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bluetooth cell phone gateways for home phones?


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#1 wkearney99

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 08:47 AM

I'd like to find a way to allow our cell phones to ring into the home phones.  I have a Uniden 5ghz setup with several handsets.  It purports to be able to do this, but in practice really doesn't work very well.

 

So now that we're in the new house I'm looking into what's out there now.  I'm prepared to ditch the Uniden handsets.  They've worked fine but they're old enough now that their Ni-cad battery packs are mostly failing to keep a reasonable charge.  I had to go through three handsets to deal with Verizon for our FIOS setup (but that's a whole other train wreck of a conversation).

 

Anyway, I plan on having few wired handsets, if any.  I have an actual copper POTS line for phone.  We have two cell phones.  It'll be a few years before our 5 year old has one, but expandability to three would be a nice feature.

 

I'm not so much concerned about handling out-going calls.  Just being able to have incoming ones ring into the house phones.  

 

No, I don't want to get into configuring the phones to transfer calls to a landline every time.  That's tedious, at best, and wastes air time (not that we ever really run over our allotted amount).

 

I'm willing to spend a few bucks as necessary.  I'd be more willing to entertain a small PBX setup than trying to use a PC for it.  Stuff like this demands reliability and while there's plenty of clever things you can do with a PC I'm really not interested in having another PC to babysit for this.  I need it to be 'set and forget'.  So let's not drag this off into a conversation about ways to make a PC less unreliable.

 

So what's out there these days?  



#2 wuench

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 09:54 AM

I have the Uniden bluetooth handsets and they are HORRIBLE.   The call quality of DECT+Bluetooth+Cell is pretty much unusable.  Additionally I have had issues with my phone not always pairing automatically because it was still paired to my car in the garage.

 

I had been using a combination of Google Voice + Obihai which was a nice free VOIP solution for both incoming and outgoing calls.  But Google is putting an end to the ability of Obihai (and other 3rd parties) to integrate with Google Voice.

 

I have now moved my Obihai box over to Callcentric, on pay as you go plans, which is costing about $5-10 a month including E911.

 

I know you said you are not interested in outgoing calls, but if there is an emergency and/or a guest wants to use your phone to call out you may need it from your landline.  The main problem with Google Voice is that when you call out the number does not match your GV number.  The Obihai solution solved that since it used GV for outgoing.  But if you use a VOIP provider that allows caller ID spoofing, you can fix that.  There are codes to forward your voicemail to GV from your mobile so all your voicemail ends up in one place no matter if you get a call from GV or your cell number.  GV's benefits are in it's call filtering, you can block a lot of garbage/spam calls and play the number disconnected message.  You also get voicemail translation to email and you can turn on call screening so they have to say their name and you have to press 1 to answer, that really filters out the spam machines proactively.

 

So my setup is (no POTS line all VOIP):

 

Inbound --> GVoice Forwards to CallCentric --> ObiHai box --> Home Phone

Inbound --> GVoice Forwards to Cell

Outbound --> Home Phone --> ObiHai box --> CallCentral (Spoofed GV number)


Edited by wuench, 21 November 2013 - 10:01 AM.


#3 wkearney99

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 10:05 AM

I have a POTS landline and plan on keeping it.  I had to jump through flaming hoops to get Verizon to reinstall it.  That'll handle outgoing 911 just fine.  I have no real need for VOIP and the like.  Yeah, it's a fine idea but the cost savings just aren't enough to tolerate the configuration issues.  At some point, sure, I might revisit the notion, so I'll try to make sure whatever I get has at least some chance of working with it.  Or at least be cheap enough to not be worried about tossing it later.

 

I only have a landline to allow for outgoing faxes (the few that I send each year) and to STICK IT to Verizon with making them support the copper wiring plant.

 

Good point about Bluetooth pairing and nearby cars.  It's likely the location for them inside the house will be far enough away from the cars to avoid that.  That and I have docks for both the desks and the cars.  The Motorola phones have some features to handle actions with docking so that might come into play as well.

 

Agreed, the Uniden BT interface was so utterly aggravating to use that I never bothered past some initial "WTF" experimenting.  But you do make a good point about call quality issues as the conversations get transcoded from one device to the next.  I have on several occasions needed to transition from car to house, and vice-versa, with an active call.  That being another reason why I generally prefer to avoid forwarding solutions.  But if the call quality really isn't there then, well, that'd be a problem.



#4 wuench

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 12:02 PM

Well in that case, I think you might still want to take a look at just GV.  It's free so you can play with it and see how it meets your needs.  It's still VOIP, with some delay and occasional quality issues, but it sounds like it will meet your requirements for inbound.  You can transfer calls between phone and mobile but it is not seamless, etc.



#5 pete_c

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 11:09 PM

Verizon made me give up my Verizon copper line in Florida when they installed FIOS.  The FIOS voice line sounds very much like VOIP to me.

 

The box is outside and powered from the inside of the house and they just ran a copper wire from the box to the old copper ingress box.



#6 Work2Play

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 03:13 AM

My opinion - copper brings way too much money in taxes - things like Ooma cost a couple bucks/month...  Ooma is every bit as good as Vonage but without the 10's of millions invested in advertising, so they cost only a fraction as much.  I held out with copper for way too long - but when I finally made the switch I felt kinda stupid for waiting so long.  It was a complete waste of money.

 

I had the same desire 2 years ago - my wife would very often leave her phone in the car and that was our only connection method - but once I bought her an iPhone she started carrying it a whole lot more.  It's been less of an issue since then, thought not completely eliminated.  A SIP line via voip.ms is pretty cheap, gives me a few phone lines (different numbers), and I still have my working fax (using a cheap Linksys ATA and slowing the max transmission rate it's been flawless) along with some secret combinations that can ring the house phones when I really need to get ahold of my wife.

 

My cell (iPhone) doesn't use the iPhone visual voicemail - it uses Google Voice - so if I get a call on my cell, I can send it away and it goes to ring all my phones (work, personal business, cell) - then it goes to GV voicemail where it emails me a transcription of the message.  With the GV app I can call back with my GV number.  Possible drawback I guess is that callers hear a lot of rings before going to voicemail, but most of the time it means they reach me instead of VM so I guess it's worth it; It happens quite often where my phone isn't with me but I catch the GV rollover to other phones, including the SIP phone up in my home office.

 

Things aren't perfect - but each piece brings a lot of functionality for me so I've yet to find the perfect solution - so this is the mix of benefits/tradeoffs that works best for me.



#7 wkearney99

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 06:15 AM

Verizon made me give up my Verizon copper line in Florida when they installed FIOS.  The FIOS voice line sounds very much like VOIP to me.

 

The box is outside and powered from the inside of the house and they just ran a copper wire from the box to the old copper ingress box.

 

Technically they can't 'make you' give up a copper line.  If the area is served by lines (and tariffs are involve here) then they're REQUIRED to provide it to paying customers that request it.  That said, they make it economically attractive to make the switch through bundling it with the other FIOS services.  Trust me on this, I'm WELL acquainted with Verizon's tactics on this.  

 

If you want copper you can keep/get it.  Just it won't be as cheap as they sell a fiber-based one.  But if you've got POTS-based equipment like fax machines or you want to add a secondary ISP connection via DSL then a regular copper pair has value.   Otherwise you'd be stuck with using only FIOS services (no equal access).  Or paying to have someone else bring in another connection.

 

But that's a whole other thread.

 

My goal here is to be able to answer the cell without having to traipse all over the house to grab it.  I detest carrying the phone while inside the house.  It's a bigger house now, with three floors and it's annoying missing calls.  Likewise I realize that the bridge from cell-to-handset has potential quality issues.  So being able to grab the cell phone itself and use it once I've caught the call has merit.  

 

Finally, I seriously dislike using 3rd party advertising companies like google for stuff like this.  Privacy has value to me and selling off all my interactions to them for 'free' services is not a bargain I'm willing to accept.



#8 Frunple

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 07:52 AM

http://shop.panasoni...n/link-to-cell/

 

I've been using this for years, works great.



#9 wkearney99

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 11:11 AM

I'm leaning toward one of these:

http://panasonic.net...ucts/kx_tg954x/

 

Being able to have 2 analog connections and 4 cell phone certainly leaves a lot of room for options (like a separate VOIP line) or even emulating a cell phone via Bluetooth.  The manual seems to indicate being able to use up to 6 cordless handsets with it.  Which, surprisingly, is a few shy of how many I'd prefer to have.

 

What about cordless SIP phone options?  Being able to treat each handset as a 'real' extension could be interesting.  Not just intercoms, but as actual extensions.  I'm really leaning toward using a PBX-like setup.  I just want to find something that allows for integrating cell phone answering into it.

 

The Obihai Plus looks interesting, but I'd rather just buy stuff outright, not have to shell out for handset subscriptions.



#10 Work2Play

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 09:07 PM

SIP handsets come in Wifi or Dect - the Dect ones typically allow about 4 handsets per base - each having its own extension or they can share sip registrations.  You can do a couple handsets/bases...   Or with wifi based ones each one is independent but you want to make sure you've got a really good wireless infrastructure for this.

 

That Linksys combo FXO/FXS I use I had bought specifically to integrate Ooma back into my own PBX but it would also work with one of those Bluetooth-to-landline alternatives; that was another thing I had considered previously.

 

FWIW, you can emulate all the google-voice functionality when you roll your own system - except maybe controlling which number shows when you dial out - although with my SIP provider I can choose what number shows when I dial out anyway.



#11 wkearney99

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 09:31 PM

Ah, I wondered about the DEC-SIP base stations and extensions.  I'd be willing to have ethernet running to each base station.  But my big question is how well they'd share a call, and what hassles you'd have to go through to trigger it.  As in, being able to join a conversation already on the line, like you'd do with a regular phone.  I'm assuming this has more to do with whatever's being used as the PBX/switch, correct?

 

I don't have a burning desire to 'roll my own'.  I'm willing to shell out a bit, but really do not want to get into yet another subscription scenario.  It's the 'death of a thousand cuts' all these little service bills...



#12 pete_c

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 11:08 AM

Here while still playing with a DIY PBX I purchased an Ooma VOIP box "onsale".  I've tested the Bluetooth and DECT phone to work.

 

I have kept a copper line in the midwest.  I am now also on my second set of Panasonic multiline wireless phones here in 10 years and have been using Panasonic wireless phones now for some 20 years.  I do also utilize a second Siemens wireless multiline base station.  Smaller phones though than the Panaonic.  (the large and small phone thing is a WAF thing here).



#13 Work2Play

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 11:33 AM

well, by "Roll your own" I meant setting up a PBX... you can load up Asterisk, FreePBX, 3CX, etc - I know I did a 3CX installation in about an hour and had things online after my FreePBX died (on a pogoplug - too many writes to the SD card kills them; didn't have time to do the RAM drive fix)...   You can also buy some off the shelf PBX hardware too but I think most of us just run our own.

 

SIP PBXs are all kinda the same - you'd need to conference the other extension in - so hit Conf and dial the other extension, then Conf again - or transfer to a conf bridge.  You should also be able to have the other person dial into you then you do the conference on both calls.

 

some of the DECT SIP phones will allow about 4-5 phones per base - only the main base needs ethernet; the other 3-4 just have a charging stand.  They tend to have some built-in features that work independently of the pbx like intercom, sharing lines, etc.  It's best to just test some out.  Right now I find the Grandstream to be the most affordable and still of good quality - I have 3 of their desk phones sitting next to me right now from other testing.



#14 wkearney99

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 11:41 AM

Yes, I was envisioning one ethernet-wired base station somewhere convenient and just powered cradles for the handsets connecting through it.  The upside here is I get the ability to add extensions as needed, and a I have the wire available for base stations.

 

As for multi-extension conversations, what's the rigmarole you have to jump through to do something 'pickup  line 1' when someone else is already on it?  As in, how you'd do it with regular POTS lines and analog handsets.  Is the 'line' accessible that way?  Or is it more of a path that got routed to the answering handset and only that can free it or 'conference-in' another extension?  Or is this a programmable sort of thing?   I'd only see it being 'mandatory' on the POTS line.  I could see it being convenient on a BT-connected cell line, but I could live with having to press a couple of buttons to get there.



#15 pete_c

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 12:03 PM

It's the 'death of a thousand cuts' all these little service bills...

 

This is changing a bit.  Initially it was the "added" service fees on your landline / cell phone relating to passing on some costs. 

 

Lately its now tacked on to every VOIP line both by the company and the local town here; such that it will be unavoidable to cut all of these little service bills when they are just added to the base monthly service costs.

 

Much to the "chagrin" of this stuff; you are sort of pushed into a DIY or rolling your means (a DIY PBX) anyways.






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