Cut our telecom bills by about $30

Yay!  Dad finally gave up his cell phone and home phone number, and we’re now about $31 richer per month.  How’d we do that? 2 things: we switched to a family plan for cell phones with AT&T’s new Mobile Share, and we’re switching our VoIP provider to cut down our telecom bill.

I’ve had Lingo (Primus Telecom) since about 2004, but they keep raising the prices – as of now, we’re paying $17.89/mth for 250 minutes (and about $9 of that is “taxes and fees”).  I like their service, and it’s been rock solid as long as we’ve got power (and Internet), but the increase in taxes and fees is a bit too much.  Dad ported his number to Lingo when we moved in together, and for a while, both my old home number and his number ringed the same VoIP account.  My number started getting a lot of debt collection calls (and not for me!), so I started giving out my Google Voice number, and disconnected the old number.  Since then, my Google Voice number forwards to Dad’s “home” number, and Dad gets the calls directly.  Dad was reluctant to give up his home number, so we tried porting it to Google Voice, and we couldn’t so he decided to give it up.  He’s now got his own Google Voice number.

We both had AT&T (iPhones) for the last three-ish years, but we couldn’t be on a family plan since I had a Pittsburgh area phone number, and Dad had a Columbia (MD) area phone number.  AT&T can’t put them on the same account because they’re stupid like that – so we had separate accounts, even though it cost us more.  Way too many people know my cell phone number, and trying to give the new one out would be a bit torturous, so I kept mine, he kept his.  When AT&T came out with their mobile share plans, I looked into it, and convinced Dad that it would make sense to give up his number (we’d save over $20/mth) – so today, we went and added a line to my account (which gets a 22% discount thanks to my employer) and Dad has a new phone number – in Pittsburgh.  We have unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 1GB of data to share.  I would occasionally go over on my texts – my mom has learned how and thinks everyone has unlimited texts, so I don’t have to worry about that any more.  The only worry I have is international travel, but I’ve got a plan for that too.  We looked at our historical data usage, and we only use about 500-700 MB per month combined, less than the 1GB plan, so we’re starting there.  If we find that we use the data a lot, we might upgrade to the 4GB plan – which is the same price we’re paying now.

At home, we bought an Obi202 and have it connected through my Google Voice and CallCentric for 911 services.  We got a free incoming number from CallCentric (from Selden, NY), and our Google Voice numbers now point to that number.  We pay $1.50/mth for just 911 service, and (currently) per minute for outgoing calls ($0.015/min) – shortly, we’ll pay $6.95/mth for 500 minutes outgoing, which includes the 911 recovery fee – about $11 less than we pay Lingo.

Currently, the Obi is set to send all outgoing calls through my Google Voice account, and we can force it through one of the other SIP providers (Dad’s Google Voice, or CallCentric) at any time – which is why we’re paying per minute for outgoing right now – to see what our usage is.  All Google Voice outgoing calls are “free” to the US and Canada, at least until the end of 2012.  And the Obi is programmed that if we dial 911, it goes out through CallCentric automatically, so no one has to know the codes to pick the outgoing line.

We’ve got Lingo still hooked up to a dumb phone, and I’ll keep the number for a month until we know who calls that number, and we can let them know the new number.  Then, we’ll disconnect it.

Tell me your thoughts