My analysis of one-way audio issues

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My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby xoy74 » 01/06/2015

First of all sorry for the wall of text, but I am hoping to get someone from the FPL technical guys to have a look at this post and give me an informed answer.
I've been a FPL user for many years (don't remember exactly, but since back in the day when they released the first batch of 416-477-xxxx numbers). I like the service, I have recommended it to many people over the years and I've helped many people set up ATAs with FPL.

Please do not reply with offers to help configure my ATA. I know how to do that, VoIP has been my hobby for years (one way or another I can get my ATAs working with FPL, however I believe something may be wrong in the way some of the FPL are configured and I will explain here why).
Also, please do not assume that everyone uses Linksys/Cisco or Grandstream ATAs. There are many more brands around that should work perfectly fine.

Up until about Feb/March 2013 I have seen very few issues with one way audio. If I remember correctly, that's when they first introduced the server voip2.freephoneline.ca. More precisely, I believe they built a new server for voip.freephoneline.ca and renamed the old server (the one at 208.65.240.165) to voip2.freephoneline.ca. After this change some people started complaining. I didn't pay much attention then, I would just tell everyone to adjust their settings to use the voip2 server.

Then again around Feb 2014, they shuffled the servers again, voip2.freephoneline.ca became voip3 and there's also a new server voip4 accepting registrations on port 6060. A bunch of other changes happened around that time, like setting up the servers to refuse registrations if those we sent too often (but that's a different story).
Again, some of the users that already switched to voip2 started complaining about one way audio.

I didn't have much time to look into this, but prompted by another voip techie, this morning I decided to have a look. So I took one of the troubling ATAs and connected it to each server, ran test calls and took wireshark captures both at the ATA's level as well as the router's WAN port (to clear any confusion about router blocking anything).

All the calls placed through the servers voip, voip2 and voip4 ended up with one way audio. The calls through voip3 worked fine.

When I look at the wireshark traces for the one way audio calls, I see no RTP coming from the FPL servers (which is expected given the one way audio issues). However, I expected the firewall to block them, but that's not the case.

There is simply no audio coming back on the WAN port of the router. Period. This happens with all servers, except voip3 which is my old "trusted" server.

Now, almost every other VoIP provider has their servers configured so that if the IP address in the Media description is a private, non routable IP, to send the RTP traffic to the public IP address used for the SIP communication. Apparently the voip3 server does that, but the others don't.

Another thing that I find rather strange, is that for the calls from the voip and voip2 servers, the SIP invites contain two VIA header pointing to the voip3 server. The calls through voip4 have two VIA header pointing to another IP (208.65.240.142) which in other calls comes up as a gateway for the RTP portion of the call.

Here's my dilemma and I hope someone from FPL staff can answer why.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby bridonca » 01/06/2015

It would be interesting if Fongo is the source of the problem, but out of curiosity, where is wireshark connected to? Between the modem and router? behind the router? Is the modem in bridge mode? I can think of a situation where the modem is acting up as an awful router, and "forgets" to send incoming RTP traffic to the router and ATA. As far as wireshark is concerned, nothing is coming from Fongo.

Again, I say you could be easily right, but from experience, I feel more comfortable blaming dodgy networking gear, whatever it may be.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby xoy74 » 01/06/2015

bridonca wrote:It would be interesting if Fongo is the source of the problem, but out of curiosity, where is wireshark connected to? Between the modem and router? behind the router? Is the modem in bridge mode? I can think of a situation where the modem is acting up as an awful router, and "forgets" to send incoming RTP traffic to the router and ATA. As far as wireshark is concerned, nothing is coming from Fongo.

Again, I say you could be easily right, but from experience, I feel more comfortable blaming dodgy networking gear, whatever it may be.

As I mentioned earlier (please read the entire post) I ran packet captures simultaneously at the ATA's ethernet interface as well as the router's WAN port. There is no modem, I am doing this at the office with a fiber (true fiber not bell "fibe" crap) internet connection, the router's WAN has a routable, public IP address.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 01/06/2015

I don't have any advice as I think you are much more equipped to investigate this than I. But I would like to thank you for taking the time to post this. :)

Edit to add: I'm still curious about what Support is doing as part of their "force registration" process. Either they're forcing the switch to proxy audio, which would explain why they're not doing it en masse, or they're causing it to behave like voip3, which would be much more preferred (and should be done en masse).

Does anyone who has had their account configured to force registration know how to test for this?
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby xoy74 » 01/08/2015

Pretty disappointing that nobody from the technical department wants to reply (I did send in a ticket asking them to look at my finding).
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 01/08/2015

One other forum member also mentioned they hadn't looked at his ticket - so perhaps they just haven't seen yours or this thread yet. I do see however another report of one-way audio.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 01/08/2015

We've two confirmations of your observation that voip3 performs properly:

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=17084&p=66996#p66962
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9772&start=25#p66988

Curiously, xdigital's ticket was closed without investigation, even though this is clearly a server issue.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby ckkatan » 01/09/2015

There are more reports that the "unofficial" voip3 server resolves issues where the official voip, voip2 and voip4 servers could not. But, there are several postings indicated that we could not use the "unofficial" voip3 server. Otherwise, your account may be cancelled.

Then, what is the alternative solution?

:(
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 01/09/2015

I see that you have a SPA device. Please try voip, voip2, or voip4 and set the following:

Handle VIA received: yes
Handle VIA rport: yes
Substitute VIA Addr: yes

If that does not work by itself, please also forward your RTP ports which by default are UDP 16384-16482. (You should only forward ports if things won't work any other way, so try the above first.)

Let us know if this works.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby ckkatan » 01/10/2015

Hi Mango,

What if one does not want to forward RTP ports with the "official" voip, voip2 or voip4 servers, but the "unofficial" voip3 server is working without forwarding the RTP ports, then what is the alternative option (other than buying a new non-Cisco ATA box)?

If one voip server has no issue with the setup, but another "same" (presumably) voip servers had, would the result indicates that the problem might be within the voip server itself?

Thanks.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 01/10/2015

Can you please confirm whether or not my suggestion in my last post worked for you?

Yes, the working theory at the moment is that there is a problem with voip, voip2, and voip4.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby ckkatan » 01/10/2015

Hi Mango,

I don't have a problem with all the voip servers. However, a friend of mine does have the one-way audio issue. It was resolved with a STUN server. I would like to test the theory of voip3 on his setup. But, he is not a tech guy and I have not been to his place to program his ATA box to test yet. If I do, I will let you know.

Thanks.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 01/13/2015

Here's another report of a FPL user with one-way audio. He solved it by changing the settings I mentioned above.

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r297856 ... udio-issue
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby adit » 01/13/2015

May be a different problem (I use an OBI) but I had the one way audio problem when I first start using the FPL. I had to read the OBI FAQs and open a number of ports on my router (not the ports FPL speaks about, those are for their software App only, you need the ones for your ATA). This solved the problem, never had it since than. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby mennis » 01/30/2015

Same deal for me. Here is what I tried:

Forward specific ports (list above) to my ATA (HT702), forward ALL ports to my ATA... nothing worked. Always one way audio only.

I tried voip4 on port 6060.. one way audio.

I switched to voip3.freephoneline.ca (for a minute to test) and it worked fine.

Switched back - it doesn't work.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 02/04/2015

Please see the following updated configuration for your HT702: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=16344

Once you have things working, remove your port forwarding. Port forwarding should only be used when things won't work any other way.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Liptonbrisk » 02/04/2015

I wonder why all the servers aren't configured like voip3.freephoneline.ca?
Doing so would fix all these headaches.

Is voip3 less secure than voip, voip2, and voip4?
Please do not send me emails; I do not work for nor represent Freephoneline or Fongo. Post questions on the forums so that others may learn from responses or assist you. Thank you. If you have an issue with your account or have a billing issue, submit a ticket here: https://support.fongo.com/hc/en-us/requests/new. Visit http://status.fongo.com/ to check FPL/Fongo service status. Freephoneline setup guides can be found at viewforum.php?f=15.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 02/04/2015

I have asked several FPL reps this question but they did not answer.

No, voip3 is not less secure.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Fongo Support » 02/04/2015

Mango wrote:I have asked several FPL reps this question but they did not answer.

No, voip3 is not less secure.

Hi there,

re->I have asked several FPL reps this question but they did not answer.

I believe I replied to you via PM.

Regards,
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Liptonbrisk » 02/04/2015

Fongo Support wrote:
Mango wrote:I have asked several FPL reps this question but they did not answer.

No, voip3 is not less secure.

Hi there,

re->I have asked several FPL reps this question but they did not answer.

I believe I replied to you via PM.

Regards,



If you could PM me the answer too, please, that would be great!
Please do not send me emails; I do not work for nor represent Freephoneline or Fongo. Post questions on the forums so that others may learn from responses or assist you. Thank you. If you have an issue with your account or have a billing issue, submit a ticket here: https://support.fongo.com/hc/en-us/requests/new. Visit http://status.fongo.com/ to check FPL/Fongo service status. Freephoneline setup guides can be found at viewforum.php?f=15.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Fongo Support » 02/04/2015

Liptonbrisk wrote:
Fongo Support wrote:
Mango wrote:I have asked several FPL reps this question but they did not answer.

No, voip3 is not less secure.

Hi there,

re->I have asked several FPL reps this question but they did not answer.

I believe I replied to you via PM.

Regards,



If you could PM me the answer too, please, that would be great!


Hi,

PM send.

regards,
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby ckkatan » 02/04/2015

can you PM me too? thanks.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Liptonbrisk » 04/09/2015

xoy74 wrote:Now, almost every other VoIP provider has their servers configured so that if the IP address in the Media description is a private, non routable IP, to send the RTP traffic to the public IP address used for the SIP communication. Apparently the voip3 server does that, but the others don't.


Yes, I too find it perplexing that all the FPL servers aren't configured in the same manner as voip3.freephoneline.ca. Doing so would help resolve a lot of one-way audio headaches for Freephoneline newcomers.

Unfortunately, registering with voip3.freephoneline.ca may result in accounts being suspended.
Please do not send me emails; I do not work for nor represent Freephoneline or Fongo. Post questions on the forums so that others may learn from responses or assist you. Thank you. If you have an issue with your account or have a billing issue, submit a ticket here: https://support.fongo.com/hc/en-us/requests/new. Visit http://status.fongo.com/ to check FPL/Fongo service status. Freephoneline setup guides can be found at viewforum.php?f=15.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Mango » 04/10/2015

Perhaps the most bizarre thing is the number of people who claim to have opened a ticket, only to have the ticket closed without resolution.
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Re: My analysis of one-way audio issues

Postby Jake » 04/10/2015

There is an automated response to tickets that are sent under the unlock key subject. Those tickets get the automated response and are 'closed' without any human intervention, this might explain why people get their tickets closed without help.

This doesn't mean that FPL just washes their hands of them though. Even though it is now clear from the start that there is no free support for unlock key customers, the Fongo staff do try and help when they can. There is always the paid option if you really need help setting things up (which is refunded if the fault is found on their end).

With regards to the voip3 server. A few years ago their servers were fairly lax in how they operated. This lead to a horrible service that pretty much ground to a halt. There were so many poorly configured ATAs out there (mainly because of other problems) that they were bringing the main servers down. They then, rightly, tightened things up and the service on the whole has improved no end. This is why you may find that getting things working on the official servers takes a bit more than just putting in a username and password. There is a special server set up for certain customers using certain modems, probably because of how the other servers are set up. voip3 however is not an 'official to use' server. That doesn't mean that they can't have other servers for testing and fault finding purposes, and that doesn't mean they are there for the general public to use. In fact they tell you explicitly that if you do use servers that are not listed then you account may be effected negatively.

Code: Select all
Yes, I too find it perplexing that all the FPL servers aren't configured in the same manner as voip3.freephoneline.ca. Doing so would help resolve a lot of one-way audio headaches for Freephoneline newcomers.


To help you try and be a little less perplexed. If they set the other servers up the same as this server is, I am willing to bet the service would degrade to the point where it was 2 or 3 years ago. Support would be inundated with hundreds of tickets and would swamped to the point of not being able to help anyone. Most importantly, we would not be able to make phone calls because the servers would be down all the time. Don't you think that even my 5 year old could see that if this server is working better than the others, then the answer would be to make the other servers the same? It would be a no brainer, wouldn't it. That server is more than likely is not set up the same as others, and is probably there for testing and fault finding reasons. The other servers do work, and all work very well, as long as the customers end is set up correctly. FPL are will to help with that if people are having troubles, but now they require people to pay for the help. Personally I don't like this part, especially when I first got here you could pick up a phone and get a very helpful support agent to get things going. It has changed a lot since then, but hey, I paid $50 for my phone line over 5 years ago and not a penny since; so can I really complain?

I do not work for Fongo, in fact a few will know I have been very critical about them in the past. If something is wrong I will say so. They have set the service up how they want it to be. Regardless of how much I don't agree with a lot of changes that have happened here over the years, I will say the service is a lot more stable than it was. I know for a fact that no support ticket has been closed by a support member and ignored (refer to the automated ticket response comment above). Support has actually been very fair and helped customers for free when their bosses have told them that they have to charge those customers. To give you an idea of how much better things have got with the changes they have put in place, whenever something would go down everyone would flood here to find out what the problem was and when it would be back. This increased the 'most users online' count every time. This is what it is now, and has been for a while (you can find this on the home page of the forum).
Code: Select all
Most users ever online was 75 on Sun 18 Mar, 2012 11:08 am

2012! That number used to increase every few months back then, and you can bet your bottom dollar that there is a lot more users here since that date. So whatever they are doing, they must be doing something right, although it does seem to impact a few customers. I would rather a few had problems then everyone not having a phone line, but that is just me.

They are not being awkward, they are making headway.
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