Friday, 22 February 2013

Configuring Cisco SPA112 ATA With Voip.ms - Quick Guide


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 Voip.ms.  They are a SIP-based VSP (VoIP Service Provider) that offers BYOD and DIY  SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) connectivity.  Voip.ms has POP servers (Points of Presence) throughout the USA and Canada.

In order to keep this configuration guide straight forward and simple, I will begin with the ATA preconfigured with it's factory default values;  and, I'm recommending other users do the same.

Then, I will point out only the essential settings that "must be edited" in order to connect, achieve service registration, and a dial-tone  with Voip.ms VoIP service.

Before proceeding with the Voip.ms-specific configuration procedures, a few assumptions must be made and prerequisites met:

Assumptions and Prerequisites
  • You have already setup a VoIP service account with Voip.ms.
  • You know how to login to the SPA112 -  I explain how:  HERE.
  • The SPA112 has not been locked-down by a VSP or previous owner.
  • Make sure the ATA is Ethernet connected to a LAN port on your NAT-Router.
  • The NAT-Router must be set to issue DHCP IP addresses to LAN connected devices.
  • By default, your NAT-Router will provide DNS lookup with the default DNS servers defined by your ISP supplied Internet Modem.  And, by default, you SPA112 will use the DNS lookup servers as referred by your NAT-Router.  This may be just fine, in general.  However, some people, including me, like to specify highly trusted and known secure DNS servers for their local networked devices.  If you set your NAT-Router to use specifically trusted and security conscious  DNS servers, then all the DHCP enabled devices on your network will also use those same DNS servers for Internet name lookup (including the SPA112).  Here are some widely suggested DNS servers you can set in your NAT-router and/or PC's and ATA's:
    -  Open DNS:                                       208.67.222.222  and  208.67.220.220
    -  Google Public DNS:                         8.8.8.8   and  8.8.4.4
    -   (I have personally used Google DNS for years, now.)
  • You have an analog telephone plugged into the ATA Phone-1 port.
  • You know how to perform a Factory Reset (Reset Configuration to Defaults) - I explain how:  HERE.
  • Once you know how to perform a Factory Reset, I recommend that you do so before proceeding.
  • Your SPA112 is running the latest Cisco Firmware version.  If not, I explain how to update:  HERE.   (My SPA112 was using Version 1.3.1 (003) at the time of this article.)
  • Your SPA112 is powered-up and ready to be configured.


Now that we have all the assumptions and prerequisites out of the way, what remains is only the non-default essentials required to successfully configure the SPA112 for calling service with Voip.ms.

So, lets get started.
  1. Login to the SPA112 Configuration Utility using your PC web browser.
  2. Forget about using the Quick Setup page on the SPA112.  I explain why HERE.
  3. Navigate to (click on) the Voice menu option.
  4. Click on "Line 1" menu option (left-side of navigation window pane).
We have now landed on the page where all the action is:   Voice --- Line 1

At this point, all values you see should be their Default values (assuming you performed a Factory Reset before proceeding).  This way we know we are on the "same page" (figuratively speaking) when it comes to having the same configuration settings as a starting point (no surprises).

The screen captures that follow will illustrate values circled in Red that are either " highly recommended" or must be set for service with Voip.ms.

Now for the configuration details that matter:

Optional Network NAT Traversal Settings
If you are behind a NAT Router (which most of us are) then it is generally recommended (if not essential) to enable NAT Mapping and Keep Alive for the ATA.
  • NAT Mapping Enable:        Yes
  • NAT Keep Alive Enable:     Yes


Points of Presence Proxy Servers - Choices
This is one feature that Voip.ms offers that many of the other VSP's (Voip Service Providers) don't offer - dispersed regional Points of Presence (POP servers).  While, some VSP's only offer 1 or 2 POP's,  Voip.ms offers the user up to 11 proxy servers to choose from.  The trick here is to pick a proxy server with a point of presence closest to where you use your ATA.  Here is a list of POP servers they currently offer:

Houston, TX 
Dallas, TX 
Los Angeles, CA 
New York, NY 
Atlanta, GA
Chicago, IL
Seattle, WA
Tampa, FL
London, UK   -   England
Montreal, QC -  Canada
Toronto, ON  -  Canada

By picking a proxy server nearest to your location, you are improving your odds of having lower latency and/or jitter issues in your VoIP calls.  For me, because I am located in British Columbia, Canada, I have decided to use their Seattle server.  (I'm hoping one day Voip.ms will provide a POP server for Western Canada; somewhere like Vancouver, Kelowna, or Calgary).

Update (June 2014)


Proxy Server and Network Registration Required Settings (non-defaults)
The syntax you enter will be like:  proxy-city.voip.ms.  Substitute the proxy-city with the city of your choice from the specified POP list above.  (I'll be using Seattle.)
  • Proxy:                               seattle.voip.ms
  • Register Expires:            180
  • Proxy Fallback Intvl:       180

Subscriber Information Specific Settings
With Voip.ms, you will have at least a "main" SIP account.  However, they also allow you to setup as many "sub-accounts" as you want.  I personally have numerous sub-accounts for my numerous VoIP devices (ATA's, Softphones, and IP-Phones).  Each one is configured to a different sub-account.

  • Display Name:       Typically, your Caller-ID Name (optional - not required)
  • User ID:               Your Voip.ms SIP Account Number  (or, sub-account number)
  • Password:             Your Voip.ms SIP Password    (or, sub-account SIP Password) 


SPA112 Default Dial Plan:
(*xx|[3469]11|0|00|[2-9]xxxxxx|1xxx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|xxxxxxxxxxxx.)

The dial plan configuration values as set by the SPA112 defaults are probably sufficient to make traditional types of phone calls.  However, Voip.ms recommends the following dial plan to be more compatible with Voip.ms specific services.

Voip.ms Recommended Dial Plan:
(911S0|<:1555>[2-9]xxxxxx|1[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|*xx|*xx.|[3468]11|822|0|00|[2-9]xxxxxx|4xxx|**275x.|xxxxxxxxxxxx.)

You can copy and paste the dial plan from here directly into the Line 1 Dial Plan box in the SPA112.
(Note:  Replace the 555 in the dial plan above with your local area code to enable 7-digit local dialing.)



My Dial Plan Alternative
I decided to craft another custom Dial Plan and simplify it a bit for myself, which should work for others as well.

(911S0|*xx|*xxx|4xxx|[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|1[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|xxxxxxxxxxxx.)

If you would like a little more information about understanding dial plans, I have written a couple articles on this topic.

Once you have finished editing the Line-1 page, Click the Submit button to save all values entered.
The ATA will save the settings and then reboot/restart.  This may take a couple minutes.

If your SPA112 ATA has been configured correctly as outlined above, then once the ATA has finished rebooting, the Line-1 front panel LED will turn to solid GREEN.  A steady green LED for Line-1 (or Line-2) indicates successful registration with your VoIP provider service on that VoIP line.  And, if you have achieved successful service registration, you will also now hear a "dial tone" on your connected analog telephone handset, when the handset is taken off-hook.  If you don't have successful registration, you won't hear a dial tone.

Testing The SPA112 With Voip.ms SIP VoIP Service
The first easy call to make is to your Voip.ms Mailbox:

Voice Mail:    *97

The following are test numbers provided by Voip.ms servers.
  • Voip.ms:    Caller-ID Talk-Back:    822
  • Voip.ms:   Echo Test:       4443   
  • Voip.ms:   DTMF Test:    4747    (the IVR will talk-back to you DTMF keys you press)

Other Test Numbers:
  • iNum Echo Test number:       011-883-5100-0000-0091
  • iNum Caller-ID Talk-Back:   011-883-5100-0000-0093

TIP:  
Sometimes your dialed numbers will connect quicker if you follow your number with the # key.
For example:   *97#   or   4443# , etc.

That's it.  I have now covered the bare essentials of getting started configuring your SPA112 ATA with Voip.ms.

Obviously, there are numerous additional settings for tweaking the configuration and performance of your ATA.  However, configuring the bare bones basics to get connected with Voip.ms was the theme of this article.