Monday, September 06, 2004

VOIP Service for home, SOHO and small business

Ok, we've joined the VOIP parade. Anyion Group is now offering Broadvox Direct VOIP service. We get asked all the time about VOIP for use at home and we've tried pretty much all of the major services (and most of the smaller ones too).

You can order, get more info, etc. here:

We choose to go with Broadvox Direct for a couple reasons:
  • Enterprise roots - Broadvox has been offering enterprise services for a couple years and as such had the experience in house to handle the systems architecture for good service. They also provide a natural - and relatively painless - upgrade path to full out enterprise wide VOIP trunking and VOIP centrex deployments.

  • Price - They offer 3 main plans for residential and 2 for business. Calls between Broadvox subscribers are free. Basic residential service w/ 500 minutes for use anywhere in the US is just $12.95. Unlimited residential calling is $29.95 On the small busines side, $44.95 gets you 2 phone lines - 1 unlimited for calling on and 1 w/ 500 minutes for faxing - and a yellow pages listing.

  • First T.38 support - Broadvox is the only VOIP carrier in the mass market at the moment that supports T.38. For those who don't know what that is, simply put it's *the* best protocol for sending faxes or modem traffic over IP connections. W/ T.38 a fax or modem connection only requires the bandwidth of the modem plus a smigon of overhead (i.e. 9.6 or 14.4K for the typical fax machine or 33.6/56K for modem traffic). Without T.38, the fax/modem tones have to be converted into audio, re-compressed, packetized and re-decoded at the other end. That means for a 9.6K fax transmission you'd be using 90-120K to transmit the call using G.711 voice codecs (which is what all the other carriers are using at the moment).

    With T.38 the tones are simply directly transmitted from your VOIP gateway to a T.38 gateway at the provider side - which acts like a faux modem - and the gateway communicates directly w/ the fax/modem at the receiving end. (That's right, your fax/modem doesn't talk directly to the actual fax machine or modem at the remote end. You're just talking to a gateway.) B/c of that, irregularities of IP transmission can be masked. If your IP connection burps somewhere along the way the gateway can hold the connection w/ the remote fax/modem until your IP connection catches up. By contrast, if you were using a carrier that only supported G.711 voice, the call would drop and you'd have to start all over again.

  • Follow-me - Broadvox lets you have your phone number ring both your VOIP phone AND up to 3 other phones. If you don't answer your VOIP phone, you can configure the service to try you at 3 other locations. Or you can even have your VOIP phone ring simultaneously w/ another phone like your cell phone.

  • Call transfer - Just like you'd have on a big office PBX system, calls that come in to your Broadvox phone can be transferred to any other phone, anywhere in the world. Just hit flash, dial the number to where you want to transfer the call and hang up.

  • Selectable bandwith and ports - You can choose how much compression you want on your calls - and thus how much bandwidth will be used. They support codecs from 30K to 90K (total bandwidth used per second in a call). (FYI... 30K sounds slightly better than a good GSM cell phone w/ 5 bars of service. 60K is equvilent to traditional POTS service. 90K sounds like full rate 1B ISDN voice.) You can also change the port being used for the traffic. So if you're on an ISP somewhere in the world that blocks the normal port 6065 used by most VOIP traffic, you can switch to another port number so you calls still come in and go out like normal.
Try it, we think you'll be thoroughly impressed!

We us it ourselves. :-}