When you sign up with a VoIP provider for a new plan, you usually need to purchase or lease the equipment that allows VoIP calls to be made through the provider’s network. This is normally a modem/router and/or a voice box.
However, some VoIP providers offer what is known as a BYOD (bring your own device) service. This service allows you to access the provider’s best plans, without having to purchase the hardware needed to do so.
This can mean big savings, particularly if you move from one provider to another, as the provider’s hardware is usually ‘locked’ meaning you can’t use it on any other service.
Those who bring their own devices often shop around and may use several VoIP providers, signing up to plans that best suit their particular needs.
As well as a cheap plan, BYOD users also get to access the provider’s additional calling features, sometimes at no extra charge. A typical example of this is our BYO service, which not only gives BYO users access to a range of cheap plans but also the free features associated with those plans. These include caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, call screening, direct group dial, voicemail and V-Mail (voicemail that is transcribed to email).*
You can use BYO with a variety of SIP capable devices, including ATAs (analogue telephone adaptors that allow you to make VoIP calls through an analogue phone), IP phones (also known as VoIP phones or softphones) and Android phones or iPhones with the appropriate SIP client apps installed. SIP is the VoIP standard for transmitting telephony, and is short for Session Initiation Protocol.
With all these great advantages, you’d think that BYO was the only way to go and that we should all be doing it, but a word of caution is necessary here because BYO VoIP is not for everyone.
While some providers do allow BYO access to their networks, most do not provide any technical support for the installation and configuration of BYO devices. So, the bottom line is, you really have to know what you are doing to access VoIP in this way.
Your device may also not be compatible with the provider’s service, and it may not allow you to make outgoing emergency calls to 000 either unless you are able to configure it to do so.
So if you’re not technically minded and don’t know your SIPs from your PTSNs, then you would probably be better off using your service provider’s equipment, which is configured for their particular network and requires minimal set up to start making VoIP calls.