I, personally, feel landlines are a thing of the past. We’ve had a landline phone connection through our Comcast subscription. Due to constant sales calls, we started ignoring it and in some case led us to missing some important calls like from our kids school. Monthly we were paying $30 for a service that was not providing a value to us.
Since we both had our cellphones with us almost all the time. It was time to eliminate land phone service, but then we ran into issues where we needed to provide a “home” telephone number. So I started to check on other free options or even a low cost option.
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Voice Over IP
Initially we looked at VoIP options such as Vonage and few other. Although they were cheaper, I was still not happy to pay a subscription fees. Not realizing all this while, I had a phone number that I got from Google Voice when they had initially launched in 2008 time frame. I decided to use this service to it’s fullest potential.
During registration of a Google Voice account using one of your Gmail id’s, you are given a choice to transfer an existing number (such as your land line number) or get a new number. The transfer would take few days and there is a one time fee of $20. I decided to get a new number in my case. To use a Google Voice number, you need to have a regular phone such as cellphone. One can set it up in such a way that when someone dials the Google number it gets routed to one or more of your cellphones. In my case, it was my wife’s and my number. This is a free service and you will be able to get the call anywhere you are in the United States. I’ve even used it overseas using Google Hangouts, as long as I had an internet connection.
The phone filtering works very well. It does not completely eliminate sales calls but if you have the number saved in your cellphone contacts, it shows that name. This made it easy for both of us to decide whether to answer or not. Google Voice also comes with a voicemail where in callers call leave a message. With iOS and Google Play apps it becomes a breeze to use the service on your cellphone.
A desk phone option
We also had a situation where our folks came to visit us from overseas. They were unable to use their cellphones either due to no service or the exorbitant international charges. To resolve this issue, I bought a little device from Amazon called Obihai. This little palm sized device would interface between Google Voice and your cordless or corded phone making it a fully functional land line phone. It has a one time investment of roughly $50 and the basic service is provided for free. This helped our visitors to get in touch with us when we were not home and when they wanted to call back to their home country using the inexpensive Google international call service. The international calling rates can be found here.
Another tidbit I would also mention along the same lines is to switch your cellphone service. We being Xfinity (Comcast) subscribers for internet and TV, Xfinity Mobile provides a very cheap cellphone plan. They provide free unlimited calling and texts within US and Canada as long as you take along a data package with it. The data charges are $12/GB going all the way to $45 per month for unlimited data usage.
My wife subscribed to the unlimited data plan but I on the other hand went with $12/gb option. We have WiFi at home and I have the same at work to which the phone would connect and the usage will not count towards your data package. In addition, the phone would also connect to any Xfinity WiFi connection it can find which again would not count towards your LTE usage. The service relies on Verizon and so the coverage is reasonably good.
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There are other options such as Mint Mobile or Google Fi project which are worth checking out.
Do you have any telephone hacks that you’ve used? I would love to hear about them. Please leave a comment below.