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.


In order to proceed with this quick guide setup procedure, a few assumptions must be made and prerequisites met.

Assumptions and Prerequisites
  • You know how to login to the SPA301 IP Phone -  I explain how:  HERE.
  • You are the owner of the phone and it has not been locked-down by a VSP or previous owner.
  • Make sure the phone is Ethernet cable connected to a LAN port on your NAT-Router.
  • The NAT-Router must be set to issue DHCP IP addresses to LAN connected devices.
  • You know how to perform a Factory Reset (Reset configuration settings to their defaults) - I explain how:  HERE.
  • Once you know how to perform a Factory Reset, I recommend that you do so before proceeding.
  • Your SPA301 IP Phone should be running with the latest firmware version.  If not, I explain how to update:  HERE.
  • Your SPA301 is powered-up and ready to be configured.
  • You already have setup an account with Voip.ms and know your Main Account (or the Sub-Account to be used) SIP credentials that you will use to configure into your SPA301 IP Phone. (i.e. User Name and SIP Password.)
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 SPA301 to connect with and register with one of Voip.ms proxy servers located around the USA, Canada, and UK.
  

Let's Get Started
  • Login to the SPA301 Configuration Utility using your PC web browser. You will initially land on the Voice - Basic - Info page.  The initial  Info  tab screen capture is illustrated below.

    If you performed a Factory Reset as recommended in my prerequisites, you will not need to use Admin credentials to login.
     
  • Click on the "Admin Login" link in the upper right corner of the Configuration Utility window.

  • Next, click on the "Advanced" link, also located in the upper right-hand corner of the window.

    We should now be in Admin and Advanced view mode.

First, I thought I should mention about how to ensure the SPA301 is showing and reporting correct local time.


Time Zone and Daylight Savings Time
Time, Time Zone, and Daylight Savings Time settings are set and edited on the Regional page of the SPA301.  It is located under the Miscellaneous section at the bottom of the Regional page.

The SPA301 default Time Zone is GMT -8.
Because I live in British Columbia, Canada, I am on Pacific Standard Time (PST) and GMT -8 is the correct GMT offset for my area.

  • You will need to set the Time Zone offset for your specific location, as needed.

Even though GMT -8 is the correct Time Zone for me, at the time I wrote this article, my time value as displayed on the SPA301 Status page is still off by one hour.  As it turns out, this is caused by Daylight Savings Time being in effect.

  • The solution is to copy and past the following Daylight Savings Time Rule into the Daylight Savings Time Rule text box.  (This rule is correct for Canada)

Daylight Savings Time Rule:      
start=3/8/7/02:0:0;end=11/1/7/02:0:0;save=1




We are now ready to move on to configuring the Voip.ms Proxy Server settings and User Login on the Ext 1 page.
  • Click on the Ext 1 tab.
    The tab that has focus will turn green;  thus,  Ext 1  tab, once clicked on, is now green.
Because I performed a Factory Reset before beginning, all configuration values you see on Ext 1 page will be their "default" values.



Specific Values To Be Edited For Voip.ms Registration 

NAT Settings:
  • NAT Mapping Enable:       YES
  • NAT Keep Alive Enable:    YES

Now, scroll down the page to the Proxy and Registration section of Ext 1 page.

  • Proxy:                  vancouver.voip.ms     (This is what I use for western Canada)




The image shown on the left is a list of all available Voip.ms PoP servers  (Points of Presence) that you can choose from.


Proxy
Pick a SIP Proxy Server that is nearest you, or preferably one with the lowest Ping Latency.


For my location, I will be using:  vancouver.voip.ms as my PoP Proxy.



Note:

The Voip.ms PoP server you choose to use must be the same proxy that you paired-up with your Voip.ms account incoming DID phone number.  For example, in my case, all my DID's route via the new Vancouver, BC, Canada  PoP proxy server.  Thus, I enter the same proxy name in the SPA301 as I setup for my Voip.ms account for incoming DID's (i.e.  vancouver.voip.ms ).



Scroll down to the Subscriber Information section and enter your subscriber relevant information:

  • Display Name:          The name you want to show for your Caller-ID display (optional)
  • User ID:                    (Main Account User ID, or a Sub-Account ID)
  • Password:                 (Main Account SIP PW, or a Sub-Account SIP PW)
  • Register Expires:      180  


Now, scroll down to the bottom of the page and edit the Dial Plan values.


Dial Plan
While, the default SPA301 dial plan will work for dialing of most numbers, there are some Voip.ms dial sequences (dial strings) that it will not be accommodated without modifying the default dial string.  Thus, it is recommended that you edit or replace the default SPA301 dial plan with a more Voip.ms user-friendly dial plan.

  • Clear and delete the default dial plan, and then copy and past the Voip.ms recommended dial plan into the SPA301 Dial Plan text box in place of the default plan:

My Recommended Dial Plan for Voip.ms:
(911S0|*xx|*xxx|*75xx|**275*x.|4xxx|[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|1[2-9]xx[2-9]xxxxxxS0|xxxxxxxxxxxx.)



You can learn more about Cisco and Linksys dial plans in my previous articles:  Here.


Once you have entered all the required and recommended values listed above, you can now go ahead and click the "Submit All Changes" button.

The following screen will display while the changes are being updated and the phone reboots.


After about 50 to 60 seconds, the Configuration Utility window will land back on the  Info  page.

If your SPA301 was correctly configured and it successfully registered with a Voip.ms proxy server, then you will note that at the bottom of the  Info  page you will see the "Registered" status displayed under the Ext 1 Status section.  You should also note that the "Current Time" has also correctly set (hopefully).


Unfortunately, the SPA301 does not have a status light on the phone that will give a visual indication of registration success.  While, you can view the registration status on the Info page, the easiest way to know that you have proxy registration is to pick up the SPA301 handset and listen for a "Dial Tone".   If you hear the dial tone, you are registered with Voip.ms and can now make outbound calls, and receive inbound calls.


That's It In a Nutshell
So now, I have covered the bare-bones essentials of getting started configuring your SPA301 IP Phone with a BYOD DIY VoIP service provider like Voip.ms.

If you started with the SPA301 configuration default values, and only changed the values and entries described in the above bullet points with your correct account credentials and proxy, you should have a dial tone and now be able to make VoIP calls via Voip.ms.

Obviously, there are numerous additional settings for tweaking the configuration and performance of your IP Phone.  But, the bare bones basics quick start was the theme of this article.




Making Test Calls From The SPA301 With Voip.ms
Because Voip.ms is a pay-as-you-go BYOD VoIP service, you do need to have calling credits in your Voip.ms account in order to place calls to PSTN landline or mobile phone numbers.

Here are a few Free Test Calls that you can make regardless of the calling balance in your account:
  • *97(#)   -  Voice Mail access   (if you setup your Voip.ms voice mail box)
  • 4443(#)  -  Voip.ms Echo Test
  • 4747(#)  -  Voip.ms DTMF Tone Test
    When you hear the tone, press any key on the phone keypad.  The Voip.ms DTMF Test IVR will talk-back the name of the digit you pressed.
  • 822(#)  -  Caller-ID Talk-Back
  • 1-555-555-0911  -  Caller ID talk-back and e911 Test
    This test does not call 911;  it only tells you if your account has been enabled and activated for e911 emergency calling.  You need to subscribe to e911 service via your Voip.ms account if you want to have e911 access.
  • 011-883-510-000-000-091  -  iNum Echo Test
  • 011-883-510-000-000-093  -  iNum Caller-ID Test
    Because iNum calls are international numbers, they are dialed as an international number, which means from the USA and Canada, you need to precede the iNum number dialed with the International Direct Dialing (IDD) Access Code of 011.  (iNum calls are free via Voip.ms)
Note:
Entering the # key will initiate an "immediate send" on a dial string.  In some cases, you may experience ~ 3 second delay, or more between dialing a number and a connection.  Pressing the # key at the end of a dialed number can sometimes speed things up and provide a faster connection.


Happy VoIP calling via your SPA301!

More of my articles about the Cisco SPA301:
Note:   
Don't forget to set an Administrator Password for your SPA301.  It's good security policy.