Cisco Small Business PAP2T-NA VOIP Phone Adapter – Review


The Cisco Small Business PAP2T VOIP phone adapter is useful for people who want to get rid of costly (land-line) telephone bills and use the Internet for both browsing and talking to others (telephony). One can connect the PAP2T VOIP adapter to the Internet modem/router using an RJ-45 connector/ethernet cable and connect a maximum of two analog devices (analog phones, fax machines) using telephone cables/RJ-11 connectors. When the device is powered up, users can use the analog phone(s) connected to it to make calls over the Internet through a VOIP/SIP service provider like Callcentric.com, Voisip.com, Voip.ms, etc.

Advantages/Limitations of VOIP/SIP Service: There are quite a few advantages of choosing an ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider) over your nearby Telephony exchange offering analog phone connections (POTS). One of them is cheap international calling plans. You can call your friends/relatives living abroad, without worrying much about high phone bills, using VOIP. Some service providers even offer local calling at attractive rates. Another advantage of using VOIP is, you can take your PAP2T adapter/analog phone to anywhere you travel and still make and receive calls over the Internet using the same phone number.

But using the Internet to make calls has some limitations as well. If your Internet connection is not working, your telephone doesn’t work as well. Similarly, the voice quality over the net depends on the quality of device used, noise canceling algorithms supported by them and bandwidth. Since high-speed broadband is available everywhere, bandwidth may not be a limiting factor in most places.

Applications of PAP2T VOIP adapter:

  • Use analog phone to make/receive calls over the Internet, by registering with VOIP/SIP service providers
  • Connect two phones/two lines (channels) with two different numbers and use both of them simultaneously
  • Connect a fax machine and use the Internet to send/receive faxes
  • Take it while traveling and make/receive calls using your home number
  • Use it to connect two analog devices (phones/fax) to an IP PBX (like Asterisk, Trixbox, etc)

The Cisco Small Business PAP2T-NA adapter supports all the normal telephone functions like call waiting, call forwarding, call transfer, etc. One can set up voice mail to allow callers to record messages during their absence. It also supports features like Do Not Disturb (if you don’t want to receive calls), three way conference, call back on busy (If a line is engaged, phone keeps dialing even after you keep the handset down and calls you when they become free), etc. An off-hook alert sound let’s you know if you have not kept the handset properly on the telephone.

The PAP2T VOIP adapter can be configured using a web-based administration page or through an interactive voice interface accessible from an analog phone connected to it. An Interactive Voice Response menu (similar to tele-banking facility) which can be accessed by dialing **** (four stars) is the default configuration method but the web-browser administration page can be accessed by typing the IP address of the adapter on the URL box of a browser.

Configuring this device maybe slightly difficult if one does not read the quick installation guide/does not receive support from their VOIP service provider. But the service provider will generally help you. Perhaps you can check if the VOIP service provider supports this device and provides installation guidelines either on their website/over telephone. Also check if the service provider has a bundled option where they provide a pre-configured PAP2T adapter, if you want only a plug-and-play device. This Youtube video might be helpful for installation.

One dilemma people may have is whether to buy this adapter and connect it with their analog phone or buy an IP phone. Though inexpensive IP phones available, a good branded IP phone with decent support might cost you around $80-$100 (minimum). If the price of IP phones come down in future, it might be a good option. But when one is able to connect two analog devices at a much lower price, this device is probably a better option. A small business can also connect a fax machine to this adapter, if they already have an IP PBX.

Important features of the Cisco Small Business PAP2T VOIP phone adapter:

  • 1 x RJ-45 LAN port for connecting to broadband router/modem (Internet) using an ethernet cable
  • 2 x RJ-11 telephone ports for connecting to analog devices like analog phones, fax machine, etc
  • Caller ID, Call waiting, Call forwarding, Call transfer
  • Voice mail
  • Do not disturb, call back on busy
  • Three way conference
  • Web browser and IVR (through phone) based administration
  • Dimensions/Weight: 3.98″ x 3.98″ x 1.10″/ 153 grams
  • Warranty: One year limited hardware warranty

Advantages:

  • Use analog phones to make calls over the Internet
  • Save long-distance phone bills
  • Connect an analog fax over the Internet
  • Small size, portable
  • Use two devices with two separate lines/phone numbers simultaneously
  • Use DID feature (if supported by VOIP provider) to use two channels/lines for the same number
  • Phone number does not change if you happen to shift your house
  • Can make/receive phone calls using the home phone number while traveling
  • Can set up the device to send an email for missed calls
  • Computer is not required to use this device

Limitations:

  • If the Internet connection is down, phone also stops working
  • Requires an analog phone for initial configuration, even if you are going to use it only for connecting a fax machine
  • Cables to connect analog phone/fax machine could have been supplied along with the device
  • During power cuts if UPS power is not provided, phone doesn’t work. Both the modem/router and this adapter require power to work
  • Cannot directly be connected to the PC for administration
  • The router should have at least two switch ports as the PAP2T and PC need to be connected to it, to enable web-based administration.

Further Information: Access the product brochure, user-guide and frequently asked questions from Cisco Small Business PAP2T web-page.

Dynamic/Static IP Address: Every device connecting to the Internet needs an IP address. This IP address can either be assigned automatically by the router (if it supports a feature called DHCP) or it can be manually assigned (by just typing a few numbers separated by dots). In the first case, the IP address is referred to as a dynamic IP address and it can change every time the device is disconnected/reconnected. But, if they are manually assigned, they are called as Static IP address and are permanent.

If you want to access the web-browser based configuration utility frequently, you might want to assign a Static IP address as the IP address needs to be typed in the URL box of a browser to access the configuration page. If the router is going to assign the IP address dynamically, one needs to type **** followed by 110# (on a connected analog phone) to find out the IP address and then use it to access the configuration page. If the web-configuration is not enabled, one needs to first activate it through the IVR menu accessible via the analog phone.

The Cisco Small Business PAP2T VOIP phone adapter can be used both at homes and small businesses. It can also be used to connect analog phones and fax machines with an IP PBX. If you live in the United States, you can buy the PAP2T adapter from Amazon. For Vonage phone service users, there is a separate model of PAP2T.

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