AT&T Says Don't Use VoIP For A Few Weeks

from the wait-a-second. dept

AT&T has been working to upgrade its CallVantage VoIP offering to make it compliant with E911 requirements (requirements with a fuzzy deadline no one plans to enforce). I'm a CallVantage user, and a few months ago, was told that if I wanted E911, I needed to change my phone number -- something I did not want and had no intention of doing. This resulted in a stern warning from a customer service person at AT&T about how I was leaving myself at risk. AT&T's next move concerning CallVantage 911 was its policy of forcing you check in each time the telephone adapter has been reset. Since I happen to live somewhere that has frequent power outages, this means that half the time I go to make a phone call, I have to sit through a 30 second blurb about how I need to confirm that I have not moved my adapter to a new location (doubly annoying is the fact that you can't "press 1" to tell AT&T that you're still in the same location until after the whole message has played). Over the weekend, the situation got even more annoying, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. AT&T contacted many customers (including me) to let them know that upgrades were being performed for better 911 services, but then telling people they could not move their adapters during this unspecified period of time. If the adapter is moved, the notice claims, users will not be able to use their phones other than to call 911 or toll-free numbers for the duration of this upgrade. The time given for the upgrade period is "a few weeks." The power went out at our house Sunday evening, and while I haven't had to make a phone call since then, I wonder if this means I won't be able to use the phone system I'm paying for until whenever AT&T judges it to be okay again. Either way, it seems a bit ridiculous for AT&T to give no advanced notice of the fact that important functionality of their VoIP system cannot be used for "a few weeks" and to not give any way to get around such blocks.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jon, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 4:44am

    Why are you still a customer?

    Is there a reason you've put up with all this? Certainly AT&T is not the only VOIP provider in the world. Why should they improve their service if customers will just bend over and take it?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    eric, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 4:45am

    UPS

    one comment, $29 Uninterruptible Power Supply

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    VOIP User, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 4:49am

    Time to change....

    You need to switch to Vonage if at all possible. I pay roughly $27.00/month including taxes for unlimited service, Enhanced 911 services, voice mail and plenty of features. Comcast and Verizon both offer VOIP, but at around $40/month + taxes. Never had any trouble with the phone service, except, of course, when the cable goes out. But even then, the Vonage network detects this and routes everything to my cell phone. I also get voice messages via email.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Mike Richard, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 4:52am

    battery backup

    A UPS(Battery Backup) unit is essential for VoIP. Put your cable/dsl modem, voice router and cordless phone all on battery backup and you won't have that problem. And BTW it is YOUR problem, this is VoIP we're talking about and you knew the reasons why it is half the price of POTS service when you bought it.
    The government is forcing all VoIP providers including my old employer Lightyear to either enable E911 or shut off the service. VoIP providers had 120 days to comply which is not a lot of time when you're talking about notifiying and adjusting service for millions of customers.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Chris, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 5:07am

    Re: battery backup

    His problem is not having a UPS, but his problem is not having bad AT&T services. Change a phone number to get E911? Vonage allowed me to pick my phone number (transferred mine from POTS).

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Chris T., Mar 6th, 2006 @ 5:13am

    Re: battery backup

    I don't think his major gripe is the power-outages that he has. What his deal is that AT&T is planning an upgrade with no timeframe. If the power goes out and his IP changes (which I'm assuming is the issue since moving the adaptor would also change the IP), is he out of luck because of a problem with electricity?

    And a UPS, while allowing him a bit more time once the power goes out, may not be a viable solution of the power outages last more than the length of his battery.

    Yes, VoIP is cheaper, but I gather a lot of that is because there is very little infrastruction to create compared to a fiber/copper-based POTS. Yes, VoIP services will go through growing pains while they figure out the best way to do things and implement new services (like E911). But why should he be told to not to move his adapter for fear of his service being screwed up.

    The big question is, if it does mess up, what is AT&T going to do about it?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    MacUser3, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 5:29am

    Two Words

    Cell Phone.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 5:45am

    Why should it matter?

    There should be no reason for a change in IP address to affect service. It ought to be based on MAC address, which will never change for the life of the device.

    Glad I've got Vonage.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Dave, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 6:11am

    Re: Why should it matter?

    MAC Address? MAC doesn't tell you if its been plugged into the neighbors home...or in Europe for that matter. The issue is that when the registration server see's a new registration it is assuming the ATA has been rebooted, or has been powered down and taken some place else. Either way its making you go through the "No I haven't moved my device" crap. MAC Address won't help in this case...

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Dave, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 6:16am

    No Subject Given

    I got this too. I have my Callvantage on a UPS ever since I got that requirement to re-authorize after each power outage. This recent bit seemed squirrelly. They aren't the cheapest service on the block, and they seem to ask a lot from their customers.

    I like having handset extensions all around the house, otherwise I'd go back to cell phones only. Might have to look into cell-socket type devices if this keeps up.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 6:27am

    Re: Why should it matter?

    That's funny about the Reauthorize stuff. Not to repeat this, but I didn't know how much I liked Vonage until I heard these comments. They don't care if I move my phone from the living room to the bedroom and to my grandmother's house to Europe. It is VoIP / plug and call. Of course 911 won't necessarily work from there, but that's my problem.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    EruditeMan, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 6:37am

    Re: Why are you still a customer?

    I agree with the entry asking why you put up with the AT&T VOIP service issues. There are many other VOIP services you can use. Most of which will cost you less each month.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Barton Fair, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 6:42am

    Lingo - Even better than Vonage

    Why are so many of you recommending Vonage? Vonage is the AOL of VOIP. By this I mean that they overcharge and advertise a lot. They have a large (relatively) customer base, because people want to try out VOIP but are scared of it at the same time...so they choose the one that advertises a lot. I started out with Vonage, but now I am using a MUCH better VOIP service called Lingo, which has all the features of Vonage, plus a bunch of others...and is considerably cheaper. There are several different service plans you can get (i have the unlimited home plan), but they are all specified at www.lingo.com.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    James, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:09am

    AT&T VoIP Service

    AT&T is not the company they used to be. I am in the process of porting my last SBC line (both business & residential) today and most likely will never use their services again. What's worse is I used to work for both companies in years past and still own a fair number of shares of their stock. Vonage is not my choice for VoIP for a number of reasons including cost and customer support. Also, Vonage still has not licensed the patent that makes VoIP services possible and that could be be a serious issues if/when it gets to court. I'm still looking for a good/cost effective VoIP provider, any other suggestions besides Lingo?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Just Me, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:12am

    Re: UPS

    I don't know about you guys, but the CO for the telco is about 3 blocks away. They are lit up for a couple of hours during the longer outages, but then go dark after that. So even if you have a UPS for your local gear, it may not help all of the time.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Andreas, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:27am

    Re: Time to change....

    Good Point, unfortunaley with all the horror stories about installs for Vonage services, I'd rather not take the chance. I believe most of those took place when Vonage first came about. Probably has gotten better now that they have established themselves as VoIP Provider.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Nyle, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:32am

    Ever heard of a little thing called a UPS?

    You rely on Voice Over IP for your phone service and have frequent power outages and yet don't have a $40 UPS on your VoIP box? How long are your outages several hours?

    Yes, I agree it sounds like ATT is not doing a good job with implementing E911 but even if they weren't you'd still want a UPS on your VoIP box.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    George, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:35am

    FCC Mandate

    The mandate came and was extended at least once for the VoIP companies to get it done. However, even when the deadline came and passed several companies were not able to comply and I believe have still not been reprimanded for it. When I signed up for VoIP about a year ago the e911 issue was just beginning and I made sure to check that my provider, SunRocket, offered it in my area (in fact they only offer service where they can provider e911).

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Nyle, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:38am

    Re: Lingo - Even better than Vonage

    I pay $16 a month on Vonage and I don't have a problem with their service. That's not to say that Lingo it's a good provider but we've had good luck with Vonage and we aren't just going to switch because they advertise..

    I don't think that just advertising makes you like AOL.

    The bottom line is that people are just telling the guy to dump ATT if he's not happy and switch providers. I'm sure that they recomend Vonage becasue they've had good luck with them just as I have.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Frank, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 8:33am

    No Subject Given

    Install and Asterisk@Home (asteriskathome.sourceforge.net) server and sign up for Telasip Residential xPress service ($4.95/month www.telasip.com)and you get to control your own voicemail, have messages emailed to you, and send notifications as text messages to your cellphone, plus you can then access your phone service from anywhere that you can get ineternet access. Download an ISO, burn it, install it, and have your own PBX in under an hour. Check out www.nerdvittles.com for a tutorial.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Branwyn, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 8:59am

    Re: Lingo - Even better than Vonage

    I'd recommend Vonage because it's worked well for me. And, I go to the Lingo site, and the first thing I see is $19.95/month. Cheaper than Vonage? Not even. Advertising doesn't always make a company (and it's services!) evil.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    googly_eyes, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 9:07am

    VoIP Services

    I use Speakeasy VoIP and it's great - $27 a month (including taxes and such)for unlimmited usage, and E911 serive to boot.

    I have had the power go out several times, and they never even flinched.

    Customer service is good, and the online tools are pretty slick (except they now prefer IE as your browser - yech)- with all the VoIP bells and whistles.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Phranq da tank, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 9:14am

    foolish hoo-monz

    still using telephones! In Orc Land we use telepathy... with lasers! And they're E911 compliant

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    whargoul, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 9:25am

    AT&T is a big clumsy gorilla

    Use someone else (Vonage maybe?). Hell - get rid of the land-line and use a cell phone if you can. I have been proud "AT&T Free" for several years now and can honestly say that I have had far less problems since ditching them. But, now that SBC has bought AT&T and is now using their name, I'm being forced to find a new carrier for my land-line.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Sean, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 9:54am

    Re: battery backup

    "BTW it is YOUR problem, this is VoIP we're talking about and you knew the reasons why it is half the price of POTS service when you bought it."
    My God that is a dumb comment. VoIP isn't cheaper because of lousy service, it's the infrastructure that makes it cheaper.
    I didn't go through any of this AT&T type crap with Vonage and it's E911 service.
    And to say that Vonage is the AOL of VoIP is also just ignorant. I suppose to you any large company in any industry is the AOL of that industry? Just because they are a bigger company and they advertise doesn't make them AOLish.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Jobe, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 11:14am

    Re: Why are you still a customer?

    I wouldn't be a customer of there's for very long if I had to do that.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Sean, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 12:15pm

    Not surprising

    I wouldn't be too shocked if they did all that purpose to give VoIP a bad name. Even if it is *their* VoIP package, people using it that don't know any better might think, "Ah screw this internet phone stuff... what a pain. I'll stick to regular phone service."

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    vonage Squirrel, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Two Words (One word)

    Vonage. I agree with your reply as well, by the way. Why would anyone go with At&T who is threating a two tier IP system as well. This is an excellent note giving good reasons at least to avoid Ma Bell again

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Andrew Schmitt, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 5:14pm

    Amazed

    I got to the point of the message where you said you were an AT&T customer..... and I started laughing.

    All of the negative opinions about big Telco.... but you use their VoIP service? Very funny...

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    brian, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:20pm

    No Subject Given

    Move to Vonage

     

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  31.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 6th, 2006 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Amazed

    I got to the point of the message where you said you were an AT&T customer..... and I started laughing.

    Huh?

    All of the negative opinions about big Telco.... but you use their VoIP service? Very funny...

    I'm not allowed to criticize the telcos because I'm a customer? How does that make any sense?

    My status as a customer has little to nothing to do with the larger issues raised. I'm curious why you think it should matter one way or the other.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Andrew Schmitt, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Amazed

    Given alteratives exist, and your very public opinions about AT&T, I am surprised you haven't voted with your feet.

    Agreed, they handled it poorly. Of course there is nothing wrong with a customer criticizing a supplier. What is entertaining is that you haven't taken the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is... as suggested by lots of people above.

     

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  33.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 8th, 2006 @ 9:40pm

    Re: Amazed

    I was perfectly happy with the service when it was AT&T pre-SBC. It's only since the merger that these problems have started coming up.

    Besides, my opinions about AT&T are about what the company is doing strategically, which has little to do with the quality of their products.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Ira, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    Re: UPS

    UPS may be an answer, but if you live in an area that has frequent hours long blackouts (one every six weeks or so) like we do, you couldn't afford the size UPS you would need. The last one went on for close to 4 hours. The dinky little $29.95 UPS would give you about 10-15 minutes of backup, assuming you didn't plug too many things into it. Virtually useless. It's one of the reasons we're sticking with our land line for the present. Reliability, no network issues - ever, no power issues - ever, no 9-1-1 issues - ever..

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Mike, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 8:43am

    Former AT&T Internet Attorney says time to go...

    The original poster is suffering from the classic AT&T monopoly entrenched mentality. Somehow... a quarter of a century after the breakup, they still see themselves as a monopoly and therefore not having to service there customers.... being able to offer less service for more money... and being able to get away with stupid decision after stupid decision.

    I am with Vonage and have been since September 2002. It offers a great many more services than the traditional phone company VOIP offerings. for example Simultainious ringing on up to five lines.

    Leave AT&T and give your money to somebody who cares about you.

    Best of luck,
    Mike

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Scott, Apr 14th, 2006 @ 7:25am

    How about SunRocket?

    Does anyone know anything about them? They seem to have the best deal -- $199/year all in.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    m in indy, Aug 21st, 2006 @ 6:12am

    Re: How about SunRocket?

    SuckRocket? I had them for less than a week. I couldn't stand it any more and got my $199 back. Bad reliability (constant, prolonged outages), bad voice quality. You get what you pay for. Their service operators were barely intelligible; when I asked whether they were using SunRocket to talk to me, they said yes. Enough said!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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