Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yet another number

So today I'm desperately in need of some telecoms rationalisation, but can't work out how to achieve it - I've even acquired yet another phone number; and I shudder at the proportion of household and business finances that telecoms soaks up.

I can do some cool things like call for an hour or more while driving (using a hands-free kit) to speak internationally to a landline, all as part of a flat-rate monthly charge of a few dollars. Or there have been times when I've called from 30,000 feet on an international flight and spoken to a cellphone in another country, at no charge. But it's getting a lot to manage, and I'm not sure I'm using all the services I pay for, and I don't know how anyone could unravel what I've established to figure it all out if they had to!

Here's what it looks like - any suggestions for improvements?
  • Landline home phone, without which I couldn't get broadband Internet, and for which I had to sign a 12-month minimum contract. I use the phone so rarely that I don't know the number.
  • The landline comes with a built-in VOIP (Voice over IP) phone number on which I can make incoming and outgoing calls; but I never do. I could hook that up to my fax machine, but I never send and receive faxes these days, either. And I have to check that my outgoing calls are made over the regular landline number (which has a call bundle attached) rather than the per-minute charges for the VOIP line.
  • Two iPhones (3GS with contracts expiring in 1Q 2012). Despite my travels my phone is almost always using WiFi and I make precious few incoming or outgoing voice calls as most contacts are by email, SMS or similar. And I'm pretty much surgically-attached to the iPhone 24/7
  • An Android phone, to which my daughter is surgically-attached. Again, mostly SMS rather than voice.
  • An incoming VOIP number in London, England; and another in New York City, USA. Both are for business use, but rarely ring as we've established that most contacts take place in some written form rather than voice.
  • Outgoing Skype 'Unlimited World' bundle, chiefly for calls to cell phones and landlines in America. Maybe I don't use all of each month's allowance, but I'm paying for the convenience.
  • Again, for convenience, I've got a local number I can call (from the iPhone, say) to dial out to a cell phone or landline internationally at no extra charge. It's part of the Skype bundle, along with voice mail.
  • I use Skype for voice, video and computer screen-sharing almost daily. But I've got two other screen-sharing programs also, in case the person I'm talking to doesn't have Skype. Neither costs me anything and I almost never need them, but they're a stand-by...
  • Now, today, I've got yet another gadget to the mix: when visiting a client I connected to their internal WiFi network, but found that some of the extra security we've wrapped around the network traffic our software generates wouldn't get through their firewall ... So today I've purchased a USB 'dongle' that lets me connect a laptop to the 3G phone network. I know I could have 'tethered' the iPhone(s) to the laptop to achieve a similar thing, but I didn't want to commit to that on an iPhone contract that's got less than six months left to run... Trouble is, I've now got yet another phone number that I can use to send and receive SMS, this time via my laptop.
  • I've still got 800+ SMS text message credits left over from a project we folded a while back. They're not going to expire any time soon, but I do need to find a use for them as I won't get my money back.
It feels like I've missed something(s) out, but there's plenty here to keep track of: and that's even after I cancelled the ten VOIP direct dial numbers for the business that just weren't getting enough use to justify their cost!
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