voip and wireless15 Dec 2009 09:14 am

Rumors of a Google-branded phone have been floating around for a while.  This article is interesting: http://www.androidguys.com/2009/12/14/reuters-nexus-one-available-directly-through-google-website-january-5/

What I like is the possibility of using a data-only plan from your cell phone carrier.  Voice is only data after all, and SMS is just an inferior (?) and expensive version of XMPP.

Oh, and it rumored to be cheap, just $199, unlocked, no contract!

We’ll see, but my N95 is getting oooooooooold.

voip24 Nov 2009 05:33 pm

Last month, we switched to VOIP.  Our VOIP provider is voip.ms, and we use an Analog Telephony Adapter (ATA) to connect our existing phones to our VOIP provider.

As expected, our phone bill is slightly less than $10/month.  It includes every calling feature that I know of (call display, call waiting, voice mail, call forwarding, caller ID filtering, …)

One issue we’ve had is with the ATA: when talking to high-pitched people, we heard touch tone beeps, and it could be very disruptive.  Apparently this is called DTMF talk-off.  It is not the VOIP provider’s fault, it is our equipment that’s causing the problem.  Here are the proposed fixes I found on the web and the results:

  • use the g711 codec: did that, problem persists
  • upgrade the firmware on the ATA: done, and no effect
  • Set the DTMF transmission method to INBAND: did that, problem persists
  • Set “DTMF Process INFO” and “DTMF Process AVT” to OFF: problem solved!!!!! … hopefully (still too early to tell)

We still use our answering machine (we can be both high-tech and retro), but it’s possible that the last 2 items would interfere with IVR services such as voicemail if we used them.

While it’s still too early to tell, the service so far has been more reliable than the service we used to get from a certain telephone company – the telephone lines in our neighborhood are in a state of complete disrepair, I’m fairly certain that everybody on our street switched to cable or cell phones – I don’t see their repair truck anymore, but their decrepit infrastructure is still in shambles.

In the event of a power outage, we would have to rely on our cell phones to make calls.  I looked into  getting an uninterruptible power supply, but it would get us less than 1 hour of service – the wave generator, which converts DC to AC, seems to be extremely wasteful.  My best bet would be to get one 5V battery (for the router and ATA) and one 12V battery (for the cable modem) and connect the batteries directly to the devices, thus skipping the wasteful conversion: DC to AC and then AC to DC again.

In fact here’s a product idea: an uninterruptible power supply that provides DC power: no AC output, it should instead have several output cables with interchangeable tips to connect to various equipment.  It could probably be quite small and use lithium or NiMH batteries; I don’t think it would require a huge lead-acid battery.  I would buy two: one that’s 5V, another that’s 12V, unless you can combine that into one unit.

EDIT: Nope, we still get touch tone beeps.  The solution would be to get a better ATA, or a get pure SIP phone, no analog conversion.  Based on the information I found, setting “DTMF transmission method” to INBAND should completely stop the ATA from trying to interpret any sounds as DTMF tones; either this information is incorrect or the ATA does not support INBAND (other than displaying it in the web interface.)  As a last resort, I unplugged the ATA and plugged in back in, perhaps then the setting will finally be in effect.  I also set all the fax-related stuff to disabled, in case those aren’t DTMF beeps but some sort of stupid FAX-related functionality.  But we all know it won’t work.

voip07 Nov 2009 06:04 am

I just added a caller ID filter: filter out anonymous calls at night. Eventually they may get filtered all the time.

I’m very disappointed by the people who respond to the ads and thereby finance more telemarketing.   It’s like people who feed seagulls and pigeons, do they feed rats too?

voip09 Oct 2009 05:06 pm

Enough of the silly $40/month phone bills. We stitched to a real SIP VOIP telephone service.

We’ll be paying about $10/month. I got an analog telephony adapter (ATA), which connects to our VOIP provider (no need for anything complicated like Asterisk for now.)  The ATA is the only new piece of equipment we needed (we already had a router – any router will do fine.)

It’s still too early to say whether or not this was a good idea.  The sound quality seems to be the same as always.

voip03 Sep 2009 07:54 am

I’m considering switching our residential phone service to VOIP.  We’re currently paying close to $40/month; which includes a network access fee that was cleverly concealed from us until the first bill.  I’ve estimated that our bill would come down to about $10/month.

Our existing service is provided by our cable provider, and although it is VOIP, it has arbitrary restrictions and costs that makes it more similar to a typical analog landline.

Benefits would be:

  • lower cost
  • unlimited call blocking (no limit on the number of blocked numbers)
  • multiple phone numbers, in different area codes
  • can be used away from home, using VOIP software on a computer or a cell phone (Fring seems to do this.) This would translate in a 95% drop in long-distance rates on my cell phone

In theory, all you need is:

  1. a router on which you can install OpenWRT and Asterisk
  2. a SIP VOIP service subscription
  3. an IP telephone or an analog telephone adapter

… and ideally some sort of battery back-up.