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Summary:

Jeff Pulver and Tom Evslin are working hard on petitioning FCC about things that need to be done right in case of a disaster, mostly for a VoIP perspective. They have been asking others to spread the work. Actually, when reading through the documents to better […]

Jeff Pulver and Tom Evslin are working hard on petitioning FCC about things that need to be done right in case of a disaster, mostly for a VoIP perspective. They have been asking others to spread the work.

Actually, when reading through the documents to better understand the petition, I was struck by how much work needs to be done from a consumer VoIP (PSTN home phone and VoIP home phone services) perspective. I chatted with another wise soul and we realized that despite all the marketing dollars and early adopter fascination with VoIP, basic phone service from the bells is better on all counts, except price. If you use a service like Vonage then…

1. You lose reliability of the phone system.
2. You sacrifice quality.
3. You lose 911 service
and most importantly…
4. Update: You can use only one phone plugged into the ATA, unlike PSTN where you can jack your handset in pretty much any phone outlet inside the house. (Of course, you can buy a wifi handset for about $100, but that’s not the same thing as what I am mentioning.)

I did find a way to get multiple phone-jacks working on a single VoIP line, thanks to a AT&T Callvantage brochure. Still it doesn’t address the ease of use issue. I know smart folks like those in the comments section, can do it easily, but can mom?

Now that said, if you use SBC or Verizon PSTN,

1. You lose ability to call from a softphone. (But then not everyone is a laptop carrying freak like me!)
2. You lose Virtual Phone Number capability.
3. You really cannot brag at a party that you are hip to the new VoIP thing.

Regardless, folks please head over to Jeff’s site and send your comments to him about his post disaster communications petition.

  1. “You can use only one phone plugged into the ATA, unlike PSTN where you can jack your handset in pretty much any phone outlet inside the house. (Of course, you can buy a wifi handset for about $100, but that’s not the same thing as what I am mentioning.)”

    This isn’t true. I have vonage and I have every phone jack in my house working. As long as you don’t have any phone service (meaning the jacks are “silent” when you plug into them), all you have to do is plug the phone line from the vonage box into the nearest jack. The dial tone should be accessible to any phone plugged into any other jack in the house, and they will work as if you had a traditional PSTN service (they will ring when called, can make calls, etc). It works perfectly.

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  2. dan

    thanks for the clarification. i am having a tough time getting this to work. i was wondering if you could explain on what you mean by silent jacks? does this mean that there should be no pstn connectivity at all in the house?

    what do average people who normally don’t know much about phones do to make it work without being overwhelmed. appreciate the feedback.

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  3. Don’t understand your assertion that VoIP restricts subscriber to one phone only. I have CallVantage connected to inside wiring and every handset in my house-corded and cordless-works fine. Does not require ANY technical expertise to do it.

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  4. marvin

    i have been trying to make it work, and well it doesn’t. now i see dan and you are making it work, and i looked at the call vantage site, and have found a way to make it work. it did take some work. i am going to post an update in a little bit.

    i still think it needs some work… and might not be something mainstream users can find it easy to do.

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  5. Om,
    By silent jacks I meant they were disconnected from outside phone service. I assumed that this just meant you had no phone service at all, but I guess it is possible to still have some outside service interference (especially in an apt or duplex). I was fortunate to have this work right from the moment I plugged the phone line from the vonage box into the wall jack. If everyone could have my experience, then anyone could do it, but if everyone has your experience then you are right, very few people could get it working.

    A better explanation here:
    http://www.answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=321781

    I found a walk-thru on the web but it’s still complicated:
    http://brandon.fuller.name/archives/2004/12/06/20.13.35/

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  6. I have used Vonage close to 2 years and by far and large it has been quite good. Had trouble with the Internet and phone connecton being “dumped” sometimes when trying to change browser pages. Chat with Vonage techs said problem was in Times Warner’s old Toshiba 1100U cable modems and that TW has an updated one. Called the latter and they readily gave me a new one which I easily installed. No more problems.
    With respect to house wiring I pay for both a basic as well as a FAX line and both are plugged into the house wiring and work fine with many phones.
    Also installed an inexpensive ($45) AC backup power supply and run the modem and ATA off of it giving me phone service even during the very few utility power failures we have in Austin.

    Recommend the service.

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  7. 911 is the biggest issue. The others can be easily corrected today.

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  8. Fellow blogger Jack wrote the seminal instructions on distributing VoIP throughout the home. If I recall correctly CV copied him wihout attribution. In any event, you should read the cautionary warning he gives about making sure that the telephone wire is disconnected at the NID. Interestingly, CIDCO has a product to take advantage of cell plan called MERGE. It comes with a gizmo that allows one to use the second line (if your home has it) for this purpose as you can see from the installation manual (pages 6 and 7).

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  9. The main advantage of VoIP is that you can derive new features because the ATA is the Class 5 switch and that it gets message oriented signals. To see the possibilities take a look at the plans of PhoneGnome (and most of the features can be applied to PSTN line as well). All other differences are either temporary or secondary.

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  10. I have used http://michigantelephone.mi.org/distribute.html to get a really detailed way of setting up my whole house for VoIP; it even has sections on how to work with home alarm systems and Tivo.

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