I recently discovered the great services over at freephoneline.ca. As their name implies, it’s a free phone line. The trick? It’s a voice-over-IP provider that pays for its service via extras to the service, like multiple phone numbers, international long distance plans, etc. The base phone service, however, is free. Free after you pay for initial setup, of course, but free after that.
Once the account activated, I found an inexpensive ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) to bring this internet telephone service to my actual telephones in my house, in order to fully replace Bell (bye bye Bell!) This set me off another 45$, or barely more than a month of Bell service anyway. The one I got is Grandstream HT502, for 45$. I’ve been told this is one of the most stable and reliable units. Furthermore, this unit can actually manage 2 lines simultaneously, so if I ever want a second SIP account, this device would support it directly.
Here’s a mini-install guide, or rather, the steps I just took to install a brand new Grandstream HT502 ATA with my FreePhoneLine account.
The HT502, when left unchecked, wants to become your network router. It could replace our typical Linksys routers and whatnot, but honestly, I want my devices to do the thing they’re built for only, and have each do its own job. Therefore, I will not use mt 502 as a router or NAT, which changes a few things from how they explain it in the manual.
- I connected the WAN port to my network, like any other device in my home. I will not use the LAN port.
- I plugged in a phone in port #1, dialed * * *, and then followed the guide to put the unit in DHCP so that my router controls the IP allocation, and to get the MAC address. Nota: Since it’s not really a switch with 2 ports, the 502 has actually two network cards in it, and therefore, two MAC addresses. The LAN port has the MAC address that is printed on the label, and is the same as you get form the voice menus. The WAN port has the MAC address of the LAN one, +1. If it’s a letter, then it goes up one (A -> B, etc). Since they’re given in pairs, LAN will have an odd ending one (or A, C, E) and WAN will have even number (or B, D, F).
- After turning DHCP on, I logged into my Linksys (with Tomato firmware) and setup a DHCP static IP for this device. Go in Basic, then Static DHCP. Use the MAC address from the +1 strategy explained in the nota above because we want the MAC of the WAN port.
- While I’m in the Tomato firmware, let’s also forward ALL ports that may be used by the VoIP adapter. Go in Port Forwarding, then Basic.
- There’s Quality of Service we could setup here to guarantee that the VoIP application has upmost priority for traffic on my internet line, but we’ll do that in another post.
- Reboot the HT502 adapter, and open a browser to the configuration page: http://192.168.0.150 (the IP I gave it). Default password is “admin”
- Go in Basic Seetings. Only thing to change here is to set Device Mode to Bridge. Why? This will disable all NAT functions of this router, and will prevent it from trying to reroute traffic left and right.
- Go in Advanced Settings and write a new admin password. This device controls your phone and, as such an important part of your house/life, shouldn’t be left with default “please hack me” passwords.
- Go in FXS port 1, and set it up just like this (don’t forget your own account number and password, of course):
Well, that’s it! I made calls, used DTMF to check my voicemail and confirm the tones work. I received a call as well (from my cellphone). Everything works out fine.
Note that, above, I picked codec G729 which is the indicated choice of FPL. Also the Dial Plan (call string) cannot be read completely in the screenshot, but it’s what’s been said several times in this thread, which is:
Hope this helps someone!
Note that I’ve shared this guide with the customer forums at FreePhoneLine.ca
Edit: I’ve tweaked the Dial Plan in this post.