Really cheap US incoming telephone service.
August 24, 2007 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for very inexpensive, inbound-only telephone service. Does such a thing exist?

I'm in Boston, MA in the USA. I have VOIP service for $25/month, which is pretty cheap, but I'm thinking I can do better. In our household we have 3, soon to be 4, cell phones and the VOIP service. The only reasons we have the VOIP are that many people know that number for us, and we want a number we can give to people we think are going to spam us. For example, we need to give numbers to, say, Amnesty International when we contribute annually, but they call us every month or so to try to get us to give more. There are about 10 or so groups in this category.

So, I want telephone service which is either very cheap or free for incoming calls, and will allow me to transfer my existing number into the service. I don't care at all about outgoing calls or international calls. It could even be something which records a message and forwards it to us via email. That works for us. I would also require that I be able to transfer the number out of the service if I don't like it.

I can set up an asterisk server if necessary. I don't know anything about asterisk, though I'm interested enough to investigate it. The only think I've seen that lets me connect a telephone to the PSTN is pretty expensive, and cheap is the driver here.
posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA to Technology (10 answers total)
ditch the phone all together and get google's grand central. you will not be able to bring your number with you (i don't think). but it is free and seems to fit the bill in all other respects.
posted by phil at 12:45 PM on August 24, 2007

Well, there's services like They allow you to pick a local number and have it forward to another number or to voicemail, and you can set schedules, rules, and blacklists, sort of like a procrc for telephones. I use them for my business (especially for 1-800 service) and it's dirt cheap. Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?
posted by zek at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2007

The most important thing is to be able to keep the phone number. Other than that, I don't care.
posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA at 12:50 PM on August 24, 2007

Don't know if you can do LNP with it, but would SkypeIn do the trick? It's only $60 a year (or $30 if you have Skype Pro which includes voicemail and stuff).
posted by lowlife at 12:51 PM on August 24, 2007

Are Grand Central invites available yet? Wink wink!
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 12:52 PM on August 24, 2007

I've used Maxemail for years for their fax to email service. However, the service also comes with a voice mail box that will forward the messages to you via email. $24 a year if you don't care about a local number.

I don't work for them , blah blah blah. Just a happy customer for about 5 years now.
posted by COD at 12:53 PM on August 24, 2007

porting your existing number will be the main problem, esp if it is already on a voip provider. in fact it may not be possible.

otherwise, yeah, there are tons of solutions.

I use vitelity for inbound calls: $8/month unlimited minutes, voicemail if you don't provide your own asterisk server, etc. or you can get a toll free number and pay 50c/month, 1.39c/min incoming, no other fees or taxes.

you can get a free DID (phone number) with area code of your choice, and voicemail from aol (yeah I know I hate aol so much too, but this is actually a really great service, and !free!) -- with any free aim account -- basically your aim account can sign into their mail server (web, imap, pop) and get caller id and soundfile attachments that it emails you whenever someone leaves a message)
posted by dorian at 12:56 PM on August 24, 2007

you know, your local phone company probably offers a basic dialtone-only landline for about $15 a month--no voicemail, call waiting, long distance, or anything else. you might have to ask for it, but i am sure they have it. there might be a tiny fee per outgoing call (in new york it is 10 cents per call) but if you never place outgoing calls, it won't matter.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:12 PM on August 24, 2007

(duh me, I meant to say DID wrt vitelity. the aol service is voicemail/email only, no termination or anything. sorry)
posted by dorian at 1:15 PM on August 24, 2007

Echoing thinkingwoman - I'm in the same area and was in a similar situation as you earlier this year. I went back to Verizon - their cheapest ($12.70/mo) "measured residence service" plan - but it's not saving me much. It still runs around $20 a month with all the taxes and fees. It sucks, but if I want to keep my home phone number that I've had since 2001, that seems to be the cheapest option.

I'll be watching this thread, though!
posted by acridrabbit at 4:14 PM on August 24, 2007

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