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

John Van Ostrand john at netdirect.ca
Sun Jul 18 17:26:26 EDT 2010

----- Original Message -----
> 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 bandwidth.)

Lesson learned, don't respond to email before fully waking up.

> 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.

There was a time when ITSPs did not do "forward on no-registration". Also the nature of ITSPs is often such that they fail to have as much redundancy as conventional Telcos. As much as I like Unlimitel they've had many, many hours where incoming calls were not reaching Unlimitel. Their redundant T1 links turned out not to be as redundant as they thought and were dig up by one excavator. In that case it didn't matter if you subscribed to Unlimitel's forward service, you didn't get your calls. We would have been negligent to our customers to provide a better alternative (i.e. forward a POTS line to unlimitel) in the wake of those failures.

One can point to the excavator in Oakville that took out southwestern Ontario, but a company can better understand an event that affects all the major telcos, rather than just one, or a few, small players.
> 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).

To get a better SLA one uses a T1, T3 or some other managed bandwidth solution, and pay heavily for it. This also allows you to manage your VoIP traffic exactly as needed to ensure quality. It's just too expensive for everyone.

> 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 site).
> 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.

Thanks for the referrals.
> 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.

We generally don't pick the DSL for customers, they do. We are experimenting with unlimitel DSL as a way to provide a direct IP connection for VoIP. We expect it should make for very good quality VoIP connections since Unlimitel shapes the download traffic for VoIP.

> 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.

Yup, we have Atria and our VoIP is great, but I can't see asking a customer with four phone lines to purchase a $400 (or more) Internet connection any pay huge provisioning costs to replace four $35 phone lines and a $70 DSL connection. Medium sized offices with a dozen phone lines often do just well on DSL for Internet so it's hard to justify the extra cost. So an office with 4 lines probably doesn't either. Believe me when I say we try a lot to convince customers to get better Internet, it rarely works.

> 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? :-)

I just can't believe that a used 8x4 PBX with phones can get enough on eBay to pay for an Asterisk server and the consulting to do all this work.
> 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.

I'm totally with you on the fact that a $2.50/month DID and $0.011/minute costs are a better deal. One thousand minutes a month is a lot for our house so $13.50/month works for me. But it only works for me because when there is a problem I understand it and address it right away. Not only that I can set up the device myself, test and plug it into my house wiring. This is something that would rule out this solution for most non-technical people and many technical people. The original poster wrote "I've always found cheaper does not mean better." I took that to mean he didn't want the do-it-yourself option. Looking back I could be wrong on that. 

> 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.

My point about the fax was not that an alternative to POTS didn't exist, but rather that it's an example of how the quality of VoIP audio (over unmanaged Internet) is not sufficient to support faxes or modems. 

John Van Ostrand 
CTO, co-CEO 
Net Direct Inc. 
564 Weber St. N. Unit 12, Waterloo, ON N2L 5C6 
Ph: 866-883-1172 x5102 
Fx: 519-883-8533 

Linux Solutions / IBM Hardware 

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