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Thursday, 24 July 2014

What is VoIP? A simple explanation

VoIP stands for “Voice over the Internet (Protocol)”. It can be an excellent way to cut down the bills. There are plenty of mobile apps for Android and iPhone. The mobile apps are either free or cost a few pounds; the computer programs are free for the basic product only.

I think the best way to write this article, is to write it up as a case study. I have chosen my case!

Home voice number

I have an office number which is a London 020 number, but if I lived in other parts of the UK I could have chosen a different 'local' number. I bought this from AQL at a cost of £2 a month and a penny a minute for outgoing calls, incoming calls are free.

I also bought a physical Cisco phone to allow me to make VoIP calls.

My real appreciation of the phone is, I can press one button and the “Do Not Disturb”sends all incoming calls to the answer phone.

However, it developed a fault and I had to return it. This was when I learned of other ways to skin the Voip rabbit.

My real appreciation of the number is simple, if a caller leaves a message on the answerphone, it is saved as a '.wav' file. This is immediately sent to my mobile. There is no charge for this providing you have a VoIP app loaded into your mobile. More of these apps later.

Home fax number

In addition, I bought another 020 number, also from AQL, which I use for faxes. No, faxes aren't dead, and as I am sick and tired of punching loads of numbers into my phone every time I try to contact my bank, I now send them a fax. So much easier. I email the company with the fax number as part of their address and include my message as an attached document. And it all works.

New mobile number

I thought I'd use another supplier for my new mobile number so decided on Sipgate. Sipgate offer your first number free, so I chose another 020 number. This I set up in the normal way and then chose my Android App program.

I looked at a few and chose Voiper. Their apps (on mobiles) are free, but they also have free and paid programs for Windows, Mac and Linux.

After setting up, with trial and error, the mobile app for my Sipgate account, I was set up to have all calls to my 020 mobile number answered on my mobile at no cost to myself and no extra cost to my caller.

I have encrypted my mobile phone (I have all my passwords to avoid delay) so have to enter my password every time I open my phone. A bonus here is, I can answer my mobile calls through Voiper without having to unlock my phone. A real time saver.

Hardware

I have an old Gigaset SL910A phone (wireless) in the lounge with the control box in my office. The question is, what to do. Do I buy new VoIP phones or do I try to use my old phones, including my super executive phone in the office?

Someone pointed me in the direction of OBIHAI in the States. After looking into this, I bought their OBI202 (£49 on Amazon UK) with an option of a WiFi unit to plug in if I wanted to make it independent of the room the router was in. I didn't so ignored that but I did buy the OBILine (about £15) as this enabled me to use my old Gigaset phone, thus disruption to“she who must be obeyed” would be at a minimum.

One thing to remember, when setting up your phones on the OBIHAI website for the first time is, it can take a day or two of delay before everything works. But once that is working everything is OK.

I now have everything working so am considering telling my phone company to cancel my all in calls (about £11 a month) as my VoIP calls cost a penny a minute. And I have 600 free minutes on my mobile

The main advantages of VoIP for me is that I can switch where the phones go instantly. If both my wife and I are out, I am also able to switch my office landline phone to my mobile so no call is lost.

Larger organisations

Many of my readers probably already realise how I am enamoured with UKIP. So I will give you an idea of how VoIP can help such an organisation.

First of all, they could replace their switchboard with “Asterisk” which works on a single Linux based computer. It is “OpenSource” software so wouldn't cost any money. Then if you replaced phones with VoIP ones, you could move people around without any need to rewire or change people's extension numbers.

But one problem with UKIP are branches (chairmen, Secretaries, Treasurers etc) Councillors, Activists, MEPs and eventually, MPs.

VoIP numbers cost £2 a month but I am sure they will cost less in large quantities.

Imagine an important worker working from home? He gets a VoIP number and the head office points (directs) the number to his or her home phone. Then the person (in this instance we'll call him a branch secretary) is fired or resigns but, as far as the public is concerned, the number for the branch secretary remains the same, so when a replacement takes over he also takes over the same number! Continuity, as far as the public is concerned, is transparent.

All these numbers can be accessed as internal extensions as well, from the head office switchboard.

In addition, all calls between councillors, MEPs, MPs, support workers, activists and branches would be free. If someone rears their head with racist tendencies, he or she can be shown the door and it's the position which keeps the same number and extension number as before. But is simply redirected or pointed to the new persons number.

This could be nationwide. Even world-wide.

And finally, as mentioned earlier, there are apps for mobile phones. I personally use Voiper, it suited me! Not only can I give people a local number so they can phone my mobile at no cost, or little cost if they don't have inclusive numbers on their tariff, but if I'm expecting an important call, I can also answer my home phone using my mobile phone app, all at no cost.

Ampers

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