Best/cheapest internet cellphone solutions!
October 21, 2012 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Need some solutions for temporary cell phone re-routing. Thinking Google Voice might be the solution somehow but looking for brainstorms.

So, here's the situation. We'll be relocating and working remotely for three months in a mountain town. The house where we'll be does not get cell phone reception though we can get it in town.

We will have internet access but it's via satellite and can be a little iffy at times. Skyping on this has been sort of hit or miss, sometimes the video/audio loses sync or we lose video entirely.

There will be a landline but we'd like to avoid additional long distance charges as much as possible.

We'll be keeping our current iPhones and phone numbers.

How can we cheaply/easily retrieve voicemails from our cell phones when we are out of reception? Can we receive texts to our phones (or send texts) when we are out of reception? What's the best/cheapest way to make calls online? Sometimes we will need to have conference calls. It's probably best to just stick with the landline for that, right?

And if we want to actually talk online one-to-one, what's the best/cheapest setup?
posted by amanda to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Google voice can send voicemails over email (as attachments) with automated, low quality transcripts too (but usually good enough to get the gist).

I'd use this since email will be more reliable over a poor connection than streaming audio. You can use Google Voice's mobile interface when you have good cellular data or wifi internet.
posted by zippy at 5:51 PM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: With Google Voice you can make unlimited "outgoing" calls. You call the number on the Google Voice site, and it rings your landline. Once you pick up, it starts ringing the other end. Since it's an incoming call on your landline, you don't pay.
posted by zsazsa at 5:53 PM on October 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

To add onto what zippy and zsazsa said above, you can also use Google Voice to call directly from your computer/laptop, granted that you have a mic and a half-decent internet connection.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 6:14 PM on October 21, 2012

Best answer: Given you will be on satellite internet access, the latency is hit-or-miss, so if I were you I'd simply give up on the idea of VOIP.

Without cell access, you should get used to going back to the idea of a landline (POTS). There are many very inexpensive calling-card options; I've used OneSuite for many years (as a backup now since we're on Ooma VOIP), and their pricing is competitive with Skype on overseas calls. Yes you will need to pay 'per minute' for US calls, but at $0.029 / minute (using an 800 number), that's 344 minutes for $10, or almost 6 hours of talk-time.

And if you are not so remote as to get a local number, the per-minute cost is $0.025.

You can test your satellite's suitability for VOIP at a site like this one, to see visually how (IMHO) unsuitable satellite service is.
posted by scooterdog at 7:37 PM on October 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

nthing Google Voice. We are out of the country for 3 months and forwarding our home numbers to GV. Very handy, works great.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:30 AM on October 22, 2012

Best answer: I moved out to the country last year, don't get cell reception, and have slow internet. If you need reliable phone, a landline is, I've found, the only way to go. I've tried Google Voice for computer-to-phone, and Talkatone for cell phone calls over wifi, and neither of them work even half as good as a landline, for calls where it's important that everyone hears each other well and you don't get cut off.

For getting voicemails and texts, though, Google Voice + Talkatone work well, though you do have to have a separate Google Voice phone number to go through (unless I've missed something) which can be confusing for some people.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:00 AM on October 22, 2012

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