Shared DSL and Vonage
October 19, 2004 3:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of getting Vonage voip but I share my dsl with another business. Is that an issue? Any advice based on experience?
posted by subpixel to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
I have Vonage on a connection with several computers. You need about 90kbs of upstream for decent call quality. Long story short, if the business you share the connection with likes bittorrent or has some other application that uses as much upstream bandwidth as it can get, then your call quality will probably be awful.

Great service though, as long as you have the bandwidth.
posted by Leonard at 4:01 PM on October 19, 2004


I have Vonage running over Cox cable in Palos Verdes (south of Los Angeles, California). It's pretty cool and sounds good when it works, but I get a lot of 3-5 second dropouts in one direction or the other, which really interrupts conversations. It's often hard/impossible to send or receive faxes, too. I believe it's because of bandwidth problems with the IP service, though, and not an inherent problem with Vonage. (I know people who have Vonage over DSL, or other cable IP providers, and they don't have dropouts.) Anyway, if your IP is solid, you shouldn't have too much trouble.

If you're just signing up for Vonage on your own initiative, find a current customer and fill in his/her info on the application form. I think you and the referer will get a discount on the service.
posted by spacewrench at 4:04 PM on October 19, 2004


I'm using Vonage with Speakeasy DSL. Speakeasy recently introduced their own VOIP service to compete with Vonage, and one of the benefits of their service over others is supposedly that Speakeasy will prioritize your VOIP packets to prevent droupouts. Well, it seems that you don't actually have to use Speakeasy VOIP to get this functionality, because right around the beginning of October the occasional split-second dropouts I used to always get on my Vonage calls just went away. In the last few weeks I have downloaded and uploaded and run SolarSeek and all sorts of other things while on the phone and it's been rock-steady, whereas before just receiving an instant message on iChat was enough to cause a dropout.
posted by kindall at 5:26 PM on October 19, 2004


To prevent dropouts with VOIP you want to get a router that supports Quality of Service (QOS), which lets you give top priority to the VOIP packets. Speakeasy is probably talking about providing that for you, whether in the VOIP box or the router.

Don't know of a router that does it out of the box. The Linksys WRT54G can do it, but you have to install third-party firmware.

The Vonage box is supposed to do it if you plug the Vonage box in in front of the router (directly to the DSL/cable modem connection), but they say it doesn't work that well.
posted by mcguirk at 6:41 PM on October 19, 2004


It doesn't work that well (usually) because your ISP needs to know to prioritize the packets being sent to you. This is the part that Speakeasy is providing that Vonage cannot provide alone.

The Motorola box I got from Vonage works well for prioritizing packets but it can only prioritize packets it generates, i.e. your voice transmission.
posted by kindall at 8:40 PM on October 19, 2004


Theres no easy answer to this (the QoS router is probably the best so far but isnt perfect). If that connection is being used hard 24/7 you will get lots of dropped packets.

You might want to try some of the "line tests" at dslreports and see how badly utilized your line is. Of course you can get a trial account from vonage (if they still do this), play with it, and decide how things work out for you.

>prioritize packets it generates, i.e. your voice transmission.

That's the point. The router should be able to throttle the p2p stuff or whatever is going on on the LAN to keep VoIP working. Outside your LAN is out of your control.
posted by skallas at 9:49 PM on October 19, 2004


>It's often hard/impossible to send or receive faxes

Actually, the codec(s) vonage and pretty much every VoIP provider uses is designed for the human voice, not for fax machines. So if youre trying to fax to a machine that cant handle a really slow connection like 9600bps, then you'll get dropped.

Some people dont have a problem because the machine they are faxing to can handle such slow speeds.
posted by skallas at 9:52 PM on October 19, 2004


It doesn't work that well (usually) because your ISP needs to know to prioritize the packets being sent to you. This is the part that Speakeasy is providing that Vonage cannot provide alone.

Actually that's not true. The router can control both the incoming and outgoing data rate. Machines on the internet only know how fast they can send data to each other by how fast the other machine is acknowledging what's been sent already. If the router starts dropping or delaying some of the incoming traffic, the machines that are sending it will slow down.
posted by mcguirk at 11:42 PM on October 19, 2004


e.g. if you have a 4 Mbps downstream you should be able to tell the router to only allow 3.8 Mbps to be used for everything other than VOIP. Then if it gets more than 3.8 Mbps for non-VOIP it just drops the rest on the floor, and the sending machines slow down.

Same thing that happens if, say, you're on a 56Kbps dialup and you start downloading from a web site with a 100Mbps connection. The sending site doesn't just blast 100Mbps all the way to your ISP, where almost all of it gets dropped on the floor and has to be sent again. It starts slow and builds up to the speed you can handle, and if a packet gets dropped it slows down some until it's at just the right speed.

All the router has to do is "pretend" to only be able to handle a certain speed for certain kinds of traffic.
posted by mcguirk at 12:05 AM on October 20, 2004


Let's put it this way -- your ISP is getting ready to send you a packet over your DSL. It has two packets waiting to be sent: one from your VOIP connection, one from an HTTP connection (you're browsing the Web).

You obviously want the VOIP packet to be sent first. Your ISP is the only one who can make sure this happens, since they're the one who has the packet.

Just having enough bandwidth isn't enough -- if other packets get in front of the time-sensitive VOIP packets, you can get dropouts, even if there's plenty of bandwidth.
posted by kindall at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2004


I have a Linksys WRT54G with Sveasoft firmware and Vonage.
I've never been able to get the wondershaper bandwidth control working noticeably, has anybody else
posted by Leonard at 8:07 PM on October 20, 2004


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