Saturday, January 28, 2006

More fun with VOIP

My attitude about my work has always been "If this were simple, they wouldn't pay me as much to do it." I'm not afraid of technology, but I'm in the technology BUSINESS, and understand that for the business to be successful, technology you're selling to consumers SHOULD be pretty straightforward, and the business needs to be well-run.

For the most part VOIP is pretty transparent to the user on the technology side, but these companies need to work on the business side. In the previous article you see that I was spitting and fuming about a company that didn't bother to hint to me they weren't selling anything until after I went through their entire sign-up process. I gave another company a try, Packet8. I set my mom up with this service 6 months ago, and if it works well for her you KNOW the technology part is transparent, she just wants to pick up the phone and dial.

My adapter is a different piece of hardware from my mom's, and my network setup is slightly different (but about 4x the throughput she has available.) I didn't expect to have any problems, but wasn't too happy about giving up some of the geeky features that appealed to me on other services. Still, the point was the telephone calls, right?

Well, the service that's been so reliable for my mom just isn't serving me well. I have a problem where the inbound audio drops and the line indicator on the VOIP adapter blinks like mad. Typical first-line tech support personnel blamed it all on the way I'd set the thing up, advised a number of changes that didn't really change anything. For example, they weren't satisfied that I had set my router's DHCP server to serve up a static IP to their device's MAC address, they wanted me to login to their device and set a static IP in it. Okay, sure, I'll do it to get past to you to 2nd-tier support... they were surprised I'd put it on the DMZ before they recommended it, and generally skeptical about there being any problem with their service at all. I ended up getting better service by posting a review of my experience on where a Packet8 supervisor stepped in. They shipped another adapter, things got much better and... the problem is still there, just not nearly as frequent.

In the interim I found another interesting company, SunRocket. One of their offerings is an annual service contract for $199, including a free 2-handset cordless phone. Decent features, decent monthly price, and it seemed from the reviews like if your service worked at first, it was going to be fine. I went for it (or perhaps "fell for it" would be more accurate. Fill out the order, get the stuff after a few days, everything works, this is great! 2 inbound numbers, each with its own voicemail, distinctive ring, call groups, etc. What's the catch? Fast forward a week, I find an email saying they've turned off my service! Turns out that just because they say the can provide E911 at the address I listed when I signed up, they can't, and it took them 10 days to figure that out. No warning, no negotiating, just turn it off and send the email. Their email didn't even indicate their intention to refund my money! Apparently they don't do that part until the next day... I called and complained and they assured me they were refunding my money. To their credit, they didn't even want me to return the hardware, they just refunded the money and left it at that.

Okay, so I guess I'll try to do the Packet8 thing... by now they're serious about resolving the issue. They had cross-shipped a new adapter and asked me if I'd help with troubleshooting by packet-sniffing the adapter's traffic while making calls and setting it up. Still, meager features and dropped calls don't make me feel great about their service.

Now, to close the circle, my neighbor talks to Voicepulse and they claim to be taking new orders. Here we go again... I placed the order last night, we'll see how THAT goes!


Anonymous said...

Signed up with VoicePulse four days ago using my own Sipura SPA-2002 adapter purchased from Voxilla.

Setup was simple and straightforward. I was up and running in no time. The whole process took about 10-15 minutes.

Service so far has been good and their feature-set is quite impressive, useful, and very flexible. Once logged into your account, you can create hunt lists, distinctive rings, and call blocks, just to name a few.

One very useful feature is "Line Unavailable Forwarding" that forwards calls intended for my VoIP line to another number I specify if my VoIP equipment is off-line (defective equiment, router failure, cable outage, or local power failure).

If all goes well over the next month or so I'll drop my landline and transfer my current number to my VoicePulse line.

DKB said...

I definitely should've bought a Sipura from somewhere else, Voicepulse is taking FOREVER. It's looking like about 25 days from order to making the first call... it didn't take me that long to get a wireline phone in ITALY.