I finally got around to replacing my home fixed line phone with VOIP. I took the easy route of sticking with my ISP, Netspace/iiNet.
Local calls were costing me 30 cents, but because I only make at most perhaps about a dozen a month, a grand total for net+phone of around $95 per month. With all the phone costs included, each call was costing me about $3. (Some of them can be quite lengthy, which is why I decided not to abandon any form of home phone completely.)
Switching to the equivalent Naked (eg without a home phone) ADSL plan, with VOIP (which doesn’t count towards the plan quota, and includes free local and national calls) is costing me $59.95 per month. On top of that I’ve decided to rent (rather than buy) a BoB2 combined VOIP-capable modem and VOIP phone for an extra $9.95 (on a two year contract — I’ve checked; we won’t get the NBN in that time).
So I’m at $69.90 per month with most calls included — saving about $25 per month.
One thing that scared me about doing the change were the warnings that it would take 10-20 days, and that I would be without Internet during this time. As an extremely wired, internet-addicted person (and indeed family), this terrified me, and I ended up timing it for the January school holidays when the kids were away. (I figured I could find ways around it on my own, like using my mobile, though I’d need to take it easy to avoid high fees.)
This turned out to be a furphy. The text might imply you’ll be without Internet for the full switch period, but in fact once I’d signed-up, an email I received said that in fact it would be out for only up to one day.
If I’d known that I would have done it a lot sooner. In fact any outage was barely noticeable — it probably happened in the middle of the day when we were all out.
I think they’ve severely undersold how easy it is to switch.
The catches of VOIP
There are catches of course.
The BoB2 wasn’t quite plug-in and go, as advertised… it seemed to have picked-up the wrong logon info from somewhere; possibly an issue with migrating off an existing account. Easily solved.
I had ummed and ahhed over keeping my old phone number or switching to a new one. In the end I placed the order requesting to keep the old one, but when it was provisioned, they’d actually allocated a new one. I don’t mind — I almost chose it that way — so I won’t bother to get it changed back, though there’s a few people I’ll need to notify.
By ordering VOIP you have to waive your rights under the telephone service Customer Service Guarantee. Basically that means if it doesn’t work, you don’t have much recourse. That’s OK for us — we barely use the home phone anyway; the mobile is much more important, so this is really just a backup (and cheaper option for local calls).
Some complain about VOIP call quality — in the calls I’ve made so far, it’s been okay for me. I haven’t yet tried it with a lot of network traffic going on. Theoretically QOS should ensure it’s okay, but it’ll be interesting to see how well that works in practice.
They note that calls to 13 numbers don’t necessarily go to a local branch of the company you’re ringing, unlike those made from conventional fixed lines.
Finally, although you get free national calls to fixed lines, it’s worth being aware that this excludes 1300 and 13 numbers, which are listed at 30 cents each, untimed. What I’ve also found is that some other types of calls cost — I used the 1194 Time service a couple of times to check voice quality without ringing a human. Turns out these cost 35 cents a pop, despite not being listed on the call rates list. Odd.
So far I’m happy, and saving a big heapa money. I wish I’d switched ages ago.
Another $38.60 (per month) bill for my land line, which I barely use. That’s made up of:
- line rental $22.95
- 17 local calls $5.10
- calls to mobiles $1.62
- silent line $2.93
- caller ID $6.00
Almost all of the cost ($31.88) is in the line itself, rather than the calls.
My sister’s recently gone down the route of not having a land line at all; just mobile. I’m not sure I want to do that just yet, particularly as lengthy local calls to family could get very expensive.
VOIP has come a long way in recent years, and could be an option. Naked DSL (which is available in my area) along with an ISP VOIP plan could turn out to be substantially cheaper.
It appears my current Netgear DG384G version 5 modem/router doesn’t support VOIP, so it looks like I’d either need an ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter, about $60) or a new modem/router than supports VOIP (about $100).
But (taking the offerings from iiNet/Netspace as an example, since that’s my current ISP, and I’m pretty happy with them) it’s then monthly costs of $9.95. With the usage above, 17 local calls at 15 cents = $2.55, assume the mobile call would be the same cost. Unlike with a conventional phone, you don’t get a White Pages listing unless you opt in (rather than paying $2.93 per month to opt out). It’s not clear to me if I could still get caller ID, but it still adds up to only $14.12 for that “typical” month, so I’d make $100 investment in equipment back in less than 5 months.
What have I missed? What else should I take into account? What other options are there?
PS. The main thing I missed is that Netspace’s Naked DSL plans include iiTalk VOIP for free. (This is probably the same deal Julian’s comment refers to.) The Naked plan is $10 more than I’m paying now. One option for hardware would be a BoB2 VOIP phone would be another $9.95/month (and local calls are free), or $199 outright.
Disaster! No internet at home.
Yesterday iiNet/Netspace had major outage in Victoria. It was eventually fixed, but even after a modem reboot we couldn’t get back online.
Then I noticed the home phone (yes, I still have one of those) was getting no dial tone. My assumption initially was that this was just an unhappy coincidence; I’m unclear as to how a widespread ISP outage would somehow affect a home phone line.
So I rang Telstra, whose call centre person (offshore, I’m assuming, given how scrupulously polite she was) ran through some basic checks before declaring a tech will need to look at the lines on the street.
That will apparently take until Wednesday or Thursday. Sigh.
Netspace support was closed last night by the time I got around to looking at things, but I’ll try and reach them this morning to see if anything can be done from their end.
Until then, apart from limited mobile use, I guess we’re cutoff from the outside world.
Update lunchtime: Got hold of iiNet support; they can’t see a problem that would affect the phone line, but asked me to check the sync light on the modem. Since I’m not at home, they suggested they could ring me back tonight (at 8:39pm to be precise) to go through it with me. Cool.
Update 6pm: Text message from Telstra a couple of hours ago to say all is resolved, and it appears to be so. Woo hoo!
Dunno about you, but I’ve got a spare useless mobile phone sitting at home doing nothing. It’s a Nokia 6100 that I got in 2004, then donated to Isaac when I got the 6230i, and he’s just recently upgraded to my less-old 6230i now I’ve got an N95.
The 6100′s buttons are hopeless these days, and it’s time to say goodbye.
Happily, until the end of December, the MobileMuster people will donate a chicken to Oxfam for each old phone recycled, if you print the special Reply Paid label off their web site.
Anybody else got old phones to get rid of?
Do I walk a bit funny or something? The heels of the two pairs of shoes I most commonly wear (the Monday to Friday work shoes) are wearing away on the outside edges. Further, one pair is re-developing the same hole which I thought was comprehensively eliminated a year ago. And in the same position of the same shoe. Strange, since the repair bloke fully redeemed it and gave it an entirely new soul.
Since the end of financial year stocktake sales started yesterday, maybe it’s time to go on a shopping spree. Stock up on the stuff I need now at sale prices, rather than later at full price. Off the top of my head, I could do with buying:
- New pair of work shoes and a new pair of runners, which are also aging. I’m a shocking shoe shopper, racked with indecision. For the love of God, if you know me, don’t volunteer to come along.
- Something in the casual winter wear department. Maybe a nice shirt and a jumper or two — I’m not quite as bad at clothes shopping as I am at shoe shopping.
- Perhaps some new work shirts, as some of my old ones will start to self-destruct before too long.
- A couple of nice new ties. Certainly at least one to replace the nice blue tie I had that got splattered with something very messy (but very delicious) one dinnertime, and I foolishly thought I could try and clean myself, thus avoiding drycleaning. Nuh uh. In fact the eventual dryclean got rid of the original stain, leaving signs of my cleaning attempts. Sigh. Don’t even try.
- A dressing-gown, for use in preventing freezing my arse off when moving around the house after getting up. My existing gown is unfortunately deficient in this respect, as it has developed a hole in precisely that location. Apart from the temperature factor, not very dignified when going out onto the driveway to get the newspaper.
- Perhaps look out for something in advance for the kids for their July allotted XBox game.
- I’m not totally against the idea of, at some stage, obtaining a frying pan which has a matching lid, rather than a mismatched one from a different, long since disposed of, pan.
- My cordless phone has gone ga-ga, so it’s probably time for a replacement, so I am no longer tethered to the kitchen counter to make untimed phone calls.
- Might be time to pick up a drill too, for those occasional… uhhh… drilling forays. And lazy screwdrivering.
- Need a new couch, but will probably wait until I get into a new house. Umm. Whenever that happens.
Yesterday I ventured into Myer briefly, and fought through the crowds to obtain (at 25% off) the XBox game Halo for a bit of grown up MA blast-the-shit-out-of-aliens action. It got incredibly good reviews: the all-time highest rated game on Metacritic. Had a quick go of it last night, and it appears to live up to the hype. More on that later.
I left the rest of the merchandise in Myer and DJs to the hardcore nutter shoppers. But when I have time in the next day or two, further bargain-hunting will commence.