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I've gone VoIP and have no more landline

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jul-2007 19:00

This month I've decided to migrate our phone line to a full VoIP (voice over IP) service. The idea was to benefit from savings in toll calls and line rental, plus other services - including voice mail, caller id, last calling number and others that were charged by my previous provider.

With this in mind I had to find a VoIP provider in New Zealand, and wouldn't need to look for long - we have a Xnet VFX forum here on Geekzone, and seeing that they actually have an active participation running betas, answering people's questions, I thought it would be a good fit.

This also came along because of new Number Portability rules in New Zealand, allowing users to change their providers whilst keeping the phone numbers.


So my next step was to sign up for Xnet VFX,  and select a VoIP device. I wanted a VoIP gateway that would allow me to plug a conventional phone, to reduce costs. Xnet helped with my decision by pointing out that a Linksys SPA2102 (pictured) would be ideal - and even support two lines! What this means is that after having ported my number from TelstraClear to Xnet VFX I could simply unplug the phone from the wall and plug into the SPA2102.


This little device is also a full router with built-in VoIP capabilities, meaning once it's plugged into your broadband modem it can provide Internet access to more than one PC in addition to the two VoIP numbers. Since I already have a router, I just plugged the SPA2102 to my existing hadrware, and it was ready to use.

For some background information, I was already one of the few people in New Zealand that didn't have a Telecom New Zealand line rental at home, since we here use the TelstraClear cable modem service. I was able to cancel my phone line service, while keeping the cable TV and cable broadband.

We scheduled the porting to happen on a Wednesday at 3pm, and on that time I got a phone call from Xnet support asking me to switch the phone from the wall to the SPA2102. A test call was placed in a few minutes, meaning I was able to place calls over my broadband connection from that moment, but still had to wait another half hour for all the changes to happen on TelstraClear so that incoming calls would be routed through that channel as well.

As suggested by sbiddle, I then logged into mynetfone.com.au and subscribed to their Megasaver plan, which gives me an Australian phone number, plus 100 free calls per month, all for AU$9/month - handy since we have relatives living there.

So now I have this SPA2102 with two handsets (we could opt to have a cordless handset with two lines but wanted to have independence to use both at the same time).

Also I bought a second UPS for home. You must remember that in case of power cut, a standard phone line will still work because the power is not supplied by the energy company, but by the telco, down the phone line. When using a VoIP device there's no power on your broadband line, so I wanted to be able to place calls even if the lights went out.

Voice quality is really good, and can't really differentiate from a standard landline call. Other services are free, including a cool voice mail portal that allows me to upload my own greeting messages from WAV files on my PC, and to configure all services - even receiving emails when a call is missed and reaches the voice mail.

Of course there's a long way to go in New Zealand for VoIP to become a mainstream product. I doubt you would get a meaningful answer from many people on the street if you asked "Do you know what VoIP is?".

Important to point out that from September 2007 New Zealanders will be able to get naked DSL, so there won't be the need to pay Telecom New Zealand for a landline, making this an even more viable option to many others. Also worth pointing out is that almost 50% of the Internet population in New Zealand now have broadband service, making this an even more interesting solution.

Full disclosure required: I was given the SPA2102 by Xnet VFX, after I decided to sign up with them.


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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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