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

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Comments

83 comments
  • Pinger appears to require a separate number and cannot integrate with your existing phone service, at all. The approaches discussed in this thread are ways of offloading your text and voice traffic to wifi when you're near an access point, and using standard cell service otherwise, with a single phone number.

    Do you have any details about how Pinger provides its service or what it's like to use? The site appears to be a marketing portal with little of substance on it.

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  • Well, Talbot, yes - that's a helluva difference! Thanks for saving me from that illusion.

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  • I used GrooveIP from my old carrier phone, now used as a wifi-only device with some success.   I've had better luck with an OBI110 bought from Amazon which also uses Google Talk - I experience a lot less lag and it works with regular phones plugged into it (good for free home phone service as long as the Internet connection's working).  {Not offloading to wifi per-se, but certainly offloading to the Internet, and my tel# is the same when someone calls me back.}

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  • Just my personal Google Voice (GV) share. This combination has been working for me, hope it helps someone else down the road:

    Ported my number to GV, it can route my calls one of two ways depending on the availability of a Wifi access point or not.

    If Wifi is on AND I am connected to an access point all my calls are routed through my dedicated Skype phone number via GV. I set Skype to show the caller ID as my GV number, so the caller never even sees the dedicated Skype number, it's transparent regardless the call direction.

    If Wifi is off or not connected to an access point then GV routes all my calls through Ting via my new number, yet again by using GV it looks like my old ported number.

    This is also done automatically by using the Android "Groove Forwarder" app. This logs into my Google Voice account and lets me quickly change the phone routing in GV easier and faster than setting preferred devices via a browser. I had loaded it when trying out GrooveIP app, It does not require you to use GrooveIP but it had some integration features. Since removing GrooveIP altogether I found that Groove Forwarder is even more straight forward now as a Google Voice settings controller. When Automatic settings are enabled in Groove Forwarder you can tell it the desired device/number to use for WiFI and the one for no WiFi. My experience is that it reads the change state of my Wifi directly and (if connected to an access point) it will route all the calls through my preferred number, in my case Skype as it's very cheap. If I have no WiFi AP connection then it routes the calls through the standard carrier (Ting).

    It does this all by automatically by changing the Google Voice preferred device list depending on the current connection. An added plus is my cell phone no longer rings both from my standard dialer and Skype at the same time as it once did. Sure I could do this myself just by changing Google Voice settings but I don't HAVE to.

    Like many others I tried GrooveIP and have found it to be unreliable with too much static, echo, etc.. After messing with all the settings for the last week I have given up on it. It's paid for so I would not mind it improving, I'll try again when it does.

    Another plus with GV, Groove Forwarder and Skype... if I am in the office working on the computer or working on the laptop somewhere in the house I don't even have to pull my phone out to answer when it rings, I just answer on the computer via Skype.

    My total cost to do this setup was:

    GV, $20  to port my number

    Groove Forwarder app $1

    Skype Subscription $3/month to allow calls to mobiles and landlines

    Skype dedicated phone number $30/year (this is half price from $60 if you sign up for the above Subscription first)

    Plus Ting of course, but that is a given

    GV can and does have issues sometimes, it did for me this weekend and again today with service interruptions. I ported my main number to Google so when it goes down I am all jacked up. I hope it's more rare than common since I really like my current setup, a lot.

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  • Where have all of you been in my life? ;) I've wanted this exact solution for months. Started with Groove IP lite, loved it, so I purchased the full version to show my support of the developer. Unfortunately, after a couple of updates the app became unreliable, so I switched to Talkatone and have been satisfied to date. My Sprint contract ended in September, and I was riding the WiFi only train, but kept an eye out for affordable mobile data. Was thinking about getting a Freedompop Mifi device, but saw the article on Engadget yesterday about BYOD to Ting, dusted off my old Evo 4g, and am thrilled to be on Ting now =)

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  • Hey Mark, no mention of Google Voice anywhere in all that mix, so you don't enjoy mashing it all together and making gulosh? :)   So much more fun that way  just trying to troubl shoot it all. If you find something cool then be sure to share. And Welcome!

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  • Hi Daniel,

    my bad! :) I just kind of figured it was a given. But yeah, who doesn't love gulosh?

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  • True, true.

    Anyone know of another switching app that can control GV like Groove Forwarder? Every so often Groove Forwarder will hang (much of this I believe has to do with issues Google itself, though not 100% sure). Still would like to find other apps that can change my GV for my WiFi and non WiFi configuration.

     

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  • Thanks to all for posting above. I am in the process of switching 4 lines from Verizon. Needless to say, I will be saving a few dollars..

    I do have a question, though. If I use the native messenger apps for texting or the native voice dialer for phone calls while on WiFi only, will those texts or minutes be free? Or must I use the above recommendations? I thought any app used while on Wi-Fi only would be free? Please help clear this up for me. Thanks!

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  • @Susan

    The native apps will use minutes and text, or data even while you are on WIFI. You will need to use apps specifically made for using WIFI. Some apps like GrooveIP can be set to use the builtin dialer while on WIFI but most apps use thir own interface. Calling with an app that uses your doing ata rather than WIFI can cost you more than your Ting minutes. 

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  • Ok! Thanks Zarthan South, Ting Army. Happy New Year!

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  • I'm a new Ting user with a Samsung Ultra phone. I installed GrooveIP and GV on the phone to use wifi for calls & texts when at home. However, when people send texts to my GV #, the text messages received still appear on the dashboard and are being counted against my Ting plan quota. My GV settings are set to forward calls to my Ting # and to receive texts on this phone.

    Maybe my settings on GrooveIP or GV are incorrect. Can someone please help me figure out what's going on?

    Leo

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  • Leonardo Uzcategu - I think you might need to change a setting in Google Voice, under your account online.  If you look, I believe there is a setting that allows you to not have text messages forwarded to your number.  It might not be that but that is where I would look first.

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  • Leonardo:

    Duncan is correct; while logged in your Google account go to the phones tab of your Google voice settings https://www.google.com/voice#phones

    and see that the selection is per your needs.

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  • Duncan & Robin - Thanks, but if I uncheck the check-box "Receive text messages on this phone" where will the texts be sent to? Isn't the point to be able to send & receive texts on the phone via the wifi connection?

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  • It should be sent to your Google voice app on your phone.  You have that installed already.  Try it.

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  • Another benefit with GV for texting is that you can use GV from your desktop and a real keyboard. 

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  • To help clarify this a bit, the Google Voice web settings on what to send to the phone are always for using the normal cell network: voice and SMS.

    The other way to use Google Voice is via the Internet. GrooveIP accomplishes this by using the same connection used for Google Chat (the thing inside the web Gmail client). The GV app on the phone accomplishes this periodically checking the GV site for things like new voicemails and text messages.

    These two completely separate approaches are what all this stuff is managing.

    Note that in the case of text messages specifically, you can't reliably choose which method (SMS or Internet) is used automatically. This means that if you use the GV app for texting, then when you're away from wifi you must use cell data (3G/4G) to continue receiving texts. If you want to turn off cell data, then you must use SMS all the time. (You can of course change this at any time yourself, but there's no combination of settings and apps that will do it automatically without fail.)

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  • Not sure if this has been mentioned previously: Is there anyway to display my Ting number instead of my GV number when callers receive calls from me?

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  • You don't mention how you are making the call. If the call is made using something like Groove IP then no. If you are using the Google Voice App to switch between the GV number and the Ting number (using Cell minutes) then the number you choose when you make the call will be the number that the person receiving the call sees. 

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  • I meant that I was using the Groove IP app. Thank you for clarifying. What would happen if I ported my number over to Google Voice? Would I still be able to use the Ting service?

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  • Yes you can port the number and you can still use Ting. I use my accounts that way. I ported my cell phone numbers to Ting. If you use Groove IP it uses the GV number (your old Ting number) . When you call using cell minutes you can choose to have all calls use the Google Voice number. Your callers will see the call coming from the GV number (your old Ting number).

    When you port the number to Google the Ting phone would no longer have a number. You then need to activate the Ting phone again from the dashboard and get a new number. The porting to Google costs $20 dollars and takes almost exactly 24 hours. Just did this again on Friday. 

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  • @Scott

    Should mention that once you get the new number you will need to do a handsfree activation. So  # # 72786 # and the MSL. 

    Since we have very poor reception at home, having our numbers ported to Google meant we could use an OBi device to answer the GV number on a cordless phone while at home.  At the time we started with Ting the Airave wasn't available. Moving the numbers to Google was a much better alternative for us. 

     

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  • Ok,

    I think I understand. So, right now I have a Ting number and a GV number. I would like to use my Ting number because its the number that all of my friends and family already know. However, to cut my costs a bit, I thought it would be a good idea to port that number to GV, and then use Groove IP to make all of my calls. Once I port the number to GV, I'm assuming my Ting account will be briefly inactive until I activate it again. Is that correct?

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  • @Scott

    You are correct about the account being inactive until you reactivate. It should only take a few minutes once the number has been ported.

    I was never satisfied with the call quality of GrooveIP or Talkatone. While it probably sounded OK on my end it usually had problems on the other end. YMMV so make sure you are saving money in the right place. Calls using the data connection (not wifi) will cost you more than minutes. Add your landline number(s) to GV so that you get good quality calls without minutes. Cell minutes are cheap with Ting so don't compromise on quality. 

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  • Yeah,

    That makes sense. I don't want to have call quality issues. However, I do text way more than I call people. I've used Google Voice to text on my phone, but the texts still come from that google voice number. Would I have to port my number to google voice to ensure that my texts are coming from my default TING number? Also, when I text with GV, I get a replied message with my default texting app and the GV app. Is there a way to set it up so that I only recieve them through the GV app?

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  • I don't know of any other method to have the cell number appear unless it is ported. There may be some but ???  Do remember that GV does not support MMS messages so if that is important to you consider the consequences. Someone sending you pictures won't know that it failed and you won't know that they sent them. There is an app that can send a link to pictures using your GV number, but no receiving.  https://play.google.com/store/search?q=senditpro&c=apps

    You can try unchecking "Receive text messages on this phone" in GV settings. 

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  • @Zarthan South:  That's actually not completely true.  I get MMS messages, but they come through my GMail.  It's been happening for a while, so I'm not sure when this was implemented.

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  • Google has just recently started working on enabling an MMS workaround. As of very recently it was limited to internetwork Sprint MMS messages so if you are getting MMS (gmail) from other carriers it is a good thing. 

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  • Anyone uses locale? I'm having trouble setting it up the way I want it. What I'm trying to do is have grooveip on while at home using wifi to conserve minutes and turn off when using locales default situation when outside and while at work to save some battery. At work i'll use 3g and the native dialer to call through google voice. Is there anyway to do that because grooveip drains the battery a little and if I can get it to turn on and off based on location it would be great. 

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