VoIP – Best SIP provider / overall solution

So anyway, for those of you that don’t know…Laura and I are moving to Australia next year. This means we’ll need to sort out a proper voice over IP solution, but with so many different deals and packages around, what’s best?

I’ve ruled out Skype as it’s non-standard and therefore you’re quite limited on what hardware and software you can use, also I don’t like the idea that other people’s phone traffic will pass through my internet connection. I’ve also recently started using a SIP provider called sipgate which is really cool as you get a free local PSTN number. However, I’ve just learnt that some friends of mine are using Tesco Internet phone.

If anyone has any experience with the Tesco internet phone, please leave a comment…I could do with knowing whether it uses SIP, whether it’s easy to use with analogue telephone adapters and SIP routers…what the settings are, whether it’s possible to dial an internet IP etc.. thanks!


Ok, I’m pretty sure Tesco Internet Phone is the way to go:

  • The rates, although not the best are still pretty competetive.
  • It’s very easy for someone else to get a tesco phone and use it.
  • The mobile call rates are also good.

When you put the tesco solution together with Pipex’s free local/international calls adsl package and this Billion VGP router, it’s quite cool.


Well, today I went out and bought two of the tesco internet phones…I’ve since discovered they use the IAX protocol (and not SIP), which although open, isn’t the best as not many clients (and pretty much no hardware) supports it.

So looks like I’m taking one of them back.. I don’t think I’ll be allowed to take back the other as I’ve used some of the free credit for testing. Not a total loss though, the handset will come in handy, and is worth a tenner itself. Seems to work fine just by plugging it in on Ubuntu dapper.

There is some hardware out there. And software, and I also managed to connect to the Tesco service using a different client which confirms that it is indeed IAX2. Unfortunately it isn’t as popular as SIP, which is a bit annoying. However, I think it could well be the way to go once I get the right software/hardware… Ekiga should support IAX2 soon. And I found the AG-168V which is perfect, although it’s hard to get hold of.

After buying two atcom 168V’s, I discovered atcom is a terrible make of ATA and should be avoided at all costs. They basically don’t work. Lots of problems connecting to the net.

36 thoughts on “VoIP – Best SIP provider / overall solution

  1. As a British expat living in Australia through the grape vine I heard about the Tesco offer and signed up today getting my self a local phone number in my home town. I also read that Tesco phone to phone calls are free so that all sounds good. I have had a quick google and it seems that getting Trixbox/asterix talking with the phones wont be too hard as they have support for IAX but I have not read as yet about any one getting inbound calling working if you have any luck on this subject please post some detials please in your blog. Hope you enjoy Australia as much as I do.

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  3. Hi, I have had the phone for two days, and have found it to be a really good investment. I opted for the headphone set and an on-screen dialler, which cost me £4.99 and included £2.50 of free call time. I have set it all up today, and tested it with local land lines and mobiles on O2 and Orange networks. all calls were of good quality and the logging system is adequate.

    I am more than pleased with the product and the service and would recommend this phone as a good way forward as to phone from the UK to Australia is 2 pence per minute, including calls to Australia mobile services (as far as I can tell). Hope that helps you.

  4. HI

    I am thinking about buying a Tesco Internet Phone and would be interested to know how you got on.

    Also I thought you might be interested in something I found.
    If you type Freshtel+SIP into Google you should get.
    Further exploring at freshtel’s site reveals their ATA device (Freshtel 3010 ATA) is identical (except the colour to TESCOs (yes I agree its expensive but it means you can switch your computer off)

    So in theory the Tesco ATA device (Tesco IPA 1000 Internet Phone Adapter)
    should work with SIP phones. Also it says on the Tesco page above “This device is also compatible with the Freshtel ‘firefly’ internet phone software”

    Does anyone have one of these???
    Can we get a copy of its Manual or any paperwork which came with it please.

  5. I have just brought this phone from tesco and i am unable to call it from my mobile or my work phone. To me it looks like only normal land lines can call it…

  6. I bought a Tesco DECT internet phone for my office in Turkey. Registering a number reflecting my local exchange in UK. I am totally amazed at the clarity and low cost of the phone and service. It has been a real revelation! I seem to be expounding its virtues to everyone I see out here…… I think I shall start importing them.

  7. Tesco are using the Freshtel servers in OZ for their service. Any call quality problems could be down to the default codec they use,swithing to alaw or ulaw improoves the quality. Lots of free softphones that support iax2 and run on windows, macs and Linux. More iax2 compatible hardware becomming available and this is a much better protocol than Sip.
    If you see make me wireless in Australia say hello from me.


  8. I have a Tesco VoIP phone and am very disappointed with it. I still use it but not much.

    The model makes no difference but mine is an E212 which was the more expensive one at the time of purchase.

    The call quality is awful (I keep getting blank moments where I can’t hear the other person) and I also cannot call my VoIP phone, from a real telephone (be it mobile, work or home).

    All in all, I think Tesco’s VoIP service is about as useful as a chocolate tea pot. We are all entitled to an opinion!

  9. I was using Tesco internet phone in the UK.Recently i shifted to Dubai,UAE and cant logon to it anymore.
    Can any1 help me with this problem??

  10. SIPDiscount is much cheaper than Tesco and works to current standards.

    You can use one of the softphones that works on your PC, and costs nothing to test it.

    A call to the UK is currently £0.008 (STG) per minute. A call to Australia is currently free.

    If you like it you could buy a VoIP phone and just connect it to your router.

  11. If you are looking for a PBX solution based on SIP. Sipgate allow up to 15 calls to be handled on a single phone number.

    We can supply anywhere in the UK a system that gives you IVR, voicemail, call transfer, and remote user log in.. Head office in Manchester and remote users logged on anywhere on Earth.

    The system can also record all calls.

    £10 for 1000 Minutes and NO line rental !!!! from Sipgate.co.uk

  12. Hi, a company well worth looking at for VOIP is Voipfone.co.uk

    Call clarity EXCELLENT, reliability is near perfect.

    No subscription to join, customers call free between each other as well as most other voip providers using Open System, unlike Vonage, Tesco etc.

    For small charge they have a PBX service – where different locations of the same company / family / friends, can set up a virtual pbx between themselves, using 3 digit numbering giving call transfer, diversion, voicemail, etc.

    PSTN call rates may not be the cheapest around – ie. most landlines 1.2p per min for UK and most International – but quality is good. Check out their facilities for linking your mobile phone to their system so you can make calls out via their network for much less than mobile – mobile rates.

  13. harsha

    VOIP is blocked from Dubai. Etisalat have very strict rules.


    I was using Tesco internet phone in the UK.Recently i shifted to Dubai,UAE and cant logon to it anymore.
    Can any1 help me with this problem??

  14. I use voipfone but have found that like ALL voip providers I have tried (lots) they are very unreliable – one way calls, callers getting busy when I’m not on the phone, callers getting ringing but not ringing my end etc etc. I now divert all calls to my landline/mobile as it’s the only reliable way to use the voipnumber I have publicised.

    I actually use my landline for outgoing calls since it is very easy to beat the 1ppm most voip providers charge – I am on virgin media and get included calls anytime with a flat 6p connection charge.

    Having said that I intend to switch to tesco because it’s a cheap way to get a 2nd business number and it’s divert rates to mobiles is cheaper than voipfone at 10ppm (less 25% for £1.50 per month) vs 14.1ppm.

  15. Tesco apparently supports SIP with the Simens DP450, but they refuse to provide the settings as much of it takes place under the hood via automatic configuration servers. I find the Tesco voicemail service in conjunction with their softphone unreliable and it does not alert me to messages, which sometimes can be a day late from my most recent experiences. Call quality can be much better even suffering distortion at times when I receive inbound calls, but the service is usable and you do get a FREE inbound number when you sign up. VOIPBUSTERPRO however presents best value for money with 7hrs FREE calls a week to landlines in many countries including the UK and Australia and allows me to keep in touch with many people not VOIPing yet. SIPGATE I believe offers a free UK inbound number so grab yours before it is too late.
    I believe that certain countries block VOIP traffic in order to protect the local telcos, but cannot say that the UAE is guilty of this practice. Best investigated through a local service provider I’d recommend.
    Skype is good for what it is and I must say delivers some of the best call quality I have ever encountered, but then I have also had crystal clear G.723 codec conversations over two dialup connections between South Africa and Australia, so it ultimately still boils down traffic levels for call quality as well as codecs. Last piece of advice however is to try and get routers and firewalls to that support QOS and maybe try not to use your service over WiFi as there are so many things that can impact it like interference with Bluetooth, cordless phones and microwaves. SIP VOIP is ultimately the way to go, but SIP-to-SIP across two different networks remains a lmitation, although IP-to-IP does offer a workaround for tech savy VOIPers.

  16. Me Again…

    Looked a bit further and thought I would update everyone…

    Recently got a couple of “VigorTalk”s from http://www.draytel.org
    Its an ATA (I have a thing for ATA’s)

    Its SIP, no monthly charge, free between any SIP phones, and like the Tesco ATA-you can switch the computer off!
    (only negative, you can’t buy them in tesco! You have to order them, delivery was bang on time.)

    Ticks all my boxes!

    PS. Please can you remove my EMail address the previous entry…What was I thinking? I was wondering where all the SPAM was comming from!

  17. Rick

    Been trying to get IPA 1000 to work for weeks. Very frustrated. Any advise on how to do it?

  18. Draytel rules (www.draytel.org). Their service is simple and comprehensive. Rates are competitive, they can forward calls and they offer a voice mail option.

  19. When I was in the UK in August, the TESCO IPA 1000 was £49.98.

    It was then reduced to £24.98, and now it is reduced again to just £19.98 – a saving of £30, or 40% from it’s original price!

    A friend in the UK, actually managed to get hold of 2 x IPA1000’s on E-bay, and his winning Bids was for a Total of £26 for the 2, including UK postage.

    He delivered to me, during his visit, here in Cebu, Philippines, on 15th December 2007.

    Having already been given the Serial No, and the Code for the £5 Call Time Credit Voucher, I had alrady ‘Registered’ the IPA 1000.

    Installing was very easy, and self configured when plugged into my Router connected to an ADSL Broadband Internet Connection.

    Since my sister-in-law, in Hong Kong, had not yet got her unit, have not yet been able to call IPA 1000 to IPA 1000 for FREE calls (the reason I went with the IPA 1000 and NOT needing connection to a PC).

    I was able to call her landline and whilst £0.02/min may not be the cheapest VoIP rate, it is CONSIDERABLY less than the charges my wife runs up, chatting to her sister in Hong Kong, using her Mobile Phone here in the Philippines.

    What is more, my Dad in the UK who has no PC/Internet, can dial a local phone call, using my Tesco Internet Phone No. (I selected 2, one per IPA 1000 Registered, from same Home Town as Dad). Same goes for any of my Family, that can’t call me, using Skype, when my PC is not on, and the Skype software not running!

    Personally, I am pleased with the Voice Quality – better than SkypeOut?

    Buying 2 x IPA1000’s, for Php2,200, on E-bay, was cheaper than the current £19.98 from TESCO. We already had a DECT cordless phone I used to connect to the IPA 1000. I can now make and recive calls from the Bedroom, after I have shut tmy PC down for the night.

    We must wait for her sister, in Hong Kong, to take delivery of her pre-registered IPA 1000 unit. She then hooks up to her Broadband DSL connection, using supplied Ethernet cable, connects a phone, and plugs the power supply cord in. After that, we should be able to call her directly for FREE, and vica versa.

  20. Hey guys i had a similar problem. What i did was go on this voip review website : http://www.reviewcentre.com/reviews141084.html

    and found connexin. Ive used then for over 2 months and found that their service is great.. its sip based with decent rate and a good 24hr support desk.

    they were so good to me i thought id return the favour!


  21. I am no expert, but after all I’ve been reading in all kind of forums, I can conclude that the combination Betamax products( VoipBuster, VoipCheap, VoipDiscount, etc.- http://backsla.sh/betamax ) + a Tiptel product like the CyberBox 22 sip Gateway that costs around 65 euros here in Holland(http://www.tiptel.nl/produkte/produkt.asp?produkthgrp_id=6&produktgrp_id=18&lang_id=1)is unbeatble.
    Sound quality/ price / use-friendly
    Remember that for all countries that cost 1 eurocent per minute, you get first 4 months for free, than after the 4 months the tariff of 1 eurocent/min will be applied.
    Resuming: Country: Holland
    Sip provider : VoipDiscount
    Sip Gateway applliance: Tiptel cyberbox 22 ( connects your sip provider via the modem/router directly to your (dect) phone(s) you just use the computer once to program it and then no need for it anymore

  22. Prakash,

    The Tesco IPA 1000 adapter will only support IAX/IAX2 providers at best at a guess. Skype uses a proprietary protocol.

    In other VoIP news, I recently purchased an SPA-941 Linksys IP phone, which I am very happy with – it works really well with the free service Sipgate (www.sipgate.co.uk) and I’m going to add a second line to it later this month. Call quality is nothing short of superb.

  23. I have been experimenting with VoIP for some time. I started really low cost with free VoIPCheap software on my PC and a £15 (pounds sterling) headset on my PC.

    After trying 2 more different technologies (two different ATA adapters and a WiFi phone) I would now recommend the purchase of a Siemens S685IP cordless VoIP phone with 2 or more handsets and subscription to poivY (12.50 € – euros initial payment) as a SIP provider.

    The phone is expensive, but worth it. It will give you fantastic voice quality, endless features, like auto redial on busy.

    The SIP provider poivY, will give you really cheap phone calls. For example free land line calls to Australia, UK and other major euro countries for 120 days and 0.054 € (euro) per minute to Australian mobiles.

    I have no connection with either of these companies, just trying to help.

    Good Luck.

  24. TESCOS! Get real, you may as well stick with BT. Why would you pay more for VOIP than standard calls.There is 100’s of cheaper and better VOIP services Voipcheap for example or sipgate

  25. I have just bought the Siemens s685ip and I am totally stuck trying to set it up with voipcheap. I can’t seem to register. Could you maybe explain all the setting I need to do in the setup. Thanks in advance!

  26. Glenn,

    You posted the same question on the Siemens S675IP Blog. I have put a detailed answer on the Siemens S675IP Blog. There is also a note inviting you to contact me by phone from Siemens.

    I guess you have not looked at the Siemens blog, lets hope you look at this one.


  27. I’ve beed a tesco sip customer for three months and I’m not overjoyed with the service. The call centre staff are dense and limited in their knowledge of sip technology. One ‘helper’ I spoke to seemed to have difficulty just putting words together to form a sentence. Not impressive. In configuring my sip gear I was completely on my own as I use cisco gear but tesco staff don’t know a thing about that. The help center staff at tescointernetphone are nothing more than a buffer zone between the customer and the real tech guys.
    At the moment I am in the middle of a technical issue with tescointerntphone because because upon dialing a phone number it is taking up to 20-30 seconds before the other end rings. Not good. Whether they’ll resolve this goodness knows, but if they don’t I’ll be moving to another provider.

  28. Hi Tony,

    Doesn’t sound good. I never really used mine that much due to it being more of a nuisance than Skype. Also, when I used it, they used the IAX protocol, and not SIP. This may be useful for you to know if you’re setting up some hardware. Tesco are also re-selling a voip solution from someone here in Australia I think, I can’t remember exactly who, but I think they use their servers so if you log into tesco phone and do a netstat you should see who it is.

  29. Got a call that Tesco Internet phone is going to stop in April…any suggestions for ann alternative? For info, Tesco was SIP compatible, with me setting the client on a wifi enabled nokia…

  30. Interesting. Tesco isn’t actually SIP, it’s IAX (or was when I used it anyway.) Anyway, if you’re looking for a new SIP provider, I can recommend http://www.sipgate.co.uk/ – these guys give you a free POTS number too! It’s amazing. The call quality is also very good. Hope that helps!

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