Using Virgin Business to cut my phone line. The final instalment.

Good morning everyone, and welcome again to my quest to get rid the home phone.

Having a phone at home can, for some, be a necessary evil. You may not use it, but it’s usually given to you even if you only want broadband. The thing is, when you start a job or when you’re applying for a loan or a bank account – you’ll need to provide a home phone number. Also, if you run a business, people seem to trust a “fixed” landline more than a mobile number.

So, story so far then. I’ve had FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) for quite some time and was relatively happy with it, but I switched to Virgin Broadband because they offered me a good deal, it was much faster, and I got a massive load of cash-back via Quidco which made it even cheaper. Then, some months later, I spotted that their business arm were offering this new package which delivered pure broadband (and nothing else) for £30 per month.

That’s £30 for up to 350Mbps. Hugely quick. Sure, the upload isn’t always fantastic (I get between 7Mbps and 10Mbps) and, with the VAT, it’s actually £36, but it’s fast and I don’t have any frilly phone bundle or TV package.

I’ve decided to keep the traditional home phone number, and previously I tried using some VoIP cleverness to avoid paying the relatively high call charges. Trouble is, it was a bit of a faff as I was redirecting the installed phone line to a VoIP number and then messing around with the Caller ID to get things working.

Now, I’ve finally completed it. Last month I was waiting for Virgin to port my number across to sipgate basic.

OK wait. SIP? VoIP?

Yes, it’s a bit of technobabble. Basically, it means I’m trunking my old-fashioned voice call over the internet. Over TCP/IP.. over IP. Voice. Over IP. Boom!

The end result I wanted was for calls to come in, hit the internet and then arrive digitally to my house. Not converted at the exchange, not switched to an old-school analogue call somewhere else, but to arrive digitally.

My reasoning behind this is because we don’t use the home phone a great deal, and the prices for the calls over sipgate are far cheaper than most standard call rates with other “normal” providers. It also means I can do cool things like answer the home phone number on my smartphone with the likes of Zoiper, which lets you log into the VoIP account and receive or make calls using your normal home phone number from anywhere with an internet connection.

At home I’ve now got both. My smartphone is logged into sipgate basic, which now has my “normal” home phone number that we’ve used for years. I can get phone calls over the work WiFi or out on the road over the 4G data. I can also, when I’m at home, use a standard DECT home phone plugged into my a Linksys PAP2T Phone Adapter. You can also buy a VoIP phone instead if you wish – then you plug that in via Ethernet. Pretty much every office up and down the land now uses this sort of system, and they either login to a hosted VoIP provider or to an on-premise VoIP PBX which is controllable through a web connection.

So now, when anyone calls our home phone, the call goes through sipgate and hits my account. It then rings any web-connected devices. My “standard” home phone rings via that Linksys PAP2T adapter and my mobile phone rings too. Very clever.

The final job? I can remove the PSTN / phone faceplate. It’s no longer needed.

The big fat data pipe has become even more essential in our house. We get ….

– TV, such as on-demand content, ITV Hub, Netflix, Amazon etc
– Radio and music via Spotify, BBC iPlayer Radio and Mixcloud on an old Android phone connected to a Bluetooth speaker in the kitchen
– A standard home phone number for free via sipgate and no daft call packages (although they are available if you want them, and for much less).
– Video calls via WhatsApp Video calls, Facetime etc
– A general internet feed for the PS4, Sky+ box (On Demand) and Kodi etc

I know it’s a little too geeky for some, but I do love exploring what technology is capable of, and I hope this series of articles has been of use to someone, if only in part 🙂