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Home Phone Connect 4

I am trying to understand the impact of replacing a landline, with HPC4 on Ting's Sprint.  This person currently has a VTEC cordless phone and she sees inbound Caller IDs (names). I understand that the HPC4 only gets numeric phone numbers and does NOT pass along inbound Caller ID names.  Will the VTEC phone still display the caller ID name, but based on Contacts? 

Shirley Hyatt

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Hi Shirley,

Most caller IDs will only be displayed when calling landlines so it would indeed be numeric phone numbers being displayed just like if a cell number was being called. Contacts can also be added to have the name selected display when a call is received from a particular number/contact.

Christian Robinette 0 votes
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I was wondering about this too. Did you get the HPC4? If so, how do you like it?

Do the messages work the same? If you don't pick up, do you hear them speak while they leave a message on the VTEC answering machine?

Roger Baker 0 votes
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Roger:  I did get the HPC4, and my review follows.  Short answer is, the messages work the same, and yes, you can hear the callers as they leave a VM just like we did with the landline.  

I decided to be complete with my review--apologies if it is too long-winded.

Review of HPC 4

I firmly believe that this sort of device is needed in the United States, as there are plenty of people in the US who do not have (or cannot afford) broadband or cannot use cell phones.  (62 million Americans in urban centers and 16 million in rural locations can’t access fast internet.)  The person I am setting this up for is a senior, low income, and has some minor short term memory issues impacting her remembering to take her cell phone out of her purse and plug it in regularly.

She has been paying Frontier $70/mo for landline—and about half of that is for taxes and surcharges.  Broadband in that geographic area is more than $110/month--there is simply no competition with Comcast in the area, and Frontier doesn’t offer DSL. She carries a cell phone but she also needs the big, visible, stationary landline with handset that remains plugged in all the time. 

So she needed a replacement for her landline, and I believe she had just a few alternatives:

  1. Wifi-based telephone such as Ooma or Obihai. This was not feasible because of the cost of broadband in her area.
  2. BT Gateway with a Ting number. I suspect this would be a good alternative, but seemed…complex for this person.
  3. Home Phone Connect

HPC seemed the best (simplest, cheapest) option. I’ve tested it for about 2 weeks.  She has a strong Sprint signal.  

Sound quality is quite fine, no worse than my own Ooma (VOIP) phone system.  One person complained they were having trouble hearing me due to noise on the system, but that occurs with Ooma occasionally, too.    

The HPC had some worrisome misdialing. About 20% of the time the HPC returned a message that the number I dialed is not in service.  Sometimes it returned that message in Spanish!  I redial and the call goes through. (Possibly one must… dial…very…  sloooowly.)  In one case I got dead air, repeatedly, for a specific landline number.  I changed out handsets and experimented calling that number with other cell phones—the problem clearly was with the HPC device. (The call eventually went through and has been successful since.)

Setup was pretty straightforward, but if your goal is to put this where the old landline was, be aware that:  

--the charging cord for the HPC is not long.

--you will need a device that has a “call” button (we have some 40 year old handsets on which you dial a telephone number and Ooma just connects. Like cell phones, the HPC won’t attempt a connection until you press the handset’s call button.)

--you will probably need a modern cordless phone with a digital screen.  More about that next.

There were no troubleshooting instructions for the HPC 4, on the Ting web site (just HPC2 and HPC3). Ting suggested I use the HPC3 instructions.   However, these instructions refer to a "Menu button.” The HPC4 has no Menu button. The Ting rep told me that this refers to the Menu button on the handset. However, when I connect the HPC4 to my cordless phone’s base station,  the phone’s Menu button performed like it did with the landline—HPC4’s functionality options do not magically appear. I have been unable to do any of the Menu button functions described on the Ting web site or HPC4 manual. UPDATE: I found a user guide for the HPC4 here: <https://www.sprint.com/content/dam/sprint/commerce/devices/zte/sprint_phone_connect_4/documents/sprint-phone-connect-4-user-guide.pdf>

and it includes calling codes rather than Menu buttons. 

The HPC 4 has a “pin reset” hole under the back panel.  I tried restoring it to factory settings with that. It did something—maybe a carrier reset?—but automatically reactivated the telephone number on account.  I’m not sure what we will do when it is time to retire the device. 

When you migrate from landline to HPC, you lose Caller ID.  I installed the HPC 4  with a cordless system from Vtech.  Some cordless systems allow you to batchload your contacts from a cell phone. Her Vtech model did not have this functionality, so I entered her Contacts one-by-one, manually.  Tedious data entry! but it worked—when a known contact calls, the contact’s caller ID displays. 

The HPC offers its own voicemail, which picks up after 5-6 rings.  I set her Vtec base station to go to voicemail after 4 rings, so the “answering machine” works like it did before HPC4 (i.e. the Vtec is the primary answering service).  Please note that Ting’s web site says, “…Your answering machine may not always collect messages as you anticipate when used with an HPC.” What does that mean? We probably won’t find out.  I’d like the option to turn the HPC answering service completely off.

 The HPC has a backup battery, but of course modern cordless phones won’t work in a power outage.  There are 2 RJ11 ports on this device.  I’m wondering whether I can plug a second corded phone into the 2nd port, to be used in case of emergency.  

 A couple other issues to think about:  you lose the automatic Emergency Notification System normally provided to Landlines (assuming your county offers this). You will be charged for both inbound and outbound calls (as with any cell phone) and so your quantity of minutes will be higher than they were on your old landline. 

 This device is somewhat irritating because I know it runs on Android, but lacks all the goodies that modern cell phones offer, including text messaging and apps for call blocking.  And, the HPC4 regularly uses data. (Here’s 8 days’ data usage: 0.15mb, 0.24mb, 0.21mb, 0.25mb, 0.14mb, 0.19mb, 0.23mb.)   I believe I read elsewhere that the data is when the HPC receives updates, but …everyday?

So that’s my review after a couple weeks with HPC4.  We will go from $70/mo to maybe $18/month (if we don't share data and minutes, or include taxes.) We’re keeping it!  And  we hope it works out in the long-run.  If not, I’ll update this review. 

 

Shirley Hyatt 0 votes
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Thanks for your lengthy review Shirley.

I wonder what happens if you never set up the HPC voice mail.Would it allow your regular phone's answering machine to work as expected on the number of rings that you set up. Or, does the HPC say after 5 rings something like "Sorry, this user's voicemail is not set up"

The problem with it calling the incorrect number may be an issue. If you suspect it is speed of dialing, I wonder how a pre-programmed phone number would work.

-Roger

 

Roger Baker 0 votes
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Hi Roger, 
 
I wanted to test this HPC before porting the old LL number to it, so I requested a new number from Ting, and activated it with a corded handset. A brief amount of time after activation--perhaps a day, I cannot recall--the HPC voicemail light started blinking, indicating there was a message waiting. The phone also emits an intermittent dial tone indicating there is a message. The only way to access HPC voice messages is to press *86 from the connected handset. I did that, and the system told me I had to set up VM to access the message. In the end, the message was simply a system message about setting up VM.  VM seemed to be there already, just lacking the greetings etc. So, my answer to your first question is: Sprint will pester you into setting up VM on the HPC.
 
After that, I tried to do a factory reset but, well, see my review about that.
 
I don't think there is a way to turn off HPC 4's voicemail altogether--at least, it's not mentioned in the user guide. 
 
The formerly-landline device simply retained all its old VM settings. There seemed to be no interaction between our cordless VTEC, and the HPC, besides sending the call signals through. I don't think the HPC is even aware of the VTEC answering functionality. So in answer to "Would it allow...", My experience was "yes it would, so long as your VTEC VM is set up to go to VM in 4 rings or less. At 5-6 rings, it goes to the HPC voicemail automatically. At least that's my experience.
 
I wish I had thought to try speed dial when I set it up! The person for whom I set it up lives several hundred miles away, so that'll have to wait until next visit.
 
--Shirley
Shirley Hyatt 0 votes
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I mentioned the speed dial thing, because since I would be loosing caller id, I would pre-program the numbers that I wanted to recognize and answer. Since they would be stored in the phone, I would probably use that system to call my contacts rather than manually entering them.

Roger Baker 0 votes
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Eugene: I am not sure but will check next time I have the device in front of me--which will be Jan. The device cones with the Sim already installed. I do not recall any (obvious) slot.

Shirley Hyatt 0 votes
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Shirley, thank you so much for your review! Like you, I wanted to try the HPC4 out before porting the LL number I've had since 1976. I activated it today using a new Ting number. I've made some calls and I'm being told I sound like I'm making a phone call over the bluetooth device in my car and that there is an tinny, echo sound. Is that what you've experienced? On the receiving end it's fine. Question for you, or anyone else, I'm using a cordless phone and the HPC4 and the phone's base unit are next to each other. Would that effect the call clarity? I've spent around $100 on this and I hope it will work because it should greatly reduce my phone bill. When you call the lady, is the call quality okay? Thank you!

Teresa Kelly 0 votes
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Teresa, we haven't really experienced your problem with any consistency. Occasionally, yes, but not for the most part. We actually have the cordless phone's base station sitting on top of the HPC4! I would never recommend that but we were pressed for table space. I would suggest TRYING them distant to each other to see if there is less interference; also trying a different cordless device just as a troubleshooting matter; borrow a neighbor's. But above all, I suggest calling Ting while the device is still under warranty, as they might have some solutions.

Shirley Hyatt 0 votes
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I've been using the HPC 4 for almost two months now and so far it's working out very well.  (Thanks to Shirley for her helpful review.)

I have it set up where my phone has always been and usually get 2 or 3 signal bars.  On occasion it'll go to 1 bar but I haven't had any trouble making or receiving calls, except for a couple of times when I would dial a number and get a recorded message saying I needed to dial an area code first (which I always do anyway).  It would take another redial or two for the call to go through.   Calls come in clear and those I talk to say they hear me about as well as the landline I had.  It's hooked up to an answering system so I can still screen calls.
 
The best part is I'm paying less than a third of what I was paying Frontier for service that always went out when it rained.    I wish I had signed up with Ting and the HPC4 a lot sooner and hope it works out in the long run.  
Susan Sims 0 votes