Friday, August 07, 2015

Porting a landline number to a prepaid account with Google Voicemail -- then turning off the phone. Would that work?

As of today we are almost free of CenturyLink, the latest telecomm Titanic. Our final connection is a minimal (no features, no long distance) $17-20/month landline service that should theoretically support our old security system and keep our longstanding home phone number for incoming calls [1].

That’s not as good as it sounds however, since for much of the past 14 days we’ve had no phone service at all; we’ve been forwarding the home number to a cell number while we wait for CenturyLink’s second attempt to restore basic service. Even in the near term CenturyLink landline service is probably not a viable option.

There are 3 obvious alternatives excluding Comcast and simple mobile port. [3]

  1. AT&T Home Phone: $20/month add-on to our AT&T family plan, and if anyone can port from CenturyLink it’s AT&T. On the other hand, we may want to leave AT&T for Ting or T-mobile sometime in the next few months.
  2. Obihai SIP/VOIP devices with integrated Google Voice. (see also: porting to Obihai/GV by way to AT&T burner)
  3. Port to Googe Voice via AT&T burner.
I wonder if there’s a fourth alternative. This would be a prepaid plan that is compatible with Google Voicemail. I know H2O wireless can do this and it’s very cheap, but their service level is fairly spartan. Ting might be good at $9/month with an old GSM iPhone 4, but it’s not clear they support Google Voicemail (maybe on GSM but not CDMA?).
With a prepaid plan that had a low monthly minimum fee, we could setup Google Voicemail then power off the phone. All messages would then go to voicemail, but not use any minutes. We’d just be paying for routing to Google Voice, but we’d have the option of powering up the phone.
Anyone try that?
- fn - 

[1] It is notoriously hard to port a number from CenturyLink. As of 2011 they had a waiver for violating local number portability mandates. I think they are technically obligated to port, but few people seem to succeed.
[2] H2O wireless is even cheaper, at $40/year for a similar level of service. But H2O is a true bottom-feeder — ok for a kid phone but not quality enough for our home number. Porting from H2O, for example, is quite chancy. Other alternatives would be a Sprint or T-Mobile or AT&T burner phone, but their minimal per-month costs are likely higher.
[3] Comcast is our new internet provider. They are also universally hated. We’d prefer to keep them as the dumbest pipe possible and minimize dependencies on them. A simple port to a mobile number is higher cost as AT&T home phone without the AT&T benefits. We don’t want to change our existing mobile numbers and we don’t want to lose the home phone number (yet).

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