Land Line Phone Service
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Cheap way to keep our telephone land-line
My husband wants to get rid of our land-line and I just can't bring myself to do it. I keep thinking of a situation where a babysitter might need to call us or emergency and their cell phone is out of battery or forgotten -- or even a similar type of situation for one of us. We don't have a need for long distance on the phone since we both have cell phones, just a very basic service that wouldn't get used much. Any recommendations for the cheapest way to keep the regular telephone land-line? Thanks. Can't let go of the Land-line
Have you thought about sonic? They are a local internet provider (much cheaper and better than comcast) and we pay 40/month for dsl and a phone line with free long distance. They may not serve your area but I would look into them. happy with home phone
Maybe an alternative is to have a cell phone that stays in one place at home and serves as the home phone? If you have a family plan, it's fairly cheap to add another phone. Or you could use a pay-as-you go phone. You could just keep it plugged in so you would always know where it was and that it was charged and available. haven't gotten rid of my yet, either
Well, if you're with ATT, it's not exactly cheap, but cheaper - if you haven't already, get 'measured service' instead of unlimited. It's still pretty pricy (and all those fees and taxes double it), but still lower than the usual unlimited plan. R.K.
hey, i'm thinking you didn't get the response you were looking for... we have kept our landline for emergency reasons. (i want to be able to call 911 and have them know where i am without telling them.) i spent a LOT of time trying to find different options, but in the end, it seems the only landline service you can get in our area (El Cerrito) is AT, and even getting the flat-rate, local-service-only was a major hassle. (they didn't want to provide it and do not make it easy, even though it seems they are still required to provide it.) now they have fiber optic lines and they want you to buy their bundled plans for phone and internet which is pricey. i did a lot of haggling and in the end, we still pay around $20/month for just local service landline. sorry for the bad news, but i think the old type of service we had just a few years ago is dead and gone. anon
Residential phone service other than AT?
We are paying $35/month (including all taxes & fees) for local and long distance service with AT They assure me we've got the cheapest plan they offer, but it still seems like too much for the little we use the phone. I'm trying to compare prices with other companies, but am finding it difficult to even find another provider that offers residential service in the Bay Area. Can anyone recommend a local & long distance provider other than AT? Thank you. Anon
Vonage. We used them for years and were very satisfied. They are offering monthly packages as low as $9.95. Daphne Albert
Some people have recommended Sonic, but I haven't tried them yet. We have ATT 'measured' service, which comes to about $19/month, including taxes, etc. (in Albany; may vary a bit depending on your location). We did away with long distance service on our land-line, and use our cell phones for long distance calls (we never come close to using up our bucket of minutes). We purchased a calling card from comfi.com, so we have that option in case we need to make long distance calls in an emergency and our cell phones don't work; unlike the ATT calling card, calls made with the comfi.com card are just a few cents per minute. R.K.
A few years ago I switched to Comcast from AT and have been VERY HAPPY with the service. They're not perfect -- I also get my Internet through them -- but they are sooooo much better than AT I got a great deal for the first year and since then the price has gone up considerably (it's cheaper if you get cable, too, which I don't want). It might not ultimately been cheaper in dollars, but you'll save time and minimize aggravation with Comcast. Sound quality is tops. Check it out. http://www.onlinecomcast.com/comcast-phone.aspx Happy with Comcast
Alternative to AT for landline?
I am wondering if it is possible to still have a land line and avoid ATT altogether. I do not enjoy doing business with them and am looking for alternatives. anon
Yes it is, we switched to Vonnage a few months ago (although try telling that to ATT who kept billing us to the point we had to put a merchant block on our credit card, but that's another story!). We were able to keep our phone number for the land line, but the service comes through the internet. It's not perfect (I find that sometimes bits of the sound are missing), but it is a relief to be away from the terrible ATT service. If you contact Vonnage, they will take care of making the transfer for you. Claire
Contact Sonic.net....http://www.sonic.net/ About the same price for land line and DSL internet. And Sonic's politics are a bit cleaner than AT's. Give AT the Boot
Landline calls to Europe - best plan?
Can anyone recommend a good, relatively cheap, noncontract service (preferably with the service's website or 800 number) for making landline calls from Northern California to cell phones in the United Kingdom? (I know about Skype, but it's not working well from my daughter's laptop in Wales.)
I recently started using one of the new Skype plans for business (no computer required). Basically, it is the same as before, but they give you a free dial in nunmber to the skype network (called Skype To Go on the link below). For $10 a month, you get ''unlimited'' calls to landlines and cell phones in the US and Canaada and landlines in a number of other countries. Having used Skype on my computer too, I have found that the quality of the calls is better when you dial in to the network instead of going through your computer. I have been using Skype To Go for a few months now and have had great luck with calls to Mexico, Europe and the Middle East. I believe you could also get a UK phone number for yourself that she could use to call to your Skype account, and you can set it up so that if you are not logged in to Skype, it could forward to your landline or mobile through the Skype network, however, I have not tested that feature. http://skype.com/allfeatures/subscriptions/uscanadaworld/ Skype user
We use Kiss Long Distance for our long distance coverage, and pay pennies relative to the big carriers (avg. $5 a month). We've used them for years, so they're not likely to go under spontaneously. They also have low international rates. See: http://www.kissld.com/ anon.
Phone Service-especially Long Distance
Can anybody make a solid recommendation on a long-distance carrier? I currently have ATT local and VarTec long distance, which used to be a reasonable deal. But lately I've noticed ''circuits busy'' on a large volume of calls I attempt to make, and they flat-out refuse to give me any information on strange calls on my bill because I am not my husband (despite the fact that I gave them the name on the bill, and it's pretty clear to me from their extremely limited English that they wouldn't have known if I'd just said I was my husband). When I asked for a supervisor I was told, over 1/2 an hour, that ''there is no supervisor,'' ''the supervisor is out,'' ''the supervisor is busy,'' etc. until they just disconnected me. So I'm done. How is Working Assets? People used to recommend them. VarTec was simple: every long distance call, whether near or far, is 5c a minute. What prices are good these days? How do people like AT? I'm not opposed to switching everything (e.g., phone and internet, which is currently ATT/SBC), but we don't have cable TV and don't need it so I don't want to think about adding that in as a ''savings.'' Does anybody even know where we research long distance these days? Thank you! Janet
We've had Working Assets long distance (and wireless) for 5+ years and like it. I don't do a lot of long distance calling, so I don't even know what rate we're paying, but the phone service and customer service are good, and it feels good to use a blue company, especially since so many of the other phone service providers are so red. Happy Customer
I have my long-distance service with Pioneer. I love the rates and have never had any problems with their service. I have their Rate Buster plan and pay just under 3 cents a minute for LD in the US, and just under 5 cents a minute for calls to England, which I make regularly. There is no monthly service charge (!), I receive my bill notifications by email, and the payment is automatically deducted from my credit card. Here's their website: http://www.pioneertelephone.net/index.asp?xid=PTGOOG=CIn6oPDIhpUCFR4sagodADPHqQ Cece
I use Pioneer Telephone for long distance calls, and AT for local and DSL. Pioneer is really cheap and their service is good. Rebecca
Comcast Phone Service
Has anyone had any experience, positive or negative, with the Comcast phone service? Thanks
We have been using comcast digital voice phone service since its inception, and have never had a problem with it. Rita
Although we have used Comcast for our internet service for years and would recommend it, I would NOT recommend them for your home phone service. The old adage 'you get what you pay for' rings true here (pardon the pun) . We decided to try out the phone service last December. After two hours of trying to hook up our service, the service technician came back and said he couldn't do it (something about the central service line). Furthermore he wouldn't be able to come back for another week. I decided at that point not to do it. When I called my old phone company, they informed me that Comcast would have to 'release' the telephone number before I could switch back. AT & T even offered to pay the switching fee. I called Comcast and they insisted that I didn't have service through them (although I could make phone calls and had Comcast digital voice service). This went on for over a month and finally AT & T was able to get Comcast to release the number. Also, the quali! ty of the service (that I allegedly didn't have) was sub par. So again, although I'm sure it will save you money, I don't think it's enough in the end. Just say 'no' to Comcast
I have Comcast's bundled service (phone, internet and cable) for $152.99/mo. It started through a promotion at $99.99/mo. Honestly, I'm not happy with the service but I'm not sure they are any better than other services.
About once a month I have my phone service go down. After making a call the phone goes dead. Sometimes it's down for 20 minutes, sometimes for days.
For that reason I have a home voicemail machine. Normally my machine picks up my calls. When the phone service is down, the call goes to the Comcast message service. On the Comcast voicemail I have a message that says to call my cell phone number. During these blackouts I have to then call Comcast and walk the technician through the process of clearing my line.
Looking to see what other services cost is on my To Do list but I haven't gotten to it yet. Good luck! Trish
Vonage Phone Service - have you used it?
I am wondering if anyone has any feedback after switching their phone service to Vonage. I like the idea and the price is right, but I'm just wary of disconnecting with AT, deciding that I hate Vonage, and paying a ton of fees to reconnect back to AT I'm planning on using it almost exclusively for a fax machine if that makes any difference. Let me know what you think, positive or negative. Thanks! Elizabeth
Don't do it! I started my business two years ago. I wanted to use Vonage from day one, but I found out that Vonage does not allow you to choose phone numbers, and I wanted an easy to remember number for my business phone and fax lines. I had to sign up with AT in order to get the numbers of my choosing, and then port them over to Vonage.
I won't go into detail about the various problems I have had with the voice line. Suffice it to say that when you have a problem, it is very hard to find the right company to take responsibility for it. Vonage will blame your internet service provider and your ISP will blame Vonage. Then again, it could also be a Linksys hardware problem!
Although Vonage offers a free fax line with the higher end package, I found that my fax machine did not work very well with Vonage. When you lose data packets on a voice call, the voice breaks up a bit. When it happens during a fax transmission, the fax will fail. It took me a while to get to the bottom of my fax problems, but when I switched my fax number back to AT, my problems went away.
I still use Vonage for my voice lines. There are plenty of problems, but I am too lazy and too cheap to pay AT even more money, so I've learned to live with it. For my fax line, though, I had to bite the bullet and pay more for AT service. Former Vonage Faxer
Can I get DSL without phone service?
Comcast Cable internet is the answer for you. You don't need to have a landline hooked up in order to get it. Lisa
You can get the ~$5 monthly rate plan, which is the lowest plan you can go unless you're low-income. Basically it has no toll service, no long distance, nothing. After taxes, it comes out to around $10. I think ATT companies also offer DSL service w/o requiring phone service. I read about it once in the Chronicle somewhere. But it's not advertised, and usually the DSL is listed at ''normal'' price, vs the discounted pricing you get when you have a phone line. anon
You may not save any money, but Speakeasy has DSL without a phone line. http://www.speakeasy.net/home/dsl/ One thing I would do is check to make sure that your 911 service can locate you based on a call from yor cell phone. Steve
Comcast home telephone service reliable?
Comcast is offering a great deal with cable, high internet service & phone service, and I'm wondering if anyone has experience any problems with their home phone service. I'm most concern with the phone service not being reliable when I need/have to make an emergency call. looking for a great deal
The Comcast cable TV, Internet and digital voice sounds like a great deal, and would be if the phone service worked. We had it for about two weeks then cancelled when two service visits couldn't fix the problem that occurred regularly -- the phone would ring, we would pick up, no sound. (They could hear us on the other end, but we couldn't hear them.) It happened several times in that two-week period to us, and has also happened to another friend with the Comcast service. No thanks
We have had Comcast phone service at a great price ($19.99 for unlimited local and long distance calling) for about 4 months now. However, I don't think I will renew when this promotional price finishes up because I have not been happy with the reliability. Just yesterday, the internet (and therefore phone) service was out for at least an hour in the middle of the afternoon. It's a mild annoyance when the internet is out, but I feel pretty stranded when the phone is out, too. We have had at least 2 other similar short outages. Plus othertimes the service has just been weird - my husband tries to call and says the phone is busy or we're not picking up when actually the phone didn't ring. I expect 99.99999% availability with my phone service and I'm not getting it from Comcast. I'll switch back soon.
Switching phone service to Vonage
Has anyone done this and would you care to share your experience? I am contemplating it and have received the adapter from Vonage, but am getting cold feet b/c every time I talk to their customer support, there is *terrible* reception. They tell me they are not using Vonage (!!!), but I am concerned nonetheless (or even more so). Specifically I wonder if people notice any difference in the sound quality, if they experience service interruptions, and if they have any concerns about how Vonage syncs with local 911. Many thanks! Helen C
We switched to vonage about 2 months ago. I had the same experience - the reception when you call customer service is terrible! But, our reception on our home service is fine, I haven't noticed any difference in the voice quality since we switched from regular service. Also, you register your address with your phone number on their website so that 911 will work as usual, so I am not worried about that. I know that some people have not had a good experience though, so maybe it depends where you are? I don't know, but we are happy with it and you really can't beat the price happy with vonage
We are Comcast cable and internet subscribers. It appears we could get cheaper phone service ($40/month) with free installation instead of our current 3 different phone bills (which always drives us crazy). Does anyone have advice pro or con on making the switch? They say we use the same outlets, etc. Is reception ok?
We are also Comcast cable/internet subscribers and I recently got a call from a Comcast rep trying to sell me the phone service. I was tempted UNTIL I asked what happens when the electricity goes out. (With my current, AT, service, I continue to receive phone service as long as I have a corded phone.) The rep told me that Comcast phone service requires electricity. IN the event of an outage, the battery-powered back-up system will last for 5-8 hours. That ended my conversation. I live in the Oakland hills and was without power for 4 days last winter. I need a phone service that will work during outages of any length. anon
Having had Comcast phone service for about 6 weeks now, I agree with the earlier comment that it is still a work in progress. There have been a few times when there was no dial tone for a couple of hours or when the person I called could not hear me. About the third call to customer service, I was told it could be that my wi-fi router was too close to the modem . . . . haven't had much trouble since, but it would have been nice to know when they set it up!! Hanging up the phone can also be a little wierd. Pressing * disconnects you -- which is a problem when you have just left a message and pressing * erases that message from the voicemail of the person you just called. The expertise of the customer service reps varies widely. It took me a while, but I did finally get myself listed without an address (the first rep said it couldn't be done). Also - no more than 15 minutes of voicemails will be saved on their system, which could be a problem if you don't want to check your voicemail over a vacation. On the positive side: the voice quality is good, I like the 'all-distance' billing, and no one has complained (yet) that they couldn't reach the voicemail, which was an occasional problem with SBC. If you have the option to switch one of your phones to Comcast and see how you like it before switching the others, it is worth a bit of hassle, IMHOP. Good luck! Still working with it.
I posted a message several weeks ago about problems we were having with our Comcast phone service. After 3 visits from technicians, more calls to the 800 number than I can count, and one trip to the Comcast office in Alameda, the problem has been solved, and our phone service is working great. The last technician told me that they had only recently figured out how to diagnose and fix the problem. So, that's the good news. There is a lot to like about this service, although I still don't think I'd feel comfortable with it as our only phone long term. The bad news is that dealing with Comcast customer service was a nightmare (though the actual technicians who came out were very nice, and also the billing department was very willing to refund our money for the time the phone wasn't working properly).
Comcast Telephone Service
We are considering bundling our phone, internet and television services into comcast digital. Our primary concern would be switching our phone line from the traditional land phone lines to digital through the modem. It would be a considerable savings. Does anyone have experience with this service for telephones? Please advise. Thank you phyllis
We have had comcast phone service for about 2 months in Alameda. We are living in an apartment during a remodel and this is our only phone service (the cellphone reception is terrible here). For a while, comcast was fine. We have one regular phone hooked up and a two-headset cordless phone. The system has a battery backup so that if the electricity goes out the phone will still work (assuming the cable is up and your phone doesn't need to be plugged in ...) Online voicemail, email notification of voicemail, and all the other features are pretty neat and the sound quality was good. However, recently we have been experiencing an intermittant problem where people on the other end can't hear us when we make outgoing calls. When I called support, they said they had never heard of this problem but would send someone out to check our signal. Well, the service guy just left and he said he is going on 1-2 calls a day about this problem and that he has heard that it is happening all over (of course, our signal was strong and the phone worked fine while he was here). So, I think they are still working the kinks out, and I would caution you against having comcast as your only phone system at this time, as this is an annoying and potentially dangerous problem, e.g. if you need to call 911
Basic Local Phone Service, not SBC
I'm looking for recommendations for basic local phone service that is not SBC. I checked the website, the info there is out of date. My monthly local phone bill is between $18 and $25 per month, which is low I know, but I hardly ever use my phone at home, and it seems that the bill is mostly surcharges and fees. Is this the best I can do? Thanks. Not a Gabber
If you want to save on the fees, you can always elect to have *no* dial-1 long distance carrier. This will save you over $4 per month. To make long-distance calls, you can then use a dial-around. For instance, 10-10-629 gives you 5.9 per minute for state-to-state calls and 4.4 per minute within California. A good source for finding out about dial-arounds (and long distance plans in general) is http://www.abtolls.com ouris
I dislike SBC and am naive about phone service in general. Are there any other basic phone services out there? (I already have Working Assets Long Distance, which takes care of toll and long- distance calls, but doesn't provide basic service.) If so, are they any more efficient or less slimy than SBC? Melanie
We use Wholesale Air-Time which covers the phone service as well as long distance 1-800-840-6673. They say their phone service is 5% less than other companies and the rate for long distance/out of state is .05 per minute and I pay .25 per minute to Italy. Have had no problems and was very glad to get rid of Verizon! tabnand
The long distance phone company that we were using, Econophone, recently went out of business. We're particularly interested in finding a good rate to Israel (we were paying 12 cents a minute/24 hours a day). We also had an excellent domestic rate 24 hours a day. I'm interested in recommendations for a new long distance company. Thanks shalva
I too was using Econophone until they died. I had signed up with them through an independent broker, Ernest Chen, at Horizon Marketing. Earnest has recommended a new company, TMC. I don't know the rates to Israel, but if you call Ernest, 549-3926, I'm sure he can tell you. The rate is .10 a minute to Japan, .069 state to state, and .049 within California. Sherri
This isn't a long distance phone company that you would have as your main company but there is a company called PT-1 communications that has pretty good rates with no access charges or other hidden fees. Calls within the US are billed at 7.9 cents a minute 24 hours a day and calls to other countries are very competitive. Its easy to use them you just dial 1016868 and then dial as you would normally. The bill for their service shows up on your monthly statement. Greig
Try working assets. I'm not sure what their international rates are but they are a very socially consious organization, donating a percentage to non-profits. BBConsults
I can't say enough good things about Working Assets Long Distance. With our plan, it is cheaper to call my husband's mother in England than my own mom in the Bay Area! They are just a fabulous company. Web site is www.workingforchange.com. Colleen
Occasionally I have to make a private call to Germany while I'm in the office (time zone issue), and in my new department at UC, they won't let me reimburse UC Regents, but asked me to charge the call to my home phone number. So I got a Pacific Bell calling card and it works, but to my horror I found out that they charged me $6.48 for a one minute call, using Sprint as their default long distance carrier. Can you recommend another long distance company which will allow me to charge my overseas calls to my home number for a better price per minute? Heike
In response to the question about a long distance company with better rates when using a calling card. I represent a communications company called Excel. We offer great rates on domestic and international long distance, paging, cell phone service and internet access. The person who called Germany with his PacBell calling card and was charged $6.48 for 1 minute would have paid $2.65 for that first minute and $1.40 for each minute thereafter with Excel. Calls made with a calling card are always more expensive. Another less expensive solution is to buy prepaid calling cards. (Yes, I do have prepaid calling cards as well). I apologize for the seeming sales pitch - but I really do get incensed when someone is so blatantly ripped off by the big guys. Sharon
I've been using Telegroup to call Brazil (for years) and the prices are really good, I do call from the office sometimes and I'm billed at home. I pay about $0.40/a minute to Brazil and I know prices to Europe are even better. Check their website at www.telegroup.com. And if you decide to sign up, please let me know (I think they give a bonus if you refer someone :-) . Here is the email address of a sails rep who helped me (Chris Hwa): chrishwa [at] home.com You can also use Telegroup from Europe (I lived in Belgium for 5 years before coming here and was their customer there). hope it helps Denise
I have been using Net2phone. This is a calling card that you pay for by credit card,a nd then you get an access number. THe rates are incredibly cheap both here and abroad. I call Israel, and I think it's about 9 cents a minute...much cheaper than other plans. It also renews itself automatically when your first $25 runs out. You can call from anywhere. THey say that they charge extra for calling from a pay phone. The down side is that since is uses the internet for connection, once in a while the connection is not very good. Most often it's fine. Hope that's helpful. Jody
Does anyone know of a good long distance carrier with a cheap rate to Morocco? Working Assets charges $.88/minute with their $2 monthly fee. Phone cards are about $.50/minute after fees are deducted, but the cards are notoriously frustrating to work with -- being disconnected, having no ringing or busy signal and being charged anyway, being charged when the person never answered. We're looking into switching long distance companies. thanks prajaou
We have been using Telegroup for years (to call Europe) and we are very happy with them. The rate for Morocco advertised at http//www.telegroup.com/ is $0.50/minute. I do not know if the calling card rates are the same, but I expect these to be very reasonable, too. There is no monthly fee if your bill is more than $50. Otherwise they add $5 to the bill. Ralf
We dial 101-6868 to get great international rates to family in Europe. A sampling of their rates are
United Kingdom--7.9 cents per minute Germany--9 cents per minute Morocco--49 cents per minute
There are no minumum charges (you're billed only for the time you talk), there are no connection fees, no monthly charges, and no need to sign up or change long distance carriers (or even have a long distance carrier for that matter).
For international calls, just dial 101-6868 + 011 + the country code. For more information, see http//www.101-6868.com Christina
Years ago, I signed up with INET--Interactive Network System--a company based in Los Angeles, because I needed cheap phone rates for France. They are extremely competitive (12 cents/mn to call France!!), and they offer .52 cents/minute for Morocco 7 days a week, with no monthly fee. They phone# is (800)867-8969 or (888)YES-INET. Bonne chance! Patricia
From: Andrei (3/99)
I want to recommend the AAA World calling as a good choice for a telephone company if you need to call overseas. I use their services for already more than a year, and never had any problems. You do not have to choose them as a primary long distance carrier; they give you an (800) number which you dial first, and then the number you wish to call. They charge no monthly fee and offer a flat rate which is the same at any time or any day of the week. Their price is one of the lowest (if not the lowest) I ever heard of. Here are some examples from their new table of rates which I just got with my monthly bill: West Europe (Germany, France, Switzerlang, Belgium, etc.) - from $0.18 to $0.22 per minute, Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary, etc.) from about $0.35 to $0.40 per minute, Russia (Moscow) $0.32, Russia (St.-Petersburg) $0.37, Russia (rest of the country) - $0.52, Israel- $0.31, Japan - $0.24, China - $0.90. This is the second reduction of their prices during the last year. They have a long list of rates for different countries which I surely can not reproduce here. You can reach this company by calling them at (800) 347-0222. You can also ask them to mail you an application form, conditions of service, and the table of international rates by sending an e-mail to: AAAworld [at] uswest.net. 8/00 Eleanor
I am shopping around for a long distance carrier. Right now we have AT and they are really overcharging us. On the last phone bill I made one long distance call that was $2.70, and my long distance bill was over $16.00. We make almost no out of state calls and only a few intrastate calls per month. Some one at work had long distance removed from her service and uses a calling card for the occasional call she makes. Are there any other suggestions out there
Fran Someone recently posted a recommendation for Working Assets, which we also have. They have several plans and their prices are low. There are also plenty of services that charge a low price per minute with no minimum, who rent service from Sprint and other well-known providers. You dial their prefix before the phone number you're calling and the charge appears on your Pac Bell bill.