is it possible voip using laptop?

VOIP setup and troubleshooting
Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:49 pm

That's a no brainer - why pay good money for an insecure product that is much less powerful, increasingly out of date, won't do well on old hardware, and locks you into expensive applications and av suites? However, if you are that remote, and need simplicity for emergencies, go back and look again at the job shown in Steve's blog in my first reply. He had to buy a 3G router and ATA, so more than beer money. I imagine the corded phone was already there. Steve is Exetel's technical chief.

jape
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:49 am

Dazzled, can you help me with the next step please with umtsmon?
It works if I disable network manager and restart, finding YesOptus umts service, showing a few bars of yellow and red signal strength. However using exetel1 as the apn and my exetel username and password it will not connect. So I imagine either the profile needs to be set up other than that, or some other thing is missing?
Thank you

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:28 am

Ubuntu is pre-configured to use the NetworkManager applet, and you would be best using it for 3G browsing. UMTSMon can display your signal strength but needs the various system config files made right to actually work as a data transmitter - as straight out guesses: was it a new profile; is "Stupid Mode" set to "yes" in wvdial.conf; are the USB ports correct? The two managers are only GUIs running low level commands, and don't really know about each other when you run both.

You can even bypass any network manager and initiate and run a connection in the terminal, using wvdial, and after you see an IP assigned, start the browser. Do not exit the terminal!

But all this began with a need to find the RSSI bars. For some reason network manager applet does not show it despite many suggestions to the programmers. RSSI changes from time to time, and I suspect that constantly monitoring this has low priority for an application that has to work with every kind of connectivity. Oozie solved it yonks ago with his little utility, source at http://oozie.fm.interia.pl/pro/huawei-e220/ (previously mentioned) and this, and similar code, is widely used.

If all you want is the strength to set up an antenna, start a terminal as in my post above. The up arrow can repeat the AT+CSQ command from time to time. This method will monopolise the USB port by the terminal, so you won't be able to do anything else until you release it, as per the previous post. You have to take your time aiming an antenna because the modem doesn't change quickly.

vnstat can meter all your internet traffic, on all interfaces, and is well worth installing (use synaptic). The ultimate, if less convenient, meter is the kernel, eg, cat /proc/net/dev (use a wide window) You can dress vnstat up a bit, as vnstati, see http://humdi.net/vnstat/cgidemo/

PS There is a bars to RSSI to decibels table at http://www.siptune.net/tiki-index.php?p ... aalinaytot (Don't be put off by the Finnish)

jape
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:38 am

What i originally asked for from Exetel was a voice connection using my existing modem 169e. They told me if I kept the original mobile number they would send a SIM and I would get the calls and the Internet. Of course that was all lies and nonsense and this whole exercise started there. End users such as me do not really want to spend all this time and money and effort getting it all set up but at times it becomes a practical necessity or even an intellectual curiosity to learn more. And when the sales staff lie or mislead or are ignorant then we either all go elsewhere or persevere alone without technical support. This is just that, me persevering and trying to get what I was wrongly told I would get, in another way.

I appreciate your efforts in helping and I will try and understand all of this new area of knowledge and implement it if I am able to sort out the concepts that are so simple to you but are often alien to me.

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:30 pm

Right, let's sum up without the details. You live in a remote-ish location, and have an unreliable land line, and you are distant from the local Optus tower. You probably need an antenna, and there are ways to set one up, discussed above and elsewhere in the forum, with lots of examples. You have a slow upload USB modem.

If you want a "normal" phone you really need a 3G router and ATA, as shown in Steve's blog, but this has a cash outlay for the hardware.

To make do with the Huawei in an old laptop, for Exetel VoIP you can use the free Ekiga softphone on Ubuntu using the standard network manager, but that brings with it restrictions because of the lack of G.729 on free software. The same goes for xtensoftphone (X-Lite). These can be avoided with a paid-for Linux softphone like Bria 3 (manual at http://www.counterpath.com/assets/files ... ide_R1.pdf).

Ubuntu can run the free Skype softphone on the laptop without further ado, but Skype doesn't handle SIP based VoIP (supplied by Exetel, Mynetfone, Engin, etc). Skype is only free computer-to-computer.

To digress a bit, Linux only looks unfathomable at first glance, if you are thrown for the first time straight at the terminal or system config files. It really is very logical, built layer on layer over a modular kernel that sits direct on the hardware, ending up in the simple GUI interface layer you normally use. The GUI applications are usually really front ends to terminal commands running a layer beneath without a visible terminal. Unlike another proprietary OS, diving down deeper, a layer at a time, is easy, and can give much power for a little research and some thought. You don't have to learn programming, but some basic familiarity with the concept of the shell layer (the Bash shell on Ubuntu) will pay dividends.

Ravenous
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Ravenous » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:34 pm

jape wrote: However using exetel1 as the apn and my exetel username and password it will not connect. So I imagine either the profile needs to be set up other than that, or some other thing is missing?
exetel1 as the apn is all you should need for HSPA connection. Username and password should be left blank, as far as I am aware.

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:59 pm

There is an interesting UMTSMon demo at http://umtsmon.sourceforge.net/docs/Chr ... .preso.odp (Open Office)

jape
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:02 pm

Thanks, I will read all that as well and try that methoid of profile setup! It is almost fun, not quite, i should be doing other things .... but hey, i still very much appreciate that folk do try and assist.

I have an antenna, yagi 900 mghz, with ten meters of cable to the USB 169e modem. I get 'reasonable' signal. With the meter that was on WinXP it stated often above 90% signal strength, usually the light blue modem LED which I believe is HSDPA and using Exetel that gave me download and upload speeds, in practice, of about 100KBs + with some sites like MP3 fiesta always above that, up to 300KBs. I used the modem software to record and monitor that. Skype was good enough and voip was usually good enough, without much noticeable delay or lag. Except that on occasion, for various reasons such as weather/tower usage, the signal would drop to 50% and all would slow down and voip would be unuseable.

I was told by Exetel that I could use the computer and modem as a mobile phone, it was made clear it was not Voip and I checked that again with sales support, however soon after that connection I found I had been told wrong, the modem/computer setup cannot be used as a mobile phone. I was annoyed that I had carried across my mobile number but that did not matter much.

Lately (last couple of months in particular) the signal has been dropping, often down to 60% and thus on most occasions the voip is unusable. On querying this constant signal drop (after checking and rechecking antenna, cable and connections) I was told by Exetel support that I needed a newer computer, updated operating system and to change to a 2100 mghz antenna to resolve the issues. As I cannot afford all this, i compromised on Linux and ordering the new antenna, yet to arrive.

Using the existing setup of 900 mghz antenna and cable, despite changing to Linux, voip has not improved. I am now aware, from your patient tuition, that this probably was not a fault of WinXP or the processing speed. However as you summed up well above, my need for a serviceable voip remains! And thus this thread. I understand what you say about codecs and the preferable setup being a router and more but until I find whether the signal drop is the tower, my equipment or whatever, i cannot invest further into more equipment, despite Exetel saying it is now required. And after all, the first technical advice I got from them was completely wrong!

You see, the overall reason for the umtsmon was to get the signal monitoring that is most required of all the factors mentioned. meanwhile, finding a mobile phone and connector that would take signal direct from the antenna, updating any computer devices or purchasing more such as a router is not a good idea if for some reason the overall signal strength is lost. I will head for the nearest city in the next couple of weeks and go to Dick Smiths and see if anyone there can advise me on a signal strength meter i can purchase and connect. I will soon have two antenna to play with after all! So if Exetel was right, the new antenna and Linux will make the difference required, however I am getting the feeling it may all be an exercise in the wrong direction and that I was told wrong in all instances of how to improve the signal back to what it was.

I may go back to XP just to setup the new antenna when it arrives before going through all this again ...

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:28 pm

If you do find an affordable signal strength meter, other than reading RSSI from the modem, please share the info!

Re the new hardware and updated OS, you were told nonsense. A recent Ubuntu is as advanced a system as you will find on PC hardware, and its hardware requirements are rather modest. The only improved OSs are getting on the bleeding edge side, or require very immodest hardware. Microsoft has no competition, so you haven't compromised. I know of apps that perform advanced maths, parallel processed across multicore CPUs that run happily on now obsolete Ubuntu releases. MS cannot run them.

As for antenna, you are probably in a 900 MHz area. 2100 has less range and is more likely to be found in urban areas. Optus has maps.

If your upload speed collapses, VoIP is useless, so the sooner you can sort that the better.

Re UMTSMon, start a new profile. If necessary delete the file in the hidden directory .umtsmon in your home folder. If you can't see it, File Manager: Edit->Preferences->Views and tick Show Hidden and Backup Files. Once you know you have adequate signal, I'd go back to Network Manager as Ubuntu is organised for it.

jape
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Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:42 pm

Does any of this below make sense to you as why it registers but does not connect? I have tried various profiles settings. it seems to be cycling.
And I had a flash of illumination, the signal strength is being shown (looks like eight red through orange to yellow bars?) and is probably correct whether I am connected or not? When set for GPRS only it adds a couple of green bars to that.

\xd\xaOK\xd\xa'
##P4 t=953: answer 1:'AT+COPS?'
##P4 t=953: answer 2:'+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2'
##P4 t=953: answer 3:'OK'
##P5 t=953: checkQuery: removing echo up front
##P5 t=953: because known statement #0 was detected, removing obvious answer 'OK'
##P5 t=953: Query::getAnswer returns 1 answer(s)
##P5 t=953: Query instance 0xbfbc9b9c abandoned MUTEX
##P3 t=953: ConnectionInfo::refreshPPPStats
##P5 t=953: MonthlyTraffic::update(0, 0)
##P2 t=956: ***UIState::update(void), state=5
##P5 t=956: mainwindow::updateNetworkData()
##P5 t=956: The PPPDState is 0
##P5 t=956: ConnectionInfo_ACM::refreshRegistration(void)
##P4 t=956: ConnectionInfo::refreshSignalQuality(void)
##P5 t=956: Query instance 0xbfbc9ba8 acquired MUTEX
##P4 t=956: Query sends the following mesage: 'AT+CSQ'
##P5 t=956: receiveStringRetry: 'AT+CSQ\xd\xd\xa+CSQ: 9,99\xd\xa\xd\xaOK\xd\xa'
##P4 t=956: answer 1:'AT+CSQ'
##P4 t=956: answer 2:'+CSQ: 9,99'
##P4 t=956: answer 3:'OK'
##P5 t=956: checkQuery: removing echo up front
##P5 t=956: because known statement #0 was detected, removing obvious answer 'OK'
##P5 t=956: Query::getAnswer returns 1 answer(s)
##P5 t=956: Query instance 0xbfbc9ba8 abandoned MUTEX
##P4 t=956: ConnectionInfo::refreshOperator(void)
##P5 t=956: Query instance 0xbfbc9b9c acquired MUTEX
##P4 t=956: Query sends the following mesage: 'AT+COPS?'
##P5 t=956: receiveStringRetry: 'AT+COPS?\xd\xd\xa+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2\xd\xa\xd\xaOK\xd\xa'
##P4 t=956: answer 1:'AT+COPS?'
##P4 t=956: answer 2:'+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2'
##P4 t=956: answer 3:'OK'
##P5 t=956: checkQuery: removing echo up front
##P5 t=956: because known statement #0 was detected, removing obvious answer 'OK'
##P5 t=956: Query::getAnswer returns 1 answer(s)
##P5 t=956: Query instance 0xbfbc9b9c abandoned MUTEX
##P3 t=956: ConnectionInfo::refreshPPPStats
##P5 t=956: MonthlyTraffic::update(0, 0)
##P2 t=959: ***UIState::update(void), state=5
##P5 t=959: mainwindow::updateNetworkData()
##P5 t=959: The PPPDState is 0
##P5 t=959: ConnectionInfo_ACM::refreshRegistration(void)
##P4 t=959: ConnectionInfo::refreshSignalQuality(void)
##P5 t=959: Query instance 0xbfbc9ba8 acquired MUTEX
##P4 t=959: Query sends the following mesage: 'AT+CSQ'
##P5 t=959: receiveStringRetry: 'AT+CSQ\xd\xd\xa+CSQ: 9,99\xd\xa\xd\xaOK\xd\xa'
##P4 t=959: answer 1:'AT+CSQ'
##P4 t=959: answer 2:'+CSQ: 9,99'
##P4 t=959: answer 3:'OK'
##P5 t=959: checkQuery: removing echo up front
##P5 t=959: because known statement #0 was detected, removing obvious answer 'OK'
##P5 t=959: Query::getAnswer returns 1 answer(s)
##P5 t=959: Query instance 0xbfbc9ba8 abandoned MUTEX
##P4 t=959: ConnectionInfo::refreshOperator(void)
##P5 t=959: Query instance 0xbfbc9b9c acquired MUTEX
##P4 t=959: Query sends the following mesage: 'AT+COPS?'
##P5 t=959: receiveStringRetry: 'AT+COPS?\xd\xd\xa+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2\xd\xa\xd\xaOK\xd\xa'
##P4 t=959: answer 1:'AT+COPS?'
##P4 t=959: answer 2:'+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2'
##P4 t=959: answer 3:'OK'
##P5 t=959: checkQuery: removing echo up front
##P5 t=959: because known statement #0 was detected, removing obvious answer 'OK'
##P5 t=959: Query::getAnswer returns 1 answer(s)
##P5 t=959: Query instance 0xbfbc9b9c abandoned MUTEX
##P3 t=959: ConnectionInfo::refreshPPPStats
##P5 t=959: MonthlyTraffic::update(0, 0)
##P2 t=962: ***UIState::update(void), state=5
##P5 t=962: mainwindow::updateNetworkData()
##P5 t=962: The PPPDState is 0
##P5 t=962: ConnectionInfo_ACM::refreshRegistration(void)
##P4 t=962: ConnectionInfo::refreshSignalQuality(void)
##P5 t=962: Query instance 0xbfbc9ba8 acquired MUTEX
##P4 t=962: Query sends the following mesage: 'AT+CSQ'
##P5 t=962: receiveStringRetry: 'AT+CSQ\xd\xd\xa+CSQ: 9,99\xd\xa\xd\xaOK\xd\xa'
##P4 t=962: answer 1:'AT+CSQ'
##P4 t=962: answer 2:'+CSQ: 9,99'
##P4 t=962: answer 3:'OK'
##P5 t=962: checkQuery: removing echo up front
##P5 t=962: because known statement #0 was detected, removing obvious answer 'OK'
##P5 t=962: Query::getAnswer returns 1 answer(s)
##P5 t=962: Query instance 0xbfbc9ba8 abandoned MUTEX
##P4 t=962: ConnectionInfo::refreshOperator(void)
##P5 t=962: Query instance 0xbfbc9b9c acquired MUTEX
##P4 t=962: Query sends the following mesage: 'AT+COPS?'
##P5 t=962: receiveStringRetry: 'AT+COPS?\xd\xd\xa+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2\xd\xa\xd\xaOK\xd\xa'
##P4 t=962: answer 1:'AT+COPS?'
##P4 t=962: answer 2:'+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2'
##P4 t=962: answer 3:'OK'
##P5 t=962: checkQuery: removing echo up front
##P5 t=962: because known statement #0 was detected, removing obvious answer 'OK'
##P5 t=962: Query::getAnswer returns 1 answer(s)
##P5 t=962: Query instance 0xbfbc9b9c abandoned MUTEX
##P3 t=962: ConnectionInfo::refreshPPPStats
##P5 t=962: MonthlyTraffic::update(0, 0)

Ravenous
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Ravenous » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:56 pm

When it comes to VoIP over HSPA I find that the G.729 codec is a must (with G.711 codecs as fallbacks), i cannot stress this enough. If you go back to windows (or maybe WINE) perhaps http://www.portsip.com/softphone.htm could help they have 'PortGo Professional (15 days trial)' which is likely their softphone that has the G.729 support. The trial period could allow you to carry out some zero expense testing using the G.729 codec. However I have never used it so got no idea on how good or bad this product is so beware.

jape
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Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:17 pm

Thanks Ravenous. It was usable before the signal strength kept dropping but I don't know what the codecs were. I went sideways and rang Optus, they said they could not help really as my provider is Exetel but that the signal strength is adequate for voip and that the slowdown in pings in recent weeks as shown by Speedtest is probably Exetel! Seems the 2100mghz antenna I was told to get was a waste then, still, only $25 and worth a try when it comes. Others had told me it may be a wasted effort but you don;t know who to trust after a while. i am sticking with you guys ... 'Dazzled' seems very, very experienced and knowledgeable, and patient and thorough too. i shall get there in the end.
I am going to do some 'back to basics' testing soon, driving around with the laptop and modem and with various software voip setups using different codecs. Cannot be sure if the registered signal shown by UMTSMon without a connection is correct or a default image so need to test that elsewhere too. Might try a dualboot XP and try that as a measure alongside as well.
Will also do some research again on mobiles with antenna connection ports and see if I can work out the right leads and pigtails. I need a day in the big city anyway ... lots of noise and hurry and worry just to remind me why I live where I do ... and I can always rely on old-fashioned stone age communications technology such as smoke signals and fleeing animals to tell me when fires are about this summer!

Dazzled
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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:31 pm

I can't disagree with Ravenous. VoIP in slow situations is handicapped by G.711.

Re your stream of system output (Linux is exceedingly verbose under the bonnet): This is from the layer below the GUI interface that you would be seeing if you were doing it all by hand in the terminal. It just keeps on trying over and over, first by interrogating the modem, then by trying a PPP connection, and finally by releasing a lock.

##P4 t=956: answer 1:'AT+COPS?'
##P4 t=956: answer 2:'+COPS: 0,0,"YES OPTUS",2'
##P4 t=956: answer 3:'OK'

This means you are auto network connected (0,0) to Yes Optus on UTRAN (2) (ie, 3G)

##P4 t=956: answer 1:'AT+CSQ'
##P4 t=956: answer 2:'+CSQ: 9,99'
##P4 t=956: answer 3:'OK'

To interpret this, see http://www.siptune.net/tiki-index.php?p ... aalinaytot. You have RSSI=9 which is only two bars, or -95 dBm (0 is 1 milliwatt). This query is covered in my earlier posts. 99=Bit error rate unknown/undetectable.

PPPD is the point to point protocol (PPP) daemon. It hasn't succeeded in logging into the net. Here is your immediate problem - probably a config error somewhere.

A MUTEX is a mutual exclusion in system programmers jargon, that is a lock on something to avoid concurrent usage.

edit: corrected bar strength.

jape
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Location: central vic

Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by jape » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:23 pm

I do not have the energy or courage right now to try and find whatever the config error may be, after all, netmon still works well enough for this browsing and email. Simple enough to restart here and there to try the different monitors/connecting software. Took me a couple of hours from your post prompting me to do so, to work out how to run UMTSMon from the terminal, I didn't know you needed a forward slash and had to point to a directory. But worthwhile now I got it running that way in that I do have a signal strength report. I shall try it again over a few days and see if it varies much. Seems it is just as shown on XP, dropped well below what it used to be a month or so back.

I shall rewire, check all physical connections, precise angle of placement etc yet again, then I shall do all the same with the new antenna when it arrives. I cannot see why the strength would have dropped so much without some physical reason. Or perhaps a tower modification has occurred. I shall also try another modem. This will thus give me a fair idea of signal, over time, and whether a router and so on is worth purchasing.

If the signal strength is down permanently to that level as it now seems, then the voip idea is a loser even with the router. I could also try a pure Optus sim to be doubly sure. I am assuming that slow pings may be network but that signal strength is not affected by congestion/traffic on the tower?

Beyond that it seems a mobile phone direct connection to the antenna will give me enough at two bars to get an emergency call in or out but that for safety and convenience the nasty old land-line should be retained despite noise and intermittent dead lines.

Then I sit and wait to see what happens over the next couple of years with the National BB efforts and how I may get something from that. Or not.

Thank you sincerely for your help. Any other thoughts or comments you may have are welcome - just don't say satellite please, too expensive!

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Re: is it possible voip using laptop?

Post by Dazzled » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:36 pm

Damp foliage can lower strength, depending on line of sight. Hasn't it been wet a lot down there lately?

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