I don’t know anyone who still uses the phone company for phone service. We’ve all switched to Comcast, Vonage or Ooma. But wow, it’s still expensive. Comcast charges $45 for phone service (less as part of my $170 internet-tv-phone bundle). Vonage is minimum $13/month for limited minutes with unlimited incoming. Ooma only charges taxes and regulatory fees, but it’s a few dollars a month and the hardware isn’t cheap.
I’m going in a different direction.
I stripped my cable subscription down to pure Internet. It’s guaranteed 22 mbps (I get a steady 15 mbps) and it costs $80 a month, all in. TV and phone are gone.
I bought this device for $45 the other day (shipping included) – the OBi100. It’s much like a Vonage ATA. You plug Internet, electricity and a phone into it. What it doesn’t have is any kind of service, so on its own all you can do is call other OBiTalk users.
You CAN, however, log into Google Voice with with device and use that as your phone service. And since Google Voice is free (for now), there are exactly zero charges for this setup.
Sayonara, Comcast Phone.
I set the device up yesterday, total time was about 20 minutes. It’s plugged directly into my home’s phone network so all the phone jacks work. I’ve been testing it for a day and it works as well as the Comcast phone did. And it’s totally free.
The only issue I can’t resolve is I can’t seem to get call screening to work properly, although I’m guessing I’ll figure it out when I pay enough attention to it.
This is a beautiful add-on service for Google Voice. Google should be building ATAs themselves and selling them to users without any setup hassle at all. Until then, though, I’m happy with this setup. And even happier with the zero dollars I’m now paying for home phone service.