AT&T landline versus VOIP

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A Boglehead
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AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by A Boglehead » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:02 pm

AT&T raises my rates about once a year. My internet and VOIP also go out periodically, for days at a time. The surcharges and fees, government taxes and fees are 34% of my phone bill!

I'm thinking of changing from VOIP to copper. AT&T's website https://www.att.com/home-phone/landline.html advertises, "Measured rate home phone (landline) for $24.25 or less per month."

When I called AT&T to change to copper, the representative discouraged me from doing so, saying copper is unreliable, gets a lot more spam calls, and has higher taxes and surcharges than VOIP. Although the monthly rate is cheaper than VOIP, the rep said w/ taxes and surcharges, it'll cost more than VOIP. She wouldn't estimate taxes and surcharges. I asked about changing to copper for one month, to see what the bill is. She said I may be charged for installation to change to copper, then charged again to return to VOIP.

When the AT&T techs come to fix my internet and VOIP, they recommend copper because it'll work even when the power is out.

I prefer copper because I only have a landline for emergencies, and my VOIP goes out when my internet goes out. The techs say it's more reliable, since it'll work even when the power is out. Considering I can't even get reliable VOIP when the power is still on, I doubt it'll work if the power is out. The monthly rate is also cheaper for copper, but according to the AT&T rep, the total rate will be higher when taxes and fees are added, although she wouldn't tell me by how much.

What do you think?

I have had a very negative experience w/AT&T, and would switch back to Verizon if it were available here. Although FIOS cost more, at least it was reliable.

Thanks!

bob60014
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by bob60014 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:28 pm

Unless you are in a marginal area just go exclusively with cell service. We have yet to have a interruption of service and are confident of it being available. We changed to this years ago, saved a bundle of $$$ and haven't looked back.

u2wl
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by u2wl » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:38 pm

I worked as tech support for phone and ADSL/VDSL for a large telco (not AT&T).
The copper phone would often stop working (or had noise on the line) even if the internet was working at 40Mbps without problems.
From my experience, I don't believe that landline is more reliable than a cell phone (if you have decent coverage) or VoIP.

Have you looked into getting 3rd party VoIP like magic jack or ooma?
You can also get a UPS for your modem/voip equipment.

twh
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by twh » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:42 pm

If you are ok with a couple limitations, you might want this...

StraightTalk is a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). Basically, what they do is have deals with ATT, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. Then they resell that service a lot cheaper. They are mostly known for cell phone service. I used them for years on an iPhone. The downside is the customer service is horrible, but once it works, I never had a problem. There is also no way to use your cell phone outside the country, say on a European vacation. There are ways around that, but you have to do something to make it work.

Anyway, StraightTalk has a home phone service for $15/month. With tax and all the fees (there are none), it is like $15.75. Unlimited minutes within the USA. Their home phone service is a Base Station that you put in the house somewhere and hook to your regular phone line that has all the home phones on it. The Base Station is a one time purchase of $45 or something like that. It is on the Verizon cell network, so think of it as a Verizon cell phone that doesn't move around and services your regular home phones. It has a built in GPS, so a 911 call will transmit your GPS location if the 911 center is able to deal with that, but it won't be the same as a landline 911 location.

The downsides. It has caller id. It does not have caller name display. It has voicemail. It does not light the voicemail light on your home phone if it has one of those. There is a stutter dial tone if you have a voicemail. It does not have the ability to work with NoMoRobo and does not have the ability to block numbers.
Last edited by twh on Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JoMoney
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by JoMoney » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:45 pm

I would do neither, and get a mobile/cell phone.
If you get a plan with decent data service, you'll have some backup Internet even when power is out.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham

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BolderBoy
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by BolderBoy » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:00 pm

Is the only rational internet service you can get, via AT&T? That would be my starting place, what ISP choices do I have.

I probably wouldn't use AT&T's VoIP service but would go with someone else. Getting a reliable internet connection is the prime directive!

I would stick with VoIP if possible because the soon-to-be available robocall & spam call blocking tech is only going to work with VoIP for the time being.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Zonian59
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by Zonian59 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:09 am

Responses have been interesting.

I currently have AT&T landline "Complete Choice Basic" service which costs $52/month including taxes and surcharges. Goes up every year. The reason I hang on to copper landline is same reason OP stated, i.e., service still available when power goes out and 911 knows exactly where my home is.

An AT&T rep once told me that AT&T will discontinue their landline service some time in 2020 as landline service is becoming prohibitively expensive for them to maintain. When service is discontinued, will have two choices: Transition to VOIP or cell phone.

AT&T rep says the VOIP or cell phone service is less expensive than landline service but catch is it's cheaper only when bundled with other services, e.g. with TV and internet. (I don't need cable/satellite TV, but AT&T rep insists have to get the three-item bundle.)

Is it true that AT&T planning to discontinue landline service? I tolerate AT&T service because they're the only one in my area providing landline service.

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mmmodem
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by mmmodem » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:12 am

I agree with the phone rep. Your costs will likely go up due to package deals. At best, the cost will stay the same.

E911 can associate your VOIP line to your address, so emergency calls are no longer an advantage. There is only one advantage to get a landline. It works without power. However, if all you have are cordless phones, then this advantage disappears. So, factor in getting a corded phone. They are getting more difficult to find.

I would look into Google Voice. That's what I use because there is no cost. I've also heard good things like Ooma and magicjack.

yohac
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by yohac » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:43 am

Cell is better than going backwards with copper wire, but the main problem is internet service that goes out for days at a time. That's outrageous.

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8foot7
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by 8foot7 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:12 am

While in the past it has been true that copper is more reliable than alternatives, that is increasingly not the case as carriers (a) lay a bunch of fiber for various reasons, including 5G and competing for TV service subscribers and (b) focus more and more on broadband. The faster broadband speeds expected these days aren't generally possible at scale over copper, and with the intensive capital investments required to build a fiber-rich network, sometihng's gotta give - and that something is the copper network. Verizon is actively ripping out copper in both last mile and hub locations particularly in the northeast--Hurricane Sandy was a big catalyst for this, as VZ decided not to replace damaged copper infra and instead replace it with fiber. AT&T might not be ripping it out but they are not maintaining their copper infra to the same standard they were. I talked with a local telco worker last year--he works for Windstream--and he said he tries not to touch their ancient copper infrastructure with a ten foot pole. He says they essentially no longer fix problems with the copper network and instead "band-aid" things together until fiber gets run to the local infrastructure. New neighborhoods are being laid with fiber to the pedestal and if Windstream doesn't think the neighborhood will support enough subscribers, they don't even lay the cable during development. (Obviously this has repercussions down the line when coax cable is ready and waiting for those moving in...) So the vaunted reliability of copper is waning and these trends are industry-wide. Like it or not, copper was 1900s and fiber is the 2000s and the bus is moving, so we might as well get on board.

rkhusky
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by rkhusky » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:49 am

How are you getting VOIP? Is it through your cable line or through your phone line or through satellite or through cell service?
Last edited by rkhusky on Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

MotoTrojan
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by MotoTrojan » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:49 am

Anyone used 1-VOIP? Just ordered one myself.

twh
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by twh » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:31 am

I have personally tried:

(1) Ooma
(2) ObiTalk VOIP using a Google Voice number
(3) Cable TV provider VOIP
(4) StraightTalk Home Phone thing I talked about in my previous post

Ooma is ok. Not great, but mostly ok.

ObiTalk using Google Voice number is unreliable. Sometimes works, sometimes not. Sometimes cuts off, sometimes doesn't ring. Not usable the two different times I gave it a shot.

Cable TV VOIP was solid. The problem is the bundle and fees. Up Up Up. It also makes it harder to switch to a new TV provider.

I finally tried the StraightTalk home Phone and that works great. Once I was satisfied with that, I ditched the TV from the Cable TV provider and just have Internet from them and use YouTube TV for streaming TV. That works great and my total costs have gone way down. Plus, since the phone is unbundled, I can easily switch to another Internet provider and/or streaming TV provider.

niceguy7376
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by niceguy7376 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:35 am

A Boglehead wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:02 pm
I'm thinking of changing from VOIP to copper. AT&T's website https://www.att.com/home-phone/landline.html advertises, "Measured rate home phone (landline) for $24.25 or less per month."

Although the monthly rate is cheaper than VOIP,
What VOIP costs more than $25/month?

SeekingAPlan
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by SeekingAPlan » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:55 am

In my area AT&T was pushing hard to eliminate the old copper landlines. I was getting multiple offers everyday to convert my landline phone & DSL to "fiber" at a much lower price. Finally I agreed to one of their deals after confirming that it was actually "fiber". After the conversion my service barely worked. Tech says there is no fiber at any stage of the process of delivering service to my home and, given a choice, he would not have converted my service because he knew it could not possibly work well.

I wound up discontinuing the AT&T VOIP phone service because it was frequently not working unlike the old reliable copper landline. First I was told that I could not switch back to copper. Then they said maybe. I decided not to.

What I now have instead is a cell phone with Mint Moblie & wifi calling. If I call 911 with wifi enabled the 911 operators do get my location just like with the old landline. You enter the information when you setup your cell phone for wifi calling. In addition, my city has Smart911 which allows you to add medical information that you would like the emergency team to know if you cannot tell them yourself. This can include household members, their ages, any medical conditions, medications taken, etc. Assuming your cell phone is charged this can be even better than the old copper landline. You may want to add a backup power supply for your home internet/wifi in case of power outage.

GeMoney
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by GeMoney » Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:53 am

All of the points you raise are valid. It comes down to the cost/benefits for you. For me I switched from AT&T hard wire (offer through a third party using their wires) to the Google Voice/Obihai/E911 service solution last year. If the internet is down, I have my cell phone as backup. In California the major cell providers were called to task because their cell towers went down during recent power outages so I'm sure that will improve. My motivation to switch was because it was bundled with my internet which was painfully slow at <3Mbps and no sign of fiber in my location. Additionally my landline usage was very low.

123
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by 123 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:50 pm

In the long run service over VOIP or cellphone will likely be just as reliable, if not more so, than copper wire. In many areas some people stick with copper wire because it should always work, even in a power outage. While that may be true for a very localized power outage if there is a more generalized power issue or disaster, like a tornado or earthquake, emergency services may be so overwhelmed that calling 911 is not going to bring you immediate assistance no matter how you connect to them.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

rivercrosser
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by rivercrosser » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:10 pm

We had a AT&T landline on copper for 40+ years. Had a lot of trouble with noise etc. over the years. Was paying about $50.00 a month for a basic line with no long distance or any other features. We have cell phones but wife didn't want to give up the landline. Little over a year ago I looked into StraightTalk. Couldn't get it here any more. Talked to a AT&T guy I know and he came to house and set us up with a wireless home phone box. Unlimited long distance, caller ID, message service etc. Ported old number over to it. Has a dial tone like a land line. Works perfect, clear as a bell. Put in basement, unplugged land line coming in, plugged house phone wiring into to it. You also need a 120 outlet but it has a battery backup for power outages. They charge me $25.19 a month total with taxes and fees. The box cost $200.00 but it paid for itself in 8 months. It's a separate plan but they added it to our existing wireless bill so one less bill to deal with.

indexinvestor101
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by indexinvestor101 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:07 pm

twh wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:31 am
I have personally tried:

(1) Ooma
(2) ObiTalk VOIP using a Google Voice number
(3) Cable TV provider VOIP
(4) StraightTalk Home Phone thing I talked about in my previous post

Ooma is ok. Not great, but mostly ok.

ObiTalk using Google Voice number is unreliable. Sometimes works, sometimes not. Sometimes cuts off, sometimes doesn't ring. Not usable the two different times I gave it a shot.

Cable TV VOIP was solid. The problem is the bundle and fees. Up Up Up. It also makes it harder to switch to a new TV provider.

I finally tried the StraightTalk home Phone and that works great. Once I was satisfied with that, I ditched the TV from the Cable TV provider and just have Internet from them and use YouTube TV for streaming TV. That works great and my total costs have gone way down. Plus, since the phone is unbundled, I can easily switch to another Internet provider and/or streaming TV provider.
Obi can be used with other VOIP providers like callcentric and should not be looked as an option only for GoogleVoice. the VOIP plans from callcentric and other VOIP providers are very reasonable based on your usage.

Topic Author
A Boglehead
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by A Boglehead » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:26 pm

rkhusky wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:49 am
How are you getting VOIP? Is it through your cable line or through your phone line or through satellite or through cell service?
Thank you all! I really appreciate it!

My VOIP is from AT&T, for $34.85 / month. I never use it, as I use Google Voice. I keep my VOIP only for emergencies, and so I'll know when someone calls my Google Voice number.

I believe I have a battery for internet, but my internet goes out so often it's painful. My power rarely goes out.

quantAndHold
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:47 pm

We dropped our landline the last time we moved. We haven’t missed it.

I think AT&T has stopped maintaining their copper, so whether or not your POTS line will work is kind of a crapshoot.

pyld76
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by pyld76 » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:03 am

The reason phone companies are removing copper is not eally about maintenance. Popular myth. Fiber is, in many respects, more difficult to maintain than copper.

They do it because in most states, they have strongly regulated tariffs and regulations on service and price for traditional landline (copper) based services. In many states, the regulatory regime over fiber and overlaid services is significantly less than that of those for copper. In other words, they can price the services over fiber as they wish and not be subjected to as much state level oversight on price and availability. This is the real reason telcos want out of copper and is exactly why Verizon, ATT, et al are doing it. Contra earlier in th thread, Verizon started tearing out copper to pin people to the more lightly regulated fiber side long before Sandy. That was from day zero of FIOS.

On the question of a “need” for fiber: only for folks with long copper loops. I have a 20 year old, home with 1600’ copper loops and this post comes to you over about a 100 meg bonded DSL pair. There are two more available to me easily. Fiber’s “need” in the US is driven by geography and telco greed than the “death” of copper.

To the OP: call ATT back and demand the price on copper if you want. If your state has it tariffed, they all bust have to quote it to you. Real possibility your anticompetitive telco will find a way to move you off in a few years anyway, but make them work for it. You are getting this because of ATT’s anticompetitive/anti-comsumer ethos, not for any particularly good technical reason. I myself have a cell phone and a voip line, but those are both carried (in the absence of a service outage) over a circuit (DSL) made up of evil old copper.

BuddyJet
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by BuddyJet » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:39 pm

I have gone from Att copper to Att fiber VoIP to Anveo voip with ObiHai202 adapter.
Cost is less than $100/year.

If you want battery backup for fiber, you need a battery on the box where fiber enters the house along with the modem.
People say nothing is impossible. I do nothing all day.

MotoTrojan
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by MotoTrojan » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:55 pm

MotoTrojan wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:49 am
Anyone used 1-VOIP? Just ordered one myself.
Nobody? They had a special for unlimited minutes and only ~$8/month for 1st year. Price roughly doubles after that.

UpperNwGuy
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by UpperNwGuy » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:57 pm

a mobile will serve you better than either a landline or VOIP.

MotoTrojan
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by MotoTrojan » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:47 pm

UpperNwGuy wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:57 pm
a mobile will serve you better than either a landline or VOIP.
Not where I live.

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sunny_socal
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Re: AT&T landline versus VOIP

Post by sunny_socal » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:44 pm

We've had Google Voice VOIP for years:
[1] Get an Obitalk box ($50 amazon, we have the 202 version)
[2] Port your number to google voice or get a brand new number; the latter is far easier

Cost: $0

It's been rock solid, better than any VOIP/'phone' service we've ever had before. It even has a built-in answering service and transcribes messages to email. Wonderful! :beer

Requires reliable internet

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