Maybe I Ticked Off Alexander Graham Bell

At the moment our long distance service is working properly. Well, I think it’s working properly. I could always drive over to customer service in India and check.

There is still pending a $40+ long distance bill from Sprint, a company I never asked to be my carrier, who somehow temporarily became my carrier and charged 40&#162 a minute for the privilege. I wrote to Sprint, who stopped the charge and told me (in one of the least friendly form letters I’ve ever seen) to contact my state DPUC, otherwise they’d put the charge back on!

Now, I’m fooling around with VOIP. Instead of plugging my telephone into a phone line, it is connected to a box which is in turn connected to my Internet connection. It works like a real telephone in every way. I can make and receive calls&#185.

The big advantage with VOIP is cost. For $19.95 I can have a phone with every imaginable feature and unlimited long distance. Not bad. It’s well under half what I’m paying now for my phone plus long distance charges.

Until recently one of the things VOIP couldn’t do was 911 service. That’s a big sticking point. As the house is burning, you’d like to be able to get the fire department without looking up the number.

Packet8, the company I decided to go with, said they had solved the 911 problem and our house was within their coverage area. Well, they said that before I got the equipment.

Dear Valued Packet8 Customer,

Thank you for your recent Packet8 order for residential or business telephone service with optional Enhanced 911(E911). Unfortunately we have found that your address is not yet set up for standard supported of E911 services yet. We are adding new E911 service centers everyday so it is likely that your area will be available shortly.

You do not have to take any action and you will be automatically provided the rate center requested without E911 and continue with your packet8 subscription. Your monthly bill will reflect that you are not subscribing to E911 and you will not be charged any fees associated with E911. If you elect to continue subscribing to Packet8 without E911 we will waive any activation fees associated with the optional E911when your area is available due to the inconvenience.

Or, you can cancel your order within 24 hours by contacting our customer service department at 888 898 8733 by referring your customer order number highlighted below. You will be required to also return your purchase to the retailer you recently visited. We urge you to check back frequently, as E911 service centers are regularly being added.

So, it looks like this nice new technology will get sent back. The voice quality was pretty good, though I noticed some distortion on voice peaks and that the background sound would cut out if the person you were speaking to was in a quiet location. I guess the time is not yet right for VOIP for me.

&#185 – Though I can receive calls now, my original correspondence from them had this:


Welcome to the Packet8 broadband telephone service from 8×8. Your

Packet8 account is now activated. You can now begin to enjoy your

Packet8 telephone service.

The following telephone number has been assigned to your account:

Not available

To access your account via the web, please visit

That’s probably a little too unlisted.

2 thoughts on “Maybe I Ticked Off Alexander Graham Bell”

  1. Geoff

    Consider giving packet 8 a chance. I’ve been using them for almost 2 years now, exlcusively – ie, no SNET, or SBC.. or whatever those goons call themselves these days. The 911 thing doesnt particularly bother me, as I’ve programmed the direct dial number for my town’s dispatch center into my phones. The same guy answers the phone. If anything, for only 20 bucks a month, keep it around for when your problematic POTS line is having problems, or to make long distance calls.

    I’ve found that in the beginning they did do a couple of things that were a little… well stupid. like your phone number thing – however they are VERY quick to respond to an email and have worked out every problem I ever had within a very short period of time.

    My 2 Cents.

  2. Geoff,

    Has the Cell Phone improved at all at your home? If so, have you considered using it as your primary phone? I know that the wired phone is nice, but in moving earlier this year, I have completely dumped SBC.

    I am using Cingular for myself and my live-in girlfriend, and although a bit annoying, I am surviving fine with ComCast for Internet and Television.

    I’m in an apartment building, and actually have an AT&T tower system on my roof. I’m lucky enough to have “orange” and “blue” network coverage where I am [which is also somewhat rural].

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