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Finally cut the (phone) cord

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    Finally cut the (phone) cord

    December's ice storm taught me a lot about the reliability of telephone land lines.

    Freezing rain for almost a week brought down trees all over the place (one hit the corner of our house and did a bit of demolition--but that's why we have insurance. We'll be getting a new roof and a paint job on the house among other things, so not a bad deal). And it also killed the power for a few days--the crews spent days taking trees off the 12KV feeder lines here--and we're only a half-mile from the substation).

    We've kept a landline because we thought it was useful in emergencies. Silly us! Our telco "upgraded" our RTs with DLC (digital fiber feed). As a result, we've got about 2 hours of backup phone service. Not much comfort when power is out for days. So, what am I paying them for?

    I ported both of our landline numbers to VOIPo, and got an Obihai OBI200 ATA box. Hooked in place of the telco feed, the phones in the house work great. (I also have a couple of GV numbers, but didn't want to rely on Google for regular phone service).

    The bonus is very good junk call screening. I can go to my web-based control panel logs and see the junk callers getting rejected like a goa'uld hitting the closed iris of a star gate. About $140 for two years and very good technical support.

    Next, I called CenturyLink, explaining the situation to them, canceling the phone service and taking advantage of a promo on 40Mbps internet for $29.95. Since I was clearly unhappy with the wired phone service, they tossed in a year's $10 monthly credit. So my cost after taxes will be about $23 per month.

    Finally, since I use mobile phones very little, it was still a good idea to get a good deal on a backup. Verizon has the best coverage here, but I don't care for any of their plans, nor their hidden charges. I picked up a pay-as-you-go smartphone (An Alcatel One-touch) through PagePlus Cellular and a $10/month plan for 250 minutes talk and 250MB data. Not much, but I don't need much--and I can add minutes anytime I need to--and PPC uses the Verizon network. (Out here T-Mobile and AT&T really suck in terms of coverage).

    So, all in all, fairly painless.
    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

    #2
    Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    December's ice storm taught me a lot about the reliability of telephone land lines.

    Freezing rain for almost a week brought down trees all over the place (one hit the corner of our house and did a bit of demolition--but that's why we have insurance. We'll be getting a new roof and a paint job on the house among other things, so not a bad deal). And it also killed the power for a few days--the crews spent days taking trees off the 12KV feeder lines here--and we're only a half-mile from the substation).

    We've kept a landline because we thought it was useful in emergencies. Silly us! Our telco "upgraded" our RTs with DLC (digital fiber feed). As a result, we've got about 2 hours of backup phone service. Not much comfort when power is out for days. So, what am I paying them for?

    I ported both of our landline numbers to VOIPo, and got an Obihai OBI200 ATA box. Hooked in place of the telco feed, the phones in the house work great. (I also have a couple of GV numbers, but didn't want to rely on Google for regular phone service).

    The bonus is very good junk call screening. I can go to my web-based control panel logs and see the junk callers getting rejected like a goa'uld hitting the closed iris of a star gate. About $140 for two years and very good technical support.

    Next, I called CenturyLink, explaining the situation to them, canceling the phone service and taking advantage of a promo on 40Mbps internet for $29.95. Since I was clearly unhappy with the wired phone service, they tossed in a year's $10 monthly credit. So my cost after taxes will be about $23 per month.

    Finally, since I use mobile phones very little, it was still a good idea to get a good deal on a backup. Verizon has the best coverage here, but I don't care for any of their plans, nor their hidden charges. I picked up a pay-as-you-go smartphone (An Alcatel One-touch) through PagePlus Cellular and a $10/month plan for 250 minutes talk and 250MB data. Not much, but I don't need much--and I can add minutes anytime I need to--and PPC uses the Verizon network. (Out here T-Mobile and AT&T really suck in terms of coverage).

    So, all in all, fairly painless.
    Your Obi box looks interesting. I've been on VoIP (AT&T) going on 2 years and it hasn't been a problem. On the initial install, VoIP wreaked havoc with the home alarm installation, but all that required was an upgrade on the vendors side.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-Fu fighting

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      #3
      Page Plus is operated by TracFone who uses the Verizon network.

      I have two TracFone phones and a plan that costs $99/year (each). It's only 100 minutes/month but that's more than I use. The plan came with a free smartphone.
      PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

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        #4
        I think I told you this already, but you really don't have a lot to lose by trying FreedomPop.

        Phones can be had for as little as $35, but I don't know what the current deals are, so let's assume $80.

        Then, go through a little hassle making sure you don't agree to an expensive plan, and for $15 one time, you can have 200 minutes a month, and 500 text messages and 500+ Mb of data, for absolutely no cost for as long as they offer this. I think I've had it three years, maybe four, and have not been ripped off.

        I have nothing to gain by promoting this, but, free to $15/month for a bigger plan, gets you a heck of a lot more than the other pay-as-you-go services. And the phone service is VoIP, so it works outside where you can get cell coverage, or inside on your WiFi network, without having to use Google, or jump through any other hoops.
        Be polite and I may let you live.

        https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...5NBVfKX5471R9U

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          #5
          And by the way, this really stinks about POTS going digital. And we thought the breakup of Ma Bell was bad. This is even worse than ASTV.
          Be polite and I may let you live.

          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...5NBVfKX5471R9U

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
            And it also killed the power for a few days--the crews spent days taking trees off the 12KV feeder lines here--and we're only a half-mile from the substation).
            This is something that baffles me about northern states. They know every year that they're going to get snow and ice, yet refuse to do preventative tree trimming maintenance to keep the trees away from the power lines, and then they pay the price with extensive outages that cost the economy millions of dollars. I guess it's the same reason they use salt instead of sand, incompetence.

            Down here in central Texas, pretty much every utilities provider has tree service to keep them away from the wires and we rarely have a power failure related to vegetation. We may not get many snow storms here, but the regular storms are enough to snap tree branches off and cause grief.

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              #7
              The local co-op comes through about every 8 years and takes their right-of-way to the ground, but trees outside of the right-of-way (remember that the dominant tree out here is the Douglas-fir, which can grow to 100 ft or more very quickly) will take down lines. The one that hit the house was an 80 footer. Tops of mature Ponderosa pines were snapped off all over the place.

              A lot of lines just got so much ice on them that they took the poles down. It was not good. From the main feeder line, the home in this area are served by buried lines--I have a buried 12KV feeder going from the street 220 ft. along my driveway to a transformer sitting in my front yard. From there, the 240V service is buried and ends up at the meter base and thence into the house. The outage took out a primary-side fuse in the transformer--the guy who changed it used an 8 ft. fiberglass pole and acted like it was going to jump out and bite him. I've seen a backhoe hit one of the buried lines--it's very loud.

              The telco had buried lines as well--nothing above ground until it came time to replace them. They went with fiber strung on the utility poles--probably a cost-cutting measure. From there it goes to the RT/DSLAM and uses the current buried lines to the house.

              It's pretty clear to me that CL at least wants to get out of the telephone business. No arguments from the sales person about staying with landline at all. Apparently, the old Qwest standard for RT power was 8 hours; Century Link filed a request for action with the FCC in 2014 to essentially drop that to almost nothing, based on the argument that everyone's got cellphones.

              It's a strange business. They still support at least one T1 line in the neighborhood--I can't imagine what that's costing the guy using it.
              Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

              Comment


                #8
                Verizon did the same with the FCC in regards to Fios battery backups. It used to be installs came with an 8 hour battery backed UPS for POTS service on the optical network terminal. Now its optional and you have to purchase your own backup device if you want one. Otherwise the entire fiber service is passive and requires no other utility power, the central office has a generator when the power goes out.

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                  #9
                  I got Ooma office for my business line a year or so back, it works great and 1/2 the price of my previous Verizon copper landline. But I'm running it over my FIOS internet, so if power goes out for 5+ hours phone service will be via my cell phone only. I do have TMobile hotspot so the internet is still usable via the cell (which was great when Frontier broke my FIOS for a few days shortly after they took over from Verizon).

                  Comment


                    #10
                    VOIPo is BYOD, so if you've got your own ATA (like the Obi box), you can use them and other VoIP services on the same box. It's pretty cool. VOIPo.com normally supplies cheap Grandstream ATAs, but they're preconfigured for a single number.
                    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by GiGaBiTe View Post
                      This is something that baffles me about northern states. They know every year that they're going to get snow and ice, yet refuse to do preventative tree trimming maintenance to keep the trees away from the power lines, and then they pay the price with extensive outages that cost the economy millions of dollars. I guess it's the same reason they use salt instead of sand, incompetence.

                      Down here in central Texas, pretty much every utilities provider has tree service to keep them away from the wires and we rarely have a power failure related to vegetation. We may not get many snow storms here, but the regular storms are enough to snap tree branches off and cause grief.
                      I make fun of our electric utility, Weenergies, beause it yousta be we would have little power outages just long enough to reset all the digital clocks, all the time. Yet they have these commercials where they say they are voted by their shareholders, "Best in the nation for keeping the power on." But I don't think I've ever had a power outage that lasted more than a few hours. The only thing that sticks out in my memory is when we had a severe storm, and the power was out in the adjacent city for a day or two. But I don't think it even went out here. That was almost 20 years ago.
                      Be polite and I may let you live.

                      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...5NBVfKX5471R9U

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by GiGaBiTe View Post
                        This is something that baffles me about northern states. They know every year that they're going to get snow and ice, yet refuse to do preventative tree trimming maintenance to keep the trees away from the power lines, and then they pay the price with extensive outages that cost the economy millions of dollars. I guess it's the same reason they use salt instead of sand, incompetence.

                        Down here in central Texas, pretty much every utilities provider has tree service to keep them away from the wires and we rarely have a power failure related to vegetation. We may not get many snow storms here, but the regular storms are enough to snap tree branches off and cause grief.
                        What northern state(s) are you specifically referring to? Where I live I see the tree services trimming around power lines every year.
                        PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I think they trim ours twice a year.

                          I've got a really sickly looking oak that was unlucky enough to grow directly under the medium voltage lines.
                          Be polite and I may let you live.

                          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...5NBVfKX5471R9U

                          Comment


                            #14
                            As I mentioned, there's no trimming. The co-op takes things in their ROW right down to the ground, sprays any stumps to prevent re-sprouting. Doug firs are like toothpicks--very tall straight conifers that don't spread a lot. Look at an episode of SG-1 with a scene in the forest. You'll see what I mean. So when they come down, they often stretch right across the road and not only kill power, but block traffic. Doug-firs are also like weeds--they'll grow in the poorest soil.
                            Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Interesting story.

                              I used to work as a utility forester for a contractor for Ohio Power 20 years ago. I would walk all of the residential power lines and mark trees and vegetation that may be going into the lines for removal or trimming. Then the crews would follow up a few weeks later to do the work. For trimming, we had the right do do the work without the landowners permission. But, for removals we would have to get the owner to sign a permission form.

                              On my first day on the job my boss is showing me the ropes and he says "Ok, now I'm going to show you how to get a removal. We always want to get the removal rather than the trim because A) less trimming in the future and B) we get paid more money for the removal." So he picks out a very nice tree in someone's front yard growing near a power line that has been obviously trimmed for years. He rings the bell and proceeds to put on one of the best sales pitches I've seen telling the land owner how dangerous the tree was, it could fall on the lines and cause someone to be electrocuted, etc. etc. It was obvious the owner liked the tree but my boss eventually wore him down and he signed for removal.

                              When we got back to the truck, my boss looked at me with a smile and said "And that's how its done!"

                              But, I never did push much for the un-necessary removals because it was more work to get in touch with the landowner. However, I was in the best shape of my life walking those power lines all day!
                              Pete
                              http://pski.net

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