Having struggled a bit with version 1 of my VoIP system I decided a new approach was in order. Keep in mind my requirements, somewhat expanded from the initial plan:
- I need to be available regardless of my location
- No roaming charges
- I would like my cellphone number in South-Africa to reach me where ever I might roam.
- Cheaper calls than the cell provider offers would be a bonus.
- Additional phones around the house would be great too.
The above meant version 1 would’ve been perfect if only I could get chan_mobile to reliably work for extended periods of time. Since I could not quickly stop at the office to restart the bluetooth link and disruption is not really acceptable I abandoned that approach.
I spun up a droplet at Digital Oceans. It is a very cost effective virtual server apparently running on KVM offering 512 MB (I know its not a lot) and 20 GB SSD drive. Because its a VM in KVM swap space is possible making this virtual server very useful for small web hosting, and running an Asterisk server.
At the moment it is hosting this web site, my Asterisk and also has a couple of console apps making mail, gtalk and skype available from any workstation with an ssh client.
My requirements above are met the following way.
- To be available regardless of my location I acquired a free VoIP number from FreetelSA. This is the local option to South-Africa. Telfree offers a similar service to the rest of the world however, at the moment their web site seems to be down.
- Obviously, no roaming charges apply to VoIP. All I need is a cheap 3G sim card in the country I operate in. If not available there must be wifi available somewhere.
- Having my cellphone number reach me in another country on my VoIP turns out to be easier than I expected. I have a positive balance of almost R2k on my phone atm so to help me burn through those all I need to do is forward my cellphone number to the local VoIP number when the phone is not reachable on the MTN network.
- Now the cheaper calls is not really a big concern as my phone contract is much bigger than I really need. However, the contract period ends in April so I’d like to have everything in place to reduce my telco costs. I found Rynga offering 120 freedays for every 10 euros purchased. The freedays offer free calls to landlines in most countries and for all other calls local tariffs to most countries competing very favourably with anything MTN or any other local telco can provide. In addition, once my phone number with MTN was verified calls through Rynga appear to come from my cellphone number.
- Additional phones around the house are a breeze with Asterisk as I can add as many sip accounts as I want. At the moment I have one analogue phone in my study, and one VoIP account for my cellphone. I can call between the phones and receive calls.