The same technology that means you can talk to friends or loved ones anywhere in the world for pennies per minute or for free has a harmful downside: it also means that scammers anywhere in the world can call you cheaply, too, using overseas call centers and an utter lack of human empathy to drain the pockets of victims, who are mostly senior citizens. [More]
Phones are wireless, consumers are cutting back, and copper is expensive: all are reasons why the big phone companies want permission from the FCC to walk away from old-fashioned landline networks and to keep moving toward an internet-based future. The FCC tentatively agrees, and voted 3-2 today to take another baby step in the process that will end up making the nation’s century-old copper landline network obsolete.
No, this isn’t about the huge nationwide outage that hit millions of Time Warner Cable customers earlier this week, but the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The FCC has announced that TWC must pay a $1.1 million penalty for failing to report a number of network outages to the Commission. [More]
It’s always frustrating when you receive a bill that, without even having to break down the numbers, you know right away is too high. It’s even more frustrating when you know the bill is too high because you are not a customer of the company that sent you the bill. [More]
In January, the FCC gave landline telecom providers the go-ahead to begin tests of Internet-based phone service intended to replace existing copper-line phone networks. Today, AT&T finally revealed the two locations in which it would like to kick off its testing. [More]
Manoj has a very important piece of advice for Consumerist readers: don’t carry a large balance in your Skype account. We actually published a post last year entitled, “Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Carry A Large Balance In Your Skype Account,” but it’s an important lesson that bears repeating, like “keep your receipts for major purchases” or “don’t shop at Sears.”
DL likes MagicJack phone service, and prepaid for five years in advance. That was probably a really good deal until he decided that he would rather have a MagicJack Plus. That model doesn’t need to be connected to a computer. Much more convenient, but one problem: DL’s prepaid years wouldn’t transfer. Now he wants to sue them in small claims court, but they won’t tell him where to serve the papers. He turned to us for help.
Now that telephone and cable companies have increasingly moved away from using the old tried and true copper lines to provide landline service, you might find yourself without a phone in a power outage. Our seriously smart siblings at Consumer Reports looked into the drawbacks of landline fiber optic and VoIP telephone systems.
If you use the “Call Phone” function in Gmail’s Chat menu to chat with your phone pals in the U.S. or Canada — or if you’re looking for a free way of doing so — Google has announced it will continue to offer this service for free through the upcoming calendar year.
Some strange things happened to Rob’s Skype account recently, Scammers drained his account balance and tried to steal money from his credit card, too. While his credit card remained untouched, and his account is now secure, he’d still like that stolen balance back. Skype is awfully sorry, but he’s not going to get that money back.
The company behind MagicJack, the $40 USB device that “makes monthly phone bills disappear” for consumers, is about see something else go up in smoke: Its own revenues.
Looking to dial up another income stream, Skype plans to start running ads on its home tab, and promises they’ll be unobtrusive solicitations from the likes of Groupon, Visa and Universal Pictures.
I’ll keep this short because it’s Apple-related and we all need a break from that company: Apple has removed its ban on using your iPhone’s 3G “connection” to place VOIP calls, so now you can use an app like Fring to place overseas calls even when you’re not around a Wi-Fi hotspot. Call quality in those moments will naturally depend on AT&T’s ability to provide a good 3G connection, so keep your expectations low, but still it’s good news for any iPhone/AT&T customers looking to save money on calls.
Apple made it clear last year that Google Voice is not welcome on the App Store or your iPhone. “Fine,” said Google. “We’ll go through the browser!” Today the search engine revealed a new mobile web interface that uses some fancy HTML5 magic to provide voicemail, calling, and text message functionality. If you don’t already know, you can turn any page in Mobile Safari into an App icon on your home screen (click the “+” icon in Safari), meaning now you can have a legitimate Google Voice “app.” Below is a video tour. Update: There’s a down side to this: Cy writes in to let us know that this fancy new version actually breaks functionality for iPod Touch owners–the old web-based version let Touch owners make calls, but this one doesn’t.
Consumer Reports didn’t love Vince’s nuts, and their tests found that the Snuggie sheds like a pack of crazed Labrador retrievers. But in their article about informercial products this month, they did find one that their mad science shows actually works, provides good value, and is useful: the Magic Jack.
eBay has successfully unloaded Skype. They remain a minority stakeholder, but 70% of Skype has been sold to a group that includes the original co-founders of the internet telephony company.