Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New telecoms in place.

Busy day today. In addition to all the work fun, and the fact that we're in the middle of a spring cleaning/whole house reorganization, today was the day we switched ISP and telcos.

In particular we've gone with the bundled cable, land line phone, and internet from our local cable company Cox. We were just using Cox for cable TV; and paying Qwest for our phone and internet; and Vonage for VOIP,and our 800 number and call forwarding service (for the business).

All told, it was three separate bills, and three different tech support calls etc... and was just a pain, in addition to being rather expensive.

Now we're down to Cox for cable, phone, and net; saving about $70 in the process.

We've also moved our 800 number, voice mailbox, and call forwarding service to a virtual PBX service called "GotVMail" (for now anyway. They're changing their name next week) for just $10 a month, and our VOIP to Skype for $3 a month; all told about $12 less a month than Vonage (and better service by far).

Importantly, I can get Skype on every computing device I use regularly; including the iPhone, and a version coming next month for the Blackberry.

I may even grab a WiFi phone if I find one at a reasonable price (they're about $100 right now, and I don't consider that reasonable). I'm almost certainly going to get a phone/skype switch for the cordless system (they let you switch from your regular phone line to a VOIP provider by dialing a code before the number; usually two asterisks, or two pound signs).

Anyway, the install itself went very smooth and quick. We have our own cablemodem left over from two years ago, and I already run all the phones in the house off a multi-line cordless system in the office.

Of course we had to spend a couple hours cleaning the crap out of my office just so I could get access to the wiring; and then a couple more hours fixing my phone, fax, and network cabling, and my power cable runs... but I would've had to do that anyway, this was just the kick in the pants I needed to get around to it.

The actual internet cutover was instantaneous. My total internet outage was thirty seconds while I rebooted my router. The phone cutover was a little more complicated however.

The phone gear install went just fine (it's a Motorola MTA, with a built in cablemodem; but for some reason they make you use a separate cablemodem for your actual internet). Unfortunately there was something wrong with the signal quality. The strength was just fine, but the signal to noise ratio kept spiking, and the MTA wouldn't sync up.

They ended up having to re-wire something in the neighborhood node, turn the amplifier gain up in the node itself (which would make noise worse actually), and reground the distribution splitter on the outside of the house. That resolved the noise issue, and boosted the signal strength to boot.

I'm actually hoping this change will also resolve some of the issues my cable card has been having. It seems that periodically, the cable card will freeze up, or lose lock on a signal; and I need to retune to another channel, then tune back to reacquire it. This causes programmed recordings to fail, which is an everloving pain in the arse.

Anyway, I haven't tried calling in to a conference line yet; but I have co-workers with the same service who have no problems, so it should be fine.

I must say I AM very happy with the internet speed. Instead of a theoretical 3Mbit down, 1Mbit up (I never saw more than 2/3 that) I'm seeing an actual 15Mbit down, and 3Mbit up; and that's not even to the head end, that's to a server in tempe on another provider.

Here's hoping there's no trouble... and that Qwest isn't a pain with the cancellation. I've cancelled Qwest services before, and three months later still had them trying to send me a bill for the next months service. I'm willing to bet that even though they are supposed to be cancelled, and the numbers ported out, they try and bill us for next month.