The DECT 6.0-compliant RTX 3088 Dualphone allows North American consumers to continue to use their legacy PSTN phone service while seamlessly incorporating Skype into their routine “home phone” activities. And it’s one reason why you will see those Skype Mood Messages that say “Using Skype without my computer”.
Over the years we have become used to grabbing a phone, “dialling” a number and start talking. It’s a simple algorithm – every phone user is familiar with it. Over the past couple of decades supplementary services such as voice mail, call forwarding and call waiting have become all too common. More recently, if you walk down the phone aisle of North American retailers selling cordless phones, you’ll see the term DECT 6.0 prominent on the phone packaging and promotional collateral.
So how can one “just add Skype” calling to this most familiar consumer calling experience?
With a few years of using Skype and evaluating a range of VoIP phones, the criteria I have come up with include:
- Just pick up the phone handset and initiate a call using a habitual calling process
- Use the familiar 12-key touchtone dial pad
- Continue availability of all the legacy PSTN service provider services such as voice mail, call forwarding and call display
- Employ cordless phones’ crystal clear, interference-free DECT 6.0 protocol
- Add Skype without using a PC
- Add an option to select either a PSTN (landline or mobile) call or a Skype call when you hit the “Call” button
- Use Skype for both free Skype-to-Skype calls and SkypeOut calls at low Skype calling plan rates
- Provide access to a directory that includes both Skype contacts and PSTN contacts
- Provide access to Skype services such as Skype voice mail and contact status
Over the past three years several Skype partners offered cordless phone hardware that met this criteria. One of the veteran vendors has been RTX with their various USB phones and cordless Dualphone offerings. Recently RTX approached In Store Solutions as a recommended distribution channel; they concluded an agreement for worldwide distribution of their 3088 Dualphone via the In Store Shop on the Skype Store.
However, expanding sales into North America required adaption of the DualPhone to not only a North American approved power plug but also the North American rf channels available for DECT, known by the term DECT 6.0, which provides the audio connection between the base station and handsets on the majority of cordless phone packages sold today.
- Base station for connection to both a PSTN line (RJ-11 jack) and an Ethernet connection (RJ-45 jack) back to the home cable or DSL router
- A cordless handset, with a belt clip, connected to the base station using the crystal clear, interference-free DECT 6.0 standard for cordless home phones.
- Ethernet cable and phone cable
- Up to 50 meter indoor range, 300 m outdoor range
- Charging cradle, along with AAA rechargeable batteries.
Additional features to support Skype include:
- Color LCD screen
- Embedded Skype firmware that takes advantage of several Skype features: free Skype-to-Skype calling, SkypeOut calling, voicemail, call history and, for Skype contacts, status
- Contact list for both Skype and landline/mobile with automatic updates via a Skype account
- Add up to three additional optional handsets that facilitate:
- intercom connection between handsets
- concurrent Skype call while another handset is on either a PSTN call or another Skype call
Over the past two years I have been using another brand of cordless PSTN/Skype phone that is no longer available due to supplier issues. However, because it has almost identical firmware, it gave me the user experience with such a phone with the following comments and recommendations:
- Use a separate Skype account from any account you may be using for, say, business or personal privacy reasons. You don’t want the rest of your family or roommates answering your private business or personal calls.
- When placing a call you have the option to select either Landline or Skype
- SkypeOut availability takes advantage of Skype’s low cost rates or calling plan subscriptions to almost every country worldwide.
- It’s also smart enough for dealing with the North American area codes where one may or may not need the “1” to place a call within or across area codes (Toronto region’s four area codes with two overlays, yet varying local calling reach, is an ideal example of this).
- DECT 6.0 certainly delivers on the interference-free, crystal clear voice quality
- Having the Call History and Skype directory for both PSTN and Skype calls are perhaps the most useful features, aside from the free Skype-to-Skype calls
- Have four handsets in various locations around the house without worrying about wall jacks to the wiring is definitely a benefit.
- With its own embedded “computer”, its operation over Skype is totally independent of call disruption from other programs running on a PC, such as Outlook.
- The base station’s portability has been a useful feature when diagnosing problems with my Rogers Home Phone cable modem (different from the Internet cable modem) and its one wired connection required to a central location in the house. Service can continue by placing the base station at the modem site while problems are diagnosed and the wiring is repaired.
- It eliminated the need to repair the home phone wiring setup (beyond the base station connection) when lightning went through some devices in my home last summer.
The RTX Dualphone for North America is available via the In Store Solutions Shop on the U.S. Skype store (with introductory promotional pricing of US$149.99 until December 14). It will be available soon on the Canadian Skype Store.
Bottom line: if you’re looking for a way to have you entire household on both your local PSTN service and Skype through a single handset, the RTX Dualphone provides a user friendly, easy-to-install solution. From up to four locations within your house or apartment, it supports both local PSTN and worldwide Skype calling at a very low overall cost.
Full disclosure: In Store Solutions has become a client of Denali InterConneXions, publisher of Voice On The Web, building on the author’s previous business development experience with establishing partnerships that can assist with the promotion of a primary vendor’s offerings. A more complete statement will follow shortly.
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