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Old 09-29-2010, 01:00 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Digital telephone experience?

We are considering signing up for our cable company’s digital telephone service. I have been reading about this, but still have questions — especially about real-world pros and cons.

And one basic question: Is it the same as VoIP?

Does anyone have a cable- (or DSL)-affiliated phone service?

   
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:30 PM   #2
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I don't know if it's VoIP but I think not...

I now have FiOS phone and for me--remember I don't use the phone much...'-}}--the biggest change is that I now get Caller-id and I also don't pay extra for US-based long distance calls as that is "contained" within the basic FiOS phone package I have--FiOS offers at an additional charge, outside the US long distance but I have no need for that...

The service appears reliable--no downtime since I got it last December. Needless to say, I can't tell you about voice quality but my guess is that it's ok.

I still have my 2nd POTS line which runs me $20-ish/month. I got that line when I got my first modem and have used it primarily as a fax line after I got broadband. I didn't want to convert it to FiOS (I could have) because my old CapTel phone won't work on a digital phone line and when I got FiOS (and a new broadband based CapTel phone), my thought was to keep the POTS line as a backup in case we lost power (no power = no digital phone) but we rarely lose power here in Reston and my sister now lives in the building next door so she's sort of my backup now as she has a cell phone. I keep thinking that I should cancel the POTS line and I've just not gotten around to doing it...

Not sure the above is at all useful for you...'-}}

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Old 09-30-2010, 07:51 AM   #3
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It is useful. Thanks.

After I posted I found this site and got somewhat straightened out about VoIP vs cable/dsl digital phones. It is the same technology, but the broadband companies repackage VoIP services. And charge more, of course.

The cable/DSL packages offer some advantages, like using existing phones and wiring, access to call forwarding, voice messaging, and other services, and may make sense for most of us — setting up VoIP looks a bit techy.

But if budget is really critical (or you enjoy small challenges), I think VoIP is the way to go.

   
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Old 09-29-2010, 04:32 PM   #4
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It's odd ... I have a few friends with digital phone (through Roadrunner). They rave about the voice quality. Must be a one-way thing though, because at this end it *always* sounds awful. Crackly and lots of fractional-second dropouts. It's quite different from the typical cell-phone audiuglies.

And of course, when the power goes out, so does your phone service.

   
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Old 09-29-2010, 05:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
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[ ... ]

And of course, when the power goes out, so does your phone service.
Not just power outages but when there's a line fault or a local distributin box gets wet or hit by a truck .....

It's better now and the on the phone (POTS in my case but cell phone would work) support from the internet service tech support is first class with Road Runner down here. We were getting the runaround from the first level phone support when my internet connection went down as well as TV and they inisted they had to send a technician to check out TV set first and couldn't do it for 2 days .....

Internet took one look at the network map and said "Oh I see there's agroupo of 9 modems in your street not working -- I'll get an emergency crew out" When I went to the store 20 minutes later they were up the pole at the street corner and waiting for a second van to arrive with a new junction box ... Two vans there when I came back from the store and the fault was fixed shortly after.

The network guy gave me a tip -- if you lose service or have a problem of that kind check your neighbors and get them to phone in if they have it too. If we get 4 calls from the same area it gets excalated to Emergency status!

I cancelled my fax line a few months ago when I realized I only used it to send faxes to my bank in the UK and they never fax back so if I need to I just plug it into the phone socket and I've altered my header to say No fax line; Phone only ....

   
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Old 09-30-2010, 06:18 AM   #6
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Good tip about getting the neighbors in on the complaint. I gave up the fax line a good while back, but I also had both the business and the home line wired into my home office. I can always use the home line for outbound fax and if someone is REALLY insistent, inbound to the computer. This is for people who say things like "PDF? What's that?"

   
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Old 09-30-2010, 01:47 PM   #7
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hugh:I've altered my header to say No fax line; Phone only
Good idea!

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Old 09-30-2010, 07:59 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
It's odd ... I have a few friends with digital phone (through Roadrunner). They rave about the voice quality. Must be a one-way thing though, because at this end it *always* sounds awful. Crackly and lots of fractional-second dropouts. It's quite different from the typical cell-phone audiuglies.
That’s interesting. The test I took rated my download and upload speeds, jitter, and packet loss all green (top quality) but the quality of service red (worst):
“Your quality of service was measured at 21%, which shows that your connection is unable to produce a constant stream of data. … so sound is likely to be broken.”
If I pursue this, I will discuss that with the cable people. I suspect it may account for some of the slow responses I get sometimes online.

Quote:
And of course, when the power goes out, so does your phone service.
Yes, that is also on my list of concerns. So would the internet. But if I have a cell phone, we would at least have some access to the outside world.

   
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:33 AM   #9
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Another thing that bears consideration is the VoIP service's access to your local 911 emergency service, and your responsibility to keep your information with them updated. There may be legislative requirements for this in some (most?) jurisdictions, but it's worth finding out for sure.

There was a tragic story here a couple of years ago that caused changes in VoIP service requirements at the local (or national?) level: a child was in some sort of medical distress. The family had ditched their land line in favour of VoIP a year or so earlier. Complicating this was the fact that the family had recently moved from Toronto, where the VoIP provider was located, and where their address was recorded. Mother calls 911 in a panic and gets the VoIP emergency operator, who promptly dispatches an ambulance--to the old address in Toronto, only 3 or 4 thousand miles from Calgary. By time the mother was able to get a local ambulance—by finally rousing a neighbour with a land line, the child was dead.

   
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:00 PM   #10
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Another thing that bears consideration is the VoIP service's access to your local 911 emergency service, and your responsibility to keep your information with them updated.
Not sure about legislative requirements, but the cable phone service does include 911 — so long as the power is on, of course. And requires that the subscriber notify them of a change in address.

They also sell backup batteries for cable modems (Motorola in my case) that offer up to 8 hours of standby and 6 hours talk time. Have no idea of what they cost, but they might be worth it for peace of mind. I have a backup battery already, but less capable than that (about 15 minutes in real life).

   
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