Sunday, 17 February 2013

Cisco SPA112 - Quick Setup Page - Good Idea - Poor Implementation


The Cisco SPA112 is the successor of the Cisco-Linksys PAP2T analog telephone adapter (ATA).  The SPA112 does have a few feature enhancements that weren't available in the PAP2T.  Among those enhancements is the Quick Setup feature.

I started this blog page with enthusiasm and the impression that Cisco really did it right this time with the implementation of the Quick Setup page.  I thought to myself, "this will make for a great article to explain how to quickly configure the SPA112 ATA from scratch, in just a few minutes, without having to sift through all the mountains of configuration data, like in the past".   I was wrong.


Quick Setup page  -  A Good Idea...
The Quick Setup page (apparently) is intended for direct access to only the most pertinent configuration settings needed to connect to your favorite BYOD DIY VoIP service provider (VSP), very quickly.  It appears short and sweet, straight to the point, and only requires that you enter the login parameters absolutely necessary to connect to your VSP proxy servers (appearances can be deceiving).  It also includes the ATA default Dial Plan, which will generally work with most VSP's (perhaps a little tweaking required).



But...  It's Only Half-Baked...
It has the potential to save time and effort when setting up a new VoIP provider account on either Line-1, Line-2, or both.  But, it's missing crucial settings that (in my mind) render it a waste of time for the BYOD DIY VoIP enthusiast perspective.



So....  What's Missing ?
Well, just a few settings that make all the difference between being a useful feature vs. a useless feature:
  1. NAT Mapping     (Yes/No)
  2. NAT Keep Alive  (Yes/No)
  3. Outbound Proxy
  4. Use Outbound Proxy   (Yes/No)
  5. Use DNS SRV     (Yes/No)
  6. DNS Auto Prefix   (Yes/No)
  7. Auth ID
  8. Use Auth ID     (Yes/No)
At a bare minimum, the items listed above should also be included on the Quick Setup page.  And because they aren't there, you will still have to navigate to the Voice menu to edit Line-1 or Line-2 pages just to finish editing those values, which most of the BYOD DIY VoIP providers I use require in one form or other.

  • Most of the BYOD DIY VSP's I've used require NAT Mapping and NAT Keep Alive to be Enabled.   After all, most of us are behind NAT-Routers and NAT traversal is an issue for successful VoIP implementation.
    For example, I use VoIP.ms as a VoIP provider.  Voip.ms recommends the user to set NAT Mapping to be Enabled.  (CallCentric is also now recommending enabling NAT Mapping and Keep Alive.  They didn't use to.)
  •  CallCentric requires the Outbound Proxy values to be set to their outbound server name.  As well, they require Use DNS SRV and DNS Auto Prefix options to be set to Yes.
  • Some services require Auth ID values to be entered and Use Auth ID enabled to Yes.
    CallCentric is among the VoIP providers who require the customer to enter their credentials into the Auth ID field and then set Use Auth ID to Yes.

The settings mentioned above are all common and required configuration entries that many, if not most, VoIP services will need to be set one way or another in order to successfully register and/or receive incoming calls with your ATA using their services.

I can only speculate that when Cisco came up with the Quick Setup page idea, they were catering to the enterprise users who connect to one of their Unified Communications systems located behind their firewall on the same LAN.  Probably intended to be used with a locally administered IP-PBX on the local LAN vs. for connecting to a VSP in the cloud, like I do.

Bottom Line:

Don't Bother Going To The Quick Setup Page
Without those values (as mentioned in items 1-8 above) being available on the Quick Setup page, there is no point going there in the first place, because you will still have to visit Line-1 and Line-2 pages under the Voice menu to edit the other pertinent values.

Go Straight To the Voice Menu,  Line-1 or Line-2 Page
Save yourself some time and go strait to the Line-1 and Line-2 pages and configure it all from there.  After all, you'll be going there anyway...


If Cisco updates the SPA112/SPA122 firmware to include more relevant configuration settings on the Quick Setup page, then this article here will certainly become irrelevant.

I have just recently written a couple new articles on how to quickly setup the SPA112 with my favorite VSP's.  And, I won't be doing it from the above mentioned "Quick Setup" page.

The first of those articles is focused on what you need to know "generically" to quickly setup the SPA112 ATA with your favorite VSP.  This will require you to know just what settings your VSP specifies to be altered from the defaults.

Then, the following articles will each be focused on specific VoIP providers that I myself use and how I configure them using my Quick Setup guidelines.  (Just the bare-bones essentials starting from factory defaults.)