Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Inexpensive Phone Setup

I thought I'd share our phone setup to pass the savings on to others.  Right now we probably pay $2-$3/mo - that's with e911 service and a $.019/minute call-out rate, received phone calls are free (as are calls made through Google Voice, so we rarely pay the per minute rate).

What's Needed

  • Linksys PAP2T-NA ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) that we paid $50 for, this allows you to use a regular analog phone to make and receive calls
  • Internet service (not sure how fast it needs to be for good quality, ours has been between 3 and 6Mbps and we've had no problems - so you may be able to do less)
  • Analog phone (cordless or corded, doesn't matter)
  • Google Voice Account - This will become your primary number, for $20 they can port your existing mobile or landline number into your account (This step is optional, but required if you want to make free out-going calls - at least for now.  Sipgate can do pretty much everything GV can, but will cost you $.019/min which is still pretty cheap - 1000 min would cost you $19.)  Google Voice can also let you choose which phones ring (all or just one) when certain people call, allows for easy call screening, and voicemails get sent to your email address.  The only downside is that caller-id doesn't work for us, but call screening helps, and as long as the contact is in our Google Contacts, it shows up correctly on our Android cell phones.
  • Sipgate One Account - This is the actual telephone service that will make everything work and provide e911 (you'll need to opt-in to the e911 service and provide a payment method for it) - It doesn't matter what number you choose, you'll be using Google Voice to send/receive calls
  • GrooveIP Android App - $4.99, This allows me to make free calls with my Google Voice account.  The quality isn't that great, but to not use up my very limited 300 min cell phone plan it's great - you can skip this if you're not worried about cell phone minutes.  Also only works if you have an Android phone with a data plan (cheapest option is VirginMobile by far! $35 for 300 min. and Unlimited data on 3G network)
The Setup
  1. Plug your Linksys ATA into your modem/gateway and your phone into the ATA and configure it per these instructions (you'll need your Sipgate account for this) - this is the hardest part, but instructions are easy to follow.  You could probably plug the RJ-11 cord (telephone cord) into the wall and then into the ATA, that should provide connectivity from any RJ-11 port in your house, provided they're all wired together.
  2. Add your new Sipgate number to your Google Voice settings
  3. Download and setup GrooveIP if you have an Android phone with limited minutes
Using Your Analog Phone
  • If you want to place a call with your analog phone and not be charged, you'll need to have access to a computer so you can get to your GoogleVoice account.  From within there you can make calls or send texts to any number, from any number in your account.
  • For e911, you'll be best off not calling through GoogleVoice, just dial it straight
  • Your computer doesn't need to be on to make/receive calls (only if you want to use GoogleVoice), the Linksys box and your modem/gateway do all the call processing - so you just need power.
Other Viable Options
  • MagicJack - works for some people, we did not like it and it died on us after 6 months
  • Skype - $2.99/mo. for unlimited US/Canada calls, you'll have to buy their proprietary ATA $49
  • Ooma - $250 one time fee, after that all calls in the US (50 states) are free (not including taxes, which is pretty minimal).  I've heard a lot of good things about this product.  You pretty much pay for a regular year of phone service, and then you start saving.
  • Skip a home phone all together and just stick with your cell phone.  We didn't like this option because my wife and I have limited cell phone minutes, and it's also nice to have a phone here when we have a baby sitter.

1 comment:

Coach Ann said...

Very good ideas.