Case Study : Setting up a home VOIP system

VOIP CallDid you know that you can save a lot of money on your monthly phone bills by making more use of your broadband connection?

Most people have a fast enough internet connection these days and a typical 5 minute call only uses around 5Mb of data so that shouldn’t be an issue either.

Sounds complex, but it needn’t be – with most VOIP providers, the setup is very straightforward and most pre-configure the box they supply for you so it’s often just a matter of ‘plug it all together and start making calls’.

Let’s look at a real world example and discover the costs involved to set it up and begin saving money.Summary:
Location : Shoalhaven Heads
Phones : Landline (3x cordless phones) plus 2x mobiles
Broadband : ADSL1 (8000/384k speed) –  10Gb per month free data (50Gb plan with 10Gb Peak/40 Gb Off peak)

Provider / Average Monthly bill
Phone service provider : Southern Phone / $70 (includes home line plus 2x mobiles with some call credit included)
Broadband provider : TPG / $50
VOIP Service provider : MyNetFone / $15
Total monthly spend broadband & phone service including all calls = $135

Details and notes:
Southern Phone was chosen for several reasons – no line rental fees, good service (they have a local call centre not offshore), choice of mobile carrier (Telstra/Optus/Vodaphone) and they are owned by local councils.
TPG was chosen for the better rates than most ISPs and shorter contract periods. Support has also been good – call centers are offshore but service and response time has been fine.
MyNetFone (MNF) was chosen based on experience with this provider and a special plan was chosen to provide the best balance of price / included calls – more on that later.

The new VOIP setup was straightforward. Their broadband had been setup for several years using a standard 4 port/wifi router so the installation simply involved plugging in the small MNF ATA box (this connnects the VOIP service to the phones), plugging the phone line and cordless base station into the ATA and doing some configuration work. The ATA has a ‘fallback’ arrangement so if the broadband goes down, calls are simply sent and received on the SouthernPhone service instead. The VOIP dial tone was changed from standard to ensure the owners knew if this had happened !

Set up went smoothly and we were able to make and receive calls over the VOIP network within an hour. Client has been very happy with the arrangement and hasn’t reported many problems apart from minor distortion/echo on some calls – mainly if using the broadband connection heavily to watch online videos and downloading at the same time.

Savings are dramatic as they frequently call relatives overseas in the UK and New Zealand. These calls are either free on MNF or are charged at 10c untimed, the same applies to all STD and local calls.

Other benefits that the clients have discovered:
when travelling in Australia or overseas they make free/10c calls to Australian numbers using their MNF service. They call from their smartphone or laptop running a VOIP application using free wifi services in hotels/cafes etc.
friends and relatives can call them cheaply on a local phone number using DID (Direct Inward Dial) phone numbers. I set a couple up for them (cost $5 a year) on their MNF plan in towns in both Australia and New Zealand. For example a relative in Perth can call their Perth DID number and talk to them in Shoalhaven Heads for the price of a local call and friends and family in NZ can make free calls to them using their Auckland DID number (yes, NZ still has free local calling!).
a second line to receive incoming calls when making an outgoing call. By leaving another phone plugged into a wall socket, this phone will ring and can be answered if a call comes in while someone is on an outgoing VOIP call.
much cheaper calls to mobiles from the home phone – just 12 cents per minute with per second billing and no flagfall.
20 free SMS messages per month they can send from their MNF account page using a web browser.
itemised record of all calls they make always available online through their MNF account.

The clients in this case study make a fair number of local, STD and overseas calls so their savings are considerable. They estimate $60-$80 savings per month compared to using SouthernPhone for all calls. They believe in comparison with the ‘bundle’ deals offered by Telstra/Optus they are still better off. Setup costs were actually minimal, MNF have regular specials on ATA products and this and the labour cost to install and setup and configure the service for their needs were easily recouped in call savings over the next 4-6 months.
The MNF plan chosen was the NeoSaver (this is a special ‘Whirlpool users’ plan that is not shown on their normal website menus, but is available to anyone who knows about them!). This gave the client the best deal and prices for their particular needs, especially the fixed to mobile call fees of 12c per minute.



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