I’m testing an interesting product this week from a company called Andrews & Arnold. It’s a way of using a UK GSM mobile phone with FreePBX/Asterisk that I’ve not seen before.
The service is a PAYG “SIM only” mobile phone service. You get a SIM card to go in your existing mobile phone, which must be either unlocked or on the O2 network –
The difference with this SIM is that you don’t get a phone number attached to it, you get access to a SIP to GSM gateway. This means your mobile phone can be used the same as an other extension on FreePBX. You set up a SIP extension in FreePBX in the normal way, and then in the Andrews and Arnold (AA) portal you register the SIM as the extension –
FreePBX then passes calls to the AA SIP/GSM gateway and it talks to the SIM in the phone. This is different to running a SIP client on your mobile phone which uses 3G/4G/WiFi to make calls. Voice calls can work over 3G/4G/WiFi but quality is definitely unpredictable, and battery usage can suffer. Doing it with SIP2SIM means that the phone has no idea it’s being used as a SIP client, calls just go over GSM in the normal way.
Inbound calls to FreePBX can be forwarded to the SIP2SIM “extension” in the normal way meaning the SIP2SIM extension could be part of a ring group, call queue, conference call …
Outbound calls from the SIP2SIM extension will be routed via your FreePBX trunks in the normal way meaning calls from your mobile phone will be charged at your normal FreePBX rate (plus a charge for the GSM leg of the call)
The SIM card costs are …
- £5 one-off setup fee
- £2 per month for the SIM
- 2p per min for GSM leg of the call
- 2p for texts
- 2p per MB for data
There would also be any costs extension calls would normally incur when calling external numbers. Also, you remember that the SIM has no mobile number so you can’t call it directly, all calls to/from the phone will go through your PBX, just like any other SIP extension. You also can’t send SMS text messages in the normal way.
AA also do a “roaming” SIM which can roam to UK networks other than O2, there are increased costs when roaming but it means you can have coverage when there is no O2 signal. When using the SIP2SIM you can set the network provider name to whatever you like, here’s mine set to SysAdminMan –
While using this SIM card could work out more expensive than a normal SIM card with bundle data/minutes the potential for certain types of uses is really interesting. I’m going write more once I’ve tested some more.