[kwlug-disc] VOIP and DirectDetect

Jason Locklin locklin.jason at gmail.com
Thu May 5 09:48:01 EDT 2011

I posted to this list about a year ago that I had purchased a new home
and due to an odd bylaw, I was required to have the Kitchener/Waterloo's
DirectDetect system installed due to my distance from the fire
department. DirectDetect is an automated fire alarm that calls the fire
( http://www.kitchener.ca/en/livinginkitchener/directdetect.asp ). The
fire department told us that VOIP would not work with the system and we
had to have either Bell or Rogers home phones (yes, that's right, a
condition of occupancy in my house, set by the city, was to have Bell or
Rogers!). Anyway, my builder purchased Rogers for us for a year to shut
me up :-)

Now a year later, I decided that I'm not paying for a $40-50 phone that
goes down at least once a week and I have no control over (that and VOIP
is cool). I set up my SPA-2102 ATA (directly connected to my provider as
my asterisk server is now dead). DirectDetect didn't work of course. A
technician came and reported that he couldn't "maintain a connection."
They told my wife that VOIP is too low quality to work, and when my wife
said it was cheaper, they said "well, you get what you pay for." These
people have serious attitude. Anyway, I finally managed to schedule a
technician to come while I was home so that I could troubleshoot my

It turns out the DirectDetect system was dialling in pulse. The
technician changed it to dial in touch tone (DTMF) and it worked just
fine. The system dials, then once connected, sends a simple DTMF code,
waits for a DTMF code in response, and hangs up. I was worried it would
be using FSK'ing like a fax machine or modem, but it's just sending
simple tones. If you can call a business and dial someone's extensions,
this system should work with your phone. 

Sorry for the somewhat off-topic rant, but I just can't believe how much
of a hassle this has been and I thought the VOIP people here might be
interested in how difficult the city is making VOIP for some residents.
If anyone has this system and is considering VOIP, you can reassure them
that despite what the fire department says, it should work just fine
(note: I have a UPS so the system can dial out in a power outage). 

Jason Locklin

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