I got my first POTS (plain old telephone service) line when I was 17. I had it installed in my room at my parents house. I used it mostly for dialing into the various BBS systems of the day. But it was also the line I used to (nervously) call Ruth Lane-Smith to ask her out on a date (in the end I’m not sure she completely realized it was a date).
When I moved to Trent University I had a line installed in my room in Champlain College and from there, with a brief summer off when I went telephone-free in the destroyed ruins of 107 Hazlitt Street, I’ve had an analog telephone line running into wherever I’ve lived.
Over those 30 years I had 2-party lines and 4-party lines, lines from Bell and lines from Island Tel and lines from Eastlink. I used dial up at 150 baud. I remember when it cost 25 cents a minute to call Summerside from Charlottetown. And when calling “overseas” was a once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime thing.
On Monday, with the the porting of our number at home to Vitelity (an Englewood, CO voice-over-IP provider I’ve been a happy customer of here at the office for many years), that all came to an end. Vitelity just started to offer local number porting for Charlottetown numbers this year, and when I heard I jumped at the opportunity to consolidate all my phone service onto one bill and feeding into one PBX (an Asterisk box sitting in the server room over at silverorange HQ).
So my monthly phone bill now looks like this:
- Home phone: $2.99/month plus $1.49/month E911
- Office phone in Charlottetown: $2.99/month
- Local number in Dublin, NH for clients: $1.49/month
Those monthly fees appear artificially low compared to what I’m used to paying Eastlink (about $25/month depending on how you yank it out of the bundle with Internet) because I also pay Vitelity $0.011/minute for all calls in and out. But I’d have to talk for about 36 hours straight to have those minute-by-minute charges add up to the old bills.
It’s not like I’m not giving up anything in the process either: I am now my own phone company, for most intents and purposes. So if the Internet goes out, or my Asterisk box goes down, then my phone goes away. There’s none of the battery-backup-phone-never-stops-working I got when I was 17. But with responsibility comes freedom too: not only are all “calling features” free here at RukTel, but I can code up new ones in PHP.
Best of all, I can now call home from the office by dialing “100”.
(If you’re interesting in telephony history, I highly recommend Voices of the Island, Walter Auld’s history of Island Tel and telephony in general on Prince Edward Island; it’s a great read).