RV Experience Sharing our experience about RVing

August 8, 2005

Telephone, Voice Over IP

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 3:09 am

Telephone commications on the road is as important or even more important than at a brick house. Keeping in touch with friends and business associates while on the road can be a challenge. We each have a verizon cell phone, which works well for the three of us most of the time. A problem arises when the RV enters into the cell phone twilight zone. In order to keep in contact, where the cell phone signal won’t go, I added a Linksys PAP2Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone adapter to the RV network. I got it at Circuit City. The Vonage telephone service is what is used. We can use the DataStorm Satellite Internet System for the connection. It’s OK most of the time in the RV and works perfectly on the house DSL connection. It’s only OK in the RV because the uplink ocassionally breaks up a little due to the uplink bandwidth being only 30-38Kbps while the downlink works well due to it being 250-500k. The devices lowest bandwidth requires 30k. There is a considerable delay of 1-2 seconds due to the satellite propagation delays. The delay takes a little getting used to. The delay is sort of like the delay you see on the nightly news where the reporter at their remote or network seems to be asleep when asked a question taking a couple of seconds to start their response. The sound quality is as good or better than our Verizon cell phone. In the RV, it works really well at night but during the day, sometimes, you don’t get a good connection. Just hangup and try again and it usually is OK. In the house on DSL there is no difference from the SBC copper line.
What’s really neat about this, in addition to the price ($15/mo for 500 minutes, or $25 for unlimited, anywhere in US and Canada) is that you can have any phone area code you want and you can take it with you. Just unplug it from the RV, take it in the house, take it into the office, the library, anywhere there is an Broadband connection. You could even do it at any WiFi spot if you add a wireless bridge device like the (about $80). Hawking Wireless AP/Bridge or similar bridge.
The VOIP performed so well that I got another for our daughter Dawn’s apartment. I’m a little upset with SBC’s costs recently and while we have to keep the phone to have the DSL at both Dawn’s apartment and our house, we can keep the long distance and zone charges down by using Vonage. Another great thing, the hardware is free and it only requires a three month committment. They must be confident it works. The PAP2 Lynksys adapter cost $60 at Circuit City and they give two rebates totaling $60. You can get a $50 rebate anywhere else or get the hardware directly from Vonage for free. It takes all of 5 minutes to have your new phone number working, including setup of the hardware and the account. I’m impressed!

The Vonage PAP2 adapter is the small box under the router in the middle of the picture. It has three cables, one to the Ethernet, one to the phone and the third for the wall wart power supply. Quite easy to move around.
We hooked up a wireless phone to the vonage adapter in the RV and can use the the phone anywhere around our campsite, wherever that may be.
I’m currently trying out the NetZero VOIP system in the RV. Vonage is good at home on the DSL line but not always good in the RV using the DirecWay satellite system. The bandwidth of the uplink is too limited in the RV. NetZero has a satellite option and also claims to work on dialup phone service. So I’m trying it out.
So far, it has worked great. Very clear voice quality now. If this continues, I’ll add a USB phone adapter and load the software into the Network Access Point so I won’t need a laptop as I do now while testing.
More information to follow.

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