Build Your Own Cheap VOIP Phone Connection.
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Build Your Own Cheap VOIP Phone Connection.
I have written on another hub that I’m not a big fan of VOIP and that is true. VOIP is however not totally bad, it does have it’s place. One great use I have found for a VOIP setup is that it can offer you a very low cost way to add another phone line to your home or business if you have an existing broadband internet connection.
So what’s the secret to constructing a cheap VOIP phone. First of all, do not link yourself with one of the popular services. I do not use Vonage or AT&T or for that matter any large vendor, I built it all myself.
I was curious as to how far the VOIP world had progressed from days long ago. I had my fingers in VOIP many years ago when just the VOIP boards were thousands of dollars. Back then it was definitely NOT a usable consumer product. I was quite pleased to see that many vendors now offered VOIP ATA’s (Analog Terminal Adapters, the box that turns an analog telephone to digital packets that can traverse the internet and get to whomever you are calling). I was even more surprised to find out that there are several great web sites on the matter and that the ATA’s are quite cheap, a wide selection under 100.00.
VOIP utilize something called SI. SIP’s formal non abbreviated name is the “Session Initiation Protocol”. SIP is what is known as a “signaling protocol” this enables things like instant messaging, SMS, conferencing and finally telephones to communicate on the internet. There are also other things that go along with it like “codec’s” to do most of the work. I’m not going to go into technical details here as the purpose of this hubpage is to make a cheap IP phone setup, not understand voice protocols and analog to digital conversion schemes.
HERE IS HOW I BUILT MINE:
I’ll provide links in the links section at the bottom of the hub rather than in the article to hopefully make it easier to read.
Buy the right Analog Terminal Adapters (ATA):
Since most ATA’s are “locked” to a specific carrier.. much like your AT&T cell phone is locked to the AT&T network and it can’t be used on Verizon’s network. The ATA is the same, if you have one and it’s locked to say “Vonage” then it’s useless unless you have the unlock password or they will give you the password , it’s a useless device for the purposes here.
You can however get an unlocked ATA very easily. Simply go to google and search , I suggest the Linksys PAP2T it works well for me and has the capability to have 2 phones plugged into it. I very much like my Linksys ATAT but pick your own ATA of choice. This is the device you will plug into your router and then you plug your phone into the ATA. Voxilla.com is one option.. I chose to buy my ATA from the internet and it works great. They shipped it quickly and it works great.
Have a reliable and speedy Internet connection:
Dialup will not work, I’d recommend a FIOS, cable connection or higher speed DSL connection. To have a usable VOIP connection you have to have a broadband internet connect that’s reasonably fast and reliable. The 384 kbps DSL connections may possibly work but it’s going to likely sound like your talking through tin cans and be horrible in quality.
Find a VOIP Vendor:
You need to decide on what I will call for conversations sake a “SIP carrier”. This is the “Vonage” replacement in my home built VOIP system. After much searching and comparison. I chose a place called sipgate.com.
I registered for an account and was allocated a free telephone number for my area. This allows people to call you and sipphone can route calls to that number. Translated to English, this call-in number makes your new IP phone ring at your house. You can also buy call out credits for I believe $10.00 dollar increments and they expire in 180 days from purchase , the rates are low around 2.0 cents for calls to Australia for example. Better than a calling card I think, no call setup charges and no long strings of numbers to dial, you just call direct. They offer free voicemail and a few other features. It’s pretty simple and works for my needs.
Couple of notes on Sipgate.com
The sipgate account is free, no monthly cost. The cost is only in the cost of the ATA (about $60.00) If it’s not for you voip.org has a HUGE selection to compare, it took me several weeks to decide on sipgate . I used voip.orgs comparison tool, the problems I had in picking vendors was that it was very hard to compare apples to apples, most often I found myself comparing apples to oranges that why it took a long time. This is an important choice, but you can change it easily if you make a mistake. The change might cost you some money but switching is possible. I have not switched but I expect I will at some point in the future. I’m reasonably happy with sipphone, but be warned support is via a forum or ticket system and they are not quick. My experience is to not expect a quick turn around, expect days not minutes. I have had a few outages but not many and this line is not mission critical to me. A few new vendors may even appear on ads on this hub, it might be worth checking those out, that’s how I initially found sipphone.
Start the Ball Rolling:
Once you have chosen the SIP vendor and have a account etc. I’d order the ATA from your place of choice as I indicated above. While you wait for your ATA, register on voxilla.com for a account as well as sipphone.com if they are your vendor of choice. Once you get your ATA. Now we need to configure the ATA to work with the SIPGATE vendor. This is were Voxilla comes in very handy, but you need to have an account. They have some pretty slick configuration utilities , they call it the configuration wizard, I’ll provide a link below. Log into your Voxilla account and look the one up for the PAP2t , have your account information all handy from sipphone and start the configuration process. I’m not going to give detailed instructions here, as the permutations of configuration are endless. I also can’t really help if it does not work. Mine worked minus a few glitches right out of the box
There are things that can make this a real challenge . Asymmetric Firewalls can cause a stun server to not function correctly and you may have to statically assign a IP address to the ATA and port forward the required ports to the internet back and forth. I do this all the time. I used to configure Cisco switches for large corporate networks so this is not intimidating to me but to a average user port forwarding can be a nightmare. Maybe that’s the subject of another hub, but it ‘a dry subject to anyone other than a networking techie. I suggest if the option comes up to use a “Stun” server. This will hopefully prevent you from having to play the port forwarding game. Sipphone provides that information for your account.
Try a Call:
Plug your phone into the phone port you configured on the ATA, and try to call yourself from another line, I did and it works like magic. It’s a great line to publish on flyers, ads, business forms, etc. The call-in number lasts for 1 year for 36.00 (there are shorter term agreements) but if you get too much spam on that number ditch it after a year (or your term you agreed to ) and get a new number from Sipphone.
My setup has been pretty stable. I do not use this line for anything critical. I’d by no means use this as my main line unless I had no other choice. I have heard that Sipphone has an unusual purchase out credit scheme. It appears they hand check all first time call out credits to help avoid fraud and this can take some time to approve so plan ahead say a week. Once the first purchase goes through all others after that should have no issues according to the post I have read. I have not tried this as I indicated I have no need to dial out on the phone at this time. Overall I have a cheap phone that runs over my existing internet connection. So if you look at the cost for me.
· ATA purchase (one time ) $60.00
· sipgate.com call out number $0.00
Total cost $60.00 for year one and that includes the ATA cost.
If I assume all that ATA cost is placed in the first year use next year all I have is that cost That’s $0.00 a month for a valid number, not bad.
Your mileage may vary and this has technical challenges that could be pretty complicated, it’s also not for folks who are not technical in my opinion. But if your at all inclined or curious and do not care if you lose a few dollars on equipment and services if it does not work give it a shot.
Try this at you own risk and I can’t/won’t provide tech support. I simply provided what works for me and I decided to share. Hopefully you can use this information or a permutation to get something running up cheap for yourself. Happy VOIP’ng.
VOIP LINKS FOR THIS HUB
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