Its many advantages not withstanding I was driven to use VOIP for other reasons. Understanding my motivation will perhaps help you to also understand why I’ve gone in some of the directions outlined elsewhere on this site.
I despise AT&T…
…and if at all possible I will never spend another dollar with them.
In the mid-1990s my wife had local phone service from SBC and long distance from AT&T. When we started dating AT&T was pursuing her over what they believed was a bad debt. The matter was eventually tracked to an internal accounting error. However, in their zeal to pursue her they badgered us for weeks with threatening phone calls. Their threats included variety of possible actions, some of which were in fact illegal. If only I had recorded those calls!
We pursued AT&T internally to see that the matter was resolved correctly. The entire issue arose over a trivial amount of money. However, their treatment of us sealed our decision to never again do business with AT&T. That was in 1998.
Since then observation of AT&T has underscored the fact that they are totally without regard for their customers or the country. They constantly cry about the cost of upgrading their infrastructure, yet from what I’ve been able to read their recent spate of acquisitions have cost more than major rebuild of their core network. They are more concerned about cornering the market in existing services than adding new or better services.
Their most advanced services, including the U-Verse IPTV service, are predicated on the short term thinking that fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is just too expensive. Verizon, on the other hand, has made the investment in infrastructure to build its FIOS service on FTTH.
AT&T were silently complicit in the federal governments warrantless domestic wiretapping scheme. Others were complicit as well but AT&T as the biggest should have lead the fight against the wiretaps. They have the resources.
When AT&T merged with SBC it became clear to me that we were not going to be able to keep our traditional phone lines without becoming AT&T customers again. And that simply would not do.
AT&T/SBC DSL product offerings available to me remain essentially unchanged in over ten years. They do have some cheaper, low performance services. They have done nothing to improve service performance in my area.
I simply cannot express with sufficient vigor how strongly I feel that AT&T are evil. It may be dangerous to make such a statement about so vast a company. No doubt they have amongst their many staff some knowledgeable and well meaning people. However, at the macro level and in the board room they define corporate indifference to customers.
The pity is that if they treated customers better in the first place then perhaps they wouldn’t have to spend so much money trying to win us back. You can’t believe how many and varied offers they have sent us since we severed all dealings with them. Ditto for Vonage.
FXO Interfaces Suck
There was a period where while ramping up using Asterisk in my home office we tried a variety of small FXO adapters. Everything available at the time (2003) had some kind of problem making them unworkable. I tried everything I could get my hands on including;
- (3) Digium X100p
- Digium TDM400b with 2 FXO modules
- Sipura SPA-3000
- Zultys 4×5 (ip phone with built-in FXO)
In frustration one day I ordered remote call forwarding on two of our lines. I call forwarded those number to DIDs provided by a pair of ITSPs. Thus calls started coming into the office over IP. This worked surprisingly well. Over a period of a year I tried a number of ITSPs to determine which was most reliable. I also refined my network setup to handle QoS, traffic shaping and the G.729a codec. The right combination of these factors has proven very reliable.
One day I realized that the phone bills were shortly to bear the AT&T logo. I also realized that Nuvio had been extremely reliable over several months. So, I ported our numbers to Nuvio just in time to miss the transition from SBC to AT&T branding.
Our boycott of AT&T remains to this day. We also undertake to support lobbying against them where possible.