The most common types of hardware are
Using a regular telephone
The easiest way to use your freespeech account is with a regular
analogue telephone, just like the the one your used to using at home.
You will make and receive calls just like you do on a normal phone and
will not need to keep your computer on. To
connect a regular telephone you need what's known as an Analogue Adaptor (also refererred to as AT, ATA or TA).
This is an example of a basic analogue adaptor
adaptors come in many shapes and sizes but what they all have in common
is they provide an analogue telephone socket (just like the traditional phone socket you have on your wall)
and a (LAN) network connection socket for connecting to your router. The analogue phone socket is often referred to as an FXS (Foreign Exchange Station) port.
You connect the
analogue adaptor to your computer network (LAN) via the network
connection socket. Your regular phone connects to the analogue
is an example of the most typical connection. When your adaptor is
configured and you connect your phone, it works just like a regular
Configuring an Adaptor
telephone adaptors use a web page for configuration (using internet
explorer), many also support a voice prompt menu which you can reach by
picking up the attached phone and dialing a specific code.
Additional features you can expect on adaptors
- Additional FXS ports - this allows you to connect additional phones to your adaptor.
- FXO(Foreign Exchange Office) port(s)
- this allows you to share your connected phone between your VOIP line
and your traditional phone line. You connect an FXO line to your phone
wall socket (where you would normally plug in your phone). An FXO port
will also allow you to dial into your adaptor via your tradional
analogue line and re-route calls out via your VOIP line.
- PSTN passthrough/fallback port - similar to FXO port but more limited, does not allow dial in for re-routing of calls.
- Additional LAN port
- This allows you to connect a PC via your adaptor, usefull of you only
have one LAN port on your router. Note: this does not mean there is a
router in your adaptor, this is important if you have a single PC and
want to add an adaptor to your setup.
- Built in router - see below
Combined VOIP Gateway/router/adaptor
device combines the funtion of a router and adaptor into a neat package
reducing the complexity of your setup. A VOIP gateway will also improve
the quality of your calls by prioritising voice over data.
This is an example of the most typical connection. When your VOIP gateway
is configured you can make/receive calls just like a regular phone.
Using a VOIP telephone
VOIP phone (also known as an IP phone) is a next generation telephone
which natively supports VOIP, it's like an adaptor and phone combined.
VOIP phones typically give better quality than adaptors and have can
have a broader set of features supported. A VOIP phone works in a
similar way to a regular phone for a users perspective.
This is an example of a basic IP phone.
All IP phones are directly connected to the network with a (LAN) network cable.
is an example of the most typical connection. When your IP phone is
configured you can make/receive calls just like a regular phone.
Configuring an IP phone
IP phones use a web
page for configuration (using internet explorer), many also have a menu
system configuration you can use with the phones display.
Additional features you can expect on IP phones
- LCD display - most IP phones have a display, this is usefull for phone settings, call history and caller id.
call appearances - Allows you receive more than one call at a time on a
single VOIP number and to switch between the calls, many phones will
also support conferencing between calls.
- Multiple Accounts - Allow you to set up with multiple VOIP providers, normally selected via a 'line' button on the phone.
- Call features - transfer, conference, mute, voicemail indicator, hold, speed dial.
(Power Over Ethernet) - Power can be supplied to the phone over the
network cable to avoid using external power supplies. The router/switch
you are plugged into must support this feature to use it.