After we retired we decided that we did not need a second phone line. We had two, one was for personal use the other mainly for work. It was not so much of the cost of the basic phone but all those extra taxes and fees added to the bill. So after we got the magicjack and realized it worked fine for making calls we looked into disconnecting the phone lines and use the magicjack only. But after reading the bill we noticed that our DSL internet connection cost was reduce because we had a phone line, so disconnecting our line would had raised our DSL cost. The compromise was to disconnect the second line only but keep the one line for the DSl discount. This single line only has the basic service, which is minimal free local calls, you pay extra if you make over a certain amount of calls, but free unlimited incoming calls. This was fine as we used the magicjack or our low cost cell phone to make outgoing calls. The second line phone number was ported to http://family-phone.com/ so we could keep the number active and receive messages. Please see park your phone post under Frugal strategies for further info. Eventually when Magicjack offers porting we will move our number there.
I suppose all of you have seen the commercial for the magicjack. The Magicjack is a Voip ( voice over internet) small box that plugs into your computer and becomes a phone line. You obviously need to have internet access on your computer.
About a year ago I decided to get one and try. At first it had some minor service problems but over the year they have seemed to have improved it. It also can be used to make international calls at very low cost.
For more information on the unit go to http://www.magicjack.com/6/index.asp
The unit was about $40 or less (I heard they were on sale at Walmart) with one year of free call in US and Canada and the approx $20 per year after that. You also get your own phone number.
For customer support I found a magicjack forum at http://www.magicjacksupport.com/
that have all the information you will ever need about the unit. I have found the forum to be a good place to do some research on the unit or any operational/ technical questions.
The only problem I found for me was because it is plugged into your computer the computer has to be on to receive calls although missed calls go to an answering machine and sends you an e-mail . This e-mail has the actual voice recorded message.
On the forum it has experts that explain how to connect the unit to a thin server which is basically a mini computer. I personally use a net book computer with the power management set to monitor off, hard drive sleep mode etc to save on power thus keeping the unit cooler and leaving the unit permanently plugged in to receive calls.
Since purchasing a Magicjack I found another unit call Nettalk that is a similar size box but does not need a computer to run but plugs directly into your internet router, and is continually on.
This unit is just like the magicjack but does not need a computer to run but plugs directly into a router although it has the ability to run on a computer if you want to.
For more information go to http://www.nettalk.com/
This unit presently has a few problems just like the magicjack did. I have mine connected permanently to my router and wired directly into my house wiring so I can pick up and incoming calls from any phone jack in the house. Connecting to house wiring is not recommended by Nettalk but it works.
For their forum go to http://forum.nettalk.com/ and again you can get all the information you need about the unit.
Both these units, while connected to a computer, can be used via wifi . So you can make free calls while traveling. This includes internationally, your unit will work as a local USA phone number. So family and friends can keep in touch by calling your local number and be connected to you wherever you are in the world as long as you have an internet connection at no extra cost.