My experiment in IP telephony

I signed up to and dumped my wired phone line, saving (in theory) about $20/month in the process and picking up unlimited calling to North America and Europe, voicemail, caller ID, and the ability to ring another number or two simultaneously with the home phone.

After about one month Lingo was able to transfer over my old home phone number.

Here’s how it has worked…

  • when they transferred my home phone number they did not make that my caller ID so if I call people from my Lingo phone they get some weird new number that I was assigned and don’t recognize the caller as me; emailing customer service regarding this issue resulted in, 1 day later, a response that I had to call tech support; after waiting in the 15-minute queue for tech support the guy said that he needed to escalate the issue
  • incoming caller ID is displayed without an area code, i.e., just the 7-digit local phone number, and no name is displayed, only a phone number
  • many 800/888/877 numbers are unreachable from the phone, including Lingo’s own tech support phone number; a recording says that the number is out of service but calling the same number from a wired or mobile phone results in success; this reduces the cost savings from Lingo if you have to wait on hold in various 800-number queues because you’ll need to buy an extra 100+ minutes of wireless air time every month
  • some calls come through with very low voice volume and I have to crank up the volume on the phone
  • no problems can be resolved via email or Web support; you really have to call their tech support phone number (from your cell phone) and wait in queue for 15+ minutes

Speaking of IP telephony… sitting in Japanese business hotels with my free high-speed Internet I wondered if I could have gotten a headset to plug into my laptop that would have enabled me to make phone calls back to friends in the US at a reasonable price.  Anyone have any luck with a computer-based telephone service that bridges the calls into the traditional phone network at the end?

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