I have a phone landline connection and I DO NOT have a phone instrument. I connect the cable into my laptop, and want to make calls using my laptop. I have an HDA CX20561 modem. I seem to be able to dial number using dialer.exe, though nothing seems to happen. From Microsoft kb http://support.Microsoft.com/kb/958143, it looks like dialer.exe alone is not enough for the call.

Can somebody tell me how to make and receive phone call with whatever hardware I have, I.e. what software will I need.

  • 1
    Any particular reason why you don't just buy a phone?
    – Linker3000
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 22:53
  • I don't want another instrument. I thought that if my modem works, only then will I use the phone call feature of my ADSL line.
    – 0fnt
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 10:19
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    If you have a semi-decent internet connection and aren't yet using that phone number, anything that has to do with the modem makes only sense as a fun "let's try if I can use this stone-age hardware" project, on par with floppy drives playing music. Just get a SIP account with a good provider and use a SIP software like PhonerLite to make and receive phone calls. Maybe your provider already gives you a SIP account, some do - if you connect the phone to the router (not the wall socket or splitter), you probably already use SIP. Using the modem for Laptop-to-Router would be creative, but stupid. Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 14:42
  • why not use google voice?
    – Ben Plont
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 6:23
  • I am also interested in knowing how you can use your PC as a software-telephone connected to the phone line (NOT via SIP/VoIP/Skype/Google Voice). One possible use-case is this: to make free (or ultra cheap) international phone calls from mobile to mobile, like this (see below) Commented May 28, 2017 at 10:37

5 Answers 5


Software products for making land-line calls over modem have almost all disappeared from the world.

A remnant from these days may be NCH Software. However, it is quite unclear whether your modem will support such a feature. And in any case, all these products cost money to start and more to use.

You might as well go ahead and use Skype for your calls, as being one of the cheapest VOIP solutions around.

  • nch.com.au/ivm/modems.html#AAL gives instructions to check if my modem supports voice. It doesn't. Specifically, go to the properties of the modem device using Control Panel and go to diagnostics and then click query. See the response of AT#CLS=? If its command not supported then you're out of luck. Install your modem's latest drivers before this though. Please not that all this information is just gathered from internet and might be completely wrong. I have no way to tell. So please correct me if I'm wrong.
    – 0fnt
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 4:24

You can listen to the line using Hayes A.T. commands:

  1. Open up Hyperterminal (if running Windows) and connect to your modem's COM port (usually COM3).
  2. Type ATM2 and hit enter. This will enable the speaker.
  3. Enter ATH0 and hit enter to 'take the phone off the hook'. You should hear a dial-tone.

This should work if you are being called. I know how to dial numbers using this method, but I'm not sure about talking over the line after dialing.


I have Windows 7 64-bit and a USB modem (no speaker or mic). I use the built-in dialer.exe to dial the number when I want to make phone calls: -- using the telephone/handset that is attached to the phone -- using a phone headset attached to the speaker and mic ports on my laptop -- using the speaker and built-in mic on my laptop (not good quality).

You could probably use built-in speaker and external mic, or built-in mic and external "speaker" (aka headphones), but I think you'll run into interference, causing poor quality (as I experience when I use the speaker and built-in mic on my laptop).

Problem I have is that "tel:" and "callto:" links both open up dialer.exe, but they don't fill in the phone number (which kind of misses the point of having "tel:" and "callto:" links.....).

-- mdeck

  • I know this is an ancient question, but how do you answer calls? I've recently bought a USB modem and I can send as well as receive faxes, and make phone calls - but I am still puzzled as to how to pick up a phone call. The only option I have when the phone rings is to answer it as a fax. I'm also on Windows 7 64-bit. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 13:16

Well, you need a voice modem which has input for microphone and output for audio. This way, you'll be able to make phone calls. I don't know if your modem has that capabilities.

I remember back when I used voice modems that I could hear the other side speaking when using dialer.exe

  • My modem is a soft modem(though I have no idea what that means)
    – 0fnt
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 19:12
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    @user18151 That has no imact on what I said. Softmodems use your CPU for modulation/demodulation while hardware modems have their own computer for that. Hardware modems are generally better at everything than software modems, but are much more expensive and usually use old style serial ports like RS-232. Both software and hardware modems may be voice modems. Basically, if your modem doesn't have microphone input, it's not a voice modem and you can't use it to make phone calls.
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 19:16
  • I actually have a limited knowledge of hardware, but my modem builder is Conexant and my sound card is also Conexant 20561 smartaudio hd. So I'm thinking that they are related and probably my modem does have such a capability. By the way, if I'm wrong, please post that in a comment, so that nobody gets misled at least.
    – 0fnt
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 3:54
  • @user18151 I didn't know that Connexant made soundcards. If your modem does have needed capabilities, it will detect as a soundcard. Do you have any other soundcards except for the Conexant?
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 3:57
  • @user18151 Also, I saw that you have a laptop. Software modems and sound cards do have a lot in common, because software modem is basically just a sound card which outputs sounds into telephone line. It is possible that your modem is connected to your sound card and that it uses card to generate signals. I think it's the same way in my laptop, but I'm not 100% sure. Still, that does not tell us if the modem is voice or not. It would be best if you could post the list of sound cards on your system. That way, we'll be able to see if modem show up on the list or not.
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 4:01

I dont think you adsl model can do it because this type of modem uses a separate frequency band. u can do it using a dial up modem which uses the same frequency band as the voice phone calls.

  • 1
    What makes you think the CX20561 is an ADSL modem?
    – Dennis
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 14:41

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