There comes a time when people might be frustrated with high prices, or limited calling. I know a couple of people who can access a wifi network, but has no ability to get a POTS line installed. So, what is available. Well, there are two types of people I will be referring too. The first are US callers, and the second are international callers. Each of these options, I will make recommendations in what I will see as the best option. In the case of international users, check with your local laws to make sure that SIP/VOIP is not banned. In addition, keep in mind you may still have to keep your current phone services as not every country allows DIDs (telephone numbers). In example if you live in Morocco, you will not be able to get a DID, and therefore may have to keep your current service.
The US has some of the most options, and choices available. My personal preference will be an unused Android phone, however there are a number of options available. You will want a phone number that is in the US, and this could range in prices depending on the provider.In addition, you could use a couple of other smart phone OSes, and even old fashion phones with ATAs. My personal recommendation will be a 2 provider option. This could be needed if you want to make it easier for any international friends using many SIP services to reach you easy.
First, I will not recommend Vonage, nor Packet 8. The reason of why is these providers will force you into a contract, and lock your ATA that you should technically own to work with their service only. In addition, you could never use your credentials to log into your own ATA which means that you have to use their device. In addition, I will say no to Magic Jack. The reason of why is their device requires that you use a Windows PC, and install special software on your computer to use their ATA. This to me is too many conditions. Nettalk will work with a router, but I actually seen that their +883 calling rates are $5.50 per minute. This is ridiculous, and simply put, just wrong. I will get into why later.
Now, as for service – you would want something that is better priced than POTS/Land line services. The average price for unlimited calling to the US, and all of the features you will expect is about $25/month. I am hoping to help you with that cost. This will of course depend on what you will be using. The options are Android, ATA, and iOS. There are other platforms, but one could go into too much detail with how to set everything up, and what to do next. I will find that these options are usually going to be the most effective. The choice service is actually going to be Google Voice which will use Google Talk to make and receive calls. You would want a Google Voice line for an actual phone number. You will need a separate phone number for forwarding, and that phone number will need to be verified. I will recommned your cellular number. You can decide to not have people ring the number by unchecking it. You would want to also get a +883 number, but Google Voice does not provide this.
Once you have a Google Voice account set up, you would want to purchase the Obihai 110. This will be an ATA that will connect to your router which is what an ATA should do. You will plug your phone into the ATA which will then require you to set up the ATA to work with Google Voice. Once you set it up, you will simply pick up the phone and dial your 11 digit CA/US number for free, or international numbers for a prepaid rate. However, unforturnately, Google Voice does not support +883 dialing directly. You will have to append @inum.net which should be done by Google on the server end. You might be able to set up the ATA or ObiTalk service to do this for you, but I will have to assume no.
The preferred option will be Android. This is because once you log in with your appropriate Google Account, all of your contacts, calendar and services can download to the phone over wifi. This however is not a uniformed way of doing things. Some phones requires the phone to have an active service line. If you have a GSM service, and a GSM phone that will be used for wifi, this may not be an issue. If not, and you can’t bypass the intro screen, you may not be able to use that device. In addition, if you use a SIM card, that SIM card must have data services on. Once you are able to log in, you will want to disable data services on the phone including roaming. This will force the phone to rely exclusively on wifi. If the device is a cellular phone, you will be able to make 911 calls if need be. If the device can not be bypassed to set up without cellular service, and you want to use an Android device, consider waiting for the Archos 35s Smart Home Phone with an estimated price of $160.Once you have your Android phone set up, invest in $5 for GrooVe IP which is available on the Android Market as well as Amazon Market. The Amazon Market will be a good choice in the case you can’t get Android Market which is the case with some Android devices.
iOS offers two options. The first GV Mobile+ while the second one is Talkatone. While there is an official Google Voice app, I believe it will require a cell phone service to make use of it. Talkatone will use the Google Talk Feature which is exactly what GrooVe IP does.
Now if your device is a Personal Digital Assistant like many Android players, or iPod Touches, you will need a wired handsfree set to make use of the device as a phone. This is why I will recommend an older cellular phone. In addition, you will also have 911 capability (although 911 can’t call back) even if you don’t have a wifi connection. A PDA does not offer this. If you will want a PDA that gives you phone like features, consider the Samsung Galaxy Player 4 for $230, or an iPhone 3GS for about $100 on ebay.
Once you set up service to work with the device, you will be able to make CA/US calls for free. You will need to prepay for international calls, and N11 (other than 011) is not supported. 911 is supported only if you are using a cellular phone (even without service). For the second provider, I will recommend LocalPhone. They will provide you with a free +883 number. In addition, calls to +883 or US Toll Free numbers are free. You could also set the number to forward to a US/CA/UK number for 1¢ per minute. Forwarding to US toll free numbers will not cost anything. This is good if you know you will receive a lot of calls with that number, but not likely to make many. Calls to your +883 number can forward to your Google Voice number and therefore show in the call log. If you would be calling out with the service, you will need a SIP client, or add the SIP service to the Obihai service. One SIP client for both Android, and iOS is Fring.
Google Voice does not accept international users yet. Therefore, your options will vary a bit. You may also have to pay a bit more if you want unlimited calling to the US. If you are going to call US rarely, rely on US Toll free numbers, or call +883 number mostly, then LocalPhone will be your best option. Calls to CA/UK/US are 1¢ per minute. Calls to other countries vary. If you are going to call the US regularly and spend more than 1500 minutes on the phone (about 50 minutes per day), then consider Call Centric. Like LocalPhone +883 numbers are free, and so is calling them. Toll Free Numbers are not free with Call Centric. If you are expecting to receive many calls from the US, consider a DID.
Now, if you would like to use a regular phone, and your phone has an RJ11 port, you would be able to purchase many ATAs. If there is no RJ11 port on the phone, you may have to buy an adapter. You will need to check with the user’s manual to configure the adapter for your SIP provider. This maybe a daunting task for those not technically savvy, and if the thought truly frightens you, consider the investment of NetTalk if you are dealing with calling US or Canada often. International rates are not the best.
If you have an Android, or iOS device you would be able to install Fring. With Fring, you will typically just need to have the UID, SIP password, and the SIP domain. This removes all of the intricacies of SIP, but may not work with providers that require special configuration. Those considering LocalPhone, Fring works well. Some Android phones may not work well unless you set up the phone using a GSM provider. If this is an issue, make sure there is a return policy before buying the phone. Personal Digital Assistants will require a handsfree set in most cases.
SIP Dialing Conditions
You must have a broadband connection. Your device must be able to get the following capabilities.
- <100 ms Ping.
- 128kbps upstream, and downstream
- ISP not blocking ports 5060
This is non geographical international number. This is intended to make it easier for people to call a SIP phone without complexities. However, this is not always the case. In most cases, if the provider offers a +883 number, than they will likely not charge you for calling. At least in the US, no landline, nor cellular provider I know of supports +883 dialing. Most SIP providers either support it for free, or not support it at all. The special thing about a +883 number is that it can be anywhere in the world, and connects the SIP phone to the PSTN (or should). And since all +883 numbers never use the regular telephone service, but the Internet – the call can be done for free or at least as a per minute call. This means that a person in the US can call Asia for free just by calling the Asian’s +883 number and not incur outrageous charges that will otherwise come. This is why I personally have a +883 number even though I never make international calls.