Next Phone?

 | November 15, 2008 5:12 PM

Phone technology keeps evolving rapidly.  As far as I can remember we have been using landline phones.  The big technology change was push button phones.  Then suddenly cell phones appeared and I must have been one of the last ones to get one.

But I was part of the early group of people that dropped their landline altogether and only used their cell phone.  But when I saw I was running out of minutes and was too cheap to purchase more minutes or a landline, I started using Skype.  The service is fantastic and is only $3 per month for unlimited outbound.

Now though we are having problems with our Verizon cell phone service.  Apparently where we live is a dead zone for Verizon.  In fact we did not get very good reception at our last place either.  Unlike the north east, Silicon Valley does not seem to be a great place for getting Verizon cell phone service.

We have been considering cutting down to one cell phone line instead of two which would save us about 50% off our cell phone bill or even paring down to just a pay as you go plan.  Since we started using Skype so much we’ve found our cell phone usage has gone down a lot.  Also I do have concern about cell phones and brain cancer since the evidence is starting to mount.

The only reason we were hesitant to go with Skype exclusively was because Ji Seon does not like being tethered to a computer when she wants to make calls.  She likes walking around when she talks.  And so far the Skype accessories for doing this look underwhelming.

Enter Ooma.  I heard about them on the radio so I thought I would look into it.  The reviews on Amazon have been pretty fantastic.  Basically you pay $250 for a device that you hook up to your internet.  Then you can your old fashioned phones again and never have to pay a monthly fee.  The only drawback is that it does not include free calls to Canada, calls are 1.2 cents per minute.  In a normal month that would work out to be about $3 per month which is what I pay already for Skype.

One of my favorite blogs, My Money Blog, has a similar discussion, Ask The Readers: Skype As Replacement Phone Service? » My Money Blog.  Someone recommended Ooma.  I can only imagine Ooma will become more popular.

My remaining questions are:

  1. Should I drop Verizon?  I have complained a few times to them about the service and each time they say to call in again and have someone test it.  I am not sure if it is worth calling them again.Update: I called Verizon and their response was that nothing can be done and that it must be a dead zone.  They issued me a one time courtesy credit of $30 and opened a trouble ticket.Update: Verizon called me to let me know that my area is a known trouble area and that new two cell towers are going to be opened in thirty to sixty days.  Of course while telling me this the call was dropped. :-)
  2. Should I drop down to one phone line (AT&T or T-Mobile) or go to pay as you go (T-Mobile)?  I am leaning towards pay as you go in which I will pay about $100 per year for 1000 minutes.  On the other hand a basic individual cell phone plan will cost $35 per month (T-Mobile) and you get 300 minutes per month and a much nicer phone.
  3. Should I upgrade my Skype account to include unlimited inbound?  The cost to do that would be another $5 per month and the inbound number would not show up on caller ID when I call people on outbound.  And I would still have to make calls from my computer.
  4. Should I buy Ooma?  It seems great but $250 at once is a good amount of money and what if they go out of business?  If they included free calls to Canada I would be in.  You do get a $50 credit for referrals but that expires in 3 months so it is not worth much.
  5. What would I use to call Canada if I no longer used Skype?  Pay 1.2 cents per minute on Ooma? Use a free service like Voipcheap to call Canada (I don’t trust them)?  Or just use Skype computer to computer or iChat, both which are free?  But then that would depend on my parents having their computer on.  I do have lots of Skype credit for calls to landlines so maybe I can use those to initiate a call to my parents at 2.1 cents per minute and then use Skype computer to computer or iChat.

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2 Responses to “Next Phone?”

John March wrote a comment on November 17, 2008

Frank,

We use this phone with our skype service:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=skype+phone&oe=UTF-8&cid=16184400551669351689#ps-sellers

We’ve been using it for almost two years and it works well for outgoing calls. Incoming calls (we have a skypein number) are okay as well, but sometimes the voicemail doesn’t pick up. The call quality is pretty good, and it gets good reception all over our house. The only issue we’ve had is that it doesn’t always reconnect to the internet if the router or our cable modem reboots. We’ve had some issues with our Comcast internet reseting and our phone hasn’t handled it well.

seonghuhn wrote a comment on November 17, 2008

Thanks John.

That was really interested. We were thinking of buying that phone but I am leaning more and more towards Ooma. I just hope they don’t go out of business.

Care to comment?