I came across a couple of different threads, one on here, that discussed ditching the current phone service provider in favor of other services that will basically eliminate your phone BILL without removing the phone SERVICE.
Here's where I am at:
- I purchased a device called an ATA - Analog Telephone Adapter by a manufacturer known as Obihai. The device I bought is the Obi200 and it cost me about $50 on Amazon. There are different models available that can do different things, but this one seems to be all that I need.
- I purchased a T-Mobile pre-paid SIM card for $4 (they were on sale, regular price of $20, but appear to be on sale with some regularity). This particular card will work in my own device that I already own. If I didn't already have a mobile phone that worked on T-Mobile's network, this would be a bit problematic. The SIM comes with $30 minutes worth of use already enabled (a $15 value).
- I called T-Mobile and activated the SIM when it arrived and provided them with account information for my Vonage account to port the number away from Vonage and onto the new T-Mobile pre-paid phone. About 24 hours elapsed from the initial call and then I received a call from T-Mobile on the home phone telling me that Vonage kicked the porting request back and cited needing more information. Bad on me - I've ported numbers before, and I should have made sure that the agent took ALL of the pertinent account information (name, address, account number, access PIN) the first time.
- I logged in to CallCentric.com and "ordered" a free inbound phone number from them. I opted to (for now) claim to not be using the number within the US so as to not pay the $18/year for E911. Once everything is established, I will change that so that I am able to dial 911 from the new services.
- I configured "port 2" (SP2) on the Obi200 to connect to my new CallCentric account and then configured the SP2 service to use the default ring profile (the ring profile for SP2 is odd sounding and I wanted the default ring for all inbound calls).
- I secured a Google Voice number against a Google Voice account, setting the Call Centric number as the forwarding number. Google called me, I entered a code, and the CC number was set up for call-forwarding.
- I added the GV service on SP1 (port 1) of the Obi200.
- I logged into the Vonage account and set the GV number as a Call Forward number with the Vonage number set to zero rings.
Next steps: Test, test, and test some more while I'm waiting for the number to port from Vonage to T-Mobile. I've set up some reasonably strict call screening rules in my GV account so that known contacts will ring through while those that are NOT known will need to state their name before being connected. And, when the call is connected through, I will be able to press "1" to accept the call or "2" to send it to VM (and call screen the message at the same time).
Once the house numbers is ported to T-Mo, I will dial in to my voicemail and change the outgoing greeting to say "If you've reached this message, please call this other number to reach me temporarily" and leave the GV number.
I will then kick off the process of porting the number from T-Mo to GV for a one-time $20 fee.
When done, the setup will work like this:
Inbound call to GV number -> forward to CC number -> ring phone
Outbound call uses GV number and service and presents GV caller ID info
As I make progress, I'll add updates to this and hopefully recap the process at the end for anyone that wants to tackle it themselves.
When it's all complete, I will have removed a $36/month recurring bill and replaced it with $75 in one-time charges (two monthly bills) and a $1.50/month recurring bill for E911 service. In other words, I'll be removing about $430/year in phone bills and replacing them with $18/year. Yeah, I can live with that.