Tech-Friendly: Unlimited nationwide home phone service for $20 per month

December 19, 2012

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 paul@paulgorski.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

2 Comments

  1. John Eldorado

    December 19, 2012 at 11:48 am

    What is this? Can anyone get a column in the Rock River Times to promote themselves?

  2. Paul Gorski

    December 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    John,

    Thank you for reading the paper, bu I’m not sure how I’m promoting myself, as I don’t offer computer support services, nor do I sell any products. I do computer project management and support for the publishing and marketing divisions of a national association.

    The first line of the article is an indirect reference to an article I wrote last spring, http://rockrivertimes.com/2012/05/16/guest-column-make-connections-through-print-advertising/.

    Actually, I’m restricted from promoting services for myself or even commenting on certain local issues in these articles, because of other activities I’m involved with.

    If you really must know, the article started off as a criticism of local landline and cable TV telephone rates and customer service, but I decided to focus on one narrow, positive aspect of my experience.

    Thanks again for reading the Rock River Times.

    Sincerely,
    Paul Gorski

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