I just bought a prepaid data package from Claro, one of the three mobile telcos here in Chile. After fumbling with their settings (their APN for prepago banda ancha is bap.clarochile.cl, not bam.clarochile.cl) I’ve just completed a successful call with my Teliax account on my Nokia E71 to my Vonage account. The chain involved goes something like this:
Nokia SIP call -> Claro 3.5G network -> internet cloud to the US -> Vonage -> more internet cloud back to Chile -> Tutopia DSL -> Cisco ATA 186 -> Philips VOIP841 wireless phone (for whom Vonage is my “landline”, I also have Skype running on it).
There’s probably 20,000 miles worth of roundtrip involved, with data packets going through air, copper and fiber. Try to visualize it.
My wife who was upstairs picked up the phone, and my unscientific measure of the lag involved was maybe 0.5s. I admit my whole internet/VOIP setup is a bit complex: cable/dsl/3G, IP clients include laptops, a smartphone, a NAS (downloading 24/7 in the background), three VOIP providers, an Xbox360 (well it’s toast right now), two internet mp3 players… But the bottom line is, it’s un-freaking-believable what we can do with IP devices these days.
When I was working at AT&T in 1995, the company had very visionary products, from what would become wifi, to WAN video conferencing to early tablet PCs. None of it worked too well, and the party line was that VOIP wouldn’t work through IP over Ethernet: “We tried it, no can’t do. Dude, you want voice/video over even just your LAN? Go ATM.” Well, 14 years later, there’s maybe 10 miles of ATM involved (it’s used by DSL providers) but the whole thing is IP traffic.
Update: Wow, a well-written Wikipedia entry? There’s hope after all.
I haven’t been able to get my new 3G modem to work when plugged into my Draytek 2910G router yet, though their supposed to be compatible. Gotta get it to work as a backup in the rare case dsl and cable might be down at the same time. (Me, paranoid and obsessive compulsive? You bet.) I’d also like to get Teliax to work through my other router (Draytek 2600VG), no dice either. More nerdrage needed to get everything fully working I guess. (SIP settings and registration management on Nokia phones are a bit screwed up, so there’s been some bitching involved to get where I’m at right now.)
Update: I’ve updated my Grand Central account to Google Voice. I can route my Google Voice to either/or Vonage and Teliax (also meaning, the devices of my choice, at my desk or on the road), get voicemail to text or recorded calls for free. Amazing.