Thursday, December 20, 2007

How to Communicate with Family and Friends - Countries apart?

Most reading this will be well aware that you can keep in touch with Family and Friends, regardless of where they are, by using E-mail for one thing?.

Many will also have discovered Yahoo Messenger, with on-line 'Chatting', but now also supports Voice over the Internet.

Google Talk is another, with a similar competative offering,
(of which, I personally prefer, compared with Yahoo Messenger/Talk)

Download Google Talk and get:

  • Instant messaging
  • PC-to-PC voice calls
  • Gmail notifications
  • File transfers

Or connect to Google Talk on the web:
Launch Google Talk Gadget (No Download Required!)

Google Talk, is somehow less 'intrusive' than Yahoo Messenger (and has a better e-mail offering) in my opinion?

SKYPE, is a little bit different, and offers a wealth of features, with a convenient, easy to use interface.

It is probably this easy, convenient,and feature rich,
'User Interface', that has led to Skype becoming so 'popular'?

(Surprisingly so considering it is 'non-VoIP 'standards' conformant, thus Skype offering a 'proprietary' solution, that won't interwork with anyone else, with 'true' VoIP system/network - CUG - Skype only! ).

It's FREE to Download the Skype Software and install on your PC

You can chat away with free Skype-to-Skype calls and never worry about cost, time or distance.

  • Adding friends and family to your contact list is simple – search, select, ad
  • Calling is easy – select the Call Phones tab, enter a number and click the green button
  • Free video calls - see who you’re talking to for free.
  • Instant Message with anyone on your contact list or even use group chat to chat with up to a hundred people
  • Conference Call with up to nine other people

That 'ease of use' and 'convenience' factor, is winning a lot of market share. Does not seem to matter there are potentially better VoIP systems out there, that do adhere to VoIP 'Standards' (such as SIP and/or ATA/ATA2), that are potentially capable of internetworking.

However for me, it is one thing,downloading some Skype software onto my PC for Free, but another when shelling out money to buy some VoIP 'hardware'.

I did not like the idea of being 'locked' in to using 'proprietary' Skype, if I bought some Internet Phone Adaptors (IPA). Potentially not being able to unlock the IPA, to use with another VoIP Service Provider?

But what is an Internet Phone Adaptor (IPA),
(you may well be asking yourself)?

Basically an IPA is an interface between a Telephone and the Internet (Broadband connection via Router/DSL 'Modem' usually, or sometimes built into the Router).

This is somewhat different from an Internet Phone that typically plugs into a USB port on your PC.

The difference being, with an IPA, one does need to have a PC switched ON, or even connected, (let alone the software running, and ones 'Stutus' enabled).

As long as you have power, and your Internet connection is up and running, then you can make and receive VoIP calls via a standard phone (including DECT Cordless), plugged into the IPA!

Calling to/from Philippines, is a lot more expensive than USA/UK/Hong Kong/etc?
(Because they did not implement true 'Telecom Deregulation' as in these other Countries. The Philippines just allowed new Carriers to join PLDT in a Telecom 'Club', instead!)

My wife, has a sister living in Hong Kong (married to Hong Kong Chinese).

The amount of money my asawa would spend of Mobile phone call re-loads, calling her sister in Hong Kong, was getting ridiculously expensive.

If her Sister had access to a PC in her home, and Skpe installed, that would have been one answer?

This is what I use to talk to my Brothers and Sisters in the UK, as well as my Brother, working in Bahrain - anyone with Skype installed that I add to my 'Contacts' List in fact?

I can't call my Dad for Free, as he does not have a PC/Broadband connection.

However I can call my Dad, via his UK landline telephone using 'Skype Out' where the Skype Internet Voice call passes through a 'Gateway' onto the UK dialled network, where the call is handled by the appropriate Carrier. There is a charge for this, but £10 Credit into ones Skype Account, goes a long way @ £0.012/min!

There are 2 problems here - i) her sister does not have a PC, even though there is Broadband DSL connection (her step-daughter using to her PC in her bedroom - usually locked/off!), ii) I am often on the PC and busy downloading things, or having many 'tasks' running concurrently. Whilst the amount of bandwidth is not that high, it is the low performance of my CPU, that can't cope with Skype voice call processing, and these other tasks at the same time, and tends to degarade the voice call quality?

So Which Internet Phone Adaptor, and VoIP Service Provider to select?

Having looked into and researched several VoIP Internet Phone Adaptors available, I decided aagainst going the Skype 'proprietary' solition that does not conform/interwork with SIP/ATA/ATA2.

So I decided to go VoIP Standards based Hardware - but SIP or AXA /AXA2?

This sometimes more to do with the particular VoIP provider you select, as some Hardware is compatible with both SIP and AXA. Some VoIP Network Providers (such as, support both SIP and AXA.

The Freshtel Network in Australia, is part of Rather like Skype in terms of Free Internet to Internet Voice Calls.

One can download the 'Firefly' Softphone, register for a Free Freshtel TD
(mine is Freshtel TD: 81354400)

Those who are Australian Residents, and subscibe to a Call Plan with Freshtel, can avail of a FREE Internet Phone Adaptor

Freshtel 3010 ATA

Those who are UK Residents, will no doubt be aware of Supermarket giant, TESCO, and it's entry into the VoIP market with a range of Internet Phones and Service Contracts.

What some might not be aware of is that this TESCO VoIP Service is actually using the Freshtel/ Network, and OEM Hardware.

NB: Received this e-mail from TESCO
concerning their I
nternet Phone and Talk WiFi Services:-

We are writing to let you know that from 27th April 2010, we will no longer be providing Tesco internet phone and Talk Wi-fi services. This is due to a number of factors that impact the service we provide to you, so we have decided to discontinue this offering.

From this date your Tesco internet phone account will be closed and the service will not be available. You will no longer be able to access your online account or be able to make calls using your Tesco internet phone.

This does not affect any other services provided by Tesco Telecoms.

We apologise for any inconvenience and will be happy to assist you with any enquiries you may have.

The Tesco internet phone team

Questions and Answers


What if I have more than one Tesco internet phone account?


You may own more than one account linked to this email address. This email notification affects all Tesco internet phone and Talk Wi-fi accounts. All accounts will be non-operational after the above date.


How much credit do I have on my account?


Log onto your account at, and click 'Login/Register' and enter your account number and password in the log on section.

For Pay as you go accounts:

Once you are logged in, the first screen it will show 'You currently have ___ of available credit'

For Call Plan accounts:

  • Once you are logged in, you will need to view your last bill. Your bill will show a 'CR' if your account is in credit.


Will my Tesco internet phone work with other internet phone services?


We cannot guarantee that your internet phone will work with other internet phone providers and recommend you contact alternative services directly for information.


Will I be able to get a refund on the Tesco internet phone I've bought in store or through Tesco Direct?


We will be happy to offer you a full refund providing you have a receipt or proof of purchase and it was bought after 27th December 2009. Please return the phone to your local store. Alternatively, if you bought your phone from Tesco Direct, please call 0845 600 4411.


Can I still top up my account in-store and on-line?


Unfortunately, you are now unable to top up your Tesco internet phone account.


I've diverted my Tesco internet phone to my mobile phone, will this still work after the 27th April 2010?


Unfortunately not. We advise you to cancel all redirections to and from your Tesco internet phone by 27th April 2010. You can do this by logging into your account and changing redirections. If you require assistance please contact our customer care team.

Do you have any other questions?
Please contact our customer care team:

@ or


0845 300 20 20
9am - 9pm Monday to Saturday and 10am - 4pm Sunday.
Calls may be recorded


Tesco Internet Phone/Talk Wi-fi
PO Box 5879
Kings Business Park
Kings Drive
L34 1PJ

Tesco IPA 1000 internet phone Adapter

Catalogue number: 100-9564

Was £49.97 - but not any more!
Now £19.98
- Save £29.99

Was £49.97 Then £24.98 Now £19.98 Save £29.99

One of my Cebu_BritClub (Yahoo Group) Members, Martin Brown, offered to do me a favor by bringing out a pair of these TESCO IPA 1000's, to me here in Cebu, during his December visit. Martin however, went a stage further, and found the same Tesco IPA 1000 units on E-Bay UK.

These were being sold Brand New, still in unopened box, complete with it's £5 Voucher
(for Call Time).

With Tesco giving 50% off the price, the Bids on Ebay, were lower accordingly.

Total cost
of winning 2 Bids for TESCO IPA 1000 (including UK postage) = £26 (for 2)

With the IPA 1000, now available from Tesco @ £20, perhaps you dont need to find units on Ebay to get a good deal?

IPA 1000 - Installation and Operation

Installation was easy, as I have an extension block off my UPS that has 'universal sockets' meaning just about all power plugs will connect, including UK 13A type.

Just connect the supplied Ethernet LAN cable to the IPA 1000 WAN port, and a spare port on my Linksys WRT54G Router. Which in turn was connected to the MyDSL supplied aDSL 'Modem' (PLDT supplied ZyZEL P600 series - with just the 1 x Ethernet port).

Connected a cordless DECT phone to the IPA 1000 Telephone jack socket, and I was ready.

Once powered on, the Indicated on the top of the IPA 1000 was initially flashing RED, then flashing ORANGE. Once the start up sequence had finished (which took 5 minutes or so?), the light turned solid GREEN, indication the IPA 1000 had connected successfully and was ready for use.

(Because Martin had opened the boxes on my request, he had given me the units Seriel No. With that I was able to go to and register my account, select the Telephone No., and give the Serial No of the IPA 1000 unit I was using on that Account. You have to supply an e-mail address, then an acknowledgement is sent out, to which you click on a URL to complete the registration process).

But as my wife's sister did not have her unit installed in Hong Kong yet,
"How could I test/use it"?

,This was easy - use my PC and SKYPE-Out to dial the TESCO Phone Number (Which I had selected to be a pair of Bournemouth numbers, so my Dad and other Family Members , like my son, who is currently working in Bournemouth, and my brothers and Sisters and cousin, all living there, can just make a local phone call, and our phone rings here in CEBU).

My wife. Sha-Sha's, new Tesco Internet Phone number: is: 01202 806504

I dialled +441202806504 via Skype and the DECT phone, connected to the IPA 1000, Rang!

The configuration settings seemed to have downdloaded after connection to the Internet, and first being powered up.

Needed to test the voice call quality, next.

I first called up my Dad (Using Skype-Out ,as I normally do, SkpeOut Rate to UK is £ 0.012/min or 1.2p/min).

Compare SkpeOut Rate to the Philippines £0.113/min or 11.3p/min.

So calling our Tesco Internet Phone number: +44 1202 806504, using SkpeOut, is cheaper than calling our Philippines landline +63 32 2728694.

I could have picked up the DECT phone connected to the TESCO IPA and dialled his Bournemouth No.

Tesco Call Rates (for 'Pay as you Go') are little bit more expensive than SkypeOut @ 2p/min, but if the PC is not powered up, and/or the Skype software not running, convenience wins out over the slight cost increase.

However I wanted to compare the TESCO Internet Phone quality, against Skype that I had been using.

So having spoken to my Dad using Skype, I got him to ring a local Bournemouth No 806504 (My Tesco No.)

My DECT phone connected to the IPA 1000 Rang, I answered it and my Dad was there speaking to me - remarkably clear! My Dad commented that it was just as good as calling other Bournemouth landlines.

Certainly the Quality seemed better than Skype, according to that one test call at least

Advantages of using TESCO Internet Phone Adaptor (IPA1000)

  • You don't need connection to a PC, - direct to Broadband Internet Router
  • Interworks with network users (i.e Freshtel in Australia)
  • Calls to other Tesco internet phone customers are FREE
  • Skype Out calls to UK (Tesco internet Phone No), cheaper than calls to Philippines
  • It works with your existing broadband connection from any provider
  • You get an extra phone line with no additional line rental
  • TESCO voicemail service is FREE
  • You'll get a new standard UK landline number (select Area and Number)
  • It's easy to set up and use, and calls are really clear
  • You'll pay less for calls to mobiles and landlines in the UK and overseas
    (but a little bit more than SkypeOut if using TESCO 'Pay as You Go')
  • You choose the TESCO Call Plan and add-ons that suit the way you make your calls
    (Only needed to make calls to non-Tesco Internet Phone users - comes with £5 Credit Voucher)


Anonymous said...

Hi, i just bought a tesco ipa 1000phone and i've sent it to cebu, philippines. before i sent it to cebu i tried it in here(england) and it was working fine i am able to dial out and receive call. but now that the device is in cebu, phil i can only contact the ipa 1000 phone but the ipa 1000 phone is not able to dial out. What your provider? are you will MyDSL PLDT or GLOBE?

Brit in Cebu said...

I am using mine on a MyDSL connection, (but via a Linksys WRT54G Router).

The ZyXEL P6600R-D1 supplied by PLDT, does not have any spare WAN ports so you need a Router or a Switch, in order to connect the IPA 1000!

The IPA needs to have a solid 'GREEN' Status Indicator?
If it does not achive this then follow the TESCO troubleshooting guide - it may not be getting an IP Address assigned?

This from the TESCO document:-

2. I can't make or receive calls, or my IPA gets stuck flashing either RED or ORANGE
• This could mean that your broadband modem, router or firewall device is blocking the IPA's access to the Tesco Internet Phone network.
• To resolve this, you will need to open the appropriate ports on your modem, router or firewall.
• The IPA requires that port 4569 UDP and TCP be open for incoming and outgoing traffic. Please see the user manual for your modem, router or firewall for more information on how to open ports.

southcraven said...

I found your Blog very informative. I am living here in the PI, just outside SanFernando, Pampanga.

I would really like to get your email address as i have a few questions I should like to ask, especially regards getting residence.

Please email my gmail account.

Thanks Nik

David Whittall said...

Well "SouthCraven" since you dont leave any e-mail details, nor let anyone view your profile, how can I?