A downside of VoIP

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I live in Germany but maintain a US-based VoIP number through a VoicePulse.com account. The VoIP account allows Rebecca and me to cheaply call the US, and gives our friends and family a “local” US number at which they can reach us in Germany. I’ve got a standard digitally cordless analog phone (heh) that plugs into a Fritzbox supplied by my ISP - 1und1.de. The Fritzbox is a wonderful piece of kit that works as a DSL modem, DHCP-enabled router, WIFI AP, and has two analog telephone adapters (ATAs) built-in. Since 1und1 gives us a free German VoIP number, the FritzBox handles three incoming and outgoing phone lines - my VoicePulse US number, my 1und1 Germany number, and my standard analog line supplied by Deutsche Telekom. Any incoming call lights up all phones connected to the FritzBox. Add in mine and Rebecca’s mobile phones, and in one apartment we have five phone numbers between the two of us. It only seems slightly overkill.

The downside to all of this global connectivity is that people can no longer assume we’re physically tied to a location based on our phone number. When I signed up with VoicePulse, I chose a Charleston, South Carolina area code + prefix. A few years ago, this number identified you to a certain area determined by your phone company. Now, with US number portability and VoIP, locations and numbers are completely detached. My Voicepulse number can ring at a Starbucks in Hong Kong just as well as it does here in Stuttgart.

Quite often our US line will ring anywhere from midnight to 2AM CET, which means we’re likely already in bed or about to be. Midnight to 2AM CET is 6:00-8:00 PM EST - prime-time for telemarketers or overly eager bank representatives to call. I usually just conduct whatever business they are calling to conduct and then politely explain that they’re actually calling Germany, and that I’m anywhere from 6 to 9 hours ahead of them. “Please note this in your system,” I would say. That seems to work well enough.