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!!!