The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Low-tech VOIP

Voip boxSince we had to set up all of our utilities from scratch on our new property, Mark decided to enter the twenty-first century in the process. Why pay for both internet and a home phone when you can use VOIP technology to get both for the same price?

To that end, we spent fifty bucks on a phone adapter that lets us plug an ordinary home phone into our router. Then Mark set up a free Google Voice account that provided a local phone number and simulates having a home phone. We did opt to pay $25 per year for optional 911 service, but otherwise calls are totally free within the U.S. and Canada.

What's the catch? There are only a few. First, you can only set up a Google Voice account if you already possess another phone number --- we used our emergency, pay-as-you-go cell phone for that purpose. Also, there's no caller ID on the phone (although you can see the number on the internet) and voice messages are emailed instead of showing up on your home answering machine.

On the plus side, phone quality seems to be quite a bit better than on a cell phone. And the transcribed voice messages that come to your email inbox are a major time saver if your callers have a tendency to ramble on. Overall, this is a cheap and easy solution for home phone service if you already pay for internet service, and I suspect it'll be plenty for our low-phone-use household.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi Anna and Mark,

Great idea. So do you have a wired internet connection and Google voice up to that?

Or does it hook to a wireless internet connection?

And what does the final cost picture look like per month?


Comment by John Tue Nov 21 13:31:36 2017
What an age we live in. When I was a child it cost 75 cents a minute to talk to grandma who was just 30 miles away but across a state line. Now it is as cheap as free to call around the world!
Comment by Michael Tue Nov 21 18:52:05 2017

Hi Michael,

And now we pay $$ for what? A two way radio in our pocket that we own.

But cannot even talk to another nearby unit with.

Thus my question as to what Mark and Anna's telephone really costs.

Happy Thanksgiving to all,
Comment by John Wed Nov 22 14:42:58 2017
John --- Internet here is pretty bad. The only choices outside town are satellite (expensive with crazy low caps on data usage) or WISP (no caps but speeds relatively low at 2 Mbps). We'd really hoped to have cable internet like we did back in Virginia, but that was only cost effective for the company we were using due to federal subsidies that I don't believe have reached rural Ohio yet. Our WISP costs $54.95 per month and comes to us via radio waves from a local water tower.
Comment by anna Wed Nov 22 19:27:47 2017

Hi Anna,

This is a basic Fairpoint wired DSL internet line. About 700 k bits per second. Not really cheaper than you since I 'must' get wired telephone also.

A real ripoff when you read about 10 megabit service, etc. that 'everyone' is said to have!!. Ha.

I can no longer even dial international calls at any cost !! Somehow that also got lost.

ALL the incoming wired telephone calls are junk....

But it is wired, so not radio with all that unreliability added.

I/we pay the 'government' for this!!

911 another joke!

We need to bypass the problem. Share a real internet line among ourselves and do our own thing. Some communities are already doing it.

We all DO have the stuff to do it TODAY!!

Lots of fun :).

But, just like you, I would rather take my energy and be growing my own well mineralized food!!

And be happy, joyous and free and be content with my life.

Comment by John Thu Nov 23 20:06:25 2017

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