[u-u] Cheap/free VOIP home phone

David Gilbert uu at dclg.ca
Mon May 25 13:19:24 EDT 2020

On 2020-05-25 10:56, Dan Astoorian wrote:
> On Sun, 24 May 2020 18:32:24 EDT, David Gilbert writes:
>> It's almost certainly Rogers fault.  In the 25 years I've been doing
>> this, if Rogers is the ISP, it's almost always rogers.  Did you change
>> to a rogers modem that is your "router"?  This sounds particularly like
>> a timeout of a NAT mapping.
> Yes, I changed to a Rogers modem (Hitron CODA-4582U).
> Would a NAT mapping timeout in the router result in the call dropping in
> one direction only, though? I'm not familiar with the protocols, but I
> would have expected something like that to be bidirectional.
> I sometimes had calls drop after 15 minutes when I was still on
> TekSavvy, though (although I think this is the first time I've had only
> one side of the call drop on me).
Yes.  It would.  What's happening is that your modem is translating the 
ports involved in the call.  When it ages out the mapping several things 
can happen.  An outgoing packet, for instance, can create a new mapping 
... and end up "originating" from a new port number... or not.  If 
you're loosing one way, the most likely scenario is that this is 
happening, your carrier is "accepting" that change but still sending the 
stream to the old port.  NAT is a hack, and in most consumer devices 
it's badly implemented.
>> This may not be your permanent fix, but try
>> setting your VoIP device as your Bastion or Designated or "Game"
>> device.  This will usually translate any unknown incoming packets to
>> it.  You can only have one --- but this is firstly just to confirm my
>> diagnosis.
> I don't see any settings that correspond to those labels; is
> "DMZ" another term for what you're describing? If so, I'll try making
> the netTALK device my DMZ host (after work), but I don't know how long
> it'll be before I try to have a phone call longer than 15 minutes, so
> troubleshooting may be a drawn-out process, unless there's a "speaking
> clock" service or something that will let me stay connected for that
> long (and even then, I'd only be able to verify one-way communication).
> I wonder how long it'll take for portscans from the Internet to crash
> (or pwn) the netTALK device....
> The Hitron modem also has a setting under "Gateway function" called "SIP
> ALG", which is set to its default of "Enabled." Some Googling suggests
> that some implementations of SIP ALG can be...problematic. Is it
> possible that SIP ALG is not only unnecessary but actually causing my
> problems?
> I admit I'm mildly apprehensive about the prospect of paying the $100
> freephoneline.ca fee and then discovering that I cannot get SIP working
> reliably anyway.

DMZ, yes.

Just to put cards on the table, what does it "cost" to run VoIP?

Generally you pay 50 cents to $1 per month for each DID (phone number 
--- DID is "Direct Inward Dial").  If you are a CLEC (competitive 
carrier) your costs are different --- your numbers are free, but your 
(mandated redundant) interconnects with the other CLECs and the ILEC 
(Competitive and Incumbant Local Exchange Carrier) cost the moon and the 
earth --- so the scale must be larger.

... so going back to 50 cents to $1 per month per DID.  Then you pay for 
the incoming channels you need to support your customers. $10 to $15 a 
channel is "normal." AFAIK.  You can also pay for outgoing local 
channels in any areas you wish to have local calling.  I have some in 
Toronto, for instance, but most of my other customers across the country 
(I have a _lot_ of maritime customers) go out on LD lines.  You need to 
have at least some local lines, because 1-800 calls can only go OUT on 
"local" lines.  In effect, 1-800 calls cost me _more_ than LD calls.

Then there's LD.  I pay about .1 cents ($0.001) per minute in 6 second 
intervals ($0.0001) for US LD and about twice that for Canadian LD.  
There are exceptions.  Local ILECs are problematic. London Ontario is a 
separate ILEC (London Telecom) as is Mantoulin Island.  Generally I 
still pay something like 5 to 7 cents to them. Fortunately, they are 
rare.  And for scale, China is only about 3 cents per minute.

So... lastly, what do I sell.  Flat $20 a month for Canadian unlimited 
and $25 for Can/US.  Includes a DID, no device restrictions, the ability 
to make two calls (conference calling if your device allows, or call 
waiting), voicemail to email that happens centrally (survives power 
failures).  Additionally, you can have the number permanently also ring 
one other number --- most use it to ring a cell phone --- but whichever 
phone to answer gets the call.  For both of these, if you make less than 
$5 in LD to the world, I don't bill for that.

I generally sell customers a polycom phone (there are even DECT 
handsets) or a Cisco/Linksys ATA (bulletproof and cheap... and supports 
fax).  I sell them for roughly what I can buy them for --- but I also 
accept any other device you can make work with my asterisk service.

If you were willing to promise less than 250 minutes per month (roughly 
60 minutes a week), I would be willing to price that at $120 as an 
annually-billed price (I don't take accounts that have less than a $20 

Oh... and how would I fix your problem?  I'd offer you OpenVPN ... which 
both the cisco ATAs and the polycom phones support (but you'd have to 
buy your device)...

More information about the u-u mailing list