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Discussion Starter #1
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
But your plan requires cell service being available. That is the reason I have VoIP.
It is only required temporarily while the migration is going on, and does not actually need to be "in service" other than to be able to call in and set an outgoing message AFTER the porting of the number TO the cell phone.
 

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It is only required temporarily while the migration is going on, and does not actually need to be "in service" other than to be able to call in and set an outgoing message AFTER the porting of the number TO the cell phone.
Believe it or not, there are areas that have NO cell service, even temporarily. While I have a cell phone, (boss supplied), I have no service or reception on half of my property, and the other half depends on weather and sunspots to decide if it will be working at any given time. While areas are getting fewer and farther between that have no cell service at all, some areas may not have it for a few years yet. I've often said that, in all the time I spend driving across parts of west Texas, I can promise you, if I break down, I'll have no service, as I'll be on the wrong side of the hills. There are long stretches of highway that one cannot get a signal of any kind.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Believe it or not, there are areas that have NO cell service, even temporarily. While I have a cell phone, (boss supplied), I have no service or reception on half of my property, and the other half depends on weather and sunspots to decide if it will be working at any given time. While areas are getting fewer and farther between that have no cell service at all, some areas may not have it for a few years yet. I've often said that, in all the time I spend driving across parts of west Texas, I can promise you, if I break down, I'll have no service, as I'll be on the wrong side of the hills. There are long stretches of highway that one cannot get a signal of any kind.
T-Mobile service at my house is extremely poor. Doesn't matter to me, though, since I'll just take care of recording the outgoing greeting at some point when I'm out of the house and the phone has service. For me, whether or not T-Mo covers my house is completely irrelevant as it's only a transient service anyway that doesn't ever have to actually be USED. The ENTIRE process can occur without ever even turning the cell phone on (except to initially activate the service).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My setup, until this evening, was not providing Caller ID information.

Google Voice doesn't provide Caller ID information and only the phone number is transferred to the next provider when a call is forwarded. So, I call a Vonage number, that gets forwarded to GV, and that gets forwarded to CallCentric. The -number- is transferred all the way through, but it would be up to CC to actually provide the Caller ID information associated with the number. Turns out that the Caller ID function was disabled in my account. Turned it on and it is now working properly.

Still waiting on updates from T-Mo regarding the port-in of my number from Vonage.
 

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At this stage of the game, I don't trust Google for much of anything regarding privacy. That's one reason I decided not to use Google Voice. They don't give it away for nothing.

Why didn't you just port the number from Vonage to GV and forego all the T-Mobile items?

My bill for phone service came in around $3 this month. It was a heavy month of calls.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
At this stage of the game, I don't trust Google for much of anything regarding privacy. That's one reason I decided not to use Google Voice. They don't give it away for nothing.

Why didn't you just port the number from Vonage to GV and forego all the T-Mobile items?

My bill for phone service came in around $3 this month. It was a heavy month of calls.
Google will not "port in" a number unless it's from a mobile carrier. T-Mo is the cheapest way to move the home phone from a VOIP provider to a mobile provider in preparation for the port directly to Google.
 

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Google will not "port in" a number unless it's from a mobile carrier. T-Mo is the cheapest way to move the home phone from a VOIP provider to a mobile provider in preparation for the port directly to Google.
I wonder why they operate backwards in regards to porting. It's the same process, regardless of what it's tied to. :unknown:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I wonder why they operate backwards in regards to porting. It's the same process, regardless of what it's tied to. :unknown:
My guess is that they're doing to not be accused of stealing VOIP customers from all of the companies that charge for their service.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Some updates:

I called T-Mobile to activate my SIM card (for the first time) on Monday evening around 6:00PM. I received a phone call almost 24 hours later (Tuesday evening, around 5:30PM) to let me know that the port failed because T-Mobile didn't have the account holder's name and address as part of the port request. I gave them all of the information and they resubmitted the port request.

I received a text message on Thursday morning at 8:30AM from T-Mobile telling me that the porting process was complete. In the course of testing, I was able to determine that the pre-paid cell could original calls, and the Caller ID it was presenting was the correct, ported number. Attempting to make an inbound call to that cell, however, still went the router of Vonage -> GV -> CC -> Obi Device.

I called T-Mobile and they stated that there is sometimes up to an additional 24 hours of time that needs to elapse in order for the ported number to be updated at all of the "other" companies so that calls route correctly. They refer to this as Dual Service on the number. Basically, your phone provider "advertises" that they have your number and calls to that number should go to them to be routed to your devices. When the number gets moved, it takes time for the old provider to STOP advertising the number and the new provider to START advertising the number.

As of 10:00AM today (Friday) everything was finished and calls to the ported number now ring the cell phone as desired.

I logged in to the Google Voice account and initiated a porting request to move the number from T-Mobile to Google. They asked me for account information on the cell service which actually didn't exist since it's a pre-paid account. So, I went to the T-Mobile web site and "signed up" for an account using the ported phone number. Put in an account name, address, etc. I already knew the Account PIN as I had set that when I activated the account a few days ago. Your "account number" with T-Mo for a pre-paid cell is the phone number (including country code). So, if your phone number is 212-555-1212, your account number is 12125551212.

I plugged everything except the PIN into the form on Google Voice Porting Request (it didn't ask for the PIN for whatever reason) and submitted it. Lots of dialogs came up that I had to acknowledge about the process and then I was given an opportunity to enter a credit card to pay the $20 fee. Submitted the request and it failed almost immediately because there was no PIN.

After 10-15 minutes, the status of the porting request further updated and I was allowed to enter the PIN on the account. It also asked for the last four of the SSN which are not present in the T-Mo system.

It has now been about three hours and it still says processing / pending.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Porting to Google is now complete. Time to let things "run in" and see how it all works.

I'll put up more information after I've had a chance to use the service for a while and determine how well it seems to work.
 

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Things are going well here, too, so far. Vonage did not automatically close the account, so that's still in process. Otherwise, I'm enjoying the phone NOT ringing too! :)

I had a couple of little quirks to iron out with the Google Voice setup (I had people in multiple groups with one group set for no call screening and another set for call screening). All seems to be running well now.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thought I would add some additional info...

Vonage did not close the account after the number was ported out. Worse, they were still handling routing of calls to my phone number within the Vonage network.

Called them this morning to close down the account. That was fairly simple.

Had to contact them AGAIN, however, as they are still attempting to handle call routing within the Vonage network. If someone that's a Vonage user attempts to call my home number right now, they get an error tone and a "Number not in service" message. They've supposedly put in a trouble ticket but it could take up to two days to get this resolved (assuming I don't have to call and badger them again).

When asked during the cancelation call, I told them that A) Vonage provides few and/or poor tools to control unwanted calls and B) The $400+ I was paying per year was far too much money for the comparatively little use the phone got (after subtracting out all of the unwanted calls). I told them pointedly that I had moved my number specifically to get rid of expense and to greatly improve the handling capabilities for unwanted calls.

Now, if they can just get that call routing stuff cleared up. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
About another month has passed since my last update, so here's the current scoop.

Vonage cleared up the call routing in their system and there no longer any issues with any numbers being able to contact me. The anti-spam filtering of Google is working reasonably well to flag numbers which I then actively "block" in the Google Voice interface. I've had to add a couple of phone numbers to the Allowed Callers list so that they do not get call screened when they call.

There has been some complaining about calls being choppy (reported by the other end of the call). I relocated the cordless phone base from the kitchen (one end of the house) to the living room (middle of the house) and have not gotten any complaints since. My house is one story and fairly long. So calls when you're at the opposite end of the house from the cordless base were choppy because of poor communication with the base unit and had nothing to do with the service.

Overall, I'm happy with how this is working and have no complaints at this point. And, it's nice to not be paying $40/month to a phone provider any longer. At this point, the $50 box I had to buy is basically paid for, and the additional $25 spent on the T-Mobile SIM and porting charge will be covered by the end of July. Everything after that is money saved.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Another six weeks or so has gone by, and I'm generally pretty happy with how this has worked out.

When I called the house number from my cell in the past, there was often a very bad echo. That has stopped since moving to this setup.

Google's anti-SPAM is very good.

It is possible to completely bypass the Google Voice system by calling my forwarded-to number (CallCentric) directly. THEIR anti-SPAM is very poor. I had to update the call handling at CallCentric to allow through those calls that are in my "Allowed" address book (effectively, a whitelist), disconnect those numbers in my Block address book (a full-on blacklist), and then run everyone else through a telemarketer handling system requiring them to press a random number. This has effectively blocked the robo-dialers completely.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Another update...

Two numbers now ported and things are working reasonably well. I've had some voice issues with the primary house line on -inbound- calls, and this has been traced back to CallCentric (part of the solution for inbound calls only) has occasional quirkiness with their upstream provider. They're working on it and it is getting much better.

I've also found some new options with the CallCentric service to "attach" a smartphone with a SIP client for inbound calls, and I'm starting to create "Call Treatments" that allow you to do things like creating "extensions" for different phones and ringing different phones based on a variety of rules (calling number, voice prompt menu, etc.)
 
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