Land Line Phone? NO! VOIP? YES!

Land line phones? Are they going the way of the dinosaur?  My brilliant computer consultant Cyndi turned us on to Magic Jack.  We have dumped our Comcast Cable Triple Play Plan at home and just use the VOIP Magic Jack gizmo.  VOIP stands for  Voice Over Internet Protocol, a technology for making telephone calls over the Internet in which speech sounds are converted into binary blah, blah, blah techno jargon blah blah…  Bottom line –  you need access to the internet to make a phone call.

For the initial investment of $69 for the Magic Jack gizmo that plugs into either a router or a computer.  You get a U.S.A. number that goes with you anywhere in the world.  8393889864abe39f4c5972Now that is pretty groovy but I wanted our existing number.  If I finally sold a play or if something tragic happened at home like tidal waves from the Raritan River, how would people find me?  Don’t worry, for about $10 you can “port” your existing number to Magic Jack.  That is exactly what we did. For $79 for the initial year we now have unlimited calling in the USA and Canada and unlimited international calling to the USA.

We were just a tad apprehensive.  I am a “show me” kind of chick.  We set up the gizmo at home – dumped Comcast phone service – it worked great.  The voice quality was fine and as long as we had high speed internet we would have a phone, voicemail, e-mail alerts of voicemail, caller ID, free directory assistance, call waiting and FREE international calling to the USA.

To have a Comcast bill that made sense we dumped cable TV too – that was a wee bit more challenging.  The Triple Play Plan – means you use them for the phone, cable television and high speed internet.  Since our plan is not to be home much, having the flexibility of carrying our phone number with us is wonderful.  The internet is everywhere and so is connectivity.

Before we left for Italy we tried the Magic Jack with my laptop and Jack’s.  It worked fine.  We just had to buy a traditional phone with a cord that could be jacked into the Magic Jack.  I bought a $9.99 model at Radio Shack.  We plugged it in and tested it at home.  It worked great.  Jack packed it in his suitcase and off to Europe we went.

The initial dilemma was the lack of internet service at the house we rented. Ooops. Magic Jack is a VOIP – need that internet.  Wait – there is an iPhone App for Magic Jack!   I set it up on my phone, logged into Magic Jack and boom had free international calling over my 3G data network. (Remember, the earlier blog – we only pay $13 a month for unlimited data with WIND.)  We did the same thing to Jack’s phone.  My phone carries the number that came with the Magic Jack and Jack’s phone is our old home phone number – hmm, we really need to switch that.

Meanwhile back at the Wi-Fi quest, it took us about a week and a half to get internet installed and the router working.  A sigh of relief.  We could set up the real phone and now hear that pleasant ring when folks in the USA call us.  We put an Italian adapter at the end of the plug, plugged the phone into electricity and into the Magic Jack.  Hey, what’s that smell?  Burning plastic – the $9.99 phone was fried by the Italian current.  Don’t ask me why, just don’t bring one.

We ran out and bought a cheapy Italian phone.  Now the cheapy Radio Shack phone was small, white, plastic and ugly.  Check out the form and function cheapy Italian phone.


Note the lines!  Feel the beauty!  It cost $9.99 and is cute and didn’t melt.  Yeah.  We have a phone.  It works – sometimes.

In all fairness, the sound quality has a lot to do with the internet connection.  At our house in Italy we have an antennae on the roof that brings us Wi-Fi from the Wi-Fi gods of the mountain.  I have no idea how it works.  When it is windy – which in the mountains is often – the antennae is doing dirty dancing and the reception is less than great.

There are other VOIP opportunities out there but they seem to cost more.  So, even though we can’t hear you when the wind blows over the mountain, we are still happy with our Magic Jack.

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