In view of the high cost of 20pence per minute for calls to New Zealand, I experimented today with making phone calls over the internet. I have subscribed to a service from VoipTalk and installed a software phone on my computer. This morning I rang Lyall in New Zealand and chatted for about 30 minutes. The sound quality was really good, I have had worse landline connections.
Once I knew it worked really well, I investigated further and discovered another provider Voipcheap, who offer free calls to many destinations, including New Zealand, providing you have upgraded your account to full from trial. I will try this next time.
I am also investigating the options for adding a telephone handset to the VOIP service. There are a few routes available to me; phone handset connected by USB to the computer, standard telephone connected to an Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA) which is attached by USB to the computer, standard telephone connected to an Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA) which attaches directly to the network and Internet Protocol (IP) telephone which attaches directly to the network. The last 2 options do not require the computer to be on to work.
I am investigating the Linksys/Sipura SPA-3000 network attached ATA as this could allow me to use my existing telephone handsets with both VOIP and the standard landline without having to change connections. It would be set up to route most calls via internet and only route over the standard line those that cannot go via internet such as emergency calls.