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Eliminate Your Landline Phone Carrier

Six years ago I cancelled my home phone service --- the phone service that had been traditionally delivered via a phone wire into my home --- and I never regretted the decision. The cost of basic phone service had gotten pretty ridiculous, and it didn't even include long distance calling. For years, we had been making our long distance calls on our cell phones. It was time to cut the cord and go totally wireless at home. Well, not totally. We can still make and receive calls at home using any phone in the house. Yet we aren't connected to the landline phone company any longer. Here are the details.

Executive Summary
Port your home phone number to a cell phone at a cellular company with good reception in your house. Buy a docking station/gateway to make and receive cellular calls on your corded and cordless handsets. Disconnect the landline service to your home. Install the docking station. Enjoy.

Step One: Port Your Home Phone Number
It was important to my wife that we keep our current home phone number. Assuming you want to keep your home phone number after you cancel the service, check with your cellular phone company to make sure your home phone number can be ported (transferred) over to a cell phone. Most can. We've all been paying portability fees for years. Once you agree to port your home phone number, it can take 5-to-10 business days to be completed. Your landline carrier is notified by your cellular phone company and schedules a service disconnect within their system. At the same time, your cell phone company works to get the number activated to your cell phone. There is no interruption in service. (Hint: if your port your home phone number be sure to cancel any long distance services on the home phone number as well).

Step Two: Choose A Cell Phone Company
Find a cellular phone carrier with great service in and around your house. You probably already have one. We have been using Verizon Wireless for years. We get good reception at home and everywhere we travel. It was easy to add another line on to our Family Share Plan. We simply increased the number of minutes on our plan. With the savings from canceling our landline, we were able to triple our plan minutes and get other nice features as well.

Step Three: Buy A Docking Station For Your Cell Phone
There are a few devices on the market which will dock your cell phone (via Bluetooth or a cable) and allow you to make and receive calls over your corded and cordless phones already in your home. While the landline will no longer service your home externally, your home is still wired internally. A docking station (also sometimes referred to as a "bridge" or a "gateway") connects a cell phone to your home wiring. Callers will never know the difference. You simply "dock your cell phone and use your corded or cordless phones to make and receive cell phone calls, effectively turning your wireless service into a fully functional wired service without having to pay wired service monthly fees". There are currently three cell phone docking stations on the market that we are aware of that will convert your home wiring for use with a cell phone.

Dock-N-TalkDock-N-Talk
This is the one we bought (and the reason we know so much more about this one than the other two). Dock-N-Talk (DNT) from PhoneLabs has been on the market the longest. As of January 2013, the most recent firmware was version 1.47, and it uses your choice of either a cable or Bluetooth module to connect to your cell phone. Both are sold separately. The most recent Bluetooth version is BT03-B which is Class 1 with a range of up to 300 feet. The Bluetooth and DNT module are both firmware upgradable, and the DNT is also hardware upgradable. The BT03-B can pair up to 8 cell phones (although only 1 at a time). We are pairing just one cell phone.

DNT supports telco standards for call waiting, comes with 2 line cords, has a switch which allows cellular service to be placed on line 1 or line 2 so it can be used with a land line or second DNT, two RJ-11 jacks --- one for connection locally to a home phone and one connected to a wall jack, and it allows redial from an extension handset. PhoneLabs is an American company which has been in business for over 23 years and the DNT has been on the market for over 9 years. The Dock-N-Talk currently supports over 2300 cell phone models, including all bluetooth models. The Dock-N-Talk is shielded to reduce interference from other wireless devices. A list of supported phones and more details about the DNT can be found on their website. They also offer great customer service support that got me up and running in less than 5 minutes. Dock-N-Talk is available on Amazon with a bluetooth module and without bluetooth (but be sure to get a cable). I have also seen it on eBay.

XLINK Cellular Bluetooth Gateway
The XLINK Cellular Bluetooth Gateway connects your Bluetooth enabled cellular phone with your standard phone, allowing you to use your regular home or office telephone over your cellular service network. There is no cable option. You must have a Bluetooth phone. The XLINK can link up to 3 cell phones at the same time, and will pair via Bluetooth up to 30 feet away. iPhone users can dial ## on any house phone and talk to SIRI.

Xtreme Tech is a Canadian company and introduced XLINK in 2007. You can find more information on their website. XLINK Bluetooth Gateway is available on Amazon and eBay. Be sure to buy Model "BT" if you plan to eliminate your landline. Model "BTTN" will work with or without a landline. It gives you the option to merge a land line, magic jack, or VOIP ATA into your single line phone system.

The XLink Cellular Bluetooth Gateway
Common Feature Sets
Both appear to support caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding --- assuming your cell phone and handsets have these capabilities. Other benefits of being able to use your landline phones with your cellular phone plan include: the ability to use your free unlimited nights, weekends and mobile-to-mobile minutes to their fullest, and eliminating cell phone radiation for extended conversations since you are not physically making calls on your cell phone handset (you are using your home phone handsets).

Purchasing Details
Dock-N-Talk and XLINK can be purchased through their respective websites, on Amazon, or eBay. New models of Dock-N-Talk with Bluetooth (BT) are available for $175, or $125 without the Bluetooth module, on Amazon. Prices are about $25 higher on their website. Cables run an additional $18. XLINK can be had for about $70 (Model BTTN) and $50 (Model BT) on Amazon while listing for about $50 more on their website. Used and old models also exist, but beware, they are likely out of warranty and have old firmware which needs to be updated (at a cost with the Dock-N-Talk / free with the Xlink) in order to be used with newer cell phones. Be sure you are getting the newest models with the latest firmware.

Step Four: Disconnect Your External Landline Connection
These instructions are very similar to what you would do if you were installing Vonage's Broadband Calling Service as an alternate to replace your landline service. We have simply adapted their excellent installation presentation to this application.

IMPORTANT: This step assumes you are the owner of a single family home. If you live in a multi-unit building, have a home alarm system linked via your landline, or are a renter, it is not a good idea to mess with the phone wiring.

WARNINGS: You will be working with lines that carry a small amount of voltage. Therefore there is a chance of causing a fire or damaging your phone lines and equipment. Be sure to wait for a dry day. Do not stand on wet ground while working. When you modify your telephone wiring with these instructions, you will be totally disconnecting yourself from the phone company. These instructions are intended for use by someone with common sense who has a pretty good understanding of what they are doing. I can't come up with warnings for all possible scenarios and I assume no liability. (But relax, as long as you don't do anything stupid, like cutting wires, the process can be reversed if the devices do not work to your satisfaction or you happen to sell your home). Final note: I am not an electrician. Consider hiring a professional electrician or telephone technician to do the job if you have ANY concerns.

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Isolate your inside phone wiring from the lines that come into your house from the phone company. This is a step you shouldn't skip, even if you think your phone line is already dead. If you don't isolate your inside wiring, and your landline phone company sends voltage across the line you thought was dead, it could damage the converters and possibly even cause a fire. Okay, find the Network Interface Device (NID) box on the outside of your house where the telephone lines come into your house from the street. It is a gray or beige box, probably mounted near the electrical meter. It contains a modular plug that allows you to disconnect the inside wiring. It's the legal demarcation point where the outside wiring from the street (owned by the landline telephone company) meets the wiring inside your house (owned by you). When you open the box, which is usually locked with a screw, you will notice it has two sides. You will have access to the side containing the wires going into your home. Do not attempt to access any hidden wires on the other side (they belong to the phone company). You may see a ground wire coming out of the hidden section side of the box. This wire protects your home against lightning strikes, so be sure not to disconnect it.

2. Locate the modular phone plug (some know it as an RJ-11 or RJ-14). It looks just like the plug that runs from a common corded phone into a phone jack in your wall. Once inside the NID, you'll see one or more sets of screw terminals inside. Each will have a short piece of telephone wire coming out of it with a phone connector (plug) on the end plugged into a corresponding jack. If there's only one line coming into your house, you'll most likely have only one set of screw terminals. To disconnect from the phone company, simply unplug each of the short telephone wires from its corresponding jack.

3. Label your work. Make it obvious to others that you've unplugged the wires on purpose and they shouldn't undo your modifications without risking damage to your inside equipment. Start by wrapping the end of each of the telephone wires you just unplugged with electrical tape so it can't be plugged back in without unwrapping the tape. Then, clearly label the inside of the box with a message that says something like: "Do not reconnect! May cause damage to inside equipment!" A sign written or printed with a permanent marker and taped inside the box is a good idea. No matter how you choose to label the box, be sure it is obvious, clear, and easy to read. Once you've clearly labeled the inside of the NID, close and refasten the box. Then, just to be safe, label the outside of the box as well. To be extra safe, you can also wrap a nylon tie-wrap around the box so it can't be opened without cutting it. Remember, to avoid damage, you want to make it as inconvenient as possible for someone to change what you've done without your knowledge.

4. Confirm the line is disconnected before installing your converter. Go inside your house and pick up a phone plugged into a jack that previously worked. You did good work if the line is now dead. You should hear absolutely nothing. If the line is not dead, go back and check your work. If your work looks correct and the line's still not dead, it means that voltage is somehow still being carried on the line and it's not safe for you to proceed any further. Consult a professional electrician or telephone technician for help.

Step Five: Installation
Be sure to locate your gateway device in an area of your house that gets the best reception. Installation varies slightly for each of these landline-to-cell phone converters. From my experience, the Dock-N-Talk was very easy to set up following their manual. It took less than 5 minutes to set up the Dock-N-Talk, and another 5 minutes with Tech Support to help me synch the Bluetooth between the Dock-N-Talk and my cell phone. I talked to a real person at 5pm on a weekday, and they answered immediately. I had also spent about 15 minutes disconnecting the landline from my house following the instructions in Step Four prior to setting up the Dock-N-Talk.

Step Six: Enjoy Your Cell Phone Service At Home
You should now have a dial tone. Call your home phone number. All the phones in your house should ring. Hang-up. Now pick up any phone in the house and call someone. You should have no problem connecting. Congratulations, you are now free from the landline telephone company and have become an even more profitable customer of your cellular phone company.

Questions And Answers

Question 1: Do I have to keep my home phone number?
Answer 1: No. You can get rid of your home phone number and simply use your existing cell phone service.


Question 2: How can I find out more about phone number portability?
Answer 2: The Federal Trade Commission has set up a Wireless Local Number Portability site to answer frequently asked questions.



Question 3: Do I have to get a new cell phone?
Answer 3: No. You can use your current cell phone as long as it is compatible with the converters.



Question 4: Do I have to keep a cell phone docked to the converter all the time?
Answer 4: No. We chose to dedicate one cell phone to be docked 24/7 to make the transition away from landline service easier for my wife. If it were just me, I would only have one cell phone and I would simply dock it whenever I am home. The cell phone has to be docked via a cable or Bluetooth to be able to use your home phones.

Hint: if you set up your dedicated cell phone in "No Answer / Busy Transfer" mode (available for free with Verizon Wireless service), you can have incoming calls answered by another phone whenever your wireless phone is busy or remains unanswered after three to six rings. This frees you from ever having to check the home phone for voicemail messages, and allows you to answer calls to your home when you're away.



Question 5: If I change my home phone number to a cell phone number, won't I use more minutes?
Answer 5: Definitely. Be sure to select a new cellular plan with enough minutes to meet your needs. (And when you do, you might as well pick out a new cell phone. You can get good models for free when you agree to keep your cellular service for at least one year).



Question 6: What does it cost to dedicate a cell phone to be docked 24/7 as your new home phone?
Answer 6: It depends upon your cell phone carrier. With Verizon, it costs $10/month (plus taxes and fees) for the extra line, and they allow you to have up to 5 lines on their family plan. You can often get a free phone when you buy a new cell phone. For purposes of a 24/7 cell phone docking, just pick out a phone that is reliable and gets great reception. It certainly doesn't need a camera or other features that won't be used. I like to use CNET and Mobiledia website to compare phones. If you find a phone you like that is no longer available retail, consider buying the older model cell phone on eBay and then get it activated by your cell carrier. Caution: buy only new (unused) phones guaranteed to have a clear ESN.



Question 7: Will Bluetooth interfere with my cordless phones or wireless internet service?
Answer 7: It might. Bluetooth is a wireless short-range communications technology intended to replace the cables connecting portable and/or fixed devices while maintaining high levels of security. It operates at 2.4 GHz to 2.485 GHz. Bluetooth was designed to reduce interference between wireless technologies sharing the 2.4 GHz spectrum. This is done by detecting other devices in the spectrum and avoiding the frequencies they are using. That said, you could still get interference with cordless phones and wi-fi running on the 2.4 GHz band. To avoid this problem entirely, either connect directly to the converter with a cable (rather than Bluetooth) or make sure your cordless phones and wireless internet devices run on 900Mhz, pure 5.8Ghz or DECT.



Question 8: Are you living under a rock? Why not use a DSL/Cable Broadband phone service instead?
Answer 8: That might work well for many folks, and it is certainly an option. In our area, cellular service is far more reliable than cable service, and it is a lot easier to reach customer service at Verizon Wireless than at our cable company.


Question 9: What is your opinion new cordless phone units for the whole house which also include a docking station which accepts cell service?
Answer 9: You are describing a hybrid system, sometimes known as a gateway. It's great for folks that want to dock their cell phone (thereby using their cell phone minutes and potentially saving on long distance phone bills) without cutting their landline, or who currently have two landlines and want to replace one with their cell phone, and still use all of their phones in the house.

Hints: If you are looking for a cordless phone set for the home with cell phone docking capability, consider highly rated phones such as the Panasonic DECT 6.0 PLUS Link-to-Cell Bluetooth Cordless Phone . (Above Right, comes with a base station and up to 4 additional handsets). This is also a great option if you have spotty cell service around your home. Dock your cell phone in the area of your house with the best reception and use these phones throughout your house!

If you prefer to simply attach a gateway device to your current setup, consider the Xtreme Technologies Xlink BTTN Bluetooth Gateway (bottom right) or Cobra PhoneLynx (below, left).
Panasonic Link-to-Cell Xlink Gateway

Chose one or the other.
You DO NOT need both.
Cobra PhoneLynx Bluetooth Cell to Home Phone Connection SystemCobra PhoneLynx
Cobra PhoneLynx Bluetooth Cell to Home Phone Connection System (BT 215) connects up to two Bluetooth enabled cellular phones with any standard phone, allowing you to use your regular home phone over your cellular service network. There is no cable option. You must have a Bluetooth phone. The Bluetooth will work up to 30 feet away. PhoneLynx is the newest landline bridge --- it was introduced in 2011. It's an overseas design. PhoneLynx only connects to your landline phone. It does not connect to your home's phone wiring. Reliability is a known issue, but it's also the lowest priced docking station reviewed here and Cobra's customer service is reportedly good. You can find more information on their website. Cobra PhoneLynx is available on Amazon and eBay. PhoneLynx is available on their website for $59 but can be bought for under $35 on Amazon.


Question 10: What are good reasons for not eliminatating my landline?
Answer 10: Reasons to keep your landline include: 1. You have an alarm system tied into your phone, 2. your cell phone service is not reliable (and you certainly want reliable service if you ever need to call 911), 3. you don't own your home, 4. you don't pay much for your landline service (although even $40/month x 12 months = $580/year), 5. you have DSL internet service, 6. you have a bundled plan that's too costly to unbundle, 7. you need to use your phone for fax transmission, or 8. you love your landline company. (Very funny, I know!)



Question 11: What about the Siemens Gigaset One Bluetooth Gateway?
Answer 11: The Siemens Gigaset One was manufactured by XLink for Siemens. It is actually the XLink BTTN with a "Gigaset One" label, which is only for folks that want to dock their cell phone with their home phone and NOT eliminate the landline. Siemens has since discontinued the device and dropped all support. We understand that to update the software and get it working properly you can pay XLINK $24.95 for a password to update Gigaset One using their software update tool via a USB Printer cable. Once completed, you've essentially converted your Gigaset One into a XLINK BTTN. Good luck.
Siemens Gigaset One Bluetooth Gateway


Question 12: Are you still happy with your Dock-N-Talk and what would you buy today?
Answer 12: I am extremely happy with my Dock-N-Talk that I bought in 2007. I have not regretted the purchase. That said, I'm not opposed to trying the XLINK.


Question 13: Do you know anything about the MERGE docking station?
Answer 13: Of course! MERGE was made by CIDCO Communications and its use is limited to a few early-model Motorola cell phones. The unit physically acts as a cradle for your cell phone. Their website was abandoned sometime prior to April 2008. There is likely no customer support for this device. These show up occassionally on eBay.
Merge


Question 14: Do you have any more troubleshooting tips?
Answer 14: 1. Read this entire page and your manual before starting. 2. Check out your manufacturer's website for troubleshooting and Frequently Asked Questions. 3. Make use of tech support. PhoneLabs can be reached at 800-725-5195, Xtreme Tech's at 408-668-8435, and Cobra at 773-889-3087.



Question 15: What happens when the house AC power fails while using one of these devices?
Answer 15: They also stop working. One advantage of land line has always been that you can use your telephone no matter how long your AC power is out. To counter this problem, I simply plug my device and attached cell phone into a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).


Related Links

Compare Cell Phones and Service, Find Ringtones and Accessories
Information on cell phone rating sites, rate plan comparison sites, cell phone accessories, ring tones, and carrier phone numbers.
Protecting Your Privacy
Information to assist you in protecting your identity and personal data.
Opt Out!
Contact information and tips for getting yourself removed from junk mailing lists and telemarketing lists.
How To Set Up A Webcam and Make Video Calls In Under 30 Minutes
Detailed step-by-step instructions on setting up your webcam and communications software allowing you to make your first video phone call in under 30 minutes.


Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. The information presented is an opinion intended to assist folks in breaking free of their landline service and getting more out of their cell phone service. Neither Verizon Wireless, Vonage, PhoneLabs, Xtreme Tech, CIDCO, Bluetooth, nor the FTC endorse this site or its content. Since we do not have complete control over the "Ads by Google" appearing on this page, we do not directly endorse their sites or products. Please notify us if you find any of the advertisers to be misleading.
Feel free to contact me to correct any information in this article or to alert me to additional information one should consider.

© 2007 Topher
Updated 2013

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