Babar Haq

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

VOIP using dual mode IP cordless phone

My first exposure to VOIP (voice over internet protocol) was back in 2001 while working on my final year university project. My buddy Hasnain and I were implementing a protocol PINT (PSTN/Internet Interworking). We implemented it on Linux using Kdeveloper in C++/QT.

That is when I switched to Linux for good as well. Since then I also have been using gnomeeting and have seen it grow into ekiga. Once I moved out of Pakistan, I started using ekiga regularly to call home using as the service provider. That is the default voip service available with ekiga. voice quality to Pakistan was not that good so i also subscribed to another service I was overjoyed to find that my Nokia e51 has a built in voip phone. Therefore I was able call any one on my contact list via voip with a single click. Sadly, it drained out my battery life very quickly.

On the other hand, I had a regular cordless PSTN phone lying around at home. It would be days before it would be used. Eventually one day it just died. I think the reason was lack of use :) This gave me the idea of having a cordless phone which would be my sip phone as well. Gigaset came up to be the first result on google. Some time back it was bought by Siemens. The only problem I saw in their phones was that they were mostly over kill for my needs. It had tons of features which I would never need. Never the less I ordered one from Amazon since IP phones are not available here in Saudi. Here is what I got myself

I think this is the first time I have got myself something known as DECT based cordless phone. Interestingly these kind of cordless has 3 items. One main base which connects to the wireless router and PSTN line. The cordless and its charging station can be placed any where at home since it communicates with the main base over wireless. The phone is extremely easy to configure via its web interface. It can be configured to use up to six VOIP service providers. Users can configure prefix dialing based rules but I choose my connection every time a number is dialled. It has a lot of other stuff which I do not think I will ever use like face-book, email and also built in answering machine. Weather update on the home screen is pretty cool though.

Since the VOIP connections are always connected you can also get local numbers by providers to be diverted to your phone. For example offers a Pakistani number for around $5 a month. The best part is that the voice quality of the phone is amazing both over SIP and fixed line.

I identified two problems upon setting up the phone. Since normally this kind of equipment comes with adapters I assumed that it would be 110/220V but sadly since it was ordered from Amazon US it was 110V only. Can live with this especially in Saudi since Khobar/Dammam normally has both sockets in most homes.

Secondly callers number would not appear on the screen every time there was an incoming call. Googling made me realize that CLI settings in these phones are region based and since this was for US it wouldn't work in Saudi. So obviously my next step was to look our for gigaset's support. There were two thing I did. One I sent an email to gigaset support via their main web site. Secondly searching gigaset support middle east came up with linked-in profile of the CEO of gigaset Dubai. Well i added him to my linked in.

Next day interestingly the CEO did add me to his profile. So I instantly sent him an email explaining my problem. By evening I was on phone with gigaset support Saudi Arabia :) After he got all the details of the phone and where i bought it from :) he sent me a firmware file which i uploaded to the phone. There it was CLI working like a charm.

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