So I have a big Comcast internet pipe, so I thought there just has to be a way to get home phone service for less than Vonage, which is close to $30 a month. I took a look around and found a solution that while a little dicey, got me where I wanted to be – home phones that ring for free AND using my original land line (well now Vonage) number.
The steps to port started with a trip to Wal-Mart, where I purchased a T-Mobile “Monthly” phone for $20 (monthly is their new word for pre-paid – which is what I was after.) I have read that you can do this for even cheaper by popping into a T-Mo shop and picking up an even less expensive SIM and use it in an existing phone. I’m guessing that you can do this on any wireless carrier.
My final goal is to get my land number ported to Google Voice. Google lets you port numbers in, but only mobile numbers – this is why I have this cheap little phone with it’s 10 minutes of built it call time. This is where the leap of faith comes in. To activate the mobile phone I called T-Mo’s activation line and was pretty quickly asked via automated menu if I wanted to port an existing number. This threw me to a human and I asked them to port my Vonage number to the prepaid phone. They said it would take 24 hours. 30 hours later, nothing had happened, so I called T-Mo and they said I would need to call during normal business hours. Great – I have a feeling this is going to be painful.
The next day I called again (I had asked for a direct # to the porting department the night before) where they looked up the port, and said “oh, it’s almost done, hold on – O.K. it’s done.” Suspicious, I hung up and called the land line number, and sure enough the plastic little phone rang! Next I called Vonage and cancelled the account – a pretty nice feeling. Step one was complete.
Next I needed to port to Google, so I logged into Google Voice and clicked the “gear” and clicked on “Voice Settings” where I found the port a number button. When you click this, Google goes out to find out if the number is mobile (which it had just become 😉 ) and reported back that it was able to do the port. Next up is another $20 as that is what Google charges for the port, followed by a bevy of “Are you sure???” questions, warnings, and statements. When I got to the end, it said the port should complete within 24 hours.
About 26 hours later I got an email saying the port was complete! Nice! Step 2 complete. Next I wanted to get a rug to tie this room together – make the phone lines ring when my Google Voice number is called. I hopped on Amazon and picked up an Obi110 device – Voice Service Bridge and Telephone Adapter for about $50. When the device came, I replaced the Vonage device with the OBI110 and logged into their site and registered it. Their instructions had you check the Google Chat box back in your Google Voice settings ( had missed this the first time through). After I got a completed setup with OBI, I picked up my cell phone, dialed my good ‘ol land line and shazam! Phones ring all over the house just like they had at the beginning of the week – only now for FREE (well $90 later I have free phone service.)
My wife says the quality is better than Vonage, and I have to agree. There are some considerations using this setup – 911 calls are not automatically routed. But this was going to be the case if we had decided to jut go Cell anyway. Google Voice may not be free forever. I’m guessing they stay free, but I can cross that bridge later if need be. There are other low cost alternatives to hosting your Voip number, so maybe a port to them would be a fix for that.