VoIP Cookbook: VoIP Hardware for experienced Users

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Once you are experienced in using softphone, you may start wondering whether there is an easier way to communicate through VoIP, as using softphone via a computer is not practical—you need to turn on your computer each time you want to communicate through VoIP or keep your computer running for a long duration just to receive incoming call. This may not be prudent at all, since the purpose of using VoIP is to minimize your cost. Besides wasting electrical energy, the computer in which the softphone is running could crash.

So instead of using a computer to communicate through VoIP, you could use VoIP hardware, equipments that enable you to communicate through VoIP efficiently and as easy as you use your conventional phone.

Called Internet Telephone appliance, these hardware typically have the following characteristics:

  • it is physically simple, with its dimension slightly bigger than the size of a cigarette box.
  • There are ports for connecting to the network or computer, such as LAN/UTP, USB or wireless at 2.4 GHz frequency.
  • There is one port or more for connecting to telephones with RJ-11 port.
  • It can be configured through the web.

However, VoIP hardware is not free, as you still have to spend some money for buying the equipment. For about US$ 100, you can get a set of decent VoIP hardware produced from China or Taiwan. But despite this cost, VoIP hardware are highly recommended, as you may find the benefits the hardware bring outweigh the cost you have to cover, in terms of ease of use and energy efficiency.

This Chapter will explain several hardware available in the market and how to configure them: IP Phone, Internet Telephone Gateway or better known as Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA), and Wireless IP Phone. They way you configure VoIP hardware is not much different from what you do with softphone. Basically all you have to configure are the IP settings (IP address, subnet mask, and gateway) and registration to SIP server or proxy server (Username or telephone number, password and hostname server). Often, IP settings is configured automatically using DHCP server operating in a network, so you don't have to set the IP address, subnet mask and gateway.

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