Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Reliable VoIP Phone for a One Time Cost of Under $30

Configuring a VoIP phone system in your home or office is one of the most useful projects you can do. Best of all, it will cost you a one-time total fee of about $26 for a reliable, clear phone line with free long distance and other features such as voicemail and voicemail to text. I’ve used this setup for months and have had no issues whatsoever. Truly a set and forget it technology - great for a primary phone, a second line or dedicated phone for your business or kids.

This is not for the technically timid, but it's not that difficult to set up.

You’ll need a Google Voice Line (free), an account on Simon Telephonics ($5.99 for life) and an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) (around $20).
Grandstream ATA Box

Getting a Google Voice (GV) line is pretty easy - just create a Google Account, log on and head over to google.com/voice and create your account. You’ll have a chance to pick an area code and your own number. This is your chance to pick a memorable phone number. For example, 315-4A-LAWYER - most interesting phonetical phone numbers are taken, but it’s worth it to give this some thought before getting your number.

Now that you have your GV line, it’s time to convert it to a standard SIP connection. Head over to Simon Telephonics, click on the Google Voice Gateway, sign in using your Google account, pay your $5.99 and your SIP credentials will appear. These are good for life.

Next, you need to obtain an Analog Telephone Adapter. We used a Grandstream HandyTone HT-286 (no longer made), but the newer HT-701 is available on eBay for around $20. Basically, it’s the same thing. You can use any ATA, but we used the Grandstream and also Cisco SPA122 and have had very good results.

Connect the ATA to your router using a cable, plug in any old analog phone and of course, it’ll need power. You’ll need to determine the IP of the ATA. With the Grandstream unit just press “***” then “02” and it will announce the IP to you.

Get on your web browser on the same network as the ATA and enter the IP and you will be greeted by the Grandstream control panel (default login is “admin”). All you need to do is enter your SIP Server and Outbound Proxy. Just enter gvgw.simonics.com in both fields, Your SIP User ID, and Authentication ID is simply GV1AAA-NNNN  where  AAA is your area code and NNNN is the last 4 digits of your phone number. Save it and re-power the ATA and you should have a dial tone on your analog phone. (See screen capture below)

You should be able to receive calls and also dial out. When dialing out you must always use 1 with the area code then the number. Often pressing the # key at the end makes the outgoing calls faster.

I created a label "NOT FOR 911 CALLS" along with a label for local police and fire on our phone.

If your house or office is wired for analog phones, just plug the ATA box into any phone outlet and all the phone outlets in your building will be live.

If you played around with VoIP in the "old days" you noticed poor quality, dropped calls and other crap. Well, those days are gone. As long as you have a good internet connection, it will work great and calls will be crystal clear.

Poke around your GV settings on your Google account and you can turn on voice mail, create your own outgoing message and set GV up so any voice messages are converted to text and emailed to you.

All types of possibilities with thanks to Simon Telephonics and Google Voice. You can even skip the ATA box and analog phones and use an actual IP phone Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, or any SIP PBX.

It's easy to misconfigure something along the way, so if at first, you do not succeed, recheck everything.

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