PO Box 6603

Huntsville, AL 35813, USA

+1-256-970-1906

max@CliveMaxfield.com

Feel the (Phone) Power!

If you want an amazingly cheap and awesomely powerful internet-based phone solution for your home or office, PhonePower has you covered.

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Well, I currently have a great big smile plastered on my face. I’ve been blessed with a cheerful disposition anyway, but today I’m even more so because my little PhonePower adapter has arrived (of course, it’s not the size of your little adapter, it’s what you do with it that counts). Let’s wind things back a little. Theoretically, I could work out of a home office; in practice, however, I prefer to rent a real office. Quite apart from anything else, making sure I arrive at my office before 8:00 a.m. each day and staying until 5:00, 6:00, or 7:00 p.m. each evening (depending on how much work I have on the go) almost makes it seem like I have a real job. Also, when I leave the office, I do my best to leave work behind me (I’m not always successful, but I try).
The PhonePower adapter lets you use a regular phone to make calls over the Internet (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: PhonePower)
In addition to being the place where I work, the Pleasure Dome (my office) is also where I store all of my books (technical, reference, science fiction, and graphic novels); essentially, anything that fails to meet the esthetics of our study at home as deemed by my wife (Gina the Gorgeous). Similarly, the Pleasure Dome is home to all my flashing, beeping hobby projects, which also fail to meet our unwritten home aesthetic criteria. Recently, the company from which I rented my office decided to move, so I was forced to find a new location. In a few weeks, I will be celebrating the 21st anniversary of the 21st anniversary of my 21st birthday. The reason I mention this here (apart from the hope that you will feel moved to send me a present — a large pile of money never offends) is that I’ve decided I’ve extracted all the fun out of moving office by myself over the years, so I engaged the services of a local company called Motivated Movers to come to my old office, pack everything up, and move it all to the new office. This ended up being the best move I ever made (in all senses of the phrase). Motivated Movers certainly lived up to their name. I didn’t have to do a thing apart from stooge around looking outrageously handsome (fortunately, I had that part covered), and I ended up as relaxed and refreshed as one might hope. I can’t speak for other locations, but I would be happy to recommend Motivated Movers in Huntsville, Alabama, to anyone (just ask for Ben and tell him “Max says Hi”). Even though I have my new office, I’m still currently working from home sitting at the kitchen table due to the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve been here for what seems like a lifetime, and — even though our state-wide “shelter-in-place” order is in the process of being relaxed — I think I’ll remain here for a few more weeks until Gina finally decides it’s time for me to head out of the door. The main thing is that I want to have my new office fully established in anticipation of my return. In my previous office, I was allowed to piggy-back on their internet and phone services, but I’m going to be on my own in the new building. I checked all of the regular suspects and quickly discovered that a business internet and phone service would cost around $80 a month, which seemed a tad extreme. An internet-only account comes in at a more reasonable $50 a month, but this left me still needing a phone solution. Some of my freelance friends use their smartphones for both business and personal calls, but I prefer to keep these two aspects of my life separate. What do you do when you have a question about this sort of thing? For myself, I have a small group for techno-weenie friends to whom I turn, and who rarely fail to offer sage advice. In this case, it was my chum Rick Curl who responded telling me to take a look at a company called PhonePower. O-M-G! This turned out to be just what I needed! In addition to the fact that you can keep your existing number or select a new number, you can get a worldwide calling plan with unlimited calls to 75 countries for only $24.95 a month, which is substantially less than I currently pay for my home phone (a circumstance that may well end up being changed in the not-so-distant future). In the case of my new office, I opted for the unlimited calling in the USA and Canada package for only $8.33 a month (I also get 60 minutes of free calls to the UK each month, which is nice). All of which returns us to the PhonePower adapter. Once you have a PhonePower account, they send you this adapter for free. All you have to do is to connect it to your internet modem or router with the supplied Ethernet cable, plug in a standard analog or digital handset that you can pick up from Walmart for peanuts, and start making calls. As part of setting up the account, the folks at PhonePower ask you how you want your Caller ID name to appear on the screens of the people you call. If you wish to use your company name, you can do so with no charge, but they do ask to see a copy of your company’s incorporation papers. Personally, I think this is a great way to prevent nefarious people from simply calling themselves anything they feel like, so I fully support PhonePower on this one. But wait, there’s more! In fact, there’s much, much more. First, you can download a free PhonePower App to your iOS or Android device — I downloaded it to my iPhone. In the same way that there’s a regular phone icon on my iPhone, I now also have a PhonePower icon, so I can use my iPhone to make calls that appear to originate from my personal number or from my business number.
The PhonePower Softphone allows you to make and receive calls on your PC or MAC (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: Max Maxfield)
You can also download a Softphone version of PhonePower to your PC or MAC. I’ve used my headset to make calls with the Softphone and the quality is as clear as a bell. And things just keep on getting better, because when someone calls my PhonePower number, in addition to my office phone ringing, the PhonePower app on my smartphone rings and the PhonePower Softphone app on my PC pops up an “Incoming Call” window. Whichever one I answer, the others cease clamoring for my attention. There are also all sorts of call forwarding options, including the ability to provide an emergency backup number, so if you lose your internet connection to the office, those calls will be rerouted to your backup device. Of particular interest to me is that there’s also an option to record your calls, which are saved into whichever folder you specify on your PC or MAC (in my case they are saved as individual WAV files, but I think you can specify the format you prefer). You can set things up to automatically record all of your calls, or you can simply click the “Record” button on your Softphone to record calls on an individual basis. I just performed a quick test, chatting to my son and recording the conversation (he knew what I was doing, of course), and — once again — the quality of the recording was as clear as a bell. I am very, very impressed. This is going to make my life so much easier when I’m conducting phone interviews to research articles. The scary thing is that I think I’ve barely touched the surface of all the features PhonePower has to offer, but I am absolutely delighted with what I’ve seen thus far. I’m going to be experimenting further over the coming weeks, but I don’t think it will be long before we cancel our existing home phone service and replace it with a PhonePower equivalent. So, over to you — what do you think about all this? Are you happy with the phone service you currently employ, or do you think you could be tempted to dip your toes into the PhonePower waters?

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Rick Curl

Did you notice there are two phone jacks on the adapter? Both are active. You can plug in a second phone and make two calls at the same time (both will have the same number).

Also- on the smartphone app when you make an outbound call you can decide whether the call comes from your usual cell number or from your business number.

BTW- Some of the inexpensive VOIP (voice over IP) providers will give you a cheaply built analog adapter. The one Phonepower provides, is made by Obihai, which is now part of Polycom. It’s a really nice adapter!

Elizabeth

I recently ordered an OBI200 from Obihai to replace my current VoIP phone adapter. This was recommended by a friend of mine who has had one for a while. The idea is that once you buy the adapter (about $50), you can choose from a number of options for your phone service. PhonePower is one of the possible options. Another option is Google Voice which is free.

I haven’t received the adapter yet so I can’t comment on how easy it is to set up.

Rick Curl

Hi Elizabeth-
I **almost** did the same thing, but I looked at a lot of comments about Google voice, and while 99% of them are positive, I did find a few people who used a Google voice number for their business, and when something went wrong they couldn’t get any support.
Free is good, but in this case I think I’d be more comfortable paying a small monthly fee in order to have access to support in the event of a problem.
BTW- I tried PhonePower at home, and loved it. Great features, great voice quality, great price. One day I called tech support with a trivial question and the technician asked about my configuration. When I told him I had an AT&T router/modem in “IP Passthrough” mode with my “real” router behind it, he told me I should cancel my PhonePower account and send the equipment back for a refund, because it would stop working within 60 to 90 days.
I was shocked to find out about this so I checked the information and found that several other VOIP providers also have a problem with AT&T and “IP Passthrough” mode. One of the few providers that can coexist with it is Ooma, so that’s what I have now, and it’s working great!

Elizabeth

The Obi200 physical setup was easy and getting it to work with Google Voice was also easy. It seems that PhonePower isn’t really supported directly any more so I signed up with Anveo. They somehow signed me up for service without a phone number. I thought that I had asked for one but must have not clicked the right buttons. In the mean time, I discovered that I couldn’t port my home phone OR my cell phone number to Google Voice. After some digging I found that they don’t support local numbers in my area.

So I asked Anveo and they said they could port my home number. So that is in process.

While I was waiting for a response from Anveo, I sent an email message to PhonePower asking if they could port my number. I haven’t heard back from them unless that mystery call I got yesterday was them.

All this in order to save a few buck a month on phone bills.

Max Maxfield

But if it’s a few bucks a month for the rest of your life… better in your pocket than someone else’s — in my case on the business setup I think I’m saving $20 a month, plus I have the app on my cell and the Softphone on my PC — groovy 🙂

Rick Curl

Hi Elizabeth-
FYI- Being able to port a number (called “local number portability”) Is mandated by the FCC. From Wikipedia: As of late November 2003, LNP was required for all landline and wireless common carriers, so long as the number is being ported to the same geographical area or telephone exchange. This latest mandate included carriers outside the top 100 MSAs that previously enjoyed a rural carrier exemption.
If they say they can’t port your number you might want to mention the FCC mandate to them.

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