Last year I decided that I have enough of paying for my land line. Virgin Media (TeleWest back then) would take about £120 whether I was making any phone calls or not. Considering that I used my mobile for most calls I had to look for cheaper alternative. After considerate amount of research there was only one way to go – VOIP . At first I would think of VOIP as set of headphones with microphone plugged into your computer. That didn’t seem like a good replacement of old good wireless phone. Even tests with bluetooth headset where not that promising.
But after some more reading I found out about ATAs. You connect these clever little boxes with internet and they will let you use your regular phone to make / receive phone calls. Now that’s way better than any headset + microphone. My choice was Linksys PAP2T . Good ATA with 2 RJ11 ports, so I could have one line for answering calls and one for making them. They seem difficult to get in UK, but there’s always ebay to help you. At the time of writing they are the cheapest there. And make sure that PAP2T you’re buying is not locked to just one operator (in UK you can find ones locked to Vonage). It’s very important as it would make it impossible to introduce the entire idea.
Next I had to find an operator. Luckily there are few operators out there that don’t charge you fixed fee every month, after all that would kill the whole idea of saving money.
First one I used was Sipgate. I needed a number from UK to start with and them guys offered those for free. Yes! Free! To receive calls on sipgate number you don’t have to pay anything at all. And they also have loads to choose from – they cover most of major areas, so there’s plenty of numbers for everyone.
But incoming calls were obviously not enough. I had to call people as well. Unfortunately there sipgate stops being free. And it’s not the cheapest around either. After some reading I came across german company called Betamax. They are:
telecom operator which provides affordable and easy-to-use telecommunications services to residential and small business customers. Betamax is specialised in marketing internet-based telephony.
It turns out that there’s plenty of smaller operators using Betamax (internetcalls.com, voipcheap.com, justvoip.com). Or maybe they are part of Betamax. That I’m not sure. But what I’m sure is the fact that thanks to Betamax you can get the cheapest phone calls there are – FREE! Well…..almost. There is a fee you have to pay € 10 + vat. That gives 90 – 120 free days (depending on operator) – what basically means that for 120 days you can make free calls to certain destinations. There’s a limit though – 300 minutes a week but I can live with that. I’m not that much of a phone person anyway. There’s a good website that compares prices of different Betamax operators. Have a look there before you pick one to make sure you are getting the free/cheapest calls to your destinations.
And that’s it. Once set up properly it works like an ordinary land line. And it’s definitely cheaper that BT, Virgin Media or anythin else to be honest (correct me if I’m wrong). Sound quality is good, I can’t tell difference from a normal land line (unless I use p2p during making a phone call – then the sound gets a bit echoey). Definitely cheaper than £120/year and I learnt something new. That’s always a good thing.