Replacing landline with GSM


I pay $32.17 a month for a landline that doesn’t see much use. Thank you <telco> for increasing this 7-9% every single year around September for the past three years. The majority of the actual use is telemarketers and survey takers calling me, being put through to my voicemail, and then them never leaving a message.

*Update 2014-06-25 – Received the latest bill. It’s now $32.50/month all-in. With no time like the present when you’re fired up about it already – I phoned <telco> right away to cancel the service. They immediately with no questions asked offered to chop the fees in half for a year. ~$15/month for 12 months, then $20/month afterwards (which would be plus fees and taxes). That’s pretty comparable to the $12.49-$18.82 that I expect be paying under the new regime. I want to think that it would be different if they had offered the lower rate on their own initiative based on my usage, but I’m not sure it would have been. It would have made a huge percentage impact on my initial cost/benefit – and while I would be less perturbed about their incessant fee increases I would probably have justified the capital cost as “It’s a project” and called it even with the same operating costs. OR maybe I’m just justifying it because I already spent the cash.



  • -$32.17/month cancelled phone service (and increasing with time)
  • +$10.00/month (guessing) dry copper fee to maintain DSL service
  • +$2.10/month (minimum – will go up with any usage) for service. This works because their minimum topup of $25 expires in 365 days. This unlike all the other carriers that will pocket your cash after only 30 days. If going with one of the other carriers – they will grace you with 365 days expiry with a topup of $100. (so averaging that out – $8.33/month, which will cover the 911 fee and even a little bit of usage)
  • Extra power costs for running the extra little box. Dividing the power bill by consumption – 1W 24/7 should cost me around $0.13/month. The power supply provided is rated for 1A at 12V, so max 12W~=$1.56 if it runs maxed out all the time all month. Out of curiosity I’ll fire up the Kill-A-Watt for it when it gets here, but not going to count this amount. Update 2014-06-02 - It’s been running for ~40 hours, looks like an average draw around 2W with the highest I’ve seen 2.7W. Since the measurement is from upstream of the power supply – it will account for both the device draw and efficiency of the power supply. Assuming 3W continuous is really conservative ~= +$0.39/month in power to run.

Which leaves ~$20 monthly to cover any capital costs.

  • Yeastar NeoGate TG100 ($143.32 @ Amazon, $17.99 shipping, 1.1189 conversion rate = $180.49CDN).
  • Border taxes. I always want to say ‘free trade my ass’ $9.95 for CBSA to handle it. Kind of nice to be “NOT OPENED”, but didn’t the fee used to be around $5? Don’t forget the $6.79 GST.
  • $10.50 Speakout7Eleven SIM Card (probably burned $5-10 in gas going to 4 locations to finally find one. Car GPS must be out of date – the third location didn’t actually exist)
  • Asterisk instance, network, UPS power for brief outages – all existing and operating, no additional maintenance or operating costs. Added complexity to the asterisk configuration will be negligable for this addition.

So far – $207.73 capital. Estimating payback time on the equipment purchases <10.5 months.

Intangible benefits: I get to try out some new hardware, maybe get to tinker with the NeoGate’s API interface, satisfaction of not paying the telco a ridiculous amount versus what is actually being used of a service.

Current Use Comment
Telemarketers and survey takers calling me Not a big loss for me to reduce or lose these.My asterisk box actually answers the phone and then plays a ringing sound. It didn’t have to do this, but I chose to do it this way. Not only does it bugger up some of the telemarketers – the answer supervision tells them somebody has picked up the phone and then their automated system goes into it’s speil. They get to pay for the call, and tie up one of their outgoing call instances. I also get to listen to what was happening while the caller was hearing ringing and don’t think anybody is listening. (It’s never been interesting any time I’ve checked.)
Once every 2nd blue moon sending a fax Despite the fact that fax should have been left behind with gleeful prejudice a long long time ago, somehow the gear still works and lawyers still seem to like it. T.38 fax over IP will probably work for most of what I might want to send, and for anything else there’s a post office really close by. Unlikely the cost of the service will impact the cost benefit of doing something different.* In the past I have successfully sent fax over the audio channel of a VoIP connection (Fax Machine -> ATA -> Asterisk -> Internet -> VoIP provider -> PSTN). At the time my last mile was a DSL connection. When I tried it some time later over cable it was not successful. Since I’m using DSL again there is a (probably slim) chance that it might work when those blue moons align properly with the stars.
Customer service calls The landline has seen the bulk of my toll free customer service number calls. Mostly because I prefer the Polycom IP550 on my desk to the lower quality speakerphone on my mobile, and it’s nice not to burn up the mobile battery on a call such as this. This ‘new’ approach won’t work as well for that since there will be airtime charges. Different project to get asterisk talking to my main mobile via bluetooth – then I can use my fancy desk phone.Credit card issuers seem to prefer calls from a landline that is registered with them. But I’ve called them from mobiles before and while they have sometimes grumbled, ultimately it worked fine.
Emergency Calls The intangible benefit, and probably the strongest reason I’ve kept this in place so long. I’ve never actually ever used it for this. The one time in (relatively recent) history I have called emergency services, it ended up being with my mobile.Continuing worrying about this seems to be basing decision on a double jeopardy scenario – that my mobile is broken or stolen, and that there is some emergency scenario in or near my home. Both historically rare events, and to occur at the same time is even more unlikely. It might even be a triple jeopardy since there are enough people around that even a not-so-well-aimed object tossed off the balcony is going to garner a lot of attention.
Reliability The thing works. All of my internet based communications have at one time or another broken down at some REALLY inopportune times. But – then again – it happens even to 911 and city information services.Anything else I do will consist of more parts and will be less reliable. I think the double jeopardy consideration from above applies.


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