SIPping from the fountain of VoIP

by Ivan Hamilton 12/17/2007 12:22:00 PM

VoIP is one of those great acronyms floating around in IT that is a general idea, not a particular specififcation. The two main ones are the ITU standard H.323 and the IETF standard SIP. I played with a VoIP phone service provider a number of months ago, and you can't argue with the numbers. In this case, I used the Ekiga softphone.

One issue I had is that we're all too used to a phone as a discrete device. We don't want to have a PC running 24/7, we don't want a PC reboot causing call drop-outs, and we don't want to lose the dial-tone reliabilty of standard phone services.

Enter the Linksys SPA3102. It includes my must-have feature: "If power is lost to the unit or Internet service is down, calls can be redirected to a traditional carrier via the FXO interface." I'll never trust my ISP completely.

These units were available for about $95 delivered (beware the ones locked to a single provider). I grabbed mine from Warcom. I like these guys... order one day, on the door-step the next. I've used them before, and probably will again.

I was concerned about the complexity of configuration to get this little machine to work. The configuration pages are pretty daunting. Bravely, I plugged it in, entered the name, password and server from my VoIP provider. Just for kicks, I picked up the phone and rang my mobile. It worked. Damn... it worked. I called back my VoIP number from the mobile... the phone rang.

We'll see after a decent test duration, but in the last few days my call charges are 1/30th of what I was paying with my POTS provider.

All we need now, is to be able to get the copper pair for our ADSL without having to get a phone service. This has been made possible recently, but the total saving would be about $2 a month. Not worth losing the POTS for.

If you've been thinking about trying VoIP. Dive in... it's not too bad.

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"My inner nerd can beat up your inner nerd."

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