negative zero review/updates 2022

2022 September 20

[messaging] [phone] [review] [tech] [xmpp]

In March last year, I reviewed a service called which provides USA and Canada phone numbers for use via XMPP and SIP (using Cheogram). I personally don't have a phone; I just use this service. This post is mostly to talk about updates since my previous post on the matter. The service hasn't changed too much. The main reason for updates is that my situation has changed.

JMP is still in beta, which at the time of writing is set to last "until at least March 2023".

I recently moved from the USA to Canada (the two countries supports). As such, I needed to change my number to a Canadian number. This process was very easy. I simply contacted support. They told me to choose a new number I wanted. I did, and they updated my account.

On that note, my experiences with support have all been positive. I have messaged them a few times with questions or issues, and they have responded in what I consider a reasonable time (from memory, I think it's usually the same day if it's during the work day, or on the next work day) and solved my issues quickly.

I've been actually making and answering phone calls using (something I hadn't done except as a test when I wrote my previous review). Users can make outgoing calls with XMPP clients that support it, but to receive calls and generally have a more call-oriented experience, SIP is a better option. I've been using Linphone as a client, but so far, that's not an optimal experience for a few reasons, including apparent lack of a dark theme. (If there's a desktop SIP client you recommend, please feel free to let me know.)

One thing that's awkward is that outgoing calls use SIP addresses with some jmp subdomain (which Linphone conveniently autofills if I just type in the phone number), but incoming calls just appear to come from the phone number at an IP address. I don't know enough about SIP to really speak to what's going on here, but what it means for me is that when someone calls me, I can't just call them back; I have to copy their number and use that like an outgoing number. Another thing that's awkward about this setup (and I'm not sure if this is SIP, Linphone, or is that I don't get notices about missed calls, which means if I'm offline and someone calls but hangs up without leaving a voicemail, I don't know they called. (If they leave a voicemail, I get XMPP messages about it when I next log in.) only provides 120 minutes for calls per month. I haven't hit this limit yet, but I have been using a lot of minutes since moving (because I'm having to call various organizations, stay on hold while I wait for a representative, etc.) I'm trying to use as few minutes as possible, but I do worry about running out. This is an unusual time for me, though. In normal times, 120 minutes should be plenty.

Overall, I love this service! Seriously. It's a simple thing, but it means I don't have to pay for a full phone plan or have a cell phone. And if someone needs to text me or leave a voicemail, I get it through my favorite messaging protocol: XMPP.

Maybe there are other services that offer cheap phone numbers, but this one generally works well for me and is as privacy-respecting as it can be. (No need to sign up with a government-issued ID, which I think is generally required by normal phone providers in Canada.) It continues to be a good option for me.