Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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VoIP news, trends, and opinions, VoIP reviews. Covering Asterisk, Cisco, Grandstream, Polycom, Microsoft, Vonage, Packet8, etc.

Grandstream UCM6100 Asterisk PBX Makes Major Strides

August 27, 2013


Last month I was pretty harsh in my analysis of the Grandstream UCM6100 and on top of the open source issues and burning their partners, it also had some security issues. Well, Ward Mundy has a new report on the UCM6100 and he is impressed with the response Grandstream has had to the community's concerns.

He writes, "The short version of this story is Grandstream has addressed most of the open source issues and they’ve resolved well over a hundred bugs. In addition, they’ve published excellent documentation on the PBX in addition to a tutorial on how to interconnect the UCM6100 with other devices including FreePBX®-based Asterisk servers such as PBX in a Flash. So we are pleasantly surprised by Grandstream’s efforts to address many of the concerns that were raised by some of us in the open source community."

He also posted this interesting tidbit:
The silver lining may very well be the functionality boost you’ll get from the addition of a $100 OBi202 device with a Bluetooth adapter.





FreePBX - Most Powerful & Flexible Phone System Known to Man

August 25, 2013

I've been writing about VoIP and reviewing VoIP products since 1996, but even I need help once in awhile to figure out how to get a certain VoIP feature to work, how to install an IP-PBX, how to configure an advanced phone feature, etc. Well, recently I had to deploy a FreePBX system in a production environment for another company and I hit a few stumbling blocks that required a call to FreePBX's technical support and I have to say they were very responsive, extremely knowledgeable and very helpful.

One of my first stumbling blocks was getting second dialtone on a specific FXO port simply by pressing one of the line keys on a Grandstream GXP2100 phone. The reason is there is a DoorKing security gate system hooked into one of the Sangoma FXO ports that listens for certain DTMF touchtones to open and close the gate.

First, I had to create three groups in chan_dahdi_groups.conf, which is done in the FreePBX UI via this URL:
http://[ipaddress]/admin/config.php?display=dahdi
group=0 -> FXO trunks - channels 5, 6, and 7 (normal inbound/outbound lines)
group=1 -> FXO trunk  - channel  8 (special DoorKing port)
group=2 -> FXS lines  - channels 1, 2, 3, and 4 (analog devices)

I separated the DoorKing into its own trunk line group so it wouldn't be used for outbound calling. I also had to change the context to "from-analog" for the FXO ports for routing via channel number to work.









FreePBX World - Just Days Away!

August 12, 2013

The first ever FreePBX World co-located at ITEXPO is just 16 days away, taking place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. I recently wrote about FreePBX and gave a sneak peek of the conference agenda for FreePBX World you should check out.

I'm attending ITEXPO to cover all the latest news on VoIP, WebRTC, Asterisk & FreePBX, cloud communications, and much more. Oh, and did I mention Apple legend Steve Wozniak is keynoting?

ITEXPO is one of the longest running communications shows and it continues to add excellent new content to the conference tracks, exciting new co-located events like FreePBX World & Startup Camp, as well as headliner keynoters like former Apple & Pepsi CEO John Sculley, 3Com founder and Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe, and many more.

If you haven't registered already, head over here, but you better be quick, I hear the hotel room block is almost full!





iotum Adds WebRTC VoIP to Calliflower Conferencing

August 7, 2013

iotum today announced some improvements to its Calliflower conferencing service, the biggest of which is a new WebRTC-enabled native SIP client – Calliflower Connect. Previously, Calliflower required you either call in via PSTN or use Skype, but now WebRTC adds yet another dial-in method - a frictionless one at that since you don't need to install anything. PCs or other devices that don't have Skype installed can now take advantage of WebRTC, which is enabled on Google Chrome and Firefox.

I did a quick test and was able to connect to the meeting using WebRTC VoIP technology from my PC and I was also able to dial-in to the Calliflower provided PSTN number and enter a PIN to join the meeting.

Grandstream UCM6100 PBX - Security & GPLv2 Disaster?

August 5, 2013


Last week I wrote Grandstream UCM6100 PBX - Yet Another Aastra & snom Disaster? I was looking at it from a partner and reseller perspective. But I was talking with FreePBX's Tony Lewis and he mentioned he discovered the version of Asterisk running on the UCM6100 was 25 versions old, over a year old and with several security flaws fixed since then.

Ward Mundy over at Nerd Vittles also discovered some major security flaws, including a major one in the IVR that could enable a hacker to springboard out from the IVR to the PSTN via the UCM6100's FXO ports. Putting aside the old version of Asterisk and security flaws, the UCM6100 is impressive in several respects. Perhaps the most impressive is that you can get a 2 port FXO / 2 port FXS for $264!


Grandstream UCM6100 PBX - Yet Another Aastra & snom Disaster?

July 19, 2013


Is history repeating itself with the new just-launched Asterisk-based Grandstream UCM6100 IP-PBX appliance, which could upset their partners? Back in 2008, I warned Aastra about getting into the IP-PBX game:
Aastra Telecom has entered the IP-PBX game with the AastraLink Pro 160. This is a very interesting move since Aastra Telecom is known for their IP phones used by various IP-PBXs, including many of the Asterisk-based solutions - trixbox, AsteriskNOW, Druid, PBX in a Flash, etc. With the AastraLink Pro 160 Aastra is now competing with IP-PBX vendors that purchase their phones.


How FreePBX is Revolutionizing PBXs - Let Freedom Ring!

July 15, 2013

Asterisk fans know that Asterisk, as its name implies, was designed to do everything in telecom since the name Mark Spencer gave it comes from the Linux wildcard symbol (*), which can match or do just about anything. It's a fantastic name chosen by Asterisk's founder.

Similarly, FreePBX also sports a great name, espousing a truly powerful and "free" PBX with no strings attached. Is it not ironic that America , the nation whose most precious Amendment of the Constitution, the 1st Amendment which established "free speech" as a fundamental right and a nation which invented the most important communications technology - the telephone, also helped establish one of the most closed, proprietary, and expensive pieces of "speech" technology? - namely the PBX.

Free speech you say?



Hilarious Skype Bombing Interrupts George Zimmerman Trial

July 3, 2013


Cheap Skype calling anywhere in the world...
Free video calling to friends and family...
Using Skype to "Skype Bomb" the George Zimmerman trial on live TV - priceless!

Scott Pleasants, a criminal justice professor at Seminole State College was testifying in the George Zimmerman murder trial via Skype, when pranksters watching the case quickly hammered the witness's account with Skype calls.

“I gotta tell you, there’s now a really good chance that we’re being toyed with,” said Zimmerman lawyer Mark O’Mara.

The judge was not amused... Watch the video...


Oh and in the future, if you don't want to be Skype Bombed, it's pretty simple to disable anonymous calls. Go into Skype options, then Privacy, and then check "Only allow people in my Contact list to contact me".

Unless of course the witness's friends in his Contact list were playing a practical joke. Though interrupting a courtroom could result in a "out of order" or "contempt" ruling and jail time, so I'm betting these were anonymous pranksters not in his Skype Contacts.













Logitech H650e Headset Review

June 28, 2013

The Logitech USB Headset 650e "corded" stereo headset is the sister to the H820e "wireless" headset I recently reviewed. Both models target unified communications (UC) with some call control functions like mute and answer call. Like the H820e, the H650e sports a call indicator LED to let co-workers know you're on the phone, as well as wideband audio. Curious how the H650e compared to the H820e I took the H650e for a spin.

One of my observations when testing the H820e was that the bass response - low frequencies was missing from the speakers when playing music.

New China-based Asterisk Player Coming to Town

June 26, 2013


HK Houyuan Technology Co. Ltd, a 3-year old company based in China has a line of Asterisk IP-PBXs with the super creative name of, wait for it... wait for it -- "IP PBX". Their IP PBX series include the IP PBX-01, IP PBX-02, IP PBX-04, and IP PBX-08, where the number denotes the number of FXO/FXS ports. They run uClinux and Asterisk on a 400MHz Blackfin 532 chip.
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