Best Free VOIP Setup

by Natasha O - Date: 2007-02-08 - Word Count: 1970 Share This!

Using SIP (the most standard open-source protocol), this guide will show you how to get FREE incoming(with your own call-in number!) & outgoing calls through your softphone with multiple voip providers, along with setting up your sip address.

As you can saw in my previous post about softphones, I did a lot of research and playing around with different software to get the best setup for me. I wanted something non-proprietary (and so, way more accessible) but feature-filled (as much as possible). I also preferred a method that could work cross-platform, as I do have both Windows & Linux on my computer. Unfortunately I did not find much on Macs (though I do have one recommendation below), so I have little to recommend to Mac-users, which includes my sister who has been waiting for a good answer as well.

After some downloading & tinkering, I've finally found the best way (for me) to communicate through my computer. I believe that using the SIP protocol is the best, as its the most standard of the open networks to date, and there are many different softphones to choose from. However, it seems that only a small percentage of those actually allow you to choose your own provider (and so, let you know your sip address)! Many of the sip programs out there actually are just trying to suck you into their group with grand displays of "free!" all over their sites, only to pile on fees later (like Skype did).

Well, I have found a way to get FREE calls, IN & OUT of my softphone to landlines(most countries) & mobile phones (the U.S.) alike. Yes, yes, it's true. This method requires a few tricks, and a couple different services. I didn't spend a penny, and I'm actually pretty surprised myself. I'm sure this won't last forever though, so hop on this bandwagon while you still can!


1. Get a customizable/configurable sip softphone (for instance Ekiga for Linux and X-lite for Windows/Mac).

2. Find a voip provider that offers free outgoing calls (such as Voipbuster, which I use).

3. Find a voip provider that offers a free incoming number (such as IpKall or SipNumber or Stanaphone) or (better for people-from different places-calling you to get cheaper rates) just access your sip account through SipBroker's access numbers.

4. Set up a mother account (for instance at Voxalot) to manage & direct your calls(Note: only needed if your softphone does not offer multiple voip accounts)

5. Configure your softphone to register with your mother account.

6. Set up a sip alias account at

7. Give out your "regular" number(for people calling you from regular phones) and your sip address(for calls through the computer) for people to contact you. [Note: you can also map your "regular" number to your ip address with other services if you want to have just one number for finding you]

* establish your "presence" on your website, blog, or myspace? account with clickable icons to contact you

#1 - Softphone

I used Ekiga (on my Ubuntu) with Voipbuster's free calling as the default account, then sign up(optional, actually) for SIP Broker's alias & PSTN-SIP service. If you have both Linux & Windows, like me, you will be able to follow pretty easily, as you will soon see. If you have just Windows, you will have to hope that the beta Ekiga will work well on your computer or use another softphone like X-lite, and if you have just Linux, you will need to borrow somebody's Windows to download Voipbuster once in order to sign up for their account (Note: you won't need it after that though).

For those of you with Ubuntu Dapper, you probably already have Ekiga installed. For the rest of you (Linux & Windows), please follow the links on my previous post to download Ekiga. Go ahead and sign up for their sip address if you don't have one already (though you don't NEED to, since you will be setting up other providers later/below). Also, you can log in at and find out your alias number. Write this down, as this will be handy later.

For those of you with Mac or Windows, I would suggest X-Lite (which also works on Linux, if you want it). It is customizable, easy to set-up, and has a pretty slick interface. It looks like it could be skinnable too (but it's not!). It also seems to read your network and automatically configure itself to work (a real time (and hair) saver). Mac users could also try Xmeeting, which also has some good reviews.

#2 - Free Outgoing Voip

Next, you will need to get a free account at Voipbuster's. You will have to download their softphone program (Windows only) & from there you can sign up automatically for your account. Remember your username & password, and that's it. Voipbuster's will be your outgoing voip provider, since it's typically free (for many countries). Check here, though, for other options, if Voipbuster doesn't work for you.

#3 - Free Incoming Number

After that, it's time to get your free incoming number. At ipKall, you can get a free number only from Washington State, while at SipNumber, the number is randomized but will most likely never be the local number you want. (you'll have to pay for a local number) I set up SipNumber for myself and ended up with an Iowa area code - not really that appealing to me. So I found Stanaphone, where I got a local NYC number (212, 718, & 646 are already being billed about $15, so I got a free "347″ area code instead). If you are looking for a more stable non-free but still cheap solution, take a look at, which offers numbers to people for a low monthly payment. lists more bargain voip providers.

#4 - Mother Voip Account

If your softphone allows multiple sip providers, you do not need this (you could register your multiple voip providers through the option menu), though I would still suggest it. [Correction: After I found out that Voxalot does not transmit instant messages (at least for me, it did NOT work), I'd like to revise this. Although Voxalot's great for having multiple CALLING plans, your *best* bet is to use a softphone with multiple providers, period. This way you can still have your instant messages, etc, too…I also had issues with caller ID & sip presence] You have one spot for all your accounts, you get free voicemail, and you can set up calling plans. If you switch partitions, change softphone programs, hop to a new provider, etc, you only have to make the change once, in your mother account. Go to Voxalot and set up your mother account there. It seems complicated, but it's not. Login, click on "Providers" in the right-hand sidebar, and just add your voip providers, one by one, with your account names/numbers, passwords, & provider host addresses. After you save, make sure each one is 'registered', and then you should be ready to go.

What's great about Voxalot is that it routes your calls in & out, taking your voicemail if you are out or your computer's off, and can be a provider itself as well. What's really great, is that you can use the "Dial Plans" page to tell Voxalot exactly which provider to use for which kind of call. Here is where you input your free outgoing call provider (such as Voipbuster), so that Voxalot knows to use that provider when you need it. For instance, pick "begins with" from the drop-down menu, type in "1" in the next space, and then pick "Voipbuster" (or your free voip account) in the last drop-down menu. This tells Voxalot to use Voipbuster(for free outgoing calls) when I dial "1″ - whenever I dial ANY U.S. number, basically. (I can also do the same thing for "0″ which would tell make it use Voipbuster for international calls as well).

#5 - Configure Softphone

The first thing you need to do is register your softphone to your mother account. (if you are just using multiple accounts, then you need to register each one on your softphone). Go to your options, edit Accounts, or preferences menu, and there should be a button to "ADD" a new client. (This is just like adding providers in Voxalot in #4 above. ) There you will need to input your voip provider's information, such as your username or #, your password, and it's voip server, which is typically just or If those don't work, then try pinging the provider to get its exact ip address to input there instead. "Authorized User" is the same as your username or #. You will know if you set up that part correctly, because your softphone will try to register with the provider/s and will tell you if it connected or not. [Note: if you set up a Voxalot account, and it is working correctly with your providers properly 'registered', then you just need to configure your softphone to register with Voxalot only]

Next you should try some calls to see test your setup (softphone & providers). Try calling yourself (with your free incoming number), and try calling out through your softphone. If you have any problems actually connecting, either way, then you need to check your settings.

For instance, I noticed that I need to open extra ports for Ekiga to work properly. You can see my write-up on port forwarding here. Alternatively, you may just need to make sure your firewall is allowing your softphone program overall access, &/or check to see that your port 5060 (typically used for these programs) is open. Other issues with audio, etc, can be more complicated (i.e. I probably won't know the answer for your problem).

#6 - Alias Sip Address

Although it seems they haven't updated their website in a while and I'm not sure how many people actually use it, seems like a great place to set up an alias for your sip address. Say you have signed up with, freeworld dialup, sipPhone or Now you have some username which usually is just a number (in the case of ekiga, I got a name with a number). With sip411, you can pick any username you choose, and use it as an alias for your other sip accounts. This way you will always have one easy permanent sip address to give out, especially if you have multiple sip addresses or you change your voip provider/s.

Another option could be to use SipBroker as a place not only to get an alias for your sip address (though it has to be a number too), but also access codes for people to call you from almost worldwide. For instance, if your friend lived in Washington, DC, they would call 1-202-552-1297 and get an automated message telling them to input the provider code (for instance my voxalot code is *010) + user number (for instance your voxalot #). If you had set up an alias number through sipBroker, your number would be *011-1-alias#. You can look up your provider code # here. SipPhone & FWD have a similar, but smaller, service but even though I tried several times, I could not connect the call to my computer. [note: I've since read that those sipphone/fwd access numbers don't work?]

#7 - Go Public!

Now that you're setup to make & receive calls and give out a permanent sip address & telephone number, you are ready to let the world know! One way to do this is through online "presence", indicating to others, usually with some icon, whether you are available or not. Some voip providers out there have code ready for you on your member/account page. You can paste it on the web, if you like. When people see that you are online, they can click on it and automatically connect to you (voice or im), of course, only if they are using compatible software. This is why it is crucial that people stay away from proprietary software (like Skype), and stick with open protocols which don't limit interoperability or stop us from communication.

Related Tags: computer, communication, phone, voip, long distance, sip, internet calling, free calls, softphone
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