Inbound-only telephone service?
December 5, 2012 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Our church needs a telephone service which lets us (1) receive calls (outbound calls would be made on personal cell phones), (2) record inbound messages, (3) use our existing number, and (4) have our number published in the white pages. Does such a service exist that would meet all or most of these requirements?
posted by davcoo to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I believe that Google Voice will do everything but #4. I'm not even sure how numbers get into the white pages anymore these days.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:49 PM on December 5, 2012

Since you don't mention price as a criteria, the easiest solution is to keep your existing land-line, add an answering machine, and either replace your existing phone with a no-dial phone or install an outgoing call blocker.
posted by RichardP at 6:54 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

You could also forward your existing line to a Google Voice number. You would need to "conditionally" forward the calls - i.e. it forwards the call if the line is busy or is not answered, but it rings so that you can answer it. This may or may not be an option with your current phone provider.
posted by mskyle at 7:01 PM on December 5, 2012

If you already have phone service, most phone companies will let you block outbound calling (most commonly, LD and toll calls, but blocking local calls is also possible).
My phone company (Qwest/Centurylink) calls it "Dial Lock".

As a bonus, emergency calls (911) will still go through and there's no added equipment.

As well, all the big companies offer an answering service or voicemail of some sort and inclusion in the whitepages is a given.
I'd start there before messing around with google voice and number porting.
posted by madajb at 7:02 PM on December 5, 2012

A really cheap solution: If you've already got Internet access, and access to a local geek (maybe someone in the congregation?), you could have him/her throw together an Asterisk-based phone system using an old PC you have lying around and any of several free distributions (I'm partial to PBX In A Flash, specifically the Incredible PBX distribution, but Switchvox is probably an even easier option, especially since you aren't looking for a bunch of features.). It's painfully easy to port your existing phone number over to a VOIP provider and just NOT get any outgoing service (or configure your VOIP box to not allow anything unless (a) it's 911 or (b) you punch in a secret access code . . . or configure it any way you can imagine. Open-source VOIP is a beautiful thing.)

I know, it sounds exceedingly geeky, which is why you want to seek out someone who's dabbled in this before, and have them throw it together for you.

(NB: I am assuming you are on a shoestring budget -- the above only requires a PC you were probably about to retire anyway, the Internet service you probably already have, and free software. The monthly cost for an incoming VOIP line can be as little as $1.50. If you have a little more money, you can buy a VOIP "appliance" -- essentially a small router-sized computer that's already got everything installed, and you just set it up through a web browser.)

A little geeky -- like I said -- but if you know of someone who can do this for you, it'll be hands-down the cheapest solution in the long run.
posted by CommonSense at 7:24 PM on December 5, 2012

You could use a hosted VoIP service like Ring Central (requires phone line) or 8x8 (requires internet connection).
posted by Dansaman at 10:21 PM on December 5, 2012

I really, really love OnSip. They take care of all of that, all you have to do is buy a phone. They'll port your number. They do all the PBX stuff that CommonSense mentions but you don't have to set it up. They'll even mail you the phone. I have multiple local numbers, i have 'call hunt' which will find someone that is available, voicemail, forwarding to mobile # if nobody answers certain lines, etc. Also, you can have as many users as you want for free - so it's not hard to get an extra line for someone. All usage charges are just per minute, internal calls are free.
posted by carlodio at 4:33 AM on December 6, 2012

You can get this from your local phone company. It's a "Voice Mailbox in The Sky" (That's what we called it at BellSouth) It's about $8 per month. AND you can list your number in directory assistance and the white pages.

So call Verizon or ATT or whomever your local phone service provider is and ask for the Voice Mailbox in the Sky.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2012

Oh wait, missed the first one. No, you can't get inbound calls on it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on December 6, 2012

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