Today is not my day to shill, but to inform.
Once upon a time, I knew it all. In life, I was a consultant to the telephone industry, since retiring the world has changed and I know less about technology than a 12 year old . This from a guy who no longer has a cell phone, or answering machine.
I came across an IPHONE app that intuitively felt pretty cool, and may be of use to you, or your family.
Line 2 is an the app. It isn't cheap ($15/month), but it may pay for itself a hundred times over. For your $15 here is what you get. A telephone app which looks, works and feels exactly like your standard IPHONE. A second telephone number for your IPHONE. Perhaps a personal number and a business number? Home phones have had that feature for 20 + years. If you have looking for a reason to scrap that seldomly used home phone line, this may be it. Unlimited US and Canadian long distance calling, and about 2 cents a minute elsewhere.
And this may be the real deal for world travelers, those with kids scattered around the world, those who get lousy AT&T reception. Line 2 not only uses the ATT network, but it prefers to use a wireless internet connection to place and receive calls. The internet provides better reception than AT&T, and all calls worldwide are FREE.
If you have a wireless router at home, or your office, the free internet calling may reduce the ATT minutes you need to pay for every month.
My sister in law has kids in school in Australia. No one really wants to use SKYPE any more than they have too. They use it because it's cheap, not because they want to see who they are talking to, except for ADG who uses it to say goodnight to his lovely daughter across town.
SIL and her daughter have found Line 2 to be a cheap and easy substitute. Probably works for military stationed overseas as well.
Obviously, I've never used it, but it sounds useful. Take a look at David Pogues NYT video on Line 2's home page.