There are several ways of using Voice over IP (VoIP) to make cheap phone calls via a broadband Internet connection. Some require a PC, others a specialised router or dedicated IP phone. Then there’s the Sipura SPA-3000, an adapter which lets you use an ordinary home or office phone to make and receive VoIP calls.
What you get with the SPA-3000 is a tiny box, little bigger than a pack of playing cards, with an Ethernet port at one end and a pair of RJ-11 telephone connectors at the other. Power comes from an equally tiny AC adapter while the Ethernet port is used to connect the adapter to either a home/small business network or direct to a broadband modem or router.
An ordinary analogue home or office phone is then plugged into one of the RJ-11 sockets, using the adapter cable provided, and another lead run from the second port to a standard phone line. In fact this last connection isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does let you carry on making calls in the event of a power failure – important if you intend to give up on traditional phones and go totally IP.
You then need to sign up with a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) service provider to register the presence of the SIP-compatible Sipura adapter on the Internet.
There are several providers to choose from, such as Free World Dialup which, as the name implies, is totally free, while others charge for use of their services. However, that’s usually only to make calls to ordinary phones via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), with no charge at all for calls to other VoIP users.
It’s worth noting too that providers such as Gossiptel and SipGate can allocate ordinary phone numbers to your VoIP phone. You can then receive as well as make calls via the PSTN, although this option may, again, add to the cost.
Having signed up for an account you then need to key your account name/number and password into the SPA-3000, using a browser as specified in the small ‘getting started’ guide. And that’s about it. Once you’ve done that, the SPA-3000 will register itself with the service provider and you can start making calls.
Quality may vary depending on who you’re calling, the service provider involved and the codec used (the software that encodes/decodes your voice for network transmission). In practice, though, it’s hard to tell the difference between most VoIP calls and an ordinary telephone conversation, the SPA-3000 negotiating the best quality codec automatically.
The Sipura adapter is a neat solution for home users looking for free calls or wanting to add a second phone line without the associated rental cost, but it can save money in other ways too. For example it’s possible to dial into the adapter remotely using VoIP and then “hop-off” or dial out using the local PSTN line. That way you could go on holiday but stay in touch with friends and family without racking up huge phone bills.
Alternatively, the SPA-3000 can be attached to an office PBX (telephone exchange) and used to extend a local extension out to a remote office or teleworker. The Internet part of the call is, again, free making it a good small business as well as home user solution.
Contact: 01484 840048