This is a review for the Sipura SPA-2102, marketed by Linksys/Cisco. Its a Sipura PAP2, with dual line and QoS added. There are different versions of the 2102, this reviews the unlocked NA (North America) model. Only an unlocked version can be freely used on SIP (low cost) providers.
Voice over IP is a method to convert voice into data and transmit it over a network, generally the Internet. There are two kinds of VoIP. Open standard (like SIP) and closed standards like Vonage. The big plus with closed is that the company is responsible for fixing issues. The negatives are cost and flexibility. For example, a single open/SIP account can be accessed from a box like this or software you install on your laptop. With Vonage, you would have to pay a second monthly fee for a second account to roam with software. The choice depends on your needs, budget, and technical capabilities.
a) Keep your overall configuration as simple as possible. The fancier you get, the more things can go wrong. After messing with dozens of settings, I finally wiped the entire mess clean and did the steps below.
b) Get familiar with the interface. Many changes require clicking on the Admin and Advanced options. These modes don't activate in the most intuitive manner, so only when you see User and Basic in blue, are you there.
c) Get familiar with firmware updates. 2102's are shipping with very outdated versions (probably overproduced them) and offer several key disadvantages that are easily fixed in a single step. The Voice/Provisioning tab has a section called Firmware Enable. There is special software that comes with the .bin file, but on Mac OS X the simplest way is to turn on your Mac's web server, put the .bin file in the web server folder, and then put the new http address for the file into the Upgrade Rule field. Restart the box when ready (see below). Special note: js has volunteered to host the bin file on a server that your 2102 can download from directly. Send him a PM requesting the link.
d) Get familiar with the phone dialing codes. After dialing **** to get into the menu, here are some useful ones:
e) Find a good provider. I'm quite happy with CallCentric. As a rule, VOIP pricing is a bit confusing, so keep inbound vs outbound separate in your mind. Outbound costs more, so my strategy was to get an area code near friends/family, allowing them to call in for free. In general, I'm paying $5-10/mo for light to medium long distance with two lines, fax out, and 911.
110# (recite WAN IP address in a cool voice)
7932# [plus password# if set], then press 1# (enable access via WAN port)
723646# [plus password# if set], then press 1# (enable admin access)
732668# (restart/reboot, same as unplug, replug)
73738# (reset everything but firmware - not to be done lightly)
f) Here's a glossary of terms. See post 22 for tech manual and firmware.
Starting with a blank slate (you just bought it or just reset it, see D above):
1) Follow your service providers instructions for your device, starting with getting the IP address for log in. In CallCentric's case, use the PAP2 page. The 2102 has two independent lines. Using both requires two independent accounts, each with their own user ID and password. Setup also includes putting in a time server and dial plan string. Click 'Submit All Changes' before leaving each page.
2) Under Router/Wan Setup, change QoS Policy to 'On When Phone In Use'. This frees up bandwidth for other data when its not needed. Also set QoS Dsq to "TBF" = total bucket filter. This will activate your QoS. Click 'Submit All Changes'
3) Under Router/Wan Setup, change Maximum Uplink Speed to a value 80% of your maximum sustained upload total. This is not maximum for phone calls, but maximum for all Internet traffic.
Go here to measure:
Click 'Submit All Changes' when done.
4) Under Voice/System, put in passwords for both Admin and User (and remember them). Click 'Submit All Changes'
5) Under Voice/Regional, change both FXS Port Input Gain and FXS Port Output Gain to -5. This eliminates clipping and reduces echos. If not completely eliminated, try stronger negative values like -6 or -7. North America only: Under Voice/Regional, change Ring Waveform to 'Sinusoid'. Trapezoid sounds funny and won't let your answering machine count the rings. Click 'Submit All Changes'
6) Under Voice/Line [1/2]. If you have excellent bandwidth (ie cable modem), change Preferred Codec to G711u and Second Preferred Codec to G729a. Also set DTMF Tx Method to Auto. Otherwise, follow your providers guide. Click 'Submit All Changes'
• Sound quality is better than cell phone and even rivals POTS lines.
• FAX service is a challenge. Using the second line for dedicated fax service allows you to optimize settings for faxing only. See FAX section below.
• These devices hate heat. If the box gets to warm, it will restart on its own - including the middle of a phone call. See next section.
• QoS (quality of service) is meant to give priority to voice traffic. This requires the 2102 be right behind the cable modem and the entire network be plugged into it. This is very handy with slower connections but has two limitations on faster ones: 1) it can't handle traffic above about 7500, so if you are paying for 15k service, you only see half with this configuration. 2) heavy network traffic (think multiple torrents) from downstream computers heats up the box. If you are a heavy user on a 10k+ connection, consider installing it downstream from your main router (not using QoS). More QoS info.
This VoIP box supports two independent phone lines. An ideal use then is to have one line for voice and one line for fax. But fax over IP (foip) on its best day is best described as a black art. In general, configure your 2102 for voice first, applying settings to every tab. Then when you're ready, configure only the Line 2 tab with the settings in this guide:
For extra reliability, get the oldest/slowest fax machine you can find, even the kind that doesn't support 14.4k connections.
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