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A Marriage Made in Heaven: Sprint Cellphone + Asterisk@Home = Unlimited U.S. Cell Phone Calls for $5

Last week Sprint announced the availability (beginning today!) of a new add-on for existing and new Sprint cellphone customers. For $5 more a month and a little Yankee ingenuity, you now can make unlimited FREE calls between your Sprint cellphone (or multiple PCS phones if you’re on a shared plan) and your residential phone number regardless of the wireline carrier. In short, your home phone service need not be with Sprint. If you have Sprint home phone service, then the new PCS to Home service will be free. In either case, no cellphone minutes will be assessed for inbound (read comments!) or outbound calls between your Sprint cellphone and your home number … ever. In fact, they’ll show up on your statement as PCS-to-PCS calls which are also free.

For Sprint business customers with a business plan of $50 or higher a month (that’s easy!), you can do the same thing with your business landline for $8 a month instead of $5. Later this year Sprint reportedly will offer business customers the opportunity to expand the plan to up to 30,000 business DID’s. Here’s a link to Sprint’s web site with a comprehensive FAQ and details on how to order the new PCS to Home service. Be aware that this is a new Sprint feature, and you now know more about it than most Sprint reps … so let the torture begin. The first rep we got indicated that it was $5 per PCS phone even on residential shared calling plans. The FAQ on the web site says otherwise, and you’ll probably need to walk them through it or ask for a supervisor.

You might be asking what all this has to do with Asterisk®. Well, plenty! Some of our regular readers no doubt have already figured it all out. For the neophytes, here’s today’s lesson. Connect your home phone line to your Asterisk server with a Sipura SPA-3000 (click here for our tutorial on how to do it). Better yet, switch your home phone line to a VoIP BYOD Plan (see below) and save a bundle. Next, add a little code (which we’ll get to shortly) to extensions_custom.conf to answer incoming calls from your cellphone to your PSTN line, provide DISA dialtone to make an outbound call, and PRESTO! You now can phone home with your Sprint cellphone by pressing a single pre-programmed button on your phone and make outbound calls to anywhere in the U.S. through your home VoIP service without eating up a single cellphone minute on your plan. Your Asterisk system will answer on the first ring and give you dialtone to make the call. It’s that easy!

Sprint PCS Residential Plan Costs. Here’s the math. A basic Sprint cellphone plan: $35. Sprint to Home service: $5. TelaSIP’s unlimited US48 VoIP calls: $15 a month. Home phone number transferred to BYOD plan at BroadVoice (here’s how) or AxVoice (here’s how) for unlimited incoming calls: $9. Unlimited nationwide Sprint cellphone calls: Priceless … and FREE. Total cost for residential home and cellphone service with unlimited nationwide calling: $64 a month plus about $4 in Sprint add-on fees. Remember this gets you unlimited nationwide calling BOTH from your cellphone and your home phones. And you can convert the BroadVoice BYOD plan to an all-purpose second line within your entire state for $4 more a month. This also provides some redundancy when one of your VoIP providers has problems. It happens! — Forrest Gump

Sprint PCS Business Plan Costs. A basic Sprint PCS business plan cellphone: $50. Sprint to Home Office service: $8. Penny-a-minute calls through voxee.com. Unlimited nationwide Sprint cellphone calls: 1.1¢ per minute. Local business line from Ma Bell Jr.: $50. Total cost: $108 a month plus tip and taxes and 1.1¢ per minute in 6-second billing increments.

It’s Not the NFL, But There Is A $25 Signing Bonus. So today your mission is to sign up for a Sprint PCS phone if you don’t already have one. Then sign up for the new PCS to Home service. Now we’ll show you how to hook everything up and begin enjoying unlimited cellphone calls with no per minute charges … ever. Just do us both a favor. If you sign up for new Sprint service, email us your new Sprint phone number the day after your service is activated. With Sprint’s Referral Program, we’ll both receive a free $25 debit card. Doesn’t get much easier than that to earn free bucks. And, if you tell us, we’ll keep your email address on file and pass along other user’s phone numbers for you to claim some referral credits if there are sufficient new subscribers to pass around once we exhaust our authorized dozen referrals for the year. Can’t help it. WE LOVE SPIFFS!

Prerequisites. Before we get started, here’s what you should have already done. Yes, you need a Sprint PCS phone with PCS to Home service. And we’re assuming you’ve already set up your Asterisk@Home server with an SPA-3000 connecting your home phone line as well as a working VoIP trunk (SIP or IAX2) from TelaSIP or some other provider. TelaSIP setup instructions are available here. Instead of an SPA-3000, you can use a $10-$20 OEM version of Digium’s WildCard X100P PCI card to connect your home PSTN line, but read this first. You get what you pay for!

Overview. Our Asterisk design to get this working goes like this. We’ll create a custom-disa context to manage our incoming calls from the Sprint cellphone. Then we’ll intercept all of your incoming calls and route them to this context to check and see if it’s a call from your Sprint cellphone. If it is, we’ll use a dialplan with the specific Sprint phone number to activate DISA and a dialtone for the caller. If it isn’t a call from your Sprint cellphone, we’ll pass it on to your default Incoming Call dialplan. If you’re using our Stealth AutoAttendant, you’d basically route calls which aren’t from your Sprint cellphone to the autoattendant. Otherwise, you let the custom-disa context process the call.

Building the custom-disa Dialplan. Using the Asterisk Management Panel (AMP) from your web browser pointed to the IP address of your Asterisk server, choose AMP->Maintenance->Config Edit->extensions_custom. Move to the bottom of the file and insert the following code:

exten => 6781234567,1,Answer
exten => 6781234567,2,Wait(1)
exten => 6781234567,3,Authenticate(123)
exten => 6781234567,4,DISA(no-password|from-internal)
exten => i,1,Goto(from-pstn-timecheck,s,1)

Replace 6781234567 in each of the four lines above with your Sprint phone number. If the little Mrs. has a Sprint phone, too, duplicate the first four lines and enter the next Sprint phone number for each of the four lines you added. Then renumber all of the lines so that they’re unique, i.e. 1,2,3,4 becomes 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. Replace the 123 password in each of the Authenticate lines with whatever you wish to use. Remember that it’s very easy to spoof CallerID numbers so you probably do want a password so you don’t sell the farm. If you prefer to live dangerously, delete the Authenticate lines and renumber. IT’S YOUR PHONE BILL! If you take out the Authenticate line, then you’ll get an immediate dialtone whenever you phone home from your Sprint cellphone. The exten=>i entry in the dialplan handles all the incoming calls that don’t match any Sprint phone number that you’ve entered in this context. So, if someone calls you from the White House (2024561414), the i entry in the custom-disa dialplan would process the call and send G.W. to your standard Incoming Calls context. Save your entries when you finish by clicking the Update button.

Rerouting Incoming Calls to custom-disa. There are two places we need to adjust to reroute incoming calls to the custom-disa context we just built. Using AMP again, edit the from-sip-external context in the extensions.conf file: AMP->Maintenance->Config Edit->extensions.conf->from-sip-external. Comment out all the existing lines with a leading semicolon. Now add the following new line and then click the Update button:

exten => _X.,1,Goto(custom-disa,${CALLERIDNUM},1)

Now edit or create an Incoming Route for your home phone number using your real number instead of 6781234567: AMP->Setup->Inbound Routing. Click the Submit Changes button when you finish and then click the Red Bar to reload Asterisk.

  • DID Number: 6781234567
  • Caller ID Number: 6781234567
  • FAX Extension: AMP default
  • FAX Email: blank
  • Immediate Answer: No
  • Pause After Answer: 0
  • Privacy Manager: No
  • Destination: Custom App custom-disa,6781234567,1
  • Testing Our Masterpiece. We need to make two calls to be sure things are working properly. First, store your home phone number in your Sprint cellphone so you can push one button to phone home. Now place a call to your home phone number from your Sprint cell phone. When prompted for your password, enter it and then make your first free call. Second, place a call to your home phone number from some other phone that is not specified in [custom-disa]. This call will be routed to your default incoming call handler or autoattendant. Enjoy!

    Free Samples. Everybody loves free samples. Not sure about TelaSIP, you say. Well, take it for a test drive. Just call our Charleston number (shown in the inset) and wait for the fast busy to hang up. There’s no charge for the call because you’re never "connected." Within 15 seconds you’ll get a return call allowing you to make a FREE 10-minute phone call to almost anywhere in the U.S. All you have to do is key in the password you’re provided when you answer the return call. Keep in mind a few things. You have to call from a phone with CallerID so that we know where to call you back. Both legs of the call (to you and to the person you call) use GSM compression so you’re seeing TelaSIP at its most efficient but not necessarily with the best voice quality. You can set it differently on your own system if you like. And one final note. TelaSIP’s web site doesn’t rate as the fanciest on the planet, but they do have great VoIP phone service at rock bottom prices. And that’s what this drill is all about. But, if you’re still not sold on TelaSIP, check out our other VoIP Provider Reviews.

    Quick Tip. Here’s a final little trick. When you set up your TelaSIP account, tell Gene that you’d like your account set up on gw4.telasip.com so that you can only make calls in the 48 states covered by the free unlimited plan. That’s the way the One Ringy-Dingy service works. Once this is done, it’s pretty safe to remove the password from the DISA script which saves some dialing when making outbound calls from your cellphone. Then it’s just a matter of watching your call logs (AMP->Reports) regularly to make sure no one is spoofing your CallerID number to take advantage of free calling from your server. In short, free calls won’t hurt you financially, and it will take a pretty bright creep to figure out your cellphone number, your home phone number, and to know that you’ve got Asterisk configured to do this in the first place. HINT: Don’t brag about it! In reviewing the logs, if you see someone is spoofing your CallerID number and regularly making calls to places you don’t recognize, then you can always reinstate the DISA password step in your dialplan.

    A Word About Web Hosting Providers. You’ve no doubt seen the BlueHost ads on our site lately. And, as many of you know, we don’t advertise things we don’t believe in. We switched hosting providers for Nerd Vittles about a month ago. So let me just say BlueHost Rocks! If you’ve ever thought about building your own web site either for your business or for your family, do it right with the very best tools, servers, bandwidth, and price. BlueHost has all of that plus a special ingredient that really sets them apart: nice people. Read their ad if you want technical details. But let us save you hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars comparing literally thousands of providers hoping to find just the right one. You can’t and won’t go wrong with BlueHost. Yes, we’ll be living it up Friday night if you sign up through our spiffy ad links. But, if vendor commissions bother you, go to their web site and sign up directly. It won’t hurt our feelings a bit. They’re that good! And you can get every dime back within 30 days if you’re not a happy camper. They say that professionalism is contagious in an organization. Have a look at the BlueHost CEO’s blog, sign up, and judge for yourself. You won’t be sorry.

    Another Move in the Works. Not to bore you with personal stuff, but … we had so much fun moving Nerd Vittles last month that we’ve decided to move the entire Mundy clan to the Charleston, South Carolina area. As a former Army brat, I was accustomed to annual moves, but we’ve called Atlanta home since the dawn of the PC era 25 years ago. So this one’s a little tougher. But the move gets us closer to my big girls, a great school for our little girl, an hour from the beach house, and an incredible neighborhood that was built the way all neighborhoods should be. Between now and June 1, we have three home closings and lots of packing and downsizing to do. And the Nerd Vittles articles may become (more) sporadic for a bit. But hang in there. We’ll keep our sense of humor, and one day soon everything will get back to normal … whatever that is.

    Nerd Vittles User Map. Nerd Vittles now supports well over 5,000 visitors a day. Two-thirds of you still use Windows. Try this! Over 1,000 a day find us in a Google search result. And about a third of you hang around for over an hour each visit. Wow! Who woulda thunk Asterisk and little Nerd Vittles could grow this big this fast. THANKS for visiting! We hope you’ll take a second and add yourself to our Frappr World Map compliments of Google. Australians and New Zealanders, don’t be shy! In making your entry, you can choose an icon: guy, gal, nerd, or geek. For those that don’t know the difference in the last two, here’s the best definition we’ve found: "a nerd is very similar to a geek, but with more RAM and a faster modem." The map still isn’t quite representative of where all of our visitors are coming from, but we’re getting there. Give it another week or two. Finally, we’re always looking for the best BBQ joints on the planet. So, if you know of one, add it to the map while you’re visiting as well. We’ll check it out one of these days.

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    1. "Outbound cell phone calls through Asterisk could display your cellphone number, and inbound calls to your Asterisk system that are forwarded to your cellphone could display the inbound caller’s number instead of your home number."

      Now, if I "spoof" my CID to the "caller" and not from my home phone–sprint-to-home will not work and the call will be billed.

      In short, I dont see a way to get forwarded CID-to-cell and still be on the S2H network.

      Please, tell me I’m wrong…:)

    2. Hi, this is david.
      I am looking for a way to look up and find out who a cell phone number belongs to. I’ve tried everything on the internet from reverse phone number, criss cross, etc. only to find out that the number is unpublished and unavailable. I really do not want to pay a fee. Thanks!

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