[kwlug-disc] OT: Roger's phone services

Andrew Kohlsmith (mailing lists account) aklists at mixdown.ca
Sun Jul 18 15:35:36 EDT 2010

On Sunday, July 18, 2010 07:41:16 am John Van Ostrand wrote:
> Use VoIP on a shared internet and have someone download an iso, how's the
> audio quality for the remote party? And that's just your last mile link. If
> you are in a bad Roger's neighbourhood that can happen when your neighbours
> get home from school.

If you are downloading an ISO, the remote party hears nothing wrong. You're 
saturating your downlink, not your uplink. (TCP ACKs and such are very low 

And yes, you are absolutely right about the "shared last mile" problem with 
cable.  That is assuming that everyone on your cable segment is playing fair 
too. The problem becomes much worse if someone's got a hacked cable modem.

(OT: this is why I prefer DSL; by the time you're sharing the pipe it's a 
managed link and fairly high bitrate.)

> Then a little fluctuation in any one of the many hops between you and your
> ITSP and you've got some echo to deal with. Sure it's rare but more common
> than POTS.

Again you are correct, but it is one of the reasons I make sure that my ITSP 
and my DSL connection are very close (network wise) -- in my case, Unlimitel 
is within a few =hops from my gateway and they're all nice fast GigE links. 
(generally around 8ms RTT.) Yes, you can get dropouts even like this, but they 
are rare.

> Then consider time to repair. If a business line goes down the ttr for it
> is 4 hours from bell. DSL is 2 days. Some business can weather a 4 hour,
> but 2 days would be far worse.

> Then look at all the things that have to work for a VoIP line to function
> compared to a POTS line and consider what the difference in MTTR is. Sure
> all the POTS equipment is there except its located at a CO, but they do
> achieve better reliability that us computer guys.

These are both valid points, but I would counter that the way I tend to set up 
customers minimizes both of these risks:

1) Customer always has 1 hardline (they usually have one already for fax or 
security system)
2) DSL attached to the hardline
3) VOIP provider configured to call hardline if VOIP down

The mainline is set to the VOIP DID; if the link is down, the provider fails 
over to the hardline. This allows the company to still have a phone and "limp" 
until the service is restored. Not ideal, but better than no phones at all.

When DSL has gone down, I've never had 2 day outages, but the company must be 
made aware that this is a possibility. I'm not aware of any way to get a 
better SLA, but I'm sure that as this mode of operation becomes more popular 
that it would be possible to obtain this (for additional cost, yes, but it's 
also benefiting your internet connection, which is also important).

> Now for the cost. Consider a small office with 4 lines. They keep 1 POTS
> line for backup and perhaps one for fax. To ensure audio quality you buy a
> DSL from your ITSP for $70 (or tell me where to buy $50 links) and you're
> back up to the same $140 or so in "line" costs. But you'll save a little on
> long distance, most of which you could do by switching long distance
> carriers.

Acanac has business internet for $30/mo for the first year right now. Normal 
cost is $53/mo if a year is paid in advance. However if you're talking about 
small businesses I'm sure you're not putting in business internet, and that's 
$34/mo if paid a year in advance.

Teksavvy is $40/mo for residential (couldn't find business quickly on their 

SCS Internet (run by a friend of mine) has the same DSL service as these guys 
and is $50/mo, also with no caps.  I've been working with him to provide "head 
end" QoS so that your link won't get flooded even when torrenting.

Why would you pay Bell/Telus rates? The level of service is no better (and in 
terms of being able to get a hold of someone, sometimes much worse) and they 
cap their transfers on top of that.

A small office needing four lines wouldn't be a home office, so I'd be looking at 
alternatives for DSL as well... Fibernetics, Atria... someone you'd get a 
decent SLA with and who would be giving you more than 800k upstream. Hell if 
you're in a small office building maybe you can combine costs with your 
neighbours on a faster, bigger pipe. Even at the same $140 though, you have 
far more flexibility in concurrent calls and features, so I'd say that VOIP is 
the winning option.

> Now calculate the payback on replacing the perfectly good old PBX. They can
> only really justify it for the new features, or if their old PBX needed
> replacing anyway.

Agreed; if you're not going to replace the PBX you're just asking for pain. 
I've done a lot of work in this respect but in the end it's nothing but a 
hack. Throw your old PBX up on eBay and get what you can for it, but don't try 
to keep it.  Now you're looking at buying an asterisk appliance or ATA for 
managed VOIP, and the phones themselves aren't cheap either.  Most offices have 
a UPS per computer though, so no need for PoE infrastructure.

There are certainly some up-front costs involved in either a standard PBX or a 
VOIP PBX. You save in one area with option A, but you save in other areas with 
option B... Isn't engineering fun?  :-)

> As for a consumer buying VoIP service, they are not buying the $2.50 a la
> carte unlimitel service, they are buying the $25/month package that
> includes unlimited local calls,  but higher long distance, and support for
> customer premise hardware. In fact I checked a while ago and can't find
> that package at unlimitel any more.

I disagree; why would the home user buy the $25/mo package? Go a la carte and 
your monthly bills will be under the $25/mo package price... unless you talk a 
lot. I know my monthly a la carte bills are under $10, and that's with paying 
per-minute for both incoming and outgoing calls.

Packages are a bit of a fool's errand... they give you a fixed cost but you pay 
for that convenience.

> To prove one point try to run a POTS fax or modem over VoIP. It only works
> with the most consistent connections. It works most of the time with POTS
> and most of the time it doesn't with VoIP.

Modem over VOIP is definitely a bad idea.  Faxing over VOIP is very easy though 
as long as you're using a provider that is T.38 capable (and your ATA also is) 
-- Faxing over VOIP any other way is just an invitation for pain and suffering.

This again, though, is part of my "fly by night" and "saving pennies" 
condition. A $60 SPA2102 does T.38. Any decent VOIP provider has T.38 
gateways. There isn't any reason to try and do faxing over straight G.711 VOIP 
links. Credit/debit card processing equipment with ethernet lines are only 
marginally more expensive than the modem variety.


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