Saturday, May 28, 2011

The VoIP thing

So, I think after some consideration I can start posting details of the VoIP thing I mentioned a few journal entries ago...

The company's name is "voipo". Supposedly they're linked to a hosting company called Hostgator. I have no comment on the latter, the Wikipedia article is fairly neutral and Hostgator is one of those companies that publishes a bunch of its own "reviews" sites that mysteriously end up being the first group of Google search results. Never did like that practice.

Still, going to places like BroadbandReports I can't find anyone with anything bad to say about Viopo, lots of people with good stuff to say, and looking at Voipo's forums it looks like the people running the organization take a keen interest in customer support. They seem to be an honest bunch.

Here's my initial experience:

  1. Didn't take long to be set up, but I note they start your period of service from when you order it, not from when you get your device and start being able to use the service.
  2. The device they sent is a Grandstream HT-502. I tried it the way they propose, which involves putting it between your router and teh Interwebs. It didn't work, it sat there for 20 minutes with the various lights pretty much permanently on save for the occasional flicker, wouldn't make calls, and to add insult to injury it looked like it has its own built in NAT router which screwed up my network configuration. I then did it the other way, put the device behind my router, and everything came up.
  3. As long as my Internet connection is up, the device appears to work fine. When my Internet went down a few days ago, thanks to Comcast changing my IP address and my router not realizing it, the service rerouted itself properly, and came back up without me having to do anything when Internet access was restored.
  4. I have no idea what happens if you try to use other SIP services at the same time.
  5. There is a BYOD feature, where as long as you have the Voipo-supplied device online, you can redirect everything to a device of your own. The reasoning is that the Voipo device "proves" you have a working connection, and all diagnostics can be done on that. The Grandstream doesn't appear to have a SIP gateway built in or anything like that, which is a shame.
  6. Quality is OK. Not great. Not bad. Volume is very loud, which is fine by me. Latency is long enough to be noticeable. Sound quality was, I guess, similar to a 1990s pre-EFR GSM phone - which I always thought was fairly reasonable but obviously many disagreed otherwise we wouldn't have EFR or AMR.
In terms of features, as someone who's only ever subscribed to "basic phone" (OK, I usually got the call forwarding feature), I was a little surprised by the number of things that suddenly started working. My TV, for example, now shows the CLI associated with the number dialing in when the phone rings. My Siemens DECT system now displays the right time, and even stuff about missed calls, which it never used to.

One thing I haven't tried yet, and probably need to upgrade my DECT base station to support, is the two line feature. If you get an incoming call while you're on a call, it's automatically diverted to the second port on the Voipo device, and you can make calls from that while being on a call too.

There's a web interface which makes it easy to, for example, set up call forwarding when you're away. Also lets you send faxes.

Right now, I haven't used the service for long enough to recommend it, but so far, so good.

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