Now that the idea of using the Internet for making phone calls is catching on in all walks of life we’re starting to see some real bargains out on the streets. With the TA612V, consumer and small business champion Netgear has teamed up with service provider sipgate to deliver a complete VoIP (Voice over IP) package that aims to be small on price but big on ease of use. It uses the SIP (session initiation protocol) and as a sweetener comes with over nine hours of free calls to get you hooked.
The sipgate service offers some interesting possibilities as during registration for a SIP account UK residents can have an 0845 or 0870 number assigned or they can request a number using their area code. We found the process simple enough as you just register your personal details, select the number you’d prefer and activate the account. Account registration is free, there’s no minimum charge and you don’t have to pay a monthly fee either as you can top up your account at the sipgate web site whenever you want to. Tariffs are comparatively good as calls across the internal sipgate network and a number of other IP based service providers are free. Calls to a UK landline are 1.19p per minute whilst calls to mobiles will set you back 14.9p per minute – very similar to the Legend (www.legend.co.uk) service we use for most of our VoIP router tests.
The TA612V certainly looks a tidy one stop shop for implementing VoIP services but there are a couple of things you need to be aware of. First and foremost is the router is designed specifically to work only with the sipgate service. Unlike many VoIP routers, such as ZyXEL’s Prestige 2602HW, you do not have the option of manually entering SIP service provider details. The configuration process is locked down tight so the TA612V can only take these details from the sipgate web site. Furthermore, setting the unit back to factory defaults only resets the basic network configuration and administrative access rights and does not clear the VoIP settings.