Last year, I gave some very specific advice about giving a magicJack for Christmas. Streamlining last year’s advice*:

  • Don’t give a tech gift to someone who doesn’t understand it.
  • Don’t give this to someone who doesn’t have a fast broadband connection.
  • Only give this to someone who directly asked for it.
  • If it’s only going to sit in a drawer, you’ve wasted a gift.

But with blocked extensions, blocked skype and even blocked ISP telephone providers, is magicJack a decent way to start your next year?… magicJack Holiday?MagicJack has been having trouble connecting with many small local phone companies… Now also with Skype and sometimes even Google Voice. Until we know more, don’t count on magicJack as a reasonable gift for VoIP this holiday season. There seems to be a war brewing between regular phone service providers, ISP phone service providers and cheap VoIP phone service providers like magicJack, netTalk and Skype. YMax (The owner of magicJack) is only willing to pay the bottom dollar to connect through some local companies. And those local companies respond by making us pay a per-minute surcharge. Yep — long distance calls to other phones inside the US and Canada. That’s not the promise magicJack made when I signed up. It’s putting a huge dent in my faith in magicJack.

Unless they fix it soon, I’ll be shopping around for a new candidate at which to direct my Google Voice number. My vote this Christmas? Don’t buy a magicJack for a friend. Buy it for yourself if you want to try it out, but frankly? It’s becoming less and less useful as a phone alternative as other providers freeze out this very inexpensive VoIP service. Why are other providers freezing out Ymax/magicJack? magicJack refuses to pay the slightly higher termination charge (connection fee) that many small local phone companies and some ISP’s require in order to connect the call. So they don’t. Instead, you hear a request to buy and use long-distance minutes. The number of competitors raising their rates is significant enough that it’s making it more difficult to reasonably recommend magicJack. If magicJack plans to stay in the game, I suspect they’re going to ask users to pay a substantially-steeper yearly price to keep the service so we can actually connect to our loved ones rather than hear a request to use long-distance minutes or “Ymax connect”.

Will they raise their rates? Probably. Stay tuned.

*Last year’s Christmas post.

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