One of the ways I’m keeping in touch with my family is to do so via the telephone. Yes, of course, Skype or Google Hangouts are there and everything else, but many people have trouble with using those, and so I wanted to make it simple. And, while calls to Australia aren’t that expensive these days, calls within the UK are, for most people, included in their phone tariff anyway, and therefore are free.
So, why not just let people from the UK call me on a UK number?
So, that’s what I’ve got. I have a London number, one even in the highly sought-after 020 7xxx range. It’s a number from Sipgate. When I joined (and still, seemingly, now) you can get a UK telephone number that is contract-free. You pay for the outgoing calls at quite low prices. You get the option of voicemail and call forwarding, too.
Technically, Sipgate works over an internet protocol called SIP. You can use SIP on special telephones; or you can get SIP apps for your computer or mobile phone. You can use Telephone on your Mac, for example.
SIP is also baked into Android. So, if you dive into the menus, you can use your existing Android phone with a SIP provider. On recent versions of Android, go into the phone app, then choose menu > Settings > Calls > Calling Accounts > Internet Calling (SIP) accounts.
For a while, I used the above — a Nexus One, a really old Android phone that is relatively useless these days. It’s running a replacement ROM Cyanogenmod 7, which means it’s running Android 2.3.7 — that’s high enough to have SIP within the dialer. I added my SIP account to it. It worked okay, but not brilliantly.
I’m now using a cheap (AUD $79, about 50 quid) Yealink phone. This is a two-line SIP telephone that plugs into the internet, and lives on my desk. My Sipgate 020 number lives here, as does my Siptalk Australian line, too. This works flawlessly, and enables anyone to call me on a proper telephone. (I post more about it here.)
SIP is a splendid thing, and has allowed family to give me a call whenever they fancy it. It’s also helpful to enable UK clients to keep calling. I’d recommend it.