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'[OT] VOIP Telephone service experience'
2008\01\06@182603 by Peter van Hoof

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Hi all,

I am considering switching from a  landline to a VOIP service
such as Vonage to reduce cost. I am wondering about experience
with such service, recommendations of one company or another etc.

Do the boxes typically drive  several phones at the same
time  (ringer equivalent)?

I want to run it over a Verizon DSL connection. N.E. PA.

Thanks for your time reading and responding

Peter van Hoof

2008\01\06@184622 by peter green

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Peter van Hoof wrote:
> Hi all,
>  
> I am considering switching from a  landline to a VOIP service
> such as Vonage to reduce cost. I am wondering about experience
> with such service, recommendations of one company or another etc.
>
>  
I'm in the UK so things may be somewhat different on your side of the pond

I use sipgate.co.uk , they give me an ordinary UK phone number (though
they will only give those to people who do the signup from a UK IP
address, those signing up from outside the UK get stuck with crappy 0845
or 0870 numbers). There is no subscription or charge for incoming calls
and outgoing prices are reasonable (cheaper than metered deals on
ordinary phone lines during peak hours, more expensive off peak) and
calls between sipgate users are free.

Reliability is reasonable but not brilliant there is also the
reliability of the internet connection to contend with.

In general VOIP is great for keeping a phone number as you move arround
and for making non urgent communication cheaply but I would not advise
relying on it for time-critical communication. Both the VOIP providers
and the internet services they run over tend to be far less reliable
than either traditional POTs lines or mobile phones.

As for the ability to drive multiple phones I would contact the maker of
the device you plan to use and ask. It isn't something they usually
document unfortunately. Alternatively you can use a set of cordless
phones with a single base station (this is what I do).

2008\01\06@185532 by Herbert Graf

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On Sun, 2008-01-06 at 15:25 -0800, Peter van Hoof wrote:
> Hi all,
>  
> I am considering switching from a  landline to a VOIP service
> such as Vonage to reduce cost. I am wondering about experience
> with such service, recommendations of one company or another etc.
>  
> Do the boxes typically drive  several phones at the same
> time  (ringer equivalent)?
>  
> I want to run it over a Verizon DSL connection. N.E. PA.
>  
> Thanks for your time reading and responding

When I moved to my house I didn't want to pay for a landline since I
rarely use it anyways, and I wanted to take my number with me (phone
company won't let you do that if you're changing area codes) so I got
dry DSL and vonage.

I've been extremely happy with the service. The bang for buck is
amazing. Yes, you might sometimes have minor quality issues (i.e. the
first few seconds of a call having some echo), but considering how much
I save it's a very small price to pay. The "free" features are also
nice, no paying extra for VM or CID. VMs get forwarded to any email
address you want.

Reliability has been extremely good, only time I've ever had a problem
with the vonage line was when my ISP was having problems. Even then it
wasn't much of an issue since vonage has a "fall back forwarding"
feature where if your box isn't reachable by them, they forward the call
to any number you want, in my case my cell phone.

As for driving multiple phones, I disconnected my house phone network
from the demarc and plugged the vonage box into it, no problems. I have
two cordless phones and two satellite receiver boxes that plug in to the
vonage box and have never had a problem with ringing.

As for emergencies my whole network is backed up by a UPS that seems to
run at least 12 hours after power loss, more if I swap with my reserve
UPS (and pretty much indefinitely if I plug it into my gas generator!).

TTYL

2008\01\06@185654 by Christopher Cole

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On Sun, Jan 06, 2008 at 03:25:42PM -0800, Peter van Hoof wrote:
> I am considering switching from a  landline to a VOIP service
> such as Vonage to reduce cost. I am wondering about experience
> with such service, recommendations of one company or another etc.

Peter,

I had Vonage service for about a year, and I really liked it.  Support was
good, and service was not down very often.  911 calls will connect, but
your street address does not get sent to the dispatcher, so if you are
choking on something, use your cell phone.  Their 911 setup page is a farce.

Vonage has you place their ATA between your DSL/Cable modem and your internal
router or main PC.  This caused a problem for me:  I could no longer ssh into
my home LAN from remote, as their ATA did not forward ssh packets across its
interface.  So I placed the Vonage ATA behind my home router.  This works,
but renders the QoS function in the Vonage ATA useless, as I started to hear
choppy audio whenever else in the house used the internet.  

I loaded dd-wrt onto my Linksys router, and enabled the QoS function.  I
configured the router to give premium bandwidth to the Vonage ATA that was
plugged into it, and standard bandwidth to all other devices plugged into the
router.  This worked perfectly.

About 6 months ago, I bought a Digium TDM400 card and built up an Asterisk
server in my house.  I canceled my Vonage service, which was hard to do,
because they really provided decent service.

But now, I am saving well over 50% from what I was paying Vonage... and having
a PBX in my house is pretty cool!

>  Do the boxes typically drive  several phones at the same
>  time  (ringer equivalent)?

Yes - I had my whole house (4 telephones, 2 of them were line powered)
connected to a single RJ11 port on the Vonage ATA.

Take care,
-Chris

--
| Christopher Cole, Cole Design and Development               spam_OUTcoleTakeThisOuTspamcoledd.com |
| Embedded Software Development and Electronic Design       http://coledd.com |
| Akron, Ohio, USA                                               800-518-2154 |

2008\01\06@191901 by jim

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Peter,

I have service from "Packet-8".  I am very satisfied with it.  I have
Roadrunner High Speed Internet,
so I don't know how the service will compare on your DSL line, but for
voice, it should be comparable.
As far as uptime, we've only had it go out one time and that was for just a
few minutes.  The cable company
was doing some maintenance on their lines.
We got to keep our landline number, and we still have 911 service, although
the 911 service is now routed through
a server that winds up at our local 911 response center.  Previously, Viop
customers didn't have 911 service per se.
And what they did have wasn't very reliable.  Our service is reliable.

Anyway, that's my take on the subject.  Check it out.  It's a good service.


                                                                           
           Regards,   Jim


{Original Message removed}

2008\01\06@202343 by John Ferrell

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My  internet connection is Road Runner and it is very fast download but only
100KB upload. When I used them for the telephone service It worked fine. My
Sister in law convinced us to go to Earthlink's voip to save a few bucks. It
was barely usable. It sounded fine on my end but the other end was subjected
to dropouts and fading. The tech support folks beyond belief. They informed
me that I could not have more than one phone in the house and it had to be
attached with less than 3 feet of wire to the voip modem. Further, they had
a deal with Road Runner that prohibited me from going back to Road Runner.
So, I went back to Southern Bell who by now was afraid of losing all their
business to cable & cell. They had a plan that provided unlimited long
distance for the same price as the Road Runner service I can no longer get.
The quality was poor and outages were frequent. Then AT&T reacquired the
assets of Southern Bell. Since then the phone service works as advertised,
even the answering machine part when I am on the phone. The blinker on the
phone may or may not blink as it should with a call on the answering machine
but life is too short to spend training the phone company.

There is a good reason that the cell phone has more numbers in the US than
the Landlines!


John Ferrell    W8CCW
"Life is easier if you learn to plow
      around the stumps"
http://DixieNC.US

{Original Message removed}

2008\01\07@030059 by Nate Duehr

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On Jan 6, 2008, at 4:25 PM, Peter van Hoof wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> I am considering switching from a  landline to a VOIP service
> such as Vonage to reduce cost. I am wondering about experience
> with such service, recommendations of one company or another etc.


Works, and anyone technical can understand the real limitations and  
explain them carefully to their family.  (reliability issues, 911  
issues, etc.)

I wouldn't put only VoIP service in any home where small children who  
aren't old enough to know the address or communicate it to a 911  
dispatcher, or where an elderly person lives, or anyone with serious  
medical issues.  Other than that, for the average home -- it does what  
it does, and seems to be fine for day-to-day phone service.

(Here's a nifty idea for someone to market -- make an emergency box  
that has a reasonably guarded button/switch that plays a loop of a  
recorded message.  Record a message that says an emergency button has  
been pressed by someone at X address and have this box play that to  
the phone line attached.  Market it cheaply to VoIP phone users.


> Do the boxes typically drive  several phones at the same
> time  (ringer equivalent)?


Haven't had any problems, but can't find a RE number on any of the  
ATA's I've used yet.    If you have a house with a real bell ringer in  
every room, I suppose you might have problems with ring working  
reliably but most electronic ringers are using so little power anyway...


--
Nate Duehr
.....nateKILLspamspam@spam@natetech.com



2008\01\07@080211 by Bob Axtell

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Peter van Hoof wrote:
> Hi all,
>  
> I am considering switching from a  landline to a VOIP service
> such as Vonage to reduce cost. I am wondering about experience
> with such service, recommendations of one company or another etc.
>  
> Do the boxes typically drive  several phones at the same
> time  (ringer equivalent)?
>  
> I want to run it over a Verizon DSL connection. N.E. PA.
>  
> Thanks for your time reading and responding
>  
> Peter van Hoof
>  
I used Vonage for 2 years when it was relatively new. I thought it
worked well, but my wife
complained of "fuzzy sound" when connected from Vonage to a cellphone.
So when I bought
the house my wife made me use COX. However, the home phone has become
nothing but
spam, and I had to get a unlisted number to cut that down.

Being an engineer, in my opinion: Vonage was excellent  and if  we still
have spam on the phone
I will go back to it.  On Vonage, I NEVER had a telemarketer call.

The "in" thing here in AZ is to use cellphone only, no landline at all,
but for business long distance,
the Vonage service is wonderful.

--Bob


2008\01\07@093343 by Funny NYPD

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Curious why not use skype? What's the pros and cons compare with other VOIP?

Funny N.
New Bedford, MA
http://www.AuElectronics.selfip.com



{Original Message removed}

2008\01\07@095801 by Steven Howes

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> Curious why not use skype? What's the pros and cons compare with  
> other VOIP?

It *is* the spawn of satan. A number of 'untraditional' practices.  
Really would steer clear of them for business.

2008\01\07@102140 by Herbert Graf

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On Mon, 2008-01-07 at 06:33 -0800, Funny NYPD wrote:
> Curious why not use skype? What's the pros and cons compare with other VOIP?

I regularly use Skype to call Europe, it works very well.

That said, Skype is not positioned as a landline replacement for most
people.

First off incoming phone numbers are not available in all countries.

Second, Skype is aimed at people using a computer at one end. While
there are some solutions that reduce this (i.e. WiFi phones with Skype
clients) the support for ATA type solutions is almost zero compared to
"traditional" VOIP solutions.

Third, no emergency service at all. At least with traditional VOIP
solutions 911/999/112 is usually available (and pretty much guaranteed
with the larger providers). With Skype there is no support at all.

Fourth, and probably most importantly, Skype is in my experience nowhere
near as reliable as "normal" landline replacement VOIP solutions. Note
that this is expected, Skype is targeted more towards "cheaper" then
"bulletproof". I regularly have to "try calling" at least 2 times when
using Skype Out to call Europe.

OTOH, the portability of Skype can't be beat. I've been sitting in
airports, hotels, university campsus, etc. and was able to call anyone I
wanted for VERY cheap rates.

TTYL

2008\01\07@102516 by Herbert Graf

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On Mon, 2008-01-07 at 14:57 +0000, Steven Howes wrote:
> > Curious why not use skype? What's the pros and cons compare with  
> > other VOIP?
>
> It *is* the spawn of satan. A number of 'untraditional' practices.  

What's wrong with "untraditional"? I tend to radiate towards
untraditional practices. :)

All joking aside, what specifically do you disagree with what they do?
I've heard complaints about how they use your network connection to make
money, anything else?

> Really would steer clear of them for business.

Absolutely. Their reliability is nowhere near good enough to rely on for
business purposes.

TTYL

2008\01\07@103407 by Steven Howes

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> All joking aside, what specifically do you disagree with what they do?
> I've heard complaints about how they use your network connection to  
> make
> money, anything else?


The fact that you end up relaying for other people if you are not  
behind NAT? And if you are behind NAT the chances are your traffic is  
bouncing off other peoples connections where they could easily do a  
dump of it..

S

2008\01\07@113236 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Christopher Cole wrote:

> About 6 months ago, I bought a Digium TDM400 card and built up an Asterisk
> server in my house.  I canceled my Vonage service, which was hard to do,
> because they really provided decent service.
>
> But now, I am saving well over 50% from what I was paying Vonage... and having
> a PBX in my house is pretty cool!

What service are you connecting your Asterisk server to? You still need IP
to phone system connectivity, don't you?

Gerhard

2008\01\07@114758 by Christopher Cole

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On Mon, Jan 07, 2008 at 10:59:04AM -0200, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
> What service are you connecting your Asterisk server to? You still need IP
> to phone system connectivity, don't you?

Gerhard,

Yes - I started out with NuFone, http://www.nufone.net .  After suffering
*LOTS* of service outages for several days at a time, I got connected with
Teliax, http://www.teliax.com .  Teliax has been flawless.  There are many
others out there.

The great thing about most VOIP providers (at least these two), is that they
offer a pay-as-you-go service.  The only recurring monthly fee you see is the
fee for your number ($2.50 to $5.00 USD/mo.).

Take care,
-Chris

--
| Christopher Cole, Cole Design and Development               colespamKILLspamcoledd.com |
| Embedded Software Development and Electronic Design       http://coledd.com |
| Akron, Ohio, USA                                               800-518-2154 |

2008\01\07@124537 by peter green

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Funny NYPD wrote:
> Curious why not use skype? What's the pros and cons compare with other VOIP?
>  
The big issue with skype is it is a closed system, you have to use thier
softphone or one of a handfull of licensed hardware products. It also
has a reputation for (ab)using the bandwidth of people with open
internet connections to route calls for those with less open ones.

Also even if they opened up the protocol the fact they use names not
numbers would make integrating it with a PBX tricky.

With providers based on open standards I can buy my hardware from
anywhere and I can shift providers at will. If I want I can even set up
a software PBX and do least cost routing through multiple providers and
since the protocol is a standard and the hardware and network vendors
are usually different I know it won't be (ab)using my internet
connection to route calls for others.

2008\01\07@163421 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Steven Howes wrote:

>> All joking aside, what specifically do you disagree with what they do?
>> I've heard complaints about how they use your network connection to
>> make money, anything else?
>
> The fact that you end up relaying for other people if you are not behind
> NAT?

IMO who doesn't know about NAT definitely should be behind a NAT router in
the first place, and for a business that's almost a must anyway.

> And if you are behind NAT the chances are your traffic is bouncing
> off other peoples connections where they could easily do a dump of it..

I'd say that any communication that goes over the Internet "bounces off"
other people's systems and is subject to interception. Is there any reason
to assume Skype is worse than a standard SIP provider in this respect?
Usually you don't control the route to your SIP provider, so those packets
may be "bouncing off" a number of machines, too.

WRT reliability, at least from this end of the world (Brazil), Skype is
more reliable than e.g. Broadvoice (one of the major US SIP providers).

Gerhard

2008\01\07@210034 by Rich

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I have packet 8
When the internet is down I am without telephone service.  When the electric
power is down I am without telephone service.  The power has been out
several times.  Sometimes I have to reset the modem.  Sometimes the
receiving party cannot hear me even though I can hear them and I have to
place the call again.  I would not recommend is as a main phone without a
backup, either cell or land line.


{Original Message removed}

2008\01\15@124726 by Howard Winter

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John,

On Sun, 6 Jan 2008 20:26:40 -0500, John Ferrell wrote:

> There is a good reason that the cell phone has more numbers in the US than
> the Landlines!

That's interesting - in the UK *all* phone numbers start with 0 and then have 10 digits following.  After many rounds of faffing about, the coding scheme has settled
down and you can tell what you're calling from the numbers - all mobiles start with "07", for example.

You drop the initial "0" when calling in from abroad, and personally I think this is the wrong way round.  If I'd been designing it I'd have had the 0 mean "local", so
when you're calling someone on the same exchange you dial that and the last part of the number only, shortening the number of digits overall (ie. you dial 0 and
then omit the "area code" or "exchange" as it's known here).  But they didn't ask me!  :-)

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2008\01\15@130029 by Howard Winter

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On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 06:33:18 -0800 (PST), Funny NYPD wrote:

> Curious why not use skype? What's the pros and cons compare with other VOIP?

I use Skype to speak to my girlfriend, who lives in New York.  It's remarkably liberating to have absolutely free calls, because you can just call for trivial things - to
say you're nipping out into the garden so not to call for ten minutes - something you wouldn't do if you're paying, no matter how cheap.  We only use it via our PCs,
so we're limited to one place in the house.  Cordless "Skype phones" are available, but we've never found the need for them.

The "chat window" is very handy, as you can send short notes when the other person isn't there, or URLs while you're discussing something that's on-line to show
them what you mean, and you can send files too, but we've found that it's best to discontinue the voice call while a file transfer takes place, as otherwise it's
horrendously slow.

As for reliability, I'd say it's *reasonably* reliable, but it does have its moments.  Broken or echoed sound is fairly common, and re-calling, usually in the opposite
direction, usually clears it.  It's nowhere near reliable enough to replace POTS, in my opinion, and as well as the call-quality glitches, you are adding another failure
point in the Internet link.

Cheers,




Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2008\01\15@130828 by Howard Winter

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Steven,

On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 15:33:01 +0000, Steven Howes wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Do you (or anyone else!) know if Skype would work via a VPN?  If I set one up between my and my girlfriend's LANs it would solve all of the above, and hopefully
would obviate the dropout and echo problems I get.  But how do you get it to go that way rather than out onto the "wild" internet?

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2008\01\15@132142 by Steven Howes

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>>> All joking aside, what specifically do you disagree with what they  
>>> do?
>>> I've heard complaints about how they use your network connection to
>>> make
>>> money, anything else?
>>
>>
>> The fact that you end up relaying for other people if you are not
>> behind NAT? And if you are behind NAT the chances are your traffic is
>> bouncing off other peoples connections where they could easily do a
>> dump of it..
>
> Do you (or anyone else!) know if Skype would work via a VPN?  If I  
> set one up between my and my girlfriend's LANs it would solve all of  
> the above, and hopefully
> would obviate the dropout and echo problems I get.  But how do you  
> get it to go that way rather than out onto the "wild" internet?

Depending on the VPN it runs over the 'wild' internet. It isn't really  
practical to route the traffic either :S you would be better off  
looking at another kind of voip. A sip client or something. If you had  
a vpn you wouldn't get the usual SIP/NAT issues.

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