This is our latest VoIP configuration for our new offices (which we are now moving into next Friday). I have connected my two office phones to a Linksys VoIP adapter and have configured the adapter with my FNB Connect account. The theory is that the portable phones (we have 2, 1 for me and 1 for Nastassja) can connect to FNB Connect through the Linksys adapter and give callers a single office line to call. Either of us can then pick up the incoming call. The problem is this isn’t working consistently and one issue seems to be multiple devices configured to use the same number.
This is a fairly frustrating work in progress and the only thing making this worth pursuing is that calls to my Skype online number are reportedly not terrific quality (soft and a little bit of an echo). Also, making calls from Skype is about twice as expensive as FNB Connect. Otherwise, Skype works on multiple devices which can be logged into the same account.
We’re testing VoIP options for our office. Both Skype and FNB Connect give us local numbers people can call us on. FNB Connect’s call rates are cheaper than Skype’s although Skype is already pretty entrenched in our office from an IM perspective and we use Skype to chat to clients through Skype to Skype calls.
Which would you recommend and why? Is the one technically superior over the other? Does the one harm fewer fairies and kittens?
On a related note, here is a little poll I created and I’ll appreciate your thoughts:
I’ve been exploring VOIP apps for my iPhone and my Mac for a couple days now. We will not use conventional phones in our new offices (we’re moving next Friday). Instead we are adopting VOIP as our preferred telephony option (at the moment we’re going with FNB Connect as our provider). FNB Connect’s iOS app has a terrible interface for incoming calls (see my update below, it’s not just FNB Connect). It presents you with a general app alert message rather than what you would expect to see when you have an incoming call (in other words, a phone interface where you can tap a button to accept or decline a call, along with information about the incoming call). To answer a call you have to unlock your phone the moment the notification comes in, open the FNB Connect app and hope the caller is patient enough for you to answer the call. Fortunately FNB Connect’s VOIP solution is a SIP solution so its possible to use other SIP-based apps to handle the calls instead.
I looked at a couple options and have been trying them out. Bria, from CounterPath, is well regarded but it is a paid app. I took a look at Zoiper, based on a recommendation from Imel Rautenbach, and it seemed to work fine on both my Mac and my iPhone (free apps for both). I had a little issue with the iOS app not staying registered (I understand this to mean being logged in and registering on the network) so I finally bought Bria for my iPhoneafter chatting to Chris Clark. I don’t mind paying for good quality apps, especially if it could form the basis of my office telephony requirements going forward.
Unfortunately when I set Bria up last night, I kept getting this odd DNS server error when connecting on WiFi though my Afrihost ADSL service. I switched to MTN 3G and the app registered just fine and seemed to be working. I messed around with a couple settings without really knowing what I was doing but nothing seemed to help. The error keeps popping up on my home ADSL connection. I still need to get in touch with FNB Connect’s support team and CounterPath’s support people and, hopefully, one or the other can offer a solution. It’s just such a pity FNB’s own app isn’t better designed.
Update: It looks like that notification-based UI for FNB Connect isn’t just the FNB Connect app. Bria does the same thing (I received a call on 3G), as does Skype for incoming calls directed at an online number. So this isn’t an FNB thing. It seems to be an iOS thing.
I’m at the Design Quarter this morning and the 3G data speeds are pretty lousy this morning. I was getting pretty excited about the speeds I was seeing in Rosebank and Melrose Arch but now I think MTN was just teasing me.
The Democratic Alliance was heavily criticized in the last day or two because of it’s massive SMS election campaign. I didn’t receive the most recent SMS the DA sent out (which makes me wonder about it’s database) but I did receive this gem below from the ANC instead. As you might have guessed, it is unsolicited and has no opt-out mechanism.
Google announced a new VOIP product which it has integrated into Gmail. It takes the existing voice capability for Google Talk even further and makes Gmail a Skype competitor.
This new functionality is really exciting but it was only supposed to be rolling out to US customers:
We’re rolling out this feature to U.S. based Gmail users over the next few days, so you’ll be ready to get started once “Call Phones” shows up in your chat list (you will need to install the voice and video plug-in if you haven’t already). If you’re using Google Apps for your school or business, then you won’t see it quite yet. We’re working on making this available more broadly – so stay tuned!
Imagine my surprise when I saw this in my Gmail chat window this morning:
I don’t know if this will stick around in my account but I am keen to try it out! It is apparently pretty good and voice quality is great. I have to make a call to the United States later this afternoon and I think I’ll try this out instead of Skype.
Update: It looks like you need to have a Google Voice account to add credit. This pretty much limits the service for me because I haven’t been able to create a Google Voice account despite receiving an invitation a while ago.