SIP Carriers Still Buggy
I know SIP works. I know there are several good SIP carriers out there like Cbeyond and Bandwidth.com. But I also know SIP has a long way to go.
I have a Switchvox in the home. So, Cbeyond and BW.com are not the best fit for my needs. Cbeyond is only offered as a bundle with a $500/mo minimum entry and BW.com is focused on business accounts with a $100/mo minimum target.
SIP residential is not a revolutionary concept. Vonage and several others have built a business around it. However, most of the “popular” carriers control their support costs by restricting you to their hardware and an analog device. I want SIP to the PBX Device. Sometimes called BYOD.
I have used voipyourlife.com for quite some time and they are a reliable decent service. They do offer BYOD and will directly connect to the Switchvox. But their prices are around the $30/mo which is attractive compared to Ma Bell, but not the SIP world. Plus, they only offer one channel and don’t do call forward busy to another number.
So I moved on to callcentric.com. They have very attractive pricing, a nice web portal (no live tech support, email only), a nice fax solution, and decent self serve tools. I found their outbound service excellent, but their inbound service was very unreliable. I worked with tech support for both Callcentric and Switchvox and the conclusion was the two just are not compatible. This will likely change in Q1 with the next major release of Switchvox (upgrading their rev of Asterisk). Callcentric positions themselves as an Asterisk friendly solution – and I know they work well with Trixbox. The problem had something to do with they way they load balance their servers. I tend to agree with Switchvox that if they can only get things to work with unconventional tweaks to configuration files (that Switchvox hides), they are doing something wrong. However, Switchvox being on an old version of Asterisk doesn’t help – so I will likely reevaluate them later.
So after Callcentric, I moved on to Voicepulse. Very friendly company, reasonable rates (higher than callcentric), live tech support, and a decent portal. However, terrible call quality. I tried their East and West Pops (from Denver) and I had very poor call quality. Voice quality was totally unacceptable, plus no 911 and no toll free support. Time to move on. Though I will compliment their try before you buy program.
I am now currently with Teliax. They have been the best so far. Their prices are higher than the other two carriers, as is their quality. They have live tech support and a decent portal. I am having one major problem – for 3 weeks now, that concerns me.
I called a specific 877 number and consistently got ring no answer. At first I assumed they weren’t answering, but got suspicious and called over a different carrier and got right thru. I called Teliax support and we duplicated the problem. They had me change from the Denver POP to the SFO POP and that solved the problem, but I sure liked the idea of using a Denver Pop. They did several call traces and said they would work on it. It has been a month now. Plus they also sent me out updates on a multi-city POP outage last week, so I am a little nervous about using them as my primary service too.
I should point out that my primary service is currently with Comcast (analog). During the intro rate, it is only $20/mo for unlimited US calling. Better than many of the SIP carriers (then jumps to $45). My problem is they don’t offer Call Forward Busy. So the 2nd call either goes to voice mail or a busy. If they offered CFB, I would just add SIP trunks for overflow. But since they don’t, I intend to drop their voice completely as I want overflow (additional lines) support. That is I intend to replace them if I can find a reliable SIP carrier, the search continues.
Teliax’s pay as you go service supports up to 10 simo calls. Since I have a business class PBX on site, I don’t need to be sending out busy signals. But that requires CFB or a multi line hunt group like most the SIP carriers offer.
With the Switchvox, I am using my trunks more often than before. I have simo ring on multiple extensions to external cell phones and we call in to check our voice mail.
If you know of a decent residential SIP carrier, please let me know.