Sunday, January 09, 2005

Snow Birds Need Phones

Here in Northern Illinois, we've received 8+ inches of snow this week. The streets are slushy wherever they aren't icy, and my back hurts just thinking about shoveling. Some people may be happy, but this was NOT on my Christmas list! It makes me want to put the laptop in the car and head south for the next couple of months. How about you?

Many folks will do just that, and either hook up the travel trailer or pack up the motorhome and drive to a campground, maybe one they visit every year. Others will rent a condo, or maybe they even own a second home somewhere warm. What all you lucky people have in common is that you will need a telephone in your new location.

Of course, the first option that comes to mind is to call the local phone company and have a line installed. The problem is that it can take weeks to get an appointment for installation, and you really only need the line for a few weeks or months. Even if you want to use a competitive phone company, the local company has to do the installation, and then you can transfer to the other carrier. When you are only staying for a few months, this just isn't practical.

Fortunately, I have a couple of alternative ideas that make more sense for the snow bird lifestyle. Right now, I'd like to talk about something called "Fixed Wireless" phone service. Fixed Wireless is a way to use a standard home phone with a cellular signal. It blends the best of both types of service. Like a regular phone line, you can plug any corded or cordless phone into the fixed wireless terminal box. You can use a multi-phone system, answering machine or even a fax machine. The terminal is a box that can sit on your kitchen counter, end table or desk or mount on a wall, plugs into an electrical outlet and converts a cellular signal into the analog signal that will work with your phones.

Like regular cellular service, fixed wireless is mobile, and you don't have to hire someone to run phone line to wherever you need a new phone line. This makes it perfect for taking along to a second home, adding an additional line to an older home or an upstairs home office. You can also use fixed wireless service to add a phone line to an outbuilding, such as a garage, barn or studio.

Service plans begin at $29.99 per month, which includes 300 minutes of peak time calling plus 50 hours(that's 3000 minutes) of night and weekend calling. There's no contract, and you will have your choice of online or paper billing.

Come to LDRF to learn more about the service plans and to sign up online.

P.S. Stay tuned for my next post, where I'll share how you can take broadband phone with you to a second home or vacation spot.

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