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Ask Slashdot: Data-Only Phone, Voice Over WiFi?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the holy-grail-for-lots-of-people dept.

Android 208

enFi writes "I want to pay one ISP (only!) for data (only!), and use it for my smartphone and my computer; and until they catch up, I want not to inconvenience the rest of the world — still let them call a phone number. (We all want this, right?) I'm most of the way there: my plan is to get a Clear Spot (their 4G WiMAX coverage is good for me) to use with my unlocked Nexus S (which will only ever use WiFi). I could just use Skype and an Online Number, but talk of Sipdroid+pbxes.org+GV and the recent Google Voice / SIP article make me think I'm only starting to untangle the mess of services and options. Is there a good (not to mention best) way to do this?"

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Not anytime soon (3, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447866)

Sorry, I don't see this solution out there, and ISPs will do their darnedest to prevent it from happening. They make a a pretty penny on

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448132)

I don't think it is the ISPs fault. Current mobile technology has too high latency to make VoIP usable. Hopefully that will change with LTE, since voice calls are just IP data as far as I know.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448150)

Oh wait, he's using wifi. That might work then, although I'd still be surprised if the round trip time is less than 0.5s, which is about the limit of usability.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448708)

I've been testing Skype and Line2 calls over WiFi in a house with Clear, and latence doesn't seem to be an issue. The lag is noticeable if I'm within earshot of the person whose cell phone I'm calling, but without that second channel for comparison it's not significant. There are however some issues with calls dropping (the Nexus S's ability to hold onto a WiFi signal isn't impressing me so far; it gets 1/4 when a laptop in the same location gets 4/4 for signal strength); and the Google Voice + pbxes.org + Sipdroid solution has pretty bad quality.

Re:Not anytime soon (2)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448306)

Maybe it is because I live in Indiana and there aren't as many people using data, but I jailbroke my phone and got an addon called VOIPover3G and used Skype all the time, worked just fine.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448604)

Just know one thing...

With Clearwire, you are limited to 10GB / month (after the first 2 of you being their customer) before you are throttled down to 256Kbps.
Going with one of their business plans will up that to 25GB, but that still isn't all that much before you find yourself with a phone that no longer goes ring, ring, ring.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448922)

With Clearwire, you are limited to 10GB / month (after the first 2 of you being their customer) before you are throttled down to 256Kbps. Going with one of their business plans will up that to 25GB, but that still isn't all that much before you find yourself with a phone that no longer goes ring, ring, ring.

It might not be much if you are downloading a lot of video, but there are a lot of users (the majority even) for whom 10GB is more than ample.

Re:Not anytime soon - hold on there... (2)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448230)

i actually did something similar to this for about a year and it worked very well. I had a sprint Razr V3M that i used for data and VOIP with Vonage and it worked reasonably well all of the time. I used the cheapest Vonage box i could find, my old landline phone and my wrt54g/ddwrt router. in order to get internet to the router to be shared with the vonage box i turned on internet connection sharing on the computer and plugged it into the router "internet" input. after that i had shared wifi and LAN internet. Vonage used about 75kbps and EVDO top out about 125kbps in my area. and keep in mind, this was FOUR YEARS AGO!!!

Now keep in mind, this was EVDO, and at the time there wasnt much faster then that, and if there was other stuff going on over the internet then i would have the voice quality degrade to (or most likely have no sound at all, but my calls still did complete). never had latency/lag issues either. and yeah, i was still paying for data through Sprint and Voice through Vonage, but the savings were about $50 a month as i always went over on my available airtime, for unlimited voice voice and unlimited data ($40 a month to sprint and $25 to vonage versus $90+ a month for unlimited data through sprint and limited voice through sprint.

What you are proposing isnt really a terrible idea, and so long as WiMax stays neutral to services, it should work great!

Re:Not anytime soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448356)

I think what the previous comment meant to say was

N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (5, Interesting)

cnj (87028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447872)

My set-up is my N900 using UMTS (or WiFi if I'm at home) connecting to my Asterisk box which handles call routing and voicemail, and which connects to the plain-old-telephone-system via Vitelity. Alternatively, you could skip running your own Asterisk server and just connect to Vitelity directly (or run Asterisk on the N900).

I believe Android's Gingerbread release also supports SIP, but I don't have direct experience with that. Either way, I use SIP over 3G and WiFi quite a bit since it's significantly cheaper than when I'm on the mobile voice network.

Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448202)

Can you comment on voice quality? Also, what 3G service are you using?

Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (1)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448652)

Most likely T-mobile, since pretty much nothing else lets you use 3G on N900
But I'd like to know for sure, too

Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448868)

It's not that they don't "let" you, the N900 doesn't have an antenna for 3G from ATT, the only other GSM provider in the USA.

Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448566)

Hell yes! The N900 actually beats the pants off dedicated Skype phones i've used in the past.

The N900 has Skype/MSN and SIP applications built in. It auto connects to any wifi networks that it knows how to connect to when it gets in range and auto logs in to the VOIP system(s), or it can fall back to using the 3G network (if you let it fall back, i don't as i only want skype when i'm on wifi).

Best of all the Skype/VOIP functionality is part of its phone application. Getting a VOIP call is the same as getting a mobile phone call, only the ringing phone icon is blue instead of green (to indicate a VOIP call). Similar thing with instant messaging. All works really well, seems to have no trouble processing the VOIP streams and is mostly indistinguishable to a normal phone call.

Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (1)

randallman (605329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448830)

I have a similar setup (N900/Asterisk/Vitelity) and I have found the Maemo SIP client to be very laggy even on WIFI. Also T-Mobile's data 3 and 3.5G isn't reliable enough for practical use of SIP calls. Have you encountered similar issues and how did you handle them?

Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (1)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448926)

I'm not the OP but I use it for SIP without any configuration on the phone side and it works perfectly. Do you control your own SIP server? If so you might want to look into which protocols you allow. I'd disable PCM as it's quite crappy (slow to decode, large bandwidth requirement etc etc). Get the phone to negotiate something better. I'd also be pinging your SIP server even over Wifi just to make sure it's running nicely.

Also /etc/stream-engine/gstcodecs.conf has various options you can Google about.

Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (1)

Americium (1343605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448836)

This is the exact reason why I got an N900, because it has Skype and SIP builtin. If you don't connect it to google voice the delay isn't that bad with Skype, although it's still noticeable,but I do live in Maine. Free SIP providers were pretty terrible.

However, I wanted text messages too, so google voice was my solution, but this doubles the call delay (lag), and made it SIP and Skype unusable, although the free text messaging worked great! So if you're willing to have a separate number for text and voice, since you can't really use Skype for texting, it's doable. Although the who knows how it will handle calls when you are driving at 70mph. And obviously if you go somewhere on vacation you need a new phone and phone number, which sucks a lot. It's like buying an electric car now, it's expensive and the service for it still sucks.

Sprint? (2)

EZJohnson (1092825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447886)

Sprint Relay data only plan?

google voice vice 3jam (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447892)

Either of those companys can port-in your old cell phone number. You can answer that incoming call on skype.

Re:google voice vice 3jam (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448342)

Care to elaborate? I'm coincidentally in the same position as the original poster. I love when Slashdot copies my life :)

Trying not to spend money, I was given a car. Yay. But it had no music. Boo. And I had no mp3 player. Boo. My sister gave me her old iPhone. Boo. But hey, it's free, and it's a neat toy, even if I'd never buy it myself, and prefer my wife's Android phone.

I have no service plan, nor do I intend to have one. I've never owned a cell phone. I have a land line. When I'm out, I'm with my wife and her cell phone.

It gets great data rates on wifi. I'd love to use Google Voice and somehow have it be a "real" phone. I'd love to finally cancel my land line.

Re:google voice vice 3jam (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448608)

Just so I can sleep easy tonight, please tell me that you have no children. :)

Re:google voice vice 3jam (3, Funny)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448656)

He doesn't yet, but he has a neighbor who's willing to give him one.

Re:google voice vice 3jam (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448784)

How long do they keep in the freezer?

Battery life? (2)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447896)

The only downside I see to what you want to do, apart from the fact that you'll have to carry two devices, is that Clear's website shows the battery life of the Clear Spot 4G to be only 4 hours - and usually these advertised figures are optimistic. Do you have a way around that, other than carrying a third device, namely a battery?

Re:Battery life? (1)

epedersen (863120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448564)

I have streamed music using my Clear Spot for over 5 hours, I think that the battery estimate was conservative on this device (In the range setting on the Clear Spot I have it set to low.)

Re:Battery life? (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448766)

I'm trying out a Clear Spot on a relative, and with the range set to 'high' (in probably very good coverage) it lasted about 4 hours driving around (so set to low probably it'd do better). It's good to hear corroborative reports. Most of the time, too, I anticipate being either at home or at work, so a quarter-day mobile time might be okay. If not, I'd rather buy and carry an extra battery than buy voice+data+sms+home. (However, it's not clear that the Spot warns you in any useful way of a low battery –I haven't tested that yet.)

Legacy and Phone Numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447904)

Even data only plans still have phone numbers assigned to them. It is mostly for internal reasons, however, simple because the old legacy at&t mainframes all require (and use) a phone number as an identifier.

Also... Its kind of hard to say "only one provider" when you are talking about two different things... Data providing and DID assignments/rounting are two different things.... A wireless SIP phone would appear to be a better option for you...

No. Don't do this. (2, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447906)

VoIP over mobile networks is nowhere close to being reliable. Yes, it works if you're lucky enough but expect horrible jitter due to bufferbloat, inability to call sometimes because data network is congested, big lags, problems with filtering, etc.

We've tried it for secure voice communication. It JustDoesntWork(tm).

Re:No. Don't do this. (0)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447934)

What??? Almost all corporate offices are VoIP now... If you are having problems with congestion, then you might want to hire someone who knows how to setup a network.

Re:No. Don't do this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447952)

Companies using VoIP are wired, not shitty 2 or 3G networks.

Re:No. Don't do this. (3, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447958)

What??? Almost all corporate offices are VoIP now...

Unless they are all on pirate ships, they are not mobile.

Re:No. Don't do this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447964)

He said _mobile_ networks, not corporate networks. If you've ever tried using SIP on a cellular data network, you will likely understand what he's talking about. There's intermittent dropouts, tons of jitter, etc. It's unusable, at least on Telus in Canada in my experience.

Re:No. Don't do this. (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447966)

VoIP over mobile networks

I had the same gut reaction too, then I reread the comment. He didn't mean all VOIP.

Re:No. Don't do this. (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447970)

"Almost all corporate offices are VoIP now"... over mobile networks?

Re:No. Don't do this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447990)

You might want to call someone who can teach you to read. Note the "VoIP over mobile networks" at the beginning of the comment.

Re:No. Don't do this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447996)

VoIP is fine, VoIP over mobile data is spotty at best.

"Someone who knows how to set up a network" is not a set that includes ClearWire.

Re:No. Don't do this. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447998)

VoIP works fine over most things, but I haven't tried it over 3G myself. Mobile networks are typically VERY shitty, so I wouldn't recommend it with no experience using it myself.

Re:No. Don't do this. (1)

PatHMV (701344) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448010)

Um, he said VoIP "over mobile networks" is unreliable. Does your corporate office set up and run its own mobile network?

Re:No. Don't do this. (2)

lactose99 (71132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448036)

VoIP over mobile is an entirely different beast than VoIP over wireline. The OP is right, there's a lot of kinks to be worked-out yet, particularly surrounding jitter/bufferbloat.

Re:No. Don't do this. (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448752)

VOIP On Comcast is worse than VOIP over Mobile. Comcast Sucks. Whatever you do, if you can ever avoid I suggest you do.

Did I mention, Comcast Sucks!

He's not talking about VOIP over mobile! Mod down! (0)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448376)

He's talking about an ISP. Not a mobile service plan. I.E. Home DSL/cable modem/FIOS/whatever. Mod parent down. Irrelevant. You didn't understand what he said. He's in the situation I'm in, actually.

Re:He's not talking about VOIP over mobile! Mod do (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448680)

Reread the whole question, please.

The statement: "... my plan is to get a Clear Spot (their 4G WiMAX coverage is good for me) to use with my unlocked Nexus S (which will only ever use WiFi)" kinda implies that data would still go over mobile network.

Re:He's not talking about VOIP over mobile! Mod do (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448792)

Oh, you mean mobile network but not mobile phone network? My bad. Sorry.

Re:He's not talking about VOIP over mobile! Mod do (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448782)

Actually, I'm trying to have both, and have them be the same thing. When I'm at home, the Spot (or other mobile ISP) would be my home internet connection; when I'm mobile, it would be mobile broadband, as well as voice (over WiFi to my phone). So it's very informative (if sad) to hear that VoIP over mobile is jittery – which matches some, but not all, of the few tests I've done.

VirginMobile (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447910)

Check out VirginMobile's Data Plans. [virginmobileusa.com]

$25, prepaid, for 300 minutes and 'unlimited data'.

The LG Optimus V [exstatic.org] is on-sale right now at Target for $130 + $20 Gift Card. Plus, you can get cheap rates on the refills:

Save an extra 5% with your RedCard. I like to buy my Top Up Cards with my RedCard at Target, since I get 5% off. The best deal is getting the $20 RECHARGEABLE Top-Up card from Target. For every 5 charges, you get $10 free. Plus 5% off with the RedCard.

Re:VirginMobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448024)

I can't speak with certainty. But, VM's phones are usually locked down pretty hard. You might have "unlimited data." But, you won't be able to use it to get ring-tones, games, and stuff unless it is from their store or through a "premium" service they control. Installing your own apps outside of their store is also usually blocked, if I remember correctly. And, I really doubt they are going to offer a VOIP app.

I would imagine that even if for some reason VOIP traffic wasn't specifically blocked by fire-walling, they might consider a phone with a VOIP client on it a hacked phone. You can figure out the rest.

Re:VirginMobile (1)

basotl (808388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448212)

The Optimus V is an Android phone. It has been rooted and has custom roms. The phone in this particular case is not very locked down. I have an Optimus S from Sprint and love it for the price (same phone, different network).
http://forum.androidcentral.com/optimus-v/ [androidcentral.com]

Re:VirginMobile (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448218)

I believe the point is that the voice service is so cheap it obviates the need for VOIP. Cellular calling is awfully reliable these days, compared to VOIP over cellular data.

Re:VirginMobile (1)

DrMaurer (64120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448270)

I can speak with certainty.

I don't talk on the phone, so I don't care about VoIP, but they offer at least one Android phone (samsung intercept, IIRC; there may be another one), and so while it's not exactly a speed demon, I can install apps from (and without) the market just fine. Also use MP3s for ring tones, etc.

I also live in the boonies, so the Sprint-backed (?) network is...spotty. I cannot speak about that. It works fine for light use.

Just posting to clarify what Virgin Mobile is. I don't have a solution for OP. :-(

Re:VirginMobile (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448216)

It's actually a pretty damn good phone too. Bought one for the wife and it convinced me that Android, and Sprint's network around me are good enough that I'm switching my work phone to an EVO Shift 4G on Sprint.

Re:VirginMobile (1)

snookums (48954) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448412)

Check out VirginMobile's Data Plans. [virginmobileusa.com]

$25, prepaid, for 300 minutes and 'unlimited data'.

The LG Optimus V [exstatic.org] is on-sale right now at Target for $130 + $20 Gift Card. Plus, you can get cheap rates on the refills:

Save an extra 5% with your RedCard. I like to buy my Top Up Cards with my RedCard at Target, since I get 5% off. The best deal is getting the $20 RECHARGEABLE Top-Up card from Target. For every 5 charges, you get $10 free. Plus 5% off with the RedCard.

Does any provider in the US offer this kind of service on a GSM network? Last time I checked when traveling to the USA the minimum I'd have to pay for a non-trivial amount of data from AT&T or T-Mobile was $70-80/mo. Kind of crazy when I can get a pre-paid SIM with 500 MB (+voice minutes) for $30 from major Aussie providers, or even less through budget resellers.

Re:VirginMobile (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448432)

One time I asked an T-Mobile sales rep about their prepaid options. He told me prepaid was for people with bad credit who couldn't get a contract. -_- Another time I asked an AT&T store employee about buying an Android without a data plan. He told me that they don't sell them without data plans because without the plan it wouldn't work. -_- Sometimes I want to walk into such a store and say "look, I'm 30x as tech savvy as you. Give me the hottest Android you have, hold the contract, with a side of 25 gb prepaid data."

Re:VirginMobile (1)

ChairmanMeow (787164) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448654)

One time I asked an T-Mobile sales rep about their prepaid options. He told me prepaid was for people with bad credit who couldn't get a contract. -_- Another time I asked an AT&T store employee about buying an Android without a data plan. He told me that they don't sell them without data plans because without the plan it wouldn't work. -_- Sometimes I want to walk into such a store and say "look, I'm 30x as tech savvy as you. Give me the hottest Android you have, hold the contract, with a side of 25 gb prepaid data."

That's basically what I said at the T-Mobile store and I didn't have any problems from them over it (and my credit's fine -- I just don't want to be stuck with a contract after my experience with Verizon.). And the relatively nice thing there is that they give a discount on the monthly rate if you pay for the phone upfront, although their prices are still way more than the Virgin Mobile prices mentioned above. Depending on how long you keep the phone, the extra you would pay while on contract can add up to significantly more than the cost of the phone.

Re:VirginMobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448804)

Great idea except that phone is on national backorder and no store has it. Confirmed no store in the state of Florida has it. No target/radio shack/best buy/ect....

Re:VirginMobile (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448824)

Informative indeed! I glanced at Virgin Mobile but glossed over them mostly; but that plan sounds appealing. I do already have the Nexus S, but it's still within the 30-day return window (and although I enjoy it I probably wouldn't be heartbroken to switch); however, it looks like it might talk to their network.

Any comments on Virgin Mobile's speed / restrictions on tethering?

VoIP Service And SIP Client? (2)

Bottles (1672000) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447916)

I have a VoIP service contract which provides me with one or more landline numbers (free incoming calls) that route to my SIP client via Wifi or GPRS. Outgoing calls are prepaid to the same VoIP provider and are shown on caller-ID as coming from one of the landlines. Missed calls are taken as messages and e-mailed to me as .WAV's. SIP to SIP calls are free.

Scout around for a VoIP provider. I use VoipTalk and never had a problem.

Ooma (2)

einstein4pres (226130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447936)

I bought an ooma device, which allows me to hook up my phones to the internet over a VoiP connection and provides a telephone number with free domestic calls. There's a non-trivial up front cost ($120-$200), and a very modest monthly fee to cover taxes (~$3.50/mo). So far, it's been really easy, and I have no complaints.

I can get data only service from my provider (Frontier, was Verizon), though they don't seem to be able to bill me properly...

Re:Ooma (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448098)

I don't think Ooma solves the poster's question specifically, but I do like it. The catch is when you sign up they'll put you on a free trial of their "premium" service. Then a few months later they'll start monthly charges for it, until/unless you call them and ask for it to be discontinued (which is the typical 10 minute torture routine of, "are you SURE you don't want us to charge you every month?"). If you are on Ooma now, I suggest you check your billing history :)

Re:Ooma (1)

einstein4pres (226130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448642)

You can disable the automatic premium online without a tedious call. I'm actually being billed the $3.47 I expected.

The OP isn't clear on whether he wants mobile coverage or not, just that he only wants to pay 1 ISP and still have a phone number, and be able to connect with his phone and computer, both of which could be over wifi/wired.

It won't work (0)

realmolo (574068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447946)

You are trying to game the system. But all the ISPs and wireless phone providers have anticipated what you are trying to do, and they don't want you to be able to do it. At least, not in a way that is satisfying.

You might be able to get it to work, sort-of, but you won't end up with a phone that works very well. Frankly, you're better off buying a pre-paid Verizon data card for data, and a pre-paid "burner" cell phone.

Re:It won't work (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448068)

In an open network, neutral world, he's not trying to 'game the system'. Yes, the FCC says that net neutrality isn't required on mobile data networks serviced by carriers (a huge travesty), but he's trying to do an isochronous application. If there's toll avoidance, SO MUCH THE BETTER.

Re:It won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448348)

While the telcos would like you to think of it in such shady terms, "game the system" isn't a good way to describe his situation.

It's more akin to trying to beat the casino at their own game.
In the end, they'll find a way to make the money back off of you, or use lobbying power to get what you're doing declared illegal.
Good luck to you while you can make it work, but don't be surprised if they change the rules often enough to prevent you from making back your setup investment.

sipgate (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447950)

I have used sipgate on a Verizon Droid for a long time while I was in the U.S.. Way better call quality than what you get out of a regular wireless service.

Plus, they offer free phone numbers along with unlimited inbound calls. In my case I used one of their European phone numbers and got myself a free European phone service with no roaming charges. Nice.

You might get yourself a freebie setup that way and be reachable on a phone number for the rest of the world. Calling out you can use Skype etc. or just top-up your prepaid account with sipgate.

Re:sipgate (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448364)

I use Sipgate as my voicemail on Android - the free local 'landline' number certainly beats a SkypeIn rental, is cheap (free on many tariffs) for the caller, and emails the audio file to my gmail account so I can pick it up anywhere in the world I have wifi or 3G (it plays nicely from the gmail client's audio preview). It's also easy to set up Sipgate with Sipdroid without needing to uses PBXes:

http://www.hutsby.net/2010/03/how-to-sipgate-and-sipdroid.html [hutsby.net]

Rogers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447994)

Rogers does it. One data plan that can be shared across your devices.

Re:Rogers? (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448842)

Another reason to move to Canada, then.

Skype is your best bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448042)

I'm on AT&T, and for a while, I tried using a data-only iPad SIM in my iPhone + Skype with online number & Groundwire. On wifi, it's pretty safe to use either (although I'd recommend Skype). On 3G, Groundwire (even with the commercial G729a codec) was unreliable. Skype was better, but it missed too many incoming calls. I'm pretty sure a (Nexus S + wifi + Skype + online number) combo will work very well for you.

Re:Skype is your best bet (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448852)

Good to hear it has potential to work. My concern so far is mostly the missing incoming calls: I often turn on the phone (just testing in the house) and see that the WiFi has disconnected, despite apparent strong signal. (However, Line2's pricing seems more straightforward than Skype's, though Skype is what I initially looked at.)

n900 t-mobie prepaid and skype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448044)

Yes, sipsourcery etc. sound great, but this setup works, is simple, and is cheap.

Most VOIP calls of mine are over wifi.

If I want to use a data connection for an incoming call-- I just call the caller back. Not too much of a hassle, but not seamless.

t-mobile has a $1.49 unlimited data pass (but they start to throttle after a bit of data). They have a bunch of prepaid voice / texting plans that you can choose from dep on your needs.

Skype is $3.00/mo for unlimited outbound calling to US and Canada and they even spoof your caller ID so folks see the number you want them to see ?your cell # / ? google voice #.

Waiting to see if better options posted by others.

I do it on a daily basis (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448054)

I am a cross border commuter, and I needed a phone with a data-plan for ~ 12 days in a month. What many people don't know, is that sim cards with prepaid data for usb modems, will also work on a phone and you can even receive calls (making phone calls is very expensive) . You can then install skype to make cheap phone calls. In my case I have trouble with skype but, I think the CPU/RAM is the bottleneck.

Just a thought... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448090)

you might want to consider just buying an iPhone. They have apps for all that.

Re:Just a thought... (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448886)

Cost per month with iPhone (AT&T):
$40 for 450 minutes
$25 + $10/GB over for 2GB
$10 + 10/ea for 1000 text messages
Plus residential internet:
~$40

Cost per month with Ideal Plan:
$40 for unlimited data

Most modern office buildings run cell rebroadcast (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448116)

Most modern office buildings run cell and wireless rebroadcast thruout.

You might want to move to a more modern area.

iPod Touch + Sprint ZTE Peel (1)

enterix (5252) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448118)

Sprint has 3G MiFi cover for iPod Touch 79.99 plus 29.99/mo no contract plan. Get Skype and you are free...

And this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448124)

Is why all mobil carriers are getting rid of unlimited data plans...

Re:And this (1)

green1 (322787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448312)

not entirely related... but my local telco just announced their first "4g" phone... with download speeds of 21Mbps, the largest data plan available on their service is 5GB/month meaning you can burn through your entire monthly allotment in half an hour, after which you go in to overage fees, you can spend over a thousand dollars in the next hour to get to the maximum allowed overage of 10GB/month at which point you get cut off.

If you're bragging about fast download speeds... don't you think you should re-think a monthly data cap that can be exceeded in half an hour? (and that's the BIGGEST plan they offer!)

Skype on iPod 4. (1)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448180)

Use skype on an iPod 4. I know some people who do that and it works great. The form factor is just like an iPhone.

Re:Skype on iPod 4. (1)

Dragonshed (206590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448288)

I've had some success doing the same. The iPod touch 4 is a good device, but the service of Skype over wifi for making and receiving calls isn't as good as plain old cellular voice. When it's good, it's better than celluar, when it's bad, it introduces jarring audio artifacts or plain drops calls (really bad).

Re:Skype on iPod 4. (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448384)

He wants normal people with normal phones to be able to call a normal phone number... and have it go to his phone, which has no service plan, but has data connectivity through wifi in his house.

Re:Skype on iPod 4. (1)

Dragonshed (206590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448548)

He wants normal people with normal phones to be able to call a normal phone number... and have it go to his phone, which has no service plan, but has data connectivity through wifi in his house.

Which you can do with Skype. A subscription offers you very reasonable rates for making call and an online number (which he mentions) where normal people can call you and if you're offline either get voicemail or forwarded to another normal number.

There are still quality concerns, as I mention here: http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2031828&cid=35448288 [slashdot.org]

Re:Skype on iPod 4. (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448802)

Interesting - so how does the phone know to ring, then? I install a skype app and it monitors for that constantly?

Oh wait. You said subscription. I guess that means it costs money. Hmmm. I guess I need to look into this more.

Don't suppose my google voice number [which only goes to my landline currently] could somehow go through Skype, could it?

SIP on Gingerbread (2)

geniusj (140174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448204)

Menu->Settings->Call Settings->Internet Call Settings.

Just get a SIP provider and Android will use it as if it's a cell network, I assume. I'm not sure how the quality will be over a mobile network, but I'd be curious to hear how it works out for you.

Re:SIP on Gingerbread (1)

enFi (1401137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448896)

That sounds like it might be a great option. I'm totally new to SIP. Any recommendations for SIP providers, or what to look for? (Of course, I can go do my homework, but...)

No you don't want to do this (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448238)

There's a reason wires are king and that is bandwidth. Wireless bandwidth will never match wired. There are all sorts of problems, signal to noise, more narrow bands, but all that aside there is the problem of contention. Everyone in a given area, using a given bandwidth has to share it. That is just how things work. With a wired connection, each person can have their own dedicated connection. There are wired systems that share, like cable modems and PON, but the level to which they share is highly controllable.

You'll find that all those numbers they claim on wireless are only if you've got a segment to yourself. If you and only you are playing around, then you get good bandwidth. When other people start using it, your rate drops because you have to share time slices.

Of course all the towers have wires running to them, so it isn't like any of the problems there are gone. It is just "last mile" that is wireless.

So take any problems you've ever had with a wired ISP, and then add in a whole new set of problems, not the least of which being much lower bandwidth.

You want to wire in when feasible. That is just how things go. When you are talking a desktop, it should be wired the whole way. A laptop, wireless to an access point, wired to the net. Only when you are really on the go do you fall back to cellular data, because there's no other option.

As a practical example: My cable modem delivers about 80-100mbits to my house, depending on usage on my segment. My wired network can deliver all that and more to my desktop (gigabit ehternet). My wireless to my laptop can only deliver 20ish-mbits to my laptop, because that's all the more effective throughput you get with the standard it is using. Only get that if my laptop is the only one using it, if more than one uses it, it drops. My EVDO cellphone gets a few hundred kbits normally, though it is highly dependent on time of day and location.

You can see why there's a cable modem in my house, and a wire to my computer. Even if there were no caps on my phones data plan, I wouldn't want to use it.

Re:No you don't want to do this (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448300)

I'd like it if my calls would automatically switch from cellular to wifi as I connect to networks (like wheI come home, or get to work, for instance). Cellular SIM in the phone as a fallback for being on the go, with the majority of my calls being routed over a fixed line after the wifi access point.

That would be real nice (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448596)

You can actually kinda get that, by buying your own micro cell. You hook it in to your network and then any cellphone on the network for the cell will switch to it when they get in its range. It is short range, of course, a house or less in size. It is a way to boost signal in weak areas and so on. Works fairly well, but is expensive and the phone companies tend to be more than a little incompetent at getting them set up.

Straight out "roam to WiFi" would be cool. Only problem is WiFi is rather chatty compared to GSM/CDMA so it'd reduce your battery life a non-trivial amount.

Re-purposing a smart 'phone. (1)

thaWhat (531916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448268)

I have recently 'retired' a Nokia E71. I simply wish to use it as a skype phone (app installed). It keeps complaining about 'SIM card registration failed' but skype over WiFi seems (a bit laggy at times) to work fine. If I could get rid of the SIM complaints, I would be happy to live with the (understandable) WiFi lag.

C:\>

I Solved A Similar Problem (2)

rmckeethen (130580) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448338)

A few months ago, I decided to ditch my landline and move as many calls as I could to my iPhone via SIP. Here's how I did it:

***My Equipment***

  • An unlocked iPhone with a prepaid T-Mobile SIM
  • A copy of the freeware VoIP app. Siphon [google.com]
  • A used Macmini server I picked-up for $200
  • VMware Fusion [vmware.com] running on the Macmini server
  • The Incredible PBX [incrediblepbx.com] from Nerd Vittles
  • A free ISP connection courtesy of my very cute and extremely generous next door neighbor Christina

The Incredible PBX (I-PBX) runs within VMware and is pre-configured to support free VoIP calls anywhere in the US over Google Voice. The Google Voice service gives me a local phone number (DID), and will route calls to my home-based I-PBX over GTalk. Siphon on the iPhone gives me both in and outbound SIP calling while I'm on WiFi at home. At home, I also have a Cisco VoIP phone I got a few years ago which also handles inbound and outbound calls. When I'm away from home, I can make outbound calls whenever there's a WiFi network available by routing the calls over a VPN connection back to the Macmini server.

Note that there were a couple of caveats with my setup. The biggest problem is that inbound calls via Google Voice and GTalk don't seem to work reliably; the phones ring, but the voice connection never seems to work. I tend to think the problem is in my configuration though, and if I spent a bit more time troubleshooting the issue, I'm sure I could solve the problem. However, I can still use Google Voice to forward inbound calls back to the iPhone phone via the cellular network. I can then get the call, figure out who it is and how long it will take and, if it's going be be more than a couple of minutes, I can call back via VoIP.

Re:I Solved A Similar Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448622)

Tell me more about this next door neighbor...

What's the point? (1)

screwzloos (1942336) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448344)

I suppose I might just be an antisocial cellphone-Luddite (I don't have or want one), but what's the point of going through all this trouble to dodge minutes charges if you're going to have to pay for data rates instead? It's not like you'll get better service.

One could make a case for overly stereotypical pubescent girls, but are real people actually on the phone so much that there's a net gain?

I am doing this, not ideal, but it works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448368)

iPhone 4
iPad sim card with active unlimited $29.95 plan (I use about 200-400mb/mo so the limited plans would work)
Skype Unlimited In & Out (about $8/mo)
Google Voice

I tried several iterations of this using all the current crop of SIP clients for iOS. Skype works the best though Bria and Softphone are getting better. Skype lets you assign your Google Voice number as your outgoing CallerID (keeps confusion down). A downside of Skype is that for some reason you cannot disable their damn Voicemail system unless a full client is continuously running and logged in (ass backwards if you ask me).

I bought the micro-sim from an AT&T store and used an associates iPad to activate an account on it, though from what I hear there is a way to do it without using an actual iPad.

It works decent enough, I get broken up calls if I have 2 bars or less, I am actually quite impressed at how well it works when I have good signal. I would agree that it's not girlfriend/mom reliable yet but I am hoping LTE gets us there. I look forward to the day that we simply pay for the connection and choose our Voice/SMS/VM provider separately. I feel this is critical for proper business integration with mobile devices.

By the way it looks like Sprint is starting to wholesale this idea, see:
http://phoneboothmobile.com/

babys et al; the more sense(s) the better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448390)

that's the spirit. rob has blocked about 75% of our access, so that's good? we're flattered. lots of lines left. don' forget to check out our website. thanks.

Unreliable (1)

labradore (26729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448438)

pbxes.org is just not reliable enough. In my experience it goes down at least once a month. It's also highly technical and at some point you just want to stop worrying about the technical details and make and receive calls without hassles. You might as well run asterisk on your own server or on a VPS. Also, Google Voice, while having a fantastic interface and good reliability, introduces an often unacceptable latency into phone conversations. My co-workers and I have tried paid alternatives to GV, such as phone.com. The latency issue is similar, though voice quality and consistency is somewhat better. My own solution, for now, is to use AT&T on my phone when I'm roaming about the world and use Callcentric (callcentric.com) for VOIP service if AT&T coverage is weak and I have WI-FI available (e.g. in my home office). The disadvantage is, of course, that you have multiple phone numbers and it's sometimes confusing for people who are used to you calling from one number. I still use GV for voicemail but not for calling (programmed AT&T to forward voicemail to my google number). This is not a simple approach and it's not what you're looking for but it's what works right now. VOIP on cell phones (and in general, really) is still not mature enough so that it's always easy for any device to work perfectly with any service. I have a few software VOIP clients on my phone. I prefer Acrobits Softphone and Bria Softphone apps on my iPhone. I also have Skype. It's annoying enough for me to avoid it most of the time. Having run my phone on both AT&T and on TMobile's networks, I can tell you that it's not that feasible to do VOIP over GSM with either carrier on the iPhone. It may be feasible with Sprint/Clearwire and a different phone, but I'm not that interested in trying. My suggestion, if you're going to do 4G wireless is to just use a VOIP carrier like Callcentric with your data plan. However, I have doubts that the latency and reliability will be adequate. Good luck.

By the way, I came to this conclusion by starting out with an iPod touch and VOIP software, moving to a 3GS with VOIP software (hacked to use the iPad data plan ($15/mo)). Eventually settling on the current iPhone 4 + pretty cheap VOIP (less than $5/mo). Yes I could go Android but I don't like the phones. Yes I could go Verizon but I want voice+data at the same time. Yes I could go Sprint but their service isn't really superior to AT&T in my area and, for me, the jailbroken iPhone beats the EVO (although it's the best Android phone for my money).

Re:Unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448594)

Yes I could go Verizon but I want voice+data at the same time.

Yeah, because when you are using VOIP, voice+data at the same time is sooo important. I use VOIP on my Verizon Android phone, and of course data stays active during a VOIP call. Think about it.

nexus s + t-mobile prepaid + google voice (1)

lytles (24756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448562)

not quite what you're looking for, but in the same vein. i'm using the nexus s on t-mobile prepaid with a google voice number

at my desktop: gmail voice chat over a 1Mbps, $10/month dsl connection
mobile with wifi: sip on the nexus s
mobile without wifi: t-mobile prepaid

everybody sees the same (gv) number. for sip i use callcentric + ipkall incoming, and anveo ($0.012 per minute) for outgoing. i'm using csipsimple instead of the builtin sip stack. i haven't tried sip over 3g. call quality with sip has been inconsistent, but i think i can improve it - i still need to tweak the echo cancellation params and figure out how to enable QOS on my router. i should also try skype-out

not a slam dunk, but calls are very cheap or free, sms is free - i spent $3 in the last month. when i need data it's $1.50 per day. it works because i'm at a computer most of the day, have wifi available most places i go, and don't make a ton of calls to begin with. at the price, it's hard to beat

Android + whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448576)

Android can be configured to use whatever service you like for voice; in particular, you can redirect all your calls through some VoIP app. However, you don't want to use VoIP through 3G; it is neither particularly efficient nor particularly good. You can also set up Android to redirect through VoIP only when on WiFi.

Another choice is to just use Google Voice or a similar service that calls you back on your phone. It still uses up minutes, but it's cheaper for international dialing. Again, that can be fully automated if you like.

How about... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448638)

1) Get a data-only SIM. Here in Canada, $35/mth gets you 5GB for a data-only SIM. In that case it's a Virgin Mobile (which is wholly owned by Bell) android tablet SIM, but there's no reason it couldn't go in an android phone instead.
2) Get an Android phone supporting 2.3 or later
3) Get an account and DID at voip.ms (no PBX required, their customer management portal can do most things Asterix can). I assume you're in the US, so that's $0.99 USD per month for the DID, $0.01 per minute incoming minutes (by 6 second increments), and $0.0105 per minute outgoing (by 6 second inc
4) Either use Android 2.3's built-in SIP support, a third-party SIP application, or some combination of the two.

Excepting that the latency on HSPA+ isn't great (130-150ms on a decent connection), it should feel pretty close to native. I regularly make Skype calls on 3G, and while it's not optimal, it works well enough.

However, if I were you, I would wait until I could get an LTE Android phone before trying this; some googling showed benchmarks of 20 to 50 milliseconds on LTE, which is a huge improvement, and more than sufficient for great VoIP quality.

Stay away from Clear/Clearwire... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448722)

...unless you don't mind being throttled, and can tolerate poor customer service.

Cellular Terms of Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448876)

Don't forget to check the fine print. A lot of cellular providers have wording saying that Voice traffic over their data network isn't permitted. It may work now, but could potentially be filtered in the future.

Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35448936)

I do this, and it works fine. I keep a real phone with voice service though, but I use fewer minutes than I would otherwise.

Phone: iPhone 4 w/no data plan.
Internet eMobile PocketWiFi (kina like those MiFi things you have in the US), with extended battery.

I have skype (with skypein) and google voice. Anyone from USA calls and SMSs my google voice.

Making outgoing calls here in Japan, I can use skype, but usually don't bother. Incoming calls are free anyway.
More to the point, I can use my eMobile internet for my phone, my laptop, even my desktop at home, one bill.

You can use ab iPod touch, but no native call options, and you basically have to use a headset.

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