From TelCo to VOIP

At present, I pay the telephone company each month:

which adds up to €25 per month, roughly. Per year, this is €300. Which is quite an amount. Compare this all to internet calling. Which is virtually free. The more luxury you require, the more you pay extra. But for € 40 a year you can have an awful lot of luxury. So, savings of € 250 per year are coming my way.
This cost cutting will probably get a little less since I want to invest half of the savings in a faster internet connection. My 1200/300 kbps cable connection (at € 18 per month) will be upgraded to the nearest package: 4000/600 kbps (at € 28 per month).

This topic is about making the conversion. It will be based upon the D-link DVG-G1402S router with integrated VoIP adapter. This way, the router and VoIP adapter will never have to argue about who's online and who was here in the first place.


The Targa DIP Phone 450

Early May 2007, the Lidl grocery store had a VoIP system for sale. It was the Targa DIP Phone 450. This is an OEM version of the Siemens Gigaset C450 IP. The Targa has slightly older software but you need to be an expert to notice that.
The picture shows (from left to right) the handset, the charger and the server/base station.

The Targa was priced at € 50 whereas the Siemens costs about € 120. So the choice was easy... The Targa/Siemens system offers:

All in all, this was a steal. The installation was easy: I made several test calls. Most were excellent quality. One was awesome. And one was not good. Read about it in the ongoing VoIP quality section (below). I rang a friend in New Zealand and it cost me 20 cents for a 6 minute call!


Using the Targa DIP Phone 450

In the table below I list the most important test calls made during the first few weeks of use of the VoIP system. The quality system is easy to comprehend by means of the three coloured symbols (V, O and X): -->

Two calls with the company that failed so bitterly last week. This time the contact was excellent. Good sound, ringing tones, etc.
Country Minutes Cost (€) Comment Quality
New Zealand 6:00 0.20 The line was very bad. It could have been caused by the distance, combined with the state of the intercontinetal cables that were damaged in a recent earthquake.
Local 7:00 0.00 Several calls to another 12connect VoIP client, so it was free. Excellent quality.
United States 34:02 0.80 A long conversation with a friend I never spoke. Very good quality, as if it was a local call via the old landline.
Local 0:09 0.25 After off hook, there was a very soft dialtone. When the receiver picked up, the sound was very low. Some crackling. Might have been caused by a flaky telco office.
Local 3:00 1:10 Ran several tests with the handset. It works over a 100 meter, line of sight. After passing 8 brick walls and a slab of concrete it still sees the server.
Local 3:00 0.25


Good   Poor   Bad


Choose a service provider

I can take a subscription at many internet service providers (Essent, Tele2, KPN, etc) where I can get a combined subscription for internet access plus IP telephony, but the rates are so high that it doesn't pay off significantly. For some reasons, these companies still have different rates for local and long distance calls, whereas the internet is global. No matter if you want to call the girl nextdoor or your aunt in New Zealand, the call is routed via some IPX switch in a remote place.

So I decided to join http://www.12connect.com which is an international company so you might be able to take a subscription as well. For the rates, check their website. People with a 12connect number (which starts with '999') can call eachother for free, no matter where they are on the globe.

You can take a 12connect account for free. It's comparable to a pre-paid cell phone account. Just deposit some lump sum in your balance account there and forget about all. You can upgrade your account by means of cheap internet banking services (iDeal) so you don't even pay for the PayPal or credit card charges.
If you don't like it (anymore) you just clear out your prepaid amount and that's it. No contracts to sign for several years. No special (closed source) equipment. Below are some overviews of the costs.




Setting up the Targa system

One picture says more than a thousand words. So I will show two pictures and save my fingers from wearing out on the keybored. Just make sure the VoIP server is connected to your router in some way and consult the DHCP client table of your router to find the IP address of the Targa. I set the Targa to a fixed IP address. You do what you want.
One way to check the assigned IP address is to do as follows:

  1. Pick up the handset
  2. Menu
  3. Settings
  4. Base station
  5. VOIP config
  6. Enter system PIN
  7. IP config
  8. IP number
Enter this IP number in the URL window of your favorite browser.




The move...

Should I stay or should I go? It's definitely cheaper to start using VoIP instead of the fixed land line system, invented by Bell. Still, the traditional phone system has a very good track record. Even if the power company cuts out, the phones still work since they have their own power.
Unlike a VoIP phone. This will refuse to work when either of the reasons below happen:

Recently, I suffered from a small inconvenience. I managed to call some people to get their attention. I don't want to think what would have happened when the router would have been in a hang, in need for a hardware reset. Or any of the other scenarios.

All in all, I came to the conclusion that safety and reliability are not for free. So my first demand was: a landline is highly appreciated. VoIP is a nice side effect. This all fits in with the Targa VoIP system. I get called via my trusty old landline number. I call out with VoIP, unless I want to call out via the landline. I now have the best of both worlds.


The complicated equipment

To the right you see a working picture of my the router I bought in error. It had a million ports and connections so I first wanted to read the manual on disk. The included manual is just a Quick Install Guide, although the size of it gives another impression. The reason: the QIG is printed in 12 languages.... Still, it paid off to print the QIG which is on the accompanying CD-ROM. There are two big PDF files on that disk. Print them BOTH. These are the most recent manuals and guides.

Don't be pennywise. Just spend the cost of 40 pages of paper. You will need all the information you can get to get this piece of equipment working in a sound way.

This D-link router offers, among others:

I chose for the WLAN version since the price difference with the Wired-Only version was only € 12.

You can read more about the machine on the website of the manufacturer: D-link and here is the site of the reseller, Komplett: http://www.komplett.nl/k/ki.asp?sku=321893. There might be a Komplett company in your country as well. Check Komplett international: http://www.komplett.com/.

In the end I decided to put the router on Ebay and sell it. This kind of setup is too complicated. And if the router gets into a hang, you cannot phone out. That was my main reason for going for the Targa system described above.


The D-Link internals

If you like electronics or are just curious of what's inside the box, go visit my public photo album covering the D-link DVG-G1402S.

On http://www.mijnalbum.nl/Album=37KX4YQJ you will find some high resolution pictures, taken with a 7 Mp camera without the flash on. If you click on the medium sized pictures in the album, a new window opens to reveal the original 3072 x 2304 pixel image.


Page created on 18 januray 2007 and