Friday, 27 May 2016

Configuring Grandstream HT701 With Voip.ms - Quick Guide



The Grandstream HT701 is a single-line VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter).  It can be purchased as an "unlocked" (open configuration) VoIP adapter.  It is well suited for the BYOD DIY VoIP enthusiast who wants to configure their own ATA with their choice of BYOD DIY VoIP Service providers (VSPs).

In this "Quick Guide", I will illustrate the bare bone essentials that I used to configure my HT701 with the well known VSP:  Voip.ms.

Voip.ms is a BYOD and DIY VoIP Service Provider (VSP) based out of Canada with VoIP proxy servers located in numerous locations in North America and Europe.

Configuring Grandstream HT701 With CallCentric - Quick Guide


The Grandstream HT701 is a single-line VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter).  It can be purchased as an "unlocked" (open configuration) VoIP adapter.  It is well suited for the BYOD DIY VoIP enthusiast who wants to configure their own ATA with their choice of BYOD DIY VoIP Service providers (VSPs).

In this "Quick Guide", I will illustrate the bare bone essentials that I used to configure my HT701 with the well known VSP CallCentric.

CallCentric is a BYOD and DIY VoIP Service Provider (VSP) based out of New York City, USA.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Grandstream HT701 - How To Update Firmware - Locally - 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).  After all, most people just want to start making phone calls once they plug-in their shiny new VoIP box.

The fact is, many devices ship with old(er) firmware installed.  Thus, if it isn't the latest release of firmware that's installed, it's old.  Or, if your device was up to date when you first installed it, but some period of time has passed, then you will want to check with the manufacturer periodically just to see if any updates have been issued in the interim.

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

So, let's get started with checking and updating the HT701 ATA firmware...

Grandstream HT701 - How To Reset Factory Defaults


There can be various reasons as to why someone may want to perform a factory reset.  I myself make it a practice to perform factory resets on any new VoIP ATA or IP Phone device before configuring it with a new or different VSP (VoIP Service Provider).

Why?  Because this is the only way I can be sure that there are no surprises either via corrupted settings or previous configuration setting changes that may or may not cause unknown problems when setting up a new or different VSP on the device.  It's also just a good way to insure we are all starting from the same reference point.

Performing a factory reset on the Grandstream HT701 ATA is a very quick and easy function to perform.  Once completed, we are then assured that we only need to change a few essential non-default settings required to configure the phone with a BYOD DIY VSP of your choice.

Grandstream HT701 ATA - How To Login As Administrator

I recently purchased my first Grandstream VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter):  the HT701. And of course, the first thing we all need to know about configuring a DIY VoIP phone is - how to login.

Logging into the Grandstream HT701 VoIP ATA Phone Adapter is accomplished via your PC and web browser.   All you really need to know in order to login to the HT701 is the IP address assigned to it by your router's DHCP server and the ATA's Administrator Password.

And of course, the ATA must be an "unlocked" version.  Otherwise, you won't  know the admin password required to login.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

VoIP vs. Termination vs. Origination Services


When many people think of VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), they most likely think of cheap or low cost Internet-based telephone services that are a direct replacement for their traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) POTS line (Plain Old Telephone Service).

What many people don't realize is that most telecom services are a collection of discrete individual telecom service components  "bundled" into a "package" commonly known as.... telephone service, or VoIP service.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Don't Buy The Cisco SPA122 VoIP ATA


At first glance, one might get the impression that this is an anti Cisco headline.  Quite the opposite - I've been a fan of Cisco ATA's for quite a long time.  After all, they have been the work horse ATA's in the VoIP industry for many years.

Many VoIP service providers that resell VoIP ATA's will most often offer the Cisco line of ATA's as their first choice, if not the only choice of ATA for their customers.

All that said, it is my opinion that most (or I should say - far too many) DIY and VoIP service provider customers end up being sold the SPA122 when all they need is the Cisco SPA112.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Cisco SPA112 - IVR Menu - Quick Reference - Condensed




The Cisco SPA112 VoIP ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) is primarily configured and administered by the DIY user via its web configuration utility.  However, the SPA112 does have a built-in IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system which allows quick access to some of its most commonly used and accessed settings.

Personally, I don't use the SPA112 IVR menu system very frequently.  But when I do, I find it handy to have a quick reference chart for some of the most frequently accessed menu options.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

BYOD DIY VoIP Saves Me Big Money Every Year

I've been practicing BYOD DIY VoIP for at least ten years now.  Its been a good 5 years since I last took a close look at how much I was truly paying (and, saving) each month/year on home phone telecom services.

For years, I only focused on the pennies I could save on each phone call.  In part, this is because I only subscribe to "pay-per-minute" services.  In other words, I typically pay an average of 1 cent/min for outbound calls and 1.4 cent/min for inbound calls.  A phone number, or DID, which is required to receive inbound calls typically costs me $1.99/month (all prices are in $USD).  Although not required by my ITSP's, I also subscribe to e911 emergency calling service for $1.50/month.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

NetFlix - How I Fixed The So-Called "Buffering" Issues


One of the biggest issues I see reported about Netflix is the so-called "buffering" and "Content Error" issues.

Well, after banging my head against the wall for a couple weeks trying to troubleshoot "why" all of a sudden, after about 4 years of watching Netflix (Canada) programs with very few issues, I was suddenly having nothing but trouble with almost every program I tried to watch - intermittently.... only on my Smart-TV and Blu-ray devices.

I tried everything conceivable and possible.  After trying all "logical" possibilities, I resorted to off-the-wall ideas that weren't logical.  But, when in a corner, logical no longer matters, just getting out of the corner, by any means, is what it's all about.

Eventually, I found the solution.... and it wasn't an obvious one... or an easy one...

Friday, 30 October 2015

What Is BYOD DIY VoIP?

Just what do I really mean when I refer to Bring Your Own Device and Do It Yourself?  And, what good is BYOD if you can't DIY?

Saturday, 24 October 2015

When Does My BYOD VoIP Provider Become A DIY Cloud IP-PBX?

When I first started practicing BYOD DIY VoIP, some of the SIP based (Session Initiation Protocol) ITSP's (Internet Telephony Service Providers) that I used had fairly basic service offerings.  That is:
  • Outbound calling - also known as "Termination" service.  
  • Receiving inbound calls via a DID or phone number (Direct Inbound Dialing).  Inbound VoIP service is also known as "Origination" service.
Slowly but surely, some ITSP's started adding more and more extra features one by one in order to gain  a competitive advantage over the competition.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

My VoIP Evolution: From Softphones, ATA's, IP Phones, .... to IP-PBX's?

Originally when I started dabbling with DIY VoIP (at least 13 years or more ago), all I had was a softphone running on my PC. (Honestly, I can't remember if it was on Win95 or WinXP).  Best I can recall, the first softphones I used to get my feet wet in VoIP were Skype and DialPad back around 2002-2004.

At this time in VoIP history, VoIP over softphones on a PC were not quite ready to replace PSTN landlines (Public Switched Telephone Network) or home phone service.  But, for people like me, it was a great long distance calling alternative at much cheaper rates.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

IVR (Auto-Attendant) - A Frill, Must Have, Or SMB Essential?

IVR stands for "Interactive Voice Response".  Whether or not you are familiar with this acronym, we have all encountered IVR's each time we call a company's customer service line for one reason or another.  You know the drill:  press 1 for sales, press 2 for marketing, press 3 for the parts dept., etc, etc.

The IVR feature is not typical of many low-cost BYOD DIY ITSP (Intenet Telephone Service Provider) VoIP services.  If they do, it is usually offered as an add-on service at extra cost.  Lucky for me, IVR is just another free feature offered by my primary low-cost DIY VoIP providers.

Typically, a VSP (VoIP Service Provider) that offers IVR features is focused on businesses, small and large. Their marketing is almost entirely focused on business users, and they only offer IVR and other features like "Time Conditions" and "Caller-Id Filtering" at premium prices along with all the other features that my BYOD DIY VoIP providers offer for free.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Incoming Call Time Conditions - A Frill, Must Have, Or SMB Essential?

"Time Conditions" is another great feature that some BYOD DIY VoIP providers offer - at no extra charge (at least the ones I use do).  So, just what are "time conditions" and how do I use them?

Time Conditions are a feature that is always watching the clock to determine how to handle or route incoming VoIP calls.  Based on the time of day and how the settings have been configured, incoming calls will essentially be handled according to the options available by the VoIP provider's time conditions feature.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Caller-ID Filtering - A Frill Or Must Have?

If you pick the right BYOD DIY ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider), the cost-to-benefit ratio as compared to the incumbent POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) and Cable digital phone providers is off the charts.  The incumbents just can't compete anymore (at least not on this turf).

One of the invaluable features I make substantial use of is called "Caller-ID Filtering".  With my DIY VSP (Voip Service Provider), this feature is free.

So, how does Caller-ID Filtering work?

Monday, 12 October 2015

Ring Groups - A Frill Or Must Have?

"Ring Groups" is a feature that can route, or distribute calls intended for your main phone number, to two or more alternate phone numbers, SIP URI's, extensions, or sub-accounts.  In other words, a ring group is essentially a configurable feature that re-routs (simultaneously) a phone call to multiple phones and/or destinations that you specify in your ring group configuration list.

Ring groups is a very useful function to have at your disposal when you want to be reached at multiple locations, multiple phones and/or multiple numbers.  These multiple locations and phones can be alternate landline phone numbers, mobile phone numbers, SIP URI's, or multiple sub-accounts and extensions connected to your main VoIP account.

In a previous article, I talked about sub-accounts and extensions.  I'm a big fan of using BYOD DIY VoIP services that offer sub-accounts/extensions at no extra charge while still maintaining a very low operating cost.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

VoIP Service Sub-Accounts And Extensions - What's The Point?

What do you do when you want to connect more than one VoIP device to your BYOD DIY VoIP account?  Many of these services only provide one connection or line per account.

The majority of DIY VoIP clients are satisfied with a single VoIP phone line that can replace their single-line incumbent POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) telephone service.  Just that move alone will save anyone bundles of money, annually.

Many BYOD DIY VoIP service providers only offer one-line service per account.  And, for those DIY consumers who only need a single line, this is certainly the cheapest and simplest solution way to go.

Now, let's suppose that you want to have multiple VoIP phones distributed about your home, or small office.  The following discussions offer examples of various typical scenarios to consider.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Multi-Line ATA's and IP-Phones - What's The Point?



Most VoIP ATA's come with two analog telephone lines.  Assuming your VSP (VoIP Service Provider) provides you with two (or more) VoIP lines (or extensions, or sub-accounts), what would you do with that 2nd available line?

Monday, 19 January 2015

WebRTC - Mozilla Firefox "Hello" Tutorial


In my previous article, I introduced the recent Mozilla Firefox WebRTC feature called "Hello".

I'm intrigued with Firefox "Hello" because of how simple Firefox has made the process to create almost instant browser-to-browser voice and video calls, or conversations using its built-in ready-to-go WebRTC technology.

There are no accounts to sign-up for.  No groups to join.  No registrations required.  If you have a Mozilla Firefox web browser installed on your PC, a webcam with microphone, speakers, and/or a headset, you are good to go.  And, all calls are encrypted, by default.  So, no worries about 3rd party or man-in-the-middle conversation snooping.

In this tutorial, I will provide some step-by-step instructions of how to setup your own peer-to-peer WebRTC multimedia conversations between your Firefox browser and any other Firefox or Google Chrome WebRTC enabled browser.  So, let's get started.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

WebRTC - Mozilla Firefox Takes It To The Next Level


WebRTC is an open source project that was released by Google back in 2011.  The WebRTC project (Web Real Time Communications) is currently supported by Google, Firefox, and Opera.


WebRTC provides for direct browser-to-browser (peer-to-peer) multimedia communications without installing any 3rd party software or plugins.  That's a big deal!  All one needs to setup a Voice or Video call is a WebRTC enabled browser, a webcam with microphone, speakers, and/or headset.  And, most important is that by default, ALL calls and connections are encrypted with HTTPS protocol provided by the web browser just the same way we connect to our bank accounts with an encrypted connection.

Currently, it is my impression that WebRTC is one of the hottest growing technologies on the web and in the telecommunications industries. Literally, dozens if not hundreds of companies are working on some kind of WebRTC implementation with their own spin in an attempt to become competitive in this fast growing space.

Back in mid 2013, I posted an article about WebRTC and how I thought it would be the future of telecommunications and multimedia over the web.  I think this is still true, perhaps more so now than ever before.  In a sense, WebRTC is still in its infancy, yet growing by leaps and bounds.  I can't begin to keep up on all the happenings in the area of WebRTC developments.

Up until recently, if we wanted to initiate a direct WebRTC connection with another PC's browser, we were dependent on 3rd party web sites (acting as a kind of proxy) to setup the multimedia connection between the two browsers for us.  (Kind of like the way VoIP customers use a proxy server to setup VoIP calls.) Some examples of WebRTC enabled web sites that can do this for us are:

In this article, I want to point out one development that really intrigues me - the Mozilla Firefox "Hello" implementation.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Updating Firmware on the Grandstream DP715 IP Phone

In previous articles, I explained how to login as admin, perform a factory reset, and configure the Grandstream DP715 IP Phone with various BYOD VoIP providers. So now, it's time to cover another useful procedure:  updating the device firmware.

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

The fact is, most devices ship with old(er) firmware installed.  Thus, if it isn't the latest release of firmware that's installed, it's old.  Or, if your device was up to date when you first installed it, but some period of time has passed, then you will want to check with the manufacturer periodically just to see if any updates have been issued in the interim.

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 to some extent.  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 DP715 firmware...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Configuring Cisco SPA301 With CallCentric - Quick Guide



The Cisco SPA301 VoIP IP Phone is an affordable generation of SIP based (Session Initiation Protocol) IP Phone that is marketed towards the small business and home office user.  However, I think this could be a good starter Phone for anyone wanting to give VoIP a try.

This is a basic 1-Line IP Phone and is a great way to get started with BYOD and DIY VoIP.  The phone is an all-in-one VoIP Phone that doesn't require any other adapters.  Some people may find it a good outbound long distance calling phone due to it's lack of a call display.

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

To achieve this goal of quick and easy configuration, 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 reliable service registration with CallCentric.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Configuring Grandstream DP715 With CallCentric - Quick Guide



The Grandstream DP715 is a VoIP IP Phone base station with a built-in DECT wireless transceiver that comes with one cordless DECT handset, and is expandable up to 5 handsets (with model DP710 handsets).

I like the DP715 because it is a fully self-contained cordless IP Phone and doesn't require any other analog telephone devices as is required with a typical VoIP ATA ( Analog Telephone Adapter) such as Grandstream's HandyTone 286 or Cisco's SPA112.

In this Quick Guide, I will illustrate the bare bone essentials that I used to configure my DP715 IP Phone base station and its associated handset with CallCentric.

CallCentric is a BYOD and DIY VoIP Service Provider (VSP) based out of New York City, USA.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Configuring Grandstream DP715 With Voip.ms - Quick Guide



The Grandstream DP715 is a VoIP IP Phone base station with a built-in DECT wireless transceiver that comes with one cordless DECT handset, and is expandable up to 5 handsets.

I like the DP715 because it is a fully self-contained cordless IP Phone and doesn't require any other analog telephone devices as is required with a typical VoIP ATA ( Analog Telephone Adapter) such as Grandstream's HandyTone 286 or Cisco's SPA112.

In this Quick Guide, I will illustrate the bare bone essentials that I used to configure my DP715 IP Phone base station and its associated handset with Voip.ms.

Voip.ms is a Canadian based BYOD and DIY VoIP Service Provider (VSP) with PoP proxy servers (Points of Presence) across Canada and the USA.

How To Factory Reset The Grandstream DP715 IP Phone


There can be various reasons as to why someone may want to perform a factory reset.  However, I make it a practice to perform factory resets on any new VoIP ATA or IP Phone device before configuring it with a new or different VSP (VoIP Service Provider).

Why?  Because this is the only way I can be sure that there are no surprises either via corrupted settings or previous configuration setting changes that may or may not cause unknown problems when setting up a new or different VSP on the device.  It's just a good way to insure we are all starting from the same reference point.

Performing a factory reset on the Grandstream DP715 is a very quick and easy function to perform.  Once completed, we are then assured that we only need to change a few essential non-default settings required to configure the phone with a VSP of your choice.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

How To Login To The Grandstream DP715 As Administrator

I recently purchased my first Grandstream VoIP device:  the DP715 DECT Cordless IP Phone. And of course, the first thing we all need to know about configuring a DIY VoIP phone is - how to login.

Logging into the Grandstream DP715 VoIP IP Phone base unit is accomplished via your PC and web browser.   All you really need to know in order to login to the DP715 is the IP address assigned to it by your router's DHCP server and the IP Phone's Administrator Password.

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.  However, I think this could be a good starter Phone for anyone wanting to give VoIP a try.

This is a basic 1-Line IP Phone and is a great way to get started with BYOD and DIY VoIP.  The phone is an all-in-one VoIP Phone that doesn't require any other adapters.  Some people may find it a good outbound long distance calling phone due to it's lack of a call display.

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

To achieve this goal of quick and easy configuration, 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 reliable 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.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

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.