is it possible voip using laptop?

VOIP setup and troubleshooting
jape
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Location: central vic

is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:29 pm

I have a current wm-a plan which seems to be OK most of the time, I have previously used it for voip and it is OK, not brilliant but OK, using software and sip i think it was called, I also tried a skype account on a skype phone and again, OK. All done via a Huwei 160 usb modem and winXP.
Now I have Ubuntu Linux and browsing, emails etc is fine using same usb modem but i have lost txts ability! Not fussed about that bit. I do want to try voip again and try the Exetel service so it is all in one.
From reading the FAQ here i think i cannot get INCOMING calls or a regional Vic DID using my existing number 03 542xxxxx, and getting rid of the landline. And also cannot use linux for this either? But i am a bit confused ...
Can anyone advise please?

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:11 pm

My family have a group of laptops, both netbooks and Thinkpads. All run a Linux distro with usb modems, and all run VoIP and Skype successfully. The upload speed of a Huawei 160 isn't amazing, and pings may be slower, but it should work. Any of the Ubuntu group (Ubuntu, Mint, EasyPeasy etc) are extremely easy to set up and use. Typical SIP VoIP applications are Ekiga and Twinkle. Phone calls and Skype are more convenient with a headset. You can receive inward calls.

Regarding the regional DID question and ditching the landline, running a normal phone off a 3G modem is possible, but best done with a 3G router rather than a laptop. In some rural areas an antenna helps a lot. There is an example of a very remote installation a couple of years ago at http://steve.blogs.exetel.com.au/index. ... -HSPA.html and http://steve.blogs.exetel.com.au/index. ... PA-II.html

Edit: Baldrick posted about his Exetel Yagi antenna at viewtopic.php?f=308&t=32979&start=45 located in the Namoi valley which (at least in my view) has terrain similar to parts of central Vic.

Another PS: Regional DIDs are only available for some centres - Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo, Wangaratta, Ballarat. If you aren't in one of these areas, local callers to your DID will be billed at STD rates.

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:41 pm

An afterthought, re incoming call troubles, if you have had them:

The USB modem is communicating directly with the powerful Linux firewall, iptables. There is no NAT router to port forward. But....if you have ever run a firewall configuration application (eg firestarter) which permanently modifies iptables, you may have inadvertently closed port 5060 udp to uninvited inward packets. That would stop your inward phone calls, so reopen the port with the firewall app.

jape
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:14 am
Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:12 am

Thanks for the thoughtful reply Dazzled.
The Exetel yagi have been 'out of stock' for ages else I would buy one today.
I did use Firestarter, will check the port.

The FAQ says no incoming voip calls using voip software. Still confused! Sorry. And you are saying i can't keep my number or even get a number that makes local calls local? I have to use a DID elsewhere?

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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:02 am

I suspect the incoming call problem you mention is at http://exewiki.exetel.com.au/index.php? ... ementation. This refers to the lack of the G.729 codec in free softphones to receive calls coming via the VoIP supplier's equipment. (Codecs convert the coded digital internet signal to analogue sound, and vice versa). This codec is proprietary and has quite steep royalty fees. Paid-for softphones include this codec. You can also obtain it for asterix and trixbox software for example. Common fully free and open software (like ekiga) sets up outward calls on G.711, which is also free, and ok for VoIp to VoIP.

The G.729 codec comes paid for and built-in with the Linux systems running hardware ATAs, like the Netcomm unit in the blog illustration I referred to earlier, and this is the preferred way to set up a "normal" phone service on 3g broadband. The ATA is behind a router designed to connect to the USB modem. With this method you don't have to worry about Ubuntu firewalls affecting phones.

You can check your iptables rules with sudo iptables -L. Each rule is tested and possibly acted on in a chain, until the chain finally falls down to a rule which drops everything. There will probably be an inbound rule there to accept only udp which is "state RELATED,ESTABLISHED". This could affect you if there isn't also a rule to transmit udp 5060, which carries the uninvited signal to ring your phone. Firestarter can rectify this.

On DIDs- Exetel can only supply local Victorian numbers for the places I mentioned. If you live in one of these areas, local calls to your DID will be billed as local to your callers. If you aren't in one of these areas your PSTN local callers will face STD charges.

On antennae- there are many suppliers. One of the most creative catalogues is at http://www.rfshop.com.au/Home/tabid/423 ... fault.aspx, eg at http://www.rfshop.com.au/Blogs/tabid/64 ... fault.aspx. A forum search will list other suppliers.

jape
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:14 am
Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:31 pm

Thanks again!
I use a cheap antenna I got on Ebay at present and it enables speeds on download using an exetel account, ten to a hundred times faster than dialup depending on clouds and mist over the ten miles - so i am content enough for now after a decade of poor dialup.
I have setup Ekiga this morning, thanks for the idea, and even managed to get it to work as a test with old voip account details from another supplier. Firestarter didn't affect it! Outgoing calls anyway. No idea how to set up incoming using the ekiga sipusernameetc but will do some googling.
I shall read through the Exetel plans again and try and work out which way to go so I can get a proper incoming call number. I suppose I could then get a permanent call diversion to any new number from the landline, but would then have to pay STD charges on that! Grrrrrr.

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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:36 pm

Ekiga will work inward VoIP to VoIP if the firewall lets it. If calls come in on G.729 you won't have audio, which is pretty pointless for a phone call. It's a bit awkward for changing volume, and I prefer Twinkle. Configure Ekiga at Edit->Accounts->Add

You can also configure your Ubuntu laptop as a router and plug in an ATA with phone, but that would mean never closing down the laptop.

jape
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Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:46 pm

You have been really helpful, thanks again. I couldn't work out the terminology to setup Twinkle! There is obviously a lot of basic stuff I have to learn about voip and how it works and the terms used so I shall do some more general 'googling' when i have time next and read more of the posts here as well.

jape
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:14 am
Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:22 pm

i have been using mynetfone for now, as I remembered i had some credit there. I have tried twinkle and X-lite which were both OK to setup but although my end sounds good the other end gets lot of dropouts and delays, making the calls almost impossible.

Ekiga didn't work often, kept on hanging with error messages.

The mynetfone reps were unhelpful which is why I wanted to go to Exetel as I am happy enough with the Exetel wireless BB for now. So i wondered if I could expect any improvement using Exetel VOIP which was my original idea? I guess not if it is a BB speed or packet loss problem.

I have tried a number of codecs but it defaults to 711a or u and I am plagued with the delay and drop out problems at the other end. Strange that is crystal clear my end. I have tried different headsets and volume balancing.

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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:58 pm

Upload speed is the limiter. Your E160e modem cannot exceed 384 kbps.

A visit to http://speedtest.net/ can give you an approximation of the upload speed you actually get; you can have an accurate second-by-second up and down display if you install the netspeed-applet (use Synaptic). Once installed, you select it as a panel applet (right click on the panel, Add to Panel; right click on panel icon to configure as desired). The extensive Conky system monitor can report 3g with suitable configuration, even better.

Because you are using free softphones you can't avoid G.711, which uses 64 kbps each way to encode sound. Packet headers turn this into 87 kbps over ethernet, versus 31 kbps for G.729 . (See my earlier post about G.729 royalties). You have ample bandwidth down, but it sounds as though you are struggling with upward traffic. Paid-for (and pirate) software can handle G.729. Counterpath has Bria 3; there are others.

If the local tower isn't overstretched, you would get ample upload speed from a Huawei E1762, which is what my family use. We use Twinkle or Ekiga on netbooks, both are satisfactory. The Ekiga messages you received may be diagnostic of bandwidth trouble.

PS This is very inconvenient, but may be worthwhile as an experiment. All the ATAs sold support G.729, and if you configure your Ubuntu machine as a router (help is on https://help.ubuntu.com/) you could plug in a borrowed ATA and give it a whirl.

jape
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:14 am
Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:40 pm

Amazing knowledge you have!

Installed netstat, works fine, thanks bit can't work out how to get accumulated total download/upload, but that would be another thread

installed conky - no idea how to set it up for signal strength and cannot find any other similar applets for that which is a shame, (in windows xp I could watch the signal fluctuate and move the antenna a few degrees for optimum)

speedtest shows slow at present but not surprised as I am 750 metres up in solid cloud and rain ... here are new and old speedtest results
http://www.speedtest.net/result/1028479020.png
and pingtests won't run for me (says no java but java is updated and fine )but old results are:
http://www.pingtest.net/result/24249614.png

I am waiting for a 2.1 gHz yagi to arrive so I can try 3G/Next G reception and speeds on that frequency, will consider a new modem when not quite so poor! (pensioner)

I very much appreciate your knowledge and assistance

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:13 pm

Now I'm really going to get technical, but is been necessary to overcome Huawei's secrecy about these devices, giving very little to the Open Source movement. Today, Ubuntu and others "just work" but before that several stratagems have been used to put 2 and 2 together.

Let's look at the antenna signal strength (RSSI) problem.

The Huawei modems report the RSSI speed as dB convertible to "bars" There is code to show this on Linux at http://oozie.fm.interia.pl/pro/huawei-e220/ - he220stat. It applies to several other Huawei models as well. It draws a neat little diagram with bars in the terminal, and can be quite useful.

There is also a solution to the same problem at http://www.mavetju.org/weblog/html/00282.html, called e169-stats (this author uses the related FreeBSD operating system).

Both of these are source, and you may need to use /dev/ttyUSB2 as the device to get these working on Ubuntu.

Lastly you could investigate the GUI application umtsmon at http://umtsmon.sourceforge.net/. There is a screenshot at http://sourceforge.net/dbimage.php?id=144050

One of these will solve your antenna direction problem. Even more straightforward, if less pretty - you can use modem AT commands to directly interrogate the device. AT+CSQ should return RSSI in dB. Eg, in a terminal:
screen /dev/ttyUSB2
AT
AT+CSQ

You will hang onto the port after doing this, so run something like ps -A | grep -i screen to find the process to kill, and then kill it. If that fails, reboot. If you prefer GUIs, kill with the Ubuntu system monitor.

http://lars-bamberger.gmxhome.de/linux/E169.html has investigated the Huawei device extensively.

Conky is installed with Synaptic. There are online references for configuring it to read the USB modem. By default it meters ethernet and lots of other aspects of your hardware. http://conky.sourceforge.net/ for some info. Some distros actually have made Conky the default desktop!

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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:39 pm

More stuff, but easier - You asked for a download monitor; at the moment Exetel doesn't provide updated XML for 3G services, so you can't use updating meters like the Ubuntu one I put up elsewhere. But there is an excellent alternative - vnstat, http://humdi.net/vnstat/ (Use synaptic). This little app measures traffic on any interface, over whatever period you ask. Every Linux box can use this.

See for an example http://crunchbang.org/wiki/vnstat-netwo ... c-monitor/. I have it permanently recording ethernet on all my boxes.

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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:51 pm

Another afterthought. You can locate 900 MHz and 2100MHz Optus transmitter sites at the ACMA website http://web.acma.gov.au/pls/radcom/regis ... dispatcher. Note the lat/long in the details. You then use http://maps.google.com.au/ to work out the direction from your place.

jape
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:14 am
Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:11 pm

I surprised myself immensely by managing to compile and install umtsmon and after working out i had to restart with 'network manager' off, it even found automatically something it calls yes optus umts! I use exetel of course and remembered the apn was exetel1 and the username is my number but damned if I can remember the password that will enable connection! So it finds a network but doesn't connect. Fortunately turning off network manager didn't lose the existing profile so i can connect again for now. Shall have to ring Exetel during week.

To be honest I am not even sure what umts is! Network manager says it is a GSM signal but I thought it was called hsdpa .... I use a 900 mghz antenna at present and will have the 2.1 Ghz one in a week or so. I shall have to read up more on wireless BB terminology/frequencies etc.

I originally found what to do by looking on maps and working out where towers where, then looking at the ground between me and towers I located on Google Earth, and so it went on. Finally I plucked up courage to get an an antenna and modem and linked it all up and after 3 months and many mistakes (and a faulty modem which threw all my ideas into a black hole) I got it working on Win. Then the signal strength meter showed connection as a percentage as well as the bars and I could do the fine tuning. I have mapped it on Google Earth and drawn lines and followed altitude along them, thus I found only one of a half-dozen towers gets any connection because I live in the bush in a dip! I will use the link you gave to try and check on 2.1 Ghz connectivity. I found the 12 db yagi antenna for $23 to my door from China! later, if I get all this working I will go to low-loss cable and better antenna(e?)

My biggest problem is that the land line I have is also pretty much unusable at times because of noise and static despite chasing Telstra - they admit the cable insulations are all breaking down but they just do not care any more and do not bother with their legal requirements to upgrade since the BB political struggle. The landline will never be upgraded past the exchange 10 km away.

So in emergencies and bush fires I am isolated. Thus the effort here and thus my appreciation of your time and knowledge. I do have another option which is to try and find a mobile phone with an antenna port and somehow find the correct pigtails and connectors etc. But Internet and Voip will keep me in touch with the world and regular fire updates etc.. I just have to get it all more stable and reliable, to optimum within its limitations.

Thanks for all the other stuff, will explore after a rest ... my brain is not used to all this thinking and i only had the time to try all this because it was raining hard today. And I made the effort because I just do NOT want to ever have to go back to Windows. Linux means I can keep my 8yr old laptop going a while longer.

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