Landline/Festnetz Telephony (VOIP)

Telephony over the Internet (VOIP, which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol) is nothing new, and is what your telephone service provider will have been doing for quite a while. Only the line from your home to your telephone service provider isn’t, or hasn’t been, via the Internet but via telephone cables. A lot of you will still have your analogue or ISDN connection to your telephone service provider, and most telephone service providers are making easy money by charging you a monthly connection charge, or a flat monthly fee for “free calls” within your land. Why pay a monthly connection charge, monthly fee? When I moved over to VOIP several years ago it proved to be a major money saver. I had Cable for the Internet and ISDN lines for telephones, and I was paying plenty of money just for the ISDN connection. I cancelled my contract with the telephone provider and set up VOIP (e.g telephony over the Internet).

There are probably many of you asking why do I need a landline when I have a mobile subscription? My answer is that you are probably wasting too much money on your mobile subscription, or on making calls.

There are many VOIP providers out there that will provide you with a typical local landline number, or maybe you’d like a telephone number that is in another part of the world. Generally one can also port their existing phone number to their new VOIP provider if one wishes to keep their existing number. NOTE VERY WELL, there are plenty of VOIP providers that just provide a service to make calls. Find a VOIP provider that will give you the full service of incoming and outgoing calls with a geographical number.

The advantage of going with a VOIP provider is that you can take your number with you wherever you are in the world. You can set up your handsets in your house, or you can set up your Smartphone, laptop, or tablet by installing a SIP client (An App/Client Application to make your smartphone, laptop, tablet work like a landline phone). If you don’t have handsets, or don’t want to purchase handsets, just use your Smartphone (or an old Smartphone) and connect over a good Wifi connection. I’ll first go through the benefits of using it as your typical static landline phone, and then I’ll tell you how to also use it as your cheap mobile solution.

Nowadays there is a high chance that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) offers you Internet + phone but they always charge you extra for the phone part. It’s generally a good option especially but I haven’t taken this option from my ISP as I’m only a casual phone user and don’t want to pay that extra cost a month when local calls are just 2 or 3 Euro cents a minute. If the monthly fee option is good for you, you just need to plug your existing ISDN or Analogue phone into a special port on the Modem/Router provided by your ISP. I have taken a different approach which works out cheaper and more comfortable for me. As I like to have static phones about the house I bought IP phone equipment specifically for VOIP (be careful, most stores selling handsets and base stations are still mainly selling Analogue, ISDN equipment. I strongly recommend VOIP phone equipment).  In my case I have a Siemens Gigaset with a couple of handsets. The base station of the Siemens Gigaset I connect to a LAN socket on my Router. NOTE VERY WELL: You don’t need to do any of this setup if you are fine with just using your Smartphone as a typical static phone as well as a mobile which is explained below.

People are realising that they save a bundle of money by using VOIP over their Smartphone without knowing it’s VOIP. Apps like Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, and many more VOIP apps but a bit restrictive at the moment (e.g. the recipient of your call has to have a Smartphone and/or the same App installed on their device).  Wouldn’t it be nice to just call regular phone numbers and receive calls on your landline number while on the move? Just think of the cost savings if you were to be in far away lands and you want to call friends and family back home who don’t necessarily have a Smartphone, or those Apps like Facetime, WhatsApp, Facebook. If only you could take your home (landline) number with you. Well this is easy using a VOIP provider. I live in Switzerland and I use 2 VOIP providers (Sipcall and Phonestar) although only one is necessary. There is a lot of choice out there so look around and make sure it’s good for incoming calls as well (e.g. they provided you with a number, or they will port your landline number). All you need to do is to install a SIP client on your Smartphone (make a search for “sip”. There are many, but I can tell you that I use “VoIP by Antisip” and “Zoiper” on my Android Smartphone). Configure the SIP client to connect to your VOIP provider and you’re ready to go. Your VOIP provider will give you instructions on how to connect to their service. NOTE VERY WELL, that I strongly recommend that you configure your SIP client to connect over Wifi only. If you allow it to connect over your 3G, 4G mobile network then you will be using mobile data which will be very expensive if travelling. To have good voice quality you will need a decent Wifi connection of course.

Have fun and please comment if you have any tips, recommendations.

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