Amazon follows suit and reduces cloud prices.

Posted by admin on March 27, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Good news for the IT community, this morning Amazon has announced that they will be reducing AWS prices by up to 65%, this happens after Google announced similar price cuts this week.

For the official announcement click here

0

H2O Wireless “Worst phone company ever”

Posted by admin on October 2, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Although this is not VoIP related, cellular phone service is a very close relative of VoIP, therefore I felt I had to write about my experience so all my USA readers know to be careful and not to use this horrible company called H2O Wireless.

Last week I bought a H2O Wireless SIM card and activated it with the $60 per month plan which supposedly includes Unlimited Talk/Text and 3gb of data.

It was a new phone so I installed all my usual apps and synced the data, before I was finished installing my download speed slowed down significantly I couldn’t install any more apps because it was too slow, I had to stop the downloads.

I called the tech support where I was told that my data will be reset and everything will be OK, I was told to restart my phone and speed will back to where it was, I did that but to no avail, so I called again and was told that my data package was only enabled for 3g and not for 4g (this does not really make too much sense because my phone is a 3g phone to begin with, and I did not even have 3g speeds all I was having was 2g speed of approx. 100 kbps) she did some changes and the data speed went back to approx 2mbs.

A half an hour later I realized my data was slow again, so I called back customer service but it was after 12 midnight EST and they were closed not to be reopened until 9 am next morning, I had no choice but to go to sleep without internet.

Over the next week I called every day multiple times, I was told all kinds of different nonsense, first I was told to shut my phone and keep closed for 2 hours, then I was told to restart phone and not use internet for 2 hours and I was assured multiple times that this will solve the problem.

Then I was told that my problem is too big for the regular support team to handle and it will be escalated to a different department and that someone will call me back within an hour, after an hour and as you must of guessed by now, nobody called back and I was told that she will personally contact the department and that she had no doubt that I will be called back within the hour, but as usual with this horrible company nobody called back.

Next representative told me that this is a very difficult issue and I will be called back within 24-48 hours.

Tonight I called back and I was told that the representative that I spoke to yesterday was supposed to give me a ticket number, and because no ticket number was issued I will have to resubmit the ticket and wait another 24 hours, I said enough is enough and asked to speak to a manager.

I was put on hold and after about 20 minutes on hold another call came in on call waiting from an unidentified number I picked up and a representative that identified himself as a manager by the name of Jose but refused to provide his last name, he told me that because I already used my first 500mb of data that’s why my speed was throttled, I became furious, I said I bought the 3gb plan even though it does not include international calls that I use a lot just because I needed the data, and nowhere on the site does it say that speed will be throttled, I asked him to show me where it says about throttling, and he couldn’t find it, I asked him to provide me this in writing so my lawyer could take a look at this and he refused, so I requested a refund, because I did not get what I paid for, and he said there is no way I can get a refund, I said OK so I would like to record your call so I have what to provide to my lawyer, and he said, I do not give you permission to record my calls and said I will be hanging up now and he hung up.

In my opinion H2O wireless definitely wins hands down “the worst phone company ever”.

0

Are you using MLM phone service?

Posted by admin on May 19, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Are you using MLM phone service?

Would you trust your phone line to a MLM company that uses a pyramid scheme where new customers pay for your service, most people might answer no, but in fact lots of those people might be using a MLM company for their phone service.

Those of us who run a VoIP business definitely have encountered customers leaving them for Ooma, Magic Jack or NetTalk, it’s very hard to convince the customer to continue paying for his residential phone line $20-$30 per month when they can get it for almost free from one of the above companies.

When the wholesale price of USA termination ranges from approx. $0.0025 – $0.01 cents or more per minute, and average residential customer uses approx. 1500 minute per minute, the cost to the company can be between $7.50 – $15.00 or even more, just for the termination, all this is before cost for incoming trunks, human resources, data center costs, operational costs, sales & marketing.

These companies might be recovering some of the funds by receiving “Access charges” and “Reciprocal Compensation” from their incoming calls, with some carriers they might have “bill and keep” agreements where company A wont bill company B for calls coming from company B and company B wont bill company A for calls coming from company A, but for smaller companies this does not always work out to their benefit.

So what’s the business model for some or all of these low cost companies, its either they make money on the device which can cost well over $200 and if after 1 year the device decides to quit, customer will need to shell out another $200+ for a new device, now let’s assume that the average cost per customer after all expenses reaches $15 per month, which is $180 per year, then after a year the company is already losing money on the customer.

With Magic Jack the margin is even tighter, where you pay $69.95 for the plus model or $39.95 for the regular model and then its $29 per year, or $20 per year when you prepay for 5 years, let’s make the math, if a customer buys a plus device with 5 years of service, then he would pay $170 for 5 years of service, when the cost to the company is approx. $900 for that period.

All the above companies have other sources of revenue from premium service, and international call charges, but only a fraction of the customers opt to pay for premium service.

Which brings us back to my point that these companies rely on income from new customers to cover the cost of the older customers, with the hope that they will constantly add new customers to cover the cost of the old customers, they also bet that some customers will stop using the service before they used all the months they paid for, they also bet that the devices will fail and customer will be forced to buy a new device.

We all definitely remember SunRocket when they had their customers prepay for a year or two to get very low prices but when the MLM scheme failed so did the company.

So are these companies here to stay? only time will tell, some customers will argue that they don’t really rely that much on their home phone and if the company will go under even if they will end up losing their phone number is not that much of a hassle, and they are willing to take the gamble that these companies will be here for the next few years, after all they have been around for a couple of years and show no sign of going under (which might just be the result of deep pockets of investors, and not the result of a profitable business model), and even if the company will quit after a few months they would most likely recover their initial investment, they might be right and it will be hard to convince them otherwise.

Another option that some customers are opting is using a Google Voice account with a OBI box, but Google is very unpredictable, they might close the door to OBI if it does not fit with their business model, and they might start to charge for the service in the near future, after all they are extending the free calls in the beginning of every year for another year, but there is no insurance that next year it will remain free.

For us in the business there isn’t much we can do but to work on reliable service and great customer support, and use that as a counterweight to those monsters, we can try to convince the customer that MLM companies fail 100’s of percent more often than regular companies, we also need to focus more on small business customers who need reliable service and where income per customer is usually much higher.

This is my 2 cents, the facts regarding costs and averages have been taken from VoIP companies I work with, national averages might be higher or lower, I also don’t have proof that these companies use a pyramid scheme, its just the only explanation which makes sense to me, if you disagree feel free to comment.

0

The beginning of the end for analog landline phone lines?

Posted by admin on October 5, 2012 in Uncategorized |

If the Ohio house has its way, local phone companies in Ohio will be able to stop providing landline phone service to under performing areas.

This comes at a time where VoIP is cutting into profits of local phone service providers, VoIP providers can provide service to anyone without building and maintaining expensive infrastructures, because they are relying on existing infrastructures that customers already have.

Same is true as cell phone carriers are offering unlimited plans at reasonable prices causing lots of people to forgo landlines altogether, although lots of rural areas don’t have full cell phone coverage therefore this bill is angering lots of residents.
Ohio University is in the process of moving over their 10,000 landline phone lines to VoIP, so they won’t be affected by this bill.

If this is going to become a trend and other states will follow suit remains to be seen, but eventually all phone service will be digital and the local phone companies that already have the infrastructure built and need to keep it running in order to provide internet service will switch to VoIP in order to cut costs.

Phone companies already provide VoIP products, like FiOS Digital Voice from Verizon, but it runs on FiOS which is not available all over, especially in the rural areas which naturally would be the first areas that phone companies would want to terminate local phone service, a previous attempt by Verizon to provide VoIP under the “VoiceWing” brand has failed.

Source Senate Bill 271: Proposed legislation allows telephone companies to stop providing basic phone service in some areas

1

Will cellular roaming soon be a thing of the past?

Posted by admin on September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized |

The answer in short, probably partially.

For years I’ve been saying that eventually cell phone service will be limited to data, voice will be carried over the internet via VOIP, the exciting thing about this is that you can travel anywhere and buy a local SIM for data, and talk on the phone as much as you want as if you’re in your home country.

This technology has been available for a while now using VOIP applications that are either built into the OS or third party apps, I’ve had mixed success with VOIP over 3g, some areas the voice was as clear as a landline, and in other areas there were lots of issues with latency, jitter, bad 3g coverage or carriers blocking VOIP traffic.

But now with 4G emerging rapidly in more and more markets, VOIP over 4G is slowly becoming a reality, carriers are starting to roll out VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) which is the cellular carriers answer to VOIP, this technology has multiple advantages over SIP notably that it can handle echo cancellation on the network side, thus not relying on the handset which can be a great advantage if the handset does not have enough muscle to handle the tedious task of echo cancellation, carriers also have control over their network therefore can offer QOS for voice traffic.

VoLTE will probably not be of an advantage for the traveler, because carriers will probably not be willing to give up on their income from roaming minutes, also because you will need to use data in order to use VoLTE and international data roaming is still very expensive.

But with smart phones becoming faster and faster, with quad core cpu’s found even in entry level phones the advantages of network side echo cancellation might not be an advantage at all in the near future, and with 4g networks speed QOS might not be that important and echo will be greatly reduced, sip alternatives will probably become more and more attractive for the traveler.

I haven’t tried yet VOIP over 4g, but a associate of mine recently traveled to a foreign country, he bought a 4g hotspot (like a MIFI) and he used his tablet to make VOIP phone calls, he claimed it was as clear as his landline phone.

With prices for unlimited minutes falling every day using a third party sip provider might not be a viable alternative for the regular user, most SIP carriers dont provide SMS which is another drawback, but for a traveler nothing can be more exciting than to pick up the phone at the Eiffel tower and not rushing to get off the phone because every minute on the phone is more expensive then a minute flying on the airplane.

So until carriers will stop charging for roaming, the best option would probably be to forward your cellular (and home) calls to a VOIP carrier, and use a VOIP enabled 4G phone with a local SIM, with a SIP provider that would let you set the outgoing caller id to your cell phones phone number.

1

How to create Custom Caller ID on Asterisk

Posted by admin on September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized |

For years I was ofering my customers custom caller id which changes the outgoing Caller ID according to the destination, its used mostly by companies who do business in multiple countries and they have DID’s in those countries and they want the outgoing caller id to display the local DID.

Recently I’ve seen several companies advertise this service as if they discovered a major breakthrough when really all it takes is one single database query to be called before the call is placed.

No AGI programming is required all thats needed is to compile Asterisk with the mysql module or the odbc module.

The way I do it is very simple, I created a table with 4 fields, (id, device, prefix, callerid) where device is the name of the sip peer, prefix is the prefix of the country and area code you wish to set the outgoing caller id, callerid is the caller id you want to send, here is the code to create such a table in MYSQL

create database customcid;

CREATE TABLE `customcid` (
`id` int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
`device` varchar(20) NOT NULL,
`prefix` varchar(10) NOT NULL,
`callerid` varchar(20) NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1;

Next I wrote a gosub macro which queries the Database and if it finds a caller id for the destination it will set the outbound caller id accordingly, here is my macro it can be rewriten to use ODBC, etc

[customcid]
exten => s,1,MYSQL(Connect connid localhost username password customcid)
exten => s,n,GotoIf($["${connid}" = ""]?error,1)
exten => s,n,MYSQL(Query resultid ${connid} SELECT prefix, callerid FROM customcid WHERE device = ‘${CHANNEL(peername)}’ and prefix = SUBSTRING(‘${ARG1}’,1,LENGTH(prefix)) AND LENGTH(SUBSTRING(‘${ARG1}’,1,LENGTH(prefix)))>0 ORDER BY LENGTH(prefix) DESC LIMIT 1)
exten => s,n,noop(${resultid})
exten => s,n(fetch),MYSQL(Fetch fetchid ${resultid} prefix callerid)
exten => s,n,noop(${prefix} ${callerid})
exten => s,n,MYSQL(Clear ${resultid})
exten => s,n,MYSQL(Disconnect ${connid})
exten => s,n,set(CALLERID(num)=${callerid})
exten => s,n,return
exten => error,1,noop(Database Connection Error)
exten => error,n,return

Next you will need to call the macro before completing the call

exten => _X.,1,gosub(customcid,s,1(${EXTEN}))
exten => _X.,n,noop(Regular routine to complete call

Now all thats left to do is to populate the table, it is as extremely flexible, for example you can have one number for USA and another number for USA area code 212, all you need to do is enter 1 in the prefix, and in the next record enter 1212 and the query will chose the right one, you can even customize it down to a certain number, for example if you want to set a certain outbound caller id when you call 1-212-555-1212 then enter 12125551212 in the prefix field.

4

Why you don’t become a VOIP provider by simply purchasing a dedicated server

Posted by admin on September 16, 2012 in Uncategorized |

Over the years that I’ve been doing VOIP consulting, I’ve come across more and more companies who consider themselves VOIP providers, who don’t have anything but a single Asterisk server hosted in a data-center, most of these companies are run by opportunists who hear over and over that VOIP is the future and they want to jump on the bandwagon, some are more technical savvy and some are less, but the common denominator is that none of them are prepared for disaster, and as we know we need to plan not because “if” disaster happens, but for “when” disaster happens, sooner then later it will hapen.

One of my clients even had his server located in his office on a Cable internet connection, and when a backhoe 2 blocks away cut the cable for the entire neighborhood, he quickly brought the server home to connect to his DSL connection at home, this guy was advertising in his local paper, and had no idea what he was doing.

Here is why becoming a VOIP provider is not as easy as the do it yourself websites might want you to think, and why planning is crucial for the small VOIP provider.

1) Redundancy: You need multiple layers of redundancy to have a reliable network, Godaddys incident this week is a good example why you cant rely on any single source even on the largest registrar, in order to have reliable redundancy you need to host servers in multiple networks, and you need to implement proper failover methods, like heartbeat, dns failover, etc for every service including SIP Registry, media and database etc., also when relying on DNS you will need more then one DNS provider so if the dns provider fails like we just had with Godaddy you will still be up.

2) Load Balancing: you need to make sure that your servers can handle all your users at peak, therefore you need to implement proper load balancing and add more servers as required, sometimes your redundancy solutions will also provide load balancing, therefore proper planning is crucial.

3) Routes: You need high quality routes, because if you have the best equipment with lousy routes your customers will not be happy, your customers expect the best quality and every little quality issue like echo, jitter, latency of packet loss will make very unhappy customers, you will need multiple carriers just in case one carrier cannot handle the call, simply buying routes is not enough, if dealing with lots of destinations finding the right route for every destination can be a nightmare, some companies have entire teams of specialists to manage routes, simply using a LCR program is not going to do too much good when a route needs to be removed for a certain destination.

4) Customer support: Problems happen often when using VOIP, most of the times its related to the internet connection, but even when its not your issue, you will need to make the diagnosis and guide the customer on how to handle the issue with his ISP, ISP’s will often throw the ball back in your park just because they can, lots of times their techs have no idea whats jitter etc, they might tell you as long as you can browse on the internet there is nothing they can help you, in the end the customer will come back to you, and as much as you try to explain to him that IP traffic is very sensitive because we need it in real time and cant rely on packet re-submission he will still blame you, handling problems like this can be very time consuming, and require techs who really understand sip and can run a trace on sip and RTP traffic, simply knowing how to set up Asterisk is not going to suffice.

5) Techs that know your system: There will always be bugs and glitches that need to be fixed, there will always be that new feature that you need to add to your system in order to stay competitive, sometimes things have to be fixed right away, and relying on one person working part time is going to put your business down the drain.

6) All the rest: Like every other business you need the proper sales team, the right financial adviser etc, it all comes down to money, and if skipped be ready to be added to the long list of companies buried in the VOIP graveyard.

So to put it in a few words you need Planning Planning Planning and more Planning, and of course Money Money and Money

0

Asterisk 10.8.0 Now Available

Posted by admin on September 13, 2012 in Uncategorized |

The Asterisk Development Team has announced the release of Asterisk 10.8.0.
This release is available for immediate download at
http://downloads.asterisk.org/pub/telephony/asterisk

The release of Asterisk 10.8.0 resolves several issues reported by the
community and would have not been possible without your participation.
Thank you!

The following is a sample of the issues resolved in this release:

— AST-2012-012: Resolve AMI User Unauthorized Shell Access through
ExternalIVR
(Closes issue ASTERISK-20132. Reported by Zubair Ashraf of IBM X-Force Research)
— AST-2012-013: Resolve ACL rules being ignored during calls by
some IAX2 peers
(Closes issue ASTERISK-20186. Reported by Alan Frisch)
— Handle extremely out of order RFC 2833 DTMF
(Closes issue ASTERISK-18404. Reported by Stephane Chazelas)
— Resolve severe memory leak in CEL logging modules.
(Closes issue AST-916. Reported by Thomas Arimont)
— Only re-create an SRTP session when needed
(Issue ASTERISK-20194. Reported by Nicolo Mazzon)
For a full list of changes in this release, please see the ChangeLog:

http://downloads.asterisk.org/pub/telephony/asterisk/ChangeLog-10.8.0

Thank you for your continued support of Asterisk!

0

Godaddy CEO Addresses Sept. 10 Service Outage

Posted by admin on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized |

Go Daddy Customers and Community,

We owe you a big apology for the intermittent service outages we experienced on September 10th that may have impacted your website and your interaction with GoDaddy.com.

The service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and GoDaddy.com. We have implemented measures to prevent this from occurring again.

At no time was any sensitive customer information, such as credit card data, passwords or names and addresses, compromised.

Throughout our history, we have provided 99.999% uptime in our DNS infrastructure. This is the level of performance our customers have come to expect from us and that we expect from ourselves. We pride ourselves on providing world-class service — through our products, our site experience and customer care.

We have let our customers down and we know it. I cannot express how sorry I am to those of you who were inconvenienced. We will learn from this.

I’d like to express my profound gratitude to all our customers. We are thankful for your straightforward feedback and the confidence you have shown in us.

In appreciation, we will reach out to affected customers in the coming days with a good faith gesture that acknowledges the disruption. We are grateful for your continued loyalty and support.

If you have any questions or require further assistance, please call us at 1-480-505-8877.

Sincerely,

Scott Wagner
Go Daddy CEO

2

AnonymousOwn3r seems to be a fake

Posted by admin on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized |

AnonymousOwn3r who claimed to be the Godaddy hacker, posted on twitter that he has the source code that runs Godaddy to prove that he is the Godaddy hacker, but a simple google search on the file names revealed that this code was submitted as opensource by ttpython project in 2010.

This just makes me feel that this so called hacker is just a attention seeker who decided to take advantage of the situation.

Godaddy also posted today the following:
The service outage was not caused by external influences. It was not a “hack” and it was not a denial of service attack (DDoS). We have determined the service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and GoDaddy.com. We have implemented measures to prevent this from occurring again.

At no time was any customer data at risk or were any of our systems compromised.

Here is a link to the Godaddy statement http://www.godaddy.com/newscenter/release-view.aspx?news_item_id=410
Here is a link to AnonymousOwn3r’s Godaddy code taken from his Twitter page http://pastebin.com/WMb4Qg7H
here is the link to the opensource project https://code.google.com/p/ttpython/source/browse/#svn%2Ftrunk%2Fgodaddy

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