Is there a cheaper alternative to Twilio

Virtual telephone number: Make landline calls anywhere in the world

A virtual telephone number has become indispensable, especially in times of home office. A landline number is available to you, which can be received both in the office with the desk phone, but also when you are out and about with the app or on the laptop with the softphone.

After some research and a tip from a good friend, I took a closer look at Placetel as such a VoIP phone.

In the following post I will explain what to look out for when setting up a German free landline number and report on my Placetel experiences how you can use this phone number.

Table of Contents:

In the video I tell you in a short and compact form how I got my virtual phone number.

Landline number at Placetel

The connection for your telephone number no longer has to be in your home. A call is digitized via Voice over IP (VoIP for short) and is available to you on your laptop, smartphone or on your VoIP-enabled telephone system.

With the provider Placetel you can choose between the standalone solution for VoIP and the complete all-in-one communication solution.

Since I've been a customer for several years, I have Placetel to start with the free one Phone number used. This maps the basic functions.

Starting at € 2.90 in the Placetel professional tariff is currently very cheap and is aimed at companies and freelancers. 150 additional functions are offered in the packages. From routing to language selection menus to queues.

Test 30 days: free phone number in the Placetel professional tariff

I am currently using the professional tariff from Placetel for full functionality.

You can set up the virtual phone number from a phone number for which you can choose a landline area code from Germany.

In my case that was the 089 for Munich.

The first 30 days are completely free as a test phase. During this time you can use the product to the full extent and terminate it at any time. In addition, there are no long contract periods at Placetel PROFI, so you can simply cancel again if you don't like the number, the quality or the service.

Call costs

My selected tariff costs me € 2.90 per month, further fees depend on my use. I can therefore control very well how my phone bill should behave.

You only pay as much as you make calls.

A fair concept and another point that made the virtual telephone solution very interesting for me.

The individual prices start at 1 cent per minute on landlines and 19 cents per minute on mobile phones.

If you get a call, it's free, of course you don't pay anything.

Registration with Placetel

Your company details are required to register. You enter this in the form on the website by selecting the tariff that is right for you.

Danger: Registration is only possible as a company or trade with a German seat.

That was the case with me, so I could easily register from abroad.

Set up the virtual phone number

After the registration is confirmed, you will get access to your account and your phone numbers. In order to use this now, the telephone system or a VoIP destination must first be set up.

You can do the Setup wizards use. This is the easiest way to set up.

In the following we go step by step through the setup of the numbers and the creation of a VoIP telephone.

Settings for new employees in Placetel

First we create a new employee. A telephone can then be assigned to this.

To do this, click on “Create employee / user” in the dashboard.

Collect employee data.

In the telephony settings, the checkmark remains in order to assign a VoIP destination to the employee.

An internal extension can be assigned or is assigned automatically. An outgoing number can be displayed or suppressed.

The last check mark for the web portal can be set so that the employee can also log in. As a result, the employee receives a password and access data.

The next step is to select how the employee should be able to use Placetel.

In this context, a softphone is software that runs on the computer or via an app on the smartphone.

Hardware devices for VoIP telephony are available from Cisco, snom, Gigaset, Yealink and a few others, for example.

As the last step, you will see the employee data that you need to connect to the softphone.

The data consists of:

  • SIP username
  • password
  • SIP server

Use VoIP destination

Under “VoIP target” you will see after creating a user that a VoIP target has also been created.

With a click on the edit symbol you can see all the details of the VoIP destination.

Forward phone number to VoIP destination

By default, all calls go to the mailbox. To change this, the VoIP destination is specified under “Numbers”.

The target can be changed from VoIP target Jan to Tim Tester by clicking on the edit icon.

If nobody answers or the line is busy, the call will be forwarded to the mailbox.

In order to get the VoIP target from the status to green / online, it must be connected to a softphone.

Softphone for computers

Placetel recommends the following providers for softphones on the Mac:

  • Zoiper
  • X-Lite
  • Mac Telephone

An overview of all softphones (also available for Windows here)

In my case I decided on X-Lite and set up the softphone according to the instructions from Placetel.

The information can be found in the account under VoIP targets.

  • Download and install X-Lite
  • Use the SIP user name for “User ID” and “Authorization Name”
  • Use the SIP password entered in the account for “Password”
  • The SIP server is specified for “Domain”
  • In the case of “Domain Proxy and Address”, the check mark for “Register with Domain and receive calls” remains set
  • Switch to the “Topology” tab and enter the following for “Server Address”: stun.finotel.com
  • Switch to the “Transport” tab and set the “Signaling transport” option to UDP
  • The setup of the softphone is done!

App for the smartphone

To use Placetel on a normal smartphone, the Placetel Phone App can be downloaded.

You only have to log into this with your employee login data and you can make calls using your smartphone.

Tip: have the mobile number forwarded to the landline network

This tip is suitable for anyone who is traveling abroad and does not want to be called on their smartphone for cost reasons.

Call diversion is submitted to the provider using GSM codes. To do this, proceed as follows.

  • To activate the call diversion, the code is: ** 21 * phone number #
  • To deactivate the call diversion, the code is: ## 21 #
  • To check the status is the code: * # 21 #

In this way, all incoming calls are automatically forwarded to the softphone.

Tip 2: Supplement to the topic of forwarding a virtual number

I was asked the following:

Hello, do you know if there are any costs if I order a free number from Placetel and forward it to another number?

My guess was yes, but I wasn't sure. For this reason I wrote to the Placetel support team. You can reach the support either via the live chat on their website or via an email form. They sent me the following answer very quickly:

Forwarding to an external landline number costs 1 cent per minute, to a mobile number 9.9 cents per minute.

With the app, however, you can avoid these costs and receive calls on your mobile phone via Voice over IP.

My Placetel experience after 4 years as a customer

In the meantime I've been a Placetel customer for almost 4 years and at this point I would also like to hear something about mine Experience with Placetel write.

I am very satisfied with the quality and the service.

I don't get that many calls on my number, but the quality of the calls I've had was good. This applies inside and outside Germany, for example in Thailand or most recently in South Africa.

The setup was a bit more technical, but I've already done it and with my instructions here, anyone can do it.

I am therefore a satisfied customer

Conclusion: accessibility at the fixed network tariff

With the method described, you can be reached anywhere in the world by landline number. The caller does not notice that your call is being forwarded from the landline to a VoIP address and that you are calling via WLAN.

You receive calls and can make inexpensive landline calls to Germany.

In my opinion, Placetel is ideal for frequent travelers and digital nomads.