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Making your own Wireless Phone Network for under $200

halkunhalkun Registered User regular
Hi all,
I though I would let you guys in on a little project I'm working on. I recently bought a Motorola Droid, which is my new BFF for ever and ever. The problem is I have a complete and utter contempt of all cell companies here in the US and have made a personal vow never, ever to give them my money. Actually, they don't *want* my money, as they refuse to give me a plan on my terms...

Anyway...

I decided to embark on a great adventure to use my Droid as a WiFi phone only. The kicker is as opposed to using a service such as Skype, I decided to be my own service provider. This thread is to document my trials and errors and, if you want to be so adventurous, even try it yourself. I'll start with the cast of characters.

Things you will need to be your own phone provider.

1) A phone line ($15-$30) I have a line from AT&T from $18 a month. No Long distance, no voice mail, no caller ID, no call waiting. It gives me a dialtone, battery, tip, and ring. That's it. A word of warning, only do this if you know for sure you will never, ever be making a long distance call on the line. You will get massively dinged of you make a LD call without it. You can add about $15 more for LD if you want to be safe.

2) Broadband Internet Service ($25) I work for an ISP, so I get mine for free, but you can pay about $25 for a nice 1.5M DSL line. That will be enough.

3) A Second-Hand Computer ($Varies) I have a dell 8300 that was abandoned. If you know where to look you can score one by calling around a a little dumpster diving. A P4 class system or better with 512MB of ram and a 40GB hard drive should be fine.

4) A Cisco/Linksys SPA 3102 ($70) This is the key of the whole setup. It's an "VoiP Gateway" that converts your phone line into a Voice over IP (VoiP) line.

It looks like this...
d12de8162e4b4ad4a6d2ac2.jpg

5) Linux with Asterisk Server Software ($FREE). This will be installed on the second hand computer. Asterisk is the program that will manage the phone calls. Here you can make your own dialplan, voicemail and other neato things... We will working on just getting a dialtone first. :)

6) A second-hand smartphone or portable device($Varies) You will need a mobile device that that can run SIP software so you can call your home network. The software you will most likely use is...

7) Fring ($FREE) You can get it here. It rund on everything from Windows Mobile to iPods


In my particular setup, I'm going to be installing my stuff on an already existing home network. I drew up a plan on what it should look like when it's done.

netki.png

In this picture, the D-Link, Home PC, Laptop, and Access Point are already there. We will be adding the Asterisk server and the 3102. I'll also be moving my phone from a splitter to the 3102 as it will be managing my phone line.

In my next post, I'll be setting the network up so everyone has a nice static address, and putting the equipment in their proper place. As a note, this will be a multi-stage project so I may not post until I have everything ready for the next step. I also have two jobs so this may be a little sparse on the weekends.

If you have any questions, I'll be able to answer them. I figuring this out as I go along myself.

halkun on
c7CT45p.png

Posts

  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I have finished up the final Network map. It's a little big, but here we go.
    Spoiler:

    I ran out of ports on my my router, so I decided to pop my laptop off the hard line and make it wireless. It's also a little more clear how the DSL is split between data and voice. Also set in stone is the static addresses of all the network devices.

    Next up... We start to build out the network.

    c7CT45p.png
  • ueanuean Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    This .... is ........ awesome.

    I'll be checking back. I'm very interested to see how the heck you end up getting a dial tone out of this thing. And what kind of lag you end up seeing on your calls.

    Guys? Hay guys?
    steam_sig.png
  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    halkun wrote: »
    The problem is I have a complete and utter contempt of all cell companies here in the US and have made a personal vow never, ever to give them my money. Actually, they don't *want* my money, as they refuse to give me a plan on my terms...

    I used to work tech support for a large cellular provider. I'd get people like you on the phone all the time. Your "terms" are probably stupid and unreasonable.

    That said, yeah, the Droid is a pretty rad phone. Sucks you decided to pay retail for it (isn't it still over $500?), but I admire your technical aspirations.

    This is all really awesome, but you should really ask yourself something - what benefit are you really going to see here? You have a Droid, rad. But since you're limiting yourself to local wifi calls in your own home, why don't you just use the landline you already have and pay for?

    All of those really awesome Android web features are pretty awesome too, but each and every one of them is superseded by one of the cheap spare PCs you already have to rig up as part of your network.

    Are you planning on using this device as a wifi phone outside of your house? Have fun finding an unsecured access point in public every time you want to make a phone call.

    I understand not wanting to jump through Verizon's hoops to get service for your Droid (namely their data plan requirement), but this scheme of yours is like trying really really hard to put wings on a boat when there is a perfectly good airplane sitting right over there.

    Your best bet is to just get a cheap prepaid cell phone and carry it and your Droid around (the cheap prepaid cell for actual calls, and the Droid for it's multimedia abilities as well as wifi when you're near an access point). And if you think carrying around a phone that reliably makes calls and does nothing else and a phone for media is weird, it's really not - a lot of iPhone users have been doing just that.

    Or, I don't know, just suck it up and use Skype.

    But, like I said earlier, even though this is completely, ridiculously, overwhelmingly unnecessary, I'm still curious to see how it turns out, and I wish you luck.

  • LaPuzzaLaPuzza Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    uean wrote: »
    This .... is ........ awesome.

    I love my Droid and my Verizon service, but I still want to watch this work.

    If I didn't know LaPuzza wasn't a spambot I would think that was a spambot post.
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Not to get into a cell phone debate, I have a manafesto of sorts

    1) I don't want a contract. I'm happy just paying for the minutes I use.
    2) I don't want to get charged for incoming calls.
    3) I don't want a data service.

    Why do I get penalized because I decided to buy a smart phone? Why can't I prepay my minutes? Why do I need a data plan when I don't need one? They are arbitrary restrictions the company puts on the phone to maximize profit. That's fine, I just won't use the service. Oh, and I bought the Droid used. The woman who had it only had it for a week and then got a cell from her company. It cost me only $200. That was a score!

    The idea is the Wifi phone will work an *any* wifi area. I'm in a Wifi spot 99% of the time. In emergencies, 911 still works so I'm happy.

    Anywho....

    here is version 3 of my network layout. This is my honest-to-God-this-is-the-last-time layout. The Asterisk server as been moved to became the internet gateway/firewall/router and I ditched the D-Link. This makes it sense as the VioP gateway isn't behind NAT now. I'm going to start building this out on monday. I'll post pictures :)

    The Map is here
    netc.png

    c7CT45p.png
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    This project has captured my attention.

    I await it with bated breaths.

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Am I correct in thinking that, if you were to go with a VoIP phone solution (one that provides actual dial tone) then this setup could be used to make long distance calls as well? It'd basically function as a cellphone anywhere you can get open WiFi?

    That'd be pretty spiffy.

    Spoiler:
  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    halkun wrote:
    1) I don't want a contract. I'm happy just paying for the minutes I use.
    2) I don't want to get charged for incoming calls.
    3) I don't want a data service.
    Spoiler:

    Two hundred bucks for a week old Droid is a definite score.

    I'm wondering what sort of latency you're going to get, since even a few hundred milliseconds is going to cause some irritation. And you might get an echo going both ways.

    Seems like your sound clarity would be better though, so you can add that to the list of potential pros.

  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I have pictures!

    Here they are

    Lots if stuff to update...

    the pictrues show the DSL splitter with one half going to my phone and the other going to the DSL modem. Now, for those who do not know, DSL allows broadband access and a normal phone line on the same wire. The phone line, for now, is going to just a plain phone. When asterisk is set up, that will move and link into the VioP gateway. The DSL modem is going into my server.

    First I found 4 extra network cards in my closet. I thought "Hey, why don't I just make the server multi-port and not bother with a switch." This was mistake #1. It seemed that two of the cards were bad, and I was having all kinds of IRQ issues. I decided just one was good enough. As of right now, I have the subnet set up and everything is accessable, but I have no routing as of yet so the only computer online is the server. (I'm on it right now). My goal today is to set up routing and have the network functional before I go to work.

    Tomorrow I'll try and tackle getting the VoiP hardware just connected. (The 3102) The next day will be to bring the phone network online.

    No problems so far...

    Also. Webmin make configuring advanced networking a dream!
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Am I correct in thinking that, if you were to go with a VoIP phone solution (one that provides actual dial tone) then this setup could be used to make long distance calls as well? It'd basically function as a cellphone anywhere you can get open WiFi?

    That'd be pretty spiffy.

    Yes, the VoiP will forward to my normal telephone line. You call my home phone and it will ring my cell if I'm in Wifi. The reverse should also work.

    c7CT45p.png
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    halkun wrote:
    1) I don't want a contract. I'm happy just paying for the minutes I use.
    2) I don't want to get charged for incoming calls.
    3) I don't want a data service.

    Two is stupid and unreasonable. Your cell provider uses the same equipment at the same cost when you are talking on an incoming call as it does when you are talking during an outgoing call. Why do you feel that they should just give you half of your calls for free? As for having to pay for calls you don't want, this is why God invented Caller ID and contact lists.

    Paying for receiving calls is the real monster. We don't have that in Australia. Thus, down with your system! Up with Halkun's iconoclasm!

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
  • ImpersonatorImpersonator Registered User
    edited May 2010
    In the US you guys pay for receiving calls? What the hell.

    Bioptic wrote: »
    Lemmings was pro-Communist propeganda. All are created equal, sorted into specific jobs and roles that they will hold for the rest of their lives by a higher authority, and must sacrifice continuously for the good of the group. Success is measured by meeting quotas and nothing else. Also, nuclear holocaust.
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I know!
    America needs to get with the rest of the world!
    Yea, we pay for incoming texts too!

    I grew up in Japan, the cell system here is so horribly broken!

    1) You can't rent SIM cards, the phones are all locked.
    2) We had to get a copyright exemption simply to unlock our own phones. (Read this.)
    3) The Cell companies are still fighting that.
    4) You can not get any data plans without a contract. Period.
    5) If you have a phone with more than an address book, a data plan is required.

    As an experiment, I actually walked into a Verizon store with $500 cash (It was for something else) and asked if they could give me $500 of minutes on my droid. I carefully laid each $100 on the counter.

    They couldn't do it.

    As soon as the put my cell's ID number in the system, it only let the counter guy select "Two year contract with data plan". All other options were locked out. Even the manager had no override ability. It was set by corp and that's that.

    Think about that. They have it set up where even if you wanted to give them money, they could not accept it. That's what I mean by "I can't get it on my terms". You can't get service on any terms. Only what the computer tells you.

    Sorry... rant over. It just pisses me off every time.

    Now you see why I'm hell bent on this project. They don't want to give me service, fine! I'll do it myself :)

    c7CT45p.png
  • SerpentSerpent Sometimes Vancouver, BC, sometimes Brisbane, QLDRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    halkun wrote:
    1) I don't want a contract. I'm happy just paying for the minutes I use.
    2) I don't want to get charged for incoming calls.
    3) I don't want a data service.

    Two is stupid and unreasonable. Your cell provider uses the same equipment at the same cost when you are talking on an incoming call as it does when you are talking during an outgoing call. Why do you feel that they should just give you half of your calls for free? As for having to pay for calls you don't want, this is why God invented Caller ID and contact lists.

    I love how this allow cell companies to double bill.

    Bill the guy making the call and bill the guy receiving the call!

    edit: Plus, unlimited incoming is a feature I have for free from negotiating. It obviously can't cost that much if they just GIVE it to me...

  • ImpersonatorImpersonator Registered User
    edited May 2010
    What the hell, you also pay for incoming texts? Are you joking?

    I pay 5€/mo and get unlimited texts, mms and calls to numbers that have the same package as I do and unlimited texts to numbers from the same provider. :? That's like what, $3?

    Bioptic wrote: »
    Lemmings was pro-Communist propeganda. All are created equal, sorted into specific jobs and roles that they will hold for the rest of their lives by a higher authority, and must sacrifice continuously for the good of the group. Success is measured by meeting quotas and nothing else. Also, nuclear holocaust.
  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Not wanting to pay for incoming calls is sort of like only wanting to pay for gas to get you to work, but not back from work. It doesn't make sense.

    I mean, your phone is still transferring data on the network no matter who initiates the call. It still costs money to beam your voice to a tower, turn it into ones and zeros and than send them through a hardline to another tower and beam them to another phone.

    Paying for incoming texts is pretty much bullshit though, since there is no real way (other than whitelists) to "screen" texts and reject the ones you don't want (including spam texts).

  • Xenogears of BoreXenogears of Bore Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Data plan only phones will happen; it's a natural evolution.

    3DS CODE: 3093-7068-3576
  • EvanderEvander Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Not wanting to pay for incoming calls is sort of like only wanting to pay for gas to get you to work, but not back from work. It doesn't make sense.

    I mean, your phone is still transferring data on the network no matter who initiates the call. It still costs money to beam your voice to a tower, turn it into ones and zeros and than send them through a hardline to another tower and beam them to another phone.

    Paying for incoming texts is pretty much bullshit though, since there is no real way (other than whitelists) to "screen" texts and reject the ones you don't want (including spam texts).

    not wanting to pay for incoming calls is a holdover from landline services which had this as a sort of a standard feature (person who placed the call paid for it.)

    I don't get the not wanting to pay for a data service on a smartphone thing, though. Not wanting to pay for texts I get, because they are way over priced and travel along the data that you are already pying for otherwise.

    georgersig.jpg
  • ImpersonatorImpersonator Registered User
    edited May 2010
    Not wanting to pay for incoming calls is sort of like only wanting to pay for gas to get you to work, but not back from work. It doesn't make sense.

    I mean, your phone is still transferring data on the network no matter who initiates the call. It still costs money to beam your voice to a tower, turn it into ones and zeros and than send them through a hardline to another tower and beam them to another phone.

    Paying for incoming texts is pretty much bullshit though, since there is no real way (other than whitelists) to "screen" texts and reject the ones you don't want (including spam texts).

    That analogy makes no sense whatsoever.

    Bioptic wrote: »
    Lemmings was pro-Communist propeganda. All are created equal, sorted into specific jobs and roles that they will hold for the rest of their lives by a higher authority, and must sacrifice continuously for the good of the group. Success is measured by meeting quotas and nothing else. Also, nuclear holocaust.
  • EvanderEvander Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Not wanting to pay for incoming calls is sort of like only wanting to pay for gas to get you to work, but not back from work. It doesn't make sense.

    I mean, your phone is still transferring data on the network no matter who initiates the call. It still costs money to beam your voice to a tower, turn it into ones and zeros and than send them through a hardline to another tower and beam them to another phone.

    Paying for incoming texts is pretty much bullshit though, since there is no real way (other than whitelists) to "screen" texts and reject the ones you don't want (including spam texts).

    That analogy makes no sense whatsoever.

    the better point is that you choose to answer your phone. if you don't want the incomming call, then don't answer it.

    you have no choice about incoming texts, though

    georgersig.jpg
  • Mr_RoseMr_Rose Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    What the hell, you also pay for incoming texts? Are you joking?

    I pay 5€/mo and get unlimited texts, mms and calls to numbers that have the same package as I do and unlimited texts to numbers from the same provider. :? That's like what, $3?

    Seriously, you guys need to get some new mobile service providers. Or encourage the ones you have to actually compete against each other by providing better services for less money.

    ...because dragons are AWESOME! That's why.
    DropBox invite link - get 250MB extra free.
  • MoSiAcMoSiAc Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Mr_Rose wrote: »
    What the hell, you also pay for incoming texts? Are you joking?

    I pay 5€/mo and get unlimited texts, mms and calls to numbers that have the same package as I do and unlimited texts to numbers from the same provider. :? That's like what, $3?

    Seriously, you guys need to get some new mobile service providers. Or encourage the ones you have to actually compete against each other by providing better services for less money.

    Here recently there are a lot of companies offering better and better plans, but for instance where I live, Sprint and T-mobile have zero coverage so no matter how good a plan they have I won't be able to partake until they spread coverage a bit more.

    I loved Japan because no matter what network I had over there I had coverage all over the country but it's much easier because the country is much much smaller so much less hardware to work with.

    I also can not wait for dataplan only phones. Or for the love of pete free texting.

    Monster Hunter Tri US: MoSiAc - U46FJF - Katrice | RipTen - Gaming News | Los Comics
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Not wanting to pay for incoming calls is sort of like only wanting to pay for gas to get you to work, but not back from work. It doesn't make sense.

    I mean, your phone is still transferring data on the network no matter who initiates the call. It still costs money to beam your voice to a tower, turn it into ones and zeros and than send them through a hardline to another tower and beam them to another phone.

    Paying for incoming texts is pretty much bullshit though, since there is no real way (other than whitelists) to "screen" texts and reject the ones you don't want (including spam texts).

    You still transmit data on landline phones.

    You don't pay for incoming calls outside the US.

    Your analogy is not a good one.

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
  • ImpersonatorImpersonator Registered User
    edited May 2010
    Yeah, coverage is the reason why plans in America are so expensive. Lots of desert, ghost towns, etc..

    I was born in Portugal and even though it's a rather small country to lose signal you'd have to go to a far off village with a dozen of inhabitants or some really desolate valley region. I don't complain though, when it comes to internet, for instance, we have one of the fastest broadbands in the world. :) The fastest available plan a portuguese ISP has is 200MB/s and they've already started testing 1GB/s.

    Bioptic wrote: »
    Lemmings was pro-Communist propeganda. All are created equal, sorted into specific jobs and roles that they will hold for the rest of their lives by a higher authority, and must sacrifice continuously for the good of the group. Success is measured by meeting quotas and nothing else. Also, nuclear holocaust.
  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    You still transmit data on landline phones.

    Voltage ≠ Data

    They're a little different.
    Yeah, coverage is the reason why plans in America are so expensive. Lots of desert, ghost towns, etc..

    Basically, this. Attempting to compare cellular providers between a country in Europe and the United States doesn't really work considering
    Spoiler:

    Our largest wireless telecommunications company on it's own has around ninety million cellular customers (this is around one eighth of the entire population of Europe).

    And to everyone complaining of cellular rates in the US, you can buy prepaid cell phones with by the minute rates as low as $0.05/per, and unlimited non-contract talk/text plans with leased providers for as low as $30 a month if you provide or purchase your own hardware. Verizon/Sprint/AT&T/T-Mobile are not the only providers in the country.

  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    So I know it looks like I was shitting on this thread the entire time, but I'm actually curious as to whether or not halkun was able to make any headway.

    Any updates?

  • ClipseClipse Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I'm curious if anyone knows how much land mass has cell phone coverage in America as compared to Europe, as this is the figure that is actually relevant. A lot of land in America is very sparsely populated and consequently has no coverage.

    I'm also curious to know how the project worked out (if it's done), halkun.

  • EliteLamerEliteLamer __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    halkun wrote: »
    The problem is I have a complete and utter contempt of all cell companies here in the US and have made a personal vow never, ever to give them my money. Actually, they don't *want* my money, as they refuse to give me a plan on my terms...

    I used to work tech support for a large cellular provider. I'd get people like you on the phone all the time. Your "terms" are probably stupid and unreasonable.

    That said, yeah, the Droid is a pretty rad phone. Sucks you decided to pay retail for it (isn't it still over $500?), but I admire your technical aspirations.

    This is all really awesome, but you should really ask yourself something - what benefit are you really going to see here? You have a Droid, rad. But since you're limiting yourself to local wifi calls in your own home, why don't you just use the landline you already have and pay for?

    All of those really awesome Android web features are pretty awesome too, but each and every one of them is superseded by one of the cheap spare PCs you already have to rig up as part of your network.

    Are you planning on using this device as a wifi phone outside of your house? Have fun finding an unsecured access point in public every time you want to make a phone call.

    I understand not wanting to jump through Verizon's hoops to get service for your Droid (namely their data plan requirement), but this scheme of yours is like trying really really hard to put wings on a boat when there is a perfectly good airplane sitting right over there.

    Your best bet is to just get a cheap prepaid cell phone and carry it and your Droid around (the cheap prepaid cell for actual calls, and the Droid for it's multimedia abilities as well as wifi when you're near an access point). And if you think carrying around a phone that reliably makes calls and does nothing else and a phone for media is weird, it's really not - a lot of iPhone users have been doing just that.

    Or, I don't know, just suck it up and use Skype.

    But, like I said earlier, even though this is completely, ridiculously, overwhelmingly unnecessary, I'm still curious to see how it turns out, and I wish you luck.

    Verizon sucks and is a horrible company when it comes to the customer. I had blackberry phone where the data would not work and they refused to take the data plan off my phone.

    SEGA
    p561852.jpg
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    It would seem that Asterisk is a much bigger fish than I anticipated. I'm taking a break to educate myself.
    The problem is I lose my phone when I experiment with it, and if I rig something wrong I can send voltage down the wrong line, taking out either my home phone, or the 3102

    and so I'm trying to rig a softphone from the main computer out the asterisk box, but it requires a little telephony 101, and creating a dialplan (Like you do with a cell phone)... It's a little more complecated than it sounds.

    That and I have a date tomorrow :)

    I'm reading a huge 200 page book on how telecoms work, and getting myself educated. Don't worry, my ire still drives me.

    c7CT45p.png
  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Anyone complaining about the price of cellular service in the US should look at Canadian rates. Much much worse.

    Anyway, I'm interested in how this all works out. I'm not sure I understood it completely though, will you be able to make calls only in the range of your wifi (at home, basically) or in range of any wifi? What about in the range of protected networks that you don't have the passwords to?

  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    A Cisco/Linksys SPA 3102 ($70)

    Ha, I have a similar model sitting on a desk in the office.

    That thing is bulletproof. I think we've had ours running for at two years no problem.
    In this case however all the real work is being done on a real gateway.

    14271f3c-c765-4e74-92b1-49d7612675f2.jpg
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The idea is to make call in any open wifi area

    c7CT45p.png
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