Standalone Skype Adapter?

Discussion in 'UK VOIP' started by (PeteCresswell), Feb 9, 2011.

  1. I know everybody spits on Skype, but I'm one of the clueless
    masses and it works for me.... sort of.

    I've been using one of these things http://tinyurl.com/3wbtuv
    connected to a PC via USB and to my home phone system and POTS
    via a couple of RJ11 ports.

    We use it strictly for outgoing toll calls (Skype rate 2.3
    cents/minute USD). Everything else is done on POTS.

    You prefix a number with "**" and suffix it with "#" to invoke
    Skype, otherwise everything is goes through POTS.

    "Sort Of.." because there are a couple of gotchas:

    - A PC has tb running 24-7 or whatever window you want
    outgoing long distance service.

    - It works via a little "Skype Helper" utility that mediates
    between the phone system and the regular Skype PC application,
    which gets flaky sometimes.

    A standalone device with the same functionality that had it's own
    Skype client in the firmware would seem tb a relatively
    trouble-free and cheap alternative. Maybe an HTML interface for
    setup....

    I've spent quite a bit of time looking, but nada.

    Anybody heard of such a thing?
     
    (PeteCresswell), Feb 9, 2011
    #1
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  2. So always for SkypeOut, and never for Skype to Skype calls? Do you really
    need to use Skype for this, or you just want a phone that makes internet
    calls? I say this because you might want to consider a SIP ATA anyway:
    they're usually cheaper to buy, and if you select the right VSP the calls
    are usually cheaper too. If you buy a Skype box you're at the mercy of any
    future Skype price rises, while with SIP you can jump ship to another SIP
    provider.

    Skype has merits if you're calling other people on Skype, or your network is
    difficult (eg complex NAT problems) but it doesn't sound like either of
    those apply.
    When I was looking for a Skype wifi phone I can to the conclusion that a
    bottom-of-the-range smartphone running a Skype app was a better bet than a
    dedicated unit, and the prices are comparable. The UI is much better on a
    phone too, and it can also make (GSM) calls when you're out of wifi range.
    And again you're aren't locked in to Skype for this - just install a SIP app
    if you choose to use SIP instead.

    Obviously that doesn't work if you want to wire all the home phones into it.

    Theo
     
    Theo Markettos, Feb 9, 2011
    #2
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  3. (PeteCresswell)

    Graham. Guest

    Skype does have its uses, but making Skype out calls from a fixed location is not
    one of them IMHO
    The open, generic form of VoIP is called SIP, I think you would be better to ditch Skype
    and buy a SIP device eg. one from the Grandstream or Sipura brands.

    Basically you can go two ways with this, you can opt for a dedicated IP desk phone
    that plugs into your router, or, you can get an ATA (analog telephone adaptor) which also
    plugs into your network, and you also plug a regular POTS phone into it .
    The latter option is more suited to a domestic environment IMHO because you can
    use your existing DECT phones and the better ATAs have an FXO port to connect
    to your POTS line so you can use a common handset like you do now.

    As for a SIP service provider, have a look at sipgate.com it's tailored for the US market
    with an enhanced 911 service and lots of features, and I can vouch that their European
    equivelent has been very reliable.
     
    Graham., Feb 9, 2011
    #3
  4. Per Theo Markettos:
    That sounds perfectly logical to me - especially the part about
    jumping ship when things become unsatisfactory or a better
    alternative emerges.

    You nailed it about almost never calling anybody that is on
    Skype. Mostly land line phones in Germany/UK and supposedly
    "local" calls where the per-minute charges are high.

    I have not investigated SIP ATA. In fact, all I know is that
    there's "Skype" and "SIP" - different protocols - and Skype's
    reputation for reliability is not the best.

    Aside from acronym shock, what had kept me from investigating
    further were threads alluding to SIP providers not being
    world-wide enough compared to Skype. i.e. when calling a number
    via one's SIP provider, the other end may or may not be
    reachable.

    Is that a valid point, or have I misunderstood?

    From context, I can dope out that "SIP ATA" is a device that
    adapts analog telephones to VOIP/SIP.


    If that is the case, I guess I am looking for:

    1) A SIP ATA adapter that:
    * Allows a regular analog phone to dial out via POTS or VOIP
    depending on something-or-another... maybe a wrapper around
    the number tb dialed (e.g. 601-123-4567 would be dialed POTS
    and **610-123-4567# would be dialed VOIP/SIP.

    * Allows incoming calls over POTS transparently: i.e. the
    phone just rings, the user answers...


    2) A SIP provider that can place calls to the areas frequently
    called - or, preferably, almost any place in the world.
     
    (PeteCresswell), Feb 9, 2011
    #4
  5. (PeteCresswell)

    Paulg0 Guest

    1)
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Siemens-Gig...J2D0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297270072&sr=8-1
    2) http://backsla.sh/betamax

    Paul
     
    Paulg0, Feb 9, 2011
    #5
  6. With many SIP providers calls to Germany and France and Italy and the
    USA etc. are free, as are UK geographic numbers. For example
    justvoip.com give 120 days of free calls when you top up your account
    with 10 euros, charges for the calls which aren't free (eg 0871, UK
    mobiles etc) get deducted from the 10 euros until you need to top up
    again.
    A huge misunderstanding :)
    I've been a very, very happy user of a Fritzbox!
    http://tinyurl.com/6ecw9cj for some years.

    "The Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7170 includes an integrated ADSL modem, a
    full-featured router, 4 Lan ports, 1 ISDN port, 2 phone ports for VoIP
    and a fully functional PSTN port (analogue/ISDN)."

    "With the FRITZ!Box Fon 7170 calling over the Internet is finally very
    easy, the way it should be: attach your existing phone, lift the
    handset, call! You can call with Voice over IP through the Internet
    without switching on your PC. Also you can use your existing phone with
    the Fritz!box: calls are passed to and from the integrated telephones
    ports."

    I've plugged cordless phones into each of the 'phone points - I've got
    two voip numbers plus the BT number so 3 calls can be in progress at any
    one time! If you've kids you can give them their own line! Or put a fax
    machine on the second VOIP port.

    The other great thing about the Fritzbox! is the ability to set dialling
    rules which determine which carrier the outgoing calls are made through
    eg if I dial 1471 or 1571 the call is routed through BT, 01 or 02 and it
    goes via a SIP provider, 0845 or 0870 uses the BT line but routes via
    18185.

    Our call costs for a very busy household are now negligible.

    Malcolm
     
    Malcolm Loades, Feb 9, 2011
    #6
  7. There's a small degree of validity on that point... VOIP providers aren't
    necessarily good at calling 'awkward' numbers (like premium rate numbers,
    either in the UK or other countries). Some numbers, however, may be
    callable but not listed on the published price lists (for example, I
    discovered that 18185 via a landline doesn't list a price to UK 056 numbers,
    but they're callable at the same price as a geo number)

    However, you'll probably find many telcos of whatever persuasion struggle
    with such numbers - I don't think Skype is any better in this respect. For
    this group of numbers, making up (plucks figure from the air) 0.1% of the
    total, only a BT line will do (and prepare yourself for the bill when it
    comes).

    But in general all destinations should be reachable, just look at the price
    lists, from French Antarctic Territory to Guantanamo Bay. Some more
    obscure places may advertise routes but have capacity/quality issues - for
    the out-of-the-way African destinations I call, these used to be a problem
    but aren't any more.
    There are roughly two sorts of VSP out there:

    A package provider, like Sipgate, Vonage, Gradwell or various
    voip[something].co.uk. They give you an incoming number, and are set up to
    be a BT line replacement with all the usual services (voicemail, diverts,
    fax2email, etc etc). If you want something easy to set up, this is the way
    to go. With the exception of Sipgate, usually this involves paying a
    monthly fee.

    A calls provider, which are usually a brand of Betamax or Dellmont
    (effectively the same company). The calls are the cheapest you'll find, but
    they aren't really intended for incoming calls. The emphasis is on cost (ie
    almost no customer service, some slightly faffy ways to do topups) but they
    work (mostly). There are dozens of brands and they change the prices on
    each regularly, so for the best deals be prepared to switch brand when your
    next topup becomes due.


    So it depends whether you're prepared to put in a (small) bit of work to get
    the absolute cheapest calls. Even if you don't, they'll still be miles
    cheaper than BT.

    Theo
     
    Theo Markettos, Feb 9, 2011
    #7
  8. One other thing to add... you don't need SIP hardware to make SIP calls. So
    you can get yourself a SIP softphone (I like X-lite v2 on Windows, Twinkle
    on Linux, but there are loads more), and then sign up with a SIP provider
    (many allow free test calls). Once you're happy, then you can buy an ATA.
    Allows you to try it without spending on hardware.

    Theo
     
    Theo Markettos, Feb 9, 2011
    #8
  9. Per Graham.:
    I'm thinking one of these: http://tinyurl.com/4r373uu
    or one of these: http://tinyurl.com/65wwp3

    Are there any happy users of either out there?


    One thing I'd base a choice on would be how easy it is for the
    user to make a POTS call or a VOIP call.


    Right now, they are habituated to the wrapper scenario:

    - Entering **610-676-3394# places the call via VOIP.

    - Entering just 610-676-3394 places the call via POTS.


    Incoming POTS calls are transparent: the phone rings, user picks
    up the phone....

    There will be no incoming VOIP calls.

    Less Change = Better...
     
    (PeteCresswell), Feb 9, 2011
    #9
  10. (PeteCresswell), Feb 9, 2011
    #10
  11. Per (PeteCresswell):
    SHB this one: http://tinyurl.com/y8rfdtf
     
    (PeteCresswell), Feb 9, 2011
    #11
  12. If you go for an SPA-3102 it has one. The config interface is quite
    complex, but very flexible. You can have up to 4 VSPs configured, plus the
    PSTN line. And you can configure the dialplan, eg 0800 goes to BT, 01 goes
    to VSP#1, 07 goes to VSP#2, 0033 goes to VSP#3, other 00 goes to VSP#4, etc.
    Or #0 gives you a BT dialtone, #1<number> sends the call via VSP#1,
    whatever you like.

    There are some simple config guides around - I've posted links to them here
    in the past.

    Theo
     
    Theo Markettos, Feb 9, 2011
    #12
  13. Per Theo Markettos:
    That's what is currently dawning on me.... Sounds like
    "DialPlan" is the key concept.... I can define any prefix I want
    and that will force the outgoing number to POTS.

    e.g.

    1610-676-3394 goes to POTS

    610-676-3394 goes to VOIP.
    I'm starting to stumble on them.

    Will probably spring for the SPA-3102 if for no other reason that
    it appeals to my inner wannabe-geek.
     
    (PeteCresswell), Feb 9, 2011
    #13
  14. (PeteCresswell)

    Woody Guest



    Look on the Sipgate site - they used to list basic configs for
    many ATAs. The SPA3102 used to be branded Sipura before LinkSys
    bought them and were subsequently bought themselves by Cisco.
     
    Woody, Feb 9, 2011
    #14
  15. (PeteCresswell)

    Steve Terry Guest

    PAYG Three's Skype through their own free node is unbeatable.
    No need to top up ever

    Steve Terry
     
    Steve Terry, Feb 11, 2011
    #15
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