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

Andrew Kohlsmith (mailing lists account) aklists at mixdown.ca
Sun Jul 18 21:04:07 EDT 2010

On Sunday, July 18, 2010 05:26:26 pm John Van Ostrand wrote:
> 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

Fair enough, but a backhoe taking out the copper between the CO and your office 
is going to also show how redundant your line is from Bell... Granted, once 
you're at the CO, the connections are very well managed and fully fault-
tolerant, to the point where it's mandated that the redundant links enter at 
different physical points in the building and must take different paths to the 
next hop. It's actually pretty interesting stuff, at least to a telco geek like 

> 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

I've had some personal experience in that regard... Had a DS3 MUX whose fully-
redundant switching processor modules weren't... Main one failed, backup took 
over long enough to die in a puff of smoke and to top it off UPS lost our 
OMGWTFBBQ 9am is too late overnighted delivery.  672 lines down for 48 hours 
was not a fun time. Lesson learned, though, and that's why after that we had 
replacement hardware sitting on the shelf waiting. 

Man, remembering that particular failure still gives me the screaming heebie-

> 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.

Negligent? I don't know about that... Failures DO happen and I have yet to 
meet one business who really does fully understand the costs involved and is 
prepared to pay them in order to have truly 100% failsafe backups.

> 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.

I haven't heard of anyone whose actually used the service... if you do, please 
let me know how it goes. This is exactly the same kind of facility that SCS 
Internet's building out, except that they're provider-agnostic.

> 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.

Depends on the company and what they are doing for sure.

> 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.

Oh, I did not mean to imply that the old KSU would be able to pay for the cost 
of the replacement infrastructure, although if you take a look at some of the 
prices they want for old Nortel gear you'd be amazed. The best you'd hope to 
do would be to offset some of the cost.

> 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.

I think it's two completely separate things. Sure, you can use modems and fax 
machines on POTS lines without difficulty but you are also locked into the "one 
line, one call" nature of the beast. VOIP lifts those limitations (and imposes 
other ones) so to me at least it is a matter of deciding which set of 
constraints are best for the customer.

To me it really does seem a lot like the old "horseless carriage" comparisons 
when Ford was bringing the automobile to the market. To most people the 
concept of "one line one call" is so entrenched that they have difficulty 
understanding that they can pull in multiple calls with one line without any 
problem whatsoever.

Another example: I find that it's very similar to the old KSU vs PBX mentality 
as well.  How may small offices are *so used* to having "line keys" on their 
phones that when you try to train them about their new PBX the first thing that 
confounds them is that there is no "Line 1" key... because there is no concept 
of "Line 1" anymore?

VOIP's a different beast in a familliar guise, and that causes a lot of people 
trouble. It's these kinds of expectations that people such as yourself and I 
find ourselves managing time and time again with customers who want to try 
"this VOIP thing".


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