Categories
Mobile Tech Telecoms

Skype or FNB Connect (SIP VoIP)?

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:

Categories
Mobile Tech Telecoms

Weird @CounterPath Bria DNS error on WiFi when using FNB Connect

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 iPhone after 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.

Weird Bria error on wifi

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.

Categories
Mobile Tech Telecoms

Android ICS natively supports SIP

I’m doing some research on VOIP apps for iOS and Mac OS and I came across this interesting tidbit:

Google’s newest mobile operating system version, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, natively supports SIP accounts in the Phone dialer app.

That is pretty cool! I have a little more Android envy.

Categories
Mobile Tech Telecoms

Dial up speeds on @MTNSouthAfrica

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.

Categories
Telecoms Useful stuff Web/Tech

Now this is real bandwidth!

This makes my head swim and it also puts any claims that we have competitive connectivity in perspective. Man, I could use bandwidth like this.

Categories
Mindsets Politics and government Telecoms

ANC SMS spam ahead of elections

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.

20110517-211327.jpg

Categories
Telecoms Useful stuff Web/Tech

Gmail phone option made its way into my Gmail account

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:

Gmail phone.png

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.

Categories
Business and work Telecoms Web/Tech

Still have dodgy ADSL – are your line tests like mine?

I still seem to have a dodgy connection to the Internet days after Seacom repaired its line. Gian Visser told me that there are associated issues on Internet Solutions’ side which are being ironed out and which may contribute to any problems I am still experiencing. My line is supposed to be a 4MB/sec line on Telkom. I use Afrihost as my service provider.

I’m not sure where the problem is and there is a possibility its my router so I thought I’d post a few test results I got using Speed Test and Ping Test and see if anyone else has similar results on Afrihost:

Ping tests

I switched my router off, left it off for 10 seconds or so and turned it back on. I then ran a ping test this morning on a Johannesburg server:

My second test had improved packet loss but otherwise still a poor result:

This third test uses another testing server in Maputo, similar results:

Speed tests

For my next act I ran a couple line speed tests, starting with a Durban testing server:

And then I tested the same server again:

I tested the Johannesburg server with slightly better results:

So my question is whether these lousy test results are due to issues on the network or whether I should just go replace my router? If anyone can suggest ways to test my router than would also be helpful.

Update:

I may have answered my question. Here are two search results I ran in a router diagnostic panel. I have no idea what these results mean so they could be no help at all:

router test 1.png

and

router test 2.png