Monday, September 20, 2010

Throw Away your Phone Bill

Well, you don't need it now. You need to pay to your ISP instead :)
Irrespective, you can save a bunch on your home phone bill if you are little tech savvy & ok with trying out new things.

Everyone has heard of Google voice, so not much writing about it. But if you haven't its a Google service that gives you free phone number and a deluge of feature rich call manager to route/record/answer your calls, integrate with your emails and does permit you free outgoing calls from your computer.

What is not very commonly known is with little effort you can use the above features to use it as a full fledged home phone with no monthly bills  to worry about.

Steps:

  1. DON'T just jump to voice.google.com just yet. Start with http://www.google.com/gizmo5/ . The page will tell you that you can't get the number as the new membership is restricted but gives u the option to put yourself in queue by providing your email address. Enter that. In few days (1-2 weeks) you should get an invitation email from Google voice (or Google gizmo) asking you to join. As that time you will get a free phone number and also membership to gizmo5 project *.
  2. Once you get the number you need to register with at least one working phone number like your cell phone or work number for it to work properly. Spend sometime on the google voice settings to quip yourself with the features it provides.
  3. Buy yourself an IP phone or unlocked Analog phone adapter . I use grandstream handytone 286 from craigslist for $20. But a quick search on google reveals the price for $35-$40 including shipping. You can upgrade to handytone 486 if that's cheaper.
  4. Login to Google gizmo site (www.gizmo5.com) to get instruction on how to configure an ATA for a gizmo call. It will essentially show you the gizmo or SIP number (which is different than your phone number) and the latest SIP settings. It will look like this:

    • Proxy Server (Host): proxy01.sipphone.com
    • Proxy Server (IP): 198.65.166.131
    • Registration Server: proxy01.sipphone.com
    • SIP Port (UDP): 5060
    • STUN Server: stun01.sipphone.com
    • STUN Port: 3478
    • User ID: 17471115555 (replacing with your 1747)
    • Auth ID: 17471115555 (replacing with your 1747)
    • Password: (your gizmo5 password)
    setup your ATA accordingly. And connect your home phone with the ATA.
  5. Fund your Google voice account. The phone number and incoming calls are free but outgoing calls costs typically 2cents a min in US. 
  • The ways to avoid that is by originating the call from your computer. You go to voice.google.com ->go to call Tab -> key in number to call and select your gizmo device from drop down of 'phone to call with'.

Advantages

  1. No monthly bills of calls charge, FCC charges, taxes etc. you just pay 2 cents if u just picked up the phone & dialed or don't' pay anything if you originated calls from your computer. 
  2. Open Standards (SIP) based settings. Your device is not tied to skype, yahoo or vonage etc. This is more of a personal preference for me where I dont feel shackled using google. 
  3. Feature rich call manager. I have stopped giving my cellphone numbers . I give out my google voice phone number instead. The call manager is so configured that it rings my cellphone and home phone both if call comes from someone I know or just my phone phone from unknown person or just to voice mails from hidden numbers. Adv: privacy, isn't' it.

Disclaimer:

I have been using Google voice as a full home phone replacement since over 2 years now. But with grand central and gizmo acquisition, its really going through lots of transformations. So can't guarantee what form or shape the service will be when u sign up.

Updated : 3/23/2011

The gizmo5 is finally shutting down effective Apr 3. So the 'gizmo5' portion of above post wont work.

This is an alternate solution that I recommend and use:
use a different ATA to Google integration service . One of them that I have been using since quite sometime is OBi100 which retails for about $38 on amazon.
The setup is pretty straightforward (even easier than gizmo5). The connection is the same as other telephone adapter one i.e.

 Once connected above, simply go to Obi site (www.obitalk.com) and signup using google+ account (or register separately) and then add your phone adapter on their dashboard as a device. Remember if you register separately, when you add your phone adapter, you will have to supply your google user id and password

Next screen is the last one and is pretty straightforward, simply asking the admin screen password and pin #


And that's pretty much it. The dashboard should show this device as up and running and your phone should now work as a regular landline phone.

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