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I Divorced My Landline

Just like many of us, we”ve all had our landline based telephone for a very long time.  And just like many of the people I know they rarely use their landline.  Our landline phone occupied space in the house and 99 % of our call came from either sales people or from organization looking to conduct surveys. 

Goodbye Old Phone

Goodbye Old Phone

 

Back during last year”s presidential election season when the level of incoming calls spiked up dramatically, thanks to practically every person and cause on the ballot, it dawned on me that I don”t really need our beloved landline anymore.  But wait, what if I needed to call 911? How about all those people and companies that have had our landline number for more than 30 years?  How about our DSL internet?  Then my family members jumped on the bandwagon, they had more questions on how come we needed to cut that landline umbilical cord.  Anxiety over abandoning”good-old-reliable” was high in my household.  No one realized that instead of one phone line for the household we now had one phone number for each family member (5 lines total).

I thought to myself, just like everything else, the best way to get people detached from something they”ve lived with for a long time is to wean them off of it.  Instead of disconnecting the landline overnight, or cold turkey I had to find a way to keep our beloved phone number, at minimum access to incoming calls.  Here are the options I discovered I had, the issues associated with each option and my final decision:

Go “cold turkey” disconnect the landline, and deal with the daily “withdrawal tremors” of my family members until they get used to it and learn to survive on their “personal” cell phones.  From a financial perspective, this would have been the best option; saving me approximately $45 per month.  However I was not in the mood to deal with everyone in the house complaining for who knows how long until they realized they are not missing anything.  Beside, and admittedly, I was having my own “separation” anxieties myself.

Turn off the ringer on the phone and have all calls go straight to the answering machine for a few more months; on the answering message inform caller that this number is being disconnected soon and to contact their the person they are calling directly on their cell phones.  Along the way, show my family that we had not had the use of the landline for all this time. At the same time, regularly encourage and remind everyone to use their cell phones to make calls.  Also remind them to let everyone they know that the landline number is being disconnected soon.  This option is fine if you want to continue to pay $45/month and if you want to take on another job maintaining the answering machine so it does not fill up, listening to the messages and letting everyone who”s got a message and from whom.  Does not sound like a fun job.

Port our number to a separate cell number and keep it for several months.  I could have the newly ported phone in the living room available to any family member experiencing “withdrawals”.  It is an option that would have been a good option if we did not have the maximum number of lines on our current cellular plan; which is 5 lines total.  An additional line added to the current plan would have been only $10 a month, a $35 saving.  Unfortunately our only option if we were to follow this route would have been to get a separate cellular phone by porting our home number to it, which meant, back to square one with the monthly expense.  Now, on a brighter note, we could have opted to go with one of those prepaid plans, leaving an outgoing message similar to the “answering machine” option.  The “prepaid” option is a viable one, as long as I kept track of my minutes used, since every incoming call regardless of whether it is answered or not, if it got to voicemail, it counts against the bank of prepaid minutes.  I almost went with this option until I discovered my favorite solution.  There are several good vendors out there, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile to name  a couple.  You don”t have to go with the big boys such as AT&T GoPhone or Verizon Wireless, since cell reception is irrelevant for your purpose; regardless where you are, that call is going to voice mail anyway.

The favorite solution and the one I settled on is with an internet VoIP company called RingCentral.  RingCentral offers a wide range internet telephony services for personal but mostly for business users.  Turns out one of the services they offered was a pay-as-you-go type of internet telephone service with a flexible payment plan which costs the same as the prepaid cost on a “per call” basis.  The difference is that their voicemail answering system has the flexibility to create multiple mailboxes where you can inform the caller that if they want to leave a message to person A, press 1, person B press 2, person C press 3…etc.  Message can go to the appropriate mailbox, it can even send an email with the voice message attached as an audio file.  The best part is that I would not have to deal with being in charge of message distribution and answering machine management.

Now onto the journey of transitioning (porting) my landline to RingCentral and setting up the account and voice mailboxes.  When you go to RingCentral”s web site you will need to find the link to where you check to see if your number is eligible for porting.  If your number is eligible that is good news.  Before you port your number make sure you select a plan that is appropriate for your need.  Basically or at least in my case all I needed was to have a number/plan that can take messages.  If you cannot locate the plan you need just call RingCentral”s toll-free number and talk to one of their representatives.  Once you have a plan identified and decided on, you can go ahead and initiate the porting procedure by filling in the appropriate form and following the process.  Again, if you get stuck you can always call their toll-free number.  The porting process could take a couple of weeks to complete depending on your carrier”s response to RingCentral”s and your request.  The more accurate information you give RingCentral the easier it would be to complete the process.  Once RingCentral has the number, they will notify you via email.  After that, you finalize your account setup, then starts the fun part; setting up your voice mailboxes.  If you are like me you probably want to jump right in and start setting up a voice mailbox for each of your family members and be done with it ASAP. However and as I learned, it would have been much easer if I had gone through the instructions, done some planning and then proceeded.  Recording the outgoing message can be tricky especially when you are going to give the caller the option to decide who they want to leave their message and if they just want to send the message to the general mailbox.  Just think this through and draw out how the callers would be directed.  In my case, as much as everyone in my household was opposed to letting go of the landline, none were OK with me leaving their cell number on their respective mailbox.  So, I set up my system to route the caller to leave the message where they needed and have the message emailed to them.

In conclusion, I think most people might be satisfied with porting their landline numbers to the least expensive “prepaid phone” provider and let all calls go to voice mail letting the callers know that the number will be disconnected with the option of letting them know to call the cell number.

Finally, I almost forgot about our internet access.  Could you imagine the riots you”d have if there is not internet access in a household full of young people?  Anyhow, it is as simple as shopping around for the best deal.  Depending on where you live most carriers offer internet only.  I know for sure AT&T now has DSL only accounts or if they have it in your area, I hear their U-Verse service is nice.  As for us, we ended up deciding on Time Warner Cable Internet service.  They offered simple month to month contract and when needed you can upgrade your internet speed to close to 50 MPS, which you can upgrade to and downgrade from at any time.  For now they don”t charge you any fee so far to do so.  I mention the 50 MPS because it can come in handy if one day you sign up for a cloud backup service and need the upload speed in order to get your seed backup initiated.  I will talk about about this in another post.

If you”ve had a different experience or can think of any other ways to help others divorce their landline I welcome your suggestions, corrections, and comments….

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