I want to dump my analog phone line at home. I’m just not sure if I can.

This has been building for a while. I’ve been using Asterisk for over 4 months. At this point, my home POTS line is both the most expensive and least reliable part of the whole system. It’s currently costing me over $33/month, and that’s just for incoming calls and outgoing local calls. I’ve been sending long distance calls to NuFone for over 4 months, and they’ve only charged me $10 for the privilege. That’s less then my average monthly long-distance bill used to be.

According to Asterisk’s logs, I average around 400 minutes of incoming and outgoing local phone service per month. At $0.02/minute, that’s only $8/month. I’m paying that much just for Caller ID on my POTS line. If I could drop the POTS line, then I could save around $25/month. That’d be a nice addition to my DSL speed, or it’d cover cellular data usage with a Treo on most networks.

Besides simple cost, I’m just generally unhappy with telcos. Today’s big point came from Telepocalypse. Plan on phone line charges going up another $4/month in the near future. That, coupled with my Verizon DSL upgrade saga, really makes me want to dump Verizon altogether. See TeleTruth’s “dirty phone bill” for another quick take on what’s hiding in a typical phone bill.

Unfortunately, I just don’t see how I can do it for a reasonable cost. I’m in Comcast cable-modem territory, but they want $50/month for service for non-subscribers, and they don’t offer static addresses with residential service. They might offer them with business services, but those start at $95 and go up. I’d be amazed if I could get a static address (and the ability to run servers) out of them for under $150/month. I don’t seem to have any alternatives for home broadband; it’s either Verizon DSL or Comcast cable modem. Or a T1, but that’s way more then I’m willing to spend.

There does seem to be one way out–I could move the mail and web server out of the house and into a colo server. Several providers advertise dedicated P4 boxes with reasonable amounts of RAM, disk, and network connectivity for around $50/month. I could conceivably drop the DSL and POTS line and move to a $50 server and $50 cable modem, and come out slightly ahead, but I don’t see it being worth the trouble, even if I’d have 4x the bandwidth.

Finally, even ignoring all of the connectivity problems, I’m still left with one problem–how do I dial 911 without a POTS line? 90% of the time, we have a cell phone handy, but they’re never really handy in emergencies. I haven’t seen anyone discuss how to dial 911 is a pure roll-your-own VoIP system. Do you just redirect it to some local phone number? Or do you just leave the POTS line plugged in and trust that they’ll leave it live for 911?