Bookmarks for December 4th through January 10th

These are my links for December 4th through January 10th:

Bookmarks for August 5th through October 14th

These are my links for August 5th through October 14th:

Bookmarks for March 8th through April 30th

These are my links for March 8th through April 30th:

Bookmarks for July 20th through September 15th

These are my links for July 20th through September 15th:

VoIP peering & profits

So… shortly, I believe from February next year but am probably mistaken, prices in the UK go up for calling “Lo-Call” 0845 numbers. As I understand it they’ll be similar, or the same as 0870 rates at 20p/min or so.

Now I wonder if the regulator has missed a trick here. It so happens that the nation is converting to broadband, be it ADSL or cable-based, and that very many of those broadband packages now come with VoIP offerings as standard.

My point is that these bundled broadband VoIP packages invariably come with 0845 dial-in numbers and no other choice. Dialing out via your broadband ISP may well be cheap for you but spare a thought for those calling in at much higher rates.

Having been tinkering with VoIP for a good few years I realise that actually this should be ok because calling VoIP-to-VoIP should be free, right? Wrong. Most of these ISPs don’t peer to each others’ networks – for two main reasons as far as I can see –

  1. They’re competitors and have little business reason to peer, apart from keeping the small proportion of aware customers happy.
  2. These ISPs make profits from users dialing in – 0845 is a profit-sharing prefix with which both BT and the ISP in question have a stake. This old story is of course also true of many telephone help-desks and similar. Keeping the customer on the line longer means more profits for the company and its shareholders.

It seems to me that the world could be a better, more communicative place through more thorough VoIP network peering but I simply can’t see it becoming widespread whilst profits stand in the way.

VoIP at Home

Some time ago I bought myself a Netgear TA612V broadband VoIP adaptor. I’d been looking around at Sipura , Broadvoice , Vonage and the like and quite liked the idea of the TA612V. It provides two separate analogue phone lines out, ethernet in from the DSL or cable router and ethernet out with QoS traffic-shaping to give the audio lines precendence. It even came with 555 Minutes of calls from Sipgate (a German company).

If you make less than around £10 calls per month (above which I think Vonage would be cheaper) then the initial layout (around £60 from ) for the netgear adaptor probably pays itself back under a year. All UK calls via sipgate are around 1.9p per minute at time of writing.

So I signed up for a free sipgate number. I went for 0845 as it’s Lo-Call rate in the UK – that’s to say I make the same savings as with calling out with any other sipgate number, but it also works out cheaper for people to call in. Sipgate’s tech support are pretty prompt and helpful though as with so many support services, don’t necessarily answer the questions they’re actually asked.

Anyway, one thing I didn’t like so much was that the TA612V turned out to be tied to the sipgate service – I was really hoping for a terminal adaptor + router with QoS which was configurable by hand. Netgear’s support also seems minimal and I’ve also developed the impression that only ten of these units have been sold. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a BIOS flash which allows the SIP configuration by hand.

What with VoIP being flavour of the year I’d expected a little more hype from Netgear about their neat little adaptor. I guess they’re keeping quiet to see if it’s all as big a deal as the pundits are making out. Asterisk certainly continues to make a stir.

One other point to note is that my TA612V sits behind my DSL+NAT+Wireless router. Unfortunately my entire home network *apart* from the VoIP adaptor is wireless and that renders the QoS on the VoIP adaptor utterly useless. I guess I’ll need to invest in one of those fancy MIMO access points or something and disable the 802.11G-network on my primary. Maybe when Alex moves back up to Leeds he’ll give me back my old Netgear FM114P wireless + firewall.