Hold The Phone: Now You Can Use Your Cellular Plan With Your Good Ol' Home Phones
If you're one of the increasing number of residential phone customers who have dropped your good ol' landline phone for your cell phone, perhaps even exceeding your comfort zone a little like many Boomers (including me and Mrs. Telecom) who still like the idea of wires (younger readers are saying "...and silent films, 8-track tapes, and chain mail..."). you probably saw the fiscal advantages. Particularly if you're not a hefty household with a passel of persons waiting in line to chat, you decided "Why pay for a cell phone AND a landline?". Mrs T. and I saved about $30 a month, particularly since our Verizon plans have unlimited long distance. There's just the two of us empty-nesters and we don't yak a lot so, as long as we keep an eye on those peak minutes, we can talk all we want at night and on the weekend.
But there is a downside from a functional standpoint: ever tried to have two people on a cell phone at the same time? Even the speakerphone in a mobile phone is tinnier and weaker than one in a desk phone. If we want to talk to her Mom and Dad, we either have to use the speaker in one of our cell phones or we pass the phone back and forth like a hot potato. Something gets lost in the transition...
ADD AN EXTENSION TO YOUR CELL PHONE
Enter Cell Fusion Gateway (Model 21518EE1) made for GE by Thomson. This little box goes for $30 at Fry's and was quite easy to set up. It's fairly easy to use but not transparent. In essence, it connects your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone to any analog phone - now you can pick up your good old phone to get and take calls just like back in the old "Number Pleuhs" days.
I tested it with my LG Voyage Cell Phone. Your experience may vary. Pairing it was a snap - you just press the Line 1 button on the Cell Fusion box (which is only a few inches square and can be hidden out of sight" then turn on your phone's Bluetooth being sure the phone is configured to allow itself to be found (if you're not intimate with your cell phone's Bluetooth use, RTFM). Once your phone says "OK, I'm paired" the blue flashing light on the Cell Fusion box turns solid blue. All you have to do is keep the phone within 30-ish feet of the Cell Fusion box because Bluetooth is a "personal area network" protocol and isn't made for long distances.
IT'S FOR YOU...
Now, plug your phone(s) into the jack on the Cell Fusion box. The connection provides "battery", dialtone, and ringing voltage for your phone - i.e., it looks to the desk phone like the jack on the wall (that's now dead and full of cobwebs - sniff sniff, so sad...) and the phone company. When your cell phone rings, don't answer IT. It will make a Bluetooth connection to Cell Fusion which will then ring your desk phone. Pick it up and start gabbing.
MAKE THE CALL
Placing a call from your desk phone takes a little more thought. You have to dial a 3 digit code to tell Cell Fusion which cell phone to use (you can have two if you want - I do not so I find this a minor nuisance). Once done, you get dial tone and dial away.
If you have a 2-handset cordless-plus-speaker phone like I have from my landline days, this works great. The Panasonic cordless phones have no idea they're not connected to Grandma Bell. Mrs. T and I can both pick up a cordless phone and talk. One can use a cordless and one can use the speaker. If you like the "extension" concept but don't have cordless phones, just plug a 2-phone coupler into Cell Fusion then connect two desk phones. If you're handy, you COULD connect the jack on Cell Fusion to your existing house wiring to feed all the existing extensions. NOTA BENE!!! If you're not truly familiar with phones and electricity, you could damage your Cell Fusion if anything else, like telco's BATTERY (48VDC) or 90 VOLTS OF RINGING SINGALLING is on that wire, too!!! Also, I have no ideas what the REN is for this product - that means, I don't know how many phones the Cell Fusion can feed at once without croaking. Don't gripe to me or GE or your retailer if you try this and the smoke escapes from the little doodads in the box.
As mentioned, this unit can talk to two cell phones. It can also connect to a landline. So, if you're not among those of us making the switch, you can still put Cell Fusion to use and it integrates itself so that, if you pick up your desk phone you can
- simply dial a landline call
- dial a code and place a cellular call on cell phone number 1
- dial a different code and do the same on cell phone number 2
- receive calls, likewise, from any of these 3 source.
With my Voyager, at least, I dont like the fact that, when it's paired to the Cell Fusion box, I can't use the cell phone. The cell phone DOES announce calls but it's otherwise silent. To listen to voicemail, likewise, I must use the handset. Of course, turning off the Voyager's BlueTooth or turning off the Cell Fusion's blue lighted button or simply carrying the Voyager out of range solves this problem,
I found it difficult to always get Cell Fusion to re-pair with the Voyager. Again, this could be Voyager's BT implementation and not a minus for Cell Fusion.
Many stores like Fry's have a pretty simple return policy. So, if you like the idea but are not sure if it's "too much technology" (Mrs. Telecom) you can try it out and see. Personally, I'm glad to pick up the old Western Electric 2500, a fine hunk-o-iron in my hand, and make a good old fashioned cell phone call. Myrtle, ring up Sheriff Andy for me would you? And send Otis a text message for me too, wouldja?