Sunday, April 20, 2014
   
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VoIP and CLEAR WiMAX Blog - AusTex VoIP
Jess Smith

Jess Smith

Do the current Google Voice applications for the iPhone and Android smartphones use up your wireless minutes? Yes, they certainly do, and there are only a few ways to get around that, all of which are complicated for the average consumer. While there are several applications that will allow you to use Google Voice on your smartphone, whether you're calling out, or receiving a call, your wireless minutes are being used.

Google Voice is a call back service, not a VoIP service. This means, when you call out, your application is calling a Google number via your voice plan and using your minutes. You could put the number Google uses to call their server in your "Faves" list, but rumors are, the number used to call out can change, and frequently does. Likewise, if you have Google Voice set up to forward to your cell phone, it will use your wireless minutes for the incoming call. The only money saving advantage of using Google Voice on your cell phone is if you'd like to make an international call, where you can utilize Google's low cost rates to place those calls, and Google does have some good international rates.

Many Google Voice users will set up their account to call their cell phone, allowing them to give out their Google Voice number instead of their cell number. Doing this allows the user to take advantage of the many features Google Voice offers, such as call screening, voice mail to email with text transcription (which still needs a bit of work), and simultaneous ringing of several different phones. Again, when using this service in this way, you are using your wireless voice minutes to receive a call.

So what can you do to make and receive Google Voice calls and NOT use your wireless minutes? Essentially, there is NO way to make outgoing calls for free. For free incoming calls,the best application for the iPhone is the Acrobits Softphone. It has built in Google Voice settings you can use with a free Sipgate One incoming phone number. Here is a video tutorial showing how this works. You'll spend a little bit of time setting everything up, but it's not terribly difficult. This allows for free incoming calls only. You could use Sipgate for the outgoing calls, but they do charge by the minute for an outgoing call.

There are other complicated methods that use SIP applications on your smartphone in conjunction with free online accounts such as Sip Sorcery, PBXes, and others, but these are very complicated processes to put in place for most folks. In the past, one of the more popular ways of interfacing Google voice was to get a Gizmo5 account, as it directly tied in with the service. Unfortunately, Gizmo5 was purchased by Google and no longer accepts new accounts. You can still find Gizmo5 accounts on eBay and this is a very viable option if you're inclined to pursue it. You can get free outgoing calls using a Gizmo5 account, however, each call is limited to 3 minutes.

If you're an Android user, there is no app currently available that will allow you to make and receive free Google Voice calls. Acrobits is beta testing an Android app at the time of this writing, so hopefully, it won't be too much longer. You can still get apps that allow you to use Google Voice and take advantage of the features, but they will use your wireless minutes.

The good news is, AusTex VoIP has a method of using Google Voice so that both incoming and outgoing mobile calls are free, while allowing use of a standard telephone at the house to also make and receive free calls. By utilizing a Seagate Freeagent Dockstar network adapter and a Linksys analog telephone adapter, we are able to make this work so calls from your home or mobile phone are free. Just like any other telephone service, you dial your party's number in a normal manner. No special dialing is required.

The DockStar is a Network Adapter normally used to create a server for accessing external USB hard drives. The external drives are used as file servers and media servers in many cases. We've taken this adapter, and modified it so that it will boot from a USB flash drive. That flash drive has a Debian Linux operating system, Asterisk telephony software, and a Python script call Pygooglevoice installed on it. All these work together to interface with your home and mobile phones and allow seamless incoming and outgoing Google Voice calls for free.

Because your phones (mobile and home) are set up as extensions on this system, calling between them is as simple as dialing a three digit number. This process does not use Google Voice. They are direct calls using the internet or 3G data. No wireless voice minutes are ever used with this system, whether for outoing, or incoming calling.

Although, very little set up is required on the customer side, this system does require a Google Voice account telephone number that can be assigned to the server. If you are already using one for you cellphone, or to make calls from your computer, this will work fine. It can easily be set up to work with this package. You will also need a free Sipgate One incoming telephone number to use as a callback number and a SIP application such as Acrobits Softphone for your mobile phone.

Outside of that, AusTex VoIP works with you by phone to set it up so that when you receive it, you simply plug in the Dockstar and Linksys to your local network with broadband internet access, power it up, and start making phone calls. Once past the initial set up, there is no other maintenance required. Just set it and forget it. You'll find the implementation time well worth it when you can reduce or eliminate your landline bill, and greatly reduce your wireless minute plan. Give us a call at (512) 600-0990 or Toll Free at (855) 4AusTex (428-7849) to get started.

Wednesday, October 20 2010 17:53

Free Google Voice Calling Using a Regular Phone

Feel free to read our article below on the Dockstar and a Linksys ATA for use with Google Voice. However, there is now a product out that does the basics of what our combination does at a much lower price. It's called the Obi110 or the Obi100 from Obihai. AusTex VoIP sells the Obi telephone adapters and provides a set up service for those that need help with the initial installation. Check out our Google Voice with Obi page here.

Both of the Obi telephone adapters do some pretty amazing things. We're not going to discuss all it can do here, but if you'd like to know more, there are some really good blog posts on the device over at The Michigan Telephone Blog. If all you need is free Google Voice, then go with the Obi100. If you'd like Google Voice, and the ability to hook up and include your regular telephone service at the same time, then choose the Obi110.

Our Dockstar and Linksys ATA combination is still amazing, as it is based on the powerful Asterisk telephony software. It is capable of handling multiple extensions, and VoIP providers, along with Google Voice. Unlike the Obi110, it is a full blown server, however, we believe the majority of consumers are looking for a product with the ease of use of the Obi110.

Original Article:

Let's face it...Google Voice is a cheap way to make phone calls to anywhere in the United States and Canada. By cheap, we mean FREE. The only problem up until now was, you had to:

  • Use your computer and a headset to use it
  • Call your Google Voice number with a regular phone and then press 2 and dial the 10 digit number, or
  • Use the dialer in Gmail (again, using your computer)

Well now, that's changed! AusTex VoIP is offering a Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar and Linksys PAP2T-NA combination that will allow you to use Google Voice with a standard telephone and dial 7 digit local numbers, or 10 and 11 digit long distance numbers direct. Low cost International calling is also available. Make this package a total home solution by adding our optional E911 subscription service!

So what does it take to get this working? For those that are not so technically inclined...quite a bit! What we do here is to modify a Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar network adapter, so that adding a USB Flash thumbdrive with Asterisk telephony software enables this technology to work.

In addition to the Dockstar, you will need a Google Voice account, and an analog telephone adapter. No additional accounts or callback number is required with this version. The configuration in the photo above uses a Linksys PAP2T-NA analog telephone adapter. With this adapter, you can have two telephones hooked up to it, or have a single two line phone hooked up. Both phones, or both lines on the two line phone will ring when receiving an incoming call.

Hook a desk phone to one line, and a cordless base with multiple hand sets to line two, or set up cordless base stations on both lines. With this set up, you can make or receive separate calls on both phones at the same time. Great for families with kids. Will work with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android smartphone over 3G or Wi-Fi as well.

Add a few bucks to your Google Voice account, and you can call International destinations at very low rates as well. When you dial an International number, a recording will tell you the per minute rate for the call, and based on your account balance, how many minutes you could talk before you go broke.

So, how does zero dollars per month for unlimited U.S and Canada calling sound? We think it sounds pretty good! Because this package is actually a full blown VoIP telephone server in disguise, there are countless possibilities for customization of this system. Give us a call and let us know if we can set up something special just for you.

You can reach us locally at (512) 600-0990, or Toll Free at (855) 4AusTex (428-7839).

While Google Voice does not currently provide E911 or 911 services, we offer E911 as an optional, monthly subscription service which is 100% compliant with the FCC, and covers 100% of the US. You may add this service at anytime.

Is your business looking for a "least expensive" method of providing internet and phone service at the office? Let's face it, money is tight, and not everyone can afford business class cable service, or elite dsl, let alone a T1 type of internet connection right now. Here's a set up that brings together low cost internet, and low cost phone service. It's extremely flexible with regards to the type of devices you can use for the phone system.

Let us say, this type of system is not for everyone. Why? The single most important factor is the ability to get a strong signal on the CLEAR wireless modem. However, if you currently have broadband internet access, the phone system itself is still one of the most affordable business options available.

So, how affordable is this type of office set up? For starters, the CLEAR internet service will run $40.00 per month. This is the "Home" service, not the business or professional service. We don't personally see the value in CLEAR's professional service. The telephone service is a "Hosted VoIP" type of service. Incoming phone service runs around $4.95 per month. Outgoing phone service is pay as you go, and runs about 1.05 to 1.25 cents per minute and is billed in 6 second intervals. Pay as you go is a fantastic way to set up your phone service if you are not on the phone 8 hours a day.

So why couldn't you just go with CLEAR's Home + Voice at $55 per month? The simple answer is... you can. With that service though, you get a single telephone adapter to plug in a single phone, or perhaps a cordless phone base with several handsets. That may work fine if your business will never make and receive a call at the same time, or you won't need to make more than one outgoing call at the same time. You don't want your customers going over to a busy signal, or voicemail just becuase you're already on the phone.

Our phone service gives you a full range of features found in professional, business class phone systems. Need an automated attendant to route calls to the right group or person? How about voicemail for each phone? Need an extension for a telecommuter? Seamlessly tie in multiple offices as well. We can offer a wide range of features that are included in the pricing. This is no stripped down phone system. It offers everything you need to give you a leg up on the competition. You may be small now, but you can at least sound a lot bigger.

AusTex VoIP prides itself in offering more types of business phone systems and services than any other telecom company around. We keep up with the changing technology, and can tailor a system that is just right for your needs. From on site IP PBX consluting and installs, to Hosted VoIP and more. Give us a call locally at (512) 600-0990, or Toll Free (877) 839-5665.

About our Photo:

The photo in this article shows just how flexible our phone systems can be. We have a CLEAR Wireless Internet home modem connected to a Linksys Wi-Fi router. There are three different types of phones hooked up into the router. We have an IP Phone (far left - black) that is designed for VoIP type phone services. You don't need an analog telephone adapter to use this type of phone. IP phones really make it much easier to use all the features found with VoIP services. In addition, we have a Sony two line analog phone (white) connected into a Linksys analog telephone adapter. Both lines are available for incoming or outgoing calls. You will need an analog telephone adapter if you'd like to use a standard phone.

We also have a Vtech Dect 6.0 cordless phone (far right) running on a Grandstream brand analog telephone adapter. These are great for putting cordless handsets in several places. Finally, we also have an iPod Touch running on this phone service. It's just another extension on the system, and can be used anywhere there is Wi-Fi service. Instead of the iPod Touch, this could be a iPhone, iPad, or any Smartphone running the Android operationg system.

Here is a video highlighting our photo set up. This was done for our residential VoIP offering, but applies to business set ups as well.

UPDATE 10/22/2011: Since writing this article in June of 2010, Clear has probabaly revised this policy several times. Looks like they are as high as $115 if you cancel towards the beginning of the contract. Click on the early termination fees link below to see the latest policy.

In June, CLEAR revised their Early Termination Fee policies. In addition to revising the policies, they added their fee schedule to their website under the title of "Early Termination Fees" CLEAR's earlier ETF policies and fees were confusing at best, and difficult to find. ETF charges from customers who faced them for cancelling a contract early and reported them in numerous forums, varied wildly, apparently with no rhyme or reason.

So now CLEAR has a publicised list of early termination fees, and has placed them on their website for all to see. So what do the new fees mean to those that are contemplating signing up with CLEAR? Well, for one, you can now understand what it will cost you if you decide to terminate a contract early. Fees for purchased devices are pro-rated by the number of months you have the service, going down each month until you reach zero at the end of 24 months. Fees for leased devices remain the same and are not pro-rated.

CLEAR's new policy is much improved over the previous one. The ETF on a contract cancelled just after the 7-14 day trial period use to be a minimum of $120 regardless of the number of devices you had such as a home modem or usb modem. Now, if you are leasing your equipment and decide to cancel early, the fee is called a "restocking" fee, and runs $40 per device being returned. Fees vary depending on whether you lease or purchase the equipment when signing a contract, with fees running higher on purchased equipment. Purchasing the equipment when signing a contract may work for those that are sure the service is going to be good at their location, but for those that have doubts about keeping it long term, leasing makes much more sense, especially since CLEAR recenly raised the purchase price of all modems.

With these changes in CLEAR's ETF policies, customers can now feel a little more at ease when signing that 2 year contract. The fees are lower, and if you have your fixed (residence or business) location checked for signal strenth and speeds prior to purchase, the 2 year contract does make it much cheaper to get started using CLEAR's services. AusTex VoIP recommends always having a free signal check performed at fixed locations, and you should have no problem finding a CLEAR retail outlet or CLEAR Authorized Reseller that will do this in any city with CLEAR service, especially if you are willing to go with a 2 year contract. For a comparison of costs over a 2 year period, check our "Cost Comparison" menu here on the AusTex VoIP website.

We have seen signs that cause us to believe that CLEAR is listening to feedback from customers, whether they are pleased with the service and making recommendations for improvement, or are customers that have a complaint about certain aspects of the service or support. CLEAR's user forum on their website is growing every day, and many of the concerns being brought up are being addressed. Our service at our location has always been very good, and our use of the mobile usb around town has been extremely useful, as we are frequently traveling around town. It's nice to see CLEAR make it less painful to get information that allows an interested consumer to make a more informed choice.

Sunday, February 28 2010 09:24

Ditch the Landline...I Think Not!

As the price of unlimited, or high minute cellular plans continues to become less expensive (but not cheap), many people have already cut their landline service to their home. Even more have at least thought about it. Let's face it, if you have unlimited minutes on your cell phone, or you don't use all of your included minutes each month, why have two phone services? You could save $25-$50 per month by dumping your landline service.

But things are getting interesting in the telecommunications markets. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol is becoming more widespread. Why? Well, for starters, it's generally much less expensive than the analog POTS (plain old telephone service) plans offered by the big telcos. With a decent broadband connection, VoIP calls are equal in quality to those of the analog services we've used for years, and with the emergence of high definition codecs coming into the VoIP mainstream, the sound quality can be absolutely amazing.

Now, VoIP is starting to make more headway in the mobile industry as well. As the wireless companies start to soften their stance on allowing VoIP over 3G and other networks, the usefulness of using VoIP instead of wireless minutes starts to become much more attractive. Where you were once limited to using VoIP calling while on Wi-Fi only, now you can make those calls anywhere there is 3G coverage. These calls go out over the 3G data network, and do not count toward your cellular minutes.  So, what does this have to do with making a good case for not ditching a landline? It has a lot to do with the fact that, now, there is the opportunity to converge your home landline service with that of your cellular service among other things.

It is now possible to have VoIP phone service for your home, and use that same service to make VoIP calls using your mobile smartphone. If you own an Apple iPhone, you have many available apps that will allow you to do this. Our favorite is the Acrobits Softphone as it has a very nice user interface, is easy to set up, and uses "push technology" to allow you to receive calls without running the app. It also allows you to use the VoIP service provider of your choice, and does not limit you to the software developer's service, as many of the others do. So why keep a landline service and merge it with the mobile service? Here are just a few of our main arguments:

  • Use VoIP instead of cell minutes and take your cellular minutes plan down to the lowest tier available.
  • Use your VoIP plan to make calls while anywhere in the world when connected via Wi-FI.
  • Since you're now using VoIP on your smartphone, you can use that same plan for you home landline at no additional cost.
  • Make international calls on your home or mobile VoIp service at very attractive rates.
  • There are a lot of COOL, new products available or coming out that will make you the envy of your non VoIP friends.

Personally, I hate using a cellphone when making calls from my home office. It gets hot after a few minutes, I can't rest it on my shoulder while talking and using the computer, and the speakerphone is less than adequate for many purposes. There's just something nice about having a decent desk phone when working at your computer, whether it be a fancy home office, or a little niche in the corner.

Even if you have already ditched your landline, it might be time to think about adding one back. Since you now have a VoIP plan to use with your mobile service, all you have to do is get an analog telephone adapter or a true IP phone to utilize that same service at home. Besides, who's going to be able to resist having some really cool gadgets around the house that work with VoIP. Although, not yet out on the market, we will personally be first in line to get our hands on OpenPeak's OpenTablet 7, and a couple of handsets as seen below.

If nothing else, using VoIP with your smartphone deserves a try. VoIP is the future. With the opening up of VoIP over wireless data networks, it is now much more convenient to use it. VoIP over data networks is only going to get better and more prevelant as the WiMAX and LTE 4G networks become more widespread, and manufacturers gear up to deliver 4G enabled handsets into the smartphone market. So what are you waiting for? Try VoIP on your smartphone, and then, add that landline back into the mix.

 

You might say that AusTex VoIP is going "on the LAM". Don't take that literally, as we aren't really going anywhere, we just mean that we are excited about combining our landline and mobile (LAM) phone services into a single VoIP solution. AT&T and Apple have recently removed all roadblocks for allowing VoIP on the 3G network using the iPhone. It's now possible to combine your home or office VoIP service with your iPhone to make VoIP calls from just about anywhere.

While it is possible to have a home or business VoIP account with a provider such as Vonage, and tie a cellphone into that service, it's generally not possible to have several landline phones, and several cellphones (as in family plan) all tied in together using the same account. The best way to bring ALL of your phones together, and use a single VoIP account (or several if desired) is to have a VoIP server running at your home or office. It is now possible to install an Asterisk based VoIP server for very little money. Not only is it fairly economical to install a VoIP server, it brings with it a huge list of calling features, and the ability to easily add as many telephones to the system as desired.

With an IP PBX server, when you add a phone to the sytem, you set it up as an extension. Similar to a corporate PBX, an extension is given a description, either the name of a person or possibly a department or location, such as "Sales" or "Support". Have a home office? Let's assign that as extension 100. How about the cordless phone base with three handsets? Let's give that an extension of 101. The two kids each have landline phone (lucky kids), so we'll assign them extension numbers 103 and 104. That takes care of the house, but what about the cellphones. Because we'd like to easily distinguish the difference between a house phone and a cellphone, we'll use the 200s for cellphone extensions. All four family members have a cellphone, so we'll use 201 - 204.

To get those cellphones integrated into the server, we need to get a SIP application from the Apple Store (assuming the phones are all iPhones). Once we have the app on our cellphone, we can set up a generic SIP account that will register the cellphone with the server and allow it to make and receive VoIP calls using one of our VoIP provider accounts already on the server.

After quite a bit of research on SIP applications available in the Apple store, to determine which might offer the best experience, we chose the Acrobits Softphone. This application was easy to install, set up, and has a fantastic user interface. It also offers "push" technology, which allows the iPhone to receive VoIP calls without the application running.

Once you get the SIP application set up for registration to your Asterisk server, and have each of the phones set up as extensions as described in the example above, you can now dial the extension number of any phone (including iPhones) to make calls to that particular phone. Bring up the Acrobits application on your iPhone, and you willl get a dial pad as seen in this image to the left. Dial any other extension on your system, or use it just like the normal iPhone dial pad to make calls anywhere your VoIP provider allows.

We've been testing the Acrobits on three iPhones over the last few days, and we can say with some confidence that AT&T will definitely see customers moving from plans with high cellular minutes to the bare minimum plans if folks start using VoIP. These SIP apps have been available for some time, however, they were limited to being used only when there was a Wi-Fi connection available. Now that the 3G network is open for VoIP, calls can be made from anywhere there is 3G coverage, which makes using VoIP much easier and useful.

So how it the call quality? We will say that the quality over Wi-Fi is outstanding, and will depend somewhat on the VoIP provider you are using on your Asterisk server, along with the Wi-Fi signal level. This won't be a problem when you're sitting at home or in the office, or most other locations that offer free Wi-Fi, and your VoIP provider should be a reputable one known for high quality.

VoIP calls over 3G can be quite good, and we would say most have been acceptable although this is a little bit hit or miss. VoIP is heavily dependent on having a decent latency, and getting good latency on an AT&T cell tower can vary greatly. We've seen anything from about 58 ms (milliseconds) upwards of 300 ms. VoIP needs for the latency to be around 150 ms or less to offer good call quality. Once it reaches the 300 ms level, you will start noticing some cut outs, and choppiness. Our testing so far indicates that for the most part, the VoIP call quality over 3G isn't any worse than what you are used to when making a normal cellular call.

So what's the biggest advantage of having a VoIP IP PBX server in the home, home office, or business? Well...by tying your landlines and cellphones into one system, you could stand to save a lot of money each month. A family of four with a FamilyTalk Unlimited plan could go down to the FamilyTalk 550 plan and save $60/mth right off the top. If you had an AT&T landline service for around $35.00/mth, you could switch that over to an Unlimited US and Canada VoIP plan for around $19.95/mth and save another 15 bucks a month. Even bigger savings are possible if you make any calls to Canada. Adding Canada minutes to an AT&T plan is very expensive, and can easliy add $20-$60/mth to your bill.

In addition to just saving you money, you now have the option of making international calls using your cellphone as well. As long as you have international calling set up in your server, you can make those calls using your cellphone just as easliy as you can using a landline. And finally, if you travel internationally, you still have full VoIP calling functionality in any country as long as you can find a Wi-Fi connection. Your phone will function in another country, just as easliy as it does here in the US. With all the advantages VoIP calling on a cellphone can give you, don't you think it's time you went "on the LAM" too!

AT&T's announcement late last year that they would now allow VoIP calls over their 3G network is BIG news for the VoIP industry. Better late than never, Apple, has finally started approving VoIP apps for the iPhone. The VoIP industry has generally seen strong growth in past years, but that growth has typically been from consumers making the switch from analog PSTN lines to VoIP for their home or business. This growth has expanded as broadband internet service (a requirement for VoIP) has become more widespread.

Let's face it...we all make calls one of two ways for the most part. We use our landline service, or we use our cell phone. Since most wireless cellular carriers have been reluctant to allow (as in block) VoIP traffic over their data networks, the usefulness of VoIP on a cell phone has been limited to those times when you have access to a Wi-Fi connection. This is fine if you're at home or in the office, but doesn't work when you're out and about, unless you stop by Starbucks or McDonalds. Because of this, VoIP on a cell phone has been a hard sell, reserved more for techies than mainstream.

Now, with the allowance of VoIP over 3G, VoIP for cell phones becomes much more attractive, as you can make VoIP calls anywhere AT&T has 3G coverage, while still utilizing VoIP over Wi-Fi in areas with no 3G. While VoIP is not likely to work over AT&Ts 2G Edge networks due to speed and latency, 3G coverage areas still encompass a vast amount of potential VoIP customers. One thing to keep in mind is that AT&T will someday upgrade their wireless networks to include the 4G LTE  technology, which essentially gives you a Wi-Fi like connection covering entire cities. Once handsets incorporating 4G become available, the ability to use VoIP reliably in more places makes it just that much more attractive.

Consider a single, heavy user with an iPhone. Let's say they have the Nationwide Unlimited Plan for calling minutes at $69.99/mth. If they had a low cost VoIP plan with unlimited minutes, they could reduce that to the Nationwide 450 plan at $39.99/mth. While that's a savings of $30 per month, they would need to sign up for a VoIP provider that would allow use of VoIP on their phone. Unlimited VoIP plans with calling anywhere in the US and Canada can be found for less than $19.95 per month. Of course, if a user has to get a VoIP plan at $19.95, they are only saving around 10 bucks a month, but this scenario is a bare bones base model and it only gets better from here.

If you're a road warrior, and/or make calls to Canada or other international destinations, the cost savings and usefulness of your cell phone only gets better. In addition, if you travel to international destinations, you no longer have to worry about how you're going to make your cell phone work in other countries. In the past, you would have to have an unlocked phone with GSM capability, along with purchasing a SIM card from another country's cellular provider. With VoIP, all you need is a Wi-Fi connection, and you'll be making calls back home with no additional expense.

Going back to our heavy user example with an unlimited plan, additional cost savings can be realized in other areas. First, most VoIP plans allow for unlimited calls to Canada. Adding Canada to an AT&T cellular plan is very expensive, depending on the number of minutes you'd like to have. Just adding the ability to call Canada with AT&Ts service will add $20 to $60/mth to your bill. Having a VoIP plan also gives you the ability to use your cell phone for low rate international VoIP calls. If you're already using VoIP with a landline to make international calls, chances are, you're ready to transfer that technology over to your iPhone.

Many cell phone users have never considered using VoIP instead of wireless minutes. Others have considered it, but have discarded it as having limited usefulness due to the constraint of needing Wi-Fi for it to work. With AT&T opening up the 3G network for VoIP traffic, now is a great time to think about using VoIP whenever possible. With a good VoIP application on your iPhone along with a good VoIP service provider, you may be pleasantly suprised at the voice quality, while saving money, and adding more functionality to your smartphone.

Our next article will be dealing with converging your landline service with your cellular service. The best way to do this is by using an IP PBX style of server in your home or office. With the availability of low cost installations of this technology, it is possible to save a great deal of money when dealing with family plans, and business situations where the company pays for all or part of an employee's wireless bill. Although, the popularity of "ditching the landline" for wireless service has increased as more unlimited plans have come online, converging landline and cellular may be about to change that. Stay tuned...

HTC Supersonic with WiMAX

Ok... so adding a sixty foot tower to try an get a better 4G wireless signal is a bit much. We don't do that, but...AusTex VoIP has come up with a method of mounting the the CLEAR WiMAX indoor modem outside. For those struggling with a weak signal from CLEAR's 4G wireless internet service using the residential modem, this could be key to getting a strong enough signal to once again enyoy your internet browsing experience.

Because CLEAR does not have an external antenna or CPE (customer premise equipment) for outdoor use, we decided to take the indoor modem and find a way to mount it outdoors. We've heard of CLEAR users trying to do this themselves, but it does present several problems that AusTex VoIP has overcome. There are users placing the modem in the attic, under the eaves in zip lock bags, and even stranger attempts at getting a decent signal.

Our solution involves placing the home modem in a weatherproof enclosure, getting power and ethernet to that enclosure, and then running the cables back to a location that works best for you. At the indoor location, we will add a wall mount that allows you to plug your power adapter and ethernet cable right into the outlet. This install is very clean, and very professional. The outdoor mount is placed on the side of the house closest to your primary CLEAR antenna (base station), and can be fine tuned inside the enclosure for reception of the strongest signal available.

This process is intended for those that would really like to increase their CLEAR WiMAX signal strength indoors. Maybe your signal has never been that good at your location, or your combination of stucco and energy efficient windows is doing a great job of blocking the signal. Whatever the reason, AusTex VoIP can can work with you to get a better signal.

Below, are the results of a recent outdoor mounting. This person has only "Fast Home" which limits the download speed to 3.0 Mbs. The CINR (carrier to interference plus noise ratio) strength is what drives the number of lights on the modem. Anything above 19 will generally get you 5 lights on the modem. The CINR is a measusre of signal strength with noise calculations factored in for an overall signal effectiveness. A CINR of less than 12 is not going to allow for a great internet experience, and would not allow for use of CLEAR Voice.

By mounting outside:

-- Lights went from 2-3 to 5 full time.
-- RSSI went from -73 to -63
-- CINR went from 8 to 25
-- speedtests (speedtest.net) have consistently been at or greater than 3 megs down, which is my plan

For more details on this unique offering from AusTex VoIP, give us a call at (512) 600-0990.

 

HTC Supersonic with WiMAX

The folks over at engadget.com have been posting information on the rumored HTC Supersonic coming to Sprint in 2010. The exact time frame is unknown at this time, but let's hope it's soon. This device is said to be compatible with the Sprint/Clear 4G services.

As a heavy VoIP user, I'm looking for a phone that allow me to dump my expensive "Everything" plan with Sprint, and possibly go to just a low cell minute plan. Between the WiMAX and Wi-Fi capabilities, making pure VoIP calls from just about anywhere in the Austin area should be breeze. Here's some of the specs for this phone found over at engadget:

  • Codename is "Supersonic" -- a name we've heard at least once before.
  • Feels a lot like you'd expect an Android-powered HD2 to feel thanks to a 4.3-inch non-AMOLED display and a svelte shell. (For reference, the HD2 is 11mm thick, but we don't have exact dimensions here.)
  • It's got a kickstand on the back. This wouldn't be a first for HTC; the Imagio on Verizon has one, for example.
  • Runs Android 2.1 with HTC's Sense UI.
  • Our tipster saw it in white; production devices could be available in different colors, of course, but white seems like it'd be an intriguing choice for a phone of the HD2's size and shape.
  • The phone's software stack is buggy enough right now to suggest that we're not looking at a release any time soon, but we don't have details on the projected launch window.
  • It's fast -- Snapdragon fast, it seems, though our tipster can't confirm the processor under the hood.

To check out more of the story you can visit engadget.com here.

HTC Supersonic for Sprint?

clear usb performance dock

CLEAR USB Performance Dock (left):  This is a great accessory for the new PXU1900 USB modem, and the first of its kind for WiMAX! The Performance Dock provides increased signal and performance to the PXU1900, and is super portable and easy to use. Instead of connecting the modem directly to your computer, you simply place it in the Performance Dock and then connect the Dock to your computer via USB. Best of all, the USB Performance Dock is a bargain at just $9.99!

 

 

CLEAR WiMAX Home Modem

IMPORTANT: the Performance Dock is ONLY compatible with the new Mobile USB WiMAX Modem; it is NOT compatible with the original CLEAR USB modem or the 4G+ (U300) modem.

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