2015-08: All About VoIP

Location:  The Working Centre 58 Queen Street South, Kitchener, ON (plan)
Date: 17 Aug 2015

During August’s meeting we will talk about Voice over IP for nonprofits. Who is using it? What solutions are we using? What providers do we like? What are the pros and cons of VoIP solutions vs digital PBXes vs landlines?

If you are using VoIP at your organizations, come and share your experiences.

Why does VoIP work better over real PSTN lines than over VoIP?

If you have been thinking about VoIP, please bring your questions.

Meeting Notes

Discussion Questions


– What are you using?
– What do you like about VoIP? What do you not like?
– What providers do you use?
– What works better with PSTN? With VoIP?
– What are the pros and cons?

Arbitrary Comments

– What can we do with Teksavvy
– Vonage vs ITSP? (Unlimitel, VoIP.ms) vs ISP (Teksavvy, Rogers) vs MagicJack
– MagicJack is an ATA? You need internet
+ You can get a USB dongle as well (don’t work under Linux)
+ It is reliable enough for faxing
+ $10 extra per year for a Canadian number
+ $50/year + tax ($70 for the device)
+ Berleine spends $32/year for a US number and service
+ Unlimited minutes
+ Call quality can suffer if the internet is busy

– Magicjack and Vonage are in the same space

– VoiP.ms and Unlimitel
+ $1/month for the DID, $1.50 for Emergency 911
+ Unlimited minutes

– Magicjack and Vonage are in the same space

– VoIP.ms: $1 + $1.50 for Emergency 911 + 1c/minute per calls
+ You can buy a home package for $3.50 per month
+ You can have subaccounts
+ You can have many calls running simultaneously

– Fongo
+ Free phone number, free calls, free voicemail, pay to send texts
+ Freephoneline.ca is the same but for desktops
+ How far can you get on a wifi phone?
+ Sometimes quality is an issue

– SIP phones

+ One PSTN line + voip lines + Norstar systems
+ Use an ATA to convert VoIP.ms to analogue
+ This does not work perfectly all the time (eg long tones)

– Brendan has tried to switch to all VoIP
+ How do you trunk calls between buildings that use different systems?
+ Idea: just map lines to phones so you can use Norstar handsets
+ How can you receive calls in multiple locations?
* Voip.ms makes this easy
* You can use follow-me settings in Asterisk

– Faxing and virtual faxing
+ Doesn’t work so well on VoIP
+ VoIP wants to break up packets, but faxes want a continuous

– Cheapest SIP phone: Grandstream GXP1400 (similar: GXP1405)

– Why VoIP?
+ Cost: $40 for a PSTN line. VoIP can be cheaper
+ Can use the same phone number for many calls
+ We trust everything that goes over the internet
+ Very configurable for free

– Why not VoIP?
+ Depends on power to work. Don’t have blackouts!
+ Can’t run faxing (reliably), DSL modems
+ Can’t use analog modems
+ Can be reliability problems
+ Security concerns
+ Should have quality of service to ensure good performance
+ Need upload bandwidth (16k-64kbps up per call depending on codec)
+ Rollovers can be an issue between POTS and VoIP, depending on provider
+ Costs more in terms of IT time

– You can do voip via internet addresses

– Older ADSL lines provide 700kbps up

– Bell VDSL is broken? Fibernetics does it right?

– Execulink is a provider that does PSTN rollovers right

– Can you do anything more with commercial VoIP than with regular Bell?
+ Maybe. It depends on what the provider provides.

– Hiding callerID : easy

– Is this obsolete because of cellphones?
+ The numbers are different
+ Not as configurable
+ But your cellphone works in a blackout (modulo batteries)

– You can’t run your own cellphone service (in Canada)
+ Compare to radio, community cable

– SIP clients for cellphones?
+ SIPSimple?
+ You can register to a local asterisk account
+ Ring groups on VoIP.ms
+ How can you make phones ring in certain locations only?
* Put a sip client on their phones
* Put Asterisk

– What Asterisk systems can be configured by Thursday?
+ PBX in a Flash
+ Elastix

– Cheap analog phones?

Acronym Fun

– ATA : Turns VoIP into PSTN lines.
– VoIP : Voice over internet. The trendy thing.
– PSTN/POTS : “Real” phone line
– SIP : VoIP protocol. There are others (eg IAX)
– FXO : Port that is on the phone. In asterisk, you use a port of this
type when you want to integrate a PSTN line.
– FXS : Provides a dialtone. This can be from the wall,
or the ports on an ATA
– DID : A phone number
– VoIP registration: What phone will ring when you make a call to the number?
– Hunt groups: Choose which order phones will ring
– QoS: Quality of service: prefer sending packets to phones rather than Bittorrents
– Rollovers: First call a POTS line, then call a VoIP line with a different provider
– MWI: Message waiting light when you have voicemail

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