I don't need caller ID because it's always my MIL
February 28, 2011 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Sorry if this seems repetitive of other threads about home phone, VoIP, etc. I've read those, but my special snowflake situation is this:

- mainly because we still have tweens at the house and can't quite justify getting a cell phone for them yet, we'd like to continue to have a landline-type phone (meaning, a solution that uses the el-cheapo hand and wall sets we have). All we need for it to do is make and receive local calls and be able to connect to the local 911 system without confusing the hell out of it. Everyone in the house is old enough to tell 911 where we are, so my main concern is just that it connect to the RIGHT 911 call center in my county.

So unlike some of the other threads, I don't need to worry about business calls, long distance, etc. It would be nice to port my existing landline (which is with AT&T via my cable company reselling it), but not essential. It's just that we do not use the thing at ALL, except for emergencies, and I think the cable company is soaking me for $25 or so and I don't think they have a cheaper option.

Open to VoIP or POTS solutions/ideas. We have a current PC and it runs all the time. Am considering Magicjack but keep hearing it's a lousy company, so that's a last resort.
posted by randomkeystrike to Technology (13 answers total)
Most VoIP services are not meant for use when calling emergency centers. The only one I know that does it correctly is Vonage, which has a monthly cost. Why not just get a Pay As You Go cell phone, where you only pay for the minutes used. Then you eliminate your monthly fee and you don't have to worry about getting connected up to the correct emergency services? The per minute cost is higher than traditional mobiles, but if it's for emergencies only then you should win out in the end.
posted by msbutah at 8:27 AM on February 28, 2011

You can port your number to Google Voice noe. All incoming and outgoing US calls are free (most easily through a browser).
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:27 AM on February 28, 2011

It's my understanding that all cell phones can call 911 without any plan/contract/minutes. Maybe just leave an old one charged up somewhere accessible?
posted by traco at 8:44 AM on February 28, 2011

whoops, missed the part about local calls
posted by traco at 8:45 AM on February 28, 2011

Let me ask, if you have phone service through your cable company, isn't that already VOIP?

Personally, in your situation, I would stay with whatever service assures that a 911 call identifies your exact address, a kid (or, for that matter, an adult) in a panic situation may or may not be able to give the correct address, or in a health emergency, dialing and passing out, they can still find you/him/her.
posted by tomswift at 8:47 AM on February 28, 2011

If it's $25 including taxes and fees, you may not get much better than that. I think there is a very cheap landline package through ATT that limits the number of local calls (I think 30 a month), with no extra features, and last I recall that was $10/month plus taxes and fees.

Just had a discussion today when our cable went out about phone service and why would we tie our phone communication to the most unreliable thing ever, the cable company.
posted by mrs. taters at 9:04 AM on February 28, 2011

I'm not seeing a real question here. Why not just get a landline? Aside from the service-free cellphone, it's gonna be $25-40 for a 911 phone no matter what. VOIP and related do not work when the power is out, by the way.
posted by rhizome at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2011

Response by poster: tomswift it isn't because all they're doing is billing me, really. The service is really being provided by AT&T, and it's a conventional landline. The reliability/panic issues you and others bring up are valid; the good news is this service has no electronic connection to my cable co, and the phone works even if the internet doesn't.

My question really revolved around "is there a cheaper way to provide something I hardly use, but don't want to entirely get rid of," and the answer may well be no, but I'll look into what mrs. taters suggested. Assuming they don't count incoming, 30 local calls a month would be about 25 more than we use. :-)
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:44 PM on February 28, 2011

CrayDrygu - I must be working from old information. My apologies - I use Skype and I know they routinely remind me they are not to be used as an emergency provider, and they do interconnect with public networks. Since I saw they didn't offer it, I assumed the status quo with VoIP was to not support emergency services where the exception to the norm was Vonage. My apologies for the bad information.
posted by msbutah at 5:41 PM on February 28, 2011

Back when I first got Google Voice, I asked AT&T to switch my landline to a Limited Use account. I can make 25 calls each month, then it's $.25 a call after that. Ostensibly, it's supposed to be around $10 a month, but with taxes etc it's more than that. Just ask what your rate would be.

Also, you could ask your kids make to calls via Google Talk, which should be free depending on where they call.
posted by dragonplayer at 7:13 PM on February 28, 2011

I've used ooma for the last year and a half and have been extremely happy with it. I hooked it up to my house phone lines and use my regular phones. Fortunately I've never had a chance to test the E911 capabilities, but it does claim to have them.
posted by everybody polka at 9:12 PM on February 28, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far!

- those who have mentioned a limited use landline, if you're still watching this thread - do they charge for incoming calls, or is the limit on outgoing? That might be the easiest way to go.

- I'll definately look at voip.ms, tho, so thanks for that info.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:33 AM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: When I called my cable co to discuss getting rid of certain features, they said the phone part of my bill if I got the most basic of phone packages was $10. So I elected to keep it for now.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:30 AM on March 21, 2011

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