It's All In The Mind

Musings of an active mind

VOIP Device Journey

Posted by activemind on May 18, 2006

I have been thinking about all the VOIP device or so called ATAs that I have used and wanted to write something about them. Well, as I mentioned earlier here, the first ATA I was introduced to was the Cisco ATA 186. I got it from Vonage and it was locked to their service at that time. When I canceled with them, they were offering that if you pay $15 they will give you the unlock code for it (don’t hold me to it because I dont think they do it anymore), so anyways, I paid them 15 bucks and they mailed me the unlock code and the instructions. This is where the real fun began. I played around with various settings and also upgraded the firmware for this to a new image (dont ask me more details about it….I wont give any more details). I configured my ATA with various services out there and learnt a lot about SIP at that time when debugging my setup. All in all, ATA 186 was (mind you was) fun. The reason I say was because it is a no frill device. Limited (but not straight forward) programming. No doubt it was the leader in the pack at that time but if we look at it now, it seems to be pretty basic.
By that time Grandstream had introduced and array of devices and I actually like this company. Not because I have some vested interest but because they make cheap, to the point devices. I have worked with BT 101, BT 102, HT 488, devices from this company and I would say they do what they are supposed to do. I used to buy them from Voxilla but recently I noticed that they have now become a Cisco house now. They sell pretty much everything Linksys only…that sucks!!
Anyways,  I would recommend looking into BT 102 if you are looking for a cheap VOIP Phone which just works. The GUI is pretty starightforward and the thing just works….not that expensive so that you can really justify the savings. The look and feel is the same as that of a regular phone so this is a very good option for people planning to send devices overseas. I prefer BT 102  to BT 101 because of the extra PC port it has. That way if you dont have a mini-server room in your house and just have  PC connected to the net, you dont have to buy a router. Just put the phone between the PC and the DSL modem and you are all set to go. This is what I currently use.
Another option is HT 488, this is good for someone who is slightly more ambitious in terms of not only being able to call overseas but also get a local dialtone to dial out. Again the GUI is pretty much the same as BT 102, add a couple of features. I use this device every once in a while but soon I realised that I wasnt making that many calls to outside world and was actually tieing up a phone line overseas. So I dropped it and swicthed back to BT 102. Another cool thing about HT 488 is that the dialtone thing in not just one way. It also means that you can have someone overseas call the local phone number attached to the 488 and have it transparently ring your VOIP phone here. Actually you can hard program it to forward  the calls to one fixed number all the time or again get the dialtone and dial any US number you want for a local call. I did not see much point of dialtone in the other directions so I just programmed it to call my cell phone everytime. Its a pretty cool setup for anyone who needs it. You give out you overseas local number to peple there and they can talk to you for the cost of a local call or in turn you get the local overseas dialtone and you can talk to them for a local call too. A tonne of saving there.
The next is my favourite and I think THE most powerful ATA out there….(enter the dragon music) Sipura 3000. It has so many options and parameters that it does take some time actually learn and understand this thing. I can probably write a whole new article on things you can do with this device but I would rather just give out some reference and leave the rest to your wild imagination.
Read here for all the neat tips and tricks or make it speak the caller Id. Thats why I said you can go wild with this thing 🙂
I do have a couple of other things to write about (what I use now) like Asterisk but thats another post.
So whatdaya think?

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