As you likely heard on April 27th Northern Alabama suffered a spate of violent storms, including a number of large tornados. Many thousands of people were impacted, including long term loss of power and network connectivity. Digium was amongst the many, many businesses impacted by the events of the day.
My belief is that since your home office network is your network, and under your control, it should actually be more reliable than the network that your office-bound associates a) enjoy or b) suffer. If you operate from a home office on anything more than an occasional basis I think that you should give some serious consideration to maintaining redundant sources of IP connectivity. This is especially true if you rely upon VoIP for your office phones, as we have here for many years.
Redundant IP connectivity can be achieved in a variety of different ways, each with advantages and disadvantages. Performance and price vary widely depending upon the access methods available in your area. For us the best solution has been to use Comcast Business Class cable as our primary internet access, with backup provided by a dry loop DSL circuit from Covad.
It’s important that your two sources of connectivity are different modes of connection, in our case cable & DSL. We could bond a couple of DSL lines and achieve higher speeds, but we’d be susceptible to a single mistake with a backhoe taking out both of our circuits.
I’ve walked down the street, examined the lines and know that the copper goes south down the street while the coax cable goes another direction. No one silly mistake will take them both down.
Last week’s VUC call with FWDs Dan Behringer brings to mind a common complaint about SIP desk phones, namely the lack of an alphanumeric keyboard. Lacking a proper keyboard it’s difficult to really push the idea of SIP URIs as a primary means of making calls.
There are a variety of approaches to overcoming this, including the use of ISNs as prescribed by the Freenum project. That project proposes a means of dialing SIP URIs indirectly, assigning them ISN numbers. Since ISNs use only numbers and the * key they can be dialed on a traditional phone keypad. It’s essentially a way of avoiding SIP URIs through indirection.
Just a few days ago VoIP Supply announced a new desk phone that’s capable of both SIP and IAX2. Not much has been forthcoming in the way of IAX2 capable end-points, even though the protocol has wound its way through a lengthy standards process. Digium has dropped the little IAXy (aka S101i) ATA device a while back. Last year Zeeek tried the Allnet 7960 which is IAX2 capable but lacking in some ways. So it seems that to date there just haven’t been any truly business class IAX2 phones to be had.
A common wisdom here is that one should use a proper hardware phone rather that an extra software on the user’s PC. Why is that such a big issue?
One thing that bothers me with the current crop of hardware SIP phones is that they are hopelessly proprietary.
So what would it take to build a fully-adaptable phone?
I am 100% behind the assertion that most users want a hard phone on their desk. Soft phones, even good ones, seem to be exclusively the domain of those who travel and vertical niches like call centers.
Originally published at www.smallnetbuilder.com on August 13, 2008
When I was asked several months ago about reviewing a pair of new Polycom desk phones, I simply could not believe my good fortune. It was a little like being asked if I’d like to have a Tesla roadster for a few weeks. But of course my good man! Where do I sign?