Even though most of us rely on our mobile phones, there’s still room for home phones in our lives—especially in our current work-from-home environment. Home phones are harder to lose and can be more comfortable to talk on for long periods of time than our mobile slabs. Budget-friendly mobile provider Republic Wireless extends itself into the home phone world with its new Extend Home, a $49 home VoIP (voice over IP) adapter that you can plug any home phone into. The carrier’s service plans start at $15 per month for unlimited talk and text with no data, and considering the Extend Home doesn’t cost anything extra per month, it helps make for a pretty good unified communication solution.
Simple to Set Up
The Extend Home system is ultimately just a preconfigured Grandstream HT801 adapter hooked up to your Republic Wireless account. It’s simple to use and basic on features.
The device is a small, square box with three lights on top showing the presence of power, internet, and a home phone handset. On the back there’s just a power jack, an Ethernet port, and an RJ-45 port. There are no buttons or anything to configure.
Setting up the Extend Home is dead simple. Hook it up to your home internet router with an Ethernet cable (an internet connection is required); plug in a home phone using the RJ-45 jack; then log into your Republic Wireless account and punch the device’s unique ID into the carrier’s site. It configures in seconds, and syncs with your Republic Wireless phone number. You get a standard dial tone on your home phone, and calls ring to both it and your cell.
According to Republic Wireless, the adapter should work anywhere with an internet connection that doesn’t have a portal page, including internationally. Calls to US and Canadian numbers are free; the system cannot call numbers in other countries, although it can receive calls from them.
Just plug in to these three ports and you’re ready to go
The Extend Home uses your Republic Wireless phone number, although you can make outbound calls on both it and on your cell phone at the same time. When someone calls the number, both devices ring, even if they aren’t in the same room. The first device to pick up gets the call, unless it rolls to voicemail. Both devices can access the common voicemail box.
The unified number sets this apart from home VoIP systems like Ooma, which have their own phone numbers. There are pluses and minuses to this. You might want to be able to give people a home phone number for privacy reasons; you might also want to be able to take calls on your home and mobile phones interchangeably. One solution lets you do one thing, the other lets you do the other, so it’s really a matter of preference.
Here’s the Extend Home set up with a DECT handset
Caller ID shows up on the home handset; call waiting and voicemail access work just like they do on your mobile phone. (Tap the hook button to switch into call waiting, like it was 1985.) If you call 911, it gives the operator your home address. Other features depend on the home handset you decide to use, whether it’s a modern DECT multi-handset system or an old Princess phone. It does need to be touch tone, though—I tried a rotary phone and it didn’t work.
You don’t get any of the more advanced features you’d expect from some VoIP systems, like voicemail-to-email, call recording, or a PC-phone application. It really is just an extension of your mobile line. If you want features like those, look into apps for your mobile phone.
I really wanted this rotary to work but it didn’t
Call quality is good. It sounds like a landline. This makes sense because the system uses the G.711u codec, the standard audio codec used on phones since 1972. Because it isn’t a vocoder, it can pass touch tones (such as “press 9 to speak to an operator”) where some other VoIP systems might not able to. That said, this isn’t HD Voice as you find on some VoIP and mobile phone systems. It’s old school.
A Nice Perk for Republic Wireless Users
AT&T’s and Verizon’s competing wireless home phone products, along with Ooma’s Telo 4G, use the cellular network to hook up your home phone. That costs more per month and is dependent on the quality of the cell network where you are, but it’s good for people who live where there’s no wired connection.
Home VoIP is a commodity, and Republic Wireless doesn’t do much to set the Extend Home apart on features. The Ooma Telo, which I used for years at home, costs $79.99 plus about $3.50 per month, and offers similar features for people with any mobile service. But the Extend Home is a good perk if you’re considering Republic Wireless service anyway. It’s simple to use, and with no monthly fee, there isn’t much reason not to get it if you have an old home phone lying around.
Republic Wireless Extend Home Specs
|SIP Phone Support||No|
|Voicemail to Email||No|