How I'm Wringing the Cost Out of Home and Home Office Telecom Services That We Barely Use

My wife Kathleen and I have lived in a small house in Newtown, Pennsylvania since June 2005. When we moved here, I was working for myself and spending lots of time in my home office. I wanted the best, most flexible bandwidth I could get at the time ("naked DSL" from Speakeasy.net), and I wanted to save a few dollars on television (DirecTV) and voice telephone service (Speakeasy Home VoIP) for my home and my home office.

This Spring, we decided that I would go out and work in someone else's office while Kathleen stayed home more of the time to take care of our son Jimmy. As a result, I became more interested in economizing on broadband, television, and voice telephone services than I was before. This caused us to make the move to Verizon FiOS for broadband and television.

Why not the FiOS triple play? I couldn't justify spending the money that Verizon wanted for telephone service that we barely use. Kathleen and I both have mobile phones we love on AT&T and calls between us and most of our families are free with our monthly service.

The big question involved in switching from Speakeasy to FiOS was: how do we replace the phone service we got through Speakeasy? Although it was VoIP, it cost us about $30 per month per line, or about $70 including fees and taxes, for the home and office numbers. We wanted to have a home phone number and a phone number for my consulting business, but we wanted to pay closer to $0.

My friend Andy Abramson who writes VoIP Watch has advocated a number of extremely low cost VoIP-based solutions, so I decided to give some of them a try.

Kathleen and I both got ourselves GrandCentral accounts. My account will be for my consulting business. Her account will represent the home phone number. GrandCentral is great for this light to moderate inbound use, because it lets you direct calls to a mobile phone or a landline based on who's calling or on a time schedule.

The only problem with this approach that I've seen so far is that I'm using a lot more cellular minutes than I have in the past. In order to limit cellular minute usage, I want to replace that high quality $30-per-month Speakeasy Home VoIP with another inexpensive VoIP product.

As a member of the Nokia Blogger Relations Program, I got several Nokia N-Series mobile phones over the past year that have VoIP capabilities. So I decided to get a Truphone VoIP service account, tie it to one of my Nokia N-Series mobiles, and leave that phone in the house as a semi-dedicated home phone.

Right now I'm using my Nokia N95 as the home phone. The N95 has been my favorite video camera for some time, but has had trouble displacing my iPhone in my pocket for day-to-day mobile phone use. The N95 seems to be doing well as a client on our home WiFi network, and the calls I've made with it so far have been clear-sounding at my end.

The combination of GrandCentral and Truphone is saving Kathleen and me almost $70 per month and the savings may be greater over time. The jury is still out as to whether this will be the ultimate solution for our seldom-used phone numbers, but the results look good so far.

I'm going to start using Truphone as much as possible for outbound calls to friends and family at night after I get home from work. I'll report on how good the call quality is from our home WiFi network to our relatives' landline and mobile phones. Stay tuned for updates.