Aside from being more technologically advanced, the main reason behind turning your phone system into a cloud-based one is to save maintenance costs and reduce call rates. However, clients often forget about the fact that most of the phones they are using connect to the system via phone cables; VoIP on the other hand uses internet cables. This means two things: you either have to purchase new IP phones/rely on softphones and mobile devices, or you need an analog phone adapter (or ATA for short), which connects old desk phones to your VoIP system. All in all there’s little to it, and there are various ways to complete the setup using a router and existing VoIP subscriptions. Let’s take a look at some of your options and a selection of the most suitable VoIP phone adapters to complete your setup.
How Does it Work?
To tell a short story even shorter: you plug in the adapter to hook up the internet to your old phones, do some minor configurations and it’s done. However, if you are more into technical details, you only need to know that the ATA is a bridge that transforms the analog signals of your old phones to digital data and vice versa.
Setting up such a device is just as simple as the brief description above: you have to plug in the jack of your old phone into the adapter and connect the adapter to the internet directly or via a router. Then you need to configure the settings using a web interface to integrate the adapter into your system; however, if you purchase such device via a phone service provider, ATAs arrive pre-configured, so configuring is reduced to “plug-and-play”. Once this last step is done, you can start using your old phones/fax machines like you did before moving to the clouds. There are also ATAs with USB ports that directly connect to your computer, further simplifying the setup.
Keep in mind, however, that even simple voicemail/call notifications are turned into analog signals, meaning that they are not displayed on your phone’s screen like on IP devices.
Skype, Google Voice
Even though both Skype and Google Voice/Hangouts are mostly computer-based VoIP services, they can indeed be used with landline phones. Furthermore, there are certain phone types which are intended to be used with both landline and VoIP purposes to begin with, such as the ones manufactured by Freetalk.
However, you still have to use an adapter to be able to place/receive VoIP calls via Skype or Google Voice. In fact, you have to be very careful when picking the right adapter, because not all of them are supported by these companies. Still, if you have a subscription, all you need to do is hook up your landline device to the right adapter, such as the Obihai OBi200 (see below) or the Freetalk Connect.me, do the necessary settings and you can make Skype/Google Voice calls. Moreover, Freetalk’s Connect.me allows you to maintain a separate landline beside the internet connection.
Phone Adapter with Router
Since it is most likely that you will hook up the ATA to a router, we should say a few words about using adapters with routers. Although you have the option to plug in your ATA to the internet directly, it’s better to connect the adapter with a router to be able to use the internet and place/receive calls at the same time. Furthermore, and this is probably the most important aspect of all, every single landline phone needs an ATA to be able to connect to the internet, thus a router is a must.
Granted, it will take some time to set up all ATAs (because you have to do them one by one), plus if the router fails, all phones connected thereto will be useless as well. But aside from this, using landline phones with routers is easy as pie.
Recommended Phone Adapters
Although most cloud phone system providers we have reviewed recommend Cisco’s solutions, there are other, clever and unique solutions out there:
Ooma Telo Video Introduction
However, by paying only $9.99 per month, you get a second line, free calls to Canada and Mexico, call blocking, 3-way conferencing, a backup number in case of internet downtime, private voicemails with alerts and monitoring, free minutes in the mobile app, and the option to use Google Voice.
magicJackGo & magicJack Express
magicJack Express Video Introduction
magicJack Express is basically the same, but you can get it for only $29.95 per year ($39.95 per year normally) and enjoy its service for free for the first 3 months and place calls to not just the U.S. and Canada, but to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well.
Why Go for OBi200?
Best VoIP Systems of 2019