Thursday, July 5, 2007

VOIP ATA phone - good and bad

It has been more than one year since we set up our home phone totally relying on the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) ATA phone. It has been working fine for us, and we have convinced my sistere to change their home phone also. Although we are not the only one who is using this, i still feel there are few people are aware of this option. I didn't do any research myself. Mr. Awaara should take all the credits for this work, and I just try to describe it here to the public.

Our phone is just like any ordinary home phone at home. The phone number is a little tricky. We were using a free PSTN number from the Washington state. The good part of this number is its ability to carry anywhere you go. Now we are in the Netherlands, friends in the US can still reach us by calling an US number. Doesn't this sound great? Meanwhile, we also have a UK number, a Netherlands number. Either of these number is called, our phone will ring. How is it?

The most important, it is almost free. The main investment was a VOIP router that we spent 90 dollars on it. Other than this, the past one year phone bill including all the international calls we made often, is less than 10 dollars. This is great, right? OK, let me summarize the plus and minus of this phone first:

PLUS:
1. Same number reached anywhere in the world as long as an internet connection is available;
2. Very low cost. For those who don't need an internet connection at home, this might involve a cost transfer from paying for a phone connection to an internet connection. I am sure you will get a lot more using the internet connection.
3. Flexible phone features: if it is a PSTN phone, you might have to pay for the extra service like caller ID, or call forwarding, all these are just an option you can select in VOIP ATA phone.

MINUS:
1. You might have to do quite a lot of research to understand the system and set it up and maitain it. But there is also lots of fun in this process.
2. There is no 911 service for this phone. Since 911 service need to locate the phone address immediately, from the IP address it is still hard to find a physical address. Regular phones pay every month extra for 911 service. Since this one doesn't pay any bill, you don't get this service either. As a result, a cell phone at home is still necessary to work as a backup.

If all these have convinced you, you can keep reading the rest of the same label posts, and start investing your research time on it.

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