November 17th, 2011
Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA’s) turn a standard analog phone device, such as a standard touch-tone phone or a fax machine, into a Voice over IP (VoIP) device. An analog-to-digital converter, it takes the analog signal from your traditional phone and converts it into digital data which is transmitted over the internet. Conversely, the digital signals received from your internet translate into analog signals you will hear through a telephone headset. This allows you to make calls over the internet without an IP Phone.
The obvious advantage of using an ATA is that you can use the phone you have on hand, either wired or cordless, with any VoIP service. So, if you want to take advantage of VoIP and not lose your favorite phone, an ATA is a great way to go. The same is true for businesses using analog lines.
An ATA needs to have an underlying VoIP service, such as VoIP service from VirtualPBX to work. Typically, you will get credentials from your VoIP provider that will include a username/URI and a password. You then need to configure the ATA to use these credentials. Once you have this done, assuming you’ve attached a phone and the ATA is connected to the internet, calls can be made over the internet to and from the analog phone.
It may be slightly cheaper to use an existing phone with an ATA than it is to buy a new VoIP phone. However, you won’t have all of the same features that you would usually receive with a VoIP phone. For example, system directories, call logs, and other features of a VoIP phone won’t be available in the same way on an analog phone. So if you want the extra features and capabilities, your best bet is an IP Phone. However, if you would rather not invest in a VoIP phone at the moment, an ATA is the way to go for affordable VoIP service. You may lose some features but in some cases you will save money. You can visit our VoIP Phone List page to compare prices and capabilities of our VoIP and ATA devices.
Some of our clients use ATAs to connect hardware fax machines to their virtual PBX service. While most clients simply use our virtual fax functions for both inbound and outbound faxing, some people want to employ a standard hardware fax machine. It gives them a paper printout of their fax and may fit better into existing processes. Typically, this is done by setting up a VoIP-enabled extension for faxing and then using an ATA to connect the fax machine. Adding a fax phone number that rings directly to the fax extension allows the fax machine to work just like it would on a separate analog phone line, at a fraction of the cost.
VirtualPBX sells and supports the Cisco/Linksys SPA2102 ATA. Other ATAs may work with our service, but we’ve found that some don’t handle faxing well. For more information, give us a call at 888-825-0800. We’re here to help!