[kwlug-disc] UBB, VOIP, and my wallet

John Van Ostrand john at netdirect.ca
Mon Jan 31 15:55:32 EST 2011

----- Original Message -----
> I've been crunching the numbers with this UBB thing, and it looks like
> my bill will be going from $40 to $56 to keep the status quo. Not a
> nice change. I've been looking where I can cut back, and I can't see
> myself using less bandwidth. Now that we've got netflix, I can easily
> see us using more.
> That leaves non-internet places to cut back, the big one being my
> landline. I'd like to switch to Unlimitel, but am stuck in that "It's
> new and scary" phase (and wishing I didn't daydream during all those
> presentations Lori did). I've got a few questions:

Don't be too scared. With one hour of usage per month you don't have to be too worried about call quality.
> - What kinds of costs do people usually see? I usually talk on the
> phone for maybe an hour or two in a month, total. At $3.50 for the
> number and 1¢/min, I get 650 minutes per month at $10, way more than I
> expect to use. Assuming $10 will give me $20 savings over what I pay
> with now with Bell. ($40 with Bell, but $10 for new dry-loop DSL
> charges).

My usage is way down. Everyone has cell phones so we don't really too much on the VoIP phone. The teenagers don't call any more it's all texting now.
> - Is Trixbox still the way to go?

It's one option and a good one if you intend on using a typical PC. It's a CentOS distro with asterisk and lots of add-ons. It may be overkill for a simple phone line.

There are distros designed more for flash devices. I don't remember the names off hand.

Since low-power was a recent thread you could consider a Cisco (nee LinkSys, nee Sipura) ATA. You need a model with an FXS port (to connect to phones). Once your phone number has been ported to Unlimitel you would disconnect your home wiring from the telco and plug the FXS port into one of your wall outlets. Then connect an answering machine and you have a conventional phone service with call waiting and caller id.

If you want a voice menu to thwart marketing calls (call 886-4748 for an example) or offer more features like voice mail to email you could put asterisk on a home router using OpenWRT. That's a little tricky I suspect.

> - Where does one get the adapters to use a regular phone? I think
> network-devices would be best, so I could set up my VOIP machine on a
> VM.

You are looking for an VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) and you need one with an FXS port (to connect to a phone).

I picked up a Sipura 3??2 (or something like that) at a linux fest for $10 used. I suspect you could find a used on ebay. Sipura was bought by LinkSys which was bought by Cisco. Expect to pay about $100 new.

There is an asterisk user group in Toronto called TAUG with a low volume mailing list. It could help you out too.

The traps that you'll find is that when you are doing a heavy upload or download voice quality may suffer. If you are uploading the remote caller will have trouble hearing your voice. On download it will be hard to hear them. Stop the download and it goes back to normal.

This can be overcome by using traffic shaping on your firewall and on the ISP service. Don't expect many ISPs to offer VoIP traffic shaping though. Unlimitel does and I imagine Packetworks may.

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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