Got Landline? VOIP, Magic Jack and the fall of the phone

One of the most significant trends in technology is the shift in phone pricing and usage patterns.    Ironically we now spend far more on phone related services than in the past even as we spend far less per call for conventional usage.    Thanks to Skype, Magic Jack, Vonage, and dozens of other ISP based phone services you can now generally make long distance calls at a tiny fraction of the former cost.     There are important exceptions to the plummeting price rules, such as using your own US cell phone in Europe which can have catastrophic cost implications.

However for local and US long distance you should review your current setup and consider alternatives.     Some of the points to consider are:

Do you need a landline?     If no, consider just using your cell phone.
Do you make a lot of calls?   If yes, you may want unlimited use plans.
Can you port (move) your landline number to your cell phone?    If yes, it makes moving to a “cell phone only” more plausible as you won’t lose your old phone number.
How expensive are your cell calls?      If “expensive”, review your contract – you should not be paying all that much anymore for great service and many calls.     Texting has become the new way to gauge customers so review those plans as well, and DO NOT let your children make phone decisions without your understanding – they rarely do a cost benefit analysis, making teen texting and ringtone purchases some of the most cost inefficient phone usage in all of history.

Magic Jack is not for everybody but they keep lowering the bar on “nearly free” calling and are now preparing to offer expanded free calling services, number porting, and more:  AP Reports

In my opinion a good general rule is that you generally can do much better than having a “separate landline”.      For me this takes the form of “bundling” my landline phone with high speed internet and cable TV.     But markets differ and deals change almost daily in terms of who is offering what.     If your landline is separate from your internet, you may benefit greatly by “porting” your local number and using VOIP  (Voice over IP) services such as Magic Jack, Vonage, or other internet based phone services from your local ISP.

Major Spam Hosting Provider Offline – global spam drops.

San Jose turned out to be something of a ground zero for global spam, as hosting provider McColo was just taken offline leading to a huge drop in global email spam.    Early reports suggest that McColo was basically a safe haven for spammers because they didn’t ask many questions despite unusual bandwidth use, complaints about their clients, and more.     It’s not clear yet whether McColo they *actively* participated in the spamming or simply were willing to host the spammers without any appropriate oversight on activity.

It also appears that it was the Washington Post reporting and talking to the bandwidth providers Hurricane Electric and Global Crossing that led to Hurricane and Global Crossing shutting down McColo.

Clearly there should be better forms of oversight available to the internet community than newspaper reporters.     We’ve reached a “tipping point” where anonymity is causing a lot more harm than good and the community needs to find ways to police spam, scams, viruses, and malware.

Washington Post Reports