Almost free Phone Service, take two

December 8, 2007 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

Just tonight I found out that the ipKall and FreeWorldDialup steps that I used in my previous write-up on ultra cheap phone service could be skipped with better quality results… /
This website appears to be the corporate side of the Gizmo Project. Think of something like Skype. I looked at them months ago, but quickly dismissed it. My initial take was that this was a Instant Messaging client with Voice capabilities. I didn’t realize that you actually got a real SIP account with Gizmo, which makes it really cool. Basically, you can sign up for a Gizmo account (download and install Gizmo to sign up – you can uninstall Gizmo after you have your account), then sign into the website. There, you’ll see your SIP phone number. Mine started with 1-747, so yours will probably too. Log into your GrandCentral account and add a new number (Under the Settings tab, then the Phones menu item on the left). Select the Add/Edit Number link (far right on the screen) and add your Gizmo account. For the phone number, use the 1-747 number you saw when you sign into Next, set your PBX or hardware device to receive calls from Gizmo. They have these instructions for configuring your hardware device:

SIP Proxy:
STUN server:
Username: Your SIP number, found by dialing ** in Gizmo
Password: Your password
Codecs: iLBC, GSM, g711a, and g711u (Gizmo Project uses other codecs as well, but you won’t find them in your hardware settings)

Now, Gizmo doesn’t offer outbound services, so you won’t be able to make calls with this account. Using a PBX package like Askozia, however, and you are all set. Just set this up as another provider and tell it which extension (or extension group) to forward calls to. You’ll still need another provider for outgoing calls, but there are several of those around that do a good job.

Near the top of this entry I mentioned this gives better quality results. I haven’t done enough testing to be sure yet, but in theory it should be better. With my previous config, when someone called GrandCentral, GrandCentral then dialed out on the public phone network to the phone number, which digitized the conversation and forwarded that via SIP to FreeWorldDialup, which forwarded it to my PBX. With the above described configuration, a call to GrandCentral gets digitized at the first hop and goes directly to a SIP account at Gizmo, where it is forwarded to my PBX. By removing the intermediate step across the public phone network, call quality should be a bit better.

In addition, by looking at my PBX logs, I see that FreeWorldDialup is unreachable many times a day. In fact, I just went to look at the logs to see if I could quantify the problem a bit, but found that with all the configuration changes I’ve made, the logs have been cycled out leaving me only about the last two hours to see. Even with that, my FWD account is unreachable as of about 4 minutes ago. I don’t know if Gizmo is any more reliable than FWD, but if they are, that just icing on the cake!


Entry filed under: Networking.

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