Jump to content


Online media matters

Main Page Rants

Going dry with DSL

Separating my phone number from my DSL service

The first article in what I hope to be an occasional series.

My long journey to toward abandoning my plain-old-telephone line in favour of the sexy-sounding, but much cheaper, VoIP has begun. The drive away from my local service provided (Bell Canada) is mainly a result of the bait-and-switch-feel of some of its recent promotions, and a phone bill approaching $60/month — and that’s just with voicemail and about 100 minutes of long distance. A VoIP option from Vonage or Primus would cost be a monthly fee of $16 – $40.

The first step, though, is to separate my current phone number from the high-speed, DSL Internet service I get through a Bell company (like my own employer), Sympatico. Because this ability only became available a few months ago, there’s little information about what is called “dry DSL” or “naked DSL” — most of what I found was in forum postings from this spring.

On Sunday, I called Vonage to set-up the VoIP service and work with Bell to separate the phone number and line. Unfortunately, I was told Vonage couldn’t do this, and I needed to contact Sympatico myself.

So, this morning, I called the Bell High Speed Centre at 1-866-635-0773, negotiated the prompts (1-1-2) and was put on hold with generic Muzak-like sounds for about fifteen minutes.

Once I finally spoke to someone and I said I’d like a dry-DSL service. She asked for my address, and upon being hearing which apartment it was, she denied that unit existed. Assuring her it did, I mentioned my phone number and she then realized I already had service.

At this point, she said I needed to ask my new local provider to separate my line. Sighing, I hesitatingly explained that my prospective VoIP provider told it’s Bell’s job to separate the lines. She reiterated it was the VoIP company’s job. We went around on the details for a bit, until, exasperated I think, she explained how this is a new service that there’d been other cases where problems occurred separating the phone service before switching carriers. In all my research I’d not heard anything about this (except from others warning it might be used by Bell as an excuse). As Ruth began her wrap-up spiel, I said my goodbyes.

Now I think I’ll try Primus, but it’s not looking good.