Home VoIP information
This is a collection of notes about setting up VoIP phones at home. Some of the prices and plans may be a bit out of date, I'll tidy it up later...
VoIP guide on Whirlpool - this has lots of useful info, some a bit technical
There's hundreds of VoIP companies, including Adam Internet. We chose MyNetFone based on recommendations on Whirlpool and their excellent call rates.
They have some special offers for Whirlpool members & friends. We're on the WhirlpoolSaver plan which is probably the best if you don't make any OS calls. All normal phone calls including STD anywhere in Aus are flat rate 10c (cuts off at 2 hrs you have to call back...). Mobiles are 15c/min, per second billing, no flagfall. There's no minimum monthly fee.
Payment is by credit card, you can set it up for manual payment, automatic monthly top-up or automatic top-up whenever balance gets below $5. You set the amount you want it topped up to eg. $20.
Some other info that might be helpful...
Your internet connection should be at least 512/128 speed, but ideally 1500/256 or better.
DID - Direct In Dial. With most VoIP companies you get another phone number, although you don't have to use it. People can still call you on your old number as long as it's connected to a phone. With MyNetFone, when you sign up you can choose where you want that DID number to be located, it can be almost anywhere in Australia. So for example you
could get a Canberra number, then people in Canberra can call you from their normal phone for the cost of a local call. Your outgoing calls all go via the DID, so that's the number people will see on their phone if they have Caller ID. You can also buy extra DIDs in other locations for $30 a year. We just have an Adelaide number.
ATA - Analog Telephone Adaptor. You plug your phone into this and it plugs into your internet router (you need a multi-port router). Alternatively you can get an all-in-one box containing router, wireless, ATA and even the ADSL modem (cost up to $250). You can get a simple ATA subsidised (free or very cheap) from MyNetFone when you sign up. What you choose will depend on what you have already.
Now the complicated bit... some ATAs have a "fallback port" (also called FXO) but the cheapies don't. You can plug your incoming phone line into this port, which has some advantages.
- You only need one phone in the house, incoming calls on your normal phoneline ring on the phones connected to the ATA.
- If VoIP or your internet connection is down for some reason, your calls go through the normal phoneline instead (you can set a different dialtone so you can tell which line you're using).
- You can set up "dial plans" that determine how each call is dialed. For example, 000, 13 and 1300 numbers go out through telstra. The reason you might want to do this is that many of these numbers use your location to connect to a nearby location (eg. ordering Pizza). Your DID will usually be a city location, but might not even be in Adelaide.
If you don't have a fallback port, then you may need to have 2 separate phones in the house, one for your VoIP system and one for your Telstra line. Although you could give everyone your DID number and not use the Telstra one anymore. This is a pain and is the reason I bought the all-in-one box with fallback port.
We have the Billion 6404VGP (needs a separate modem) but the 7404VGP is equivalent with built-in ADSL modem as well. I highly recommend either of these if you're willing to spend that much to get it set up. The advantage of the 6404 is it doesn't become useless if you change to a non-ADSL internet connection. For example you might go on bigpond cable,
so you can connect it to your cable modem. The $60 price difference would more than cover a separate ADSL modem anyway, or you might already have one. The 6404 effectively costs $139.95 as you get $20 credit included.
If you've got a spare port on your current router and just want to try out VoIP I'd recommend the SPA2100 which is $39.95 with $20 credit. This has no fallback port but would be a good starting point.
Once you have all this set up, you can call Telstra and swap to their "Homeline Budget" plan. That reduces your line rental to $20.95 per month, but calls are more expensive so you need to be careful you don't use the Telstra line for many outgoing calls. I have gone onto this plan and got Telstra to block everything except local calls so we can't accidentally get a big bill.
Our Telstra bill is now around $65 every 3 months, and MyNetFone bill is well under $20 a month