How to have a second phone number to stop nuisance and sales calls

When I switched to having an internet-only phone I had to get a new landline number.  This gave me the opportunity to start again with my phone number knowing no cold callers would have my number.

As well as getting a number for incoming calls, I decided to get a second number for putting on application forms, insurance quotes etc where I wouldn’t want to speak to someone. Instead when someone calls this number they get a message (from me) and get to record a message.  This message is then emailed to my mailbox (and thanks to a filter in gmail it gets forwarded to my partner too).

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I chose Flextel to provide my phone number but other choices are available.  Calls to the number (and emailing of voicemail messages) is free but other paid options are available including forwarding to a landline or receiving faxes (remember those?)

Instructions on the Flextel site help you chose a number and set up voicemail (including recording your own message).  Hint – turn off the call notification emails otherwise you get an email every time someone calls the number regardless of whether they leave a message or not.

So does this work?  Yes! Use an insurance comparison tool, put in your new number and wait for the voicemails to come in.  I’ve also given it to salesmen when looking for quotes and they simply assume that you are on the phone and so leave a message.  We only give out the main phone number to people we might actually want to speak to (for example doctor, dentist) and everyone else gets the voicemail only number.  No more running to the phone to speak to sales reps, and you can listen to the messages on your mobile phone (assuming you receive email on it).

Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more.

How to get rid of your landline and route calls over the internet.

I no longer have a land line and route all my incoming calls over the internet to my DECT cordless phone.  You could also use this method to get a second landline for work purposes or for your children.

There are a several prerequisites for this guide:

  • You need to be using cable internet as you can’t cancel your BT line if you get the internet down it (you can still use an internet phone for cheaper calls if you don’t buy a call bundle from your provider)
  • You need to be prepared to invest a small amount of money in equipment – this will pay off in the medium-long term
  • You aren’t attached to your phone number (it is easier to get a new number)
  • You need a spare port on your router and an extra power socket near the phone/router

There are advantages to using an internet landline

  • free voicemail (and you can have voicemail messages emailed to you!)
  • cheaper calls
  • free caller display
  • no line rental charges
  • you can pick a phone number with any area code – for example a London number if you live up north!
  • full incoming and outgoing call history on the internet

The first thing you need to do is to sign up with a SIP provider.  I chose sipgate who offer a home service which runs on a pre-pay basis.  Calls cost a mere 1.19p per minute which is considerably cheaper than many landline plans (they do a bundle too).  As part of the signup process you get to choose an area code and phone number.  You will also need to top up the account to make outgoing calls – I would suggest doing this after you have tested the system and know that it is working.

SPA112

Next you need some SIP hardware.  I chose the Cisco SPA112 which can be purchased for just over £30 and full configuration instructions are provided on the sipgate site.  This device is a small box that supports two telephone lines (I only use one!) and lets you plug in a standard phone (subject to having the right connectors).  I swapped the cable on my DECT cordless phone (the one with a BT plug on the end) for one with rj11 connectors at each end as shown below (available on eBay for a small cost)

rj11

Once all is connected and configured you can make a test call to your new number.  The setup shouldn’t take long, as long as you know the ip address of the SPA112 on your network, it’s a ten minute job (don’t forget to change the admin password on your box as a precaution too).  There is no need to worry about port-forwarding (if you don’t know what this is then this is the hardware for you!).

In eight months of running this system the only problem I’ve had is an overheating internet router (I reset everything and it works again) and my puppy chewing through the SPA112 power cable (fortunately this was repaired with insulating tape)

I’ve tried not to give too many technical details, just to tell you what is possible.  Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more about getting rid of your landline or if you have any specific questions.