View Full Version : Anyone using VoIP?

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 11:41 AM
I get lousy cell reception at home, was wondering about VoIP. Verizon will sell me a mini cell tower to plug into my router, but it ain't cheap/free.

How does this work?

What's it cost?

Good app for Android?

Brian Elfert
07-10-2014, 12:15 PM
I am not doing VOIP on my iPhone, but I do have Ooma as a land line replacement for about $4.50 a month and it works great. We use VOIP at work for all of our phones with no issues.

Charlie Plesums
07-10-2014, 12:35 PM
I used Ooma for my land line with no problem at all while I was on cable. When I switched to UVerse, the quality of the TV reception fell and the land line drops calls periodically. It was such a hassle to install UVerse that I am reluctant to take it out, but AT&T had played with it for years before offering it in our neighborhood... I suspect that they lowered their standards rather than improving the lines in our area. With Ooma, you buy the box, then only pay the taxes for 911 and other services - in my case $3.82 per month.

Another way to try VOIP if you are willing to talk from your computer is Skype. Free between skype terminals anywhere in the world. Roughly 2 cents per minute to any landline in the world or any cell phone in the USA.

William Payer
07-10-2014, 1:22 PM
We have been using Ooma for our landline (via internet) for 4 years now. Not a single problem. Basic service is about $4 a month and for an extra $10 per month you can get a deluxe package with many options. We particularly like the "personal blacklist" option where you can enter the number you no longer want calls from( telemarketers!) and then choose the recording they will receive . ( we like the computer tone to instruct automated dialers the phone is no longer in service, along with a voice message saying the same)

Oh, by the way, Ours has been through Uverse and we have had no problems. I guess we are in an area where Uverse functions very well.

Greg R Bradley
07-10-2014, 1:24 PM
What you are considering is a MicroCell, originally called a Micro Cell Site. That was frequently abbreviated into MicroSite, which was confusing because that also meant a very small website. Best to think of it as having nothing to do with VOIP and being just you own private cell tower.

Your cell phone provider sells you a small cell tower that has a very limited range and will only allow certain cell phones to connect. They connect just as they do to a regular cell phone tower. You might confuse it with VOIP because it does plug in to your router. VOIP can mean a zillion different things and, of course, it does use IP to connect to the cell phone provider.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 1:40 PM
OK so, what does Ooma plug in to?

Brian Elfert
07-10-2014, 1:46 PM
I suspect the OP might be thinking about using an Android app to do VOIP on his Android phone. That would work fine if the OP has good WIFI in the house. The app would probably have its own phone number so that really doesn't help unless folks know to try both numbers, or the OP uses Google Voice or similar for the main number.

Dave Richards
07-10-2014, 1:47 PM
My wife recently got a phone from Republic Wireless and after some testing, I ordered one last night. It use VOIP if there's an available wireless connection and switches automatically to cell if there's no internet access. It seems to work quite well. She's used it during a driving trip to Colorado and up to NW Minnesota and it did just fine. It is a seamless transition from one to the other and you have the same phone number for both. She's using their $10/month plan which includes unlimited talk and text and unlimited data on internet. They have a couple of other plans that include data via the cell network, too.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 1:52 PM
Yup! I've got great WiFi at home. Google voice is what I was thinking, but it is getting poor reviews currently.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 1:56 PM
Wow that's a good deal. My term is coming up might take a look at it.

Brian Elfert
07-10-2014, 2:12 PM
OK so, what does Ooma plug in to?

It plugs into an Internet connection. OOMA is a VOIP replacement for a land line. It really has nothing to do with a cell phone except that OOMA does have a iPhone app that is separate from the OOMA land line service.

John Huds0n
07-10-2014, 2:19 PM
I think the OP is confusing a couple of things...

"mini cell tower" - I believe you are referring to Verizon's "network extender" which is actually a 'femtocell".

I have one. I think the cost was just over $200 a couple of years ago. It does require an internet connection and actually routes your cell phone call over the internet. Works pretty well, but I did not think they sold them anymore?

Another option that works quite well - get a free Google Voice number and use an app on your cell phone (like you mentioned) or you can buy an adapter like the OBI 100 and use it with a regular phone in your home (internet connection required)


I also have the original OOMA unit which is still working great with NO monthly fees. I was paying for premium to get a second line (which we rarely used) and then I found out about the Google Voice/OBI 100 and dropped the premium. The only thing about the OBI 100 is I am not sure how long Google is going to be able to support it, but at this point it works fine

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 2:29 PM
What's OBI 100? I was looking a Google voice, but like you I'm wondering how long it will be supported. The reviewers at the play store are not very happy about it saying it bady needs an update.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 2:32 PM
OK and then a regular land line phone plugs into it?

John Huds0n
07-10-2014, 2:51 PM
I posted the link to the OBI 100 I have a couple of posts prior to this one... Not sure if there is anything better at this point, but I think the cost is $35 for the device and NO monthly fees.

Yes, you plug it into your internet connection and there is a regular phone line out. I use one of the panasonic wireless phones with it and it works fine.

One nice thing about google voice - it will record any voice messages left and send me an email with a transcript (although some times, the transcript is really butchered) along with the recording. Can't beat the price of FREE

Brian Elfert
07-10-2014, 2:55 PM
Both the OOMA device and the OBI 100 device plug into your Internet service and you plug a regular land line phone into the device. The OBI 100 requires a 3rd party VOIP service while OOMA includes their own VOIP service. I seem to recall reading that Google Voice made changes such that the OBI 100 no longer works with Google Voice.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 3:01 PM
Sorry missed the link, my bad.

I think I download the Google voice app and give it a go.

Matt Meiser
07-10-2014, 3:04 PM
There's a "Hangouts" extension for Chrome that lets you do VOIP calling from your PC. I've been using it quite a bit lately and like it.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 3:14 PM
But that's video, right? I don't wanna break their computer with my ugly mug. Turns out I've got that installed already.

Does it work with non video/regular phones on the other side.

Darcy Schaffer
07-10-2014, 3:24 PM
I believe you are referring to Verizon's "network extender" ...

I have one of these and I believe Verizon still sells them but you need to use the website link to get one (or at least I had too).

I use this at a beach property that has almost zero wireless coverage. Plug this into your internet hub, put it beside a window so it can see the GPS, and you should get full bars on your cell phone.


Matt Meiser
07-10-2014, 5:39 PM
I have a Google Voice number and the Hangouts plug in lets me make voice-only calls to any number I want. I even called into the audio bridge from a conference call service the other day when the usual VOIP connection they provide wouldn't work. You have access to the keypad as well when you need to press 1 for...

Shawn Pixley
07-10-2014, 6:03 PM
We have VOIP at work and I love it. Your laptop is your phone so I can make calls anywhere in the world through it if I have an internet connection. We don't have it at home but our mobile wireless plan has all calls free.

Joel Goodman
07-10-2014, 6:52 PM
If it's like the ATT microcell it uses your cell phone and sends the call through your router and internet connection. You can activate it to recognize up to 10 cell phones. For us it's excellent, but you still pay for the cell usage. BTW if you have lousy reception try to talk them out one for free -- after all if you can't get reception at your house why use that provider? Before that I had one spot on the deck with so so reception, now it's good all over the house. Real VOIP of course doesn't eat up your minutes. For me I like one number for people to call and reach me.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 6:59 PM
I tried about a year ago to get one for free complaining about the lousy reception, but I think they know they've got the best coverage in my area. For me its not about the minutes, I've got unlimited, it purely about the reception and its my only phone, no landline.

But I think I'm gonna try hangouts and Google voice for now, see how that goes.

John Huds0n
07-10-2014, 7:25 PM
....For me I like one number for people to call and reach me.

You should try Google Voice if you have not already. You give out your Google Voice number but you can set it up to ring different phones. You can even use a schedule to ring your home phone for example during the week or you cell phone on weekends, etc. To work with the OBI Device, I have mine forwarded to Google Chat

I think I paid $10 which allowed me to pick a phone number that I liked and was easy to remember - well worth it.

Judson Green
07-10-2014, 8:38 PM
Can you use Google voice over WiFi? The reviewers on play indicate that's not a possibility.

John Huds0n
07-10-2014, 8:52 PM
In what context? - using a device like the OBI 100 only uses wifi

I was using an android app - GrooveIP that worked pretty well and only uses an wifi connection



Judson Green
07-10-2014, 9:00 PM
In what context?

The reviewers seem to indicates that this service works over the handset radio still- like 4g, not WiFi. Maybe im /their wrong, not sure.

I'm gonna give it (Google voice) a shot anyways.

Rich Enders
07-10-2014, 9:02 PM

I had AT&T and we had lousy reception. I complained and complained and complained in person, over the phone, and by letter. My last letter went to some VP at AT&T telling him you could always tell who had AT&T cell service because we were the ones making phone calls standing in our front yard regardless of the weather. I don't know what worked but finally they gave me one of their mini cell towers. It installed easily, and worked perfectly. A few months later AT&T turned on their 4G network, and I no longer needed the mini. AT&T did not want it back so I sent it to a friend in Ohio and made his day.

Judson Green
07-11-2014, 11:11 AM
OK just installed Google voice and made a test call, seems promising.

Question though; if folks call my cell number does it go though the Google voice thing or do I need to get a "One Number" from Google?

And "Hangouts"; you have to invite people to hangout via SMS? This doesn't seem to work for me on my android tablet.

Edit: Apparently I wasn't using Google voice.

Matt Meiser
07-11-2014, 12:13 PM
With the Hangouts app installed in Chrome on my PC, whenever someone calls my Google Voice number it rings on my PC. Whenever I want to make a call, I just click the app and enter the number I want to call. Just received a callback from tech support in India on it today and spent close to 2 hours--worked perfect.

Judson Green
07-11-2014, 12:22 PM

What are the benefits of having a Google One Number? I've only got one number now.

And if I people call my current mobile number, will that get routed over the WiFi?

Edit: I don't know if it makes a difference but I'm using and android tablet and android phone, I've got a PC but its not connected, its old.

Matt Meiser
07-11-2014, 12:28 PM
If someone calls that its going to ring your mobile phone just as it always has. Google can't intercept that?

Judson Green
07-11-2014, 12:31 PM
Thats what I thought.

But if I had a Google number then it would come via WiFi?

Edit: Tried getting a Google number, don't think ya can anymore.

Judson Green
07-11-2014, 2:02 PM
Apparently I wasn't using Google voice.

Just installed GrooVe IP lite and it seems to work and easily got a phone number to use.

Brian Elfert
07-11-2014, 2:35 PM
Whatever happened to running out of phone numbers and all the area code splits in the late 1990s? People have more phone numbers than ever now with cell phones, Google Voice, and every other service handing out phone numbers.

Mike Henderson
07-11-2014, 8:55 PM
Whatever happened to running out of phone numbers and all the area code splits in the late 1990s? People have more phone numbers than ever now with cell phones, Google Voice, and every other service handing out phone numbers.

Let's look at the number of possible telephone numbers in the US and Canada (North American Numbering Plan).

There are 800 possible area codes. Area codes can't start with 0 or 1 but the other two digits can go from 0 to 9 (8 times 10 times 10 equal 800). Actually, numbers with area codes of 800, 888, 900, etc. are not real numbers and are mapped to real numbers by the network. Just for rough numbers, let's assume 750 possible area codes.

Then you have the exchange number. Can't start with 0 or 1, the second and third digits can't be 11 (x11 not allowed) and 555 (the Hollywood number) is not used. This leaves 791 exchange numbers (8 x 9 x 9 -1 = 791). The subscriber numbers could theoretically go from 0000 to 9999 (10,000 numbers) so the total of subscriber numbers and exchanges are 7,910,000. In reality, some of the numbers are used for special purposes, such as testing in the network, so let's assume 7,500,000.

Multiplying by the 750 area codes gives us 5,625,000,000 (5.625 trillion) phone numbers for the US and Canada (and a few minor areas).

The problem in the past was that a provider was given phone numbers in blocks of 10,000, whether they needed 10,000 or not. Nowdays, the available numbers are put into a pool and when a provider needs a number, it is pulled from the pool.

But there can still be a shortage in an area code (about 7,500,000 in an area code but some are always inactive - given up numbers are not re-issued immediately). That's why you see area code overlays in a large metropolitan area. People, especially a business, do not want to change their existing number so splitting an area code is never a popular alternative.

And just a bit of trivia. Area codes were introduced when we still used rotary phones. So "short dialing" codes were assigned to big cities - 212 to NY and 213 to LA.


[I just went and looked up the possible area codes. Here are some that are not used:

x11 is not used because if can cause misdialing if the 1 prefix is not used (for example, 911, 411, etc.)
Numbers with the second and third digit the same are not used. So 233 would not be used.
Numbers with 9 in the center, such as 392, are not used because they are used for service codes or reserved
Same for 37x, and 96x - not used because they are used for service codes or reserved.
The toll free numbers are 800, 822, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, 880, 881, 882, 883, 884, 885, 886, 887, 888, 889. Not all of these are used today. Note that many of these violate the requirements specified above - specifically that the second and third digits not be the same. 890 to 899 are reserved so far.
I haven't tried to figure out how many "valid" area codes that leaves, but it will be less than 750, probably 700 or less, giving us about 5 trillion phone numbers.]

Brian Elfert
07-11-2014, 10:29 PM
There never did overlays in the Minneapolis area. The one area code was split into two and eventually into four by geography. The assigning numbers individually thing explains why we aren't doing many new area codes these days.

Mike Henderson
07-12-2014, 12:02 AM
There never did overlays in the Minneapolis area. The one area code was split into two and eventually into four by geography. The assigning numbers individually thing explains why we aren't doing many new area codes these days.

From Wikipedia:

As an extreme example of an area code splitting gone somewhat awry, in 1998 area code 612 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_code_612), which had covered the Minneapolis Saint Paul (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis_%E2%80%93_Saint_Paul) Twin Cities, was split to create area code 651 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_code_651) for St. Paul (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Paul,_Minnesota) and the eastern metropolitan area. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Public_Utilities_Commission) mandated that the new boundary exactly follow municipal boundaries (which were distinctly different from telephone exchange boundaries), and that all subscribers keep their 7-digit numbers. These two goals were directly at odds with the reason for the split (to generate additional phone numbers), and there were more than 40 exchanges whose territory straddled the new boundary. The result was prefixes duplicated in both area codes, which counteracted much of the benefit of the splitting, with only 200 of 700 prefixes in area 612 moving entirely to area 651. As a result, in less than two years area code 612 again exhausted its supply of phone numbers, and it underwent another three-way split in 2000, creating the new area codes 763 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_code_763) and 952 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_code_952). Again, the split followed political boundaries rather than rate center boundaries, resulting in additional split prefixes; a few numbers moved from 612 to 651 and then to 763 in less than two years.

Jim Becker
07-13-2014, 9:48 PM
Judson, I've been using a Microcell at home for a few years now...it's the difference between being able to make/receive wireless calls in the house or not, despite the fact that we are actually close to a tower, but have the double whammy of a big block of limestone (a mountain) and 18" thick limestone walls impeding service. While we use ATT, the setup is very similar to the Verizon Microcell you are considering. That said, you need to have reasonably good Internet service for the Microcell to be helpful to you since your calls when at home will be converted to IP by the Microcell and sent out to your carrier's network via your Internet connection. If you have marginal Internet service, you may want to try a cell signal booster (repeater) first. The device truly is like a cell tower in that respect, as most "big" cell points of presence take the over-the-air signals and convert them to IP for backhaul these days, although some older cells still use traditional communication lines in some areas.

I'm not sure why you are asking about a "good app for Android"...unless that's a separate thing you're interested in. The Microcell doesn't care about apps. You'll want to be using WiFi for any data traffic at home, anyway, for best results and to not use up your cellular data bandwidth allocation while at home.

On the phone number dialog...I can have three area codes right here in my house theoretically, although currently only have two of them active on devices. Overlays have been here for a LONG time!