.

I enter phone numbers into our contact list just so that I can screen the call if I happen to hear the ringer.  But the default screen is voicemail.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2014, 09:12:19 AM »
This post is for all of you who are tired of the tech talk required to change the way you use your phone.  I'm not going to dazzle anyone with engineering updates on what we're doing now because... we haven't changed anything.  (Besides, we have Daley for dazzling tech updates.)  This post is mainly about how apathy and laziness can rule your telcom decisions.

I gotta be honest Nords, I'm sick of providing the tech talk as well... I only do it because nobody seems to listen to the YOU DON'T NEED THIS S**T IN THE FIRST PLACE part of the general message anymore, and I'm just trying to steer them to not-so-scummy providers that still let them be gluttons with their habits.

I love your update. It's the exact idea I've honestly been trying to take to others for years. Use less, and your costs will go down. It's simple.

I guess the only point at which our philosophies diverge is over the mobile communication and social media points. As an individual who prefers to put emphasis on meatspace, I strive to avoid both as I view them as more distractions than anything, and worse, a way to be shackled by others. That's why I put a greater emphasis on a home VoIP phone, nobody can reach you if you're not at home. I too have the same phone shock as you do, but mine came from the mobile end, not the home. With the call filtering options on most VoIP providers, I don't even need to bother with special ringtones, I can just keep a whitelist of people that I want to ring through and everyone else automatically gets voicemail. I don't bother with social media because it's 99% idle gossip anyway. If it's important, people know how to reach me in more immediate and intimate manners than Facebook. If I'm not important enough for someone to contact on a regular basis outside of lazy and gossipy communications channels, then perhaps it is not a social contact worth further cultivation or preservation... but I'm apparently cold that way. Friendships and relationships to me require effort to grow and maintain to keep healthy as people change over time. This isn't to say that the effort is difficult, but it is effort. Unfortunately, technology has devalued that effort and replaced the idea of friendship with a steady stream of publicly filtered and sculpted second-hand knowledge about an individual.

In a way, it comes back to the sphere of influence issues at the supposed heart of the low information diet. There's a far greater local impact than global in all our lives. At one point, I felt what I had to say was of benefit to this community given the values originally stated. It's why these forums have been such an ongoing exception for me. Now, the SNR is getting higher, and I'm beginning to have to say so much repeatedly and go into worthless hacks because people refuse to spend a couple extra bucks to get what they actually claim to need that it waters down my own words.

Anyway, always a great deal of respect from me. Thanks for posting this, it needed to be said.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2014, 11:34:33 AM »
Thanks!  A lot of this is personal preference because I don't have to live with an employer's preferences.

I guess the only point at which our philosophies diverge is over the mobile communication and social media points. As an individual who prefers to put emphasis on meatspace, I strive to avoid both as I view them as more distractions than anything, and worse, a way to be shackled by others. That's why I put a greater emphasis on a home VoIP phone, nobody can reach you if you're not at home.
About once a month, I find it more convenient to carry around the cell phone (for whatever stupid reason but still for my convenience) so I appreciate the portability.  When I'm traveling (again just a few times a year), I appreciate having a phone whose idiosyncrasies I'm relatively familiar with.

It's also a lot easier to ignore a cell phone lying on the counter versus a VOIP phone hanging on the wall with its blinkin' lights.

I don't bother with social media because it's 99% idle gossip anyway. If it's important, people know how to reach me in more immediate and intimate manners than Facebook. If I'm not important enough for someone to contact on a regular basis outside of lazy and gossipy communications channels, then perhaps it is not a social contact worth further cultivation or preservation... but I'm apparently cold that way. Friendships and relationships to me require effort to grow and maintain to keep healthy as people change over time. This isn't to say that the effort is difficult, but it is effort. Unfortunately, technology has devalued that effort and replaced the idea of friendship with a steady stream of publicly filtered and sculpted second-hand knowledge about an individual.
I think the value of social media is a function of personality.

This may be a shock to those who know me (or maybe not) but I'm extremely introverted.  After 35 years of practice I'm better at faking it, but it's still exhausting.  My Dad spent nearly 25 years (after being widowed) as a near hermit, and now I completely understand why he chose to do so.  The nice thing about social media is that it can be immediate or it can be asynchronous, and it's my choice.  I enjoy swapping back & forth for a while, but I want to do it at my pace and my convenience-- and sometimes I want to set it down and walk away for a day or two.  The surf lineup is a great analogy-- everyone's having fun together, and we mostly enjoy each other's company, and we all have goofy grins on our faces when the waves are good, but we're too busy surfing to spend more than a minute or two talking story.

There's a second issue very common among military veterans-- my tribe is mighty thin on the ground, and spread way out.  The guys I served with are flung across the globe, some of us are no longer mobile, and we don't get together often enough.  We all used to stand watch together for endless hours of extreme boredom (punctuated by short bursts of intense panic) and many "teambuilding" evolutions, and you could only spend about half of your time on official nuclear propulsion conversations.  We all got to know each other extremely well, and we all had to depend on each other's teamwork to survive.  That builds a bond, but now it's diluted by life & distance.  One shipmate/friend retired 14 years ago yet he says he keeps in touch with us submariners just because he misses having an intelligent conversation with the smartest people he's ever known.  It also makes it difficult for us to find new friends. 

Of course if a neuropsych screened a bunch of submariners (nuclear-trained or non-nuclear) then we'd be off the charts for introversion-- and perhaps even borderline Asperger's.

However social media only goes so far.  I promise not to "live tweet" ever.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2015, 05:42:56 PM »
I can't believe it's been over 18 months without our landline.  Don't miss that a bit.

Hawaiian Telcom has been stringing fiber-to-the-home all over Oahu.  I don't think they've reached our neighborhood yet (nor have they fixed their corroded wiring) so cable is still the best option for us.  Even better, Oceanic Time-Warner Cable is terrified of the HawTel competition so we've all been given a free RoadRunner upgrade from 15 Mbps to 50 Mbps.  I can only tell a tiny speed improvement during some screen refreshes and downloads, but there's no goin' back.

------------------------

New subject:  we're finally ready to upgrade our five-year-old CDMA clamshell cell phone to a smartphone.

Earlier this year we spent three months in Spain visiting our daughter.  (She's stationed on a guided-missile destroyer in Rota.)  During our travels, it became apparent that we should own a smartphone.  In September we're going to FinCon15 (Charlotte NC) and then we're going back to Rota for another 70+ days, so I've been researching phones and plans and I'm getting ready to spend money.

Navigating Andalucia can be challenging, even with a good map.  With a small-scale paper map (and small print) it's darn near impossible.  When we were strolling Granada with our daughter (and her iPhone 6) we pretty much followed in her wake to get to where we wanted to go.  When we strolled Granada a few months later by ourselves (our daughter was at sea), we wandered all over a few of the hillsides before we got our analog-map bearings and spiraled in on our destination.  We can still do it old school but there no longer seems to be a need to exert so much time & effort on collecting print maps and assembling written directions.  It's even more alarming to notice that paper maps are becoming about as rare as pay phones. 

I'm still digging into the tech, so during this post I'm probably going to display gross conceptual errors along with my mangled vocabulary.  Having said that, it looks like we want a used unlocked GSM phone with a pay-as-you-go carrier.  My spouse is most comfortable with iOS so it looks like that'll be an iPhone 5 (5c?  5s?).  The PAYGO carrier name that keeps coming up both on Oahu and in Europe is T-Mobile (http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/pay-as-you-go).  Our daughter is happily roaming liberty ports in the Mediterranean and Black Sea with just the one T-Mobile SIM in her iPhone 6.  Other crewmembers (with different phones) are pawing through their SIM collections.

It looks like I should be able to find an unlocked iPhone from our local Craigslist or a corporate website.  Once I get the (unlocked) phone then I should be able to get a SIM from T-Mobile and activate it on their network, either online or by calling their support phone number.  At some point I'd want to register the iPhone as one of my devices for my iTunes and App Store accounts, but I'm not sure whether that has to be done before the T-Mobile activation.

I'm pretty sure that my five-year-old CDMA LG/Verizon clamshell (no SIM) won't transfer over its contacts.  LG and Verizon don't offer much support for it, and there don't seem to be third-party tools.  Luckily it only has a couple dozen contacts and I can do that by hand.  I don't store any texts or photos on it.   

I think we'd continue with a PAYGO plan on Oahu.  We use Skype with our daughter (and my blogger calls) so we really don't want much service or data.  While we're on Oahu it'd be mostly local calls using WiFi.  The phone would spend most of its time sitting on the kitchen counter.

When we're on travel then we'd probably add T-Mobile's data service for the map app, if it needs data.  I'm agnostic about Google Maps or Apple's map app, although I've heard the latter has had growing pains.  We'd just want a blue ball updating its position on the map as we drove or walked.

Am I confused on any aspects of this, or missing anything?  Am I making any irrevocable decisions?  Anything else I should consider?

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2015, 07:18:16 PM »
An unlocked iPhone 5/5c/5s should get you it sounds like. In addition to unlocked AT&T or T-Mobile branded handsets, Verizon handsets are fully GSM capable and factory unlocked already, and there should now be US GSM unlocked Sprint handsets available used as well, but make absolute sure the Sprint handsets are already unlocked before you buy it. All of them should be US/international GSM capable, but on the iPhone 5, you might be better served with the A1429 (Verizon/Sprint branded) over the A1428 (AT&T/T-Mobile). The 5s aim for model A1533 (all US carriers), and the 5c go with A1532 (all US carriers).

On the carrier end, there is T-Mobile as you mentioned, but you could do one of two other options as well:

1) some variety of any AT&T or T-Mobile based cheap GSM MVNO (P'tel, Puretalk USA, Airvoice, or H2O Wireless) paired with KnowRoaming, or

2) Truphone SIM (free incoming minutes and SMS, 9˘/minute/SMS/MB out in the US and seven other countries, offers both AT&T and T-Mo coverage in the US)

Either option will give you both cheap domestic service (cheaper than T-Mo Prepaid) and international roaming rates just as cheap (or potentially cheaper) without the need to swap SIM cards. KnowRoaming is a SIM overlay sticker combined with a software switch (can be paired with anything), and Truphone is just a GSM MVNO that does international roaming. You could even pair Truphone SIM as your primary line with KnowRoaming and then have the option of either service for international roaming, switching between the two depending on who has the cheapest rates in whatever country you're in. Truphone can be an excellent choice even as a domestic carrier if you don't do much outbound texting and your minutes are mostly incoming or split around 50/50, but I do recognize the fact that there's potentially cheaper domestic prepaid carriers depending on usage patterns and KnowRoaming still can provide that international roaming support all on a "single" SIM card, even if they aren't necessarily the cheapest roaming option in every country.

Edit: Forgot the contacts bit with your clamshell. If it supports Bluetooth, you should be able to pair it with the iPhone and transfer your contacts that way, same with any photos that might be on there or whatnot.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 07:26:00 PM by I.P. Daley »

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2015, 12:11:48 AM »
Thanks-- I remember you mentioning P'tel in another thread, and I think they're available here.  I'll look into KnowRoaming & Truphone too.

The clamshell does have Bluetooth, but it only sets up to connect to devices.  I can connect to the iPhone, and then hopefully the iPhone can take charge of sucking out the contact data.

I noticed that T-Mobile is selling their $15 iPhone SIMs for 99 cents with a special discount code.  They just keep making it easier...

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2015, 01:46:33 AM »
Refreshing myself with the old thread and your calling habits, I'm more and more inclined to recommend Truphone to you as your primary go-to option. Cheaper than T-Mobile prepaid per minute and text (especially on inbound domestically), and you wouldn't have to buy any overkill data passes for the rare occasion you might actually need some mobile data. That can get expensive, especially if you don't plan to use much if any data for the most part.

Going Truphone would also give you a much larger mobile network coverage footprint domestically than T-Mobile Prepaid or even P'tel, doubly so on Oahu. Between the AT&T and T-Mobile domestic network coverage coupled with free incoming calls and texts not just in the US, but a good number of other countries including Spain - which is one of the core Truphone countries charged at the same rates as US service, it just seems like a slam dunk for you. The Truphone SIM might be expensive at $30, but it does come with $15 of service credit, there's no minimum monthly usage fees, and the cost of the SIM would likely be quickly recovered given the free inbound call costs.

As for the 99˘ T-Mo SIM card, they frequently put those things on sale at that price.

My last bit of advice would be on the maps. Consider avoiding Apple and Google entirely as they can require (and prefer) a live mobile data connection, and that can chew up a lot of data and get expensive quickly. Think about going Sygic instead. They now offer free offline GPS maps with no voice instructions or turn-by-turn navigation, but they also currently have their premium global maps package with lifetime updates on sale through July 6th for just under $40 (they normally charge $125). This way you can just download the maps you need for your geographic destinations in advance and confidently leave mobile data off on the phone when you need directions. Now, both Apple and Google maps can go offline with map data under iOS and would I encourage you to try that as well, but I've noticed that online maps with offline map support just isn't entirely the same as using a map app simply designed to be offline in the first place. For example, I could have (and tried to) use Google Maps with offline map support for my mother, but in the end I just decided to spend the money on Sygic and it made things easier. It just seems less fiddly from personal experience, however YMMV.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2015, 01:50:48 AM by I.P. Daley »

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2015, 10:37:15 PM »

We bought a baby-blue iPhone 5c model A1532 (GSM, 16GB, http://www.apple.com/iphone-5c/specs/) for $175.  The seller is a 13-year-old who has his own business of replacing cell phone screens and helping people with their phone settings.  He also has a very bright future.

T-Mobile sent their 99-cent SIM without an activation code, but I called customer service (the night before I picked up the iPhone) to set up a temporary line on our new account.  The next day I picked up the iPhone, put in the new SIM, called T-Mobile (on the iPhone, so that they could read the SIM & IMEI), and asked them to port over the number from our old phone.  The call took about two minutes and the switch took about an hour.

On Oahu, this phone will spend most of its life sitting on our kitchen counter.  We signed up for the $3/month pay-as-you-go plan, which delivers a total of 30 minutes or texts per month.  (After that it's 10 cents each:  http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/pay-as-you-go)  Those numbers only count over a cell network, so I've shut off everything but the WiFi.  Our local cable company has upgraded us to 50 Mbps, and WiFi service seems to work fine.  We'll turn on the cell transceiver on the rare occasions when the phone leaves the house. 

The old phone (an LG VX5600 with Verizon service, circa 2010) has been abandoned by both corporations.  It recognized the iPhone's Bluetooth signal but couldn't do anything with it.  (The iPhone couldn't even find the clamshell's Bluetooth signal.)  Verizon's "Backup Assistant" software was doubly oxymoronic since the phone was no longer supported.  The clamshell doesn't have a SIM so I couldn't read off the card.  It also wouldn't back up to my PC with the USB cable and third-party utilities.  So... I transferred over 87 contacts old-school style.  Luckily I was able to do the typing on my PC & keyboard with iCloud's backup screen instead of having to use my thumbs on the iPhone. 

Can an old phone without service still place 911 calls, or should I just throw it on the e-waste pile?  I'd like to test it but calling 911 seems like a bad idea.

The old phone has one handy feature which I haven't figured out on the iPhone yet.  Both phones will let you assign specific ring tones to entries in the contact list.  However the old phone let me set the default ringtone to "None", which meant the phone would only ring if the call was from one of the four people (whose numbers were assigned to a specific ring tone) who are welcome to interrupt us.  The iPhone does not appear to have a "None" ringtone, which means that it makes a noise every freakin' time anyone calls us.  Of course if I mute the speaker (or shut off the phone) then I won't be able to hear from our four people.  Maybe I'll have to download a custom "None" ringtone. 

My purchase appears to have been timed to coincide with Apple's "upgrade" to iOS 8.4.  I think I'll wait a few weeks on that (and do a backup).

I'm still playing with the maps when we're driving around (offline so far), and we'll figure out the rest of that when we're on travel.  We'll have a week of practice in Charlotte, NC for FinCon15 before we're in Spain.  If Apple and Google maps aren't good offline then we'll try Sygic.

I've also downloaded the Google Translate app, which lets you use the camera to translate images of Spanish words (and several other languages).  It might be interesting to let Siri handle some of the translation duties, too.

Two years ago we were paying $26/month for a rusted-out landline with few features and little flexibility.  We're never goin' back there.  The old clamshell with Verizon service offered more features and mobility, but it was costing us $15-$30/month (depending on the number of calls).  Now with the iPhone and T-Mobile we're down to three bucks per month around the house, and maybe a more expensive plan during travel.  But the next year should pay back the $175 expense of the iPhone.

So now I know that I can use T-Mobile the way we want to.  Next project:  Truphone.

I guess I'd better get a case, too. 

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2015, 12:41:53 AM »
On Oahu, this phone will spend most of its life sitting on our kitchen counter.  We signed up for the $3/month pay-as-you-go plan, which delivers a total of 30 minutes or texts per month.  (After that it's 10 cents each:  http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/pay-as-you-go)  Those numbers only count over a cell network, so I've shut off everything but the WiFi.  Our local cable company has upgraded us to 50 Mbps, and WiFi service seems to work fine.  We'll turn on the cell transceiver on the rare occasions when the phone leaves the house.

You might want to double check this point and keep a very close eye on your account balance. The ad copy on the T-Mo website is deliberately vague about this and sales reps are intentionally selective about the truth, but the last time I checked (and this is confirmed elsewhere with a T-Mo rep in 2013), WiFi calling on any of T-Mo's prepaid per minute plans still get billed per minute as far as I know. It's only unlimited WiFi calling if you pay for unlimited mobile calling as well, as you're still routing calls through their network. With UMA WiFi calling on T-Mo, it was used to compensate for their network frequency's poor building penetration and weak network coverage maps by routing mobile calls on select WiFi enabled smartphones via the GSM GAN standard through the internet without using an additional femtocell. It's brilliant decade old technology that's finally getting some traction in the industry (and I hope Google's usage of UMA/GAN with Fi opens the floodgates for wider MVNO access), but none of the carriers using it treat it like free calling. As such, whether you connect via local tower or WiFi, I'd be inclined to eat my hat if you don't get clipped that 10˘/minute on your PAYGO plan.

Odds are you're going to find Truphone cheaper if you want to stay PAYGO over a $20 "unlimited" talk and text package from P'tel or Airvoice, especially since most of your calls are likely inbound.

Can an old phone without service still place 911 calls, or should I just throw it on the e-waste pile?  I'd like to test it but calling 911 seems like a bad idea.

Yes, as per the FCC rules, they can still work for calling 911. For CDMA handsets since the account and network configuration is programmed to the phone instead of a small removable card, you'll want to take it down to a Verizon shop and have them deactivate it and reprogram the MIN/NAM to identify the phone number as 123-456-7890 on the caller ID display at the PSAP, so they know you can't be called back and the call is being placed from a deactivated handset.

The iPhone does not appear to have a "None" ringtone, which means that it makes a noise every freakin' time anyone calls us.  Of course if I mute the speaker (or shut off the phone) then I won't be able to hear from our four people.  Maybe I'll have to download a custom "None" ringtone.

Bam.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2015, 05:01:51 AM »
Doesn't HERE maps have an offline version as well? IIRC it's free too.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2015, 07:26:21 AM »
Doesn't HERE maps have an offline version as well? IIRC it's free too.

I've tried using HERE, and frequently found myself having difficulties getting there.

I dunno, their maps and directions might be better in other countries, but they're pretty pitiful Stateside from my experiences.

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2015, 10:53:23 AM »
The iPhone does not appear to have a "None" ringtone, which means that it makes a noise every freakin' time anyone calls us.  Of course if I mute the speaker (or shut off the phone) then I won't be able to hear from our four people.  Maybe I'll have to download a custom "None" ringtone.
Bam.
Thanks-- that saved some searching.  Best of all, I can't hear it.

You might want to double check this point and keep a very close eye on your account balance. The ad copy on the T-Mo website is deliberately vague about this and sales reps are intentionally selective about the truth, but the last time I checked (and this is confirmed elsewhere with a T-Mo rep in 2013), WiFi calling on any of T-Mo's prepaid per minute plans still get billed per minute as far as I know. It's only unlimited WiFi calling if you pay for unlimited mobile calling as well, as you're still routing calls through their network. With UMA WiFi calling on T-Mo, it was used to compensate for their network frequency's poor building penetration and weak network coverage maps by routing mobile calls on select WiFi enabled smartphones via the GSM GAN standard through the internet without using an additional femtocell. It's brilliant decade old technology that's finally getting some traction in the industry (and I hope Google's usage of UMA/GAN with Fi opens the floodgates for wider MVNO access), but none of the carriers using it treat it like free calling. As such, whether you connect via local tower or WiFi, I'd be inclined to eat my hat if you don't get clipped that 10˘/minute on your PAYGO plan.

Odds are you're going to find Truphone cheaper if you want to stay PAYGO over a $20 "unlimited" talk and text package from P'tel or Airvoice, especially since most of your calls are likely inbound.
Ah, thanks, I see it.  Our account was still at 30 minutes after the first day of use but it's updating now... 22 minutes left. 

So turning the cell transceiver on & off would only make a difference (if any) to the battery life.  Right now I seem to be getting about 2-3 days out of it.

Yes, as per the FCC rules, they can still work for calling 911. For CDMA handsets since the account and network configuration is programmed to the phone instead of a small removable card, you'll want to take it down to a Verizon shop and have them deactivate it and reprogram the MIN/NAM to identify the phone number as 123-456-7890 on the caller ID display at the PSAP, so they know you can't be called back and the call is being placed from a deactivated handset.
I wonder how many people actually bother to do that.  Better yet, I wonder how motivated the Verizon staff would be to do that.

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2015, 01:59:26 PM »
Thanks-- that saved some searching.  Best of all, I can't hear it.

Excellent!

Ah, thanks, I see it.  Our account was still at 30 minutes after the first day of use but it's updating now... 22 minutes left. 

So turning the cell transceiver on & off would only make a difference (if any) to the battery life.  Right now I seem to be getting about 2-3 days out of it.

Pretty much.

I wonder how many people actually bother to do that.  Better yet, I wonder how motivated the Verizon staff would be to do that.

Not many, but that's the officially approved way to do it with CDMA handsets.

Nords

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Re: Ditching DSL and the landline.
« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2015, 12:38:25 PM »
We've been on travel since 9 Sep:  Charleston SC, Charlotte NC, San Antonio, Norfolk, and now Rota (Spain).  I've learned a few things about iPhones and T-Mobile.

First, the iPhone rocks for travel.  The Apple Maps app has been flawless at navigating all over the U.S. and Andalucia.  I haven't used the Google Translate app for menus and signs very much, but I've seen that in action and it's very helpful.  Siri mispronounces Spanish destinations but it's good enough.

T-Mobile seems unnecessarily complicated for international travel.  We started our ownership on Oahu with pre-paid (PAYGO) at 30 minutes (or texts) per month for $3.  When we started traveling on the Mainland we were able to upgrade that on T-Mobile's website to unlimited nationwide talk/text (plus 1GB data) for $40/month.

When I tried to figure out the Europe option on T-Mobile's website, I couldn't get the menu buttons.  Ironically, calling T-Mobile's customer service was even worse because the calls frequently dropped and the call center reps were unintelligible.  We thought we'd stop by the local T-Mobile store for a quick tech assist.

The issue turned out to be pre-paid vs post-paid.  In order to roam Europe, we had to be post-paid.  To do that we had to sign up for a T-Mobile account involving a credit check and approval to bill a credit card.  However they couldn't simply convert our pre-paid account to post-paid.  They actually had to start a whole new account (with a new nano SIM and phone number) and then transfer our number over to the new account.  Even worse, I'd loaded up our pre-paid account with $150 of credit that could be auto-billed during our Mainland $40/month travels.  The store's T-Mobile reps couldn't transfer over that amount and tried to tell me that I'd just have to forfeit it.  After 10 minutes of negotiations it became clear that I was going to tie up far more than $150 of their customer service time, so they magically located a T-Mobile HQ exec who could authorize $100 of the transfer.  (They trusted the store manager for the remaining $50.)  After an hour of discussion, calls, SIMS, and keyboarding we were finally ready to go.

T-Mobile's Spain coverage has been great.  I've made local calls and U.S. calls with no problems, and the quality is good.  Gibraltar is not covered under the plan ($15 roaming fee) but most of the rest of the continent seems fine.  (We're doing most of our travel in Andalucia but our daughter is contemplating two weeks of leave for a family trip to Prague, Vienna, and Barcelona.)  The post-paid account website has a lot more info on it but I haven't spent much time on it.  Most of our iPhone use goes to maps or translations with a few calls per week for questions on schedules or reservations.

When we're back on Oahu, we could go back to the $3/month pre-paid service (without data).  However that means the next time we travel overseas we'd have to jump through the post-paid hoops and a new SIM all over again.  Because of that hassle, after this trip we'll probably revert to T-Mobile's cheapest post-paid plan-- and hopefully the prices keep dropping.

I don't know how the industry is evolving, but so far T-Mobile seems to offer the best compromise of international service and price.  Now that I have a little experience, when we're back on Oahu I'll dig into Truphone.

When I canceled our landline over two years ago, I never expected our user profile to change like this.  However even at $40/month we're still way ahead of the land-line days in capability and convenience.  Now I'll keep tweaking on our home vs travel features to see how low we can go on monthly fees.