Getting VOIP phone numbers

2008-07-10

in Canada, Geek stuff, Internet matters

Construction site in black and white

Voice over internet protocol (VOIP) is a way of sending and receiving telephone calls over your internet connection. At its best, it means not having to deal with local fixed-line telephone providers at all. It is also cheaper and more versatile than a conventional phone and offers possibilities not normally available, such as having local numbers all over the world that you can access from any internet connection, as well as things like having your voicemail messages emailed to you.

Those waiting for SkypeIn to be available in Canada do have at least one option of comparable price:

  1. Get a router with SIP based VOIP functionality. (For example, the Thomson ST780 sold by Teksavvy.)
  2. Get Canadian Direct Inward Dialing (DID) numbers from someone like Voip.ms. These cost $2 per month each, and are available for a great many different areas. You can also get numbers in the US, UK, or elsewhere. Many numbers can be used seamlessly with the same phone and voicemail system.
  3. Get a free account with MySIPswitch.com.
  4. Have that free service configured by someone who actually understands how it works (not me).
  5. Configure the DIDs to point to MySIPswitch
  6. Configure your router
  7. Plug a phone into your router. It will now receive calls from any of your DID numbers, and can also place calls anywhere in the world at low rates.

Sure, a pre-packaged system of the Skype or Vonage variety would requires less tinkering. That said, the approach above works right now, and costs very little to boot.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan July 11, 2008 at 10:41 am

Those wanting my new Vancouver area (604 area code) and Ottawa area (613) area code phone numbers should send me an email.

I may also be getting local numbers in Toronto, Montreal, and/or London, England.

Padraic July 11, 2008 at 2:41 pm

I met a Skype lawyer at a conference recently – he said to “be patient” re: SkypeIn numbers in Canada.

Milan July 11, 2008 at 4:40 pm

I waited for more than a year.

This works now and is free. The only thing that might make people hesitant is the need to buy hardware and the complexity of setting it all up.

Padraic July 12, 2008 at 10:29 am

Yeah, I have to say, I consider myself tech-savvy (as BA holders go, anyways), and that looks too hard for me. I am locked into a residential landline for the next year, and already have an unlimited Skype package for outgoing calls, so my incentive is quite low. I’m glad to know it’s possible, though.

Milan July 14, 2008 at 10:15 am

It isn’t actually that tricky. When I am on my home computer, I can copy and paste the appropriate settings for mysipswitch into a comment here.

Milan March 17, 2009 at 3:29 pm

One major strike against VOIP is the lack of reliability. For whatever reason, my VOIP phone only seems capable of receiving incoming calls some of the time. I am not sure exactly what percentage of the time it is non-operative, but it is high enough to bar it from being a form of communication you can count on.

Hopefully, future systems will be better.

Milan December 16, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I have cancelled my VoIP plan for incoming calls with voip.ms.

It was never reliable: often not ringing when someone called, and frequently having very poor sound quality. For now, I will stick to calling cards and my cell phone.

R.K. December 17, 2009 at 11:40 am

It’s a shame the reliability was so rotten. VoIP is quite an appealing technology, in principal. Having a local phone number that you can carry with you anywhere seems quite desirable.

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