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.

In order to keep this configuration guide straight forward and simple, I am starting with the ATA configured 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 and achieve service registration with FreePhoneLine.ca VoIP service.  From here on, I will refer to FreePhoneLine.ca as FPL.

Before proceeding with the FPL configuration procedures, a few assumptions must be made and prerequisites met:

Assumptions and Prerequisites
  • You have a FPL, Fongo, or Dell Voice account and purchased their VoIP Unlock Key.
  • 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, your 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:                                         and
    -  Google Public DNS:                            and
    -   (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 service with FPL.  
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 FPL.

Now for the configuration details that matter:

Network NAT Traversal Settings
If you are behind a NAT Router (which most of us are) then it is generally recommended to enable NAT Mapping and Keep Alive for the SPA112 and FPL.
  • NAT Mapping Enable:        Yes
  • NAT Keep Alive Enable:     Yes

Proxy Server and Network Registration Required Settings (non-defaults)
  • Proxy:    (Realm)                voip.freephoneline.ca    or,   voip2.freephoneline.ca
  • Register Expires:             360
  • Proxy Fallback Intvl:        360

Subscriber Information Specific Settings
  • Display Name:       Typically, your Caller-ID Name (optional - not required)
  • User ID:               1xxxxxxxxxx  (your 11-digit FPL account number/phone number)
  • Password:            SIP Password  (issued to you when you bought the FPL VoIP Unlock Key) 

SPA112 Default Dial Plan:

The dial plan configuration values as set by the SPA112 defaults are probably sufficient to make traditional types of phone calls.  However, I have slightly modified the default dial plan to be more applicable to FPL calling.

My Fongo Optimized Dial Plan:

You can copy and paste my dial plan from here directly into the Line 1 Dial Plan box in the SPA112.

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.  If you don't have successful registration, you won't hear a dial tone.

Optional STUN Server Settings
Some users have experienced incoming audio issues when using the voip.freephoneline.ca proxy servers. This has happened to me too when switching from the Fongo servers to the FPL servers.  The solution is to enable STUN server support.  I am recommending that you go ahead and configure STUN support:

  • Navigate to the SIP configuration page.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of SIP page to the section labeled:  NAT Support Parameters
  • Set STUN Enable to YES
  • Set the STUN Server value to:  stun.counterpath.net or, stun.3cx.com, or any other valid STUN server you may prefer.

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.

Testing The SPA112 With FPL SIP VoIP Service
Besides calling friends and family in the FPL free calling zones across Canada, I have tested with a few other numbers that I regularly use for testing my VoIP devices.  Especially, the Environment Canada Weather Phones.  These numbers are a good way to test the responsiveness of DTMF tone commands.

All Phone numbers listed below are Free Calls via your Fongo/FPL connected ATA phone:

Canadian Weather Lines:

  • Victoria, BC     wx:        250-363-6717
  • Calgary, AB     wx:        403-299-7878
  • Edmonton, AB  wx:       780-468-4940
  • Regina, SK       wx:       306-780-5744
  • Winnipeg, MB   wx       204-983-2050
  • Montreal, QC    wx:      514-283-4006

Other Test Numbers:
  • National Research Council Canada - Talking Clock:    613-745-1576
  • iNum Echo Test:
     1.  Dial the Vancouver, BC  iNum gateway number:  
     2.  At the iNum IVR voice prompt, enter the iNum Echo Test number: 883-5100-0000-0091
  • Your Voice Mail:  *98

That's it.  I have now covered the bare essentials of getting started configuring your SPA112 ATA with FreePhoneLine.ca.  And, I even included a few phone numbers to call for testing your ATA.

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 FreePhoneLine.ca was the theme of this article.