It’s time for me to jump on the VoIP bandwagon..
This was the post I made to the CLUG list the other day. Why? Mendy is moving back to Australia permanently in December (yay!) and in the mean time I want to be able to call her at reasonable rates. Currently this means calling her Macau mobile at a hefty price through Telstra. Once she is back I also want for her to be able to call her parents in Hong Kong for cheap.
I knew about VoIP and had played a little with Ekiga (the open source VoIP client for GNOME), but that was about it. Looking into it seemed pretty complex, with a myriad of providers, software and hardware. I wasn’t quite sure which provider to go with, what hardware I needed and what was the best way to set it all up. What traps were there? As usual, my fellow CLUG’ers came through with great advice, so thanks!
It appeared that the general consensus were things like:
This is how I got it working..
Step 1: High quality VoIP provider
After researching it some more on places like Whirlpool, I discovered that my ISP, Internode (of whom I am a big fan), has one of the best VoIP networks in Australia which they call Nodephone. Their rates appear to be a little more than some other providers, but in just about every post I read on this issue people said it is worth it for the quality of service. Sounded good to me, so I signed up. 3 hours later I got an SMS saying that my account was ready. Awesome.
Step 2: Router with QoS support
My home Internet is ADSL 1.5MBit, connected through a dodgy old Linksys router that I found under a pile of computer junk. It does the job, but it was hardly up to the task of providing QoS support for my network. That was until I realised I also had a Linksys WRT54G and that I could flash the firmware with dd-wrt which supports QoS and lots of other cool stuff.
I set my WAG54G to bridged mode and connected it to the WRT54G, now running the open firmware. Once I had configured my Internet connection I then started to play with VoIP specific settings. I enabled the following:
Well, that wasn’t so hard!
Step 3: Software to connect to provider
As I don’t yet have an ATA to connect my phone, I wanted to test the service out with a software solution. Naturally I chose Ekiga for the task. I recently built Ekiga version 3.0 for my Debian box, so I thought this would be a good test
Configuring Ekiga was pretty simple. I just entered the provider sip.internode.on.net, my username (which is my VoIP number), and the password they gave me.
This registered successfully, so I performed an echo test which worked really well. On the other end was the SBS guy who does those voice overs, you know..
SBS advises that the following program is recommended for mature audiences. It contains adult themes.
Step 4: Make a call
Now that I had my provider, hardware and software all configured and working, it was time to test it out! I added Mendy’s Macau mobile into the Ekiga contact list and told it to call with “Nodephone”.
“Hey, it’s me.”
“I’m calling you from my computer. How does it sound?”
“Really good! Very clear..”
So there you have it. I was impressed by the quality and ease of configuration. I think I’ll stick with Internode, as I much prefer a dedicated VoIP service direct from my ISP rather than a cheaper one somewhere else that’s lower quality.
Now it’s time to go and buy an ATA device and get my home phone working. Thanks to everyone for their advice, it has been really helpful and I appreciate it!