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Using Asterisk and Gizmo5 to Transform Your Nokia N95 Cellphone into the Ultimate Free SIP Phone

We're wrapping up our Gizmo5 series with what we believe is the real silver lining in the Gizmo Project. Here's our YouTube demo to prove it. We kicked things off by showing you how to set up a Gizmo5 account to make free calls with Asterisk® using Backdoor Dialing and ENUM. Then last week we added an Asterisk dialplan script to actually test whether an outbound call would be free through Gizmo5 before choosing a final route to terminate outgoing calls from your Asterisk server. Today we're going to use your Gizmo5 account to transform a standard Nokia N95 cellphone into a SIM-free, carrier-free WiFi SIP telephone which can perform a whole bag of tricks at absolutely no cost... once you own the unlocked phone. It's the perfect back-to-college gift if your wallet matters. Without too much hype, suffice it to say the N95 earned PC Magazine's Editor's Choice. In a word, the call quality is phenomenal. If you like Snickers candy bars, then you'll love the size of this phone. And WiFi works all day with Nokia's Symbian OS even though you're lucky to make it an hour with Windows Mobile devices. Maybe it's not the WiFi that's the problem after all, Bill. Ooops. He retired. Sorry. Anyway, any unlocked Nokia N95 will do. Just not the N96! And you'd better get one while they last. Nokia apparently has had a change of heart on SIP telephony support, and it's quickly disappearing from their newer models. Dumb move!

SPECIAL NOTE: We have one, gently used N95 for sale. It actually was used to prepare this article. Make us an offer, or we'll make you a deal you can't refuse. If you're interested, contact us.

When we're finished, you'll have a better appreciation for why AT&T and the other cellphone carriers hate Nokia phones and why Comcast would prefer to limit your bandwidth and charge you $40 (extra) per month for their VoIP service and boatloads more for their pay-per-view movies. This isn't about greedy bandwidth abusers. It's about a greedy service provider. Comcast could easily rein in bandwidth abusers with a letter threatening to terminate service. What they can't control with nastygrams are the Blockbuster's and Walmart's of the world that want to deliver pay-per-view movies to your doorstep via the Internet. So this looks more like restraint of trade to us than protection of scarce resources from the Napster generation as Comcast would have you believe. You don't make the whole class stay after school because one kid chewed gum... if your motives are as pure as the Comcast TV barons would have you believe. Now where were we? </rant>

For openers today, you can place SIP calls at no cost to any SIP phone or Asterisk server in the world. See our previous tutorial to learn how to set this up on your Asterisk server. Second, you can place "regular" phone calls to any phone in the world using a Gizmo5 account at Gizmo5's discounted calling rates (2¢ a minute or less for calls to U.S., U.K., most of Europe, China, and Australia for example) rather than cellphone subscription plus stratospheric long distance charges. Third, you can place free calls to almost every non-AT&T cellphone in the U.S. by dialing 0101 and the number. Fourth, you can place free calls back to and through your Asterisk server to just about anywhere on the globe (except resort areas surrounded by water) for almost nothing. And, finally, you can receive free calls on your N95 cellphone whenever anyone dials your free IPkall-assigned DID in the Seattle area or your SIP number through Gizmo5. And, did we mention that all of this magic occurs with no connection to AT&T or any other cellphone carrier. In fact, we don't even have a SIM chip in our N95. Well... not all the time anyway. All you really need is a WiFi connection to make all of this work. And even the Asterisk server is optional. So let's get started.

Enabling WiFi on Your Nokia N95. Before we can use the N95 as a free SIP telephone, we've first got to get a WiFi connection enabled on the phone. Pressing Menu, Tools, WLAN Wizard will get you started. You can test your connection by opening the web browser for a trial run after you have your WiFi connection set up. Once it's working, be sure to disable the WiFi Access Point scanning feature by choosing Menu, Tools, Settings, Connection, Wireless LAN and set Show WLAN availability to Never.

Installing the Gizmo5 Application. Now the tricky part, and it's really not that difficult. It just happens that there's lots of conflicting information posted around the web, and this makes the drill more confusing than it needs to be. First, if you already have automatic registration of your Gizmo5 account on another device or an Asterisk server, disable the automatic registration. You can't have the same account registered in two places simultaneously. Just open a second account if you need it. There are two components that need to be installed on your Nokia N95, and they're in different places. First, install Nokia Internet Services Support Package to the device memory (not to the memory card). Here's Nokia's download link. Next, install the Gizmo5-Nokia PlugIn from gizmovoip.com. Here's the download link for that one. Finally, we had one little gotcha with getting everything to work once it was installed. On your phone go to Menu, Tools, Settings, Connection, SIP Settings, Options, Edit SIP Profile and set the Service Profile to Nokia 3GPP. Next, go to Menu, Tools, Internet Tel and activate Gizmo after choosing your default WiFi network. You'll be prompted for your Gizmo account name and password. Once it's registered, you should be able to dial 0101 plus an area code and phone number to test out the free calling feature. Or you can dial an area code and number, and route your outbound call as a pay-by-the-minute Gizmo5 Internet Call under the Options button. To call a sip phone directly, simply create a new Contact and insert an Internet telephone entry in the SIP URI format: sipname@FQDN.com. Once you have saved the entry, simply choose it from your Contacts to place the free SIP call. In Nokia-speak, it's referred to as an Internet Call.

If the above procedure doesn't work for you, repeat the drill and set the Service Profile to IETF instead of Nokia 3GPP. Not sure why but one setting works some of the time, and the other one works the rest of the time. If you can't connect, this is usually the problem... assuming you've gotten your Gizmo5 username and password entered correctly.

You also can use your Asterisk server to forward outbound SIP calls from your N95 to other phones. For example, if there are 10 close friends that you call frequently, assign each of them a SIP URI on your Asterisk server. We covered the setup process in this article. In a nutshell, create an Incoming Route in FreePBX named tom and point it to the phone number you wish to call. For destination phones outside your PBX, first create a Miscellaneous Destination called Tom-home that includes the home phone number. Then use this destination in your Incoming Route for tom. Save your entry and reload your FreePBX dialplan. Finally get your own fully-qualified domain name from a service such as dyndns.org. Assuming your FQDN was pbx.dyndns.org, then your Internet telephone entry for Tom in your N95 contacts would be this SIP URI: tom@pbx.dyndns.org. Otherwise, you'll need a SIP URI with the IP address of your Asterisk server, e.g. tom@

Adding a Free DID for Inbound Calling to Your Nokia N95. One of the world's best kept secrets continues to be the availability of free DIDs from ipkall.com in Seattle. This saves you $35 a year over the current Gizmo5 DID rate, and IPkall will give you a free phone number in one of several available area codes to use with the SIP device of your choice. Your Nokia N95 qualifies! Just be sure to place at least one call a month to the number, or it's automatically recycled to someone else. To register for a free IPkall account, go to this link and sign up. Your SIP Phone Number is your 11-digit Gizmo5 phone number starting with a 1. Your SIP Proxy for Gizmo5 is proxy01.sipphone.com. Now plug in a valid email address and create a password for your account. Your new phone number will be delivered to this email address. Once it arrives, you should be able to dial the number from any phone, and your Nokia N95 should start ringing. Answer the call just as you would any other cellphone call. The only difference is that you can talk as long as you like... for free. For other free DIDs and some great tips including ATA setup, go here.

Using Asterisk to Add the Missing Pieces. There are a number of ways you can use Asterisk to enhance your SIM-free Nokia experience. By enabling DISA, you can place a SIP call to your Asterisk server, obtain dial tone, and call anywhere using your existing Asterisk trunks. Here's the way we set this up. Edit /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf and add a [custom-disa] context at the end of the file that looks like the following code. Be sure to set a VERY secure password in line s,7 by replacing 1234. It's your phone bill! Then set your IPkall DID number as the CallerID in s,13. By changing 701 in s,12 you can call any extension on your Asterisk server just by dialing 0 when you're using DISA. For our foreign friends, be sure to adjust the dial string length (10) in s,9 to meet your local needs.

exten => s,1,Answer
exten => s,2,Wait(1)
exten => s,3,Set(TIMEOUT(digit)=7)
exten => s,4,Set(TIMEOUT(response)=10)
exten => s,5,Background(enter-password)
exten => s,6,Read(MYCODE,beep,7)
exten => s,7,GotoIf($["${MYCODE}" = "1234"]?8:15)
exten => s,8,Set(TIMEOUT(absolute)=9000)
exten => s,9,Read(NUM2CALL,pls-entr-num-uwish2-call,10)
exten => s,10,Playback(pls-wait-connect-call)
exten => s,11,GotoIf($["${NUM2CALL}" = "0"]?12:13)
exten => s,12,Dial(Local/701@from-internal)
exten => s,13,Set(CALLERID(number)=4251234567)
exten => s,14,Goto(outbound-allroutes,${NUM2CALL},1)
exten => s,15,Hangup

Next, add an Incoming Route using FreePBX. For the DID Number, use a SIP name that is not easily guessed, e.g. DISA2375. This gives you an extra layer of password protection since anyone can try to guess your SIP URI's once they know the IP address of your Asterisk server. Leave all of the other entries at their defaults and, for the Destination, choose Custom Route: custom-disa,s,1. Save your settings and reload your dialplan. Ignore the warning that you're doing something odd. We know what we're doing.

Finally, on your Nokia N95, add a new Contact called DISA with an Internet telephone number to match the name of your incoming route above with the fully-qualified domain name of your Asterisk server, e.g. DISA2375@pbx.dyndns.org. Now you're ready to dial away by simply selecting this contact on your N95. Enter your DISA password when prompted and then enter a 10-digit phone number to call.

The WiFi HotSpot Two-Step (and a few more steps). Now that everything is working swimmingly, we're ready to take your Nokia N95 on the road. Here's the failsafe step-by-step to get connected in a WiFi HotSpot of your choice.

  • Turn off the phone
  • Arrive at HotSpot
  • Turn on the phone
  • Menu, Tools, WLAN Wiz., Pick Your HotSpot, and Start Web Browsing, Create WLAN While OffLine=Yes
  • Using Browser, log into the HotSpot with your account name and password
  • Leave the browser open so it'll be easy to log out when you're finished
  • Menu, Tools, Internet Tel., Pick Your HotSpot AP
  • Once Connected, Dial Away As Usual
  • When finished, Hold Down Menu Button and Choose Browser App, Log Out of the HotSpot
  • Turn off the phone

Cellphone Options. But what if you really do want to use the Nokia N95 in all its glory with the 5 megapixel camera and the multimedia goodies and even a cellphone provider? Well, it works great for just about anything you need. In fact, you can even take the SIM chip from your iPhone (even a First Generation iPhone) and plug it in. Phone calls work, voicemail works (even though you get two text messages when a new voicemail arrives... which is a lot better than Cingular in the old days when you typically got zero), and email and web browsing work great, too. Just select MediaNet as the access point when you open your Internet connection, and you'll be off to the races. Of course, all the cheapo, pay-as-you-go SIM cards work as well. Both Oxygen and Airvoice packages including free minutes and a SIM card are available at this eBay store for under $10. And there are lots of other options as well. Enjoy!

VPN in a Flash Update! We've had over 100 reservations for our new VPN in a Flash system. We're very close to having a manufacturer in place so hopefully we'll have more good news in a week or two. We have begun the documentation for the new product, and we encourage you to take a look and offer any questions or comments you may have on our forums. The documentation is in the new Google Knol format and can be reviewed here. It's not too late to get in the queue and place a reservation for a system. Just send us a note, and we'll keep you posted as the release date approaches. It'll hold your place in line with absolutely no obligation to purchase.

Coming Attractions. We're very close to signing on a new VoIP provider for PBX in a Flash users that will provide penny-a-minute calls in the U.S. and Canada. And a new version of AsteriDex with Outlook synchronization and a TTS dialer for AsteriDex queries from any connected Asterisk phone is just around the corner. Stay tuned!

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  1. Is this connectivity limited to the N95 or can other Nokia Phones with WLAN be connected? I’m particularly interested in the N71 which also has low band 3G for long range calling in 3 different bandplan versions and could potentially be used as a WLAN to 3G gateway …

    [WM: There are a number of other phones that work. See this message thread for details.]

  2. imagine having a wireless extension via wireless data plan (not wifi) and asterisk doing the rest. you won’t be needing any gizmo5, fring, vpn etc. just a FREE, mobile extension and an asterisk locked up somewhere

  3. I have used a lot of similar functions with the Nokia e61i which has built in VOIP, WIFI, QWERTY, 3G, and you can even subscribe to Blackberry. I couldn’t help giggling at a restaurant in Midland TX, when I dialed 600 and called my business in Mexico. Then I made a couple of calls out my asterisk server to some folks in Mexico, through my local line. All free thanks to my phone and the nice folks at the restaurant who provided the free wifi.

  4. I downloaded and used Gizmo happily on my Nokia N770.

    Issue I have with Gizmo5 is that they are charging me $0.376 for calls lasting under a minute.

    [WM: Haven’t seen that. Where are you calling??]

    09 September, 01:14 PM     +1-843-377-xxxx     $0.0190     00:01     $0.019
    07 September, 07:28 PM     +1-843-628-xxxx     $0.0190     00:01     $0.019
    07 September, 06:52 PM     +1-404-351-xxxx     $0.0190     00:01     $0.019

  5. Why is Nokia removing SIP functionality from newer models? Seems like whenever a cool feature comes out it is quickly removed from future models. Anyway, awesome write up btw!

    [WM: Cell phone carriers won’t sell the phones if SIP is built in.]

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