Going VOIP

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Meeting in Progress

It is about 45 days after moving my law office. The physical move was the easy part. All the furniture was transferred in a morning. Even moving all the furniture from one one side of the office to the other (flipping the office 180 degrees) took only an evening’s hard work.

Mail, on the other hand, took about 21 days to begin forwarding.

You may recall my prior post concerning porting my telephone number. Well, 45 days later and still no luck. Quite early on I decided I never wanted to deal with this problem again. I never again wanted to deal with the antiquated systems set up by the telephone companies for moving a telephone number.

The question became: how am I going to run my business without a phone?

Fortunately, my new landlord provides decent internet connectivity and Google recently released Google Phone to compliment its Google Voice offering. Google Phone lets me dial and receive calls from my Google phone number directly on my computer through the browser or have the numbers forwarded to another phone when I am not at my desk – for example: to my cell phone.

Sidenote: I have used Skype in the past and I still use it for interviews or when conferencing with other attorneys. However, I have had problems with echo and several clients complained about the sound quality when calling land lines.

After 45 days with Google Phone, I don’t see the need to go back to a land line. The audio quality is very good and any missed calls get transcribed by Google Voice and emailed to me.

The only problem has been the lack of a decent handset. I could use a headset, however I find them bulky and inconvenient. I neither want to wear a headset continously, nor do I want to keep putting on and taking a headset. I would use the iPhone headphones except my pre-unibody MacBook Pro does not have a unified headphone/microphone jack. So, instead, I have been using my laptops onboard speakers and mic — effectively using Google Voice as a speakerphone. This has worked, but my office has a quite a bit of echo, which reduces sound quality.

Lately, I have been testing out Line2 from Toktumi. Line2 lets me receive VOIP calls on my iPh0ne over wifi. So, my current set up is as follows:

  • Telephone calls go to Google Voice which sends the call to my desktop, and simultaneously to
  • Line 2 which rings my iPhone via wifi VOIP.

I can either answer the phone through my browser (in speakerphone mode), or answer the phone though my iPhone via Line2 (without using cell minutes since Line2 uses VOIP). Line2 also has a number of other nice features such as better call handling than Skype on the iPhone (VOIP calls are not disconnected if someone calls your cell number). Line2’s service also degrades gracefully: if you cannot be reached over VOIP (wifi or 3G), Line2 calls you via the cell service. You can also select the priority of services Line2 should use to reach you (wifi, 3G or cell).

I have not used Line2 long enough to tell if it will be a permanent solution for me. Transferring calls to the iPhone seems to be hit or miss based on a few days testing.

If  you are in a small office with a VOIP solution, let me know what has worked for you.

CC image credit: kozumel

  • Ed

    Nice article. I was wondering if you considered sipgate? I use a similar setup with google voice and experimented integrated it with sipgate and my iphone. I have only tested it with the 60 free minutes (they expire) and I haven’t tried Line2, though I have explored their website. The big advantages I see in sipgate are:

    You get free incoming calls, at least I am pretty sure from what I have read. My 60 free minutes expired and incoming calls still work. Also incoming may be all you need in this kind of setup.

    You can set your caller ID for outbound calls through sipgate to show any number, including your google voice number. This is nice because you don’t really need the line 2 phone number if you have GV. Although you get a new free phone number with sipgate, you never have to see it or give it out, just program GV to ring it.

    Lastly its SIP compliant, so it works through various phone apps and computer software including their own. What would be really nice is if google would allow SIP access for GV.

    It costs 1.90¢ minute for domestic outbound calls so it may be more expensive that $9.95 if you use more than 524 outgoing minutes.

    Skype in and out paired with GV and a cell phone is also a decent solution. You have to by an inbound number and a subscription which combined roughly costs about $6.50 a month for unlimited US and Canada calls.

    Side note: I’v been using a USB microphone and regular speakers with gmails “call phone”/GV integration and it works very well.

    • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

      I haven’t looked at sipgate, it looks a bit more complicated than what I need right now. But I will keep it in mind. Thanks!

  • http://www.globalmacinc.com Tom Lambotte

    Hi Tom,
    Have you setup Daylite with your VOIP solution yet? you maynalready be familiar with the setup, but if you are not, let me know and I’d be glad to give y a detailed write up on it.

    I hope y are doing better, Happy Holidays!

  • http://COBankruptcyLaw.com Robin Hunt

    I have sipgate. It works okay at home where I have control of my modem/router. But at my office where I do not have control of the modem/router, I have a one-way audio problem with sipgate: client hears me but I cannot hear the client. Plus, sipgate offered a fax service when I first started using it, then abandoned that.

    I use OnSIP by Junction Networks as my main business VoIP provider. OnSIP has all the advantages of sipgate and more (at a penny per minute more), but does not have any of the problems associated with sipgate for my business use.

    I use Google Voice as well for alternate numbers and call direction, but Google Voice is not really a business VoIP service provider at this time.