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Recommendations on a good Voip service?

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#1
I'm fed up with the way CenturyLink's DLS and phone prices are getting. So I'm switching to 100Mb Cable internet, and Voip phone service.

For Voip I'd prefer something under $10 a month with no contract. The only thing I've narrowed it down to so far is 1-Voip, which is $8.97 a month, and month to month.

I will most likely be using an Arris SBG6580-2 modem and router combo. I need the service to be compatible with that modem, which 1-Voip said it should be with the 3.0 firmware on the modem. That modem is also the most desirable (most purchased and positively reviewed) modem on the compatible modem list of the cable provider I just signed up with (installation 10/2).

One concern I also have is whether the calls will drop my net connection on my PC. According to what I read on a blog someone made about Vonage, they recommend connecting the Voip adapter as first device after the modem, or interrupts can happen, which is what the blog author experienced.

The thing is I'm not sure whether it's possible to connect it without interrupts on a modem with router built in. The blog author said he followed his techie friend's advice on how to configure things so it would work without interrupts via connecting to the router, but he said it caused the Voip adapter to not connect sometimes.

I know there are cheaper services than 1-Voip, but they are rated as having clear sound quality, good customer service (24/7), and at least some security, like a solicitor blocking service and blacklisting. I have also read horror stories about the cheap services a lot of people use (like Skype) where people's accounts get hacked and they wind up with huge bills that the service provider cannot explain, which I definitely don't want.
 
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Kursah

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#2
Been using MagicJack Plus for years and years over Charter Cable. $99/yr iirc, and there's a yearly 911 tax/fee iirc too...not too much tho, and the investment of the network adapter. Though IIRC, I got the first year free with the one I bought. I could be wrong...been a while since I purchased it.

Haven't tried 1-VoIP, and I've seen some mixed bag stuff with Vonage, and even MagicJack for that matter...but my personal experience with MJ has been golden. I had one issue where I had to contact customer support and have them fiddle around with call routing issues. So one issue in over 6 years of service. Honestly, far less hassle than I had with a CenturyLink DSL + Analog Phone combo, they're trying to be the next affordable fiber game in my area...but their horrid customer service and slow response rates (sometimes 1-2 weeks for an on-site) I'll gladly wait for other options to show up.

I haven't had any interrupts, I have my modem and router (PFSense box) down in the basement with my network gear and server. I have a single Ethernet run of approx 70-80ft that goes upstairs where an Asus AC-66R acts as a wireless AP and 4-port switch. That is where the MJ adapter is connected. No issues at all and used daily. Good quality, no jitter or dropouts, etc. Local, long distance, whatever...been easy to deal with and minimal effort on my part. YMMV though, a boat load of factors in how overall sound quality and jitter can/will end up.

So far MJ seems to be decent for a budget with minimal messing around. I deal with enough phone systems at work for Digium and Allworx deployments, I don't need the complexities of either system at home...yet. Though there have been times I'll set a call rule to call my cell or home phone so I can work from home. :D

Good luck with your search and choice. I'm curious to see what you end up going with.
 
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#3
I'd have never expected someone with so much networking expertise would go with MJ Plus. I guess that says a lot for MJ. The thing that kinda put me off with them is the way they show you how to connect for the PC offline option. That is to say the way to connect without needing your PC on. It was an ugly looking jumble of piggy backed devices all plugged straight into a power strip. Then there's the many negative reviews like you said. I'm sure it works fine for some, I'm just not sure I want the risk of what sounds to be a hit and miss service.

I've come to find the free way is to be avoided, that is the cheap cell phones you can get with a certain number of free minutes. You end up with a crap phone and terriible customer support. My take on pay Voip services is similar in that the cheapest ones are to be avoided. 1-Voip's value plan is just under the average price for most Voip services, and unlike every other Voip I've seen, is month to month pricing without charging more per month than the yearly price.

About the only neg I can see of 1-Voip's Value plan is it's not totally unlimited calling for US. The outgoing is limited to 500 min, but that is enough for me. I really don't make many calls. More often social calls are friend's calling me asking for help. I just want something that's reliable, good sound quality, secure, and has good customer service at a decent price. It may not be the cheapest, but 1-Voip is almost 1/3 the price of CenturyLink's landline service, even when it's discounted, and theirs doesn't include ANY free long distance minutes.

Thanks for the feedback though, and I'll let you know what I go with and how well it works. Another nice thing about a lot of these Voip services is you can transfer your current phone number to it for free, which 1-Voip does. I've also read it's very easy to set up. That's another plus for me, because quite frankly networking tech is a bit more daunting for me than general PC stuff. I'm sure for you it's a cake walk though.
 
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newtekie1

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#4
I used Ooma for about a year before dropping my land line entirely. With them, you just by the box, which was only $100 when I bought it. Then you only pay the taxes/fees for the phone service each month. So my monthly charge was under $2.

Call quality was good. There was no issues with networking, I plugged it into my ASUS router running DD-WRT and it worked just fine. I don't remember if I had to forward a few ports, but I know it worked fine behind my router. I did not have to connect it directly to the modem.

They also offer some more advanced settings if you pay a small bit extra each month. I didn't need those, so I only paid the $2 a month.

Don't worry about VoIP dragging down your internet connection. Yes, it uses some bandwidth, but with a 100Mbps internet connection you should be fine. Even if your upload is on 10Mbps, you should be more than fine and not notice a slowdown from the VoIP.
 
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peche

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#5
here in the office we started with magic jacks, so hard times, no calls, service down sometimes and also recycled phone numbers, so you get odd calls sometimes.... then moved to Vonage business, decent service, decent price, also oi could refer you for better price since im the one that deals with them tech related and accounting ...

upload_2017-9-26_12-0-39.png


Regards,
 
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#6
I'm not 100% sure cause this got set up a while ago, but if you're up for a challenge a little later witb this, I've got a raspberry pi PBX running my VoIP out to a Google phone line. I'd say this would be a great option if you have time for this, mostly cause its dirt cheap plus your VoIP line could then be configured to use whatever other devices you have including phones and the like.
 
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#7
Google voice has always worked fine. I don't know what kind of options are required but it's a free phone number ,with unlimited free texting ,unlimited international calling, and you can add money to it (I don't see why you would) you just use your gmail to access the voice calling through a microphone. I've even finagled it to work through Safari for free texting if you have a capped Text plan. i like it because i dont like giving my real # out, so this is a reasonably simple solution ;) for cheapskates like me
 
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#8
Funny you guys mention Google Voice. A neighbor raved about it, so I bought a cheap $10 headset and then got a number assigned. All the local ones were taken but this one was just near the southern border of my state, so not too terribly far away. I could never get calls to work. The only way it would work is if I had it ring my landline phone, which seems pointless if I have to have landline service to use it.

Anyways, I went too long without using it so my number is no longer active. I don't know totally if I set it up right, but as far as I know it doesn't require a Voip adapter box. I think it works completely through Google's software on your end. There's no real support for it though, which is one of the biggest annoyances if you ask me.

I'm not concerned at all about how much bandwidth Voip uses though. I've read worse case scenario is like 128Kb, which is like a 20 min + call. I'll be calling 1-Voip back today because the night staff guy I spoke to last night couldn't answer some of my questions.
 
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#9
I've been using Ooma for about 7 and a 1/2 years and haven't had a single issue. Like Newtekie pointed out, we are just paying state taxes/fees which amount to about 3 bucks a month. I wasn't familiar with Ooma when I signed up and I was expecting problems with call quality, dropped calls, and the like....but it has essentially been trouble free since from day one. Couldn't recommend Ooma highly enough...absolutely love mine.

I will note that we are using an older D-Link DIR-655 Wireless N(300) router and plug the Ooma directly into the router along with an Amazon Fire TV box, Amazon Fire TV stick, a tablet, and a pc. I've experienced zero issues or slow downs doing so, everything works great.

Internet + Phone + Netflix = about $60 a month. We also utilize OTA broadcasting.

:),

Liquid Cool
 
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#10
I don't know if it's just the name, or the negative testimonials I've read, but Ooma seems to be the Uber of Voip. When you hear things like field reps not honoring a discount they agree to, or getting someone in the Philippines when they claim they have US based support, it just reeks of many of the problems you find with ultra cheap, buy our hardware and that's it businesses. The fact is they need at least SOME amount of cash flow to offer adequate support, but what makes me worry most is how secure the service is, I'm guessing not very for the Basic plan.

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/cell_phones/ooma-telo.html

Anyways, I signed up with 1-Voip for now just to try them out. Got a great guy named Dominic to set it up and he waved the $14.95 shipping for the free to use Voip adapter. So it was $26 something to get it started, and the monthly will be about $11.50 after taxes. I'll let you know what I think of it once I try it.

Thanks everyone for the comments, and please, keep them coming. Voip seems to be a constantly evolving business, and I'm always eager to hear about services I've not read about or experienced first hand.

BTW, can anyone here tell me what adding toll free service means? I just saw this on 1-Voip's addon options, and the after hours guy said I have to ask customer service during business hours tomorrow. I'm hoping it just means if you want your number to be toll free, like for a small home business.
 
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#11
Well guys, thought I'd report back after using 1-Voip a couple weeks now.

The Good

The blacklist and Nomorobo/SPAM blocking service works well
Haven't had a problem with dropped calls and audio clarity is good
Phone support answers quickly and usually offers help right away

The Bad

The 500 outgoing min on the Value plan can feel restrictive
Some emails are answered slowly or not responded to at all


The reason I started emailing them is I found all toll free calls and customer service calls to them are counted as minutes. Their response was once you go over 500 minutes, they don't charge for customer service calls. This to me seemed odd since obviously calling them can contribute to going over 500 minutes, whereby you're charged for any other calls.

I've also received a few calls since getting this service that struck me as odd. Two were related to CenturyLink accounts of a couple disabled friends whom I acted as an authorized phone contact for. What's odd about it is with CenturyLink's land line phone service, with a mere unlisted status, I wasn't getting calls from them. On that same number ported to this service though, I suddenly got calls from them.

1-Voip assured me they do not list their customer's numbers, but I get the feeling all voip type services are more vulnerable to being discovered just because it's an over the internet type service. At any rate it's of no consequence because all you need do is look at your call activity on your account, and put the number that called you in your blacklist.

Finally, I ended up calling Ooma just out of curiosity, since their service does not restrict outgoing minutes. The call kept looping back through their press one for residential/sales prompts, so I hung up. I then got a hold of a chat person and asked her to call me, which she did 10 min later as she promised. I wasn't about to let my outgoing minutes dwindle down waiting for them anymore.

I told her about the phone looping problem and she said she'd notify the people whom handle that. She also said I was the only one having mentioned such a problem, as if she was being dismissive, or even cynical. We talked about the tax estimation portion of their website, and that at $5.15 it seemed high to me. I also asked why she said it's without your state sales tax when one category clearly says it's estimating such taxes.

She then told me it also calculated tax on the device you have to buy. BTW, it said only $1.06, and having put in my zip code it should have seen that my state charges a whopping 10% sales tax, which would be more like $10 on the device, even with their $50 discount. However she did say they could match Walmart at $80, but that would still be $8 tax.

We then talked about features included on the Basic plan, which has no call blocking or SPAM filter. You have to get the $10 a month Premium plan for that. She tried to transfer me to the customer service dept to discuss it further, saying she only sells the devices. I was met with a busy signal when transferred. She also before that just bluntly said you don't have to buy our service when I said my current plan for less than their premium has Solicitor/SPAM blocking, AND call blocking.

I then tried to go back through chat for a call back, but chat was "unavailable". Now I know the person I spoke to was in the US, because my caller ID said it was from San Fran, but she had a thick accent and was the typical snob type you often encounter in off shore call centers. This service could end up being a bit cheaper, and has unlimited calling, but I doubt it's one you can trust for support or even security on their basic plan. I also don't like that you have to shell out $88 up front for the device and tax, in hopes you'll be able to tolerate them.

I'll be getting a cell phone on a free plan soon though, which will add 350 minutes. I much prefer that since I don't make many calls, to having a service that I'd be paranoid with. It's really only been the lengthy calls to CenturyLink that's drastically upped my minutes, and I found a way around that. You just tell them to put their phone in Auxiliary status so they don't get the next incoming call in the queue, then call you back. If they refuse, just tell them you'll put in a complaint about them. I've been a Qwest/CenturyLink customer for 26 yrs, I think their supervisors would probably want to hear that complaint.

The lengthy calls were due to my finding out through their tech dept that my line does in fact qualify for 20Mb down and 2Mb up. That resulted in talking to their accounts person and insisting she look at the records of that call. The problem is their Loop Qualification System does not retain the data yielded by a tech's manual test run. It kept reverting back to saying my line only qualifies for 12Mb.

However after some talking to them telling them they've been feeding me this misinformation for years when I told them I want 20Mb service, they finally agreed to send me out a free pair bonded modem to handle that speed, and bump me up to 20 down and 2 up. I'll believe it when I actually SEE it though. The modem is supposed to come soon, and if and when it does, they sure as hell better not charge me for it.

The tech person also verified when I said all the modems listed for compatibility on their site are older models, that they sell older model refurbished modems when they're telling customers they're "new", and the accounts staff think they're actually new ones. That said, I've noticed they at least bumped me back up to the 15Mb speed I was on while waiting. This happened last yr too, right after renegotiating my promo, they dropped me down to 12Mb.
 
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#12
Hopefully the cable(not coax) utp's don't have bridgetaps, metallic faults, corrosion from the crossbox to the side of demarcation point as that will cause Signalling to be unbalanced