I recently allowed my MagicJack to expire without renewing it. Why? Back in July of last year we sold our house. When we moved out, we did the usual change of address cards, moved our utilities, etc. When we went to move our phone service from Del City, to Midwest City, they would not allow us to transfer our phone number. This was not like moving to new metropolitan areas or other states. This was moving to a neighboring city in the same metro area. These cities are separated by a single street. The phone number that I have is the same number that my parents had in the 1960’s. It became available and I requested it in 2006. This left us with the choice of losing that number or changing our phone service over to Vonage. Just in case you are unfamiliar with Vonage, they are a voice over IP (VoIP) provider where there is a box that connects to our Internet router. All phone calls in or out of our home, go through the Internet. Vonage also has a feature where you can log into their web site and enter your home address for 911 calling. This way, if you have an emergency and have to dial 911 and cannot complete the call, your address will be registered with the appropriate authorities.
To someone outside our home, they never know the difference. The dial our number and the phone rings. When we dial a number, we have a regular dial tone but there are no phone lines coming to the house. At least the phone lines that are coming to our house are dead. Vonage allowed us to port our current phone number to their service and then we could take the box anywhere in the world. We would never have to change our phone number again…even if we moved to England. Since their service is not free and requires us to pay $25.99 per month, it made no sense to renew the MagicJack since it already had unlimited long distance to 60 countries. Actually, by the time all of the regulatory fees are added to the service, we end up paying $36.00 and some change per month for the service. Let me be clear about this… I have read many stories about how people have been unhappy with Vonage but we have not had that experience. I have nothing but good things to say about their service.
We were very happy with MagicJack’s service as well. Our letting it expire had nothing to do with our satisfaction of service. It was more a sense of realizing that since we HAD to pay for service to keep our number and it already had long distance, there was no point in paying for another service even if it was as cheap as MagicJack. I have many relatives that do have MagicJacks and are very happy with them. In fact, my dad uses it exclusively as his home phone. He set up a computer in a storage building and wired it directly into the phone line wiring. All jacks in the house have a dial tone from it. My brother and sister, and cousin have one too and love them.
I just read an article a couple days ago on Techcrunch about how Google Voice is now going to allow people to port their phone numbers over to Google Voice for $20.00. That sounds like a great idea and I am very excited about that. The fact that Google Voice is free is exciting but it makes me have a bit of hesitance to porting my number over there. The reason for this is that Google cannot be making ANY money on this and will at some point either have to discontinue the service or start charging. I have read that Google has only mad the promise of free service through the end of 2011 anyway. That is not to say that it will not continue beyond that but it could. Like I said above, my family and I are very happy with Vonage service so unless they really treat us wrong, or raise their rates, we will probably stay with them. We may at some point renew our MagicJack or purchase a new one for our children as they move out. Since they will likely have Internet where ever they go, it would be a cheap way to make phone calls. I really battled with myself about whether to renew the service anyway but since we are so financially strapped while trying to build a new home, I decided not to.
I will be the first to tell you that as one that loves Voice over IP, I think Vonage, MagicJack, and Skype are all very good products. Skype would be my first choice for computer to computer calling but would be my last choice for computer to regular phone calling. This is because for the average user, it is not feasible for people to leave their computers on and wait for an incoming phone call. The same argument could be made for MagicJack. The way we used MagicJack was to use an old computer that was wasting away and run nothing but the MagicJack on it. Then we would plug a cordless phone into the jack. There is a new device called NetTalk that makes both of them a bit obsolete. Where MagicJack is $19.99 a year for unlimited calling, NetTalk is $29.99. They both require you to purchase the small devices that includes the first year of service but the NetTalk does not require a computer at all. This is a huge advantage over all of them. I have not tried NetTalk myself but have read many reviews online that recommend them.
I use most of these services on a regular basis and would recommend them all. Whenever I call my dad’s phone number, he answers it and I sometimes forget that it is a MagicJack. Since it sits in a computer out in a shed and connects to his phone wiring, it seems like he has regular phone service. We do the same thing with our Vonage service. If someone were to come over to our house, they would see a phone plugged right into a wall outlet so they would never know the difference. With Skype, we can use unlimited video and audio calling so I have many family members that use it. It is a great time to be a phone customer. I can call the weather line in Jerusalem Israel and it does not cost me anything. I have all of the common features included like caller ID, call block, three way calling, selective call block, call forwarding among many more. It is difficult to imagine that we all use to pay outrageous prices to call our family out of state. Now I can call them for free and talk for hours without costing a penny.