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Reducing my bill via free texting and calls over WiFi

I am moving over from Sprint because I believe I can greatly reduce my monthly phone bill with your pricing structure.  Here is what I am presently using to get totally free service over WiFi.

Handset: LG Optimus S 

I have rooted the Optimus via this thread on Android Forums. It is MUCH easier now. Rooting is not required, just recommended.

http://forums.androidcentral.com/lg-optimus-s-rooting-roms-hacks/79208-how-rooting-ls670zvd-gingerbreak-no-reverting-ota-works-too.html 

Necessary apps:

Google Voice (free)

::It will require a free account at http://www.voice.google.com. This is the app I use to send all my texts. I've been using it for over a year, and it's stable if not a tad slow.

GrooveIP (3.99)

:: This enables phone calls over WiFi or 3G/4G. I have it set to call over WiFi only. All the other settings worked out of the box for the Optimus. I used this on a Evo 4G with Sprint and it required some tweaking. 

With that, I haven't used a single text or minute from my plan with the exception of a few tests.  Of course, this won't work when you're in the middle of nowhere, but WiFi is so common that I won't have a problem keeping my bill far below what I used to pay.

I am using this on the Optimus until I sell my previous phones.  I'll upgrade to something faster eventually.  Maybe. (The battery life is amazing)

A few recommended apps:

SetCPU (1.99, requires root)

::I use this to keep things running smoothly as GrooveIP and and Google Voice are running in the background.

 DroidSail (free, requires root)

::The Optimus is a good phone, but with only 512mb of internal storage it's a huge relief to have an app which can move ANY other app onto the sd card. This includes system apps and pre-installed apps. 

Quick Settings (free)

::Easy way to turn mobile data on/off and manage WiFi networks on the go.

Eventually I'll try out Locale which will manage my phone settings based upon location.


 

All in all, Ting will cost me $25 per month at my regular usage without any other phones on the account.  The best plan I could get elsewhere would run about $50 per month. By using my WiFi I plan to reduce that to $15 per month. Either way, win/win.

 

http://CullenJWebb.com

Rick Webb

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83 answers

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I am actually using this exact method myself already, One thing I did set was for GrooveIP to only activate on wifi, since minutes are cheaper than megs when I'm mobile.

Shawn Thompson
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Still waiting for the first month to finish out actually but it looks like it should be about M on Minutes and Megabytes for this month, might be able to keep the megabytes down to S if I work a little harder at it. All in all, even with two devices it'll still be less than I paid for ONE on Cricket (which was the cheapest in town before Ting came along).

Shawn Thompson
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This setup works great for me. My clients only know my Google Voice number. The actual mobile number is for friends only. When I am in my home office, on WiFi, all GV calls go to GrooveIP. When I go out, a Tasker profile recognizes I've left my home WiFi, uses a plugin to change my GV forwarding to ring my mobile number instead.

My GV setup will only ring my mobile during business hours... so at night, even when I'm out of the WiFi, clients go straight to GV voicemail.

An important setting to remember is under WiFi Settings, click Menu, then Advanced Settings... Choose for WiFi to NEVER sleep. Otherwise, you put the phone in your pocket, WiFi sleeps, and now you're eating costly mobile data MB checking email, and Facebook, and Google Voice... and that continues untll you notice that you're not on WiFi and turn it back on.

Some people say that WiFi uses battery more, but I do not find that to be the case. For me mobile data uses the battery much faster. I think that perhaps it is my situation of mostly being in my home and home office most of every day... If I were out and about, passing different public WiFi spots every other minute, I guess that would use power with WiFi constantly searching for new hotspots to latch on to.

Carl Aron
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Like the previous posters, I'm also using Groove IP.  We have four LG Optimus S phones on our plan, and all four have Groove IP with four different Google voice numbers.  We each organize how we use those GV numbers to our own preferences, and it's a very nice solution.  In addition, I have SipDroid on each phone and they're all connected to a local Asterisk server running Nerdvittles PBX in a Flash.  So, basically, my little Android phone is truly a 3-in-1 phone.  I absolutely love the setup.  Thanks Ting!  (with minor props to Google and Asterisk....:)

Dave Stahr
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Thank you for this post.

I installed GrooveIP on my Wife's phone and used her Google Voice number with it.. great for calls over the wifi and not using minutes when home, though she's not into all that fun stuff to dow th saving money so I've not pushed her to use the Google voice number when dialing out at home on wifi.  A bit like the "Republic Wireless" idea currently in beta.  I installed Locale on her phone too so when she's home it's on wifi for data and when she's out at friends it gets on those networks too.  Data is at about 10Mb for this half of the month.  I'll work on her about the call minutes if she starts pushing it up and up in the talk plans, I'm just trying to keep the data side under control for now.

 

I managed to get a used LG Optimus S phone and I installed GrooveIP and used my Google Voice account on it.  Switched off the cell service (airplane mode but with wifi on seems to be the ticket) and have it wifi only.. had to monkey with the power settings to keep it going.  Even though I've set this up, sometimes when I get to it the wifi has gone asleep and the GrooveIP is logged out.. so incoming calls might not ring the phone though.  We now have this for the kids to use when the wife and I are away from the house.  It's a home wifi phone.. for free (except the GrooveIP).  I've only had one call were the other person commented on the echo, but I think that might be the GV part, not the wifi.

Duncan Cunningham
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Seems to work well.  My only issue is with incoming calls on the LG OPTIMUS I cant hear the phone ring.  Screen pops up and if I see it I can answer.  Is there any way to change the volume.  Other calls coming in have normal volume.

Gary Dlouhy
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Hi Scott,

Yes, I've been through all the settings and they are set to never switch off or sleep.  The phone has behaved itself for the past few weeks now.  I think having the 'Locale' program on does help a little though with keeping the wifi alive.  When-ever my wife misses a call and forwards to 'google voice' number it rings as it should.

Duncan Cunningham
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Sprint is re-rolling out Gingerbread update. I've rooted my device. 2 questions:

* Can we update it using the regular Sprint channel although we're on Ting?

* Assuming we can, what's the procedure for rooted devices ? do we unroot first? would it just work after unroot?

Irwan Djajadi
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Irwan, I got the OTA update the same as if I was on Sprint - it came through on my phone last Thursday. If you are on a stock (or stock-based) ROM, you should get prompted to update. You do not need to unroot; however, you do need to have the stock recovery on your phone. The update will fail if you try to install it with a custom recovery.

Since you are already rooted on FroYo, there is a semi-automated procedure to update to rooted Gingerbread (and the new 'ZVJ' baseband); I tested it on my phone and it seemed to work fine. This thread has the details:  http://forums.androidcentral.com/lg-optimus-s-rooting-roms-hacks/166372-beta-zvj-rooting-automation-please-help-test.html

Isaac Roorda
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I've been using a similar method with Sipdroid and Google Voice but i also use Tasker to control every aspect of how data is used to really keep my data down while maintaining all of its functionality. I set it up on both my wife's phone and my phone and with how much time we spend in areas with wifi we have already been able to keep everything in the S range and are now awaiting our lowest phone bill ever! (including when my wife worked for Tmobile and we had the employee plan and were only paying $35 a month) We love Ting and how open it is to the idea of using the phones we buy as OUR phone. Ting is AMAZING! 

Kyle Martinez
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I'm having a problem with latency using GrooveIP and Google Voice over a 7Mb/s DSL wifi connection.  There's enough of a delay between the time I say something and the other person hears it (and vice-versa) that it makes conversations sometimes awkward.  Anyone else had this problem, and how do you solve it?

Jim Gregory
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Jim -- What is the upload speed of the DSL connection? I've never seen a DSL connection that really compared to cable or FiOS in both directions. If the upload speed is significantly slower than the download speed, the DSL connection may not be suitable for VOIP. There is an app called SpeedTest, which will let you find out both speeds, as well as general latency and ping times. Also, GrooveIP has a Facebook page where they  do answer some questions, and take suggestions for features and bug fixes. They may have some advice for the more advanced settings in Groove IP that are designed to compensate for less dependable connections.

Carl Aron
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I've been using GrooveIP on my Optimus S for about six months.  In that time, they've done several updates, and I have to say I'm disappointed because it seems like a product that used to work great now works very poorly.  I, too, have experienced the delays you mentioned.  It's purely a service issue with Google servers -- so we could all complain about free service not working properly if we wanted to.  I've had instances where I've had the delay, hung up, called right back, and had no problems at all.  I think it just depends on which server farm places your call.  I've gotten to where I don't use GrooveIP much any more at all.  I upped my Ting minutes to 6000/month and enjoy good, solid cellular calls....and I'm on the edge of Sprint's service area.  (0-1 bars max)

Dave Stahr
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Typically call latency issues have to do with buffering in the DSL modem and other traffic.   Even the minimal DSL is more than enough bandwidth for VOIP, but you have to manage the latency.

Check your connection here:  http://netalyzr.icsi.berkeley.edu/

Pay attention to the network buffer sizes.  If those are more than 250ms then you will have problems.  The only way I know to solve this is using a network router that uses active traffic shaping to limit the traffic to just less than your actually network connection so packets won't get backed up in the router.  I use a custom box running pfsense, but I believe the QOS settings on better routers should help.

Wayne Scott
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Wayne,

I received a network buffer size of 5900 using the netalyzr test you suggested.  Our Actiontec Q1000 router does allow setting custom QOS, but I'm confused what options to set.  I can change the DSCP Classification, Queue Priority,and  the IP tag.  The latter has options "all" or "defined", the latter requires setting incoming and outgoing IP addresses, net masks, and ports.   Was unable to find any assistance on this using Google. :(

Jim Gregory
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Jim,

A size of 5900ms?! You realize that says your modem can buffer packets for up to 6 seconds?  With those settings my expectation is that your phone call over wifi would be completely disrupted if someone did a large upload at the same time.

I googled for a bit on the Q1000 and it seems to have options for setting traffic priority and classes, but that isn't really want to want.  You are looking for a setting were you tell it your maximum upload/download bandwidth.  Then you want the modem to throttle traffic to keep it below that rate so that the buffers stay empty.  

Here was a recent podcast on "bufferbloat": 

http://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm

Notice in the transcripts that Leo has the same modem and got the same huge delay:

http://www.grc.com/sn/sn-346.txt

You might see what they did about it.

In my setup I just ignored the ISP modem/router and put that in "bridge-mode" and added my own router that I could control.  The difference in internet responsiveness when lots of people in the house are using the internet and streaming netflix is amazing.

Wayne Scott
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I just started using Groove IP and I'm having trouble figuring out how to have my caller ID show up as my phone number, rather than my Google Voice number.   Any suggestions?

 

I don't have "Hide my caller ID" checked on ting.com settings page for this phone...

Asya Kamsky
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Okay I think I found the answer to my own question...

 

On Google Voice settings, it says:

Caller ID (outgoing) Help_dark

When I text a Google Voice number from one of my forwarding phones:

Don't change anything

Display my Google Voice number

Note: this setting currently only applies to text messages; calls will be included soon.           

Asya Kamsky
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I'm thinking about switching to Ting but for now just buying the mobile hotspot and using Google Voice and Groove IP on my G2x. Would anyone Think that was a horrible situation with depending on Google voice? I live is a 3G area of sprint..... Kind of..... 49010

William Bales
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Does anyone know if you took advantage of the GV / Sprint integration and your original Sprint number was ported to GV would it stay that way when moving your Sprint number to Ting?

Zarthan South
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you will loose integration. Sprint blocks this somehow or Google doesn't recognize the phone as integration ready.

graham lane
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I just got my Ting phone and have been a Google Voice user for years.  I just thought I'd share something that we've been using in our house for a few months now that significantly reduces the cell minutes we use.  I don't know if anyone else uses one, but there is a phone adapter that you connect to your router made by Obihai that ties right to your GV account.  As long as you have GV set to call Google chat you can make and receive calls through GV.  You don't need to have a computer running to use it.  I used to use GrooveIp but this is so much easier and the sound, at least in my house, is way better than I ever got with GrooveIp.  There are a couple of models. We use the OBI202 model which lets you connect up to 4 GV accounts (we have 3 in our house) and up to 2 separate cordless phones.  Using the cordless phone has let me stay under 100 min/month easily.  I used to use the Tmobile $30 100min/UL data plan.  Hope this help other people save some money too.

Brian Yun
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This thread is great!  I actually use Talkatone on my Nexus 7 tablet while at home, but it's clunky so I'll definitely download GooveIP this evening and test it out on my LG Optimus S which I just got yesterday and activated this morning.  I'm still kinda test driving the phone though with Ting, given it was only $50 i figured it'd be worth testing it for a few days to a week before dropping my Verizon account and porting over my phone, so I'm waiting until I do that before setting-up Google Voice.

This would work great at home, but I'm not sure it'll work elsewhere since I don't have broadband access at work or anyplace else.  But even if I can cut 300-500 minutes off my plan each month that'll save about $10 if I can keep my minutes under 500.  

Sam Alexander
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Yeah, I use Google Voice to keep my minutes way down as well. At work I just have it forwarded to my direct number (during working hours) so I don't even need to deal with SIP calls at all. At home, I just use GrooveIP or I use the Google Talk client if I am on my laptop of computer.

Kevin Arnold
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Just got the LG Marquee over the weekend and setup Google Voice and I chose Spare Phone over Groove IP.  The native dialer integration is great as I can set it to automatically use Spare Phone to call when Wifi is available.  My wife will never know if she is using minutes or VOIP when calling out.  I initially use Groove IP Lite to test the call quality but I was not happy with the delay. From my experience Spare Phone call quality is a lot better.  Now since I only have GV available on WIFI, I'm trying to find a way to setup the calls from my cell to be intercepted by GV. I'm not sure if this is possible with the full version of Groove IP hopefully someone can respond to this.  

If I forward the GV number to my Ting Number, the phone only rings right before the google voice mail kicks in and it does not give me enough time to pick-up the phone.  This may be a bug, incompatibility with my phone or improper setup on my end.  

Chris A
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@Kevin, when you use the Google voice number on both phone and Computer, can they both ring? I have been using the GV number to reduce my minutes and use them to answer call when there is wifi/3G - by turn off the cell radio (Airplane mode). recently I notice that I missed several call, because when I login to the Google talk on my computer, when someone call my GV number it will ring my computer but not my cell phone. Some article mention that Google talk can only active in 1 device at a time. similarly i ask couple friends that using Obihai, the call to GV number  won't ring on both Obihai and computer or cell phone (on wifi mode).

Do you have any tips/ work around this? 

Amir Djohan
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I hate to sound like a complete ignoramus, but why has nobody mentioned Pinger if the object is to get free texting? All this internal stuff is interesting, but what is the advantage to doing it this way instead of going the Pinger route?

Francis Buchwalder