Direct dial long distance [Telecom]


I hope this post is appropriate for this group. If not, would appreciate your redirecting me.

I'm helping out my 80-something mom in Massachusetts (Arlington -- suburban Boston) with her phone service. Actually, my aim is to get a DSL line installed in her condo, send her a netbook, and have someone there set it up so that we can Skype each other. She's never used a computer and I don't expect her to use Skype for ordinary long- distance calls -- only on the specific occasions that she and I connect.

I'm searching for the least expensive options for her land line phone service, long distance and Internet service. Verizon appears to be the main man in her area. They have a number of package deal combinations, but I'd like to see whether it makes sense to "un-bundle" the various services she needs.

Here's my question: in the past, when I lived in the DC area, Verizon (and formerly Bell Atlantic) allowed you to select your long distance provider, and to have that company carry all of your long distance calls automatically when you dialed a long distance number from your home phone. The carrier's portion of the bill appeared on your monthly statement. For example, I could choose to have AT&T as my long distance provider, and pay their rates rather than Verizon's. I sent one check to Verizon, and they in turn paid AT&T for their charges.

For a long time now I've been using dial-around services for my long distance (actually, I'm now using a MagicJack with acceptable results), but for my mom, it's a bit too much to have her dial an access number. In searching for rate comparisons for long distance providers, I've not found very much. AT&T listed a rate of $2.99/month plus 10 cents/min.

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Does anyone know: (a) is it still possible to have separate long- distance and local/regional carriers as before (b) what companies provide such service (c) is there a place where the fees/rates are published so I can compare them?

thanks Al Fairfield, Iowa, USA

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First, each region has its own telephone rates and offerings, even by national companies.

Second, my own experience in teaching computer use to a person that age who has never used a computer is hard. It's not easy getting someone used to 'typewriter mode' to think in terms of 'computer mode'. (Of course, each person is different, plenty of elderly people are heavy users.)

Where I am, Verizon (our landline carrier) offers a national long distance package with local service. With that, your mother can call you as much as she wants and talk as long as she wants; as well as any other of her friends and family anywhere in the country at anytime. You get one bill and no worries. Our family found that an attractive option. Note that that includes all local and regional calling as well. I don't know what the cost would be for her.

I suggest this over a computer because getting DSL, buying a notebook, installing it, etc., will be costly and might not even work out that well.

Hope this helps.

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I agree that dialing access numbers for dial-around services is a pain, so why not just give your mom a magicJack? Is the idea of her having the netbook on 24/7 the deal-breaker? Skype, though, would require that, too, no?

Why not use a "subsistence" land line with "basic" DSL, if that's available -- or even just "dry" DSL? That magicJack and an old 500 desk-set should be just great together ... .

Cheers, -- tlvp

-- Avant de repondre, jeter la poubelle, SVP

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Perhaps much, much better, less confusing, and cheaper: Ooma.

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Apparently available from Costco, too. Just the one-time cost with free calls forever as we were discussing here this past Summer.

Reply to
Thad Floryan

I think this is why those services that plug a standard phone into a router are becoming popular. Seems like someone would have come up with a "picturephone" of a similar fashion by now. I wonder if they have...

Reply to
David Kaye

Whoops! Forgot about that. Perhaps wiped out by my having combined a "that-week-only" 10%-off coupon with a $30.- ink-jet-recycling reward voucher to get a $40.- MagicJack for 6 bucks (plus tax) at Staples a couple of months ago, as a cheap experiment at a year's worth of unlimited +1 country calls from anywhere.

Actually, MagicJack doesn't work all that well over lowest-speed aDSL, like mine -- I get (variably) 35-65 KB/sec on my nominal 768 Kb service, and MagicJack stutters, in both directions (probably worse for my listeners than for me).

Might work perceptibly better over a higher speed connection, but... . I doubt Ooma's equipment would change that picture much. Or?

Cheers, -- tlvp

-- Avant de repondre, jeter la poubelle, SVP

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[little snip]

This solution isn't entirely "direct dial", but it sort of is. If you use the services of One Suite you can make calls to the US, Canada and most of Europe for 2.5 cents/minute. Procedure is you dial a local number. It answers and you simply dial the end number. It's "PINless" so you don't have to enter account codes. It's a "prepaid" service so you can buy calls in blocks of $10, $20 or more.

Reply to
Joseph Singer

Thanks, Joseph, for this pointer to an interesting competitor to the IDT dial-around service I use for international calling and international access, and to the MagicJack.

Alas, no matter how hard I search on their web site, I find no mention of their outbound tariffs to Poland, or roaming tariffs from Poland.

Could it be that Poland is not one of the countries they serve? Or have I just been looking in all the wrong places?

TIA, and cheers, -- tlvp

-- Avant de repondre, jeter la poubelle, SVP

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Odd, I clicked the RATES tab on the home page, picked Poland from the Destination Country list, and in a few moments it told me that the local origination dial-around and VoIP rates are both 4.5cpm to land-lines, 29cpm to mobile. That's pretty good for local origination dial-around, good but not great for VoIP. 800 origination dial-around is 9.5 and 34cpm, OK for 800 origination but you can do better.

R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

I'd like to understand these problems better.

As I've posted before, I now use VOIP for a number of functions within my network. I am happy with the performance.

I have DSL which was recently upgraded from 768k/128k to 1M/384k. I've tested several external VOIP connections including IPKall, IPcomms, and sipgate DID; Gizmo via Google Voice; and a localish VOIP dialout. I've tried using my public IP addresses via a tunnel and also running directly through the DSL's NAT box with IAX. In all cases I sometimes get incoming dropouts which I think correspond to the stutters you mention.

My end points show a lot of silence fill which suggests packet loss or perhaps reordering outside the jitter buffer limit. (The IAX connection was completely unusable until I forced Asterisk's local jitter buffer on. That made things comparable to the other connections.) I went so far as to write programs to simulate the packet size and rate of a typical VOIP session and look for dropped or re-ordered packets. I found nothing, again regardless of whether I went through a tunnel or direct.

One possibility is that the problems are topologically farther away than where I ran my test programs (and definitely not related to my DSL connection), but this seems odd. A more sinister explanation would be that the ISP is recognizing the RTP traffic and dropping some packets. I'm thinking of having my test program do a more complete simulation rather than just making the packets the right size.

There are public web sites that offer to test VOIP capability but they seem more interested in the upstream direction where I don't appear to have a problem.


Dan Lanciani ddl@danlan.*com

Reply to
Dan Lanciani

Harrumpph! Browser shenanigans again. I did as you suggested, in Opera v. 10, opening the OneSuite site cited in the quote, and clicking the RATES tab, and there was no drop-down list of destination countries to be seen. But:

Tried the same thing in IE7, and .. lo and behold .. a drop-down list, where Opera showed just blank space. (Rates outbound to Poland just as you quoted.)

But, even with IE7, there's no Poland in the "Originating Country" list :-{ .

Oh, well ... . [I really have to back my Opera install back down to v. 9.64 if I can: v. 10 just seems to have problems with sites (like or the Google gMail site) that v. 9.64 handled with no issues at all.]

Thanks, John, and cheers, -- tlvp

-- Avant de repondre, jeter la poubelle, SVP

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