For about 3 years, I’ve lived totally without a “Land line” phone and used only a mobile phone.
At the same time, carrying two cell phones around was always a pain so I decided to cancel my “personal” cell phone and use only my employer provided blackberry. I recently got lucky enough (after weeks and weeks of pestering anyone I could find) to get an invite to Google voice, and that service has given me a completely new way of looking at phone service. I have been waiting for this forever.
Here’s what I’ve done this week:
1: Skype Unlimited Calling Subscription.
An unlimited US/Canada calling plan from Skype is about 34 dollars a year (2.79 / month). This unlimited calling plan allows me to call any phone in the continental US and Canada and talk as long as I want. For 2.79 a month, you just can’t beat that.
2: Skype Online Number.
When I signed up for an unlimited calling subscription, I got a discount on signing up for a Skype phone number at a 50% off. Subscribing to an online number is usually 60 bucks a month; but since I signed up for unlimited calling it was only 30 dollars for a 12 month subscription. This brings the TOTAL cost of Skype for a year of unlimited service with a callable phone number to about $64.
3: A Landline Phone VoIP Gateway USB adapter.
I ordered a Skype VoIP gateway which I will connect to my home server computer via USB. This product’s only (and very minimal, IMO) downside is that it must be connected to a PC in order to work. This adapter allows you to make and receive Skype calls from your normal phone handset. Plug in your standard cordless phone receiver with a couple satellite handsets, and you’ve got a pretty solid home phone that converts to VoIP using your Skype account. This product was 27 dollars and about 5 dollars shipping for a cost of $32.
4: Tie the Room Together with Google Voice.
Using Google Voice, I’ve set up a primary number that I use to forward to my Mobile phone and also my Skype number. So, anytime somebody calls me I have the option to answer it on my actual cell phone, on my computer with Skype’s soft client, or on a normal cordless phone handset hooked up through the VoIP gateway adapter.
I’m not a person that likes to spend hours on the phone, but at the same time I feel good about giving my employer a break and not using my work cell for 100% of my personal phone calls. And really, I feel like this setup is pretty “bad ass” from a techie perspective.
To give some perspective, here are the base prices for some other VoIP solutions:
Vonage: 24.99 / month
Charter Home Voice: 29.99 / month
Comcast “Digital Voice”: 24.95 / month
My setup, although a little more hands-on to set up, is VASTLY cheaper than these other options – and provides a unified voicemail that I can access online, amazing call forwarding features through Google voice, number blocking, call screening, and pretty awesome flexibility to make calls from cell/normal phone/computers running Skype.
With a setup that I like more than Vonage, Comcast, or Charter – my total cost per month for the first year of service will be about $8.05 per month. ($30 Skype number + $33 VoIP Gateway + 33.60 annual Skype subscription for Unlimited calls / 12 Months) And that number will go down significantly next year without having to purchase another gateway device adapter.
Google Voice is seriously changing the game, and I have officially jumped in.