Monday, 14 April 2014

How To Configure Cisco SPA301 With FreePhoneLine.ca - Quick Guide


The Cisco SPA301 VoIP IP Phone is an affordable generation of SIP based (Session Initiation Protocol) IP desktop (or wall mount) VoIP phone that is well suited for the small business or home office user.  However, I think this is a great phone for anyone wanting to get started testing VoIP services before they pull the plug on their traditional PSTN landline phone.

This is a basic 1-Line IP Phone and is a great way to get started with BYOD DIY VoIP.  The SPA301 is a fully self-contained IP Phone that only requires you to plug it into a router and AC power source to be fully functional.  No other telephones or adapters are required like with the SPA112/122 ATA's.

In this Quick Guide, it is my intention to walk you through the basics of how to quickly (relatively speaking) configure your shiny new SPA301 directly with the Canadian based BYOD DIY VoIP provider FreePhoneLine.ca .

To achieve this goal, I will begin with the SPA301 as configured with it's factory default values as a starting point.  Then, I will only point out the essential settings that "must be edited" in order to connect and achieve service registration with FreePhoneLine.ca (also known as FPL).

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

How To Configure Cisco SPA301 With Voip.ms - Quick Guide

The Cisco SPA301 VoIP IP Phone is an affordable generation of SIP based (Session Initiation Protocol) IP Phone that is focused towards the small business and home office user.  This is a basic 1-Line IP Phone and is a great way to get started with BYOD DIY VoIP.

In this Quick Guide, it is my intention to walk you through the basics of how to quickly (relatively speaking) configure your shiny new SPA301 IP Phone directly with Voip.ms, one of my preferred BYOD and DIY VoIP service providers.

To achieve this goal, I will begin with the SPA301 as configured with it's factory default values as a starting point.  Then, I will only point out the essential settings that "must be edited" in order to connect and achieve service registration with Voip.ms.

How to Update Firmware in the Cisco SPA301 IP Phone

I can't think of a time when I purchased a new VoIP ATA or IP-Phone that didn't need to be upgraded to the latest firmware version.  When you purchase a new VoIP adapter, expect and plan to upgrade the firmware version before proceeding to configuring your phone with your favorite BYOD VoIP provider.

I just purchased my new SPA301 in April, 2014.  As of this date, the latest firmware available for download on Cisco's web site is version 7.5.5, which was released in June, 2013.  However, my new phone came with FW version 7.5.2 installed, which was released almost two years ago in July, 2012.  It definitely needs an upgrade.

In the following procedures, I will explain how to download and install the latest firmware version into your Cisco SPA301 IP-Phone.

How To Factory Reset The Cisco SPA301 IP Phone


Performing a Factory Reset is an important procedure for when you want to make sure you have a clean and fresh start before you begin configuring your VoIP IP-Phone from scratch.

I will always recommend that you perform a factory reset on your VoIP device before proceeding with my VoIP configuration procedures.  This is good practice to ensure that all settings are initialized to their factory set values.  This will avoid the pitfalls of trying to configure your VoIP device with a new service and not being aware of previously set values that may conflict with your new service provider settings.

How To Login To The Cisco SPA301 IP Phone As Administrator


For new unlocked phones, there are no passwords assigned to the Cisco SPA301, by default.  By default, the SPA301 IP Phone will allow you to access all the Basic, Advanced, and Administrative settings without password access.  However, once you have configured your IP Phone, it is always a good practice to set a secure admin password to protect your configuration settings.

Monday, 25 November 2013

DIY VoIP Isn't For Everyone


Why Do People Want VoIP? 
The main reason people typically make the transition to VoIP is.... to save money, of course.  That is why I started playing with DIY VoIP many years ago.  We've all felt a bit taken advantage of by the incumbent Ma Bell type Telco's when we received those big phone bills each month.  Who in their right mind wouldn't want to save 50 to 75% on their monthly phone bills?  These days, VoIP seems like a no-brainer way to go.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Voip.ms Now Supporting +888 U.N. OCHA Disaster Relief Call Routing



Today, Voip.ms has informed me that they have now implemented and are supporting +888 international disaster relief call routing.  Voip.ms is now among a growing number of VoIP service providers facilitating world-wide emergency communications by routing +888 calls over the IP networks riding on the backbone of iNum and Voxbone IP communications network, for free or very low cost.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Global Disaster Relief Communications Essential for United Nations OCHA Teams

Major disasters like the recent Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is another one of the many global disasters that sets the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) into action.

Reports like this one posted on OCHA's reliefweb site indicates 1200 people are feared dead as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.  Another reliefweb report indicates that cities like Tacloban have no food, water, or electricity.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Obihai Can No Longer Support Google Voice Calls via The XMPP Protocol


As of May 15, 2014 Obihai VoIP ATA devices will no longer be able to make or receive Google Voice phone calls.  Why?  Because Google has announced that on May 15, 2014 they (Google) will be disabling their support for the open source XMPP protocol via 3rd party apps, which allows external access to Google's messaging and voice services. Obihai devices currently depend on the XMPP protocol to enable their VoIP ATA's to connect directly to the Google Chat, Talk and Voice services.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Configuring FreePhoneLine.ca on the 3CXPhone Softphone - Quick Guide

In this article, I will explain how I configured the free 3CXPhone Softphone as a DIY BYOD VoIP user agent (UA) with the FreePhoneLine.ca and Fongo SIP based VoIP service.  From my experience thus far, the 3CXPhone performs superior to the Desktop App provided by Fongo or FreePhoneLine.ca (FPL) service.

The catch is that in order to connect any BYOD softphone, ATA, or IP-Phone with the FPL VoIP SIP service, you first need to purchase (or have previously purchased) the FreePhoneLine.ca "VoIP Unlock Key" through your FPL account. Once your have your unlock key "password", you are set to proceed with configuring your BYOD DIY VoIP device.

In this tutorial, I'm illustrating configuration with the 3CXPhone Softphone, provided free by 3CX Corp.   Bear in mind that my article is only covering the Windows desktop/laptop Verion 6.0 of 3CXPhone Softphone.

If you are a longstanding Fongo/Dell Voice user who has purchased your VoIP Unlock Key in the past, this tutorial quick guide will work the same with DV and Fongo unlock keys as it does with FreePhoneLine.ca account unlock keys.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Configuring Cisco SPA112 With FreePhoneLine.ca - Quick Guide


FreePhoneLine.ca  (FPL)  is a Canadian VoIP service provider who is primarily focused on serving Canadian customers. They offer free PSTN style phone numbers (DID's) and free VoIP calling to all the major metropolitan areas across Canada (their Free Zones).  Free e911 comes with their service, too.

So, what's the catch?
In order to DIY and BYOD your own VoIP ATA, you will need to purchase their "VoIP Unlock Key" for a one time fee of $50.  But, for this one time fee you will have unlimited free incoming calls and e911.  You will also get unlimited free outgoing calling to anyone in Canada who resides in the "Free Zones".  If you are calling to outside the free zones, calls will cost you 2 cents/min + a 4 cent connect fee.

In this article, I will walk you through the basics of how to quickly configure (relatively speaking) your Cisco SPA112 ATA for connecting directly with FreePhoneLine.ca.  This guide will also work for people who were grandfathered over from Fongo.ca and Dell Voice Canada and still have valid "VoIP Unlock Key" credentials.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

FreePhoneLine.ca, Google Voice and OBi100 Equal Free Canadian Phone Calling

When it comes to finding ways to make free phone calls to PSTN landlines and mobile phones across Canada, I've discovered that Obihai's OBi100 VoIP ATA, when configured with Canada's FreePhoneLine.ca plus Google Voice, together can make a formidable VoIP combination that's hard to beat.

For Canada wide free calling, the combination of FreePhoneLine.ca and Google Voice complement each other - one taking up the slack where the other leaves off.  And, the OBi100 makes this possible in one tiny little ATA box (Analog Telephone Adapter).

Monday, 22 July 2013

OBi202 - Configure Google Voice, Voip.ms, CallCentric, FreePhoneLine.ca Simultaneously


In this article I will be illustrating how to manually configure the Obihai OBi202 VoIP ATA with four (4) completely independent and separate VoIP service providers. If I include the default OBiTalk VoIP network, the OBi202 can make and receive calls directly over five (5) independent VoIP networks, all simultaneously configured and functional in one little box.

The four VoIP services that I will be manually configuring into the OBi202 are:  Google Voice, Voip.ms, CallCentric, and FreePhoneLine.ca.

Because I'm located in Canada, and testing the OBi202 from an Internet service provider located in Canada, I will be presenting the Google Voice portion of this article primarily for the benefit of Canadians who would like to know how to configure their own Obi202 VoIP adapter for service with Google Voice, and enjoy free USA/Canada phone calling without needing to be tied to a PC or laptop to make those calls. Unfortunately, the one thing we Canadians can't do that our American friends have been doing for quite some time is to obtain a GV phone number for incoming calls.  But, we can at least still make outgoing calls over the GV network for free (at least until the end of 2013).

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Configuring OBi202 For Bridge Mode



By default, the OBi202 VoIP ATA is configured to function as a NAT-Router and DHCP server.  This allows the OBi202  to act as a basic Internet gateway device for your local home or small office network when connected directly to your ISP's Internet MODEM (no other NAT-Routers needed between OBi202 and the Modem).

However, there may be times when you don't need or want to use the OBi202 in NAT DHCP server mode. For example, if you will be using the OBi202 behind an existing NAT-Router, you will likely be better off disabling the NAT and Firewall functionality within the OBi202 ATA.  In which case, you will change its LAN Operation Mode setting from Router to Bridge.

Obihai OBi202 - Backup/Restore Configuration Procedures


Being able to backup and restore your OBi202 VoIP ATA system and service provider configuration settings is an invaluable tool.  Performing a configuration backup or restore procedure is a strait forward and simple process on the OBi202.  So, I'll get right to it.

Obihai OBi202 - Reset/Restore Factory Defaults


In this article, I will outline three methods you can choose from in order to perform a System Restore to Factory Defaults.

Once in a blue moon, you may feel the urge to restore your Obihai OBi202 VoIP ATA to its factory set default values.  I can only speculate as to what might bring these feeling on.  Whatever your reasons, I explain below how to do it.


Why Perform A System Factory Restore? 
  1. Your ATA is plagued with mysterious problems that don't seem to be resolved by a simple system restart/reboot procedure.
  2. You suspect the mysterious performance issues may possibly be caused by a configuration settings corruption.
  3. You have been doing lots of fiddling around with configuration settings and can't remember what the default values were way back when you first bought your shiny new ATA.
  4. Other reasons I haven't thought of yet...
Whatever the reasons may be, sometimes there is nothing like a fresh new start in life.  And, that goes for VoIP telephone adapters, too.

Obihai OBi202 - How To Update Firmware - Manually


Knowing how to update the firmware on your VoIP ATA is a very important topic.  It's not as sexy a subject as how to configure the ATA with VoIP service providers (VSP's) or Google Voice.  After all, most people just want to start making phone calls once they plug-in their shiny new VoIP box.

The fact is, most ATA's ship with old(er) firmware installed.  Thus, if it isn't the latest release of firmware that's installed, it's old.

So, who cares?  Well, you do if you are experiencing unsolvable performance issues.  And, the reality is, all software/firmware has bugs, or performance deficiencies.  And, this is why manufacturers periodically issue firmware/software updates.  If not to fix bugs, certainly to enhance or improve device performance and the user experience.

So, let's get started with checking and updating the OBi202 firmware...

Obihai OBi202 - How To Login As Administrator - Locally



I'm writing this article to help users understand the requirements needed to locally log into the Obihai OBi202 VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) from your local LAN network.  As well, in future articles when I need to refer to logging into the OBi202 ATA, I will just refer to this article for the instructions on how to do so, rather than repeating the same information for each article that requires administrator login access as part of a procedure.

I have also included instructions for performing a factory reset for situations where you may have forgotten your custom set administrator password.  And, I have included additional instructions on how to set the IVR phone system access password, in case you may find that feature useful.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

CallCentric Announces Free Canadian DID Number Porting

Today, CallCentric has announced that they will provide Free Number Porting for all Canadian inbound DID (Direct Inbound Dialing) phone numbers.  This is a limited time offer, beginning on July 4th, 2013.  CallCentric did not specify how long or when this limited offer will expire.  Once this free offer expires, the porting fee will revert back to their standard fee of $25.

I received this announcement via direct emailing this afternoon as one of the existing customers of CallCentric.  I've had an account with CallCentric for many years, now.  Their announcement indicates that they have also expanded their DID phone number footprint throughout Canada recently.

My main disappointment with CallCentric's announcement is that their inbound DID number coverage in British Columbia, Canada is limited to the BC west coast Vancouver and neighboring cities area.  There is absolutely no coverage for any other parts of BC.  I live in the Okanagan region of BC (southern interior region) which includes the cities of Vernon, Penticton, Kelowna, and Armstrong, among others.  None of these cities are covered in CallCentric's DID footprint areas of BC.

However, for those BYOD DIY VoIP enthusiasts like myself who happen to live in the interior regions of British Columbia, Canada, I can recommend another VSP (VoIP Service Provider) I use for my Vernon, BC area DID phone number.  The VSP company is SPOUT Communications, based out of Edmonton, Alberta.  They are the only BYOD DIY VSP (Canadian or otherwise, that I'm aware of) who is willing to provide their BC customers with Okanagan region DID phone numbers.  If you are looking for interior BC DID phone numbers, you can find Spout Communications at www.thespout.ca .


While I purchased my Vernon, BC DID from Spout, currently my primary VSP is Voip.ms.  However, Spout Communications was kind enough to allow me to forward my incoming DID phone calls via iNum to my Voip.ms iNum number, for free.  Now, any incoming calls I receive via my Vernon, BC DID is forwarded to my Voip.ms account via iNum and rings my ATA's and IP-Phones connected to that account.  This setup has worked very well for me over the past year.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE:  March 28, 2014
CallCentric announced that the free number porting will end March 31, 2014.
After that date, number porting will only cost $10 per port.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Tawk.com - A Recent WebRTC Implementation By Priologic

           

Recently, Priologic, a Canadian software company based out of Victoria, British Columbia has announced the public release of their recent creation:  Tawk.com.

Tawk.com is a voice and video communications platform utilizing the new browser-based WebRTC multimedia engine built directly into Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers.

Tawk.com facilitates the setup of a secure and anonymous voice and video connection directly between any two Chrome or Firefox web browsers.

I briefly tested this for the first time by setting up a voice and video chat between my PC and my wife's PC, where both of us were using Google Chrome as our browsers.  It worked perfectly, the first time we tried.

WebRTC - Is This the Future Of VoIP?

It was almost ten years ago when I started dabbling with the first PC-based IP-Telephony services; some of which I can't even recall their names.  This was perhaps around, or even before Skype was born.  Back then, if I used the term "VoIP", almost no one knew what I was talking about.  I had to spell it out:  "Voice Over Internet Protocol".  Even then, many people didn't know what it was without a full explanation. Now, everyone knows about VoIP, and large portions of society are using it on a daily basis at home, work, and on the go with their smartphones and tablets.

So, here I am ten years later and now I'm hearing a lot of commotion about a new kid on the block known as WebRTC.  Now days, because we are all Internet savvy, the word about anything new spreads fast. And, from what I'm seeing and reading, the news about WebRTC is spreading like wildfire.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Configuring Google Voice and Voip.ms on OBi100 - Manually


Today, I'll be talking about how to manually configure the OBi100 with two great VoIP services:  Google Voice and Voip.ms.

In past articles, I explained how to configure Google Voice or Voip.ms each  as a sole independently configured primary VoIP service on your OBi100.

Today, I'm going to show you how to combine the best of two worlds into one:  Google Voice as your primary default service, and Voip.ms as your number two VoIP provider..... both in one box... and both using just one analog telephone jack on the OBi100 ATA.

This will be another one of my in a "nutshell" series for the OBi100.  And, when I say in a nutshell, I mean the bare bones basics of getting started configuring two VoIP services into the OBi100 instead of just one, as I have presented in the past.  So, let's get started.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Configuring Google Voice and CallCentric on OBi100 VoIP ATA - Manually


Today, I'll be talking about how to manually configure the OBi100 with two great VoIP services:  Google Voice and CallCentric.

In past articles, I have explained how to configure Google Voice or CallCentric each  as a sole independently configured primary VoIP service on your OBi100.

Today, I'm going to show you how to combine the best of two worlds into one:  Google Voice as your primary default service, and CallCentric as your number two VoIP provider..... both in one box... and both using just one analog telephone jack on the OBi100 ATA.

This will be another one of my in a "nutshell" series for the OBi100.  And, when I say in a nutshell, I mean the bare bones basics of getting started configuring two VoIP services into the OBi100 instead of just one, as I have presented in the past.  So, let's get started.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Manually Configure Voip.ms on the OBi100 VoIP ATA - Quick Setup


In this article, I will walk you through the basics of how to quickly (relatively speaking) manually configure your shiny new Obihai OBi100 ATA directly with Voip.ms, a well known BYOD VoIP Service Provider (VSP) with proxy servers in both the USA and Canada.

To achieve the goal of a quick and reliable setup, I will recommend that the ATA be initially "factory reset" to it's default values (this way, we're starting on the same page, literally).  Then, I will point out only the essential settings that "must be edited" manually, in order to connect and achieve service registration with the Voip.ms servers.

Manually Configure CallCentric on the OBi100 VoIP ATA - Quick Setup



In this article, I will walk you through the basics of how to quickly (relatively speaking) configure your shiny new Obihai OBi100 ATA directly with CallCentric, a well known BYOD VoIP Service Provider (VSP) based in New York, USA.

To achieve the goal of a quick and reliable setup, I will recommend that the ATA be initially "factory reset" to it's default values (this way, we're starting on the same page, literally).  Then, I will point out only the essential settings that "must be edited" manually, in order to connect and achieve service registration with the CallCentric proxy servers.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Free Obihai World-Wide In-Network Phone Calling Using the OBi100 VoIP ATA


The Obihai line of VoIP ATA's (Analog Telephone Adapters) have a very unique feature which allows you to call directly from one OBi ATA to any other OBi ATA, for free, with zero configuration.  And, this is just one of three powerful service options that make the OBi line of ATA's attractive, from my perspective.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Manually Configure Google Voice on the Obihai OBi100 - In A Nutshell

I've already written a longer-winded version of this article which was designed to explain how to manually configure the Obihai OBi100 with your Google Voice account, quickly (relatively speaking).  And, with a slant towards Canadian VoIP DIY enthusiasts.

This article is attempting to be a quicker and dirtier  "in a nutshell" version of how to quickly configure your shiny new OBi100 with Google Voice.... without having to link or register your OBi100 with the OBiTalk administration portal (www.obitalk.com).  The method I'm presenting may be more suited for the more advanced BYOD DIY VoIP enthusiasts (I'll let you be the judge of that :) .

So, without any further blather, here is my quick and dirty nutshell version:

Manually Configure Obihai OBi100 With Google Voice From Scratch - In Canada


One of the outstanding attributes of the Obihai OBi100 VoIP telephone adapter (ATA) is its ability to place VoIP phone calls to PSTN and mobile phone numbers using your Google Voice account configured directly into the OBi100.  And, for Free, at least until the end of 2013.

Our American friends have had this ability for some time now.  However, it's only in more recent times that we Canadians have been able to get our hands on the Obihai line of VoIP ATA's here in Canada.

Obihai OBi100 - How To Update Firmware - Manually

Knowing how to update the firmware on your VoIP ATA is a very important topic.  It's not as sexy a subject as how to configure the ATA with VoIP service providers (VSP's) or Google Voice.  After all, most people just want to start making phone calls once they plug-in their shiny new VoIP box.

The fact is, most ATA's ship with old(er) firmware installed.  Thus, if it isn't the latest release of firmware that's installed, it's old.

So, who cares?  Well, you do if you are experiencing unsolvable performance issues.  And, the reality is, all software/firmware has bugs, or performance deficiencies.  And, this is why manufacturers periodically issue firmware/software updates.  If not to fix bugs, certainly to enhance or improve device performance and the user experience.

So, let's get started with checking and updating the OBi100 firmware...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Obihai OB100 - Backup - Restore Procedures


Being able to backup and restore your OBi100 VoIP ATA configuration settings is an invaluable tool.  Performing a configuration backup or restore procedure is a strait forward and simple process on the OBi100. While the OBi100 can perform two types of backup operations:
  1. System and service provider settings backups.
  2. Auto Attendant backups
this tutorial will only focus on method one (1.) above.

So, I'll get right to it.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Obihai OBi100 - How To Reset/Restore Factory Defaults


In this article, I will outline three methods you can choose from in order to perform a System Restore to Factory Defaults.

Once in a blue moon, you may feel the urge to restore your Obihai OBi100 VoIP ATA to its factory set default values.  I can only speculate as to what might bring these feeling on.  Whatever your reasons, I explain below how to do it.

Why Perform A System Factory Restore? 
  1. Your ATA is plagued with mysterious problems that don't seem to be resolved by a simple system restart/reboot procedure.
  2. You suspect the mysterious performance issues may possibly be caused by a configuration settings corruption.
  3. You have been doing lots of fiddling around with configuration settings and can't remember what the default values were way back when you first bought your shiny new ATA.
  4. Other reasons I haven't thought of yet...
Whatever the reasons may be, sometimes there is nothing like a fresh new start in life.  And, that goes for VoIP telephone adapters, too.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Obihai OBi100 - Three Ways to Reboot-Restart the VoIP ATA

Why Restart/Reboot?
Whenever you perform and save System or Voice setting changes within the Obihai OBi100, the ATA will often initiate its own auto-restart/reboot initialization procedure automatically.  However, there may be various times and reasons as to why you would want, or need, to perform a manual restart or reboot.

The reasons for needing to restart/reboot may range from requiring a re-initialization because of a change in configuration settings,  a system lock-up, loss of VoIP service registration, or the ATA just plain starts behaving kind of flaky.  When any of these things happen do to some kind of problem, we usually start feeling the urge to perform a system restart/reboot.  Often, this will clear-up the issue causing the problem.  Other times, it will only result in a temporary resolution before the problem once again returns.

Returning and recurring problems can be due to any one of numerous issues.  We may only be able to take a wild guess as to why.  When these recurring issues become pervasive, it may be time to consider that there are corrupted configuration settings, in which case your only recourse may be to issue a System Restore to Defaults procedure.  I will be covering this issue and procedures in a another article.

Obihai OBi100 - How to Login as Administrator


I'm writing this article to help clarify the requirements needed to locally log into the OBihai OBi100 VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) from your local LAN network.  As well, in future articles when I need to refer to logging into the OBi100 ATA, I will just refer to this article for the instructions on how to do so, rather than repeating the same information for each article that requires administrator login access as part of a procedure.

I have also included instructions for performing a factory reset for situations where you may have forgotten your custom set administrator password.  And, I have included instructions on how to set the IVR phone system access password, in case you find that of any use.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Google Voice in Canada via the Obihai OBi100 VoIP ATA



Wouldn't it be nice to make free telephone calls using Google Voice while using a regular analog PSTN landline style telephone?

Better yet, wouldn't it be nice if we VoIP deprived Canadians were able to do what the Americans have been doing for quite a while now?

Well, we can, with the Obihai line of VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) phone adapters.  Actually, the Obihai line of ATA's has been available for awhile in Canada (though, not as long as in the USA).  But, it seems to have been somewhat of a well kept secret.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Fongo Canada Now Charges a 4-Cent Connect Fee


Fongo Canada is now charging a 4¢ connection fee for all calls outside of their network of free calling zones in Canada.  Initially, they were only charging a straight 2¢/minute with no connection fee for calls to the USA and other areas in Canada not considered in the free calling zone.

I guess this is the typical road map that most all "freemium" based services follow.  Start out with lots of hype about FREE services.  Then, offer premium services for a nominal fee.  This will typically recover the losses from the freemium services.  But then, once a customer base is established (and hooked), here come the price increases.