Home > 1. technology > DYI: How to get unlimited calling for $2.95 a month

DYI: How to get unlimited calling for $2.95 a month

September 4th, 2009

I’ve recently moved, and as “the person in charge of administering the network,” I undertook a project to re-vamp my phone service. Why? Here are my requirements:

1. The call quality must be terrific
2. I must be able to use a cordless phone for calls at home
3. I must be able to make and receive calls using a normal phone number
4. I want to be able to receive calls on my computer when I’m on the road
5. I want to make it easy for people to contact me even though we have poor cell coverage at our house
6. I want to pay as little as possible

Pretty formidable list! To make this happen, you have to understand that the main problem is getting a phone number linked to an SIP. In a way, phone numbers are kinda like buying URLs. Then you have to pick at VOIP provider, I found this great resource, which helped steer me to callcentric. In totality, here’s my solution:

1. Get a Google Voice account (sadly, invitation only–but free if you can get one!)
2. Get a CallCentric “dirt-cheap phone number” (and avoid the 911 fee) — only $2.95 per month
3. Buy a VOIP box (here’s mine: 1-time $70 charge or less if you search around)

That’s it. OK, there are a few drawbacks that might annoy some people. With the current set up, I have to use my Google Voice’s web interface to launch outbound calls (i.e., I can’t directly dial from the handset.) You have to have a Google Voice account, which is a show-stopper for most people. Also, the set up of the VOIP box is unnecessarily complex but at least well documented. Mitigating this problem, we have another more normal Vonage line that has regular dialing.

But on the plus side, people can call my Google Voice number and get me whether I am at home or out and about on my cell! Through google voice, I get free SMS’s and my voicemails are transcribed into emails for free. And the call quality is indeed terrific. My landline is a fashionable Palo Alto (650) number. Best of all, I now have unlimited calling for $2.95 a month!!!

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  1. December 3rd, 2009 at 12:21 | #1

    I have basically the same setup with a few additions. I have the added 1.50 for e911 service so that the phone can be picked up and used for 911 calls if necessary. I also added in the SIPtoSIS gateway and adjusted my dial plan so I can call Google Voice via Skype from the home handset. I setup Skype to send the callerid of my cell phone so when Skype calls into my Google Voice number I get the press 2 to dial a number option. So on my home phone I just have everyone press the # key to make an outgoing call and then they make their calls via Google Voice. I pay a bit more since I have the $2.95 dirt cheap did, $1.50 for e911, and the $3.95 for unlimited Skype in North America.

  2. December 3rd, 2009 at 13:04 | #2

    Jeff,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I am interested in the Skype part of your setup, since outbound calls would
    be worth something to me. Right now, the additional $3.95 (per month,
    right?) for skype (and the additional configuration burden) doesn't sound
    quite worth it for me in my situation. I use my Callcentric account for
    business (in front of my computer) and I have a vonage phone too for my
    family to place outbound calls a little more conveniently.

    Cheers!
    Mike

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