• Considering Voice Over Internet (VOIP) for making calls in-country and abroad.

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    #2457857

    I am thinking of trying Voice Over Internet Protocol telephony (*) for making and receiving long-distance calls in my computer, both from within country (the USA in my case) as well as overseas, to Europe Australia or Japan, for example.

    I have some questions about this:

    Which service (e.g. Zoom, etc.) and, or application would be advisable to subscribe and get, as a home user and why?

    Some idea of likely monthly subscription prices?

    What would be a common enough VoIP system for others I might call, or receive calls from to have the same system/application installed?
    Is this necessary or can two parties talk to each other using different VoIP providers and applications?

    Can I use my laptop (see its description below, in my signature panel) own speakers and microphones, or would I need to use some peripheral gadget as well?

    Anything else I might need to know but haven’t asked about?

    Thanks in advance, as usual, for any practical, knowledgeable and helpful answers.

    (*) Some explanation of what is VoIP:

    https://explore.zoom.us/en/what-is-voip-phone/?creative=604246633666&keyword=voip%20phone%20service&matchtype=e&network=g&device=c&zcid=6095&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIg6fx24Tb-AIV-jizAB2vLw7hEAAYASABEgIgG_D_BwE

    https://getvoip.com/ppc/business-voip/?keyword=voip%20phone%20services&network=g&matchtype=e&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2Kjug4bb-AIV8ObjBx3fOw51EAAYASABEgJwLPD_BwE

    A definition of VoIP I found on the Web, somewhere, that I think offers a good short definition of it:

    VoIP phone can look just like a traditional office desk phone. The difference is behind the scenes. Instead of transmitting through a physical pair of copper wires, VoIP utilizes the internet to transmit voice calls, in the form of data packets. VoIP phone systems can also be a software application or app, coined softphone, and not require desk phone hardware.

    Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

    MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
    Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
    macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

    • This topic was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by OscarCP.
    • This topic was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by OscarCP.
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    • #2457898

      We have had VoIP since 2009 from each of our cable providers, and the call quality has been quite decent, and the reliability very solid overall. The few minor hiccups we’ve had (with both providers, each one in a different area of the country) were always solved with a call to the repair desk.

      No special equipment has been required, we’ve always been able to use a regular, wired, telephone or a cordless phone with the base wired to a phone jack in the house.

      The co$t has been around $30/month (27.99 in 2009 to 34.99 now) and has included a wide variety of features that normally cost quite a bit more from a traditional landline service, such as caller ID with name, call forwarding, and junk call blocking via NoMoRobo and our own call blocking list that we can add numbers to when we see fit.

      Our provider in the Eastern US charged only a dime a minute for calls to many European countries, Canada and Mexico when we had them from 2009 to the end of 2011. Our current provider charges quite a bit more for international calls to European countries, but includes unlimited calls to Mexico (landlines, as far as I know) in their monthly rate.

      Although I haven’t taken a formal look at them, there are other services, such as Oomla (I believe) that have much lower rates for service that what I’ve mentioned above. The only requirement they probably have is that you need an internet connection with a certain minimum speed in both the upload and download directions. This type of service seems to be what you’ve already been looking into. IIRC, some of them require dedicated equipment while others let you use a regular phone or other equipment that you can plug into your computer in one way or another.

      I hope this helps begin your exploration of the possibilities of VoIP.

      Full disclosure: We currently have our phone service bundled with our internet and cable service on one bill from our cable provider. Phone service from them without bundling services might be $5-$10 higher per month and/or may require having internet service from them in addition to phone service.

      • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Bob99.
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    • #2457923

      Just use WhatsApp. (almost) Everyone has it. It is free (with your regular Internet plan) for both video and calls.

      • #2457955

        I agree with Alex5723 re: WhatsApp.  It’s the only program that I use for international calls.  From California to various parts of Asia, and from various parts of Asia to California.  It’s what my friends and family and I use to keep in contact with.

    • #2457927

      Or use Skype to call actual phones.

      cheers, Paul

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    • #2457934

      Just use WhatsApp. (almost) Everyone has it. It is free (with your regular Internet plan) for both video and calls.

      Why do you have an iPhone when privacy obviously is not important to you? I would never touch Whatsapp or recommend it to anyone! Nobody who cares about privacy would use a Facebook app (or Facebook for that matter)! Yeah, it is not directly Facebook but is part of Facebook’s ecosystem for some years now.

      Why not just use iMessage (or Facetime with other iPhone users)? Apple is not perfect but I trust it a lot more than other players as Apple has made privacy central for them. I also still have a landline that has had an unlisted and unpublished number for close to 50 years. Even with the Hawaii PUC regulating the landline company in Hawaii the price gets higher and higher just to have a number that is not advertised but it is worth it.

      • #2457935

        I don’t think Alex was suggesting WhatsApp respects your privacy, but it is a much cheaper way to make calls than using your phone – which is the subject in question.

        cheers, Paul

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    • #2458012

      Thanks, Alex and klang for recommending “WhatsApp.” However, I must remark here that I have a laptop, not a cellphone, and that I do need something for making regular, long-distance telephone voice connections over the Internet from my laptop, and definitely not for messaging.

      There is a version of WhatsApp for desktops that, I imagine, works also on laptops running, in my case with a Mac, a current version of macOS, but it is unclear to me how is this to be “included” in my Internet service, or if it is even tolerated by my ISP Verizon.

      So I would greatly appreciate a clarification, particularly on the last point, that is not just about WhatsApp, but any way of implementing VoIP.

      As to Paul T’s suggestion of using Skype: thanks, but I do also wish to make VoIP calls over the Internet to regular telephone numbers elsewhere (if this is possible without paying several $$ per minute), to people that might not have something for teleconferencing such as Skype, or have incompatible software for that.

      For teleconferencing I use “Teams”, the software approved for use within NASA.

      Thanks again.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      • #2458024

        As to Paul T’s suggestion of using Skype: thanks, but I do also wish to make VoIP calls over the Internet to regular telephone numbers elsewhere (if this is possible without paying several $$ per minute), to people that might not have something for teleconferencing such as Skype, or have incompatible software for that.

        If I’m not mistaken, I think Paul said just that in post 2457927 above:

        Or use Skype to call actual phones.

        cheers, Paul

         

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        • #2458034

          Or use Skype to call actual phones.

          Is this “calling actual phones” something one can do also with other applications, besides Skype and, if so, which ones for example?

          Also, please, have a look at the set of questions that I have asked in my previous reply, a bit further up, as such answers can clarify for me certain points on several important things I don’t understand enough yet. Thanks.

          Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

          MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
          Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
          macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      • #2458130

        It seems that the focus of your question is on audio. Long ago I administered two, 24-channel banks for our animation art gallery, with PacBell, before AT&T bought them, so I’ve been around this block many times.

        For several years I used Vonage for my own international biz calls. Europe, Egypt, yadda yadda. I’d used a two-line DECT phone unlike your needs for computer calls. One line was POTS, one line was Vonage VoIP. That was a cheap, mostly reliable setup, and I could take the Vonage modem with me when I traveled inside the US. And I’d forward the POTS line to the Vonage line when I traveled, or vice versa. But eventually I grew tired of Vonage’s unreliable tech support when I encountered problems.

        Just now I found this review of VoIP services. And this more comprehensive one from PC Mag which mentions both residential and biz VoIP companies.

        My own preferences for voice or video communications after many years of use:  I use Zoom for most intercontinental meetings. But I won’t use its ‘telephony’ because it’s extra bucks and I use different audio programs for those things. Its security is acceptable for most of my uses. But I don’t do anything which requires security clearances, and Zoom is like the broad side of a barn, easy to hit with hacker’s, well-aimed rocks.

        The Bose QC 35 Gaming Headset has lovely audio and noise cancellation, and I also use that my talk shows. I sprang for improved ear cushions because the stock ones get uncomfortabl too soon. Instead of using the QC 35’s bundled controller I have it connected to a Havit USB mic stand which has good stereo/decent 7.1 surround sound. I also use the Bose headset on lots of mobile phone calls, because when its boom mic is connected it shuts off the headset’s Bluetooth.

        I stopped using Skype many years ago because it would do so many updates when the program would launch it ended up with updates to its updates, and Microsoft’s hegemonic attitude about wanting it to launch every time you boot a Windows box.

        Teams give me the willies for a variety of reasons and I won’t use it.

        I’ll use WhatsApp once in a while when I’m unconcerned about security and want a quick, easy connection with someone on another continent. India, Singapore, Europe.

        Some of my biz friends and buddies like Facetime, so I use that some.

        And I use Telegram or Signal for many ‘secure’ communications.

        Wire is another collaboration platform, sold as very secure, but have yet to use.

        Finance, social and tech founder. Managing director of new crowd sourced games in pre-release development. Director on a new consortium to bring fractional ownership of heritage antiquities to the blockchain. My planet-wide talk show for people craving new stories by which to live is Casual Saints.
    • #2458132

      There is a version of WhatsApp for desktops that, I imagine, works also on laptops running, in my case with a Mac,

      https://apps.apple.com/us/app/whatsapp-desktop/id1147396723?mt=12

      but it is unclear to me how is this to be “included” in my Internet service, or if it is even tolerated by my ISP Verizon.

      As the app use your Internet connection (VOIP) the calls don’t carry any added cost and usage is part of your Internet plan.

      Regarding Zoom

      Privacy

      Zoom has been criticized for its privacy and corporate data sharing policies, as well as for enabling video hosts to potentially violate the privacy of those participating in their calls.[105][106][107] There may also be issues with unauthorized surveillance of students and possible violations of students’ rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).[108] According to the company, the video services are FERPA-compliant, and it collects and stores user data only for tech support.[108]

      In March 2020, a Motherboard article found that the company’s iOS app was sending device analytics data to Facebook on startup, regardless of whether a Facebook account was being used with the service, and without disclosing it to the user..

      In April 2020, a Zoom information gathering feature was found that automatically sent user names and email addresses to LinkedIn, allowing some participants to surreptitiously access LinkedIn profile data about other users without their express consent..

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    • #2458148

      Several have recommended using “WhatsApp”, but there might have been a misunderstanding, most likely because I have not explained what I am looking for clearly enough.

      I’ve been looking into WhatsApp for Macs “Desktop”, for example here:

      https://osxdaily.com/2021/07/24/how-make-whatsapp-voice-video-calls-mac-pc/

      The latest version allows VoIP and also visual communication, which is nice. But in that article it also says something like this: “Launch WhatsApp desktop on your computer, link your account using your [smart?] phone and set up the client.” There is also a mention of using one’s Facebook account. Unfortunately I have neither smart phone nor Facebook account and no plans to have either.

      So let’s see if this explanation is better:

      I just want to launch some application in the Mac without linking first with anything: just go online automatically through the application, then login into my VoIP account from the keyboard, dial a number, also from the keyboard, then: ring, ring, ring, “Hello”, “Hi, this is Oscar”, “Hi Oscar, what’s up?” and just keep talking mainly with my vocal cords, tongue, teeth and lips, with the Mac’s microphones “on”, and listening to the other party similarly spoken words with my ears, with the Mac’s speakers also on.

      But without paying long distance charges. Just whatever is the cost of buying, renting, using the VoIP software (as long as it is not much)

      And using for this software that does not spy and kidnap the numbers I call, those of my callers, time of the calls, how often I call each number, etc. (As for Fourteen Eyes, Prism, etc, well …) And the company behind the software not being from China, Iran, North Korea and some other countries considered problematic at the moment where I happen to live, in the USA.

      If there is an app for doing that, I would like to know. Thanks.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

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    • #2458172

      If there is an app for doing that, I would like to know

      It’s called Skype. There are others, as a quick search will show.

      cheers, Paul

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      • #2458333

        Paul T: “It’s called Skype. There are others, as a quick search will show.

        No doubt, but what I am to make of the search results?

        I am asking for specific opinions here, to gain some understanding of what can be done. A search for VoIP resources without such understanding is of no use to me right now.

        Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

        • #2458362

          Skype whatsapp wechat messenger etc, mata google ch: what Data-Analytics-Giant do you want to choose from concerning some privacy and malware chances?

          * Is this a fact: "foreignpolicy.com/2022/04/25/the-real-threat-to-social-media-is-europe", Really? * get out of the poisonous Metaverse *
    • #2458216

      I just want to launch some application in the Mac without linking first with anything: just go online automatically through the application, then login into my VoIP account from the keyboard, dial a number, also from the keyboard, then: ring, ring, ring, “Hello”, “Hi, this is Oscar”, “Hi Oscar, what’s up?” and just keep talking mainly with my vocal cords, tongue, teeth and lips,

      I gave you the thanks for the wonderful chuckle you gave me with that 😁. And, I also know that Google Voice offers that capability. I’ve never used it. Because Google is clearly a company who would prefer to track *everything* one does, whether or not its tracking is illicit and without your knowledge. I see Microsoft and Teams in that same pulsing yellow (for caution) hegemonic glow.

      I use a virtual Google Voice number for business calls with people I don’t know, or don’t know well. I just made one to a well-known auction site because I don’t want to give them my private phone number. That could thereby create the potential for them to have my phone number be part of the now all-too-common data thefts and breaches of companies which, are regularly cavalier and careless with their customers’ private information.

      Finance, social and tech founder. Managing director of new crowd sourced games in pre-release development. Director on a new consortium to bring fractional ownership of heritage antiquities to the blockchain. My planet-wide talk show for people craving new stories by which to live is Casual Saints.
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      • #2458221

        Mr Austin, finally you underline this privacy factor splendedly.

        * Is this a fact: "foreignpolicy.com/2022/04/25/the-real-threat-to-social-media-is-europe", Really? * get out of the poisonous Metaverse *
    • #2458270

      The OP wrote …A definition of VoIP I found on the Web, somewhere, that I think offers a good short definition of it:

      “VoIP phone can look just like a traditional office desk phone. The difference is behind the scenes. Instead of transmitting through a physical pair of copper wires, VoIP utilizes the internet to transmit voice calls, in the form of data packets. VoIP phone systems can also be a software application or app, coined softphone, and not require desk phone hardware.“

      I believe that here in Germany, VoIP refers only to the following: “Instead of transmitting through a physical pair of copper wires, VoIP utilizes the internet to transmit voice calls, in the form of data packets.”

      Germany’s biggest phone provider (by far), “Deutsche Telekom”, doesn’t give private customers a choice. Their entire system transferred to VoIP last year – you either accept it or they terminate your contract. I don’t know what they did with corporate clients.

      IMNSHO, despite what the above-mentioned definition claims, considering WhatsApp, Skype, or any other “apps” as VoIP misses the mark. As I see it, the issue is what happens at the point where the provider connects to “the outside world”. If the connection goes to the internet, you’ve got VoIP; if it doesn’t, you don’t …

      Or am I missing something?

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      • #2458283

        vandermeer: “I believe that here in Germany, VoIP refers only to the following: “Instead of transmitting through a physical pair of copper wires, VoIP utilizes the internet to transmit voice calls, in the form of data packets.”

        That is exactly what I’ve had in mind when starting this thread: not doing something beyond communicating, party to party, with (an often long-distance) telephone call, except that over the Internet and at much reduced charges, ideally zero dollars per minute, otherwise as in a regular telephone call over wires and exchanges.

        And if at all possible, not through some company’s servers in “the Cloud.”

        If what you have described, unlike in Germany, is not available here in the USA (something I don’t know), then let it be servers, etc., but something with a good reputation of protecting its users’ privacy.

        Thanks for your clarifying comment.

        Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

        • #2458293

          And if at all possible, not through some company’s servers in “the Cloud.”

          How do you propose sending your internet voice data packets around the world if not via some company’s cloud servers?

          Windows 11 Pro version 22H2 build 22621.382 (group ASAP) + Microsoft 365

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        • #2458332

          Please, have a look at vandermeer’s comment, just the second one above yours.

          Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

          MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
          Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
          macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

        • #2458380

          Please, have a look at vandermeer’s comment, just the second one above yours.

          I had already seen that. What’s your point?

          Windows 11 Pro version 22H2 build 22621.382 (group ASAP) + Microsoft 365

        • #2458407

          And if at all possible, not through some company’s servers in “the Cloud.”

          I spend many years setting up VoIP services for both businesses and personal use and it’s impossible to use it without doing exactly that!

          Here’s how VoIP works if you’ve calling someone who’s using the same VoIP service as you.

          You dial the digits of the number you want to call and they get converted into data packets and sent to the nearest server in “the cloud” and it does a look up to figure out exactly how to route the connection to where it needs to go.

          That server connects with the nearest server in “the cloud” to the destination you’re calling and it does a look up to find exactly which device it needs to route the packets to and sends them to that device which will cause it to start ringing.

          Once the party at the other ends picks up, both of those servers must monitor the packs going back & forth in order to ensure the connection remains live.

          Once one of the parties hangs up, the servers stop monitoring the packets, drop the connection, and store “at the very minimum” the following info in their call database:

               Source phone#/device
               Destination phone#/device
               Length of connection

          If the call is to/from “different” VoIP providers or to/from a VoIP device to a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) phone, it’ll involve even more servers in “the cloud” to complete it and each and every one of them will store a record of it.

          BTW, this isn’t something new, it’s exactly how POTS to POTS calls have always worked!

          The difference is, before the internet and VoIP, everything was analog.

          The DTF tones you heard when pressing the keys on a phone (or the pulses you heard if using a “rotary dial“) were the data and it required actual physical copper wiring to connect a phone to any other phone.

          Now it all gets converted into data packets that get routed over the internet from source to destination, but the “process” of how it’s done is still basically the same.

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    • #2458295

      “… not doing something beyond communicating, party to party, with (an often long-distance) telephone call, except that over the Internet and at much reduced charges, ideally zero dollars per minute, otherwise as in a regular telephone call over wires and exchanges.”

      But you’ll still have to shell out to the provider for the basic service.

      We pay about 45 euros per month for flatrate internet (100KB download/40kb upload) and flatrate telephone inside Germany to landlines.

      I have a 4 euro/mo. add-on for a flatrate to the US and Canada (landline and cell) and all of Western Europe (landline only).

      For the rest of my phone and sms needs, I use my cell phone and WhatsApp.

      There’s no free lunch.
      🙁

      • #2458300

        Vandermeer: “But you’ll still have to shell out to the provider for the basic service.

        Of course, I pay every month a fixed amount to my Internet Service Provider for providing me with a general access to the Internet. That is, for example, why I can log in to AskWoody and make a comment such as this one I am typing here, right now. But I don’t have to pay just to do this, every time I do it.

        What I am concerned about is any additional charges from anybody for using VoIP to make every single long-distance phone call, as I would incur if using a regular telephone service to make the same call.

        (Ant differently from paying to buy an application to do this and, or a fixed monthly amount, while subscribing to a service such as, for example, Skype.)

        Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

        • #2458337

          [Vandermeer: “But you’ll still have to shell out to the provider for the basic service. ” ]
          True.
          Generaly there are 4 technical ‘tastes’ of voip (+video if one wants).
          For me the simplest version is using a (cheap) smartphone with wifi-internet or gsm-data-internet connection.
          Connecting with the easiest way always has the greater risk of privacy and malbehaviour.
          For the voice (+video) I only trust to be careful with my privacy (and security). The rest of the companies are too close to the DataAnalytics Companies (everywhere as in USA EU RU CH BR etc).

          * Is this a fact: "foreignpolicy.com/2022/04/25/the-real-threat-to-social-media-is-europe", Really? * get out of the poisonous Metaverse *
        • #2458371

          “… The rest of the companies are too close to the DataAnalytics Companies (everywhere as in USA EU RU CH BR etc).”

          So what countries are left? 😉

          I don’t particularly like or trust WhatsApp, and I’m not on Facebook or any other social media at all, but at some point one has to swim with the fish. About ninety percent of my regular contacts use WhatsApp, and given that ‘convenience’ also has a price, I’ve bit the bullet.

          A lot of the people here and elsewhere have (and with good reason I confess) have what I’d term exaggerated privacy concerns. I’d say I ultimately have to take responsibility for what happens to my computers. Yes, s–t definitely happens, but that’s a very uncomfortable fact of life.

          I’m careful to only communicate with my terrorist friends using smoke signals from my balcony. I’ve never had a response to any of my messages, but upside is, that system has never been hacked. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • #2458395

          Your country is the third (of 3) in the EU that has rather a good tracking history, legislation and reputation to hold on. So the data-analytic companies will be restricted much further in the EU and Australia, and I think that’s good for privacy and democracy.
          These are just cold facts, and have nothing to do with politics or religion; just to make shure of that.

          “I’d say I ultimately have to take responsibility for what happens to my computers.”
          Is it good to be that confident that what happens to your digital tracks is only your’s well or not-well doing?
          History of the last decade all over the world proves differently.
          How can you be shure never been broken into, or not being part of a bot-net? , when there is only one way you can be shure of that.
          (When you use smoke in communicating with your z_friends, and wishing the support of the Almighty Lord in Arabdialects (or whatever); do you know what tracking algorithms are triggerd?

          Just to conclude, there is hardware and there are companies (statewise or privately driven) that do guarantee the most in private and security connections, voip too.
          All at a cost, as you mentioned earlier.

          * Is this a fact: "foreignpolicy.com/2022/04/25/the-real-threat-to-social-media-is-europe", Really? * get out of the poisonous Metaverse *
        • #2458369

          “… any additional charges from anybody for using VoIP to make every single long-distance phone call”

          In this regard, I guess it depends on your contract with the provider. For us, the difference between VoIP and POTS is in the technology and not (necessarily) the financials. Our VoIP contract with Deutsche Telekom costs the same as the now defunct POTS system.

    • #2458446

      Anything else I might need to know but haven’t asked about? Thanks in advance, as usual, for any practical, knowledgeable and helpful answers.

      Oscar, I have used a 3rd party VoIP service at home for over 10 years, and have been involved for many years in the conversion of my company’s enterprise internal phone systems from legacy POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) to a new state of the art VoIP phone system, with a national footprint.

      As many others here have already provided a plethora of good info about VoIP, I will list a few concise points that may otherwise get lost in the dust.

      1. Most voice communications today are converted to packets, and IP is the most cost effective and efficient way to transmit those packets anywhere, worldwide.
      2. If you are using a digital phone bundle from your ISP, that would be utilizing VoIP under the hood.
      3. Your VoIP service is virtually connected to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), so that any phone number in the world can be dialed using a VoIP phone, in a similar manner that traditional land lines do it. The PSTN does all the necessary VoIP -> POTS or POTS -> VoIP conversions in the background as needed.
      4. IP telephony does not require both parties being connected to be using the same app or platform. A VoIP phone can call a land line number and the PSTN delivers the call to the land line. The voice connection is set up automatically by the technology that telecom carriers are hooked together with.
    • #2458484

      JohnW and others wanting to help me out with this:

      What I am looking for, after assimilating your previous advice, concretely is the following:

      (1) To use my computer (a Mac laptop, as described below this reply), especifically my laptop’s microphones and speakers, to setup and receive, primarily, laptop-to-landline and vice versa, long-distance calls, including international ones, same as with a landline telephone voice (so no texting) connection. I intend to do this, not as part of, or for a company, but as an individual “home” user. There has to be a Voicemail service included in the VoIP one.

      (2) The party I call, or who calls me, does not need to have software to receive my calls or to call me, just to use a regular landline telephone. No cellphone to be used, on my side; my calling someone’s cellphone would be OK, for short/urgent exchanges.

      (3) I have found, so far, two VoIP providers: Skype and Google Voice, that would seem to allow doing (1) and (2), either entirely, or mostly, at prices per minute, to the countries I am likely to make long-distance calls, that are fairly inexpensive, whether the numbers are those of landlines or cellphones.

      Mentioning Google-anything usually freaks out some people, but never mind: objective, non freaking opinions on these two choices, as well as suggestions of other providers of the kind of service outlined in (1) – (2) are welcome.

      My thanks, again, to all that have taken the time and trouble to make recommendations so far.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      • #2458534

        Pardon me for stepping into this discussion a bit late. I thought I might provide a correction to your interpretation of what Google Voice is and/or what it does. I, of course, may have misinterpreted something along the way or am just flat out wrong about how GVoice works but here’s my thinking.

        I’ve used GVoice for a number of years now to make free long distance (US) (and now, even local) calls and the way I’ve always made the calls is to first log in to my GVoice account (very similar to how I log into a Gmail account, in fact, I’m actually logging into a version of Gmail, but I digress). Once in the GVoice account, I go to my personal listing of people and phone numbers and select one or I can use the on-screen “telephone key pad” to dial a phone number. I then choose which of my phones I want to “call from” (I only have one landline, but one could have multiple phones — landlines, cell phones, VOIP lines — associated with the account) and start the call. GVoice begins the call by ringing the phone you said you wanted to call from (my one landline in my case) and I pick up my phone. Once I pick up my phone, the call goes through from my landline phone to the cell phone or landline phone I wanted to call. In other words, GVoice sets up the call then transfers the call itself over to the switched network. As far as I can tell, at least in the case of my physical landline, there is no VOIP involved (unless it’s at the called end because the number I called happens to terminate in a VOIP phone line).

        There is voice mail available for people who call you. In fact, you could choose to have specific people calling your GVoice number transferred to any one of however many phones you have associated with your GVoice account. The voice mail message can be transcribed to text and emailed to you as well.

        When you set up the GVoice account, you get to choose the phone number from a list of available numbers to associate with the account. Many years ago when I set mine up, I could also choose what area code I wanted as well.

        Overall, I am very happy with GVoice for what I personally need it for. Your mileage, as the saying goes, blah blah blah.

        Privacy issues are a discussion unto themselves and Google’s association with GVoice (and Gmail as well, for that matter) are personal issues which I leave for you to work out.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2458533

      JohnW and others wanting to help me out with this: What I am looking for, after assimilating your previous advice, concretely is the following: (1) To use my computer (a Mac laptop, as described below this reply), especifically my laptop’s microphones and speakers, to setup and receive, primarily, laptop-to-landline and vice versa, long-distance calls, including international ones, same as with a landline telephone voice (so no texting) connection. I intend to do this, not as part of, or for a company, but as an individual “home” user. There has to be a Voicemail service included in the VoIP one.

      Oscar, Aha! Apologies! I did not initially understand your requirement was to connect from your computer as your communication endpoint.

      That is a reasonable request, but unfortunately I have no experience with that for residential and/or consumer use beyond my previous employer’s use of MS Skype for business, and/or the use of Cisco IP Communicator, an enterprise based solution (Cisco IP Communicator is a desktop application that turns your computer into a full-featured Cisco Unified IP Phone).

      I was able to access both services using my work laptop from home, but this required access to the corporate enterprise VPN to connect.

      For personal home VoIP service I use a 3rd party hardware based solution that plugs into my router via Ethernet. That device then connects to the 3rd party provider’s VoIP servers and is my gateway to the world. I can connect at home to that device with RJ11 jacks to old school analog landlines, wireless base stations, and also the provider’s proprietary wireless connected office phones and portable handsets. I ported my AT&T landline to this service over 10 years ago, and have saved thousands $$$. No looking back! 🙂

      Hope that you find a functional computer based solution. If I can think of anything else, I will share it here.

    • #2458543

      When you set up the GVoice account, you get to choose the phone number from a list of available numbers to associate with the account. Many years ago when I set mine up, I could also choose what area code I wanted as well.

      Great idea! I didn’t mention that to Oscar as I had forgotten about the web based Google Voice portal that can be accessed from a computer desktop via a browser.

      I use the Google Voice app from my mobile phone.

      Background: I had ported my existing mobile number over to Google Voice (one time fee) from my Verizon account many years ago when I had tired of paying Verizon their ridiculous monthly plan charges. So now all of my incoming mobile calls go to Google Voice and their voicemail and/or are directed to the unpublished number for my current cheapo pre-paid (burner phone) mobile plan.

      Since you can get a new number from Google Voice for free, I only paid to port my old mobile number because that number was the only way many folks knew how to reach me. So no interruption of service for my former contacts! 🙂

      The mobile Google Voice app lets you place or receive calls using Google Voice via the internet (especially handy if you are connected to Wi-Fi), so no minutes are deducted from your mobile plan. The same features appear to work with the desktop browser portal for Google Voice, but I’m not really as familiar with that aspect of it as you are.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2458560

        Ooooooooooo! This is an interesting concept. Using GVoice to make WiFi calls using a (cheap) prepaid plan as the foundation for a cell phone. It has the attention of my frugal nature!

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2458546

      owburp and JohnW: Thanks for your replies. Having read them both, now I need some clarification on the following points:

      owburp:

      GVoice begins the call by ringing the phone you said you wanted to call from (my one landline in my case) and I pick up my phone. Once I pick up my phone, the call goes through from my landline phone to the cell phone or landline phone I wanted to call. In other words, GVoice sets up the call then transfers the call itself over to the switched network. As far as I can tell, at least in the case of my physical landline, there is no VOIP involved (unless it’s at the called end because the number I called happens to terminate in a VOIP phone line).

      If there is “no VoIP involved, unless it’s at the called end [i.e. when the party I am calling uses VoPI]”, then doesn’t this mean that I have to pay to my telephone provider whose switched connection exchange and over whose wires I am making the call, at its usual rate of so many $$ per minute?

      If that is the case, then what is the difference between using *Google Voice* and making calls without a VoIP service, by just picking up the handset of my landline telephone, dialing the number of whom I want to speak with and, after this person (or someone close to the person’s telephone) answers, talking for as long as necessary and then paying so many $$ per minute for the long-distance call to my telephone company? Given that avoiding exactly that is the main point of my interest in using VoIP?

      JohnW:

      The mobile Google Voice app lets you place or receive calls using Google Voice via the internet (especially handy if you are connected to Wi-Fi), so no minutes are deducted from your mobile plan. The same features appear to work with the desktop browser portal for Google Voice, but I’m not really as familiar with that aspect of it as you are.

      This seems to contradict the above quoted passage from owburp. Also, I do not make long-distance calls using a cellphone, smart or otherwise and this still would be the case if I were using VoPI.

      To repeat, for further clarification, part on an earlier exchange here:

      vandermeer: “I believe that here in Germany, VoIP refers only to the following: “Instead of transmitting through a physical pair of copper wires, VoIP utilizes the internet to transmit voice calls, in the form of data packets.

      OscarCP: “That is exactly what I’ve had in mind when starting this thread: not doing something beyond communicating, party to party, with (an often long-distance) telephone call, except that over the Internet and at much reduced charges, ideally zero dollars per minute, otherwise as in a regular telephone call over wires and exchanges.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      • #2458549

        Google Voice is a VoIP service from the user’s end. You connect to it via your internet service, using a desktop or laptop computer, or a mobile phone.

        It makes the connection to your called party via the public switched phone network using its servers and telephony infrastructure.

        I’m a bit unclear on the part where owburp stated it called his local landline in order to connect the call. That is entirely possible as Google Voice could make local landline connections at both ends, while carrying the call in between over VoIP infrastructure.

        I just logged into Google Voice from my desktop browser and placed a call to my home landline. The browser portal used my computer speakers and microphone.  After I dialed the number from the onscreen keypad, the call rang thru to my landline (as the far-end called number, not the originator as in owburp’s example). So yes, there is a soft phone client integrated with the Google Voice portal. It ain’t purty, but it works well! 🙂

        • #2458551

          It makes the connection to your called party via the public switched phone network using its servers and telephony infrastructure.”

          This is precisely what is both important and unclear to me: if I am connected over the usual telephone lines, should I not have to pay to the owner of those lines (Verizon, in my case) as if I were making a regular, old-school long-distance phone call from my landline?

          I so very much and so fervently hope that if I ever make a VoPI call, this goes over the Internet, not over wires and exchanges that are subject to steep toll fees: the expensive long-distance charges piling up by-the-minute during the call.

          Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

          MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
          Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
          macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

    • #2458552

      This is precisely what is both important and unclear to me: if I am connected over the usual telephone lines, should I not have to pay to the owner of those lines (Verizon, in my case) as if I were making a regular, old-school long-distance phone call from my landline?

      No, it’s clearly just going over the internet from your perspective, no telephone lines as far as you are concerned. Google is subsidizing all of the infrastructure required to complete the call mostly end-to-end, except for the “last mile” at each end.

      You are paying for your internet connection, so that is all you need for your “mile”. Your IP telephony packets will flow over your existing internet connection, and Google knows where to send them.

      The party at the other end may be paying for local phone lines to receive your calls over their “mile”, but that’s not your responsibility.

      *Last mile: The last mile describes the short geographical segment of delivery of services.

      In communications, the last mile is the relatively expensive and complex delivery of cables or wiring from the provider’s backbone to one’s home.

       

    • #2458554

      Here is a guide for Google voice, how it works and how to set it up.

      I noticed one catch in the process though, is that you apparently will need an existing phone number that you can use to verify your account from and claim your new Google Voice phone number.

      https://www.tomsguide.com/news/how-does-google-voice-work

      1. Go to voice.google.com, click the Get Google Voice button, and log in to your Google account.

      2. You can sign up on your iPhone or Android device, but for the purposes of this walkthrough, let’s opt for the Web sign-up.

      3. Once you accept the terms and service, click Continue to get to the page where you can find or choose a phone number.

      4. On the list of options, choose Select when you’ve found your winner and move on to verify your existing number.

      5. On this pane, you need to verify with Google that you have an existing number. Be aware that the number you input here will be the initial line you’ll use for call forwarding from Google Voice to the number.

      6. Once you click the Verify button and input your phone number, Google will text you a code you need to input into Google Voice. Get that code and input it here. Click Verify.

      7. Once your phone number has been verified, Google requires you to tap Claim to officially take control over the number. Do that and you’ll be all set.

    • #2458555

      One of the great things about Google Voice is that it’s extremely affordable. It’s a free service to sign up for, and as long as you use it to communicate between your Google Voice number and other U.S. numbers, it’s totally free to place calls and send text messages.

      When you want to place calls overseas, you’ll need to add credits to your account to pay for service. In most cases, however, the fees are minimal and just a couple cents per minute.

      https://voice.google.com/rates

    • #2458556
    • #2458557

      JohnW: “You are paying for your internet connection, so that is all you need for your “mile”.

      Thanks!

      If understand this correctly, then with VoIP as provided by Google Voice (or Skype?) I pay for my “last mile” when paying the monthly subscription fee to my ISP, and nothing more — besides an equally fixed subscription fee to the VoIP provider.
      As my Internet service is neither metered nor capped to a maximum of bits per month, I don’t pay my ISP every time I use the Internet, but pay instead a fixed amount per month to my ISP to use the Internet in any way I choose, for as long as I choose, during that month.
      Exactly the same as I don’t have to pay for the actual time I use a browser to access a Web site, such as AskWoody right now, be the site in my own town, or somewhere in Japan.

      Am I right?

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      • #2458558

        Oscar, that sound right.

        The caveats are that free calls are to US, Canada, & Puerto Rico (and Google Voice is only available to US customers at this time) and other overseas calls are billable by the minute.

    • #2458559

      Oscar: “… doesn’t this mean that I have to pay to my telephone provider whose switched connection exchange and over whose wires I am making the call …?”

      Well, let me ask you a question … If someone calls YOU on your landline (I believe this is different for cell service), do YOU have to pay anything for that call? I’ve never paid for a call that someone made to my landline. After you set up the GVoice call on your computer, GVoice CALLS YOU to begin setting up the call. In other words, technically speaking YOU did not call anyone — GVoice called you and then set up the call whereby GVoice ALSO called the phone number you directed it to. Another way of putting it is that neither you nor the person you wanted to speak to ever made the call — GVoice made the call in BOTH directions!

      JohnW: “I’m a bit unclear on the part where owburp stated it called his local landline in order to connect the call. That is entirely possible as Google Voice could make local landline connections at both ends, while carrying the call in between over VoIP infrastructure.

      “I just logged into Google Voice from my desktop browser and placed a call to my home landline.”

      Try placing the call the OTHER way around. In other words, place the “outgoing” call from your LANDLINE to your cell phone. Assuming you have your landline associated with GVoice, telling GVoice to call from your landline causes GVoice to ring your landline phone to begin the call. On paper, you are calling from your landline but what is actually happening for billing purposes is that you RECEIVED a call on your landline from GVoice (which then, in turn, placed a second call to the number you directed GVoice to call). Since both you and the person you wanted to speak to are BOTH technically RECEIVING a call, neither of you are charged for it (unless the person you told GVoice to call happens to be on a cell phone that is normally charged for incoming calls).

       

    • #2458561

      Having gone over the way Google Voice works, and thanks for your explanations and for those  further ones in those Websites JohnW has provided the links to, I have one more question about something still unclear:

      Let’s say that, following the procedure explained in one of those URL-linked sites, I choose one number where to receive calls, from a series of Google numbers available to my area code. OK, that is the number where I will have calls sent to me. Right? But then, it seems, I also have to enter a second number, the one I “verify”, where the calls are going to be forwarded, for example my landline number (?)

      But what if I want to make and receive calls only from my laptop?

      (With my landline or my cellphone as alternatives, some select callers will know where else to call me if they make repeated attempts to speak with me and I don’t answer, for example because either the Mac, myself, or both, being under the weather or away on vacation — myself, not the Mac.)

      And in such a case, can I also have those unanswered calls received when the laptop is not in use, forwarded to some kind of voicemail service provided by Google Voice, where I can listen to them later, just as I can do it now with my landline service?

      Because I only want to use VoIP for making long-distance calls more cheaply to phone numbers in the USA and abroad than from my landline. (And also for receiving such calls from others, that shouldn’t cost me a  thing, because the cost of making each one of those would be on my callers.)

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      • #2458565

        “… Let’s say that, following the procedure explained in one of those URL-linked sites, I choose one number where to receive calls, from a series of Google numbers available to my area code. OK, that is the number where I will have calls sent to me. Right?”

        ACK! Thank you for asking that question. I neglected to fully explain what I meant earlier about “selecting a number” to assign to your GVoice account. That phone number in question — the one you are selecting from a list of numbers that GVoice has available for new accounts — will become your GVoice phone number. It’s the number you will give out to those people who will be calling you on GVoice; it is also the number that will appear on the CallerID of the phones you call (ie: have GVoice call for you).

        Your existing landline number and any cell phone numbers that you own, really ANY numbers you choose to associate with GVoice will not change (unless you specifically do what JohnW did and pay to port the number to GVoice). Any one who has your current/existing phone number(s) and who call you on those numbers will be calling independently of GVoice. If you use GVoice to call them, the phone number you selected off the list when you signed up for GVoice is the number that will appear on their CallerID. If they choose to do a redial from that call, they will be calling you via GVoice (but if they go instead to the contacts and phone numbers listing in their phones and dial you from the listing you gave them pre-GVoice, then they will be calling you independently of GVoice).

        Hope that’s a bit clearer.

        “But what if I want to make and receive calls only from my laptop?”

        Hold on. With GVoice, you are NOT RECEIVING any calls on your laptop. All GVoice calls come to the PHONE that you designate as the terminating device for that particular caller (ie: you have the ability to route specific callers to specific devices, so, eg: you can have all business calls directed to your business cell phone, all family calls to your landline, and certain friends to your personal cell phone, etc). But, as far as I know, none of the calls will be answered via your computer, desktop or laptop.

        “… can I also have those unanswered calls received when the laptop is not in use, forwarded to some kind of voicemail service provided by Google Voice, where I can listen to them later, just as I can do it now with my landline service?”

        Yes, unanswered calls can go to the voicemail box provided by GVoice (with, of course, your customized greeting message).

        “… I only want to use VoIP for making long-distance calls more cheaply to phone numbers in the USA and abroad than from my landline.”

        The ONLY thing you will pay for with GVoice is International calls. Calls to Canada (and Mexico too, I believe) are also free. If your cell phone plan requires you to pay for incoming calls, then I believe you will continue to pay for those GVoice calls terminating on your cell phone.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2458566

      “But what if I want to make and receive calls only from my laptop?”

      With GVoice, you are NOT RECEIVING any calls on your laptop. All GVoice calls come to the PHONE that you designate as the terminating device […snipped…] as far as I know, none of the calls will be answered via your computer, desktop or laptop.

      GV calls come to both devices. I regularly make and receive calls on both my computer and my smartphone.

      The caveat, of course, is GV must be open in a tab in your browser in order for it to receive a call. That, and of course you must have a mic and some kind of speakers on the computer — usually not an issue with a laptop, but worth noting if you use a desktop, which ordinarily doesn’t have a mic.

      If GV isn’t open on the computer, incoming calls ring only on my smartphone. If GV is open in a browser tab, calls ring on both my phone and the computer, and I can answer on either device.

      You’ll get much better sound quality with a headset (I use a USB headset on my desktop), rather than using a laptop’s built-in mic and speakers, but the built-in devices will work adequately if that’s all you’ve got.

      I should also point out that I use GV slightly differently than what owburp describes. He’s describing the capability of forwarding GV to any phone — even a landline. However, if you have a smartphone you don’t need to “forward” GV to your smartphone number, you simply install the GV app and now your smartphone makes/receives calls on both numbers — use your phone’s dialer to make calls from your carrier number, or use the GV app’s dialer to make calls from your GV number.

      My daughter travels internationally about 4-6 months of the year, and while she’s out of the country she connects her laptop to whatever wifi is available to her, and calls friends and family in the US for free. Her GV number is a US number, so regardless of where she actually is in the world, it’s treated as a US-to-US call. And, as others have pointed out, it doesn’t matter if she’s calling a landline, a cellphone, or another GV number.

       

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2458572

        Excellent info, dg!! I have no cell phone and have never thought to use a computer for the calls themselves. This is the great thing about AskWoody — always something new to learn!!

    • #2458575

      Thanks! Your replies have been a little bumpy, but I think that after reading them slowly, I finally got the idea:

      I have to chose a Google Voice phone number for my area code, to be the call number of (in my case) the Mac laptop, where people will receive calls from and, if they so choose, can call me back.

      There is a Voicemail where people can leave messages.

      The second phone number I enter, with the “verification” code, etc, is the number of a “real” phone, for example my landline phone.

      When people call me at the Mac’s number, I get both a ringing of some sort in the Mac and the usual ringing, simultaneously, in the landline if I have chosen its number as the second one.

      I can then choose to answer either with the Mac, or with my landline  slim “Princess” phone I bought from Radio Shack around 2004.

      If answering with the Mac, I could use a plug-in USB landline-type handset, but can manage without one, using the built-in microphones and speakers instead.

      Good to know!

      Now all those that have been waiting to warn me NOT to use Google Voice, because it is from Google, please go ahead.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      • #2458586

        One obstacle that you might likely encounter will be that verification phone number. Lately, it seems that Google is not interested in landline numbers; it wants (demands) a cell number in order to text you the verification code. I have found it to be a hassle lately to register for new Gmail addresses because I don’t have a cell phone. I’ve even had trouble a while back trying to use the GVoice number as the verification phone even though it has texting capability.

        And here’s my personal take on whether or not to use a Google product because it’s from Google — Over the years, I have found GVoice and Gmail to be really useful products. So useful that I am willing to allow the privacy thing to slide. Now, I happen to be one who is careful, maybe even anal, about privacy, but these products speak for themselves and I have found them to be worthwhile enough to continue using them. It might be different if I were to find equivalent products with the same or better quality. Right now, it’s an easy decision for me to continue using these two Google products.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2458587

          owburp: “Lately, it seems that Google is not interested in landline numbers; it wants (demands) a cell number in order to text you the verification code.

          According to:

          https://www.makeuseof.com/what-is-google-voice-and-how-it-works/

          In “step 7” you can receive the code as text or choose to receive it “by phone.” The latter usually means that you’ll get a voice call to a landline or cellphone from a robot with a nice voice and good manners that will tell you the code number, offering to repeat it in case you did not get it quite right the first time.

          Or am I being too optimistic here?

          Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

          MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
          Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
          macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

    • #2458627

      GV calls come to both devices. I regularly make and receive calls on both my computer and my smartphone. The caveat, of course, is GV must be open in a tab in your browser in order for it to receive a call. That, and of course you must have a mic and some kind of speakers on the computer — usually not an issue with a laptop, but worth noting if you use a desktop, which ordinarily doesn’t have a mic. If GV isn’t open on the computer, incoming calls ring only on my smartphone. If GV is open in a browser tab, calls ring on both my phone and the computer, and I can answer on either device.

      I can also confirm this as true (for Oscar) that the incoming calls to your GV number can be answered on the GV web device (browser) using your computer and speakers, but only if you are signed in from the web, AND you have selected the option in Google Voice > Settings Account > Calls >

      My devices

      Turn on the devices you want to answer calls on
      > Web

      I had that option turned off, and wondered why I was not getting an incoming call alert in my web browser, even though I was logged into GV. So I did a little exploring, and found this item! Nice! 🙂

      • #2458711

        JohnW: Thanks. I’ll keep your advice in mind, in case it becomes necessary to get an external handset for the Mac.

        The problems described (echoes, etc.) tend to be present also in my landline long-distance, outside-the-country calls, but even so, are tolerable as the things spoken by both parties get through clearly enough.

        Correction: this answer was meant for JohnW next comment, not this one.

        Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

    • #2458631

      If answering with the Mac, I could use a plug-in USB landline-type handset, but can manage without one, using the built-in microphones and speakers instead.

      You could get by with your computer speakers and mic, but you likely will not be impressed with the call quality, i.e., feedback, echoes, ambient room noise, etc.

      I highly recommend at least a USB headset connected to your computer for these computer based VoIP calls. For example, I have a Jabra Evolve 40 professional wired headset (USB), and it has worked fine for me with my work-at-home laptop. The call quality is decent, and the headset speakers don’t get picked up by the mic. And you can adjust the levels for each in the computer’s audio applet for comfortable listening levels. $87 at current Amazon pricing, discounted 31% from MSRP of $127.

      https://www.jabra.com/business/office-headsets/jabra-evolve/jabra-evolve-40##6393-829-289

      It is wired, and that cord length can be annoying if you want to stand up or move around during a long call. There are of course wireless models available that can allow more freedom of movement. For example, the Jabra Evolve 65 is Bluetooth wireless with 30 meter range, but is $200+ which is a bit more $$ for the convenience.

      https://www.jabra.com/business/office-headsets/jabra-evolve/jabra-evolve-65##6599-823-309

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2458634

      In “step 7” you can receive the code as text or choose to receive it “by phone.” The latter usually means that you’ll get a voice call to a landline or cellphone from a robot with a nice voice and good manners that will tell you the code number, offering to repeat it in case you did not get it quite right the first time. Or am I being too optimistic here?

      All I can say is to give it a try in order to find out! It’s free! 🙂

      Though in all seriousness, it has been many years since I signed up, so my memory of those details is a bit fuzzy. And Google may have even changed a few things with sign-ups since then…

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2458638

      And here’s my personal take on whether or not to use a Google product because it’s from Google — Over the years, I have found GVoice and Gmail to be really useful products. So useful that I am willing to allow the privacy thing to slide. Now, I happen to be one who is careful, maybe even anal, about privacy, but these products speak for themselves and I have found them to be worthwhile enough to continue using them.

      I am in the same boat. I figure that Google knows all about me by now, and I’m never going to change that fact!

      As long as I keep as far away as possible from that other devil, Microsoft, I’ll be fine! Local account only, Semper Fi!!! 🙂

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2458750

        “As long as I keep as far away as possible from that other devil, Microsoft, I’ll be fine!”

        +1
        I’ve sworn off all Microsoft products (including their Skype product, Oscar). ’nuff said; anything else and I’d get banned for MS-bashing.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2458646

      The ONLY thing you will pay for with GVoice is International calls. Calls to Canada (and Mexico too, I believe) are also free.

      The published Google international calling rates can be found here >

      https://voice.google.com/rates

      Mexico is $0.01 per minute, except for Mexico – Mobile, which is $0.02 per minute.

       

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2458723

      One of the other VoIP-capable systems mentioned more than once here is Skype.

      I just looked into it:

      https://www.skype.com/en/international-calls/

      According to this article, one has to pay a separate, repeating monthly fee for each country one intends to make VoIP calls to, each costing around US$ 10, or one a slightly more expensive, with a “World” destination to a large number of countries, with some total call time caps depending on what cap one chooses to have.

      As I cannot be sure of which people I’ve been calling at any given time, where, or for how long, I would have to choose this somewhat more expensive “World” version, with the higher call minute’s cap as the total calling time in every given month would be unpredictable.

      Also it is not clear from what I have read if one has to call someone who also has to have Skype up and running to receive the call.

      Based on the above, my conclusion is: Skype? So far, probably Not.

      Other possibilities have been mentioned here. Some of these, from people that used them years ago, and others still using the ones they recommend. I’ll look on the latter first.

      More advice and different recommendations are always welcome.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

    • #2458732

      More advice and different recommendations are always welcome.

      Hey Oscar, I deferred mentioning my primary home VoIP service in this thread, because it uses a hardware device connected to an internet router rather than a personal computer, as you had requested. But I may as well lay it out here briefly for consideration, as it has completely replaced my home land line. The residential VoIP service that I use is Ooma, and I have been using it trouble-free for over 10 years.

      In fact, no computer is required. But you can access your Ooma account via a web portal and review your call logs, or play you voicemail, as well as setup various Ooma calling options.

      Only your internet bandwidth and AC power are required, and an active Ooma account.

      You can attach traditional analog telephone handsets to the Ooma base, called a Telo, including cordless DECT base stations, your household phone wiring, (so that any phone jack in your home can have VoIP access), or the proprietary Ooma digital desktop office phones and/or cordless handsets that pair with the system wirelessly.

      There are 2 tiers of Ooma service available once you purchase the Ooma Telo unit, $99.99 Ooma direct, or $79.99 from Amazon or Best Buy. https://www.ooma.com/telo/

      The 1st level is the free Basic plan included with the Ooma Telo purchase: unlimited US calling and a local phone number + voicemail + 911 calling (not available on Google voice), and you will be billed only for the standard monthly communication taxes and fees (FCC and local). Same additional taxes and fees as you would get on any phone bill from any carrier. For me that runs between $5 – $6 per month. But no monthly phone service charges! https://www.ooma.com/home-phone-service/basic/

      Make international calls starting at 1.4 cents per minute, or choose the Ooma World Plan and call over 60 countries for only $17.99 a month plus applicable taxes and fees. https://www.ooma.com/home-phone-service/international-plans/

      The 2nd level is Ooma Premier for $9.99 per month:  In addition to the Basic features, you get expanded call blocking, a free 2nd number, call forwarding, 3-way calling, voicemail to email forwarding, free calling to Canada and Mexico. And other features listed here: https://www.ooma.com/home-phone-service/premier/

      Ooma accessories: Handsets, 2-line Home Office Phone, LTE adapter, Battery backup. https://www.ooma.com/home-phone-service/accessories/

      Ooma FAQ: https://www.ooma.com/faqs/

      Q: Do the people I call need to own an Ooma device for the calls to be free?

      A: Nope. Unlike some other services, Ooma lets you call anyone, at any number, anywhere in the U.S. without charge.

      Q: Do I need to leave my computer on to use Ooma?

      A: No, Ooma is a standalone, low-power, always-on device that works independently of your computer. This saves you from the hassle of installing anything on your computer and from having to leave your computer turned on to make and receive calls. That alone could save you up to $20 per month in energy costs!

       

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2458768

        JohnW: I remember hearing and reading about Ooma some years ago. It looks like an OK option from what I now seem to remember and from reading the descriptions in those articles you gave their URL.

        Two things I am not clear about after reading that is this:

        It says somewhere there that, for added security, Ooma encrypts the transmissions. If it does that and I call someone’s ordinary landline telephone or cellphone, how can that person understand my encrypted call?

        Also, sometime, one’s calls to some cellphones are charged to the caller (what is known as “calling party pays”). How would that work with Ooma? Or with other services, such as Google Voice, for that matter?

        Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

        • #2458844

          Oscar, good questions!

          1. Encryption: The way that would have to work is that the call could be encrypted from your local Ooma device, and across the Ooma cloud, but then it would have top be un-encrypted before handoff to another telecom carrier service in the PSTN to complete the far end call connection. Similar to the way that a VPN encrypts your internet traffic from your device to their servers, than hands it off “in-the-clear” down the line to the internet backbone routers. Any end-to-end encryption would require both parties to use the same platform. I don’t think that’s possible with Ooma.

          2. Calling to a cellphone from your Google or Ooma service: This is no different than placing that call from any landline or cell phone. Never heard of “calling party pays” either, btw. I’ve never been charged for calling any cellphone. But in any case, Google or Ooma wouldn’t change how calls are handled “outside” their control. The call is a standard call to the PSTN, nothing special about how it originated, except for the VoIP technology at the origin.

          P.S. Thought I would add a footnote here for anyone reading in order to make the distinction between these VoIP services and other IP based “messaging” apps. These particular services from Google or Ooma are not peer-to-peer, so the calling and called parties do not need to share the same platform. You make the call from one of these services, and it gets handled just like any normal phone call in the PSTN. https://www.ooma.com/home-phone-service/faqs/what-is-voice-over-internet-protocol/

    • #2458813

      My Uncle has also been using Ooma (the Premier version) for the past six years with no problems.

      I used Vonage for 13 years trouble-free and, just like Ooma, it uses a “standalone” base that you plug a phone into and doesn’t require a PC, just an internet connection. In fact, while working as an IT contractor, I was an “approved” Vonage tech support rep and actually installed it for numerous home users in my local area who didn’t even have a PC using DSL for the VoIP connection.

      Back in 2019 I switched to Anveo, which also uses such a device, to save on the cost ($20/mth for Vonage vs $85/yr for Anveo) and it’s worked great (their device is also much smaller than either the Ooma or Vonage boxes.)

      Of course none of those meet your desire to make your calls from your PC and, although Anveo does offer free S/W to make/receive phone calls from your PC (Anveo Communicator), they charge a fee for calls that aren’t PC ⇒ PC (their call rate chart)

      Also, sometime, one’s calls to some cellphones are charged to the caller (what is known as “calling party pays”). How would that work with Ooma? Or with other services, such as Google Voice, for that matter?

      Unless its VoIP ⇒ VoIP, “incoming” VoIP calls are treated like any other incoming call for the receiving party (i.e., if their provider uses “calling party pays“, they’ll get charged.)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2458864

        Yes, many options out there!

        Any of them are better that my former AT&T landline! I have saved over $5000 in monthly residential phone service since I switched!!! 🙂

    • #2458862

      (i.e., if their provider uses “calling party pays“, they’ll get charged.)

      Who does that? And would you even be aware of that fact before getting a bill, such as with pay-per-call 900 services?

      Edit: I believe I found my answer here: https://www.fcc.gov/intl-surcharges

      This seems that it could be an issue with calling some international cell phone numbers. Since I have never made international calls beyond Canada from the US from a personal phone, I have never encountered this issue before.

      So in consideration of this, it seems that something like an Ooma monthly international calling plan ($17.99/$25.99 for either 60/70 countries) would cover you for “caller pays” charges from countries included in your monthly plan. Perhaps very useful if you intend to make a lot of these types of calls.

      Otherwise if you were using the Ooma a la carte “pay by the minute plan”, you might receive higher per minute charges if you called certain international cellphones.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2458922

        The FCC article JohnW has linked above, reads in part:

        Many foreign countries use a “calling party pays” framework under which wireless phone subscribers pay only for the outgoing calls they place to others. The calling party must pay for calls placed to wireless phones. Consequently, when you call international wireless customers using your landline phone, foreign service providers may pass through to your U.S. service provider the additional cost of connecting the call, which shows up as a surcharge on your bill.

        So here the question is, if I call a cellphone in another country that has this “calling party calls” arrangement, how is the bill for calling this phone gets passed to me by whom and how?

        Of course, one way to “solve” this is to make international calls to a country where the above might be an issue, only to landline phones and to those there with PCs that can receive telephone calls, letting them know in advance and via email that one needs to call them — and do so only after getting a reply acknowledging one’s email and agreeing to an approximate time and date to receive the call. And vice versa.  Something that will have to be done, anyways, no matter how the call is to be made.

        That would be a complication, but one I can live with, as my interest here is mostly with making calls related to work I may be doing with others who are either abroad, or far away in the USA, when it is better to have a voice discussion to sort things out, because this can be better, or easier to do than with email.

        One thing, that now that I think more about this, could be a problem with something like Ooma or Vonage, is that using it will be duplicating my landline service, a service I prefer not to terminate and something I am already paying for a set monthly amount to my ISP, that I use for all my local calls and, for practical reasons, might continue to use for some paid-by-the-minute long-distance ones within the USA that I fully expect to be brief ones.

        One final question: Using Google Voice, Ooma, Vonage, etc., how about robocalls and con artists’ calls? Would I have to delete them every day, as I do with my landline connection, using something (caller ID?) to identify them as such?

        Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

        • #2458935

          Speaking only for my Ooma Premier account, here is how I am handling my call blocking.

          *Notice that Ooma makes use of Nomorobo to block suspected spammers if you choose to block them 🙂

          I have that option currently set to send Suspected Spammers straight to voicemail. That’s just in case a someone that is needing to reach me has somehow ended up on the spam list. But you can choose from several call handlers for any of these options, such as call blocked messages and number disconnected messages.

           

          1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2458942

          “Many foreign countries use a “calling party pays” framework under which wireless phone subscribers pay only for the outgoing calls they place to others. The calling party must pay for calls placed to wireless phones.

          I don’t think most North Americans realize that only* North Americans pay to receive cell/mobile wireless calls and texts:

          How They Charge You for Incoming Calls

          In Europe and many other areas of the world, mobile/cell phones typically have their own dialing codes or prefixes. The party placing the call pays for each call at a pre-determined rate – with the rate for calling a mobile/cell phone being higher than the rate for calling a landline.

          In contrast, in the US and Canada there are no specific “cell-only” prefixes and area codes – in other words, a cell number in the US or Canada looks no different than a landline number. Calls terminating at a cell number still cost more than those terminating at a landline, but having to track and bill separately for calls to cell numbers is impractical. As a result of this, phone operators turned to billing incoming calls to the receiving party, since landline plans included free local calls, and more and more “local” numbers were assigned to cells.

          The Complexity of Incoming Call Charges in North America

          [* only = US/Canada — along with China, Hong Kong and Singapore apparently.]

          Windows 11 Pro version 22H2 build 22621.382 (group ASAP) + Microsoft 365

          2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2458941

      So here the question is, if I call a cellphone in another country that has this “calling party calls” arrangement, how is the bill for calling this phone gets passed to me by whom and how?

      I would expect that the caller ID would show your number to the destination telecom carrier, who would pass the charges back to your carrier, whoever that is.

      In that scenario, I would think that your carrier would already know in advance what those “calling party” charges should be, and cover them in a monthly international calling plan that included mobile calls to that specific country, or would already be calculated into the per minute charges for calling a mobile number in that specific country on a per call basis.

      For example Ooma charges .039 cents per minute standard rate to New Zealand land lines, and .336 cents per minute to New Zealand mobile. The New Zealand mobile charges are already included in the monthly Ooma World Plus plan ($25.99/month includes 70 countries), so no per minute charges would apply with that plan.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2459148

      Thanks to all of you who answered my opening remarks — and questions — with advice and a variety of recommendations.

      Now, as a result, I have enough information to consider what might be a good thing for me to do, concerning the choice of VoIP service.

      Once I decide that, and if I run then into unexpected hurdles, I’ll be back to ask about those and how best to resolve them. But I hope that won’t be necessary.

      All the best to you all.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

      2 users thanked author for this post.
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