In the past, we’ve talked a lot about how to get your cell phone bill down really cheap through the usage of MVNOs and VoIP services at home for the bulk of your calls, but I’ve never addressed the topic of VoIP phone services themselves. Let’s change that!
Today, we are going to tackle the subject of VoIP phone service. Why? Because it is a phone technology that for around $10 a month should be able to let you drop your cell phone usage down to that well under $10/month mobile communicator you’d like to pull off without sacrificing any of your quality phone time with distant friends, family and business associates.
Teal Deer strikes again!
I can hear some of you out there looking at the scrollbar on the right after clicking through and already saying, “Okay, I’m sold on the idea! But what if I don’t want to learn anything at all about the technology involved and how to make it work? I just want a cheap internet based home phone service that provides their own hardware and configuration for me, and I don’t care about wiring multiple phones or using my account on a cellphone or getting locked into a proprietary service!”
For you people, just test your connection to insure VoIP service will work and then go to VOIPo… not only are they a good VoIP provider that transparently supports all that stuff that you probably don’t think you need, but they also provide you with a pre-configured device and a slew of unique features that rival Google Voice’s unique options like anonymous and individual call block, global call hunt, SMS support and up to 5000 minutes a month for one of the lowest monthly rates in the industry (as of this post, they’re currently running $7.71/month, or $185 after tax for a two year hitch).
If VOIPo’s still too rich for your blood, check out Nettalk. For $29.95 a year, you’ll get 3000 minutes a month and all the bog-standard features most people need. The call quality is a little flat due to the heavy voice compression and you’re locked into a proprietary device, but the service, documentation and quality are decent for the money and a bit better than that other “cheap phone” service that has a website that looks like an ad printed opposite Howard Huge and Marilyn vos Savant in the weekly Parade. Plus, you can’t beat $50 for the Nettalk Duo (Amazon referral link) and getting the first year included with that price. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it as I dislike vendor lock-in and the math for the services provided doesn’t entirely add up, but since your mileage may vary and you may value price over quality or don’t need heavy use, I might as well point them out as a viable solution. Just remember: a poor man cannot afford to buy garbage, and someone who needs dependable phone service is going to get the quality they pay for.
The rest of you itching to get your hands dirty with some technical adventure in the shallower ends of setting up your own household Baby Bell… put on your lab coat and get out the notepad, the rest of this article is for you!
What is VoIP?
Good question! VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, and is a catch-all term for any two-way voice communications utilizing network data that may or may not bridge to the established global telephone network. The most publicly aware and known VoIP services are things like Skype, Google Talk, MagicJack and Vonage. All of these services are at least partially proprietary and may or may not require the usage of your computer or dedicated hardware to utilize, but not necessarily worthless as means to save money to talk with people. However, the primary sort of VoIP services we’ll be focusing on in this post will be of the SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol variety for voice services that are bridged over to the traditional PSTN, or Public Switched Telephone Network (also sometimes referred to as POTS, or Plain Old Telephone Service – a term I will freely exchange out with PSTN throughout this article when discussing legacy hardware such as wiring and telephones).
Why this focus specifically? Because learning a bit about the hardware involved, the technology used, and by selecting providers who utilize these open industry standards and (un)officially support bringing your own devices can help you not only save more money potentially, but also add further flexibility to your wireless and overall communications setup as well if you so desired. It might be said that learning how to tie your modern services into these legacy networks can have certain advantages.
Before we do begin, it’s worth noting that with very minor exception, most traditional PSTN landline telephones in use today are already using some form of digital service from at least the point of your local exchange out to the rest of the world despite having the last mile of their service provided as an analog signal over a copper wire network that hasn’t much changed for the past century or so*. If you know anyone who gets their telephone service through their cable company or has a service like Verizon’s FIOS, they’re also using VoIP services for their home telephones.
Can I use VoIP with my ISP?
Technically, anyone and everyone should be able to use this service with their internet connection. Before you ride off happily into the rest of this post, however, we should make sure that you actually can as there may be some technical restrictions that may keep you from happily grabbing at this particular brass ring.
First, we need to make sure you have sufficient bandwidth with your ISP. Technically, low-end VoIP services can be used on even dial-up connections, but for the sake of simplicity let’s set the bar for using VoIP on your internet connection at the low end of cable/DSL service: the bog standard 1.5Mbps down, 256kbps up data package. You could get away with lower speeds than that, but given the lack of price differential between this speed and lower most places, there’s not much point picking the slower connection. Also, the slower the overall connection, the more likely incidental internet traffic on your connection might disrupt or lag out your phone calls.
Second, we need an internet connection that doesn’t have high network latency. What is high latency you ask? Latency is the time delay in your network communications between yourself and the other computers you’re communicating with. A good way to measure this latency is through the ping network utility that measures round trip time between systems. Ideally, you want average ping times of well under 100ms, and the lower the better. If your average network latency runs high, say over 200-300ms round trip, then you’re not gonna have a good time with your phone conversations as the lag will be sufficient to leave you and the person on the other end taking turns talking over each other and could lead to missing conversation parts. This means that certain broadband services will work far better than others for VoIP service. DSL, cable and fibre optic should all work splendidly, with satellite and wireless broadband far less so. You’ll note that long range wireless data is the weakness here, and there can be exceptions like LTE service and close tower proximity with a strong signal, which isn’t to say that you still can’t potentially use it if you really wanted to… but odds are if you have problems with Skype, this may be a dead end as well.
The third, final, and most critical of these restrictions comes down to good line quality. If you have an internet connection with noisy wires that regularly causes data packets to drop and time out (basically, you don’t receive parts of data from the other end without multiple re-sending), this really isn’t going to be a service that’s going to work for you. If you suffer from irregular connection issues and sluggish connections with your service that shouldn’t happen because you’re paying through the nose for really high speed internet but does anyway, then you’ve got line problems with your provider. The issue is fixable, but it’s frequently like pulling teeth to get this particular issue tracked down with a field technician from your provider to get resolved. Unfortunately, until you can get this resolved, this particular issue if you have it is an absolute show stopper.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s get you set up with some tools to potentially identify these show stoppers for you. It’s best to run these tests more than once at different times throughout the day, especially during perceived problem periods.
Visualware’s Voice over IP Testing utility – this is probably the simplest and easiest to understand test of all to see how well your lines would handle VoIP service. Testing with the G.711 codec will basically test with the highest bandwidth codec commonly used for VoIP service. They have other more complete tests that you can use, but this one of theirs is the most immediately relevant to your needs, and the other tests listed below are more straightforward readable for the same connection statistics generated.
Speedtest.net – this is nearly the de facto ISP connection speed test available online from Ookla, who provides the service for most ISP speed testing applications. If you’re having speed issues and not getting what you’re paying for, this is where you’ll find out about that problem.
Pingtest.net – this is Ookla’s companion utility to Speedtest.net, and is useful for sussing out line quality issues with your ISP. If you’re having line noise issues and dropped packets, this is the utility that will highlight those problems.
Now that you have a fairly firm idea whether VoIP telephony is a viable option for you, let’s get started!
* I only say this because the operational specs for the wiring required for analog service itself hasn’t changed much, though the technology making those signals happen and the design of the wiring itself has evolved dramatically since the infancy of telephony in the late 19th century.
How do I deploy VoIP service in my house?
This is a trickier question, but it’s not hard to work out once you know what you’re tangling with. I’m going to be as technically accurate without being too complex as possible for the layman, but I’ll be leaving out some of the more nuanced and technically accurate bits to the setup for the sake of brevity. (ha!)
First, we need to briefly address how landline phones get their ringer signal and what information you need to look at with your handsets and ATA (or analog telephone adapter). The ring signal is actually a higher voltage/amperage signal sent over the line, and back in the Ma Bell days, that high voltage/amperage signal drove a bell clapper. An old clapper style phone, rotary or touch-tone, had a REN (ringer equivalence number) of 1 and most phone companies provided you enough power to drive up to five of these phones on your traditional POTS lines. This means most phone companies provided you a line that could handle a REN value up to 5 with the phones used in the house without any troubles. In the more modern era with phones that plug into electrical outlets and have electronic ringers instead of mechanical, the amount of electricity needed to ring the handset lowered. Where each phone in the past took a guaranteed 1 REN, newer handsets, FAX machines, answering machines and the like would have a REN of <1, allowing for more phones/devices on the line. These numbers will be stamped on the bottom of any landline telephone you own. In cases where you have both a REN class A and REN class B value listed, that means the phone handles both phone and intercom functionality as well, so since both could theoretically happen at once, you need to add the REN A and B values together to get the phone’s actual REN value, which could theoretically exceed 1 REN for that handset.
You follow so far? Good.
Now, let’s get back to that ATA that we mentioned earlier and its physical application in your VoIP setup. On this ATA will be your FXS (foreign exchange station) port that you will plug your telephone(s) into. Hidden somewhere in your ATA’s documentation, you should find what the device’s maximum REN output is. In the case of my Grandstream HT-286 (Amazon referral link), the maximum REN load on my phone network is 3. This means I could reliably drive two old clapper style telephones, possibly three… but you never want to push right up against your limit as it’s best to leave yourself an error margin to account for any resistance in the wiring, etc.
In our house, we have an old beater Vtech two handset DECT 6.0 wireless phone system ($20 on sale a few year back) with a 0.1 REN and an even older slimline handset with CID with a 0.8 REN, both are REN class B devices. Combined REN value of our handsets is only 0.9, just a hare under the same current required to ring one old clapper phone. This means, with at least a 0.5 REN margin of error factored, that we could connect another 1.6 REN worth of devices on the ATA and still have them all reliably ring with incoming calls.
Let’s hit rewind again for just a moment and clarify this whole FXS port business before moving on to wiring. It’s important to address it and its difference from an FXO (foreign exchange office) port, so you can best understand what you’re dealing with when you come across the terminology later. As it was briefly touched on, the FXS port is the port in which telephone service through the “foreign exchange” is supplied to the handset. This is where you get your dial-tone, ring signal and remote voice from. In contrast, we also have what’s called an FXO port, which is the port that provides connection to a handset device. This is the end at which your handset’s dial tones and your voice are transmitted back to the exchange. It’s important to know this difference, as both FXS and FXO ports have the same RJ-11 jack, and basically operate the exact same way as a LAN and WAN port work on your router, with the FXS port being analogous to the LAN port and the FXO port acting as the WAN port. The FXO ports can basically be used to bridge your ATA and your VoIP setup to the traditional POTS network yourself, letting you mix both worlds if you need or want to. This sort of setup is great if you keep an analog line for emergencies or an older alarm system as you could pass through local calls to the POTS line to save on minutes with your VoIP account, or still have phone service if your ISP were to go down amongst other more adventurous uses. Although in most instances nobody reading this guide is likely to need an FXO port on their ATA, it’s good to know what they’re for anyway if you acquire a model that has one.
Before going any further, I’ve been once again informed by my legal department that I should make a huge disclaimer: electricity is dangerous, and monkeying around with your home’s wiring, even for telephone service, can be dangerous! You can damage both equipment and yourself, really cheese off your phone company, disconnect your ISP which would defeat the purpose of this entire post, cause fires that could burn down your house, make you listen to Carly Rae Jepsen, or cause you to believe some dude named Ahnsahnghong was the second coming of Yeshua. Just don’t do it! Once more, consider yourself warned, my fully reasonable and intelligent readers who recognize quality information and uplift common sense.
My legal department also wanted me to clarify that I am far more familiar with the earworm Call Me Maybe than might be acceptable to admit in public. My deepest apologies to the entire readership and any musicians I might know.
Anyway, back to the post.
Usually, most people (including ourselves – though we’re also renting an apartment) will just use a wireless multi-handset system or split the line wiring coming out of that ATA with old school POTS RJ-11 line splitters (Amazon referral link) and drop cords to other rooms to get phone service spread throughout the house. However, there’s a second option if you’re intrepid and skilled enough: you can utilize your home’s existing wiring. By connecting directly to an existing jack, household wiring and using your house’s Telephone Demarcation Point (the box on the outside of your house where your old landline connects to your house wiring), you can basically become your own pseudo-traditional phone company. To do this, you need to disconnect the phone company’s copper connecting your house to their network (which carries voltage even when its disabled) from the demarcation point before hooking everything up, and posting a warning message on the wiring in that box about existing phone equipment in the house. (This is not recommended if you’re running DSL for hopefully obvious reasons.) Again, this latter method is not recommended for people who are not inclined toward technically savvy, not responsible around live electrical currents, or desiring to like Carly Rae Jepsen… but it has advantages for those who are willing to take the risk to do so. I wouldn’t suggest this latter wiring technique for most of you, but if you desire to pursue this method anyway, you can find full instructions on how to do so here.
That should give you a good idea of how to get phones to multiple rooms. So long as you don’t exceed your ATA’s REN value, you can drop as many splitters and cords as you like through the house to hook up handsets (the more splitters you use, the higher likelihood of noise on the lines, and the more wire you use the higher the resistance, however – use the classic KISS engineering principle here), you can wire into the existing phone wiring in the house if you’re feeling confident and brave enough (and most importantly know what you’re doing), or you can just utilize a multi-handset wireless system. As you see, it can ultimately be as simple or complex a deployment as you can manage or choose to invest in… and that’s a beautiful thing to know.
Now, are you still with me? Excellent.
It’s also worth bringing up the Achilles heel of VoIP while we’re on the subject: electricity. Without electricity in your home, your VoIP provided home phone will cease to work. To ensure your system remains up for at least as long as your ISP’s network is up in a power outage, you need an uninterruptable power supply, or UPS, and you need to connect your broadband modem, your router, your ATA and any phone(s)/wireless phone basestation(s) that require power to the UPS to ensure continued operation (see Ask Daley: cable modems and routers). In a crisis situation with extended blackouts, figure the POTS landlines, data connections through DSL or cable, and cell phone towers to have about 24-48 hours of battery reserves themselves. The higher the VA (volt-amp) rating of your UPS, the longer it’ll last, but it’ll beep at you when there’s no electricity (unless you modify it). Another benefit to be noted is that you can turn it off and ration power for the devices if you need to ensure operation later, or you just can’t stand the beeping anymore. That said, the most important benefit of using a UPS in your setup is the added lifespan of the electronics you’ll be using as they’ll be protected from damage by both brownouts and line surges, and they’re good to hook a desktop computer up to for the same reasons.
As an example, I have my desktop, networking and telephone equipment all tied into a CyberPower CP1200AVR (Amazon referral link), a 1200VA/720W UPS with AVR (auto voltage regulation) and user replaceable lead acid batteries… it’s beefy, and it runs over $120 new these days (picked up on a brick and mortar clearance for $65). To preserve power, I have the computer start shutdown if an outage exceeds 90 seconds, and then I have nearly the entire battery reserve for the UPS available to keep making calls and theoretically get online with a smartphone or laptop if necessary. I’ve never actually crunched numbers, but the UPS has provided at least 10-12 hours with the phone and network equipment in the past when left on. Still, it’s something you should factor in with your decision making with equipment. If 911 services are a concern and you don’t want to put all your eggs in the cellphone basket, consider a UPS.
What ATA hardware should I use?
Well, that depends on how much of the old POTS system and equipment you can or want to utilize to keep costs down, and if you’re interested in doing multiple lines in the house… but let’s assume you’re building up from scratch and you’ve already taken care of the whole modem and router end of things.
ATA Devices – let’s start with a “short” list of possible devices with a brief feature overview (please note the equipment listed is targeted toward North American Bellcore standards – this isn’t to say that the devices can’t/won’t necessarily handle other global ring and CID standards, but I’m not digging for those features):
- Cisco SPA112-NA – 2 FXS ports with 1 account per port, 1 LAN port, 5 REN, T.38 FAX/modem support
- Cisco SPA122-NA – 2 FXS ports with 1 account per port, 1 LAN port and 1 WAN port for data passthrough between modem and router, 5 REN, T.38 FAX/modem support
- Cisco SPA3102-NA – 1 FXO port, 1 FXS port with 1 account, 1 LAN port and 1 WAN port for data passthrough between modem and router, 3 REN, T.38 FAX/modem support
- Grandstream HT701 – 1 FXS port with 1 account per port, 1 LAN port, 5 REN, T.38 FAX/modem support
- Grandstream HT702 – 2 FXS ports with 1 account per port, 1 LAN port, 5 REN, T.38 FAX/modem support
- Grandstream HT704 – 4 FXS ports with 1 account per port, 1 LAN port, 5 REN, T.38 FAX/modem support
- Obihai OBi 100 – 1 FXS port with 2 accounts per port and Google Voice support, 1 LAN port, 5 REN, G.711 FAX/modem pass-through, call history
- Obihai OBi 110 – 1 FXO port, 1 FXS port with 2 accounts per port and Google Voice support, 1 LAN port, 5 REN, G.711 FAX/modem pass-through, call history
- Obihai OBi 202 – 2 FXS ports with 2 accounts per port and Google Voice support, 1 LAN port and 1 WAN port for data passthrough between modem and router, 5 REN, T.38 FAX/modem support, call history, USB port for WiFi or file server use
As you can tell, each brand brings its own unique set of features to the party, but if you’re just looking for a simple and well featured device at the lower end, you can’t go wrong with the trusty-rusty OBi 100 (Amazon referral link). As for those other features? Models with LAN/WAN ethernet ports are good options if you opt to run without a router or your existing router doesn’t play well with voice data traffic. Multiple FXS ports allow for multiple lines and/or accounts, and can be great if you want an additional dedicated FAX line for a physical machine to use T.38 FAX relay support with (for a simple take on the differences between T.38 and G.711 for FAX service and the pros and cons of each method, go here). A higher REN will provide support for more devices, as discussed earlier.
Overall, you should be able to get a good device to suit your needs for under the $50 price point. Not a bad investment for a device that lets you kick [telephone provider in your region] to the curb for your home phone service, allows you to potentially save a couple hundred dollars a year on your home phone costs, and by extension provides you the opportunity to save a few hundred dollars more on your cell phone bill by not needing to use your wireless carrier as much. If that doesn’t get your attention as being a deal worthy of writing home about, I don’t know what would, and you’d probably dismiss free hugs and warm puppies as overrated too… you uncaring monster!**
What if I don’t have any POTS telephones to use with an ATA?
That can be a problem, but fortunately it’s easy to resolve as home telephones can be picked up for a song from old people, at yard sales, thrift stores, and even new from various retail environments! (Just be sure to sanitize any used phone purchases, as entire civilizations can collapse from illness spread through dirty handsets.) Given how cheap this equipment is, it’s clearly simpler and cheaper to set up and utilize analog phones with an ATA than purchasing most IP telephones… not that that can’t be an option, but it’s not one I’ll be covering for both length and focus. Let’s just keep going, say you successfully scrounged up a couple old telephones for the sake of argument, and pretend this question wasn’t asked.
** My legal department wants me to say that not all people who dislike free hugs and warm puppies are monsters, and remind you that this is clearly a joke. You’re not actually an uncaring monster.***
*** Unless you’ve been professionally diagnosed as one, in which case I apologize for drawing any undue attention to your condition.
What should I look for in a VoIP service provider?
Excellent question! Now that we have a good idea of what sort of equipment we need and how to deploy it so we can make calls in our house, we need to look for a service that’ll actually let the hardware work.
As briefly mentioned earlier, first, we should be looking for an open SIP standards friendly provider that either officially supports you bringing your own device or unofficially allows your own devices, as well as provides ample support on provisioning (configuring) your ATA with your SIP account. Why is this important? Because these open standards and documentation allows you to keep control over your hardware and empower you as a subscriber. Don’t like the service or price you’re getting from Company A? Port your number over to and reconfigure your hardware for Company B without making yet another hardware investment. No muss, no fuss, no electronic junk leftovers or e-waste to hassle with. You don’t have that freedom when you’re locked into a proprietary device provider like Ooma, MagicJack or even NetTalk (the last being the only one of the three I’d recommend). Additionally, having a VoIP provider that supports open SIP standards gives you the added flexibility of directly making and receiving calls on that account from a mobile handset or tablet that supports the SIP protocol either directly or through third party apps (such as Symbian S60, Android 2.3+, or iOS).
Another thing to look for is a provider that won’t nickel and dime you for what are basically core features as add-ons and will provide you with a DID number (direct inward dialing number – or POTS telephone number) in a municipality close to you. A good quality provider is going to at least include caller ID, call waiting, a calling area that should include Canada, call forwarding and rollover, e911 support, and voicemail with e-mail delivery all within that base pricing. Why is this feature list important? Because anyone unwilling to include what are basically common and trivial features to provide with VoIP service should be looked at with a wary eye. (Strike two, Ooma.)
Finally, you want to find a provider that supplies good technical support and uptime with their service. A great resource to figure out which providers fall into this category are the reviews posted over at DSLReports (this is also an excellent resource for checking out your local ISPs as well). Why is this step important? Because all this hard work’s not worth it if you wind up with a VoIP provider that doesn’t deliver on the very service you’re paying for to make everything work.
Now that we have a template of what to look for in a provider, let’s briefly address the rubbish market speak you should be wary of in sales literature: “free” service, “high definition” or “high quality” audio claims – if they support G.711, that’s as good as you’re going to get and is far better than most cell phone and traditional land line call quality already, “unlimited” service without hard detail limits in their terms of service agreement, or encryption and security claims – this last one’s rubbish as I don’t know of a professional VoIP provider that doesn’t use some form of encryption between the ATA and their servers, and even still, the POTS network is not what I’d call a secure communications channel anyway. (Three out of four flagged… sorry Ooma, that’s strike three. You’re out.)
Keeping all this in mind, we can now take a look at a current assortment of VoIP providers that fits our criteria and put together a relatively safe list of providers to consider and weigh features and costs with. (Some of these provide service in Canada, but I’ll primarily be focusing on US service providers as these are the outfits I’m most familiar with.) These pros and cons are hardly all-inclusive or fully feature detailed (always do your own research):
- Callcentric – Custom calling packages depending on needs, including the ability to mix flat rates with pay-per-minute on incoming/outgoing services. Non-mandatory e911 fees for users outside US/Canada. Consistent support, but e-mail support only. Excellent documentation for BYOD support and smartphone integration. Not the cheapest rates, but good service. $25 number porting fee. Incoming virtual FAX support. Anonymous call reject, call filtering, and global call hunt.
- Future Nine – Cheapest month-to-month calling packages and international calling rates available amongst the linked options. Optional e911 support. Consistent quality and customer support, but e-mail support only. $20 number porting. No anonymous call filtering or global call hunt. Voicemail to e-mail.
- PhonePower – Phone and e-mail support and detailed documentation. Mandatory e911 service. Incoming virtual FAX support. Anonymous call reject and global call hunt. Free second phone line and number. Unlimited is 5000 minutes with overages billed. Free number porting. 30 day money-back guarantee. Official BYOD support or free leased ATA. Expensive renewal costs after intro rates expire.
- VOIP.ms – Competitively priced per minute rates billed at 6 seconds, and an assortment of mix-and-match plans with reasonable set-up prices and cheap minimal usage billing. Multiple server locations throughout North America providing lower network/call latency. Optional e911 support. Phone and e-mail support in addition to detailed documentation. Call filtering, global call hunt, and an assortment of unique technical options like call recording and IVR (interactive voice response – digital receptionist). $10 number porting. BYOD support and gearhead friendly.
- VOIPo – Most full-featured and cheapest calling package available amongst the linked options when purchased in two year chunks. Mandatory e911 service. Phone and e-mail support in addition to a thriving forum community and detailed documentation. Unlimited is 5000 minutes with overages billed. Free number porting. Call filtering, global call hunt, SMS text messaging (experimental), virtual FAX support (incoming & outgoing), voicemail to e-mail or SMS. 30 day money-back guarantee. Unofficial BYOD support through forums, provides free leased ATA with service.
It’s difficult to just point out a singular provider from this list and tell everyone to use it, as each provider brings its own unique features, benefits and caveats. A good catch-all with the most gravy features for the money is going to be VOIPo, but they’re not the most cost-effective if you don’t use your phone much at all or plan to make a lot of international calls. If you’re just wanting to set up the cheapest, domestic low-use service possible, then VOIP.ms or Callcentric might be for you. If you’re making a lot of international calls, then Future Nine may be the better choice. If you need a second phone line with number that can be used simultaneously by another person, then Phone Power might be your best choice with their free second line. This also highlights the value of ATAs with support for multiple accounts and dial plans like with the Obi devices. If you do a lot of calling both local and abroad, you could combine a VOIPo account used for your local and North American long distance with a Future Nine account set up to handle outbound international calling only – the best of both providers in one device!
Wrapping it up.
By now, you’re probably getting excited about the flexibility and potential of being master of your own phone service. As nice as plug-in-and-go packaged versions of this technology can be for users who are all digital thumbs, this is one of those technologies that is well worth learning more about and getting your hands dirty with because of the potential of what you can do with this technology as a cost-savings measure can be tremendous, especially if you’re running a small business or need to use a telephone a lot.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, too, you can better see how you might be able to integrate in other services like Google Voice or sipgate more effectively or if you might need them at all, or better assess the overall usefulness of those near disposable cheap phone service providers like Nettalk and MagicJack. Knowledge is power, and you just got finished equipping yourself with digital telephone chainsaw hands. Be resourceful but cautious with your new-found knowledge and go save a ton of money, gentle readers!
Rotary Telephone photo by Nate Steiner and licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).