Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The compelling reason to replace your POTS landline

HD Voice.

For low volume users, cost isn't the compelling reason.  Look what happened to Sunrocket, when I was a user too.  If you charge lower than the minimum Vonage charges per month, obviously it's hard to survive.  If you don't talk much, there's no reason to move over to Vonage paying about the same.

There's a lot of SIP VOIP providers, but the market is a mess.  I'm not doing it again after Sunrocket.

Wireless carriers are now offering you cheap landline replacement by giving you a huge cell phone that you cannot take outside.  It's cheaper but the quality is not as good as POTS.  You have to buy the adapter that's a sort of "contract" or activation charge.

I recently got and returned a SIP phone.  I love my voice for the first time with the echo test.  I don't trust any providers and can't work with Google Voice like my POTS landland.  So I returned it.

Many users have experienced HD voice via SIP or other forms of VOIP such as Google Talk, Skype and other chat clients.  Now wireless carriers are starting to provide it.

It's the cool factor.  You may have a silly 5.8 GHz cordless in every room.  But it's not cool.  You can't get HD out of the phone line.  But you can from the Internet (also wireless data, same thing.)

It's compelling when someone call you, and your gadget don't have any wideband codec to respond.

And you can get it all free.  Two compelling reasons.  No configuration.  Three ...

Landline replacement means many things to many people.   Replace it with wireless means you are getting rid of the landline altogether.  There's a lot of reason to keep a landline.  If you have a family and small kids who have no cell phones yet.  Even for a couple it's worthwhile to have a landline.  Basically the call is for whoever is in the house, as oppose to an individual.  It's free, so why not.

My landline replacement and enhancement means moving over to VOIP.  By replacement I mean small kids can pick up the "phone" and dial anyone (including 911) with a phone number.  The outgoing caller ID will be what you expect as a landline.  Of course anyone can call you with your phone number anytime.  Even if you ditch the landline altogether, it's good if you can automatically have HD voice at home using the same cell phone.

Never buy any VOIP adapters, even if they work with Google Voice.  You don't get wideband voice by using the same old analog phone. 

I don't know why SIP phones are so expensive.  Cordless SIP phones are more expensive.  It doesn't make much sense with a SIP adapter, and then plug in your super DECT phones or spread spectrum cordless phones.  The adapter output is analog, and behavior exactly like the good old landline.  I got a cordless gigaset which integrates SIP with DECT.  That make more sense and I got it at a huge discount.  I got HD voice on it.  But the UI is too poor compared with, say, an android.

What make more sense is Wifi SIP phone.  But why are they so expensive?  Business people still in business can pay more?

It dawned on me that every Android phone is a Wifi SIP phone.  I checked and there is native support on it.  But like a SIP phone, you must pay a SIP provider.  When you receive a call to your GV number, Google don't convert the protocol to SIP and redirect to your phone.  It's trivial.  You can't even dial out without paying the wireless carrier, but you can use Google talk on any computer connected to the internet.  It doesn't make sense and may be I'm wrong on the last bit.

So Google is doing most of the work, the most being giving you a number that people can reach you.  But Google don't provide the last mile.  The work that Obi did is trivial.  It's like login for you in a computer, receive the GV call, and convert the protocol to SIP to send to your IP.

There are actually a lot of apps on the Android that do the same thing.  Either free hoping you pay for the premium SIP services, ad supported, or one off like the Obi.  So if one server is down and out of business, you have some backup.  And you can always fall back to Skype.  Now Skype added outgoing caller ID, but to get a number you need to subscribe, and I don't know if they can port your number now.  I have a single core Android that don't work well for Skype.  But SIP is simpler and works well without peer to peer.  Though why people don't make a standalone Google talk phone without the video?

An OBi cost $40.  A new Android is as low as around $80 for prepaid Sprint (Virgin).  Paying $40 extra for a Wifi phone is a no brainer.  I don't know how the basic Android performs with HD codec.  But for sure I will buy a dual-core expecting some kids will be playing on it or watching youtube, making sure calls will not be dropped.  The Walmart landline replacement cost $99 and you HAVE to pay $15 each month.  Verizon has the same thing which is basically the same hardware I think.

I have mentioned that connected to the internet GPS are quite accurate for E911 if you are in a single family house.  I will further say that to nominate a household on the street to keep the landline.  My phone line is basically the same internet fibres as the cable company provides everything.  And after the Sunrocket incident, I'm fairly sure they punished me by giving me an internet adapter at the box, rather than giving me back the old line, which has more degree of separation with the internet fibers.

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