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The Magic behind MagicJack

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MagicJack, the USB-based VoIP service from telco vet Dan Borislow, intrigued us from the moment we first read about it in a column by Herb Greenberg. In search of more details, we were finally able to track down Borislow Monday for a brief demo and some inside info, in advance of the product’s “formal” intro either later this month or early next.

Some quick tidbits: The company’s business plan revolves not so much around the USB gizmo but instead around a robust nationwide network that Borislow says is also a certified CLEC; the company has interconnect agreements with all the larger carriers, meaning it’s not about to be shut down like some other value-cost calling operations; and as part of its initial marketing push, MagicJack plans to give away a free phone number (of which it says it has millions) to the first wave of customers who plop down $29.95 or $39.95, a price that includes a full year of unlimited calling to the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe.


If we mess up on any details here, we will blame the noisy atmosphere, since our “interview” took place amidst wayward forklifts and booth-building crews during the exhibit-floor setup day at Spring 2007 VON in San Jose. While it’s possible that we are the willing victims in a measured slow-leak marketing campaign, any operation that claims to have spent two years building a nationwide network of Internet gateways (with 31 session border controllers, a number Borislow is quite proud of), and has spent the exhaustive and expensive time certifying itself as a competitive local exchange carrier isn’t some Web 2.0 play.

The consumer side of MagicJack goes like this: Users will plug the USB end of the ‘jack’ into their Internet-connected computer, and will plug a phone into the other end of the device. The device then boots a softphone onto the screen (in 28 seconds, in our impromptu test); you then can pick up the phone and start dialing. The MagicJack will cost $39.99 for a jack with a memory chip (for the softphone), or $29.99 for one without memory (you can alternatively download the client and keep it on your PC). Yearly subscriptions thereafter will cost $19.99, Borislow has said.

The business side of MagicJack, as best as we can tell, comes from the subscription plans as well as interconnect fees paid to MagicJack’s CLEC partner company (apparently called YMax Communications Corp.) whenever a MagicJack phone number is called. More details — such as additional features embedded into the product, like voicemail, conference calling, and a direct-to-Google search link — will be revealed at the “official” announcement, whenver that is. (At the current leak rate, Borislow might not have much left to tell, other than “some big marketing plan” that he kept to himself Monday.)

Borislow, who claims to have provided most of MagicJack’s $17 million in funding from his own pockets, thinks there is a huge market for value-priced VoIP-based telephony, even though others like Vonage and Skype are revenue-challenged right now. “There’s a lot of people with fixed costs of $700 a year for phone service who may now be able to buy a case of beer a week instead,” Borislow said, putting a thirsty twist on MagicJack’s purported savings. College students or teens who already have laptops and Internet connectivity are also target customers, he said.

On the networking side, Borislow is quick to diagram the MagicJack/YMax advantage, which he says comes from building a network that covers “80 percent of the U.S. population” with its gateways and SBCs. By connecting most of a call’s distance over the Internet between its own gear, Borislow says MagicJack will have far superior call quality to other VoIP providers (or even PSTN calls routed over IP) , who must traverse multiple equipment types and transports that can introduce latency and degrade calls.

(Look for MagicJack in the SJ Labs booth at VON, since MagicJack acquired the softphone-technology firm as part of its inception.)

952 Responses to “The Magic behind MagicJack”

  1. Magic Jack works great as an alternative number. It does take up a lot of memory on your computer. Most of the times the calls are clear. But I have noticed if you talk more than 10 minutes call quality gets bad. It is worth if for $40 bucks. Sound quality is as good as my packet 8 !

  2. Richard

    Magic: Problems with incoming calls when it’s wired to the whole house could be a problem with your house wiring or you may have too many phones hooked up. Also, you must disconnect the regular phone company’s input line from your house wiring. If you have too many phones, you can test this by unplugging most of them. There are “ring voltage” amplifiers out there also – that would solve the too many phone issue – but I have not used them.

  3. Richard

    It would not be possible for them to come through in hibernation mode, beacuse the computer is completely off in hibernation mode. Standby may be possible – depending on which level of standby the computer is in.

    For instance, if your power settings have simply turned your monitor off, then surely the calls would come through.

  4. I got my MagicJack Aug. 16 and it works great! Set up in a few minutes and made outgoing calls and received incoming as well. Computer can be on hibernate and calls still come through and will go to voicemail if you do not answer. I am very pleased with the service, especially after SunRocket and Teleblend!

  5. I have a magic jack and since last week there’s a problem with incoming calls. I have it wired to the whole house. Does anyone else have similar issues?

  6. you could just go to everyone to buy yours. you dont have to buy it from frank. they sell on there for 40 dollars for the first year license and 20 after that. the service is real good to me. i dont have any dropped calls and line is clear. there are others that say they have problems though and i think it has to be the computer that causes them. i dont know for sure if it would work perfect for everyone but for 40 bucks there isn’t much room for any let down anyway. i think everyone should go for it because its definitely worth every penny it cost plus much more. i see this company growing in the future and i think that many features will come down the road. it is only in beta right now and still looks promising. i glanced at the registry for the magicjack device and see lots of other options. this lets me know that there are plans to do things in the future.

  7. I finally got my magic jsck to work and it
    is great!
    Us frugal pennie pinchers are in PHONE HEAVEN.
    Every friend that has come over has ordered one.
    You must realize that you must plug it in and register 1st after that no problem.
    I would suggest if you have a real old computer and are having problems dont send it back untill you try this. Go to a friends or someone you know with a newer computer and register the phone and get it activated(it dosent matter what computer you use,excepy MAC),then the main important part is over and you can use it on any ancient computer,it is automatically on once you plug in the JACK.
    SO my recommendation with the MAGIC JACK device is
    get one and enjoy…

    “stickin it to the man!”

  8. PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:33 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
    Hi JML,

    1. Number porting will be available by the end of the year.
    2. try to get an invite to and you can forward that number to magicjack for free

    3. Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville, and Seattle

    1. Correct, it is very plug-n-play. You should be up and running in about a minute



  9. I was just on the chat forum on MagicJack’s website and learned some information.

    Power10: when your computer is off, calls go to voicemail, or you use their “follow me” feature and forward your calls to another phone number (cell, office, etc). Also, once a phone is plugged into the magicJack, you can dial from the softphone OR the actual phone.

    Gnldl: From what I gathered on the chat forum and their website, you can choose from one of the available area codes (since only a handful are available at this time – found the area codes under one of the faq questions on The moderator on the forum said that you can later change the number to your area code when it becomes available. Further, they said that you can change your number once for free.

    I was informed that you can make international calls – Canada and Puerto Rico for free, as you do any long distance call within the US. Don’t quote me on this, but I read that you can call to others who have magicJack in any other country, for now, and they will expand international access as they grow. I’m sure someone may have more details on international calling.

    • I am in Brazil and used my friends MJ from time to time. Problems they experienced were that they could NOT be online while on the phone, also, lots of static and after about five minutes, the call would be dropped.

      I use another service and pay $35.00 mo. and is worth it. They all have their pros and cons and of course depending who the ISP is, they all have their own “carriers,” so with all that into account, there will be distortions to be expected due to the routing of calls.

      I have been contemplating using MJ because it is much less, but probably because of “change” I will stay with my service.

  10. Frank,

    Can you let me know if you still have that unopened jack. Can you send me the price to wvirginian at Also, can you let me know if you are able to make international calls, with that jack?

  11. power10

    I am interested in the magicjack however the downside is that I dont leave my computer on all the time. Is there a USB to Ethernet adapter for this? Or some sort of linux driver?

    Also, when the magicjack is plugged in, do I have to dial from the softphone or can I dial from the POTS handset?

  12. Q: I would like to know it the phone # ls local to your area or just a random # from any part of the US, do You get to choose your area code

    • yes,you can pick any area code you want during the set up process,like i live in nj,my aunt lives in Arizona,if i picked her Arizona area code she can now call me for free and as a magic jack customer i always call her for free or another example my dad lives in the same area code as me but he paid toll charges to call me so when i got the magic jack i did pick my area code but i picked his local exchange (the same city he lives in) now he calls me and it is covered under his big name phone company’s local calling area

    • Yes, you will be allowed to select your area code and prefix number, but the problem is if your local area code is available. There are some area codes not listed on the selection. So if your area code is not available you may need to select a number not local to you. :(

    • yes it does work when ur online but when ur switching sites you can hear it in the magic jack and if ur computer freezes up ur phone will cut off….and u can not turn ur computer off….fuck that i took mine back to the store…..i pay 20 a month digital phone through my cable…i will pay extra because MJ sucks bad…..a waste of time..

  13. I just got mine and it is Fantastic that is a understatment. I cannot remember something that i have been so excited with in years.
    It works great clear and i have spent hours on it with no trouble at all.
    It works as good as my regular phone and free voicemail,call Waiting + it can send calls to other phones. 5.5 Cents a Day WOW.

  14. Hi -Up-Timers. Magic Jack Is New Check Out SeattleRaps Reveiew And Blog For Magic Jackish’ New Aplications And uses. Making Money With Magic Jack @ a PAYPHONE? Right – US Calls $5 for 10 minutes to the US. Oversea’s Money Maker With Magic Jack’?

  15. I’m trying to buy one, but I can’t seem to get any response from the company. If anyone has one they would like to sell (Frank maybe?) or can tell me how to get one, I’m interested. You can reach me at skyjet at Thanks.


      • did you fill out the required info of the credit card if you do not put the complete year like i did it will not work,you need to fill out corectly…regards

  16. frank

    I have 10 unopened magicjacks in my possession and I have one out of the package as well. I had to try the service and it was great. The connection is clear and it doesn’t cost anything at all for the first year and only 19.99 after that. I was trying to sell them but I have no idea of how to go about it. Any advice?

  17. Sharl Guillory

    I’m interested in MagicJack for my phone service but would like more comments from those who already have experience with it – give me the pluses and minuses, if any.

    • Greg Hinson

      I just had a tough time with MagicJack. I had the service from September 2008 until now March 2009. I had a myriad of problems from day one. At first I could never just answer the phone on one ring. The phone would ring for 30 seconds and it would let me answer it., then I couldn’t get signals, and then the last thing that happened is that I lost all my files from out of nowhere, I called customer service and requested a new one be sent to me, but the wanted to bill me another $39.95 and send me a new one. Then give me my money back. I just told them that they can cancel me out. i will go back to using my cell as my only phone at least i know what I am getting for my money.

      • Anthony

        I have been wanting to buy a MagicJack since last year but decided against it after reading all the negative reviews all over the internet. Then last week I received a call from my brother in Jamaica and he was calling me from his MagicJack. The connection was so good I though he was calling from somewhere in the USA until he told me he was on a MagicJack. When I asked him about the issues that I have been reading about, he told me he have had no problems since the day he took the product out of the packaging and plug it into is computer.

        Now happy that I finally spoke with someone I can trust (my brother would never lie to me), I decided to buy my MagicJack. On my brother’s recommendation, I bought mine from Best Buy instead of MJ’s website. That way, if I the product doesn’t work to my satisfaction I can just take it back to Best Buy for a refund instead of trying to go through MJ’s Customer Service.

        I got home with my new MJ at 10:35am, 03/28/09, plugged it into my notebook allow the software to install itself, registered for my personal number and 911 access and I am happy to report that I was not required to do annything else, no configeration, the product has been working like a charm ever since then. The clarity is awsome, I have been calling Canada and all over the USA and except for the fact that everyone noticed that my number have change, no one noticed that I am not calling from my land phone. I even connected my HP fax machine to the MJ and sent faxes with no problem.

        Looking back at most of the folks who are reporting problems with their MJ, I am wondering an upgrade was done to the software and all that is needed if for folks with the older version need to run the upgrade for the MJ software. (just a thought)

      • I bought a magic Jack just to “try the hype” over this. I have now cancelled AT&T and my Vonage line as this thing is AWESOME! I can’t believe how easy and perfect it works! Why in the heck would ATT not buy this thing and kill it or use it as a new model and revenue generating product? I have over 1000 minutes on it and it has never “quit”. I am buying 2 more and sending Christmas presents with it to all my nieces, nephews and family!

    • I bought MJ one year ago. I was going to be away for a few months and thought my cell phone minutes would suffer. It worked great, no noice of interference. I am once again out of town and used MJ yesterday. It worked fine. Today, not so good. I am unable use the MJ, keep getting messages that have different “windows”, not so same as yesterday. I have been on the computer one and a half hours now still unable to make corrections and get it to work once again.

      • Jacked

        The MagicJack doesn’t seem to offer any real support. When my MagicJack froze my computer on startup I disconnected the device and went to their support chat. It turns out MagicJack knew all along their device conflicts with music players like musicmatch, musicmatch Jukebox or Yahoo Jukebox and burn software like NERO/Roxio.

        MagicJack’s solution – REMOVE ALL MUSIC PLAYERS AND ANY BURN SOFTWARE. When I pressed for burn software that would work with MagicJack I was told the only way to keep burn software on my computer and keep the MagicJack working was to purchase a seperate computer to use as a detacated server just for MagicJack. I don’t know about most people but I purchased MagicJack to save money NOT to throw it away trying to get it to work. MagicJack wouldn’t even admit they were going to try to fix the conflict. Instead they kept telling me to remove all burning programs.

        I think people need to start filing as many complaints as possible. With the FCC, the BBB and anyone else you can think of. So long as people accept this BS MagicJack will continue to treat us, their customers, like garbage. We need to scream at MagicJack on their Chat Help, through the newspapers and the evening news. MagicJack needs to know people aren’t going to tear their computers to pieces just to help MagicJack avoid fixing known bugs.

        Now everytime MagicJack does an update I need to format the Jack, reboot the computer and wait at least an hour before using my MagicJack again to give the system time to reset. (MagicJack’s instructions. Not mine.) When I format I lose all recorded contacts and the use of the MagicJack till it resets.

        If MagicJack had a full disclosure on their ads telling people about the conflicts with burn software and music players I would never have purchased this nightlight. At presant time, Ive spent 20 times as long on the Chat Help trying to get the MagicJack working right then actually making calls with it.

        Unless you are planning on just installing Windows, an AV and connecting the computer to the internet to use the MagicJack, I’d advise everyone to save their money. If you actually want to use your computer for business purposes or for personal pleasure, MagicJack wil conflict with something on your computer sooner or later.

    • I purchased the magic jack the cons are i didnt have good sound quality, it cut out real bad. I have another computer that has nothiing on it other then windows and tried it on it and it sounded great and works great. Meaning i wouldnt use it on the computer you use to run the magic jack as your only form of phone service. my second computer i dont have a keyboard or monitor nor mouse hooked up to it just the magic jack and the ethernet thats it. Also the computer has to stay running, if the computer shuts down so does the phone. All in all I like the magic jack and I am reading info on it now where people uses it has a way to use their fax machines, that is my next project. I hope this helps you some and let me know if I can answer anymore of your questions

    • Diane Weissenberger

      I have had my Magic Jack for a month now and absolutely love it! I have not had any problems with installation or day to day use and can hardly wait to fire my phone company. The only disappointment is that you cannot use your fax machine with the Magic Jack software, but I don’t fax often, so this won’t be a major issue for me. Given the reasonable price and the money you’ll save within in a year, try it out!

      • DR Young

        I can tell you I did use my fax machine with my MJ and it worked like a charm. I both receive and send faxes without a problem. The only issue is a phone plugged to the phone line through the fax machine will not work on MJ. To solve this, I simply put a splitter on the MJ unit itself…one going to the phone and one going to the fax machine.

      • I tried to use the Magic Jack for a phone and a fax with a splitter and it did not work at all. I had to keep my landline for the fax, I have the phone hooked up with MagicJack but call clarity is so bad most calls I make are intolerable, incoming calls are better. It is best for just taking messages, and does so with the computer off.

    • Listen, if you do lots of downloadings, don’t even think about running magicJ on that same connection, it will work, but people won’t be able to hear you when you speak. If your computer is very slow, magicJ will act suck! beside that it works fine for me…

      • Jonelle

        I don’t have Magicjack and I’ve been think about getting but was just woundering if I get to pick any phone number you want, because i want use the same area code and same prefix as my friend that lives in a total different area code as me. please some one let me know

    • Heather

      I installed the Magic Jack a couple of months ago. I do not use it very often but it beeps while I am talking. I cannot hear it but the person I am talking to can. I am not sure what to do. I reinstalled it and I changed telephones to make sure it was not the phone. Other than that it works fine but this beep is annoying to the person I am talking to. Any ideas????

    • we bought 2 magic jacks ,we have a lot of trouble with them.a lot of jumble in words,otherwise like you can hear a word here and there,and when it desides to cut you off the line will go of now i am not a happy camper.i cant find anyone to give me an answer on how to fix it,or if it can be fixed.oh yea you can’t tell who is calling either unless you go look at the computer and you have their name programed in computer.

      • We have had our majic jack for over a year. We also have a cell phone. We purchased ours for calls to Canada, and we use it often. We have used it over 700 hours, and it still works. We full time RV and it works great most of the time. It all depends on where you are at the time you use the MJ. The company can’t be responsible for the area you live in, but if you are in a major area, most of the time your connections will be good, or ours is at least. I think everyone needs to realize it is only 19.99, for a year. Where else can you find that? I look at it this way, if I get one years use out of it, it has paid for itself.

    • Elantra

      do not make it ur main line….its sucks really bad…i tried out 2 of them and i have returned both. i have the fastest internet there is and it slows it down at times and when i really want to make an important call it seems to act up. i went back to my digital phone with my cable company. the best thing for u to do is try it out for urself. everybody is leaving different feedbacks but most are negative. dont want to make u think its 100% garbage. but from my experience it is.

    • The magic jack worked very good. I can’t tell U how much money I saved. I my mj for 8 month.
      I also used it overseas for 6 month. It worked for very good, once in a while if the internet was slow ur voice would brake up, all u have to do was hang up and start over. it paid for it self 1000 times because I call the states every day for hours.

    • Defender

      Magicjack to magicjack calls are for free and magicjack to anywhere in the US and Canada are for free. Even if it’s not magicjack number. When you connect it into the USB port of your computer it occupies two drivers which is the E: F: drive sometimes it conflicts with the other flash drives so it will not install properly, but most probably it depends how fast your computer is the magicjack will still work. Make sure your computer operating is working well with the capable parts because if not your computer will slow down. There are some customers complaining but once they have tried to use the magicjack to a different computer, it will work.

      • TO DEFENDER, Heres how it works meat-stick. You buy a piece of hardware, it comes with instructions, these are written in the language of English. You install a piece of hardware in your PC, it comes with instructions, they’re written in the language of machine code (or eventually translated into it via programing language). Thats what a DRIVER is. Windows assigns different drive letters depending on whats already been issued and whats available. NOT E: and F: GET A CLUE.

      • A driver is instructions for your operating system (xp, win7, linux) on how to use a device. Drive and driver are not the same, a PC doesn’t come with drivers waiting to be occupied, or driven aaaahhhhh

  18. I tried out the magicjack and it worked fine until I logged into my laptop the next morning all my settings were wiped out and my keyboard is not working properly.
    Bummed out.

      • JIm Westover

        THe magic Jack is setup to expire once you hit 700min.

        Mine hit 700mins and it is garbage now

        DO not waste your money
        WALMART Returned it and I am never gonna look back.
        if you have to try one of these money wasters buy it from walmart
        atleast you can return it without problems


        Everyone knows, there are posts all over the internet, that MJ stops working after a certain number of minutes AND If you have regular audio playing software that most normal people use. MJ just does not tell you that until after you can no longer return the device.

        REPORT MJ


      • I have Magic Jack as My home phone and I love it! I have used it on my desktop and my laptop. I have never had anything disappear or mess up on either computer. I have had it ever since it over two years. The other day it wouldn’t connect. It said BAD HARDWARE or something. I got online and talked to tech support thru their onscreen chat. She had me go to my computer and locate the Magic Jack. It shows up as a removable drive. Then she had me format it, then download the update file and run it. BAM! Back in business. Works wonderful as always. I will give some as Christmas Gifts this year. It is hard times right now and you can’t beat this for $19.95 a year!

      • Enough said, true in some parts but come on peope you only payd what $ 20 a year.You have to understand it is not your old old fashion land line you have to be savvy to troubleshoot one of these take it from a telephone tech who gave up his tel service to go for MJ We have had it for a year now guess what we love it.go to europe and make a tel conversation for less than a buck good luck. Few things you all should know about VoIP is that first of all relays on good reliable and I mean relaiable Inet service( dont expect MJ to work on dial Up) and second MJ needs a lot of PC resourses

  19. I’d have to question the business plan a little bit. The telecom graveyard is filled with the bones of CLECs that built a business plan around interconnection fees. That kind of business plan requires a serious imbalance in calling patterns – significantly more inbound than outbound – but if the selling hook for MagicJack is “unlimited calling for $20/year”, there’s likely to be more outbound than inbound calling.