With ADSL fast becoming the dominant broadband standard all over the world, ADSL modems have become a commodity item and even ADSL routers are now commonplace in consumer homes. The Zoom ZoomTel X5v 5565 brings something new to the party by adding VoIP or Voice over IP to a consumer level product.
VoIP has so far been predominantly used by larger companies trying to save money on call charges. Of course consumer VoIP units have been available for a long time, but most of those have been limited in functionality and are usually PC bound. The advantage with the ZoomTel X5v 5565 router is that once set up, you can use any analogue telephone with the router to make VoIP calls.
But let’s take a look at what you get in the box before delving into the VoIP service. The main item is the router itself, which looks pretty much like any other ADSL router and the only giveaway is a small LED on the front labelled VoIP. Around the back of the router are four Ethernet ports for the built in 10/100Mbit switch as well as a USB port, so you could in reality use the router with 5 PCs as long as at least one of them is running Windows. There are also two phone sockets, one labelled ADSL and one Phone – both of which are pretty self explanatory. There is also a power connector and a small reset switch.
Zoom provides a good bundle of extras in the box as you get a USB cable, a network cable, two ADSL micro filters, a phone adapter, a cable to attach the router to one of the micro filters and of course a power brick. You also get a quick start manual and a driver CD for the USB part of the router which also contains the full manual in PDF format. Zoom has told me that future versions should include better printed manuals, but as this is a new product there has not been enough time to make a localised manual for the UK.
The VoIP service is provided by Global Village which is one of several companies that connects VoIP enabled routers or modems to landline telephones around the world. For calls to landlines there is a charge, although you get 20 minutes of free calls when you sign up to the service for the first time. The call rates can be found on the Global Village website and most of them are comparative to low cost telephone service providers.
You can also get a US phone number for a mere £2.95 a month which can be very useful for businesses that have a lot of incoming calls from the US – you can even specify a specific US State for the number that’s most convenient for whoever is calling you. The Global Village website has a directory service with all its users listed as well as online bill management with detailed call information such as charges, how long the call lasted and to where it was made.
The Global Village service is also compatible with Free World Dial, Sipphone, Iptel and Iaxtel VoIP services and these calls are free of charge as are all Global Village VoIP calls. When you sign up to the service you’re given a seven digit Global Village VoIP telephone number which is tied to the router and other VoIP users can then dial you directly.
It is very easy to make a call using the VoIP service, plug a standard phone (cordless or wired) into the ZoomTel X5v 5565 router, dial the hash (#) key and then the VoIP telephone number. You can still make standard phone calls with your phone connected to the router, as these are routed through the PSTN network as normal.