Tech-Friendly: Unlimited nationwide home phone service for $20 per month
By Paul Gorski
The headline sounds like an ad, doesn’t it? Print advertising does work!
My good friend Pete MacKay (“Tribute: Pete MacKay: Remembered for love of family and friends, and service to community,” Jan. 11-17, 2012) wasn’t much for texting or e-mailing, but he loved phoning his family and friends every day. In the year since his death, I’ve really missed his phone calls.
Recently, AT&T, Verizon and Straight Talk wireless have released services that would have suited Pete well — unlimited nationwide wireless phone service for $20 or less per month that allows you to use a standard telephone handset. No computer needed, no Internet required, no expensive landline charges and no voice-over IP hiccups. Now that’s tech-friendly.
Still fond of your landline telephone handset? Are you hearing impaired and use an amplified phone? These wireless phone companies have released small devices that you place at any location in your home that has a solid wireless signal, then plug in the standard phone of your choice. That’s it. You can now make unlimited nationwide phone calls at very reasonable rates.
Depending on the carrier, you might pay for the wireless base upfront, or it might be “free,” and then you’ll be charged anywhere from $15.99 to $19.99 per month for the service, plus applicable taxes and fees.
In my case, I was looking for such a service to solve two different problems: 1) I wanted to keep my old landline number, but didn’t want to transfer it to a typical cell phone; and 2) I was looking for an economical way for a hearing-impaired person to use his favorite amplified phone for his lengthy and numerous long-distance phone calls.
These wireless home phones do not include data or messaging, strictly voice service. They all come with similar disclaimers, such as the one from the AT&T website: “Not compatible with services requiring data including but not limited to home security systems, wireless messaging and data services, fax service, DVR/Satellite systems, medical alert systems, medical monitoring systems, credit card machines, IP/PBX Phone systems or dial-up Internet service.”
Another benefit of a standard landline is that when the power goes out, you should still have phone service. These wireless devices have built-in battery backup packs, but the batteries won’t keep power through a long power outage.
I’m not so worried about long power outages, though, or the Mayan prediction that the world will end Dec. 21. So, I tested one of these wireless home phone bases, liked the service, and will be transferring my landline number within the next week. An added benefit, the call clarity is better than my landline. Your experiences may vary.
I won’t tell you which carrier I chose, only that my own cell phone carrier, U.S. Cellular, doesn’t offer the service yet, but I hope it does, as I’m pretty happy with U.S. Cellular’s rates and customer service.
Feel free to write me at email@example.com to learn more about my experiences with my new wireless home phone service.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.
From the Dec. 19-25, 2012, issue