ZyXEL P2000W VoIP WiFi Phone

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Tom Keating
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ZyXEL P2000W VoIP WiFi Phone

This is a first look at the SIP-based ZyXEL P2000W VoIP WiFi phone. The ZyXEL P2000W contains a lithium-ion battery good for about 3.5 hours of talk time and 21-22 hours standby time. My first impressions are that it's lightweight and very slim with a cool blue-back list LCD display - the blue backlist display reminds me somewhat of an iPod's display though not as bright. The menu is very easy to navigate to configure things like Call History, Phone Book, Net(work) Settings, SIP settings, Wireless settings, and more.

I found the keys to be a tad slow when typing the same key more than once. For instance, when keying in my username (keating) using the number pad, I had to slow down my key presses to get the letter "k" (the number 5 twice). I kept getting "j" instead. It only seemed to happen if I didn't pause between characters since I was able to get the letter "L" by pressing the number '5' three times very fast, but only if it was the first letter I was typing or if I paused after the previous letter before attempting the next letter. A minor inconvenience. One thing I did like when keying in information was that you can simply press the up or down arrow to change character modes from lower-case, uppercase, number mode, and "@" mode which lets you type these characters: @ / <space> , and an accent character.

Installing the P2000W VoIP WiFi phone was ridiculously easy. Of course, ZyXEL pre-configured a SIP-compatible TGlo VoIP account for me for PSTN termination. So all I literally had to do was turn the device on, it found the WiFi Access Point and then make my first VoIP phone call to a PSTN number. Ok I lied. It wasn't that simple. I actually had to manually enter my SSID since I turned off SSID broadcasting (security precaution) and I had to enter in my WEP key for my WiFi access point (another security precaution). But had I had SSID broadcasting on and WEP turned off, I'm sure it would have been a "open the ZyXEL box and just go" type plug-n-play installation. Adding the WEP key wasn't too difficult but it was a bit of a pain to switch from number to alphabetic mode since the WEP key has a mixture of letters and numbers. But there is not much you can do about that unless you were able to hook up a keyboard to the phone. I also had to poke a hole in our firewall to allow the IP address of this WiFi phone through. Other than that it was a plug-n-play affair! (this isn't a knock on the ZyXEL phone. I would have had to do all these steps with any WiFi VoIP phone)

After setting up the SSID and the WEP key and poking a hole in the firewall, it almost immediately displayed the word "Registered" on the screen. Once you see that, you're good to go!

Operational Testing
I made a test VoIP over WiFi phone call to our our corporate PBX and then entered my extension. The DTMF digits passed through without any problems. I answered the call and then had a co-worker take the handset while I roamed about the office. I walked and talked asking if he could hear me every few feet. "Can you hear me now?" (No Verizon jokes please) I wasn't able to find any WiFi deadspots in the entire office so I resorted to walking outside to the parking lot to figure out the range. I was able to get about 100 feet from the Linksys Access Point before it got choppy and then cut-out. Overall, I was very impressed with the sound quality and the range.

It's worth mentioning that the call control protocol of the P-2000W is based on SIP v2 (Session Initiation Protocol version 2, RFC 3261) which is interoperable with major SIP-based call servers, IP-PBXs, and other standard SIP-based client devices. It also supports the G.711 and G.729 codecs. Importantly, the P-2000W is capable of tagging features that support a service provider’s QoS (Quality of Service) planning, such ToS (Type of Service) and DiffServ. It allows gateways or central side equipment to identify and prioritize voice and data traffic.

Here's a video of a test VoIP over WiFi call (it's not set to AutoPlay, so just click Play and wait for the file to download ~4MB - it may appear to not be downloading, but it is). This call was routed from the ZyXEL phone over WiFi, over our T1 internet connection, to TGlo, back to TMC's corporate PBX, and then to my extension on speakermode. As you can tell if you click the play button on the video, below, the latency was pretty minimal. From the time I spoke to the time my voice came out of my phone extension was pretty quick.

- IEEE 802.11b support
- Frequency band: 2.400 ~ 2.497 GHz
- Channel: FCC Ch1~11, ETSI Ch1~13, Japan Ch1~14
- Data Rate: 11 / 5.5 / 2 / 1 Mbps
- Output Power: 14 + 1dBm
- Sensitivity: -82 dBm@11Mbps
- Operating range: Out-door up to 300m, In-door up to 75m
- 64/128 bit WEP encryption
- Site Survey: Scan available APs in hand set’s environment
- Support infrastructure (public) mode and Ad-hoc mode (option)

- SIP (RFC 3261) version 2
- SDP (RFC2327)
- RTP (RFC1889)
- RTCP (RFC1890)
- CODEC: G711, G.729a (G.729 is recommended for better voice quality)
- DTMF detection and relay
- G.168 echo cancellation
- Silence Suppression
- Voice Activity Detection (VAD)
- Comfort Noise Generation (CNG)
- Support STUN (RFC3489)
- QoS support TOS / DiffServ
- Support outbound proxy for NAT Traversal
- Built-in Phone book
- Direct IP-to-IP call
- Standby time up to 24 hours, talking time up to 4 hours (Maximum)

- IP address assignment: Fixed IP, DHCP client, PPPoE

- LCD screen displayed menu and keypad settings
- Built-in Web Configurator
- Support auto-provisioning

- Although I could backspace when entering in a Phonebook entry, I couldn't backspace when dialing, which was a bit unusual.
- The side volume buttons don't seem to adjust ringer volume - it only seems to adjust the handset volume while in a call.
- (added) I just noticed I can only power down the device from the main screen and not when in one of the menus. I had to back out of the menus to main screen and then power off.
- (added) I meant to also mention that you can only have 1 SIP registrar/proxy on the phone configured at any one time. This is OK for 99% of "casual" WiFi users, but then again most early WiFi VoIP phone adoptors are "techies" and want the ability to have multiple SIP settings. So I'd like to see multiple SIP profiles on the device.

I like the fact that the ZyXEL supports multiple ring tones (6 total) and vibrate. You can even ring and vibrate simultaneously. The Zyxel P2000W VoIP WiFi phone can be used with any SIP based VoIP Service. However some service providers such as AT&T Call Vantage require you to buy equipment from them directly so they do not provide information that you need to configure the phone with the service. According to ZyXELl, some of the SIP based VoIP service that allow users to use any equipment they wish are BroadVoice (www.broadvoice.com), QuantumVoice (www.quantumvoice.com), TGlo (http://www.gloconnect.com/), and USA Datanet (www.usadatanet.com). Of course, any free SIP registrar such as SIPPhone can also be used. In theory, this phone should work with my home Vonage connection, but I haven't tried it. I should mention that this WiFi phone doesn't work with Skype's proprietary protocol <sigh> Actually, it's more like Skype doesn't support SIP. Why can't Skype just use SIP?

Also, if you configure a remote IP address in the built-in phone book, the P-2000W provides a direct IP-to-IP call feature when there is no intermediate SIP proxy server available in the network. The P-2000W can also establish an 802.11 ad-hoc network (computer-to-computer network without Access Point), which allows users to use the handsets as wireless intercoms.

All in all, I was pleased with the ZyXEL P2000W VoIP WiFi phone. If you're looking for a sleek, thin, lightweight WiFi VoIP phone that supports SIP then this phone is probably the perfect fit for you.

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