low-usage long distance [telecom]

We have two residential telephone lines. One is our "primary" line which is a published number and has an unlimited local and long distance calling plan.

The other is a measured local service which we use for our fax machine.

During a recent review of our telecom services, I discovered that we had not looked at the long-distance service provider on the fax line for many years and we were paying a fairly hefty monthly minimum to send only about a half-dozen out-going faxes per month.

As I result, I decided to cancel the long-distance service on the fax line and have no PIC'd carrier.

I now have to decide what is the best approach to sending faxes:

  1. When sending a fax, we can unplug the fax machine from its regular incoming line and plug it into our other line where we have the unlimited local and long distance rate plan. (Just remember to put it back when done so that we can receive incoming faxes and so the fax machine doesn't answer our home number.)
  2. We can install a mechanical RJ-11 switch to switch the fax machine between lines, as above, and avoid crawling around plugging and un-plugging cords. (Same issue of having to remember to turn the switch back when done so that regular callers on the home phone number don't get blasted by an answering fax squeal.)
  3. We can place outgoing faxes by prefixing the call with 1010 plus an inter-exchange carrier code of a carrier which offers a good low-usage rate.
  4. We can buy a pre-paid long distance card at Costco or or somewhere and use when placing calls from the fax machine.

Possibly, I could purchase or design an automatic switching device that would route outgoing calls from the fax to line one and incoming calls to the fax from line two. That seems like a bit of a geek-like solution.

Or we could just find a cost-effective low-usage LD carrier to PIC for the fax line.

BTW, selective ring service is not an option because I do not want the fax to be unavailable when I am on a voice call on the primary home number.

Does anyone have any suggestions inexpensive 1010- carrier, a low- or no- minimum LD carrier, or a hardware solution as above?

Regards, Will

Reply to
Will Roberts
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Use the prepaid card. It's easy to find prepaid cards that cost 3 cpm or less, and you can usually register your phone number with the card vendor so you just call the access number and then the target number without needing a PIN. Anything else will be more hassle, and can't be much cheaper.

R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

You certainly don't need a separate phone line to send out six faxes a month.

But how many faxes do you receive a month?

Do they come in unanounced at any time, or only on special occassions? If only special occasions, you could turn on the fax machine and then instruct callers to call back the same number. You get the incoming fax, and turn off the fax machine.

If they come in unanounced at any time you'll probably need the separate line/number for the fax machine. With that your'e stuck paying all the minimum charges. Many carriers charge a "no selection" fee if you have no long distance company so there's no way to escape that.

I'll have to leave it someone else to explain how to have a low-cost bare bones phone line. All the line services I know of, baby Bell or new types, are package deals, indeed, the Baby Bell may be the cheapest. [Before Bell System divesture a bare bones phone line was quite cheap.]

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If you're mainly receiving the faxes why don't you just get rid of the second line, hook the fax to the other for outgoing only, and use an e-fax service for the incoming. There are some e-fax (fax to e-mail) that only charge a small fee per month for the number and beyond that only charge additional for outgoing faxes. This way you can receive faxes any time via e-fax and still do outgoing on the other line, set the fax not to answer automatically on that.

Probably save a bundle on the line charges, tax, and all the other crap that they bill you for this way too.

Reply to
B. Wright

As B. Wright suggested, there are inbound-fax-to-email services available that are actually free, if you don't mind being assigned a fax number that's out of your area. eFax is one such

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with whom my wife and I both have service. Really handy for those times we're away from home for a week or more and are both a) expecting a fax, and b) travelling with laptop computer.

That said, we have a fax machine at home as well, playing nicely with a plain old telephone, an answering machine, and a caller-ID box, all on *one* POTS line. These are cleverly interconnected with the FAX plugged into the phone jack in the wall, the answering device plugged into an AUX port on the FAX machine, the telephone plugged into the PHONE port on the answering machine, and the caller-ID box plugged in pretty much anywhere (in the kitchen, as it happens). Here's what transpires when the phone rings:

1) With ring 1, the FAX quietly listens for CNG. 2) After ring 1, the caller-ID displays the calling number (if available), and one of us *may* answer if we recognize the number displayed. 3) After ring 2, the answering machine will start its OGM, prepare to record the ICM, play aloud any ICM it's recording (during which time one of us may pick up to answer), and hang up. 4) Should the FAX at any time actually detect CNG, it answers, disconnects everything plugged into it, starts its fax-reception negotiation, and receives the fax.

Again, that's on just *one* POTS line, no distinctive ringing required.

Cheers, -- tlvp

Reply to

Quote reformatted to fix long lines; please use a fixed font with a line length less than 80 characters, or format=flowed.

Is it a cordless phone with no other extension phones?

I'm amazed that in one ring, you have time to get to the caller ID box and find the handset if you've decided to accept the call.

Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

Sorry, Adam, I thought I *was* using fixed-width font with format=flowed. This time I'll truncate my lines. Other comments where relevant.

It happens not to be cordless, but cordless would work too. Other extensions? Plenty, elsewhere in the premises. Don't want to pick one of them up, though, before being sure that (a) it's not a FAX call, and (b) it's not a sales 'droid.

Well, the mail caller-ID box is right next to where my normal computer resides, in the kitchen as it happens.

But you're right: we rarely get to see caller-ID before the OGM starts. We *do*, however, get to hear the ICM if the caller chooses to start leaving one, and we can butt in even at that late point and take up conversing.

Sales 'droids, though, rarely waste their time leaving messages :-) .

(my line wrap better for you this time around?)

Cheers, -- tlvp

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