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243 comments

HOLY SHITBALLS! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697236)

So.... what does this mean?

~ Clueless

MJ is a SCAM folks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697266)

It is a scam. Consumer Reports said so.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697324)

Say what you want about Michael Jackson, but he is def not a scam!

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (2, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697330)

http://www.google.com/search?q=MagicJack++consumer+report+scam&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a [google.com]

Seems like there is a lot of comments in the blogosphere against Magic Jack. I hardly had time to see if it is a campaign against Magic Jack or it is a legid.

Anybody?

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (5, Informative)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697428)

I have one.

The software/drivers are in no way reliable enough to make it a serious replacement for a "real" phone, but as a backup when you want to make free calls around North America, it's not a bad solution. The call quality is perfectly fine. It's worth the $20/year they charge, but not a whole lot more. If they could get their software (and their abominable, laughable, seizure-inducing support) to work a little more smoothly, I'd be more willing to consider additional products from the company.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697724)

Is it really that much better and more convenient than WiFi? When I am in my house, I press the Internet calling icon on my phone and it connects to my VoIP provider's server via SIP. I can then make and receive calls via VoIP rather than the mobile network. It also works when I am near other WiFi networks (great for traveling; hotels charge a lot for phone calls but often don't for WiFi, so if you make calls via their WiFi you don't pay anything). It uses slightly more battery, but not much. Calls to other SIP numbers are free, calls to POTS phones are competitively priced.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697860)

MagicJack is designed to work with existing land-line type phones. It's quite a bit different than what you're talking about. It's a USB device you plug into your computer, the phone goes into the device and the software connects to the VOIP server. From one of the guys I know who has it, it's possible to plug the MJ into your household outlet and have your phones around the house as well. There is a power limitation on how much the phones can draw, but most phones made today do not have a problem with that.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (4, Informative)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697882)

Is it really that much better and more convenient than WiFi? When I am in my house, I press the Internet calling icon on my phone and it connects to my VoIP provider's server via SIP.

For starters it will work for ANY GSM phone. It doesn't matter if it has WiFi or not. Second, it's cheaper than your VOIP provider unless your VOIP provider can beat $1.70 mo.

I have been using T-Mobile's @Home service for the past year ($10 month as a third line) and it's been extremely reliable. I didn't like Magic Jack because I needed a computer and their software on it to have phone service at home. If this thing works as advertised I just may pull the trigger.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697896)

Not every phone has WiFi.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698208)

not every phone with wifi can do uma or any other "call over wifi" equivalent either. Mostly blackberries, I think? I don't see a lot of alternatives for gsm phones.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (4, Informative)

Kungpaoshizi (1660615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697504)

na, I was curious about it too, but it's gotta be the best phone type gear I've ever got.. I did have quality issues in the beginning, but after a call to customer service, after the results of their troubleshooting (and my tech skillz), THEY admitted to their server causing the issue, and said "we'll be updating the server soon". I didn't know what to think. A couple days later, the issue was fixed, and quality was 100%. I stand by this product, and those who say it's a scam, are either r-tarded, or are afraid for their phone company they work for...

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697904)

I've got an Ooma system. 3000 free local or long distance minutes a month, no monthly charge. The call quality isn't perfect, but I'm saving $300 a year after it pays for itself in 8 months (2 months from now), and I'm not going to complain.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (4, Informative)

metamechanical (545566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697336)

Consumer reports said no such thing. In fact, they gave it a reasonably positive review [telemarket...omhome.com] (and yes, I realize that this is not consumer reports' website, but I read the print article when it arrived in my mailbox a week ago, and to my memory it is close if not a direct reprint). I am not endorsing the product, and I know little about it, to say that Consumer Reports said it is a scam is disingenuous.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (4, Informative)

metamechanical (545566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697400)

Sorry to reply to myself, but I realized I was retarded and pasted the wrong link (and yet didn't realize that when I said it wasn't consumer reports' website... right... it's Friday, and I've checked out.). Here is the link [consumerreports.org] I meant to post... right.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

tolydude (1080033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697874)

The link above points to an article about the regular wired MagicJack. Is there one for the GSM one?

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30698004)

The link above points to an article about the regular wired MagicJack. Is there one for the GSM one?

You mean the GSM one that MagicJack JUST UNVEILED PUBLICLY A FEW HOURS AGO? Whatever happened to critical thinking?!?

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698210)

It's not even out yet.

Re:MJ is a SCAM folks (1)

netmucus (883884) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697416)

Completely agree. There is no way to uninstall it from your system without completely re-installing your OS. Read their Terms and beware.

Any asterisk compatable solutions? (5, Interesting)

bflong (107195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697286)

I would love to have something like this that interfaces with Asterisk.

Re:Any asterisk compatable solutions? (1)

faedle (114018) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698308)

It can. There are GSM cards that work with Asterisk.

Is this legal? (5, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697304)

There's no "trick" to work with locked phones. GSM has no network-side authentication, so all you have to do is impersonate your carrier's network (this is trivial). But I can't imagine this being in line with regulations. Another issue is that encryption does not work unless you're a carrier and share a secret with the phone's SIM, which means that invariably your calls will be broadcast in the clear when you're using this device.

I'm not entirely sure this is a good idea. Femtocells are great, but impersonating carriers gets you into all sorts of sticky issues.

Re:Is this legal? (5, Interesting)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697478)

Illegal as hell under FCC rules since this would would be an unlicensed device intentionally disrupting a licensed service. At least that's my reading, the device might as well be a DoS for legitimate users within the range of the device.

Re:Is this legal? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697608)

Doesn't the "one watt or less" rule come into play? I.e. if the broadcasting power is under one watt, then no license is required.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

Sly-Guy (2100) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698324)

Only in designated spectrum. And even then you need to register with the FCC and have the device type accepted. Take a look at all devices that transmit anything and note the FCCID string that is on said device. Those fall under the Part 95 licensing.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697612)

Whether true or not, magicJack's argument is that the wireless spectrum licenses don't extend into the home. Though, I guess the moment the signal bleeds outside, they're in trouble.

Re:Is this legal? (4, Funny)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697974)

For T-Mobile (I've had a G1 for a year), I'd argue that just plain wireless spectrums don't extend into the home.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

kbielefe (606566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697666)

Who said anything about unlicensed? Whipping one up in your home workshop, sure, but OEMs obviously are perfectly capable of meeting any necessary licensing conditions.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697784)

Spectrum licensing. Mobile carriers pay big bucks to license their spectrum.

AT&T's MicroCell [att.com] (which is a UMTS base station) includes a GPS receiver and requires a GPS signal in order to operate, because it transmits only on frequencies licensed to AT&T in the area the device is being used. (Mobile carriers in the USA do not have nationwide spectrum licenses, and the frequencies they are permitted to use vary throughout the country.)

Re:Is this legal? (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697788)

It's not a hardware license, it's a usage license -- cell carriers have exclusive licenses for the use of the spectrum.

Re:Is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697886)

I would worry more about security. This would need some kind of security to keep people from placing calls under your name.

This could be a great boon for people wanting to do prank or otherwise nefarious calls because even with a password needed, so many people will use some idiot thing like 12345 it wouldn't be hard to wardrive for GSM routers like you currently can for WI-FI.

Re:Is this legal? (5, Interesting)

ink (4325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698018)

By your logic, those minijack-to-FM transmitters should also be illegal, but they're not. The FCC allows people to broadcast as long as they restrict it to a certain power level that won't interfere with others.

Re:Is this legal? (2, Informative)

lobsterturd (620980) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697518)

Not to mention that UMTS phones will prefer the UMTS signal even if a GSM signal is available. Also, it will stop working once GSM goes away and is fully replaced by UMTS (which does authenticate the network), if that does ever happen.

Re:Is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30698126)

Not to mention that UMTS phones will prefer the UMTS signal even if a GSM signal is available.

Normal cell phones let you choose the connection & network. My blackberry can be set to automatically choose 3G (UMTS), then fall back to 2.5G (EDGE) or 2G (GPRS) if 3G isn't available.

Or I can manually choose EDGE-only (battery life is better on EDGE).

Re:Is this legal? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697614)

GSM has no network-side authentication, so all you have to do is impersonate your carrier's network (this is trivial).

Is this true with UMTS as well?

Re:Is this legal? (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698302)

No, but don't count on UMTS being free of issues either.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697744)

Just make your house into a faraday cage ;)

Houses with builtin Faraday cages (4, Informative)

hedronist (233240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698030)

One of the weird things I've run into in doing 3rd-party tech support is that houses can, indeed, have Faraday cages.

If the house is of the right vintage (mostly pre-1950's) it may have plaster walls. One method of hanging plaster is to put up a metal mesh lath [wikipedia.org] which can make a very effective Faraday cage out of each of the rooms.

A modern variation on the builtin Faraday cage is rigid foam insulation that is covered on one or both sides with a metal reflective coating, often used in external wall insulation.

When a new customer calls and says they are having trouble getting wireless to work in their house, one of my first questions is does it have plaster walls.

Re:Is this legal? (2, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697910)

Another issue is that encryption does not work unless you're a carrier and share a secret with the phone's SIM, which means that invariably your calls will be broadcast in the clear when you're using this device.

This is no different than most household wireless phones or blue-tooth headsets for cellphones.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698312)

DECT phones (which are pretty popular in Europe, not so sure about the USA) do have encryption. I believe it's been broken, but at least they tried. Same with Bluetooth.

Does MagicJack Work? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697320)

Does the MJ actually work worth a darn? How is call quality?

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (2, Informative)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697396)

Consumer Reports [consumerreports.org] seems to think so (with some caveats). They covered it in this months issue.

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (2, Interesting)

DarthBart (640519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697430)

Works fine if you want to leave your Windows box on 24/7, plug another USB device into it, and install their ad-laden call manager software. Oh, and its great if you like non-existent tech support.

No free lunches, folks. Unlimited service for $19.95/year isn't possible unless that money is coming from ads, a ponzi scheme, or outright fraud.

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (4, Informative)

Kungpaoshizi (1660615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697674)

Seriously, it seems like you don't have it, otherwise if you do, and you still say this, you don't realize what you have. It works great, the "ad-laden software" you speak of is not that, it has a couple frames that load MJ deals, that's it. It doesn't swallow your bandwidth. It doesn't 'infect' your pc with adware like you make it sound. It has great tech support. And yes, unlimited service for 20$/year is totally possible, why, because of the crazy little idea people are talking about, called the "internet". And you don't have to leave your pc on 24/7. If the unit isn't plugged in, their servers host your voicemail, and you can access it remotely via a regular phone... Sounds like you either don't have it, or you had a rotten time with it, but I live, breathe, and eat computers, and this is by far the BEST phone service provider deal hands down. Sure, it's not a cell phone, but if you have a laptop/netbook, are you really gonna say that you can't pretty much go anywhere without being able to find the internet? Heck, paired with a random 3G adapter even... I don't mean to offend, but your words just reek of ignorance or impatience...

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697750)

You are reading awful narrowly, he doesn't mean "You have to leave your pc on all the time or the world will explode", he means "You have to leave your PC on if you want to make and receive calls".

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (1)

Kungpaoshizi (1660615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697792)

Well if it's something that works with your computer, I would think that it would have to be on... :D That's like buying a car stereo, and then complaining you have to be in your car to use it, unless you want to hack together something...

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697864)

Well, I'd be sort of pissed if I had to have the engine running in order to use the stereo.

Anyway, you consider it obvious that the device 'works with your computer', others might think that it 'works with your internet', in which case they have misunderstood the device, but not in a particularly egregious way (especially when there are VOIP bridges that are standalone).

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697988)

What is this "off" thing you speak of?

Hehehehhe :)

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (2, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698106)

How is that any different from your cell phone? That also has to be on to make and receive calls. What is the big deal? Besides, my PC is on 24/7 anyways.

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (2, Informative)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697958)

$20/year really isn't possible, because no matter how low their internal operating costs, they have to terminate calls on the PSTN, and they don't have equipment in every city to do that on their own network. Legally mandated termination fees for rural areas can be $0.04/minute (or sometimes even higher) -- at that rate you'd only be able to talk for 500 minutes before they'd be in debt.

My guess they're taking advantage of these same fees, and giving everyone inbound phone numbers in high-termination-fee locations. So they collect $0.04/minute every time someone calls you, but for most outbound calls they only pay the much lower termination fees for metropolitan areas. It's the same sort of scam we've seen from companies offering free teleconferencing, or free international calling. It's probably not illegal under current laws, but it's also not the sort of thing that's sustainable long-term, because real phone companies aren't going to put up with paying for MagicJack's phone service.

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (1)

skiman1979 (725635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697808)

There's also another device: Nettalk TK6000 [tk6000.com] , which looks quite a bit like MagicJack, but without the USB connector. It doesn't require a PC at all.

As for MagicJack, I have been using one at home for several months now. I have it running on a headless XP desktop, so the ad-laden call manager doesn't bother me since I never see it. Sometimes the call quality isn't that great, especially when I first got it, but after some tweaks, it's working rather well.

I wouldn't say MagicJack tech support is non-existent. It's just in the form of a live chat with a tech via their website. I've used them a few times before. Sometimes they are more helpful than others, depending on who actually answers your chat I suppose. One time I was forwarded to a Level II support person, and they were even more helpful.

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697718)

It's pretty darn good with an always-on thin client and if your router manages to do QOS properly.

Re:Does MagicJack Work? (2, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698052)

Yeah it works. Call quality isn't as good as a landline, but I had a better time using MJ than Skype.

You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (2, Informative)

Kungpaoshizi (1660615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697436)

I've had MajicJack for more than 6 months now, it's the best thing I have ever found for phone service. Yes it sucks at times when I'm downloading etc, then the quality suffers a little, but otherwise 20$ a year, ya, I bet anyone and everyone screaming "SCAM!" is a freakin phone service salesman... Phone companies and cell companies can't come anywhere near 20$ a year, not even skype, and I have noticed the quality IS better than skype... MajicJack == the end of the line for residential phone companies

Re:You newbs, get a cell phone! (1)

alrudd1287 (1288914) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697480)

my dad uses this too and would agree that it is the shit. 20$/yr is nothing. That being said, why does anyone still want a land line? Being able to reduce my cell minutes because of this device would be MONEY!

Re:You newbs, get a cell phone! (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697954)

That being said, why does anyone still want a land line?

A) Some people don't get Cell Reception (or it costs more than the land line)
B) A few of us live in places where the cell phones have gone down after mother nature had a fit, but the land lines were still working perfectly.

Re:You newbs, get a cell phone! (2, Interesting)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698100)

You made me think of something...

If I was ATT or Verizon or T-Mobil I would want everyone to own one of these things.

The reason being is that on my cell phone (I have the unlimited plan so I gave up ye olde land line years ago) 90% of my calls are made from home. I suspect my usage probably mirrors a lot of other users. (maybe a different pattern for teens running to friends all the time and what not but they like texting anyway so thats almost no bandwidth used)

They would save huge amounts of wireless bandwidth and put the burden on the broad band land lines.
Better yet they could keep charging the same amount of money for a lot less service.

Just one of my random probably insane thoughts but thats the way I roll lol

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697512)

I don't get it....

My T-Mobile contract gives me virtually unlimited calling in the US, and with my VOIP carrier I can call anywhere in the world for 0.01 Euro/min.

I've spent hours on the phone to Europe and Japan and have yet to recharge my original 10 Euro purchase.

And I'm not thethered to the house, I don't have another gadget to deal with, and it works anywhere I get a cell signal.

What problem is this gadget trying to solve?

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

Kungpaoshizi (1660615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697704)

"My T-Mobile contract..." That.

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697846)

But I guess that's my point. I would think that the number of people who have a cell phone with no contract, but have broadband and a computer on 24/7, is vanishingly small.

If you have a cell phone, then you typically have a contract. If you have the resources for a broadband connection, then you have the resources for a mobile phone contract.

So are they thinking that people will use this at home while maintaining their cell phone contract? In any case, I don't see a big market for this.

It's a neat idea, and if they sold the bare hardware with open drivers, they might have a market - I might use it to tap into my SIP provider directly. This way, I just don't see it.

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697918)

So does it allow you to make calls when you're not in range of your house, like the guy's T-Mobile contract?

I think that's the point. The problem here with all the "VoIP and Wifi will take over from old fashioned phones" people is that they're bucking the trend. People have migrated in droves from landlines to cellphones, despite the higher costs associated with the latter, for the very simple reason that cellphones work everywhere and landlines only work in one spot.

I love the "idea" of this widget, but like the GP, I'm doubtful I'd ever find it useful. And initially I thought "That's because I'm a geek", but then it occured to me that I had everything backwards - it's the geek in me that finds it interesting, it's the normal person in me that finds it useless in practice. My wife, my friends, my collegues, are not going to use this thing. We have cellphones because we want a phone that works everywhere, and this isn't it.

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698266)

I too use T-Mobile and unlimited here is about 55$ a month.

They want 40$ a year for this thing.

I may switch to this honestly, the convenience of having a cell phone VS keeping an extra $620+(fees and taxes) a year in my pocket hmmmm.

I would miss making calls from some places to ask some one a quick question but other then that I could probably survive.

I think 911 is free so I could keep an old cell with me just for emergencies.

I would be trying it out before I turned off my cell though if the quality is bad then the money saved wouldn't be worth it, and to some people who have to have access to a phone 24/7 (a lot of people have important things to do, sadly I do not or I am just too old to be rushed? take your pick lol)

Maybe have if for like 2 months, and if it was reliable and sounded good, then I would consider ditching my cell company (I have been with T-Mobile so long I don't have a contract Muhahahhaha)

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697702)

I've been using it as a business line and it's been great to me so far. The unanswered calls go to voice mail, it's never busy, and the voice mail is automatically emailed to me as an attachment.

The desktop client is a little clunky, it's just a dialer. Something like visual voicemail would be sweet. It's a little slow to start up like it's downloading updates or something. I'd love be able to upload an audio file as my outgoing message (any suggestions anyone?)

I had some echos the first week I was using it, but soon after it was cleared up. The call quality has been excellent since.

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

kbielefe (606566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697756)

Yes it sucks at times when I'm downloading etc, then the quality suffers a little

That's not magic jack's fault. Look into setting up traffic shaping. It slows down your web surfing a little while you're talking, but it's nowhere near as noticeable as a loss of audio quality.

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

Kungpaoshizi (1660615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697820)

WHAT?! REDUCE my download speeds!!!?!?! ;)

Re:You newbs, MJ is not a scam... (1)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698336)

The real problem with MagicJack is that their business model is not sustainable. ie. it's too cheap for what they offer. Currently they are burning money like crazy.

Eventually something is going to change. They're either going to have to change the pricing, seriously degrade their service (eg. too large of a customer base), or close their doors. The turnover of VOIP providers is insane, most go out of business. Establishing a phone number and then losing it or having to find a new provider because the company went out of business is a pain in the ass.

Time will tell but so far no VOIP provider has survived that had a model like MagicJack's (and there have been too many to count).

Requires PC (4, Informative)

DivineHawk (570091) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697444)

The current MagicJack is a device about the size of a matchbox with a USB connection and a phone jack. The USB connector plugs into the user's computer, loads software onto it, and uses the computer's power, processor and broadband connection. The femtocell will also use the PC, but it will let users make calls with their cell phones instead of wired phones.

Why can't they make a standalone device!?

Re:Requires PC (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697588)

The magicjack software displays ads.

Re:Requires PC (1)

g8oz (144003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697628)

That is exactly what is holding me back. How hard would this be?

To implement a software radio? (1)

autocracy (192714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697752)

Hundreds of dollars hard. Maybe $100 when mass-produced.

Besides which, if it was standalone then they'd lose their advertising revenue. For me, the ads in software on my machine are a complete turnoff. For that, I've never installed it.

Re:Requires PC (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698116)

Damn near anyone on this website should be able to make their own Magic Jack "standalone" out of spare parts in the closet.

Re:Requires PC (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697944)

Why doesn't someone take some open-source router software (tomato, openwrt, etc), and allow the use of the MagicJack hardware on a wifi router's USB port?

No need for a computer on 24/7 - plus you could automatically prioritize the VOIP traffic from the USB port to guarantee call quality.

Re:Requires PC (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698196)

lack of linux support on MagicJacks part

Re:Requires PC (4, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698130)

This post will mention specific products and services, but of which I am a customer and the following is my testimony.

For my home phone:
I signed up with CallCentric for free.
I bought a Linksys PAP2 for $50 before shipping. (This is the VIOP box which allows me to keep my standard phone/message machine)
I set it up with CallCentric and tested the service with CallCentric-assigned ph#.
For $20 I ported my phone# over to CallCentric.
For $3.95 a month, I get calling and $0.015 (1.5cents) per minute calling to US and Canada. The fee is a 911-recovery fee and some other fee.
My phone bill is less than $5 a month.

There is no PC required, just the PAP2 and the broadband connection. I even get callerID!

This is my monthly bill:

This email is a receipt of your transaction.

Product name Period Price
DID - Pay Per Minute - 14106661533 Jan 01, 2010 - Jan 31, 2010 $ 1.95
911 Cost Recovery Fee $ 1.50
Billed from Credit card: $ 0.00
Billed from Balance: $ 3.45

Re:Requires PC (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698342)

"Why can't they make a standalone device!?"

Too expensive.

Maybe a little wireless router type device would work but it would cost more then $40.

I know you can get some cheap routers cheaper then that but I think a large part of the money goes into the network and running the service the device is pretty much just an adapter to connect to your PC so it can do all the heavy lifting.

Too many possible holes (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697466)

While I can see this working great for people out in the middle of nowhere that somehow have great internet and terrible cell service, I can't see this working for the average person to make free calls. For one, this solution would eliminate any encryption meaning your calls are able to be intercepted with ease, another is, I'm not entirely sure that Magic Jack would encrypt your calls going over the internet leading to possible interception there, and then if it was broadcast through another femtocell it could be intercepted through there again. In short, it may be a way for people to save a few bucks, but at the cost of any privacy.

Privacy ? How many use gmail ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30698248)

gmail has no privacy yet 10s of thousands use it everyday, for blab and communique. what's this privacy problem now ?

Requiem for UMA (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697486)

You know, T-Mobile, a few years back, introduced UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) [wikipedia.org] with some of their phones (which T-Mo has subsequently marketted under 3 different names, you know, to confuse their customers, I guess), but none of the other carriers picked up on it, and T-Mo pretty quickly abandoned it - I believe their network still supports it, and some/all of their Blackberries support it, but they pretty quickly stopped advertising it, none of the Android phones support it, and T-Mo has quietly gotten rid of every non-Blackberry phone that used to have the UMA feature.

It's really kind of a shame - UMA is a great idea: basically, any WiFi hotspot that you can connect to become a "cell tower" (well, it routes cell phone traffic over a tunnel on the Internet, to T-Mo's network, so it basically becomes VoIP). This Femtocell idea is something that some of the other carriers are sort of testing (I have some relatives on Sprint who got one because there is very poor reception at their house). But, I think UMA is a superior solution to these femtocells, because a) with UMA, you need a phone with UMA support, but you had to get a phone anyway, so adding UMA to phones would have been almost 'free' from the customer perspective, with the only other equipment needed being something you *probably* already have, and if you don't, you can get dirt cheap at Microcenter, Best Buy, Fry's, etc., and B) the femtocell will *only* work at your own location where you put it, whereas UMA would work with any Internet connection and most Wifi hotspots, which means that I could take advantage of it at other locations if they have WiFi (relatives or friends houses, school, work, shopping, etc) too.

Now, I think with the Android phones, you can now do some VoIP calling, but the advantage with UMA was that calls would seamlessly transfer between wifi and the cell network (if you left Wifi range, or entered Wifi range). It's really a damn shame that the cell phone industry didn't adopt UMA as a feature, because to me, it seems like a vastly superior approach than femtocells.

I suppose it's theoretically possible that UMA could rise from the ashes, but at this point, it seems kinda dead. More's the pity.

Re:Requiem for UMA (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697730)

UMA is a great idea: basically, any WiFi hotspot that you can connect to become a "cell tower" (well, it routes cell phone traffic over a tunnel on the Internet, to T-Mo's network, so it basically becomes VoIP)

This isn't ideal: wifi uses more power than GSM or 3G.

This Femtocell idea is something that some of the other carriers are sort of testing (I have some relatives on Sprint who got one because there is very poor reception at their house).

It is being marketed by carriers: AT&T markets it as 3G MicroCell [att.com]

whereas UMA would work with any Internet connection and most Wifi hotspots, which means that I could take advantage of it at other locations if they have WiFi (relatives or friends houses, school, work, shopping, etc) too.

The Internet connection must have sufficient bandwidth and performance characteristics. Seems like something you'd need to test at each location?

Re:Requiem for UMA (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697852)

Well, yes, it won't work at *every single possible* Wifi hotspot, but it will work at most. As for the power issue, if I'm at a location where my cell access sucks, I'm willing to make that tradeoff. My point is, that UMA phones will benefit at lots of locations, potentially, whereas femtocells only benefit you at a fixed location. Most people and businesses don't have femtocells installed, but a great many (at least in the U.S.) do have Wifi.

Re:Requiem for UMA (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698016)

This isn't ideal: wifi uses more power than GSM or 3G.

It's wonderfully idea if, like a lot of people, you don't get great T-Mobile service inside your home (their share of the spectrum doesn't penetrate well or something). It's a wonderful tradeoff, and the reason why I went with T-Mobile when I had the chance.

Re:Requiem for UMA (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698078)

This isn't ideal: wifi uses more power than GSM or 3G.

Not true. A poor 3G connection can use considerably more power than your typical WIFI.

seems decent (2, Informative)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697500)

From the Comsumer Reports review:

Some interference occurred when the tester tried talking while downloading a large file or playing an online game. If you can live with that, we think the Magic Jack is a great deal.

Something that could easily be overcome with a router that has decent QoS capabilities. Overall, it seems like a decent deal.

I have that magicjac doodad... (5, Funny)

zorkdork (216545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697544)

and now I can call all my friends for free.

And then I realized, I have no friends.

FOR SALE MAGIC JACK, used twice. $1

Re:I have that magicjac doodad... (0)

Kungpaoshizi (1660615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697684)

lol

AT&T has already been marketing these (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697578)

I've been getting offers for one of these from AT&T. If I remember correctly, they want $100 for the cell plus $19.99 a month for the service. You also need a broadband connection.

Re:AT&T has already been marketing these (2, Informative)

nsayer (86181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697986)

Not quite.

The device is $150. IF you sign up for an unlimited minutes plan, they will give you a $100 mail-in rebate. The plan's pricing depends on which test market you are in, and whether or not you have AT&T DSL or U-Verse service. But in any event, an unlimited minutes plan is optional. You can just buy the box for $150 and use your plans minutes as normal. The purpose the box serves under those circumstances is merely improving your coverage.

Might be able to negotiate (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697994)

Lot's of people figure you can't negotiate with a cell or cable company, but that might not be true. I have relatives who use Sprint. They've been using Sprint for a few years, and had upgraded to a more premium voice & data package for 2 phones. They were generally happy with Sprint, but the coverage at their house was crappy. They talked to Sprint about this, basically told them they weren't going to pay additional monthly fees on top of the premium package fees they were already paying, but were unhappy with reception at their house, and were able to get Sprint to sell them the femtocell device at a slight discount and wave all monthly fees.

I don't know if AT&T will negotiate, but sometimes with things like this (which are basically add-ons), cell companies *want* to charge if they think they can get away with it, but if you tell them you won't pay and *additional* $10-20/mo on top of normal cell service fees and Internet access fees, just to get service, they might back down.

can do this with call forwarding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697584)

Welcome to 1980.

Frankly, I don't give a damn about magicjack, (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697620)

When it takes only slightly more tech-fu to get a real SIP based setup working. However, if they are actually planning on selling a $40 USB peripheral than functions as a GSM femtocell, I am interested. Very Interested.

Reverse engineering the sucker, and getting a Free driver built would be a hell of a boon to small scale asterisk setups and similar. Most devices running asterisk or other software PBXs have at least one USB port, and being able to set up your own asterisk integrated femtocell would be awesome(either to let you take advantage of a lower priced/fewer minutes plan by doing all your home calling over a cheap SIP trunk or simply to take advantage of the fact that used and/or low-end GSM handsets are substantially cheaper than decent Wi Fi based SIP handsets are).

I don't assume that they would approve(and I can't imagine that team traditional telco would be too happy either) but if MagicJack is actually planning to make femtocells as cheap as USB wifi dongles, they get a gold star from me.

Why femto? (4, Informative)

saw (5768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697670)

Why is this called a femto cell? The area covered is much more than 10^-15 of that of a standard cell tower. If this device covers a radius of 50 ft, and a tower works to a radius of about mile, then the fractional area covered is 10^-4, or somewhere between a microcell and a millicell.

Re:Why femto? (0, Offtopic)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697774)

You knead to take a brake, your loosing it.

Re:Why femto? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697804)

Pretty sure femto refers to the radius in light years. At least, that's how I would defend it, if I had to.

Re:Why femto? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697832)

It's an informal term to indicate that it covers less area than a picocell, which is also an informal term. I assume there might be a formal definition somewhere up the chain of cell sizes, but I don't know for sure: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picocell [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why femto? (5, Informative)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30697856)

Put simply, because the names microcell and picocell were already taken.

The names are not meant in the traditional mathematical sense; they just refer to coverage. A microcell will cover roughly a hotel, a picocell a typical office floor.

Movie Theater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30697738)

Now only if I could plant one in the movie theater... think of the possibilities!

3000 sq ft house? (0, Flamebait)

EatHam (597465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698026)

It supposedly will cover a 3,000 sq ft house.

My house is 3 feet wide and 1000 ft long. Am I covered, smart guy?

Dandy (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698204)

my cell doesn't work at my cabin, which has dsl (natch). this would be perfect.

What's the point? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30698246)

I can just as easily make a call over WLAN. And most, if not all smartphones do WLAN already. Just install the software, if your phone doesn’t already have it build-in (as mine does).

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