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

Lori Paniak ldpaniak at fourpisolutions.com
Sun Jul 18 17:46:35 EDT 2010

On the whole, I agree with Andrew's comments/observations.  A few

On Sun, 2010-07-18 at 15:35 -0400, Andrew Kohlsmith (mailing lists
account) wrote:
> 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 
> bandwidth.)
> 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.

I have Bell residential DSL at home in Kitchener and have run Unlimtel
VoIP for the household phone for 2.5 years.  The WAF has been decent -
especially when I tell her the cost.  I do know of some VoIP systems
running over cable and they are not the same quality.  Transient
glitches here and there that do not appear in DSL.

> > 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).

The only unannounced DSL outage I've had in 7 years is a lightning
strike killing my modem (and several other household electronic
devices).  It took 3 days to get things back in order.  It wasn't a big
deal for two reasons:  

1) My wife and I both have cell phones.
2) Unlimitel VoIP can be configured ($5/month) to failover to a second
phone number if your ATA/server doesn't answer the phone.

Really, with so many people forgoing land lines for cell, having the
household phone disappear for a couple of days is only a minor
inconvenience.  The bigger deal is having no internet.

With a decent UPS, a DSL modem, router and ATA with  run for a very long
time through a power outage.  When was the last time your location had a
2hr+ power outage?  2003? 

For anything bigger than SOHO, you probably need to call Atria and get a
real network connection.  The advantage there is that Unlimitel voice
quality is very close to Bell.  Most quality issues arise at the other
end of the line with users on mobile phones.

> > 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.

A la carte is the way to go.  With $3.5/month for a DID from Unlimitel,
my monthly phone bill (ex. DSL) rarely breaks $10 total.  You might
think you are going to spend a lot on long distance, but at 2c/min, you
need to talk awhile to get there.  International rates are more, but
often not by much.

> > 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.
> -A.

I'd go further and say that fax over any real-time link is a waste of
precision timing - T38 or not.  I recommend fax-over/to-e-mail services
like myfax.  The only problem there is that your faxes are now
essentially email with the inherent security issues.  The point is that
faxing over VoIP suffers from the same insecurity and is much more
difficult to implement with the efficiency people expect from that kind
of utility.  Faxing over e-mail is as reliable as your e-mail.

If you really need secure faxing then you need a POTS line. And that may
be the only reason to have one.  Even alarm systems work over mobile
phone links nowadays. 

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