Low Cost VOIP Providers

D

Don Y

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi Jeff,

Look into what is misnamed "AP isolation" but is really "client
isolation". I use it heavily in my few remaining hot spots and coffee
shop networks to prevent customers computers from attacking each
other. It's standard on most wireless routers and access points. It
blocks any traffic between two wireless clients. The catch is that it
does nothing between the various computahs on the ethernet switch,
which can still merrily attack each other.

I'm not worried about a client being "vulnerable". Recall my
approach: "like having a firewall on EVERY network connector!"

The problem is an attacker can flood the airwaves and prevent clients
from *intentionally* intercommunicating. Then, things fall to
pieces.

E.g., I prevent anyone from injecting foreign traffic into the
*wired* network (current implementation). Even if you unplug
a cable and try to "confuse" the device on the other end of
that cable, you can't coerce it into doing anything. All you
can do is DENY it access to the other nodes in the system.

So, if that node was a security camera, the system would know
that "security camera X" is now offline -- and it shouldn't be!
(you couldn't inject phony video masquerading *as* that camera)

With a wireless network fabric, you can effectively interfere
with *all* communications simultaneously. Like taking an
axe to *the* network switch.
Yep. However, putting the phone behind the router/firewall isn't
helping much. Ports 5060-5064 (SIP) are still exposed to the internet
via port forwarding and UPnP. So, I still get attacked. I've tried
various firewall rules, which help, but not completely. It also
doesn't help when I'm traveling. Yet another project.

Because they are probably targeting you with in-band traffic?

Have you looked at any of the traffic to see what they are
trying to do? I.e., which ASSUMPTIONs they are trying to
exploit?

Google for known vulnerabilities with that kit?

D

Don Y

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi Jeff,

We've been through this before. No need for me to rant about it
again. However, I have a new horror story. Another office in the
building switched to ADSL2+ and 8x8 VoIP service (4 lines) using
Polycom hardware. They were complaining about garbled audio. Since
they had a service contract with various vendors, I had to get
permission and passwords before I could do any investigating. In
talking with the IT people, I was rather impressed with their
competence.

Knowing buzz words and how to string them together doesn't
necessarily imply they understand the underlying issues.
Or, have *competently* implemented them!

Part of the problem with thinking of things as "black boxes"
is you intentionally *avoid* thinking about what's really
going on -- and *why*! And, you conveniently forget all
the preconditions that *should* have been applied, etc.

Manufacturers want you to think everything is "piece of cake"
lest you be scared away from it. And, they can't realistically
be expected to hold your hand and walk you through the specifics
of *your* particular problem set.

So, you remember the generalizations and forget the specifics
that make all the difference. Then, wonder why things aren't
quite what you expected...

I've always been amazed at how readily people shrug off
"freakish behaviors": "Hmmm, that shouldn't have happened!"

Um, but it *did*! Has it occurred to you that maybe you should
figure out *why* it happened? And, consider yourself *lucky*
that you were able to observe that it *did* happen -- so you
aren't arguing with a customer who later "claims" he saw some
similar manifestation! :-/

*Prove* to yourself that it *couldn't* have happened. Then,
try to reconcile this with your memory of it actually happening!
<grin>

D

Don Y

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi Joerg,

Yup. After a while I have them memorized.

I don't think you understand the *scale* of what I am doing. :>

How many "codes" are there to control a TV?
Volume up
Volume down
SAP on/off
CC on/off
Mute/Unmute
channel up
channel down
previous channel
channel N
select DVD input
pause
resume
power on/off
tint up/down
PIP on/off
PIP swap
freeze video
balance left/right/front/back
treble/bass up/down

select tuner/CD/iPod/stream
select channel/program
select artist/album/track (which artist is #5?)
volume up/down
tone controls
pause
track forward/backward
fast forward/backward
loop/shuffle/random

How do you tell the TV to route the live video feed from the front
door onto the screen and pause <whatever> video source you are
watching?

How do you ask the phone system if there have been any messages?
How do you command it to play them? Preserve/erase them? Leave
an outgoing message for a *particular* caller?

Ditto for the doorbell -- any visitors? How do you command the
system to replay the video/audio footage of their presence *at*
the door?

What's the code to tell the washing machine that you want it to
run an extra rinse cycle because the laundry detergent is too
strong for your skin? Or, the dryer that it should run a
gentle cycle on low heat?

Do you have to memorize which plants are on each irrigation
zone? How do you command the system to provide some extra
water to the roses?

How do you check the status of the garage door? And, command
it closed if you find it open?

How do you come up with a mnemonic device to remember these?

Or, do *you* assign the codes in a manner that makes sense to
you and let her assign them in a manner that makes sense to her?

It's just *so* much easier to say what you want and let the
Then one might as well press the buttons.

Which button is "roses"? Or, "garage"?
Well, I for one don't want to. Whenever I hear a message that says I
have to speak stuff into the receiver and no option to punch numbers I
have to suppress a not so nice expression. Sometimes then I just start
pounding "0" until a live person shows up.

In the case of home automation, I guess that live person would be
what -- a butler?? :>
Speaking Yes ... YES!! ... no ... thirty-four ... into a phone sounds a
bit dorky to me. I do not like to do that.

I didn't say you were doing it into a phone. Only when you are
trying to *access* the system remotely *via* a phone! Why should
I have to carry a phone around when I'm home?
No, but the other option is carrying a remote around. Hollering from the
other end of the yard "BASKETBALL COURT LIGHTS ON!" is not particularly
appreciated in this neighborhood

But you don't have to do that! :>

My current plans allow for the use of a BT headset within the
house/yard (because dealing with ambient noise in speech
recognition is too much for me to tackle). In certain areas
(e.g., shower), an "open mic" performs the same function
(though when in the shower, you wouldn't be likely to say
"water the roses" -- though you might say, "tell me who's
calling on the phone"); voice over a telephone connection;
"buttons/icons" over an internet connection or from one of
the four "control panels" inside the house; and buttons/voice
when accessed via "wireless terminals" around the house.

In each case, the interface is tied to the location in which it
is operated and the "device" implementing it. E.g., *your*
BT earpiece is configured differently from mine and each
varies depending on where we are located when we issue commands.

E.g., "channel up" wouldn't apply to a TV if there wasn't a TV
in the room. But, it *would* apply to a stereo located therein!
(OTOH, it wouldn't be recognized at all if you were in the back yard!)

R

rickman

Jan 1, 1970
0
I dropped CallCentric before they had simultaneous ring, which is what
you need for your remote office. Today, they have it:
<http://www.callcentric.com/features/simultaneous_ringing>

That would be nice, but not required. I don't mind porting the
equipment from one place to another. That is what my friend does when
she comes to my place. Her VOIP modem comes with her and so the service
as well.

Note that each phone has a different phone number, so you're adding
for an "extension" on a single phone number.
I remember when getting your network to work was difficult, but
eventually that process was made simpler by all parties involved and
most of the time things just work now. Why can't they do that with
VOIP? That's a rhetorical question. I'm not interested in a lot of
technical stuff on the issue.

Short answer: The money is in the service, not the product. With
that arrangement, there's no incentive to make things easier, which
might reduce service revenue[1].

That makes no sense to me. Competition is not just in the price, but in
getting the customer which is often a matter of making it *easy* form
them. Just look at how long AOL was able to hold onto customers who
simply didn't know how or want to know how to get on the Internet by a
standard ISP. That was when ISPs didn't make it as easy as they do now.

The service model you seek is the cable set top box model. You
buy/lease/rent a powerful set top box that can do many things.

Powerful??? I want a phone. I've said this any number of times. I
just want a phone that looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks
like a duck... or a POTS. That's not really hard to do.

The
service provider does everything for you. All you do it plug it in,
turn it on, play, and pay the price. You don't get to do anything to
the set top box programming. That's how Vonage, Ooma, and others
work. The "locked" VoIP adapter that you get is locked in the
firmware for their system. Trying to move it to a different provider
is very difficult.

Many of these services let you "bring your own equipment" in which case
this issue is moot. It's not the box that has the magic, it is in the
provider. They need to get smart. If they provide quality service then
they should be able to market it profitably. But they seem to fall
short in some ways. I guess there just isn't a lot of markup and some
folks try to take advantage... Don't know.

[1] The typical VoIP provider pays about $0.005/min to$0.008
wholesale for terminating a domestic POTS call. Typical rate
schedule:
<https://www.siptraffic.com/rates/>
If you burned 1000 minutes per month, that's a $5 to$8 cost to the
VoIP provider which they resell for $10 to$25/month. Since call
termination is only charged on outgoing calls, most providers offer
large amounts of free incoming minutes.

Wallmart is vending Clearcall for someone, maybe Vonage. Sounds good at
$10 a month for unlimited, but I've read they aren't good at some aspect, don't remember what it was. Free setup including 911. Oh yeah, no business use, including home businesses... that leaves me out if I want to follow the rules. I bet they only care if you make a lot of calls or use a *lot* of air time... well, wire time or whatever it would be... lol Oh, they also charge taxes and "mandated Government fees" but don't say how much they are. I find that is usually a rip off where they are passing *their* taxes on to the user and claim that the Government requires them to do that. I was even told that lie by AT&T when I used them for long distance. I called the FCC and was told it was *their* tax to pay and it was being passed on to me, not that the FCC required them to collect it from the customers. Now they word it differently. R rickman Jan 1, 1970 0 I've never tried it, mostly because I'm not in 2 places at one time. Since the call is NOT going through the Future-Nine switch, but is rather SIP to SIP, there would be no charges. I kinda cheat and have static IP addresses at both ends, so a direct connection would not need a number lookup, but could also be done with DDNS. I also cheat and have one of my 4 "lines" setup for a direct SIP to SIP connection, but not between my phones. I'm sure I can make it work, even with a one line SIP phone. Measure the jitter, especially when there's lots of traffic. Setup QoS. Then play. Yeah well, I don't know how to do that. I'm sure it is simple once you learn what tools are available and where to find them, but that is info I don't have. But like I said, a friend has brought her phone here and used it for hours on two occasions. Isn't the proof of the pudding in the eating? Run traceroute to see who provides his backhaul. I do radio links and they can have rather severe packet loss if there is interference present. You won't see it at the MAC or IP layers because the radios retransmit lost packets. However, you'll see it as erratic changes in latency, which shows up as jitter. Run a continuous ping test to your gateway router over the wireless link using a better resolution ping than what MS provides, such as: <http://www.kwakkelflap.com/fping.html> If you see wide variations in latency and/or lost packets, you have jitter. I've done much the same thing with my computer consulting biz. Every year, I would make a list of my customers, in order of revenue generated and how high they raised my blood pressure. I would then sort them to determine which customers were the most aggravating and least profitable. They were asked to go find someone else to do their work. After 30 years of filtering, I have a fairly reliable customer base. (The only problem is that everyone is getting older and retiring). Yep and there's a reason for that. With the PSTN (public switched telephone network), all you have to do is dial the phone number, and the call goes through. Everything in between is handled by Ma Bell. The most complicated thing you'll run into is dialing a 1 for long distance and area codes. The various VoIP networks are NOT part of the PSTN. You may understand the technology, but you clearly don't get people. I want a phone. A phone is a simple to use device no matter what the technology is. It could be a phone going over a$100 million satellite
connection, but that doesn't mean I should need to know orbital
mechanics. I just need to know the phone number I want to dial.

This is for good
reason as the major cost savings in using VoIP are to *NOT* go through
the PSTN. In order to do that, you need to know how the call is
routed, how to dial, and possibly some diagnostics. If you don't want
to do all that, then just get a full service VoIP provider with
support, and let them deal with it for you.

No, *I don't* need to know all of that. I need to find a company that
knows how it all works and they just *make it happen*. Even the POTS
has become very complex over the last few decades. At one time it was
referred to as the largest distributed computer system in the world. I
don't need to program to use a phone though.

I thought I was asking about getting VOIP phone service. I just want to
find one that is low cost and still workable. I keep reading about how
poor most of the low cost providers are.

(Last time I checked, this is still a technical newsgroup).

Sigh. I'm disappointed.

In what, the fact that I don't want to have to learn more engineering
stuff to use a telephone? I would be the same way with computers but
that isn't remotely practical. But even they are getting better.

Sure. I was assuming that you wanted something "Low Cost" as
described in your Subject line. You don't get full service and
support along with low cost. If you want "Low Cost", you have to do
much of the work yourself.

There are different meanings to "low cost". I don't want to pay $35 a month to Vonage. Something like the$10 a month for BasicTalk would be
better if it worked well and I could actually find out what it costs.

To make outgoing calls, your SIP phone will need a dial plan. Here's
mine:
(*xx|[3469]11|0|00|[2-9]xxxxxx|1xxx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|xxxxxxxxxxxx.)
Note the general lack of an intuitive structure.

LOL! How do you punch the special chars into your phone?

You don't.

Exactly. So I don't need to know about it.

It's part of the programming (provisioning) of the phone.
I spend quite a bit of time tinkering with the dial plan, so I've
gotten to know it quite well. Trick, such as a password for long
distance, are easy. However, the first time I saw one, I knew that it
was going to be an uphill battle. More:

Definitely not. Future-Nine is cheap and reasonably reliable. They
are not for users that need tech support, setup help, hand holding,
and troubleshooting assistance. What you gain by rolling your own
VoIP device are features, versatility, control, and low cost. If
these are not worthwhile and a simple POTS replacement will suffice,
any of the full service providers should suffice.

Yeah, well that excludes some 90% of the potential customers. Very few
people have enough experience with VOIP to set up a complex system, much
less the interest.

I was doing quite a bit of hacking the first year or so while I was
learning how it worked. I haven't done much more than minor tweaks in
the last 2 years or so. Most of what I do is setup other peoples VoIP
systems for them. If your expectations do not go beyond a POTS
replacement, you won't need to do much hacking. If you are going to
use any of the admittedly complex features, some tinkering will be
required.

What features are there? I guess I don't know what I don't know. What
am I missing?

I need a phone replacement, that's all. The cell service here is poor
and I am spending more on minutes that I would like. Like I've said
before, combine that with the office landline I barely use because I"m
not in the office a lot and a VOIP sounds like a good solution. Cheap
calls and a portable phone that works anywhere I can get an Internet
connection. So far Callcentric sounds like the best for me, but I still
have questions they haven't answered very well, like the 911 fees.

D

Don Y

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi Rick,

But like I said, a friend has brought her phone here and used it for
hours on two occasions. Isn't the proof of the pudding in the eating?

it will work, right?
No, *I don't* need to know all of that. I need to find a company that
knows how it all works and they just *make it happen*. Even the POTS
has become very complex over the last few decades. At one time it was
referred to as the largest distributed computer system in the world. I
don't need to program to use a phone though.

You're missing the point.

You can run MSWindows -- paying MS for a license to use the OS.
You can then *buy* an email program (if you don't like MSOutlook).
And, *buy* a compiler (if you write code).
And, *buy* a schematic capture/PCB layout system.

And, all these things will just work "out of the box" (or, will
at least *claim* to do so!). And, you'll have someone to hold
your hand when things don't work (at least for some initial
period of time)

Between hardware and software, you can *easily* spend $10K,$20K
or more on a single workstation!

Or, you could install any one of several FREE OS's. And, a *free*

But, there's a *catch*! Going the FREE route requires you to
understand a bit more about how things work. You may have
to do some custom configuration to make things run the way you
want them to. You may have to install a "window manager"
instead of relying on whatever MS has. You may have to go
hunting through support forums to see if someone has already

The flip-side of this "catch" is that you can do things that
MS hasn't even *considered*, yet!

You have to decide how much you want to do in return for what
you want to *gain* (whether that is money saved on monthly
charges or features implemented that wouldn't be available
otherwise or "not having to understand how things work").

If you want "no hassles", someone to hold your hand and answer
the phone when you have a problem, you *pay* for that convenience.

As you *should*!

R

rickman

Jan 1, 1970
0
I've been using two, for various purposes. I have an "outbound only,
pay by-the-minute as you go" account with Future Nine which we use for
most of our non-local calling (US and international). Outbound rates
in the US are on the order of a penny a minute. I can hit this one
via my Asterisk server (e.g. from home or when roving with my iPad),
and one of my devices has a second set of credentials which can access
and use it directly if I don't want to route the call through my home
system.

A couple of years ago I switched my wife's low-usage business number
over from a landline, to a VoIP DID from Vitelity. Porting the number
was straightforward. I chose the "flat fee per month for the DID,
plus cost-per-minute as actually used", prepaid. We pay (I think)
$1.50/month for the line,$1.50 for a local directory listing, and 1.2
cents per minute for inbound calls. She gets so few/short calls that
I'm not sure they've ever bothered to bill us for the minutes used

Both of these services have worked well... not perfectly, but quite
well. Probably better audio quality and reliability than most
cellphone connections.

I've seen recommendations for CallCentric but haven't dealt with them
myself.

As I understand it, land-line and cellphone and VoIP providers are all
required by the FCC to allow you to port *out* most phone numbers to
another carrier. They are not required to let you port *in* a number
from another carrier. Some may refuse to do so entirely; others will
accept port-in if your number is in a rate center they already
service, but may not accept a port-in for a number located outside of
their primary service areas.

Some VoIP providers accept only fixed termination points (i.e. you
need to have a fixed, static IP address) to terminate your DID.
Others use a standard SIP credential system, so your phone "registers"
with their server when it comes on-line. It's usually possible to
have two or more devices/endpoints register on a single account,
although in some cases only one of them will "ring" on inbound calls.
Depends on the provider.

I haven't seen any providers whose E911 provisioning will
*automatically* update when your endpoint moves around. Some
(e.g. Vitelity) let you update the E911 info yourself through a user
portal or control panel.

Some VoIP providers push (or insist upon) "package" plans... e.g. a
single DID, with a fairly large bundle of inbound and outbound
minutes. They sometimes include unlimited "free" minutes for calls
made to other subscribers on their own network. These plans sometimes
aren't a lot cheaper than a landline.

Most of them also support unbundled service offerings, where you pay
separately for a DID, minutes in, minutes out, E911, and directory
listing. These plans may be a much better deal if you have light

Hope this helps!

Yes, more perspectives help. The static IP address is a point I hadn't
considered. I think in my contact with Callcentric I mentioned to them
how I was planning to use the phone and they didn't say it would be a
problem.

R

rickman

Jan 1, 1970
0
Looking at it sideways, i use Comcast with voice; looks and acts like a
Bell wired system - but reality is VOIP.
About $65/mo with lowest tier internet and no nationwide (to keep costs down); supports E911, might be able to port a number. I don't have the option of using Comcast as they don't service this area. Cell data connections don't work reliably here either. In fact, my options for digital connectivity were limited to satellite and dial-up with a friend on satellite explaining that there isn't a lot of difference sometimes. Until... someone who provides Internet off of towers, not cell towers, but dedicated links. He uses a device in the 900 MHz band according to the info I found on it. Initially it didn't do so well, but after a couple of weeks I have no complaints. But you gave me an idea. I need to ask my provider if they offer any sort of VOIP service. Who knows...? They are small, but maybe he is "connected". R rickman Jan 1, 1970 0 My advice: If you need this for business, don't switch. Aside from technical issues with VoIP I've seen cases where phone numbers could not be reached with calling cards anymore after they switched. There is no free lunch. The phone system as we know it when any number could reach any other number no matter what seems to be beginning to unravel. I don't think you understand my situation. I am seldom in the office (there). I spend significant time here where cell coverage is poor which makes the cell phone hard to use. Even if the call isn't dropped, I have to stand on one side of the house and get lots of garbled words with me replying (like a Dave Barry joke) "What? What?" I've learned that most people, when you ask, "What?" will reply with a newly worked version of what they said when all I needed was to hear that one word that was garbled. Its like returning a book to the store because one page was smudged and they want to have the author rewrite the ending. So keeping the landline until now was just so I didn't lose the phone number. In reality having that line in the office isn't that important. But if I can drag that phone connection around with me and it becomes much more useful again. Ideally it should have the same clarity as the land line. That shouldn't be too much to ask... is it? R Robert Baer Jan 1, 1970 0 Joerg said: My advice: If you need this for business, don't switch. Aside from technical issues with VoIP I've seen cases where phone numbers could not be reached with calling cards anymore after they switched. There is no free lunch. The phone system as we know it when any number could reach any other number no matter what seems to be beginning to unravel. My calling card still works fine; no apparent restrictions. F Fred Abse Jan 1, 1970 0 When we bought our first house, the back yard (all 400 square feet of it!) was bare, so we decided to plant grass. Using an old rake, we started trying to at least 'rough up' the surface, since it was hard baked clay. Back in the middle of area, we hit a piece of old wire that didn't want to come up. Get out the shove, go down about three inches, hit what looks like plaster or cement! Start digging around, and about an hour later we had a two foot deep hole around three feet wide and a trash can full of construction debris. We planted our lime tree there! So as to grow your own cement? J Joerg Jan 1, 1970 0 Don said: Hi Joerg, I don't think you understand the *scale* of what I am doing. :> How many "codes" are there to control a TV? Volume up Volume down SAP on/off CC on/off Mute/Unmute channel up channel down previous channel channel N select DVD input pause resume power on/off tint up/down PIP on/off PIP swap freeze video balance left/right/front/back treble/bass up/down Boiling that down to what we really need, we have: Power on-off Channel up Channel down HDMI Volume up Volum down Just curious: Was the need to adjust tint a remnant of the old NTSC day, pre-70's when TV sets didn't have a lot of smarts? What about your "stereo"? select tuner/CD/iPod/stream select channel/program select artist/album/track (which artist is #5?) volume up/down tone controls pause track forward/backward fast forward/backward return to top loop/shuffle/random We use: Power on-off Volume up Volume down It's "rusted in place" on a country station. How do you tell the TV to route the live video feed from the front door onto the screen and pause <whatever> video source you are watching? Our system routes the currently playing movie everywhere, on a UHF channel. And our TV can't pause. How do you ask the phone system if there have been any messages? Either from the keypad of a phone while on the road or I walk over to the answering machine. It's good to get some exercise How do you command it to play them? Preserve/erase them? Leave an outgoing message for a *particular* caller? We don't need to do any of that. If a message is importnat we write it down and then hit reset. Ditto for the doorbell -- any visitors? How do you command the system to replay the video/audio footage of their presence *at* the door? Why would I want to do that? To see their faces when a big dog stick his head into the window frame? What's the code to tell the washing machine that you want it to run an extra rinse cycle because the laundry detergent is too strong for your skin? Or, the dryer that it should run a gentle cycle on low heat? We tend to know that when putting the laundry into the machine and then we are at the machine's front panel Do you have to memorize which plants are on each irrigation zone? How do you command the system to provide some extra water to the roses? If you don't remember that it would make no difference whether you are at a keypad of a phone or at the irrigation controller. I installed it but it's my wife who knows what's on which zone. How do you check the status of the garage door? And, command it closed if you find it open? By looking. How do you come up with a mnemonic device to remember these? Does your wife have to adopt the same mnemonic device? Or, do *you* assign the codes in a manner that makes sense to you and let her assign them in a manner that makes sense to her? On the X-10 and on the computer we did it together. Works. It's just *so* much easier to say what you want and let the system guide your choices. Nah, not to me. Which button is "roses"? Or, "garage"? You can have the menu announce it, or just remember it. I can remember numbers fairly easily and so can my wife. When I had an excruciating toothache on a Saturday my wife instantly recited the dentist's emergency home phone number, from memory. We hadn't used that in years. Same for the various nursing homes we visit as volunteers. You can't write down the codes because an Alzheimer's resident might find it and wander off. We memorize them. Remembering words is more difficult. But that may also be because we switch between languages a lot. In the case of home automation, I guess that live person would be what -- a butler?? :> That's the problem, we don't have a butler. So I prefer numbers. It's much faster. I didn't say you were doing it into a phone. Only when you are trying to *access* the system remotely *via* a phone! Why should I have to carry a phone around when I'm home? So how does it work? You holler at the ceiling where there is a microphone? Our dogs would probably think "Now they are really off their rockers" But you don't have to do that! :> My current plans allow for the use of a BT headset within the house/yard (because dealing with ambient noise in speech recognition is too much for me to tackle). ... I don't like to run around with one of those micro-Zeppelins stuck to my ear. ... In certain areas (e.g., shower), an "open mic" performs the same function (though when in the shower, you wouldn't be likely to say "water the roses" -- though you might say, "tell me who's calling on the phone"); voice over a telephone connection; "buttons/icons" over an internet connection or from one of the four "control panels" inside the house; and buttons/voice when accessed via "wireless terminals" around the house. And then the soap slips out of your hand, you want to pick it up, some pain shoots up from the sciatica ... "S..T!" ... "Honey, I heard that. Didn't we agree not to use those words anymore?" In each case, the interface is tied to the location in which it is operated and the "device" implementing it. E.g., *your* BT earpiece is configured differently from mine and each varies depending on where we are located when we issue commands. E.g., "channel up" wouldn't apply to a TV if there wasn't a TV in the room. But, it *would* apply to a stereo located therein! (OTOH, it wouldn't be recognized at all if you were in the back yard!) Well, but sometimes we sit in the backyard and watch a movie. And I'd like to be able to hit the pause button if one of us needs a fresh beer J Joerg Jan 1, 1970 0 Jeff said: We've been through this before. No need for me to rant about it again. However, I have a new horror story. Another office in the building switched to ADSL2+ and 8x8 VoIP service (4 lines) using Polycom hardware. They were complaining about garbled audio. Since they had a service contract with various vendors, I had to get permission and passwords before I could do any investigating. In talking with the IT people, I was rather impressed with their competence. That changed as soon as I dived in. What I found was: 1. The router was an antique from the stone age and could barely operate at speed (8 Mbits/sec down, 1 Mbit/sec up). However, it did have all the necessary features. 2. The router had SPI (stateful packet inspection) enabled, which tends to produce out of order packets. Running a jitter test confirmed the problem. Turning off SPI solved it, but I think a new router would be a better fix. 3. The service was allegedly configured for Annex A, but the modem (Speedstream 4100) said otherwise. 4. Nobody had bothered to reserve any bandwidth for VoIP packets. QoS was turned off. SIP protocol was not the highest priority. 5. The company was using Dropbox on all machines, carrying about 1.5 Gigabloats of data. However, someone had turned off local delivery resulting in everything going out via the internet, to the Dropbox server, and back again to the individual machines. Although I would have preferred to only enable Dropbox during the late evening, enabling local delivery was a big help. 6. All of the machines were capable of doing gigabit ethernet, yet they only had a 10/100baseT switch. I added an 8 port gigabit switch to the existing 24 port switch, moving the high traffic machines to the faster LAN. 7. The fairly new Seagate NAS box was in the last stages of HD meltdown and was slowing everyone down. The problem was that it was generating large numbers of retransmissions resulting in copious traffic, but little thruput. Wireshark capture was disgusting. The device had the good sense to die before I could rip it out and warranty it across the room. I went on vacation before I could fix everything, but at this time, the VoIP is working and nobody is complaining. Please do NOT assume that everything is just wonderful and that any garble is the fault of the VoIP system or technology. VoIP is real time and therefore sensitive to a wider range of network anomalies. Everything could be working adequately and only VoIP might show problems. That what I think you saw at this company. Jeff, I know it can work. I am using VoIP myself, here, several times a week via GoToMeeting and it works 98% of the time. Not 100% like POTS but that's almost good enough. When it quits we have a POTS dial-in as well. I would never subscribe to any such service that doesn't have a POTS backup. That is why we decided against using Skype. But in the end I don't care why it doesn't work. What you described is something that sounds very complicated. With POTS or a PBX you can call ol' Leroy down the street and he'll fix it. With VoIP you have very few experts who really know this stuff well enough, as has been clearly evidenced by what you just described. Now there isn't a Jeff Liebermann in every town so a lot of folks will just never arrive at a nicely working VoIP. Because ol' Leroy doesn't know that SPI messes up VoIP. And the company IT policy may not even allow him to turn that off in the first place even if he knew. Then he'll be at wits end. It is too complicated for the situation. POTS isn't complicated, any phone service tech can fix that. Ahem... <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timing_advance> The original GSM was 35 km maximum. It can now do 120 km. Effectively, it's borrowing an extra time slot to extend the range . Rural cell sites use this feature, although it's usually disabled in dense metro areas. Same thing here: It often is not enabled. They set a cell range and you aren't supposed to use it farther than that. With CDMA you can in a pinch. You climb on a hilltop and bingo. That largely depends on the acceptance and implementation of 802.11r, fast roaming: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11r-2008> In order to preserve an IP address between the cellular and wi-fi networks, both the wi-fi and cellular routers have to be able to route the session IP address. If the IP address was delivered initially by cellular, that means the wi-fi router will need to assign a static route to the cellular router that originally handled the IP traffic. That isn't happening and is unlikely to happen in the future. What is happening is when a cellular service provider offers wi-fi, they own both the cellular and wi-fi routers, making the transition possible. Then, all we have to do is wait for smartphone vendors to support 802.11r. At this time, Apple IOS 6 supports 802.11r. But the fact is, when that transition happened a lot of calls from clients to my office went ker-clunk. They had to dial again. Did he have to crank the magneto in order to ring the operator at the other end? No, that one is in our kitchen, a Western Electric wall phone. With (disabled) crank, receiver, fully integrated notepad holder, pencil. R rickman Jan 1, 1970 0 Hi Rick, Then why not just buy whatever *she* has? You already *know* it will work, right? Two reasons. One, the issue I'm addressing is the ISP, not the VOIP provider. The point is that if my ISP works for her phone, it works for VOIP. The other is that her place is part of package, cell phone plus$10 a month gets her the VOIP phone. I don't want another cell provider.

You're missing the point.

You can run MSWindows -- paying MS for a license to use the OS.
You can then *buy* an email program (if you don't like MSOutlook).
And, *buy* a compiler (if you write code).
And, *buy* a schematic capture/PCB layout system.

And, all these things will just work "out of the box" (or, will
at least *claim* to do so!). And, you'll have someone to hold
your hand when things don't work (at least for some initial
period of time)

Or I can use open source software for all of the above and it also works
just as well. Why would I want to buy all that stuff when I can use
open source and get *better* support???

Between hardware and software, you can *easily* spend $10K,$20K
or more on a single workstation!

Or, you could install any one of several FREE OS's. And, a *free*

Yes, exactly!

But, there's a *catch*! Going the FREE route requires you to
understand a bit more about how things work.

Really? I don't need to know anything about Windows to keep it working?
You basic premise is totally flawed.

You may have
to do some custom configuration to make things run the way you
want them to. You may have to install a "window manager"
instead of relying on whatever MS has. You may have to go
hunting through support forums to see if someone has already

I'm not sure which you are talking about here, this would apply to
either opens source or commercial products.

The flip-side of this "catch" is that you can do things that
MS hasn't even *considered*, yet!

You have to decide how much you want to do in return for what
you want to *gain* (whether that is money saved on monthly
charges or features implemented that wouldn't be available
otherwise or "not having to understand how things work").

If you want "no hassles", someone to hold your hand and answer
the phone when you have a problem, you *pay* for that convenience.

As you *should*!

Yeah, if you say so. You analogy doesn't work because the premise that
you have to take on responsibility for technology working in order to
save money is fundamentally flawed. Do you build your own cars? No,
because they are best built in a large factory with highly efficient
machinery that even most companies can't afford.

Internet services are the same way. The low cost providers are selling
crude packages requiring you to "do it yourself" because the market is
not mature. A provider large enough will be able to gain economy of
scale and provide VOIP services at a decent price and quality while
still offering a package that the average consumer can appreciate and use.

Ten years ago the average user needed someone knowledgeable to set up
their network. Now if Aunt Minnie can't do it herself, she gets her
nephew or niece to do it because it's that simple.

There is no reason for VOIP software and hardware to be difficult to
setup regardless of what some may tell you. The market simply needs to
mature enough so that consumers will only accept plug and play products.
VOIP is still very much not mainstream, but that will change.

J

Joerg

Jan 1, 1970
0
rickman said:
I don't think you understand my situation. I am seldom in the office
(there). I spend significant time here where cell coverage is poor
which makes the cell phone hard to use. Even if the call isn't dropped,
I have to stand on one side of the house and get lots of garbled words
with me replying (like a Dave Barry joke) "What? What?" I've learned
that most people, when you ask, "What?" will reply with a newly worked
version of what they said when all I needed was to hear that one word
that was garbled. Its like returning a book to the store because one
page was smudged and they want to have the author rewrite the ending.

So keeping the landline until now was just so I didn't lose the phone
number. In reality having that line in the office isn't that important.
But if I can drag that phone connection around with me and it becomes
much more useful again. Ideally it should have the same clarity as the
land line. That shouldn't be too much to ask... is it?

So I assume at the "here" loation you don't have a landline, only at the
"there" location where you really don't need it. Why not move the
"there" landline to "here"? A friend of mine has it set up so it always
rings through on his cell. He can pick up either receiver, the cell or
his POTS phone. I am sure this can also be arranged with a VoIP carrier,
except that I personally wouldn't trust that technology 100%.

Running them completely parallel should not be a technical problem but
it's probably not a big enough market (for whatever reason) that the
telcos don't offer it. If you want to be able to pick up a call on a
POTS or VoIP phone and then at the spur of the moment be able to
continue the call on your cell and walk away from the house you could
possibly use a conference call service for that. But your POTS or VoIP
would need to be able to reroute the call to that conference service on
the fly.

J

Joerg

Jan 1, 1970
0
Robert said:
My calling card still works fine; no apparent restrictions.

So do mine. But there have been cases where certain numbers we no longer
reachable after they switcher to some sort of supposedly "better" deal.
It can be really bad with the 1010-numbers.

R

rickman

Jan 1, 1970
0

That link was posted before. It uses Java and I don't have Java on my
browser.

The test is easy enough. However, interpreting the results is tricky.

True. I do best with the technology, not the users of the technology.
I'm the wrong person to be discussion what you want to buy. However,
see me when it goes awry, when it costs too much, or when it blows up.

Maybe I should ask you to set me up with a provider and an adapter? Do
you understand what I want? What would you charge me to make it work?

Like I said previously, there are vendors that cater to plug-n-play
installations like yours. Ooma and Vonage are two examples.

The reviews of Ooma are not good and Vonage is overpriced for my needs
at $30 a month plus I think taxes. Why is it no one can tell you in advance what the taxes are? I recall reading some ancient Roman lament about the complexity of modern society. The price of progress is complexity and yes you do need to know how to program a phone (or have someone do it for you). Yeah, something like that. If you're going to make a proper decision as to which VoIP vendor to use, some knowledge of the technology and infrastructure would be helpful. After all, this is a technical newsgroup. However, if you're going convenience shopping, and are making your purchase decision on the basis of the price, company web site, reviews, and whether the color of the box matches your furniture, methinks you could do better. Yeah, I'm disappointed. I don't actually have a "decor" so I don't need to match any colors. Does that make you feel better? I pay$6.25/month (actually $75/year) for Future-Nine.com service. In effect, I'm NOT paying the difference between a full service provider and Future-Nine to NOT pay someone to do what I can easily do myself. That works out to about$20/month savings or $240/year savings. Yeah, but Future Nine requires you to be knowledgeable in the operation of the system and I'm not. That one in particular I can't even figure out what they charge and what I have to buy. I bet you can't either unless you read it off your statement. Their web site is horrible. I wasn't suggesting a total immersion in VoIP technology. Just some buzzwords and understanding of how things work so that you can make a proper decision. I don't think "Just some buzzwords and understanding of how things work" is sufficient for picking a vendor. My problem is the vendors don't explain their service well enough for *anyone* to know what they offer and what they charge. For example, I still don't know if I have to pay for E911 service with Callcentric after two emails from them. I told them what I was thinking of buying and asked if that required E911 activation and fees... "Regarding 911, in general, if you are using our services within the US/ Canada and have at least one service under your account (whether it is an inbound service, or an outbound service, or if you are using our services for faxing, or if you are using our services for forwarding), as per FCC/ CRTC regulation, we are required to provide you with the 911 service, as mentioned on the following FAQ (http://www.callcentric.com/faq/23/162)." Was that a yes or a no? They qualify this with "and have at least one service under your account"... what does that mean? Why would I have an account without a service? So if I get incoming calls only I still have to pay for E911 even though I can't call 911??? Probably true. However, there are a substantial number of customers that just want minimal PSTN gateway service, without committing to a bulk purchase of wholesale minutes, that will keep such small vendors alive. These customers usually know how it all works and can handle their own systems. I'm one of those as are some of my friends and competitors. Let's go through the features that I actually use on my "system". There is no need to consider your system since I won't be using anything remotely like your system. How about considering *my* system? One adapter and a POTS phone, maybe two since that seems to be a fairly standard service provided at no extra cost. 1. I have a 4 line VoIP phone in the office. Linksys SPA941. Line 1 is my Future-Nine number. Line 2 is an extension off Asterisk switch located at a customers. Line 3 is an extension off an Asterisk switch located in Israel. Line 4 is for direct SIP connections and testing. 2. As I previously mentioned, I have 3 instruments, in 3 different locations, all setup on the same phone number. When a call comes in, it rings at all 3 locations. I only pay for 1 phone number and account 3. My voice mail is delivered by email as a WAV file. 4. I maintain a blacklist of undesirable phone numbers. Nothing fancy as I just send the junk calls to voicemail and skim through them when I have time (in case I missed something important). 5. I use a SIP softphone and Skype on my laptop and smartphone. All the features that I have in my office are available on my laptop. I also carry a PAP2 ATA for travel. Getting it to work on a hotel or coffee shop system is a bit tricky, but not impossible. 6. I use DND (do not disturb) feature when ummm... I don't want to be interrupted. Push a button on the phone and everything goes to voicemail. 7. I have a system where I can record the entire phone call. This has become quite handy for finger pointing exercises and blame assignment. This is not provided by my VoIP service provider. See anything useful? Mostly no except for the three locations. I might find a use for softphone when I am not at any of my locations but am using the laptop on the internet. Resistance is futile. You will be educated (in VoIP). Not this way. I expect it will be even more painful. I've installed a few of these for such situations. If the service is poor, they will help. If the service is non-existent, it won't help: <http://www.zboost.com> <http://www.zboost.com/solutions-products/home-office/yx545.html> Yagi or panel antenna on the roof. RG-6a/u coax to the box. About 50ft indoor range. Photo of the insides: <http://802.11junk.com/jeffl/zBoost/> Wow!$400 times two. My roommate has ATT and I'm on Verizon, so we
would need nearly $1000 worth of equipment to improve the signal. I think VOIP is a better solution. Cell phone suck even when they get a good signal in my opinion. On the other hand, my roommate lives on his iPhone. D Don Y Jan 1, 1970 0 On 8/17/2013 8:14 AM, Joerg wrote: [All elided] Joerg, you obviously don't need/want an automation system. Hopefully, you will just "drop dead" (not meant in a mean-spirited way!) some day and never have to suffer with: vision loss, paralysis, stroke, tremor, or any of the other "loss of ability" that would benefit from having help performing the tasks that we all have to perform in the course of our normal days. Watching a friend being *lifted* into bed -- unable to move more and more parts of her body as ALS works its ravages on her nervous system -- makes it painfully obvious how easily and often lives are needlessly complicated by the *lack* of these sorts of "aids". Of course, when/if you find yourself in this situation, it will probably be too late for you to make any changes in your environment -- other than hiring some *human* help to perform the tasks that *could* have been performed by something far less expensive (and INVASIVE). Or, you may just grumble and wonder why no one addressed these problems, before: "Gee, it's so EASY! All you need to do is..." Good luck with that "drop dead" prospect! :> ["I want to die peacefully, in my sleep, like Grandpa. Not screaming in terror like the 42 people on the bus he was driving at the time!"] --don D Don Y Jan 1, 1970 0 So as to grow your own cement? *ooooooo* that is *so* bad that it's actually quite GOOD! D Don Y Jan 1, 1970 0 Two reasons. One, the issue I'm addressing is the ISP, not the VOIP provider. The point is that if my ISP works for her phone, it works for VOIP. The other is that her place is part of package, cell phone plus$10 a month gets her the VOIP phone. I don't want another cell provider.

Good luck! I'm outta this conversation...

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