BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Land Line Phone Service
Berkeley Parents Network >
Services & Businesses >
Land Line Phone Service
Cheap way to keep our telephone land-line
My husband wants to get rid of our land-line and I just
can't bring myself to do it. I keep thinking of a situation
where a babysitter might need to call us or emergency and
their cell phone is out of battery or forgotten -- or even a
similar type of situation for one of us.
We don't have a need for long distance on the phone since we
both have cell phones, just a very basic service that
wouldn't get used much. Any recommendations for the
cheapest way to keep the regular telephone land-line?
Can't let go of the Land-line
Have you thought about sonic? They are a local internet
provider (much cheaper and better than comcast) and we pay
40/month for dsl and a phone line with free long distance.
They may not serve your area but I would look into them.
happy with home phone
Maybe an alternative is to have a cell phone that stays in
one place at home and serves as the home phone? If you have
a family plan, it's fairly cheap to add another phone. Or
you could use a pay-as-you go phone. You could just keep it
plugged in so you would always know where it was and that it
was charged and available. haven't gotten rid of my yet,
Well, if you're with ATT, it's not exactly cheap, but
cheaper - if you haven't already, get 'measured service'
instead of unlimited. It's still pretty pricy (and all
those fees and taxes double it), but still lower than the
usual unlimited plan. R.K.
hey, i'm thinking you didn't get the response you were
we have kept our landline for emergency reasons. (i want to
be able to call 911 and have them know where i am without
telling them.) i spent a LOT of time trying to find
different options, but in the end, it seems the only
landline service you can get in our area (El Cerrito) is
AT&T, and even getting the flat-rate, local-service-only was
a major hassle. (they didn't want to provide it and do not
make it easy, even though it seems they are still required
to provide it.) now they have fiber optic lines and they
want you to buy their bundled plans for phone and internet
which is pricey. i did a lot of haggling and in the end, we
still pay around $20/month for just local service landline.
sorry for the bad news, but i think the old type of service
we had just a few years ago is dead and gone. anon
Residential phone service other than AT&T?
We are paying $35/month (including all taxes & fees) for
local and long distance service with AT&T. They assure me
we've got the cheapest plan they offer, but it still seems
like too much for the little we use the phone. I'm trying
to compare prices with other companies, but am finding it
difficult to even find another provider that offers
residential service in the Bay Area.
Can anyone recommend a local & long distance provider other
Vonage. We used them for years and were very satisfied.
They are offering monthly packages as low as $9.95. Daphne
Some people have recommended Sonic, but I haven't tried them
yet. We have ATT 'measured' service, which comes to about
$19/month, including taxes, etc. (in Albany; may vary a bit
depending on your location). We did away with long distance
service on our land-line, and use our cell phones for long
distance calls (we never come close to using up our bucket
of minutes). We purchased a calling card from comfi.com, so
we have that option in case we need to make long distance
calls in an emergency and our cell phones don't work; unlike
the ATT calling card, calls made with the comfi.com card are
just a few cents per minute. R.K.
A few years ago I switched to Comcast from AT&T and have
been VERY HAPPY with the service. They're not perfect -- I
also get my Internet through them -- but they are sooooo
much better than AT&T. I got a great deal for the first year
and since then the price has gone up considerably (it's
cheaper if you get cable, too, which I don't want). It might
not ultimately been cheaper in dollars, but you'll save time
and minimize aggravation with Comcast. Sound quality is
tops. Check it out.
http://www.onlinecomcast.com/comcast-phone.aspx Happy with
Alternative to AT&T for landline?
I am wondering if it is possible to still have a land line
and avoid ATT altogether. I do not enjoy doing business
with them and am looking for alternatives. anon
Yes it is, we switched to Vonnage a few months ago (although
try telling that to ATT who kept billing us to the point we
had to put a merchant block on our credit card, but that's
another story!). We were able to keep our phone number for
the land line, but the service comes through the internet.
It's not perfect (I find that sometimes bits of the sound
are missing), but it is a relief to be away from the
terrible ATT service. If you contact Vonnage, they will
take care of making the transfer for you. Claire
Contact Sonic.net....http://www.sonic.net/ About the same
price for land line and DSL internet. And Sonic's politics
are a bit cleaner than AT&T's. Give AT&T the Boot
Landline calls to Europe - best plan?
Can anyone recommend a good,
relatively cheap, noncontract service (preferably with the service's
website or 800 number) for making landline calls from Northern California
to cell phones in the United Kingdom?
(I know about Skype, but it's not working well from my daughter's laptop
I recently started using one of the new Skype plans for business (no
computer required). Basically, it is the same as before, but they give
you a free dial in nunmber to the skype network (called Skype To Go on
the link below). For $10 a month, you get ''unlimited'' calls to
landlines and cell phones in the US and Canaada and landlines in a
number of other countries. Having used Skype on my computer too, I have
found that the quality of the calls is better when you dial in to the
network instead of going through your computer. I have been using Skype
To Go for a few months now and have had great luck with calls to Mexico,
Europe and the Middle East. I believe you could also get a UK phone
number for yourself that she could use to call to your Skype account,
and you can set it up so that if you are not logged in to Skype, it
could forward to your landline or mobile through the Skype network,
however, I have not tested that feature.
We use Kiss Long Distance for our long distance coverage, and pay
pennies relative to the big carriers (avg. $5 a month). We've used them
for years, so they're not likely to go under spontaneously. They also
have low international rates. See: http://www.kissld.com/
Phone Service-especially Long Distance
Can anybody make a solid recommendation on a long-distance
carrier? I currently have ATT
local and VarTec long distance, which used to be a reasonable
deal. But lately I've noticed ''circuits busy'' on a large volume
of calls I attempt to make, and they flat-out refuse to give me
any information on strange calls on my bill because I am not my
husband (despite the fact that I gave them the name on the bill,
and it's pretty clear to me from their extremely limited English
that they wouldn't have known if I'd just said I was my husband).
When I asked for a supervisor I was told, over 1/2 an hour, that
''there is no supervisor,'' ''the supervisor is out,'' ''the
supervisor is busy,'' etc. until they just disconnected me. So I'm
How is Working Assets? People used to recommend them. VarTec was
simple: every long distance call, whether near or far, is 5c a
minute. What prices are good these days? How do people like AT&T?
I'm not opposed to switching everything (e.g., phone and internet,
which is currently ATT/SBC), but we don't have cable TV and don't
need it so I don't want to think about adding that in as a
Does anybody even know where we research long distance these days?
We've had Working Assets long distance (and wireless) for 5+
years and like it. I don't do a lot of long distance calling,
so I don't even know what rate we're paying, but the phone
service and customer service are good, and it feels good to
use a blue company, especially since so many of the other
phone service providers are so red.
I have my long-distance service with Pioneer. I love the rates
and have never had any problems with their service. I have
their Rate Buster plan and pay just under 3 cents a minute for
LD in the US, and just under 5 cents a minute for calls to
England, which I make regularly. There is no monthly service
charge (!), I receive my bill notifications by email, and the
payment is automatically deducted from my credit card.
Here's their website:
I use Pioneer Telephone for long distance calls, and AT&T for
local and DSL. Pioneer is really cheap and their service is
Comcast Phone Service
Has anyone had any experience, positive or negative, with the
Comcast phone service?
We have been using comcast digital voice phone service since its
inception, and have never had a problem with it.
Although we have used Comcast for our internet service for years
and would recommend it, I would NOT recommend them for your home
phone service. The old adage 'you get what you pay for' rings
true here (pardon the pun) . We decided to try out the phone
service last December. After two hours of trying to hook up our
service, the service technician came back and said he couldn't do
it (something about the central service line). Furthermore he
wouldn't be able to come back for another week. I decided at
that point not to do it. When I called my old phone company,
they informed me that Comcast would have to 'release' the
telephone number before I could switch back. AT & T even offered
to pay the switching fee. I called Comcast and they insisted
that I didn't have service through them (although I could make
phone calls and had Comcast digital voice service). This went on
for over a month and finally AT & T was able to get Comcast to
release the number. Also, the quali!
ty of the service (that I allegedly didn't have) was sub par.
So again, although I'm sure it will save you money, I don't think
it's enough in the end.
Just say 'no' to Comcast
I have Comcast's bundled service (phone, internet and cable) for
$152.99/mo. It started through a promotion at $99.99/mo.
Honestly, I'm not happy with the service but I'm not sure they
are any better than other services.
About once a month I have my phone service go down. After making
a call the phone goes dead. Sometimes it's down for 20 minutes,
sometimes for days.
For that reason I have a home voicemail machine. Normally my
machine picks up my calls. When the phone service is down, the
call goes to the Comcast message service. On the Comcast
voicemail I have a message that says to call my cell phone
During these blackouts I have to then call Comcast and walk the
technician through the process of clearing my line.
Looking to see what other services cost is on my To Do list but I
haven't gotten to it yet.
Vonage Phone Service - have you used it?
I am wondering if anyone has any feedback after switching
their phone service to Vonage. I like the idea and the price
is right, but I'm just wary of disconnecting with AT&T,
deciding that I hate Vonage, and paying a ton of fees to
reconnect back to AT&T.
I'm planning on using it almost exclusively for a fax
machine if that makes any difference.
Let me know what you think, positive or negative. Thanks!
Don't do it! I started my business two years ago. I wanted to use Vonage from
day one, but I found out that Vonage does not allow you to choose phone numbers,
and I wanted an easy to remember number for my business phone and fax lines. I
had to sign up with AT&T in order to get the numbers of my choosing, and then port
them over to Vonage.
I won't go into detail about the various problems I have had with the voice line.
Suffice it to say that when you have a problem, it is very hard to find the right
company to take responsibility for it. Vonage will blame your internet service
provider and your ISP will blame Vonage. Then again, it could also be a Linksys
Although Vonage offers a free fax line with the higher end package, I found that
my fax machine did not work very well with Vonage. When you lose data packets on
a voice call, the voice breaks up a bit. When it happens during a fax
transmission, the fax will fail. It took me a while to get to the bottom of my
fax problems, but when I switched my fax number back to AT&T, my problems went
I still use Vonage for my voice lines. There are plenty of problems, but I am too
lazy and too cheap to pay AT&T even more money, so I've learned to live with it.
For my fax line, though, I had to bite the bullet and pay more for AT&T service.
Former Vonage Faxer
Can I get DSL without phone service?
Comcast Cable internet is the answer for you. You don't need to have a landline
hooked up in order to get it.
You can get the ~$5 monthly rate plan, which is the lowest plan you can go unless
you're low-income. Basically it has no toll service, no long distance, nothing.
After taxes, it comes out to around $10.
I think ATT companies also offer DSL service w/o requiring phone service. I read
about it once in the Chronicle somewhere. But it's not advertised, and usually
the DSL is listed at ''normal'' price, vs the discounted pricing you get when you
have a phone line.
You may not save any money, but Speakeasy has DSL without a phone line.
One thing I would do is check to make sure that your 911 service can locate you
based on a call from yor cell phone.
Comcast home telephone service reliable?
Comcast is offering a great deal with cable, high internet
service & phone service, and I'm wondering if anyone has
experience any problems with their home phone service. I'm most
concern with the phone service not being reliable when I
need/have to make an emergency call.
looking for a great deal
The Comcast cable TV, Internet and digital voice sounds like a
great deal, and would be if the phone service worked. We had
it for about two weeks then cancelled when two service visits
couldn't fix the problem that occurred regularly -- the phone
would ring, we would pick up, no sound. (They could hear us on
the other end, but we couldn't hear them.) It happened several
times in that two-week period to us, and has also happened to
another friend with the Comcast service.
We have had Comcast phone service at a great price ($19.99 for
unlimited local and long distance calling) for about 4 months
now. However, I don't think I will renew when this promotional
price finishes up because I have not been happy with the
reliability. Just yesterday, the internet (and therefore phone)
service was out for at least an hour in the middle of the
afternoon. It's a mild annoyance when the internet is out, but
I feel pretty stranded when the phone is out, too. We have had
at least 2 other similar short outages. Plus othertimes the
service has just been weird - my husband tries to call and says
the phone is busy or we're not picking up when actually the
phone didn't ring. I expect 99.99999% availability with my
phone service and I'm not getting it from Comcast.
I'll switch back soon.
Switching phone service to Vonage
Has anyone done this and would you care to share your
experience? I am contemplating it and have received the
adapter from Vonage, but am getting cold feet b/c every time I
talk to their customer support, there is *terrible* reception.
They tell me they are not using Vonage (!!!), but I am
concerned nonetheless (or even more so). Specifically I wonder
if people notice any difference in the sound quality, if they
experience service interruptions, and if they have any concerns
about how Vonage syncs with local 911.
We switched to vonage about 2 months ago. I had the same
experience - the reception when you call customer service is
terrible! But, our reception on our home service is fine, I
haven't noticed any difference in the voice quality since we
switched from regular service. Also, you register your address
with your phone number on their website so that 911 will work
as usual, so I am not worried about that. I know that some
people have not had a good experience though, so maybe it
depends where you are? I don't know, but we are happy with it
and you really can't beat the price
happy with vonage
We are Comcast cable and internet subscribers. It appears we
could get cheaper phone service ($40/month) with free
installation instead of our current 3 different phone bills
(which always drives us crazy). Does anyone have advice pro or
con on making the switch? They say we use the same outlets,
etc. Is reception ok?
We are also Comcast cable/internet subscribers and I recently
got a call from a Comcast rep trying to sell me the phone
service. I was tempted UNTIL I asked what happens when the
electricity goes out. (With my current, AT&T, service, I
continue to receive phone service as long as I have a corded
phone.) The rep told me that Comcast phone service requires
electricity. IN the event of an outage, the battery-powered
back-up system will last for 5-8 hours. That ended my
conversation. I live in the Oakland hills and was without power
for 4 days last winter. I need a phone service that will work
during outages of any length.
Having had Comcast phone service for about 6 weeks now, I agree
with the earlier comment that it is still a work in progress.
There have been a few times when there was no dial tone for a
couple of hours or when the person I called could not hear me.
About the third call to customer service, I was told it could be
that my wi-fi router was too close to the modem . . . . haven't
had much trouble since, but it would have been nice to know when
they set it up!! Hanging up the phone can also be a little
wierd. Pressing * disconnects you -- which is a problem when you
have just left a message and pressing * erases that message from
the voicemail of the person you just called. The expertise of
the customer service reps varies widely. It took me a while, but
I did finally get myself listed without an address (the first rep
said it couldn't be done). Also - no more than 15 minutes of
voicemails will be saved on their system, which could be a
problem if you don't want to check your voicemail over a vacation.
On the positive side: the voice quality is good, I like the
'all-distance' billing, and no one has complained (yet) that they
couldn't reach the voicemail, which was an occasional problem
If you have the option to switch one of your phones to Comcast
and see how you like it before switching the others, it is worth
a bit of hassle, IMHOP.
Still working with it.
I posted a message several weeks ago about problems we were having with our Comcast
phone service. After 3 visits from technicians, more calls to the 800 number than I
can count, and one trip to the Comcast office in Alameda, the problem has been solved,
and our phone service is working great. The last technician told me that they had only
recently figured out how to diagnose and fix the problem. So, that's the good news.
There is a lot to like about this service, although I still don't think I'd feel
comfortable with it as our only phone long term. The bad news is that dealing with
Comcast customer service was a nightmare (though the actual technicians who came out
were very nice, and also the billing department was very willing to refund our money
for the time the phone wasn't working properly).
Comcast Telephone Service
We are considering bundling our phone, internet and television
services into comcast digital. Our primary concern would be
switching our phone line from the traditional land phone lines
to digital through the modem. It would be a considerable
savings. Does anyone have experience with this service for
telephones? Please advise.
We have had comcast phone service for about 2 months in
Alameda. We are living in an apartment during a remodel and
this is our only phone service (the cellphone reception is
terrible here). For a while, comcast was fine. We have one
regular phone hooked up and a two-headset cordless phone. The
system has a battery backup so that if the electricity goes out
the phone will still work (assuming the cable is up and your
phone doesn't need to be plugged in ...) Online voicemail,
email notification of voicemail, and all the other features are
pretty neat and the sound quality was good. However, recently
we have been experiencing an intermittant problem where people
on the other end can't hear us when we make outgoing calls.
When I called support, they said they had never heard of this
problem but would send someone out to check our signal. Well,
the service guy just left and he said he is going on 1-2 calls
a day about this problem and that he has heard that it is
happening all over (of course, our signal was strong and the
phone worked fine while he was here). So, I think they are
still working the kinks out, and I would caution you against
having comcast as your only phone system at this time, as this
is an annoying and potentially dangerous problem, e.g. if you
need to call 911
Basic Local Phone Service, not SBC
I'm looking for recommendations for basic local phone service
that is not SBC. I checked the website, the info there is out
of date. My monthly local phone bill is between $18 and $25 per
month, which is low I know, but I hardly ever use my phone at
home, and it seems that the bill is mostly surcharges and fees.
Is this the best I can do? Thanks.
Not a Gabber
If you want to save on the fees, you can always elect to have *no* dial-1 long
distance carrier. This will save you over $4 per month. To make long-distance calls,
you can then use a dial-around. For instance, 10-10-629 gives you 5.9" per minute
for state-to-state calls and 4.4" per minute within California.
A good source for finding out about dial-arounds (and long distance plans in
general) is http://www.abtolls.com
I dislike SBC and am naive about phone service in general. Are
there any other basic phone services out there? (I already have
Working Assets Long Distance, which takes care of toll and long-
distance calls, but doesn't provide basic service.) If so, are
they any more efficient or less slimy than SBC?
We use Wholesale Air-Time which covers the phone service as well
as long distance 1-800-840-6673. They say their phone service is
5% less than other companies and the rate for long distance/out
of state is .05 per minute and I pay .25 per minute to Italy.
Have had no problems and was very glad to get rid of Verizon!
Long distance carrier
The long distance phone company that we were using,
Econophone, recently went out of business. We're
particularly interested in finding a good rate to
Israel (we were paying 12 cents a minute/24 hours a
day). We also had an excellent domestic rate 24 hours
a day. I'm interested in recommendations for a new
long distance company. Thanks
I too was using Econophone until they died. I had signed up
with them through an independent broker, Ernest Chen, at Horizon
Marketing. Earnest has recommended a new company, TMC. I don't know the
rates to Israel, but if you call Ernest, 549-3926, I'm sure he can tell
you. The rate is .10 a minute to Japan, .069 state to state, and
.049 within California.
This isn't a long distance phone company that you would have
as your main company but there is a company called PT-1 communications that has
pretty good rates with no access charges or other hidden fees. Calls within the US are
billed at 7.9 cents a minute 24 hours a day and calls to other countries are very
competitive. Its easy to use them you just dial 1016868 and then dial as you would
bill for their service shows up on your monthly statement.
Try working assets. I'm not sure what their international
rates are but they are a very socially consious organization, donating a
percentage to non-profits.
I can't say enough good things about Working Assets Long Distance. With our plan, it is
cheaper to call my husband's mother in England than my own mom in the Bay Area!
are just a fabulous company. Web site is www.workingforchange.com.
Occasionally I have to make a private call to Germany while I'm
in the office (time zone issue), and in my new department at UC,
they won't let me reimburse UC Regents, but asked me to charge
the call to my home phone number. So I got a Pacific Bell calling
card and it works, but to my horror I found out that they charged
me $6.48 for a one minute call, using Sprint as their default long
distance carrier. Can you recommend another long distance company
which will allow me to charge my overseas calls to my home number
for a better price per minute?
In response to the question about a long distance company with better rates
when using a calling card. I represent a communications company called
Excel. We offer great rates on domestic and international long distance,
paging, cell phone service and internet access. The person who called
Germany with his PacBell calling card and was charged $6.48 for 1 minute
would have paid $2.65 for that first minute and $1.40 for each minute
thereafter with Excel. Calls made with a calling card are always more
expensive. Another less expensive solution is to buy prepaid calling cards.
(Yes, I do have prepaid calling cards as well). I apologize for the seeming
sales pitch - but I really do get incensed when someone is so blatantly
ripped off by the "big guys".
I've been using Telegroup to call Brazil (for years) and the prices are really
good, I do call from the office sometimes and I'm billed at home. I pay about
$0.40/a minute to Brazil and I know prices to Europe are even better.
Check their website at www.telegroup.com. And if you decide to sign up, please
let me know (I think they give a bonus if you refer someone :-) . Here is the
email address of a sails rep who helped me (Chris Hwa): email@example.com
You can also use Telegroup from Europe (I lived in Belgium for 5 years before
coming here and was their customer there).
hope it helps
I have been using Net2phone. This is a calling card that you pay for by
credit card,a nd then you get an access number. THe rates are incredibly
cheap both here and abroad. I call Israel, and I think it's about 9 cents a
minute...much cheaper than other plans. It also renews itself automatically
when your first $25 runs out. You can call from anywhere. THey say that they
charge extra for calling from a pay phone. The down side is that since is
uses the internet for connection, once in a while the connection is not very
good. Most often it's fine.
Hope that's helpful.
Does anyone know of a good long distance carrier with a cheap rate to
Morocco? Working Assets charges $.88/minute with their $2 monthly fee.
Phone cards are about $.50/minute after fees are deducted, but the cards
are notoriously frustrating to work with -- being disconnected, having no
ringing or busy signal and being charged anyway, being charged when the
person never answered. We're looking into switching long distance companies.
We have been using Telegroup for years (to call Europe) and we are very
happy with them. The rate for Morocco advertised at
http//www.telegroup.com/ is $0.50/minute. I do not know if the calling
card rates are the same, but I expect these to be very reasonable, too.
There is no monthly fee if your bill is more than $50. Otherwise
they add $5 to the bill.
We dial 101-6868 to get great international rates to family in Europe.
A sampling of their rates are
United Kingdom--7.9 cents per minute
Germany--9 cents per minute
Morocco--49 cents per minute
There are no minumum charges (you're billed only for the time you talk),
there are no connection fees, no monthly charges, and no need to sign up
or change long distance carriers (or even have a long distance carrier for
For international calls, just dial 101-6868 + 011 + the country code. For
Years ago, I signed up with INET--Interactive Network System--a company based in Los
Angeles, because I needed cheap phone rates for France. They are extremely competitive
(12 cents/mn to call France!!), and they offer .52 cents/minute for Morocco 7 days a week,
with no monthly fee. They phone# is (800)867-8969 or (888)YES-INET. Bonne chance!
From: Andrei (3/99)
I want to recommend the "AAA World calling" as a good choice for a
telephone company if you need to call overseas. I use their services for
already more than a year, and never had any problems. You do not have to
choose them as a primary long distance carrier; they give you an (800)
number which you dial first, and then the number you wish to call. They
charge no monthly fee and offer a flat rate which is the same at any time
or any day of the week. Their price is one of the lowest (if not the
lowest) I ever heard of. Here are some examples from their new table of
rates which I just got with my monthly bill: West Europe (Germany, France,
Switzerlang, Belgium, etc.) - from $0.18 to $0.22 per minute, Eastern
Europe (Poland, Hungary, etc.) from about $0.35 to $0.40 per minute, Russia
(Moscow) $0.32, Russia (St.-Petersburg) $0.37, Russia (rest of the country)
- $0.52, Israel- $0.31, Japan - $0.24, China - $0.90. This is the second
reduction of their prices during the last year. They have a long list of
rates for different countries which I surely can not reproduce here. You
can reach this company by calling them at (800) 347-0222. You can also ask
them to mail you an application form, conditions of service, and the table
of international rates by sending an e-mail to: AAAworld@uswest.net.
I am shopping around for a long distance carrier. Right now we have
AT&T and they are really overcharging us. On the last phone bill I
made one long distance call that was $2.70, and my long distance bill
was over $16.00. We make almost no out of state calls and only a few
intrastate calls per month. Some one at work had long distance
removed from her service and uses a calling card for the occasional
call she makes. Are there any other suggestions out there
Someone recently posted a recommendation for
Working Assets, which we also have. They have several plans and their
prices are low. There are also plenty of services that charge a low price per
minute with no minimum, who rent service from Sprint and other well-known
providers. You dial their prefix before the phone number you're calling and
the charge appears on your Pac Bell bill.
this page was last updated: May 18, 2014
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network