The long path to VoIP satisfaction

24 Nov 11 07:00AM EST
Post by Matthew Steen  Matthew Steen Google Plus

Recently we changed mobile providers to Amaysim; with that change came a dip in coverage. Neither one of us (one on Optus, one on Telstra) had issues prior to swapping, but since the change we’ve had to walk outside of the house to get any decent coverage, despite Amaysim using Optus as a backbone for coverage.

Obviously this couldn’t go on. We were happy with Amaysim outside of the house so we decided to take a step in the VoIP direction for making calls inside the home. Voice over Internet Protocol has been around for many years, but it’s still a minor player in telco supply.

Our ISP supplier Internode has been providing fault free coverage for a couple of years now, using coverage without needing a landline, but still through the copper. Their marketing term is "naked" ADSL. We’ve been happy with it, so thought we would give their VoIP service a go. 

To get VoIP I needed to either change my modem so I could plug any phone into it, or get a separate phone that does the VoIP side of things. I went with the VoIP phone to see what kind of technology is good enough for a major ISP to supply to its customers. Our VoIP service was connected prior to receiving the phone, and delivery of the phone itself took around four business days.

I thought getting connected would be as simple as connecting Ethernet and power cables to the phone. Purchasing directly from the ISP for $200 meant all the necessary settings were already incorporated into the phone. You pay for this privilege - I could have gotten the handset about $50 cheaper from a random electronics supplier. 

My two-year-old router was incompatible with their service, and after four hours over a couple of days on the phone to their tech support (which was great, but difficult in a black spot area), they suggested an upgrade in firmware would fix the problem. This didn’t work initially, so they supplied us with a replacement modem, and that solved the problem. However, we hadn’t budgeted for a replacement modem, so we planned to ask for a refund on the hardware and plan since they were unable to supply me with the service without me outlaying additional money for a modem/router. The process made it seem as though I’m one of only a few people who have old technology.

Interestingly, Internode customer service claims they cannot provide a refund if the product works (the VoIP phone in this case). However if the provider cannot deliver a service unless I spend more money on the service beyond what I have initially budgeted for, money they ought to declare up front in the initial signup, I fail to see how their hardware actually works. Rather, it will only work for someone with the right combination of other hardware. Of course Internode are covered by this in their terms and conditions, albeit in suitably ambiguous terms.

This story has a happy ending, as one of Internode’s technical support people (who have been amazingly patient) had the bright idea of contacting my modem manufacturer to get the firmware I needed directly, which worked. Now we can wander around the house, and even out into the front yard, and never get interference. We haven’t downloaded something large like watching shows on iView to see how it interferes with the connection, but we rarely do the two things at the same time anyway.

The moral of the story is that if you are planning to go down the VoIP route, plan for some delays and a possibly rough transition. 

Do you have VoIP? Did you have issues setting it up, or was it a breeze? Ever considered getting a landline alternative like VoIP with a dedicated phone, or do you rely on softphone providers like Skype? How do you find the service?


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