Product Spotlight: Linksys SPA3102

July 16, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Many of you may know that Linksys manufacturers a solid, well used and liked Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) product line. The product line consists of the SPA2102, PAP2T, and SPA3102. For this blog we will focus on the SPA3102 and its “added” capabilities.

On the analog side of things, the SPA3102 can act as a fully functional one- port FXO gateway since it contains an FXO line port. The FXO port can also act as a PSTN failover capability in case the Ethernet network ever fails or drops. It also contains an FXS phone port to connect an analog telephone into. Service providers often times will utilize this device providing their VOIP service to the phone port, and still allow users to use their traditional PSTN or POTS service through the failover capabilities. This is an all around great solution for the home user who would like to leverage VOIP calling through a provider, but still needs the reliability and functionality to their existing, much more expensive, but most reliable PSTN landline network.

On the digital side of things, you will notice that the SPA3102 has two Ethernet ports, a WAN or LAN or Ethernet/Internet ports. This device has built in router capabilities, which can interface both with your public internet service provider as well as your LAN. The device also has the capabilities to act as a DHCP server and “hand out” LAN addresses to your internal LAN equipment. The only downside is you will most likely need a LAN switch to extend, and service network equipment since the SPA3102 only has one LAN port.

Linksys ATA                                               

So what are the added benefits of this $64.99 device you may ask? Home users have been known to take advantage of the FXO port in a most cost-saving effective manner. Let’s describe a quick scenario first and where the gateway aspect of the SPA3102 comes into play. A home user has two locations a great distance apart, let’s say NYC and Alaska (since I’ve always desired to travel there). I am constantly making calls from my Alaskan location to the location in NYC, and to all my buds in the NYC area (local Telco calls) Traditionally, I would pick up my PSTN phone in Alaska and call my friends or location in NYC and incur heavy long distance charges from my telephone provider. In come VOIP and the SPA3102. I simply purchased (2) SPA3102’s and placed them at each location. I then plugged an analog telephone in each of the unit’s phone ports and assigned a VOIP extension, (100 for Alaska and 200 for NYC). Now I can simply pick a phone at any location and call the other for FREE all through VOIP, using NO VOIP provider whatsoever. Next I plugged my telephone line into each of the unit’s FXO ports at both locations. Keep in mind I am still paying for my traditional telephone service at each location. Now, when I pick up my phone in Alaska, I can call into the SPA3102, gain access to my local telephone service in NYC and call as many contacts as I wish in NYC for FREE.

The reason is that when my call comes into the NYC SPA3102, it traverses the VOIP network from Alaska to NYC, (where my Telco whacks me with long distance fees), and when I gain access to the local Telco in NYC, my call from Alaska “looks” local to the NYC Telco provider and I incur no long distance fees whatsoever. This whole process of “extending local dial-tone” has been a blessing in disguise to home users who frequently pay high long distance fees from their telephone. If it makes you feel better, you’re tricking your phone company, and even better, this scenario will work at virtually any location where you have broadband internet access, so you can pick up and move virtually anywhere in the world.

Nimbuzz Leveraging Asterisk, OpenSER and other OSS Technologies

According to an iLocus interview of Nimbuzz CEO EJ Lugt, the Nimbuzz platform makes use of Asterisk, OpenSER and other open source software.

What about the underlying VoIP platform you use? Do you also use open source components? Yes, we use a lot of open source components such as Asterisk and OpenSER. We also use open source components for IM like Jabber and Open Fire. And of course we have built a lot of proprietary technology around it.

If you are not familiar with Nimbuzz, Kyle Brocious wrote a review of their service here in May.

TruPhone for iPhone – Review Redux

July 15, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Set about writing up a TruPhone review earlier this morning, and ran into a snag.

Impressively, TruPhone helf desk manager Katie Brimble responded to my initial post this morning with an apology and a few troubleshooting suggestions.

We are sorry that we have been unable to get round to your email as of yet, we are very busy at the moment. Do you have your reference number to hand which you would have received in our automated response?

We recommend the following to resolve this issue;
1. Reboot your iPhone and try this again. If you still experience this issue please check the following…
2. Do you have mobile/cell reception/signal when you initiate the validation call?
3. Do you have sufficient mobile/cell credit to receive a call – if you pay to receive calls (US Customers)
4. Are you able to receive international calls to your mobile/cell number?

5. Once you enter a Security Pin in the sign up screen and the validation call-back starts to initiate, try pressing the square key (Main menu button) on the iPhone.

Regards
The Truphone Support team

#5 did the trick for me. If you are installing TruPhone you may need to do the same thing at the moment in order to get your phone to accept the inbound verification call from TruPhone.

Once installed, the TruPhone client basically mimics the native iPhone dialing application in terms of look and feel. There are (5) distinct tabs:

1 – Favourites – where you can store numbers/contacts you call most frequently.
2 – Recents – shows your TruPhone call history
3 – Contacts – TruPhone automatically grabs your existing iPhone contacts database
4 – Keypad – in order to dial telephone numbers
5 – Topup – redirects to the TruPhone website where you can administer your account and add prepaid
calling credit.

TruPhone hooks you up with $4.00 in call credit for free with your account setup, which was sufficient for me to make a few test calls. Even with the spotty WiFi coverage in my office the call quality on my test calls was indistinguishable from normal mobile calls.

TruPhone also has grouped many of their international call terminations into a single rate scheduled, called Tru Zone.

I am sure TruPhone is inundated with new customer signups since the release of Apple’s AppStore. I was thoroughly impressed with their personal response to my support issue. I highly recommend TruPhone to anyone who owns an iPhone and is looking to save money on international calls….money better spent on gasoline. TruPhone scores a Tom Cruise thumbs up…not an easy feat!

We’re Here to Help

VoIP Supply takes a lot of pride in its prime customer service staff.  We’d like for you to get to know them better, because they are always happy to meet and take on new customers.

Our customer service department has many functions within VoIP Supply.  The most important is providing care to customers that email or call in with questions regarding their order, invoicing, tracking, account status, product returns, etc…

The customer service department also provides support to all other departments within the company, providing requested assistance, assisting sales associates so that they can spend more time selling, contacting customers for accounting, purchasing, or shipping to gather additional information so that VoIP Supply can be the best!

And now introducing, the Customer Service Department!

William Herrmann – Customer Service Manager

Bill is responsible for the overall management of the department.  He is required to direct the staff and provide the necessary roadmap for the department.  Bill is also responsible to drive continuous improvement with the department and the company as a whole.  Bill works with all staff and management to push customer identified opportunities for quick improvement.

Erin Moran – Customer Service Team Lead

Erin is known as the jack of all trades within VoIP Supply.  Erin acts as an assistant to the Customer Service Manager, often providing training and leadership to the staff.  She can be counted on to perform any task within the department and many within the company.  Erin also serves as a backup receptionist for the company.

Linda Boney and Dawn Martin- Customer Service Representatives

Linda and Dawn are responsible for handling inbound customer service calls, replying to incoming customer service emails, providing proactive customer service information, and handling various customer service queues.  They also supports our sales staff and any other associates with any pressing issues.

Jeffrey Hanover – Customer Service Representative (RMA Specialist)

Jeff is responsible to handle all incoming RMA requests, providing customers with all required communications pertaining to returns, declining any RMA’s that do not fit within our returns program, processing all returns that do, and providing customers technical support options when applicable.  Jeff is tasked with reducing the percentage of returns that VoIP Supply processes.  Jeff also assists the other customer service representatives by helping with inbound customer service calls.

Mary Beth Hyzy – Customer Service Representative

Mary Beth is responsible for an outbound call customer service campaign.  In this role she calls customers and informs them that their order has been shipped, informs them about the email they received with a PDF of the invoice, provides them with tracking information and thanks them for shopping with VoIP Supply.

Christopher Heinrich – Sales Engineer

As Sales Engineer; Chris provides pre & post sales support to our customers and our sales staff.  Chris is responsible for the technical product trainings that are continuously created and modified to improve the selling skills and knowledge within the sales department.

Kyle Brocious – Technical Support Representative

Kyle is responsible for providing pre & post sales support to our customers, provisioning orders, and testing returns and new products. Kyle also is involved in processing online orders and is currently training new sales staff to take over this project.

Kevin McCarthy – Technical Support Representative

Kevin is responsible for providing pre & post sales support to our customers, provisioning orders, and testing returns and new products.

Griffin Green – Customer Service Intern

Griffin is a temporary associate that is used as a utility employee.  He can be counted on to assist wherever needed.

And if you need help with any of your VoIP Supply orders, have installation questions, or just want to say hi, please contact us at 1-800-398-8647 or at https://www.voipsupply.com/getsupport.

Truphone for iPhone Non Review

Having recently endured the painful process of updating my 1st generation iPhone to Apple’s 2.0 firmware revision, I was excited to test out a native VoIP client.

I downloaded TruPhone’s free client from the appstore, and installed it. Setup was as simple as filling our a short form on the phone. Note: Don’t misstype your mobile number in the setup form….TruPhone does not give you the opportunity to modify it if you enter it incorrectly. In this case, I fat fingered one of the digits, but there was no way for me to go back and correct it. I had to uninstall the TruPhone client and then resync/reinstall it.

The final step in activating the TruPhone service on your iPhone is to authenticate your account by receiving an inbound verification call from TruPhone, and entering a 4-digit PIN number that you chose during the original client setup.

This is where I hit a brick wall. For some reason, I am unable to receive the verification call from TruPhone. When I attempt to initiate the verification call from TruPhone, after about a minute, I get a message that reads “Sorry, we could not detect your security PIN. Did your voicemail answer the call?”

My voicemail did indeed answer the call, as for some reason the TruPhone verification calls will not ring through on my iPhone. They go directly into my voicemail. I have no issues receiving inbound calls from any other originating numbers, and they ring through fine.

I filled out a support request ticket and am waiting to hear back from TruPhone.

Anyone having a positive experience using TruPhone’s mobile VoIP client on their iPhone?

FCC Chair Kevin Martin Scolds Comcast for P2P Tomfoolery

July 13, 2008 by Garrett Smith

John Paczowski over at AllThingsD reports on the FCC’s pending action against Comcast for violation of net neutrality pricinciples in blocking P2P filesharing traffic.

The problem with “principles” is that they pre-suppose integrity, which is not an integral component of capitalism. Comcast will almost certainly mount a legal appeal to any action taken by the FCC, since there is no body of legislation laying out a framework and accountability for net neutrality.

From WSJ:

“You can’t enforce this because there aren’t any rules,” said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice. “It violates all sorts of due processes in the way you are supposed to create rules.”

Guest Blog: Asterisk Rides the Train

July 11, 2008 by Garrett Smith

I have chosen Asterisk for many reasons. First was the lower cost, but once I had it running and tested I found it to have many more features than I could imagine.  When I first started with Asterisk it was my first introduction to any telephony system at all, everything was learned for this one project, also known as my family’s business, Art Knapp Plantland.

I have had Asterisk running for well over two years, learning more every time I look at it.  Once I had all the basics setup and functioning, I had some ideas to tryout and see what I could make work.  One of those ideas was an automated timer system for our ride-on train.

Here at work, we have a ride-on train that goes through our nursery.  The announcement system for this has gone through many revisions, starting with our cashiers making manual announcements following a timer, and then I made some recordings that were manually started following the timer.  Both those attempts worked to a degree, but if it was busy the times would be off.  Then I modified it so the cashiers could start the timer on a phone, and the three calls for boarding times (10 minutes, 5 minutes and 1 minute) would all go on their own.

If the driver asks how many minutes are remaining, they don’t usually know, so I made a script that checks the time and reads back the number of minutes before the train should leave.

Technically, the system works like this.  Our phones are all connected to our overhead paging system.  When the cashiers sell tickets, they dial an extension that launches an AGI script.  That script first checks if a call is in progress or not.  If there is not call it will copy three call files to the /tmp directory, touch them in the future based on the time they should be announced, move them to the /var/spool/asterisk/outgoing directory, then announce it was successful.  Asterisk will then play them in sequence when the time is right.  The time-checking script first gets the system time, and compares it against the time the one-minute call is scheduled to go, calculates the minutes, and reads it back.  Quite simple really.

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