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Thread: Questions about wi-fi calling

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    Questions about wi-fi calling

    We are thinking about getting rid of our landline. We recently got Starlink internet and so far have been very pleased with it. I have a Tracfone and my husband has Straight Talk. Both phones are on ATT. Could we use our phones at home using wi-fi with our Starlink internet? By using wi-fi we wouldn't be losing any data on our cell phones correct? Our Starlink service is unlimited. Is wi-fi calling as good as a landline?

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    I'm not sure if you're thinking about WiFi Calling or Voice-over-Internet (VoIP).

    * WiFi Calling is a fallback means for when you have no or weak cell signal but good WiFi signal. The call is made/received using your cell phone number and will use the cell service and/or WiFi. On TF/Verizon, minutes are still deducted for WiFi calls. From what forum members posted, TF/AT&T doesn't deduct minutes for WiFi Call.

    * VoIP places/receives the call through Internet, using an app like (Google) Voice app. It uses a different "phone icon" from the one that the cell calls use. Typically, the caller will see your Google Voice number as the caller, although there are ways around it.

    We can discuss in further details once you've clarified which calling method you're asking about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpham View Post
    I'm not sure if you're thinking about WiFi Calling or Voice-over-Internet (VoIP).

    * WiFi Calling is a fallback means for when you have no or weak cell signal but good WiFi signal. The call is made/received using your cell phone number and will use the cell service and/or WiFi. On TF/Verizon, minutes are still deducted for WiFi calls. From what forum members posted, TF/AT&T doesn't deduct minutes for WiFi Call.

    * VoIP places/receives the call through Internet, using an app like (Google) Voice app. It uses a different "phone icon" from the one that the cell calls use. Typically, the caller will see your Google Voice number as the caller, although there are ways around it.

    We can discuss in further details once you've clarified which calling method you're asking about.
    Never thought about VoIP. So now I'm not sure which is the best way to go. So I'm open to suggestions. We are not youngsters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by haymeadowfield View Post
    Never thought about VoIP. So now I'm not sure which is the best way to go. So I'm open to suggestions. We are not youngsters.
    I use Google Voice as VoIP for outgoing calls. I'm at home most of the time and have good Wifi signals. I use it to call places that don't care what phone number I'm calling from (doctors, pharmacies, banks, airport weather reports, etc) and the hold might be long. The calls are much better and more stable than they used to be. No deduction of minutes or data units. I don't receive calls to my GV numbers. You can set it up so that a call to your GV number will simultaneously ring your GV number (if you're on WiFi) or your real cell phone number (in case you're not on WiFi).

    You can set your phone up for WiFi Calling as well if the phone is capable and your account is provisioned for it.

    You can use WiFi Calling or VoIP as the situation applies. It doesn't have to be either or.

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    Also note that if you are in a rural area, which may be the case if you got Starlink, an address is needed to set-up wifi calling (not GV). If your address is not on file with USPS you'll need to use an alternate address which is. I ran into this since I live rural with a legal address but not on file with USPS. I get my mail at a PO Box. I used the actual physical address of the Post Office (not my Box) to set up wifi calling but you can actually use any valid USPS address. Just don't expect them to know where you are if you call 911 and can't tell them.

    As an aside, isn't Starlink pretty darn pricey the last I saw?

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    Quote Originally Posted by haymeadowfield View Post
    Never thought about VoIP. So now I'm not sure which is the best way to go. So I'm open to suggestions. We are not youngsters.
    An older couple ditched their landline. Each of them has a cell phone (but without unlimited calls).

    They use Google Voice (GV) with their home wi-fi. At first, they were worried because GV makes it a point to tell everyone that 911 calling is NOT supported.

    But after they found out that even cell phones *without* any service can call 911, they felt comfortable cutting the landline phone out of their lives. They now brag that, with their smartphones and with no landline phone, they have "become young again, like our grandkids!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    Also note that if you are in a rural area, which may be the case if you got Starlink, an address is needed to set-up wifi calling (not GV). If your address is not on file with USPS you'll need to use an alternate address which is. I ran into this since I live rural with a legal address but not on file with USPS. I get my mail at a PO Box. I used the actual physical address of the Post Office (not my Box) to set up wifi calling but you can actually use any valid USPS address. Just don't expect them to know where you are if you call 911 and can't tell them.

    As an aside, isn't Starlink pretty darn pricey the last I saw?
    We have a legal address with USPS so no issues there.
    Starlink went from $99/mo to $110/mo. We had Centurylink internet before with a max of 1.5 mbps which always was less than that. We were paying $40/mo for that slow service. I was talking to the repairman for Centurylink over a year ago and he said due to our location and only 13 customers on our line, we will probably never see faster internet with them. That is why we went with Starlink. I know people who have Viasat and/or HughesNet and they are paying similar prices as Starlink and they all say the service is not very good. So far Starlink has been great. And the best part is my son who urged us to get Starlink is paying for it. He paid for the equipment also. Now I would like to get rid of the land line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sillyette View Post
    But after they found out that even cell phones *without* any service can call 911
    ...and if you have paygo TF service then no minutes are deducted for the 911 call. I found that out when I called 911 one time about a driver going full-speed at 4AM in the wrong way on a divided turnpike. I was driving my wife and kid to the airport for an early-morning flight. Saw headlights coming at me on the same side of the concrete divider. I decided to pull off into the ditch on the right side of the road. A few minutes later, this car came flying down the left lane at 75mph going the wrong way

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpham View Post
    I use Google Voice as VoIP for outgoing calls. I'm at home most of the time and have good Wifi signals. I use it to call places that don't care what phone number I'm calling from (doctors, pharmacies, banks, airport weather reports, etc) and the hold might be long. The calls are much better and more stable than they used to be. No deduction of minutes or data units. I don't receive calls to my GV numbers. You can set it up so that a call to your GV number will simultaneously ring your GV number (if you're on WiFi) or your real cell phone number (in case you're not on WiFi).

    You can set your phone up for WiFi Calling as well if the phone is capable and your account is provisioned for it.

    You can use WiFi Calling or VoIP as the situation applies. It doesn't have to be either or.
    So Google Voice would work for outgoing calls. But what do you do when you have an incoming call to your cell phone so you don't have minutes deducted?

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    Quote Originally Posted by haymeadowfield View Post
    So Google Voice would work for outgoing calls. But what do you do when you have an incoming call to your cell phone so you don't have minutes deducted?
    If you want to use the Voice app to answer a call, your phone must be online (via WiFi or Data) when the call comes in. When someone calls your GV number, your phone (being online) will ring with the GV ringtone, and you touch the "Voice icon" (see below) to answer it. Add that icon next to your usual Phone icon.


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    There are a number of issues for you to consider in your potential telephone change.

    One thing is that you've mentioned that both of your cell phones are AT&T based on TracFone and sister company Straight Talk. If you read the forums here regularly you're aware that TracFone and it's divisions are now owned by Verizon Wireless, and they are interested in moving as many subscribers and as quickly as possible off of any carrier other than Verizon Wireless (VZW), unless there's simply no VZW coverage where you live. So this may be a factor for you, and could influence which direction you end up going.

    Getting into Google Voice can be viable, but there's a learning curve with its installation and use, and how to deal with what phone number you want to "face the public" and that sort of thing. It is the cheapest VoIP solution, however, being free.

    You could also opt for other forms of cheap (but not free) VoIP solutions like Magic Jack, which is still in business (and available at Walmart) , or if you're really techie there is a thing called SIP that is a type of internet telephony. All of these involve the use of a small box (called an Analog Telephone Adapter or ATA) that hooks up physically to your internet service through your router; then you can connect your existing corded or cordless phones up to it and there's your service.

    There was an ATA usable with Google Voice, which a few of us here have been using for years, but is now in the process of being phased out (which we're all very sad about).

    So for the future you may be adjusting your cell phones, and that in turn may affect what carrier Wi-Fi is available to you. I don't know if Straight Talk (likely being an Unlimited Talk and Text plan with some amount of data) on VZW has Wi-Fi calling available, but if so it would not cost extra. Carrier Wi-Fi calling simply moves your voice service to the internet from cellular, usually at the same rate your plan is set at (except maybe for AT&T, but your TracFone-based phones may not have that option much longer). Your phones have to support it for the carrier involved.

    Lots of things, right? If you haven't already you should take a look at the sub-forum "Landline Replacement/VoIP". Could be some good reading there for you.

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    Thanks for all of the info. I'm going to check out the "Landline Replacement/VoIP".
    As I understand things, Google Voice gives you a number to use. That would be fine for outgoing calls but I would want people to call my existing cellphone number. So what's the best way to handle that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpham View Post
    If you want to use the Voice app to answer a call, your phone must be online (via WiFi or Data) when the call comes in. When someone calls your GV number, your phone (being online) will ring with the GV ringtone, and you touch the "Voice icon" (see below) to answer it. Add that icon next to your usual Phone icon.


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    I would want people to call my current cellphone number. How would that work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by haymeadowfield View Post
    As I understand things, Google Voice gives you a number to use. That would be fine for outgoing calls but I would want people to call my existing cellphone number. So what's the best way to handle that?
    I only use my GV number to make outgoing calls. To use your existing cellphone number for receiving incoming calls through GV, you'll need to port your cellphone number to GV to use as your GV number. I think you can also link your cellphone number to GV so when someone calls your cellphone number then your GV number will ring (or the reverse). I don't use GV to receive incoming calls, so my answer could be wrong or incomplete. Hopefully someone who uses GV a lot can chime in.

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    One of the biggest decisions when getting into Google Voice is precisely what you're asking, haymeadowfield.

    There are only two choices with some sub-areas: 1.) If you want people to keep calling whatever your current number is because you've had it forever and can't conceive of changing what all those people and entities have used to contact you for however many years, that number either has to stay on your cell phone as is, or it has to be ported to Google Voice, which costs a one-time fee of $20. You would then need to get another number for the cell phone for it to be operable and functional out in the world, and for Google Voice to be able to forward calls to it (outside of the idea of the VoIP calling aspect of GV - just a cellular forwarding of incoming calls made to your now-GV number). You could theoretically make your cell phone data-only and use GV in a VoIP mode, if you had a way to have a data-only plan of some sort from some carrier. But that's not available from TracFone.

    Choice 2. is to leave your cell number where it is, receive a number for your GV account from Google, and get everyone used to the idea that that's the number they've now got to call you on, if you want to manage your calling through GV. Calls to it would then be forwarded to your current setup/number, or any number you might take on in the future. When you get a Google Voice number established, as far as cell phones, you really don't need to ever worry about porting a number again on your personal devices, if that ever becomes an issue.

    At home, or anywhere there is Wi-Fi (or mobile data you want to pay for from your data plan bucket), you can elect to use GV in VoIP mode, and the calls (incoming or outgoing) will be transported that way and won't deduct from your voice minutes bucket. I don't know how "good" the Wi-Fi has to be for an acceptable experience. I'm just now getting used to this part of things. But it needs to be pretty good as far as public Wi-Fi. At home there shouldn't be a problem.

    I don't know, however, what others using Starlink might be experiencing themselves as far as VoIP telephony or the use of Google Voice over it. Maybe they've got a FAQ or discussion forum or have something on reddit specific to that. Who knows? There might be an issue with the latency with Starlink. I don't know enough about that to comment.

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