Business Mobile voip

Who is going to Mobile World Congress next month?

Showcasing Fixed Mobile Convergence Mobile World Congress 2017

Fixed Mobile Convergence Mobile World Congress. If you are thinking of going to Mobile World Congress in Barca next month let me know and we can hook up. I’ll be there with Netaxis where we will be showcasing a load of nifty stuff including our Fixed Mobile Convergence server PIE.

Netaxis Solutions provides innovative Fixed Mobile Convergence solutions for mobile network operators. Grow your fixed line business and make your mobile offering more sticky and vice versa. Our PIE server provides customer self care and provisioning, is a bridge between Fixed and Mobile networks and provides an interface to all mainstream hosted VoIP platforms.

This Fixed Mobile proposition is a very simple solution. Our PIE server acts as a gateway between the fixed and mobile worlds and lets ITSPs easily integrate their own platforms with your networks. You do need a mobile network or a relationship with one.

If you have a mobile network then this is a serious proposition especially if you are a fixed or mobile wholesaler. Attract new ITSP business partners/resellers by allowing them to offer their customers the ability to integrate mobile solutions with their own hosted service. Works with all the main Vendors: Broadsoft, Cisco, Skype For Business et al and we can easily adapt it to others.

Come and talk to us about it at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona between February 27th and March 2nd. You can find us on our stand 7G71 in Hall 7.

See live demos at the booth of products and services that will help you run your networks more efficiently.

  • Nemo – Network Monitoring & Call Tracing
  • PIE – SelfCare Provisioning & Fixed-Mobile Convergence
  • Engo – Voice Fraud Management
  • Dory – SIP Call Simulator
  • SRE – Session Routing Engine
  • Vivo – Video Communication & Unified Messaging Platform

Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest gathering of the mobile industry. I won’t be manning the stand specifically but I can arrange to meet you there and/or go for a beer. Just let me know. You can email me at [email protected] (I’m still working on this).

Business Mobile Net UC

Announcing Netaxis Solutions UK

Netaxis Solutions UK

Thought I’d share some news with y’all. Last week we set up Netaxis Solutions UK, This is a joint venture between me and Netaxis in Belgium, a business I worked with last year on a consultative basis.

Quite exciting really. Netaxis are an engineering based company that partners with telecoms network operators.They are very successful in their space For me it’s a step back into the core of technology rather than the retail world of Timico, which is what took up the best part of the last decade or so.

I say telecoms operators but the game has changed massively since the word telecoms was first coined. It’s almost a redundant term but there isn’t one that has come along to replace it. At least not one that people readily identify with. The word communications provider is a little wishy washy and Internet Telephony Service Provider doesn’t tell the whole story.

The reality is that in providing services to end users (business or consumer) a network operator has to be able to grasp a huge range of technological capabilities. Some choose to specialise in Over The Top fields such as video conferencing or VoIP services. These might be quite big markets in their own right but such companies rely on partners to provide the network.

Operators of networks themselves can’t do everything. They too have to partner. Netaxis is such a partner. We began life as a systems integrator but gradually began to add our own technological capabilities and IP based on requests of the customers of our SI services. This has resulted in the development of a broad and still evolving set of capabilities that includes network monitoring, call simulation and VoIP network stress testing, anti-fraud software and services, routing engines, Fixed Mobile Convergence servers,provisioning servers, video capability and WebRTC function integration.

Add to this IMS core network design and development skills and you have a pretty powerful mix of capabilities that makes us well placed to help network operators in the UK move ahead in what can be bewildering waters.

Netaxis still offer a range of services and solutions from industry players such as Oracle, Genband, Broadsoft, Audiocodes et al but our pitch is that we are vendor independent and can work with anyone.

I’m not really a sales person but I plan to market Netaxis in the UK through some tried and tested methods. Customers need to see the value of working with technology partners. We aim to do this be expanding on the number of workshops and seminars during the course of 2017 to include subjects that might not be particularly sexy but should be of interest to service providers and network operators in our game. Whilst at Timico I kept independent – the same is going to apply here.

In the second half of 2016 I held a successful fraud workshop and a working lunch (finished at 6.15pm!) where we discussed VoIP call simulation techniques and uses. Look out for event announcements in the near future. Note that these are going to be events. They may even have Netaxis competitors in attendance. I’m not in the game of trying to sell people things they don’t need or want. I want an easy life:). I am betting though that you will want something we have.  I want people to come and say to me “Iike the look of that left handed server Tref” or “hmm wouldn’t mind trying out Netaxis’ call simulator” etc etc.

What I also want is to make it easy to do business with Netaxis. Push that door and I hope you will find it swings open. Time will tell but in the meantime wish me luck and feel free to ask me questions on life the universe and Netaxis Solutions UK. I trust 2017 is going to be a great year for us all.

PS I decided I was too young to stop working 🙂 What did it for me was two weeks I had set aside for jury service that was cancelled at the last minute. I had nothing in the diary and there is a limit to how many holidays you can go on. I needed motivation and with Netaxis Solutions UK I now have the motivation.

Business mobile connectivity

A Solution to The Fixed Mobile Convergence Dilemma.

A simple FMC redirect server could be the answer

Classically a FMC solution that works with mainstream Hosted Platforms employs SIP soft clients running on smartphones and relies on either wifi or the mobile data network for connectivity. The Netaxis solution uses the mobile voice channel offering more reliable connectivity with less drain on the handset battery.


I’ve been in the VoIP game for a good 16 years now and for much of that time convergence has been a subject of debate. The initial VoIP pitch was converging onto a single network. Then Communications Providers began converging services onto one bill. Single point of contact. One throat to choke if it goes wrong. Easy enough really.

The whole issue of Fixed Mobile Convergence has been a little thornier. Unless you own a mobile network then this is not a readily achievable goal. It’s easy enough to provide VoIP clients for mobile devices. I use CSIP Simple for example. However this just provides mobility to your fixed line and depends on the availability of good IP network connectivity. Call quality is very hit and miss and whilst I haven’t properly tested it  (probably difficult to do anyway) it certainly feels as if battery life is not as good.

Netaxis PIE redirect server

Recently I’ve been doing some work with Netaxis Solutions of Belgium. These are a neat bunch of engineers with long experience in the telecoms game. As well as having an established systems integration business (string of equipment vendor certs) they have developed a number of essential telco software services as a result of demand from their Benelux based Tier 1 and Tier 2 customers.

The software modules include: ENGO fraud management, DORY cal simulator, PIE provisioning server and NEMO network monitoring and management software.

Netaxis have now moved into Fixed Mobile Convergence by extending the capabilities of their PIE server. When used in conjunction with a softswitch platform such as Broadsoft, Microsoft or Cisco HCS PIE acts as a redirect server between the fixed and mobile networks. Tango of Luxembourg have already launched services with three others in the pilepline.

What does it look like to the end-user?

Companies can easily integrate employees mobile devices with their company phone system (be it a CP provided hosted solution or their own). Employees making calls can choose to have those calls seen as coming from their own mobile number or that of the company. Inbound calls to either fixed or mobile numbers are controlled by the hosted PBX and routed as required.

How it actually works

Mobile user can choose between 2 modes: “business” and “private” (personal).

  • In private mode handset acts just like a “normal” mobile device showing the mobile CLI.
  • In business mode mobile phone becomes a new Broadsoft (or Cisco HCS or Skype for Business) user device aka a PC client or deskphone. Calls initiated by the mobile device will be handled by Broadsoft as if they were a Broadsoft user and will show the fixed CLI associated with their user account.

Inbound calls to a Broadsoft user will initiate parallel calls to all subscribed devices for that account including the mobile device. For calls to voicemail the pertinent mailbox will be used – business voice mail for Broadsoft and mobile voice mail for private usage. For billing, business calls will generate Broadsoft Call Data Records. Private calls will generate mobile network CDRs.

Why is this important?

This proposition has several very positive business benefits for Network Operators.

  • A incentive for existing fixed customers to add mobile minutes
  • An enticement for CPs who are not yet customers

Do you need a mobile network to offer this service?

Yes you do need a mobile network. However it is a lot easier for Network Operators to offer Fixed Mobile Services on a wholesale basis with the Netaxis solution because all that is required is a simple prefix for each reseller that allows calls from their customers to be routed via the PIE server. No messing about in the core of the network

How would CP’s sell this on?

The CP can either resell mobile sims to their customers (easy and fast solution) or setup a MVNO relationship with the Network Operator and resell their own sims. In both cases no network infrastructure needs to be implemented by the CP. It is all implemented by configuring the Redirect server and the Routing of the calls inside the network.

This is a simple service that allows enormous scope for CPs to offer creative packages to their customers.


I think this product has the potential to be of huge interest to Mobile Operators worldwide. It is a simple concept that bypasses the need for heavy fixed and mobile network integration and is easy for the end user to get their brain around. Moreover it makes use of the more reliable cellular network rather than the mobile data connection.

Network Operators will see the service is a way of attracting new CP customers and to grow sales of existing partners. Business customers of CPs will see the benefit because it offers an easy way to separate work and personal use of their employees on a single mobile handset.

4g broadband charitable Coast to Coast End User

Coast to coast walk broadband coverage

Coast to Coast broadband

Thought it would be interesting to see what the Coast to Coast broadband coverage was likely to be during our walk in May. It will be most inconvenient is I cant upload stuff at the end of each day. I’m assuming that the daytime coverage in the mountains will be largely on existent which is a bit of a shame as otherwise I’d be able to store my pics and videos as I go along.

I used the BT postcode checker, EE’s own website for mobile coverage  and the Ofcom coverage page. The results are below.

The places with very little or no bandwidth are small villages. The larger the place the more likely they are to have service. Obvs.

If I left out the place names and postcodes you could guess which stopping points were in National Parks and which weren’t. Clearly the inhabitants of these places have compensations to offset their poor internet access (innit @Cyberdoyle? 🙂 )

What I thought most amusing was that at our ultimate destination, Robin Hood’s Bay, the only network that apparently has 4G coverage is Vodafone and that is out at sea – see featured image. So if the tide is out people with Vodafone sims get good connectivity. Hopefully they have waterproof phones.

Day Place BT checker EE coverage Ofcom 4G checker
Saturday St Bees CA27 0DE 68Mbps 4G EE
Sunday Ennerdale Bridge CA23 3AR 1Mbps none EE nearby
Monday Seatoller CA12 5XQ 1Mbps none none
Tuesday Patterdale CA11 0PJ 80Mbps none none
Wednesday Shap CA10 3LX 33Mbps 4G EE good O2/Voda fair
Thursday Kirkby Stephen CA17 4QQ 78Mbs 4G EE
Friday Keld DL11 6LL 2Mbps none none
Saturday Reeth DL11 6SN 73Mbps 2G no data none
Sunday Richmond DL10 7AG 75Mbps 4G all good
Monday Ingleby Cross DL6 3LN 73Mbps 3G O2/Voda good EE sketchy
Tuesday Chop Gate (Clay Bank Top) TS9 7JF 10Mbps none none – all sketchy nearby
Wednesday Glaisedale YO21 2QL 10Mbps 3G Voda limited
Thursday Robin Hood’s Bay YO22 4RJ 46Mbps 3G Voda out at sea only!

Would have been better had I been able to represent this data graphically but I can’t so never mind.

Don’t forget I’m raising cash for Cancer Research UK whilst on this Coast to Coast walk JustGiving page here. The start date of the walk coincides with the anniversary of my mother’s death on May 1st last year. Mam was Chairman of the Marown & District branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association.

Coast to Coast End User phones

samsung Galaxy S7 Edge rain test

Testing the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge waterproofness

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is officially far more waterproof than the Oneplus 2. It’s handily chucking it down in Lincoln so I went outside in the rain to test the S7 Edge.

Most of the video is pointing at me and to the sky – just so the screen could get  as much exposure as possible to the wet. I am happy to tell you that the phone is still working fine and the video has already been automatically backed up to Google Drive.

In fairness to the Oneplus 2 the video I took shortly before the screen died on me also backed up immediately over 4G but it wasn’t much use for anything else. Almost as if the phone’s sole purpose in life was to take that one short video, back it up, and die.

I did manage to wipe the phone remotely and do a factory reset and now I have the bumpf off the bank’s insurance people to sent it away for repair. It will be a handy backup phone although only for when the sun is shining or when I am indoors.

Not being remotely waterproof is not much use in a phone in the UK. I imagine it was designed for Californians.

I am thinking of testing my GoPro underwater. Not sure where I’d use it submerged but it sounds like something useful. The beauty of the GoPro is that I can test it without risking damaging the camera because the waterproofness is provided by the case. The camera itself isn’t waterproof. I would just have to test the empty case.

Btw I keep finding apps that I had on the old phone but haven’t installed on the new. Instagram was it yesterday. Not thats I really use Instagram much. I am becoming a creature of habit.

Fetured image btw is the Day 2 route – Ennerdale Bridge to Seatoller. Elevation map below with OS map of the difficult bit.


Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 13.09.23

charitable End User events phones

Galaxy S7 Edge update – charging in the car whilst using GPS

Galaxy S7 Edge battery better than Oneplus2 for in car charging

Thought it might interest you to know that my new Galaxy S7 Edge battery is much better than the Oneplus 2 for keeping its charge when on the go in the car.

I use Waze when driving along often even when the route is familiar to me. This is because Waze is very good at alerting you to problems up ahead. When I used my “old” Oneplus 2 one of the features I noticed was that the battery would never fully charge when driving along. In fact it seemed to settle at roughly the half charge mark. The phone would have been using GPS and cellular data.

I thought this was a bit odd but didn’t really pay much attention to it. However having used the Galaxy S7 Edge for a couple of long journeys now the difference is really noticeable. The S7 actually fully charges whilst doing the same job as the Oneplus 2.

The kids have also been bringing me reports on waterproof tests having been conducted on others’ S7s. I don’t propose to test mine. I’d rather not tempt fate. I will be using it when hill walking in Derbyshire next weekend so it will get a full stress test in advance of doing the Coast to Coast which is less than three weeks away now (yippee or gulp – one of those two reactions).

Remember the phone needs to run Runkeeper and be fully available for photography although I will have the GoPro as a backup. It will also be running the OS Maps application – I am now a paid up subscriber and will not only have the routes planned out in advance for all 12 days but will also be able to check with GPS for deviations from the route.

I will be taking additional external batteries with me – there is no way the phone will last otherwise with all the photos and vids I expect to take and hopefully upload whilst en route.

Readers wanting to know more about about my walk can check out the coast to coast event page, the Facebook page or the JustGiving Page.

Featured image is of the first day’s route – St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge.


End User Mobile phones

New toy – juice power pad

Juice power pad for Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Bought a new toy yesterday. It’s a juice power pad. I was in the EE shop for a second day in a row having previously been in to buy the new phone – Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge which so far is a hit btw.

The reason for the second visit was kids phones. I say kids. The two in question are 18 and 16 but even their older siblings will always be kids to us. The two aforementioned offspring (feels as if I am in a game of just a minute here – no repetitions although probably lots of deviations) had previously been with Tesco Mobile. They were on a bundle that included 750MB of mobile data for a tenner and a safety allowance of £2.50 that got them a bit more data.

EE were offering 16GB of data for £16.49 and unlimited calls and texts. The latter is a bit of a red herring. Hardly anyone uses calls and texts these days and the 300 minutes on the previous Tesco plan was never reached. The data however was always used up.

We gave Tesco the opportunity to match EE but their best offer was 4GB for fifteen quid, or simlar. As an MVNO Tesco are ever going to be able to match the mobile operators. Their offerings are geared to unsophisticated shoppers calling at their stores.

The downside of all this is having to queue up in the EE store in Lincoln. There is always a massive queue in store. We got there in the end after 40 minutes. My parking slot was only an hour so had to skip picking up train tickets from the station.

Chatting to the sales advisor I mentioned that the data bundle was the be all and end all nowadays. He said that EE had got aggressive because BT had put together some focus groups and the result was that, yes, people only cared about data.

So now three of us have EE accounts (my bundle is 20GB for £20) and my wife Anne is starting to make noises. Whilst in the shop I bought the Juice Power Pad. It’s very handy although doesn’t charge as quickly as the USB charger and began to make annoying beeps when it got over 80%. Will see how I get on with it.

One last word re the mobile phone contracts. What they don’t tell you if you don’t ask is that the proves double after 12 months so I will have to watch it in order to renegotiate in a year’s time. These consumer service providers are all shysters. Their marketing people should be shot.

Coast to Coast End User phones

Galaxy S7 Edge First Impressions

Galaxy S7 Edge waterproof phone

I need a waterproof phone for the Coast to Coast sponsored walk. The new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a bit of a result. It feels great in the hand and the camera would appear to be top notch. I did um and ah a bit before buying it as it comes with a hefty price tag – £630 from EE including a PAYG starter SIM which I don’t need but that was the deal.

My previous two phones have been the Oneplus1 and Oneplus2. As value for money they have been great and both are still usable. Once I’ve had the Oneplus2 screen repaired that is – it’s biggest weakness appears to be it’s poor resistance to a bit of rain.

The Oneplus2 was also not the most reliable phone – kept locking up when using Runkeeper I needed it for taking photos. This is whilst I’ve been out on my Coast to Coast training walks. I’m hoping that in the Galaxy S7 Edge I have a phone that will do the job for me on the actual coast to Coast walk.

The Oneplus 2 is billed as a flagship killer. It isn’t. It is almost there but misses a few finesses. One has to remember it is less than half the price of the S7 Edge. Not being waterproof was a killer for me. Once repaired I’m going to use it as a backup and a second phone when travelling – the two SIM trays was very useful. I’d use my EE SIM for calls and texts and a local in country SIM for data. Roaming data charges are total ripoffs.

I suspect the battery capacity of the Edge is only just going to be ok. It is now 10am and the battery is at 65% charge. I charged it up yesterday evening and it lost maybe 10% just sat there overnight. This, I assume is down to the lock screen data which I guess I could disable. I’ll leave it as is for now. It isn’t a problem at the moment.

The fingerprint recognition works really well on the Samsung. It feels as if it is an improvement on the Oneplus.

I did look at the iPhone but tbh that was too big a jump for me. I am now the possessor of a high end Macbook Pro. Most of my pals in the networking industry use such a device. I now consider that I have the right laptop and phone. The chromebook can stay as a backup and will also probably be the laptop i take with me on the Coast to Coast – I don’t want to risk the Macbook Pro being nicked in transit between B&Bs. It does mean my video editing capabilities will be constrained for coast to coast blogging purposes but I can stick to one take videos which is what I do now.

One of the things that has amused me is the presence of Microsoft Office apps on the Edge. I abandoned Microsoft years ago now and won’t go back. The icons have been moved to a safe place. Ditto the Samsung Apps.

Don’t forget that in May I am doing the Wainwright Cast to Coast Sponsored walk in aid of Cancer research UK. This is in memory of my Mam Eileen who died one ear ago to the day of the start day of y Coast to Coast walk. She was an active fundraiser and Chairman of the Marown and District Branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association. I am being accompanied on the walk by my son Tom and two friends Mark and Luke Agius. If you want to support the cause the please go to the JustGiving page. 

PS re the waterproof phone bit – I’m not going to test it – don’t want to push my luck 🙂

4g broadband Business

Virgin Media Broadband Problem

Virgin Media Broadband Problem s R Us

I’m having a Virgin Media broadband problem. Took a skeet on my router and no WAN IP address was present. I haven’t bothered logging a fault as their website tells me there know about it – see featured image above. It’s been down since I got back from the dentist at around 10am.

In the meantime I’ve been using my phone as a portable hotspot connected to the EE 4G network. Since I got a 20GB data bundle for £20 a month (see here for story) I am totally comfortable with hammering the 4G connection. In fact you will see below that at 40Mbps down and almost 20Mbps up  I am getting a reasonable speed out of it – faster indeed than my old 80/20 FTTC line that only ever gave me 30/7.


The only problem I have is that my SIP deskphone doesn’t work and similarly neither do our SIP DECT phones that are the “landlines”.

This is a little bit of a nuisance as I use the SIP line to make free conference calls and to call my dear old dad in the Isle of Man. Mobile operators rip you off on calls to the IoM by not only treating them as international roaming calls but also outside the EU. Landline calls are treated as UK geo.

The only easy way to find out if the problem has been fixed is by occasionally trying my landline. Otherwise it’s a nuisance switching hotspots. The connection did come back momentarily but has now disappeared again.

I can get by using the 4G line and mobile calls but you can see why it is important for larger businesses to that they have robust connectivity. If I had an office full of people it would be worth paying for a second totally separate line for resilience/redundancy.

The Virgin service status page says estimated fix time is 14.20. Who wants a bet on whether it will be fixed by then?

4g End User

20GB Mobile Bundle Saga

to PAC or not to PAC – the 20GB Mobile Bundle

I found a new 20GB mobile bundle. My mobile deal with EE is out of contract. I took a look expecting to be able to get a much better deal than one year ago. Pricing didn’t seem radically different to a year ago. I was paying £18.50 for unlimited calls and texts and 2GB of data. Any offers seemed to only last for the first three months. So I looked around.

Vodafone had a deal for 20GB at £20 in the first year, reverting to £40 thereafter. With Voday you could also use your bundle in Europe for £3 a day. It’s the data I’m after. EE offer £2.50 for calls and texts in Europe but they make their money on the roaming data, assuming you use it. I don’t.

I trooped downtown into the Vodafone shop and signed up. The deal also gave me Sky Sports Mobile. Sorted.

Last night, from the comfort of the settee I called EE to ask for a PAC code. The EE guy matched Vodafone’s pricing and threw in free calls and texts within the EU. I said I needed some time to think about it and when I finished the call revisited the Vodafone package.

The deal breaker was the Sky Sports. I downloaded the app and set the account up. Blow me down it didn’t work. I tried it  number of times and eventually called Voda to sort it out. To cut a long story short the Sky Sports app doesn’t appear to be supported on my Oneplus 2. How does that work?

The upshot is that I called EE back, accepted their offer and today will be cancelling the new Vodafone contract. Hey…

I’ll have to make sure I look at my contract options in 11 months time but that is a mere calendar entry.

Now the advent of a 20GB mobile bundle does change things. I didn’t often get anywhere near my old 2GB limit but there again my mobile usage habits were tailored to the package. Photo and video uploads in particular were restricted to when I was in WiFi coverage. I have removed this restriction and it will be interesting to see how this affects cellular data usage.

I also used to switch Sat Nav on just for the moments that I needed it as this was also a heavy consumer of data. At least Google Maps was. I’d started using Waze instead which seems to be much lighter on data.

The other consideration of course is battery usage. Hitting 4G hard will inevitably use up the battery before I want it using up. I’ll report back.

As a footnote to this post, I was discussing the Oneplus 2 with the very pleasant and efficient Sophie in the Vodafone shop and remarked that the major downside was the fact that the screen seemed to scratch easily. Glancing at the phone I then realised that the original plastic screen protector was still on. Doh!

For the derogatory comments on their screen in a previous post I offer Oneplus my unreserved apologies. Sorry.


Business Mobile

MWC trip prep

MWC trip prep

Getting my MWC trip prep in today before I set off tomorrow. I’ll probably do some reports from the show floor, fwiw, although the bars and restaurants may be more interesting.

A few other mobile posts here.

Business Mobile scams

Mobile operator fraud case study

A Mobile Operator Fraud case study but it could apply to any type of network

In this article this week’s guest editor Manuel  Basilavecchia of Netaxis describes a mobile operator fraud – in other words a telecom fraud that impacted a mobile operator. He describes the type of traffic pattern (destinations) and fraudster behaviour. For obvious reasons we are keeping the name of the operator out of it. It could happen to anyone dropping their guard.

The mobile operator in question underwent some planned maintenance work on its network.  Few details are available on the nature of the planned work but from a security point of view the activity was a total failure as the following day their switch was accessed from outside their network. We may assume that the planned work cleared the access list on the SBC/firewall.

Once the fraudster had access to the switch, he initiated some test calls. The goal was to check if it was possible to terminate traffic to specific destinations. To avoid detection the tests calls were kept to a low volume.

It is important to note that the hijack and the test phase took place on weekdays. On the Friday evening, fraudster rolled up his sleeves and got on with the real work of sending volume traffic to several destinations.  

The traffic pattern was as follows:

  • Fake CLI’s used like 1001111,1000001,123456; etc
  • Massive calls to Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Gambia etc….
  • Big volumes generated per CLI

The fraud was detected the next day in the morning by a service provider of the mobile operator. The time elapsed between the beginning of the fraud and the detection allowed the fraudster to generate quite high volumes.

As it was a week-end it was difficult for the SP to get in touch with the mobile operator to inform him about the ongoing fraud and to align on measure that needs to be taken. Again here, few hours lost which benefits the fraudster……

Once the decision to block fraudulent traffic has been taken a game of cat and mouse started. Indeed,  when the fraudster identified that a destination was not generating revenues due to barring implemented, he immediately and simply switched to targeting another country. The same principle applied for CLI’s. Any time he noticed that a CLI was blocked he just moved on to another. This game lasted the entire day.

On day two, a major change in the destinations targeted was seen: Nauru, Senegal, Maldives Zimbabwe was now part of the fraud scheme.

Again, barring had to be implemented on the targeted destinations. It is important to note that the barring had to be implemented so as to stop fraudulent traffic but without impacting the legitimate traffic

In parallel, the mobile operator attempted to solve the security breach which took some time.  Once the issue solved on the SBC, fraudulent traffic finally stopped.

Lessons learnt:

Security is key to protect  a network and in the case where a modification is made to a SBC, a cross check needs to take place after the intervention

Based on the short time between the planned work and the hacking it is clear that networks are scanned by fraudster to find an open door.

Fraud monitoring needs to be made live or near real time to minimize the impact and this 24 x 7

Barring solution must be available to stop fraud. This barring solution needs to be flexible (A number, B number, range, destination).

This is telecom fraud week on, edited by Manuel Basilavecchia of Netaxis. Read our other fraud posts this week:

Colin Duffy on “is encryption the answer to data loss
Manuel Basilaveccia on Missing Trader VAT Fraud
Dave Dadds – “telecom fraud is industry’s problem not the customer’s

End User phones

In which I take a look at my new Oneplus 2 one week in

Oneplus 2 review – is the upgrade worth going for?

I took delivery of my new Oneplus 2 last Wednesday. Initial thoughts:

Screen already chipped – wtf??
I like the fingerprint recognition – works really well
Took a while to figure out how to close down the camera app
V cool button for selecting priority callers only
Much better phone directory lookup than Oneplus 1
I’ve kept the sms and hangouts functions in separate apps this time because merging the two in the Oneplus 1 didn’t work very well
the rough back on the phone is great

I didn’t need a new phone but the Oneplus 1 was starting to give me some grief in a few areas. It would quite often take minutes to look up people/phone numbers. The phone would sometimes not find a person I knew I had in my address book. It was hit and miss. Wasn’t like that when I first got it. I also made the mistake of merging the sms function with the hangouts app. This caused so much hassle in figuring which account to use when sending a text message. It may also have been the source of the problem of directory look up. I don’t know.

Because the Oneplus 2 didn’t break the bank at £270 or so I bit the bullet. First issue was it uses a nano sim which the Oneplus 1 doesn’t. I could have cut the sim down but figured it wasn’t worth the effort and went into the EE shop in Lincoln and got a new one. New sim worked straight away fair play. In the meantime I used the Oneplus 2 without a SIM.

Before originally deciding to sign up with EE I had considered running without a mobile number and getting a data only sim. Decided that this approach was a little too ahead of its time.

Screen defect on Oneplus 2

Now before diving into the improvements that the Oneplus 2 has brought it is worth saying that the screen has already got a defect in it. It’s very small and I can’t see if it is a chip but boy is it irritating. The problem is I suspect that the RMA procedure takes ages with Oneplus and I think I’m going to have to live with it. It doesn’t get in the way of the overall experience. I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen as a result of being dropped or bashed in any way. The Oneplus 1 went a year without mishap.

For an update on the screen issue please see this post.

Fingerprint recognition on Oneplus 2

The fingerprint mechanism on the Oneplus 2 is great. Works every time. I have both index fingers and my right thumb stored. It’s real progress. I still have the PIN number as a backup. It took me a while to realise that this function was worthwhile but now I use it every time and even find myself shutting down the screen just so that I can reactivate it with my thumbprint!

Oneplus 2 Camera

One of the most important features of a phone for me is the camera. I take a lot of pictures. Other reviews tell me the camera is an evolutionary improvement over the Oneplus 1. I guess it is though I can’t really tell the difference that much. One thing worth noting is that if you use the “photo” mode for hte camera it takes a while to take the picture. You have to hold the camera still whilst it take the photo. If you choose “Manual” more it still seems to do things automatically but doesn’t have the same problem.

A few observations. It took me a while (a few days) to figure out how to exit the camera app. There is no obvious x button and the android softkeys that allow you to go to the home page, go back or show open apps disappears from the screen when you are using the camera. Turns out you just swipe up from the bottom and these buttons reappear. This might be something adjustable in the settings but now I know what to do I can live with it.

I also discovered a “feature” whilst writing this post. If you have the phone locked in portrait mode and then take a landscape oriented video the video turns out at right angles to the way it should when viewed. I found this out after having posted four videos to Facebook. What’s more Facebook didn’t appear to have any mechanism for rotating the vids and none of the cloud based video editing services seemed to want to work. At least with the four videos of mine. Fortunately YouTube was reliable and I was able to rotate all four for inclusion on this blog. Check em out here.

Priority notification setting button

Dunno if that’s the right description for the button but on the left side of the phone is a small slider that has three settings. The first lets all calls and notifications through, the second just priority ones and the third none at all. In other words it blocks all communications. It’s a good way for quickly putting the phone in silent mode. Took me a while to get used to this but I then figured out that I could label specific people as priority callers by highlighting a star in their directory profile.

In principle this could be quite useful. I’ve set all the family as priority callers. This is a risk as my dear wife Anne has a track record of ringing during important meetings to discuss “tonights tea”. We shall see.

Much better phone directory lookup than Oneplus 1

You’ve already read my whinge about the directory lookup speeds in the Oneplus 1. Well this seems to be fixed in the Oneplus 2. It could just be that the firmware load is fresh and hasn’t had a chance to get bogged down yet but all I can say is that so far it’s a huge improvement.

I’ve also kept the sms and hangout apps separate in the two. Actually this has shown me that I don’t really use hangouts all that much and it was a mistake to have merged the two in the first place. I use Facebook messaging far more.

It remains to be seen which messenger app will win out considering that the UK government seems hell bent on making it difficult for such apps to be used in the UK. I think a general uprising would ensue if this happened or people would move to “illegal” platforms.

Rough back on phone

I’ve seen a Oneplus 2 review where the reviewer didn’t like the rough back to the phone. It took me a while to get used to it but in balance I think this is a winner. It stops the phone from sliding off surfaces. For example I can have it on my tummy whilst leaning back on the settee writing (as I am doing now) and the phone won’t slip off. I’m sure it’s going to save a few smashed screens.


So having looked at the Oneplus 2  review I can say it’s definitely better than its predecessor. I’m still a bit peeved about the screen defect and I may yet RMA it but we shall see.

Feature pic taken from Oneplus website – I can’t take pics of the phone with itself 🙂

Apps End User phones

12.1-YOG4PAS2QL has just destroyed my battery life

The new reduced 12.1-YOG4PAS2QL battery life

As I was fiddling about on my laptop last night in front of The Apprentice, earphones in listening to music and concentrating intensely on my laptop screen to avoid all contact with aforementioned TV programme which I detest intensely, an offer of a firmware update for my Oneplus One came in. 12.1-YOG4PAS2QL.

I didn’t have masses of battery left so plugged it into the wall in the kitchen and returned to my state of ignoring the TV. You might ask why I even bothered sitting in front of the TV when we have a perfectly good living room to retreat to. However Mrs Davies likes the programme so it’s a way of us being together whilst doing different things. Sweet huh? 🙂

This morning I woke up to a fully charged phone with a few bug fixes and security updates. I scoured tinterweb to see if my issue with answering the phone was fixed (see yesterday’s post on Oneplus one freezing on answer). Most online resources just seemed to repeat PR blurb and what I could find suggested not.

One of the notional fixes was an improvement to the power consumption and thus battery life of the Oneplus One. Now I have to tell you my Oneplus One battery life has been great. Not any more it ain’t.

By 9.20 this morning I had about 3 hours left. Wot! People don’t have time to deal with this kind of crap. I am being driven ever closer to a different phone. Changing the settings to power saver just added an hour and dimmed the screen to the point where I’d need to shine a torch on it.

On top of all this I spent some time this morning uninstalling apps I never use – free paris wifi, KLM, stuff like that. I came across something called Truecaller. I didn’t know I had Truecaller. It has zillions of downloads. I don’t appear to be using it but it seems very suspicious if you ask me. It helps prevent incoming spam calls by screening the call against a global database. The problem is it obtains the global database from the directories of all its users.

Now this isn’t necessarily any different to Google knowing everyone’s email addresses but it feel a little uncomfortable. Maybe I’m worrying over nothing and I don’t appear to be using it anyway. Maybe it’s spyware!! It seems to have permission to access practically everything on the phone!!!

Anyway enough of this rant. 12.1-YOG4PAS2QL battery life turns out to be v disappointing. The clock of patience is ticking away on the Oneplus One.

End User phones

How do I decide which is the best mobile phone?

Best mobile phone? Unless you got religion it ain’t easy.

I’ve been thinking about getting a new phone. My Oneplus One is not really that old, maybe a yearish and it is still in good nick. Problem is that it keeps freezing when I try answering inbound calls. I end up having to call people back, once they’ve finished leaving a voicemail.

I’ve had a few problems during my time with the OnePlus One. For a while over the summer the phone occasionally became completely unresponsive, constantly appearing to enter digits in the phone unlock screen. This went away, presumably during a firmware upgrade. I’m sure there will be a fix for my current problem. Problem is I don’t want the hassle of researching the solution and then implementing any available patch.

This has made me start thinking of maybe getting a different phone. I’ve even been thinking the unthinkable and  considering an iPhone. For those of you who know me you will know that would be a serious change in policy. A step over to the dark side. Funnily enough a number of engineering types I know who have iPhones have always considered themselves to be in the light and that it was who was groping around in the murky underworld.

Yesterday I popped out to our local corner shop (Tesco) where they have a large toy (electrical gadgets) department.I had a go at holding a number of different models – Apple, Samsung and others. Disappointingly the iPhone was by far the most comfortable in my hand. The Galaxy S6 felt it had a strange metal edge to it and the curved job seemed to be a non-starter.

On the basis of that cursory test the iPhone had it. It was interesting to see that you can actually buy a Nokia phone now that costs £15 including £10 worth of PAYG credit on the sim. That’s a fiver for a phone! Fine if you just want a spare to make calls and send texts.

Anyway getting back to my desk I did a search for “best mobile phone 2015”. Techradar came up near the top and their fairly recent review compounded my difficulty. The iPhone 6S, the highest ranking Apple device, only ranked 4th according to Techradar. Now one might consider the Techradar reviewers might be Android biassed but an at a glance look at the specs (courtesy Techradar) shows that the Samsung comes out ahead in a number of the parameters:

1. Samsung Galaxy S6

OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | RAM: 3GB |Storage:32GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 2550mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP

4. iPhone 6S

OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 1334 x 750 | RAM: 2GB |Storage:16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 1,715mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

The different in battery capability is fairly marked as is the RAM and camera spec. Apple fanbois may counter by claiming better functioning and integration of software. They may be right but this doesn’t help me in my buying decision.

In the meantime I’m going to stick with my Oneplus One and see what comes along. The one lesson here is that (brand zombies/the religious apart) this type of purchasing decision needs to be taken at leisure.

Ciao amigos.

Engineer Mobile mobile connectivity UC

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture – an Operator Perspective

Introduction to Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture

Vodafone Group Solutions Architect Juan Hernandez presents us with an authoritative look at mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture

Unified communications (UC) is a hot topic in the industry. Although the provided services may be pretty much the same in different market niches, the way in which such services are implemented can vary significantly.

This post is aimed at providing the perspective of a mobile operator. We cannot talk about UC in mobile operators without talking about IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem). IMS has become a standard across the mobile operators for a number of reasons. Although IMS was designed to integrate SIP devices and obviously 2/3 G mobile phones are not SIP end points, the arrival of the 4G standard (LTE) has introduced a new and interesting actor in the scene, the VoLTE device. VoLTE (Voice over LTE) implementation is the most important challenge the mobile operators are facing nowadays. This type of device is a SIP device, what brings mobile phones into the sphere of native end-points manageable by an IMS.

This post does not intend to be a comprehensive description of the UC implementation with IMS, but an introduction to the IMS as a concept and to the role it is playing in UC in the context of mobile operators.


IP Multimedia Subsystem

This name highlights two important aspects:

    • IP → IMS is based on end to end IP connections.
    • Multimedia → Different media can be combined, like voice, video, images, text, etc.

It means that “circuit switch” (CS) technology has been overcome and that there is not a split between voice calls and data connections any more. All media formats are managed by means of IP connections instead.

Separate and standardized access, routing and service planes

In my opinion, this is the major advantage we get with the introduction of an IMS. The three functions get separated and independent: access, routing and service. Standardized modularity allows  the combination of different vendors and access technologies,  and makes network evolution more flexible.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture separation of service routing and access planes

Fig.1 Separation of access, routing and service planes

Multi-access and multi-terminal

IMS platform is access independent. We will see later on how the IMS elements P-CSCF and AG (access gateway) play the role of proxy, to face SIP and other VOIP protocol devices (H323, mgcp) respectively.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture multi device access



Fig.2 Multi-access and multi-device within an IMS

The previous figure shows how the P-CSCF interfaces all SIP connections, independently from the type of connection or device in use. Embedded SIP clients can be used in 3G networks. In this case a data session is established between the mobile network and the P-CSCF. On the other hand LTE devices are able to establish SIP voice calls directly with the P-CSCF. It is important to highlight that VoLTE devices can place SIP calls in a native way, without the need of embedded SIP clients.

SIP Internet connections can be also established against the P-CSCF. So, voice calls (VoLTE) and voice calls encapsulated into data connections can be managed by the IMS.

On the other hand, the AGCF (Access Gateway Control Function) can manage other VOIP protocols, translating them into SIP in the boundary of the IMS space.

Of course, SIP phones can also be managed by the IMS by means of the P-CSCF.


    • Of services
    • Of billing

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture service convergence


Fig.3 Service convergence

The previous figure shows the way in which both, fixed and mobile devices, can use exactly the same services, provided by the AS (Application Server) in the service plane. Therefore, the user experience is the same, independently from the user device.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture billing convergence


Fig.4 Billing convergence

It comes evident from the figure 4 that once the same Application Server provides the services to fixed and mobile devices, the CG (charging gateway) can get convergent billing data for fixed and mobile networks.


IMS architecture is anything but simple. The already commented characteristics of function separation and modularity leads to a complex architecture that can be seen in the next two figures.

Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture IMS functional modules


Fig.5 Functional modules in IMS


Mobile Unified Communications Network Architecture IMS

Fig.6 IMS architecture


Next, I proceed to explain the roles of the most important elements in an IMS:

P-CSCF (Proxy – Call Session Control Function)

    • Access contact for SIP native clients
    • Security control
    • QoS Policy function.

The IMS space is considered to be a trusted area, since the P-CSCF applies a series of security procedures towards the access plane.

The QoS policy function is applied when a Policy server is deployed, in order to apply QoS policies in the access network. The P-CSCF communicates with the Policy server to orchestrate the QoS policies.

I-CSCF (Interrogating – Call Session Control Function)

    • Allocation of the S-CSCF to serve the user trying to register
    • Allocation of the S-CSCF serving an IMS called user

I-CSCF accepts requests for registration and terminating calls, and it interrogates the HSS (Home Subscriber Server) to retrieve the corresponding S-CSCF address.

S-CSCF (Serving- Call Session Control Function)

    • User registration
    • Authorization and authentication of users
    • Service triggering.

The S-CSCF is in charge of registering a user and triggering the services for such user by routing the incoming requests to the Application Server.

HSS (Home Subscriber Server)

    • Service profile
    • Subscription data
    • Application Server allocation
      • HSS registers the S-CSCF assigned to a user during the REGISTRATION procedure
    • Authentication information
      • Authentication tuples calculation and delivery of such authentication tuples to the S-CSCF

The HSS is the data base where all the information related to a subscriber is provisioned. It is the equivalent to the HLR for mobile networks.

MGCF (Media Gateway Control Function)

    • Interworking with PSTN (signalling)
    • MGW control by means of H.248

The MGCF is in charge of interworking with PSTN by exchanging ISUP messages. It is also in charge of managing the allocation of ports in the Media GW to support the media interworking between the IMS and PSTN. This control of the Media GW is based on H248 protocol.

MGW (Media Gateway)

    • Interworking with PSTN (bearer)

The media gateway offers TDM connectivity against PSTN and IP connectivity for RTP flows with the IMS devices.

AS (Application Server)

    • It applies the supplementary services
    • It applies Unified Communication services

So, in the context of IMS, while the UC services are applied by the Application Server, the routing and access management functions are done by the IMS.


Unified communication services can be implemented in a number of ways. The major distinction can be done depending on whether the service is deployed locally within the end user premises, or it is hosted in a central platform serving a lot of local customer offices. In the first model a series of local servers (presence, telephony, instant messaging, etc.) are deployed in order to provide the service to a single office or to a series of premises within the same company. In the second model, an Operator company hosts the service for a big number of customer sites. The latter is an Operator model that can be deployed in several ways.

The traditional way to implement UC services by an Operator company is by using a compact softswitch in which routing, provisioning and service planes are put together into a compact platform. CS2K by Gendband and Broadsoft Application Server (stand-alone mode) would match with that model.

As we have seen in the previous sections, IMS is the new way in which mobile Operators are deploying their services nowadays. In this model, access, routing and service planes have been separated. Now, the service is only associated with the application server placed in the service layer. The previous cited vendors, Gendband and Broadsoft, have IMS compliant implementations. In both cases the service engine (application server) is used connected directly to an IMS. So, routing and other capabilities in the stand-alone product are not use in this implementation. Of course, a series of requirements like offering a standard isc interface to the S-CSCF are required in an Application server to be compatible with any IMS vendor.

As summary, I would say that the understanding of how mobile operators are deploying UC services nowadays, requires the understanding of IMS technology, what is not an easy challenge. IMS modularity brings flexibility but it leads to a higher level of complexity in the way in which the different modules interact among them.

Juan Hernández (Solution Architect at Vodafone Group)


Twitter: @unveilingthereality


Business Mobile mobile connectivity

Wholesale Mobile Access – a tonic for our industry?

Wholesale Mobile Access – a primary concern of the Competition and Markets Authority in its review of the proposed BT/EE transaction.

It has been an exciting couple of months for those of us with an interest in the regulation of the telecommunications industry.

We’ve had the publication of the much anticipated first “consultation” in Ofcom’s Strategic Review of Digital Communications. Those that have already grappled with its 180ish pages of Ofcomese will know it doesn’t exact contain much that hadn’t been known or floated by various stakeholders in the past. That said, Ofcom have, separately, proposed a dark fibre remedy on BT, which, given the completely woeful predecessor that was Physical Infrastucture Access was a welcome move by them.

What has been going on though, slightly away from Ofcom, is the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) investigation into the proposed acquisition of EE by BT. Last week saw popcorn-worthy scenes between TalkTalk and Vodafone played out in the industry press about Vodafone’s status (or not) as a wholesale provider of mobile services to Mobile Virtual Network Operators.

The amicability of TalkTalk and Vodafone’s divorce in isolation is one thing, but a review of all the documents submitted to the CMA so far, conversations had at conferences, articles in the industry press and whatnot, all point to one thing. That there is a firm belief that the market for wholesale mobile access is not as optimal as some would like.

To me, this is reinforced somewhat by what I consider to be some fawning over the market by Ofcom in the Strategic Review of Digital Communications – there’s a paragraph in there implying there are more than 20 operators with access at the radio layer – so-called “thin MVNOs”. I will personally buy a pint for the first person that manages to list them all in the comments section below. My wallet is safe because I am pretty sure this is a sleight of definitions used to try and paint a rosier picture of what happened on Ofcom’s watch than really did.

All of this is irrelevant though, because the CMA has honed right in on this as being one of the primary concerns in its review of the proposed BT/EE transaction. Yes, there’s other stuff in there about mobile backhaul and quad play and yada-yada-yada, but, like the Eye of Sauron, they have had an immediate laser like focus on what we all know to be an area of concern in our industry.

We’ve been here before. We’ve seen a bottleneck of assets like the radio access network as recently (or as far back depending on how old you feel) as the late nineties with the introduction of carrier pre-select (CPS). We had indirect access before then – we still do of a fashion – but this was the first truly economically enlightened breaking of the BT monopoly I can think of.

CPS enabled an end user to permanently have BT program the local exchange to route their outgoing calls to an alternative provider, negating the need for a little magic box adding an indirect access code or dialling digits manually. The alternative providers would build their networks out to these exchanges to collect the calls. The rates for all of this were heavily regulated and they made profit by arbitraging the regulated rates versus their own efficiency in building a network.

Fast forward a few years and we have (and still do) one of the most competitive markets in the world for outbound calls from a premises, even before the advent of over the top communications. All this came about from a simple technical remedy to allow other, competent, operators to interconnect deeply in the BT network to offer a competing service.

What’s more is that every single CPS operator I can think of offers its own wholesale service – it doesn’t provide CPS just for its own retail operations, but to resellers and dealers and whatnot; each level of the supply chain is adding its own value to the proposition and before you know it you have hundreds, if not thousands, of “telcos” offering fixed voice services to residential and business users.

If we have a look at the mobile equivalent, this is not what you see. Granted there is a decent “alternative” market for mobile originated voice calls to international destinations, but thereafter, if you think about it, the market is rather foreclosed. GiffGaff is an O2 subsidiary, Sainsbury’s Mobile is, for all intents and purposes, rebranded Vodafone, Asda Mobile is rebranded EE and so forth. The Mobile Network Operators, I would say, in economic terms, are presenting a classic risk of being an oligopoly. This is not good for competition and not good for consumers or our industry if those risks are realised.

The CMA has some work to do on some of the more esoteric points on backhaul and on the issues of competition in pay-TV that have been around before BT and EE started to cosy up to each other; Ofcom are taking the structural separation of Openreach question into the Strategic Review, but there’s one very simple thing that can be done here and now to create a far more optimal market in mobile; which is wholesale mobile access.

Undertakings from BT/EE as part of the proposed transaction to create a CPS-like remedy to allow operators with their own Home Location Registers and what not to interconnect with the EE radio network for the conveyance of signals to and from handsets on charge controlled terms would mean all the major fixed networks could invest with certainty to offer services; to the outside world they would look just like a mobile network operator, not just a rebranded service that merely mediates some billing records for the end user. Just like CPS, there’s no reason to suspect they wouldn’t offer variants of this to the next level of the supply chain, all of whom could add value to the market. Next thing you’d know is we’d truly have one of the most competitive markets for mobile telephony in the world, not just one driven by a race to the bottom for Apple-upgraders.

But don’t expect good in-building coverage, because virtually all the lower frequency spectrum is held by the others…. that’s a subject for another time/discussion about Three and O2, but for now, there’s growing interest in the definition of wholesale mobile access and a narrow window of opportunity to get a decent form of it with evidence on why it is required and how it would help in front of the CMA.

Note from Tref. Peter Farmer is Head of Regulatory Affairs at Gamma Telecom and a pretty prolific contributor to this blog. Read some of his other authoritative stuff here.

Engineer gadgets phones

Supermarket scanner screen surprise

Supermarket scanner thrills and spills

The beauty of modern mobile intergalactic communication devices is that they have cameras. This means that when a photographic opportunity comes along (that doesn’t require lightning reflexes) a device can be whipped out and the moment captured. Such an opportunity presented itself at Waitrose over the Bank Holiday weekend. Entering the high class superstore I swiped my pre-registered credit card at the bank of scanners and waited for one to flash.

Sometimes when I have a kid in tow we play the “guess which scanner it’s going to be” game. This time I was alone but running my eyes over the array of handheld devices in front of me I found that one of them had an error message on the screen. Thrilling1.

Quick as a shopper spotting the last bargain chicken in the reduced items shelf I drew the camera from its pocket shaped holster and speedily took a number of photographs. I had to be quick because I didn’t want to find myself explaining to a growing queue of shoppers waiting to pick up a scanner. I got lucky. No queue formed. I got the pic, picked up the flashing scanner and moved on.

Now, in the comfort of my front room, flicking through the gallery on my phone I’ve found the photos and am prompted to write this post. I Googled “QuickCheckHHTApplication.exe”, the on scanner screen message, but very disappointedly found nothing. Not a surprise really considering the secure nature of the transactions the device is required to process. With hindsight I should have had a play with the scanner and selected “details” as suggested on the screen.

The screen shot isn’t quite as bad (or embarrassing) as the Windows XP screen that sometimes comes up when ATMs need rebooting but it is interesting in its own right. In an ideal world I’d now write a nice little technical appraisal of the functionality of a supermarket scanner but I know noottthinnngg. Could look it up I s’pose but then again I did Google QuickCheckHHTApplication.exe and got nowhere which is more than enough prep for this post. As much as it deserves anyway.

If anyone has a photo of any public device that requires a reboot by all means share. Also if you know anything about supermarket scanners feel free to suggest a guest post. It will be given top priority/stop press2 etc.

ATM posts here and here. ATM images on Google here (I searched on your behalf). Supermarket scanner images here.

1I know I know. Little things eh?
2 won’t be long before the term stop press will be consigned to the history

4g Business Mobile ofcom UC webrtc

WebRTC and the mobile reseller opportunity

The WebRTC opportunity for mobile sales dealers

So far in the ipcortex WebRTC week we’ve talked a lot about the impact that WebRTC will have on how we might communicate, as well as exploring some of the technical aspects of the technology. One thing that we’ve not really touched upon is the way that WebRTC will change the commercial comms ecosystem and, being browser based technology, how it will come to affect the mobile business market.

We invited Dave Stephens,  ‎Sales Manager at major O2 dealer Aerial Telephones to share his views on the current challenges in the business mobile market, diversification into unified communications and how WebRTC will impact the delivery of solutions that marry the two.

A changing market

mobile conversationThe business mobile market is in a difficult space right now. Monthly prices are falling whilst handset costs are rising dramatically; a situation made worse in the UK where by and large we still expect to be able to get a free handset with a new contract. Of course we all know the handset is not really free, rather subsidised by the selected tariff, but the result is that many mobile providers only seeing a profit in month 18 onwards.

This differs from  most other countries, where the norm is to select a tariff and then have to purchase the handset separately. While this alternative is beginning to creep into the UK market it’s proving to be a very difficult shift from the “free handset” culture that’s become so ingrained over the last fifteen years.

The business mobile world has also taken a few other hits recently. Non traditional mobile players are making real plans to infringe on the space. WhatsApp are now offering phone calls over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi, and Google have confirmed their intention to act as an MVNO (in the US at first). Their Project Fi will introduce pay-for-what-you-use data plans, where unused data allowance is credited at the end of the billing cycle. Add to this that within the last few months, Ofcom have proposed a dramatic cap on the price of mobile phone calls between different networks. This will reduce another revenue stream for most UK mobile providers.

For business mobile resellers, there is additional pressure in that many of them have seen their base being attacked by traditional IT or unified comms resellers. It is true that it is far easier for IT or UC resellers to move into the business mobile market than it for a mobile reseller to go the other way, which would take significant investment and upskilling.

Adapt or perish

ChameleonThis all contributes to an environment where companies in the mobile space must adapt or perish. This isn’t limited to resellers, either. It can even be seen at a mobile network operator level where even the big players are beginning to move into some very untraditional services such as hosted telephony, landline services and even hosted IT products.

For the opportunistic and imaginative reseller, however, moving into other areas of business comms like these can present significant benefits and is a challenge worth attempting. “Mobility” is a growing concern within the IT and Telecoms industry right now with many businesses striving to adopt a “work anywhere” approach. We are seeing a clear push to give employees the tools they need to be effective wherever they are. This is ideal for the savvy mobile reseller that has always had this as their core remit.

There are of course issues when looking after a truly mobile unified communications platform. Primarily this is related to the fact that there are 3 core mobile operating systems which are constantly being upgraded, not to mention the 1000s of different handsets that users can choose from, each with their own quirks and nuances. Standard native mobile apps delivered by PBXs produce all kinds of headaches for engineering teams. This is where the development of WebRTC is really exciting as it may negate the need to install, upgrade and manage these difficult situations.

That’s a long way off – not every mobile OS supports WebRTC – but we are watching the progression of the standard with a keen eye.

Previous posts from the ipcortex WebRTC week:

Real Time Campaigning: How will WebRTC and other tech impact elections in 10 years’ time?

Hacking together a WebRTC Pi in the sky – keevio eye

Wormholes, WebRTC and the implications of algorithmical analysis Defragmenting today’s communications

WebRTC – where are the real world applications?

Welcome to ipcortex WebRTC week on

Check out all our WebRTC posts here

End User Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S6 promo on Twitter

Samsung Galaxy S6 promo – twitter spam

This one caught my eye. A Samsung Galaxy S6 promo tweet. They are everywhere.

I replied and got a reply back:

They obviously didn’t read my reply. I stopped getting excited about new gadgets some time ago. It is no longer about the possession of the latest and greatest (never really was for me) but about value for money and the right functionality.

My Oneplus One cost £269 and does everything the Samsung Galaxy S4 did for me and more. I didn’t feel it necessary to go the the S5 and now sit on the sidelines laughing at the hype associated with the S6. It’s getting to be the same as the cobblers that gets put out by Apple.

It’s going to come to the point where mobile phone advertising is going to be as challenging as selling cars. They all look the same and have very little to differentiate between them. It’s then all down to what image a brand can create for itself. Cars flying through the streets of the metropolis, stunning girls sitting at the wheel, hair flowing in the gentle breeze.

It will be the same with phones, if it isn’t already. Were it not for the fact that it feels stupid to look as if you re speaking into thin air the phone would already be an outdated concept. I don’t see why we can’t simply speak into the cup of our hands. It would afford a degree of privacy in the same way that speaking into a handset notionally does now.

I could even envisage a speaker phone being simply an outstretched open palm. Easy peasy. The intelligence would be hidden away with a ring or a watch performing the physical interface function. You could even let a friend listen to a message or music by holding your hand near their ear.

Check out other mobile reviews and posts here.

4g End User

EE4g shock to the data usage system

4g data usage significantly higher than 3g

I’ve been using 4G since O2 launched their service. You may recall I was a trialist. Then I did the test trip around London comparing EE, Vodafone and O2 4g. For the last few months I have only been using 3g. I handed my SGS4 down and bought a Oneplus One.

The Oneplus phone is such fantastic value that having to exist without 4g was a small price to pay. O2 4g hadn’t reached Lincoln anyway so all I was giving up was faster service on the occasional trip to London. For those trips I use my EE4g MiFi in anycase.

The problem with the Oneplus is that the LTE frequencies it supports are only available on EE (and possibly 3). So when it came to switching my mobile contract EE was a no brainer really. There seems hardly any price difference between the various  networks, if you can manage to plough through all the offers.

Now before deciding on a plan I checked my past usage. The most I had consumed in a month in recent history was around 300MB. A 1Gig data bundle with all you can eat calls and texts seemed to do the job at £16.

What I didn’t budget for was the fact that the usage experience is so much better using 4g when compared with 3g that I would be using it a lot more. Google Hangouts with my daughter in Paris are far better quality than relying on the hotel WiFi, for example.

So now with 16 days of the contract month to go I’ve only got 285MB left out of my Gig 4g data usage bundle. I’m gonna have to see how it goes and take a view on a possible upgrade. For the next week I will be in the Isle of Man where the seriously rip off roaming charges will prevent me from using mobile data in anycase.

Loads of 4g posts here btw.

5g End User

5g – ever given it any thought?

The 5g network – all of a sudden I’m quite looking forward to it

I write a regular column for the Institute of Telecoms Professionals Journal, a worthy tome that should be read by engineers everywhere. Usually they chuck a subject over and I hastily scribble something down just before the deadline. Normally the subject matter is something that I’ve come across or been involved with in my working life. This time it’s 5g which is something I’ve never had the occasion to look at. It’s always been something way into the future.

Either you are deeply embedded in what’s going with the 5g standard or an article on 5g demands a little research. I went to Wikipedia and I’m going to start by plagiarising a paragraph which in turn whipped it’s content from the NGMN Alliance.

“NGMN Alliance or Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance defined 5G network requirements as:

  • Data rates of several tens of Mb/s should be supported for tens of thousands of users.
  • 1 Gb/s to be offered, simultaneously to tens of workers on the same office floor.
  • Up to Several 100,000’s simultaneous connections to be supported for massive sensor deployments.
  • Spectral efficiency should be significantly enhanced compared to 4g.
  • Coverage should be improved
  • Signalling efficiency enhanced.”

When I were a lad studying Electronic Engineering at Bangor University we learnt about Smith Charts. I never got on with Smith Charts. That and the fact that our Communications lecturer had written a book that he used as the basis for his course content meaning that I didn’t have to take any notes and therefore never remembered any of it suggested that I wasn’t destined for a career in RF engineering.

It didn’t matter. There was a whole technological world outside RF that profitably filled my days. In the heady period of early post graduation employment, RF stood largely for an analogue brick that you lugged around in a briefcase or glued to a car battery and whilst important and revolutionary I regarded as a black art of limited interest.

Winding the clock forward, gulp, 35 years RF engineering has suddenly taken on a different importance. RF now sits very much as an integral part of our modern technology ecosystem. My own use case for RF is probably identical to everyone else’s. Bluetooth in the car to hook my phone up with the car kit. WiFi gets used wherever there is a hot spot in preference to cellular connectivity. This is largely for economic reasons although WiFi performance where I spend most of my time – home and office – does come into it. This isn’t true everywhere.

Then I use 4g. Sometimes I use my mobile phone to talk or send a text but most of the time my use of 4g is for the data channel when I’m out and about. 4g has been a huge step up from 3G but still has its limitations. In building performance is not as good as it might be and coverage can be somewhat binary, at least at this still relatively early stage of network maturity.

Except for my home and office my preference is to use 4g wherever possible for my internet connectivity. If there is 4g coverage it is far more reliable and performs better than alternative WiFi networks that may be available to me in hotels, pubs and so on. When there is good 4g coverage it is great.

The problem we as users of mobile connectivity have is that we are going to want more and more of it. We aren’t particularly going to want it to work faster on our mobile phones although technology drivers such as 8K video streaming might suggest that our laptops would prefer faster access. We are however going to want it to work reliably and consistently and on more devices. Our personal technology roadmaps see us having many devices that require connectivity.

Forget the fridge. It’s our central heating systems, our CCTV, our electricity meters, cars. Also my wallet and keys. I’m forever putting them down somewhere and then forgetting where. It’s the Internet of Things, innit?

So the problem that the 5g network needs to address is, yes a certain demand for faster and faster connectivity but also better and more ubiquitous connectivity. Lots more endpoints are going to be connected to the 5g network.

I’m sure that other arguments will apply to the 5g network business case. Fixed line connectivity should be well into the Gigabits per second by the time we get an ubiquitous 5g network so the competitive speed benchmark will change. I am happy with my 4g service  when I can get it but I think I’m just persuading myself that I’m actually quite looking forward to my first 5g connected phone:)

Ciao bebe.

PS I’ve written loads on 4g over the years. Check it out here.

4g End User Engineer Mobile

Mobile data bandwidth in channel tunnel

Channel tunnel mobile data rate impressed

Over in gay Paree for a few days to settle my daughter into the next six months of her year abroad adventure. yesterday was a freezing 11 hours traipsing around prospective flatshares.

Couple of things I noticed both here and on the way over. In the Channel Tunnel I was getting LTE on my Oneplus One phone. I’m with O2 and the Oneplus doesn’t support O2 LTE spectra in the UK. The Chunnel however was a different ball game. Despite having data roaming switched off I found I was getting 16Megs down under the water. Whiled away a bit of the journey.  The rest of it was spent listening to sounds on the phone.

The next thing I noticed is that people were using their phones on the Metro in Paris. If you haven’t been the Paris Metro is just like the London Underground. It’s underground. Why can’t we have mobile connectivity on the tube. It was the same in Barcelona. People talking on their phones on the Metro.

That’s all for now. Just one thing before I go. If you are thinking of coming for a leisure break to Paris in February I’d say there were better places to go. It’s absolutely freezing here. Of course I’m here to do a job but the same advice applies

Business Mobile

Telco musical chairs with O2 as the prize.

When the music stops…

So the latest, as far as I can gather, is as follows:

BT are buying EE and not O2

Sky and TalkTalk are now interested in buying O2 with a rumour that so are Liberty Global (Virgin). Hutchinson (3) were also rumoured a couple of days ago to be interested.

Vodafone are interested in buying Liberty Global

Either the Voda/Virgin talks are not going well or Virge are playing games in an effort to push the price up.

Whatever happens when the music stops it looks like O2 are toast. Doesn’t make sense to me for O2 to be bought by another mobile operator so I’d say the Hutchinson thing is a non-starter unless they are daft enough to be the high bidder by a significant margin.

I’m an O2 customer btw. Innerestin.


broadband Business Mobile

BT branding strategy with EE?

Will BT keep the EE brand?

Picked up this little gem from Twitter. It’s a good question because it opens up a discussion regarding BT’s strategy post acquisition. Assuming it all goes through.

When BT bought Plusnet it was convenient to keep the brands separate. Plusnet became BT’s “value” brand although it is interesting no note that one might consider some aspects of their service delivery, such as UK call centres, to be premium (BT broadband call centres are in India).

EE brand image is very much consumer value oriented and at least on the broadband side is a direct competitor to Plusnet.  Plusnet doesn’t have TV in its bundle (ok you can buy BT Sport if you also happen to be a Sky TV customer) but you get the impression that the EE TV offering is very much a last gasp blimey we need TV or we ain’t in business pitch.

BT is buying EE for its mobile base and not for any other reason. BT is also a major infrastructure provider to EE through BT Wholesale which supplies thousands of Ethernet circuits to EE cell sites so there will be efficiencies there.

So the question is would the EE brand remain? If I were BT I’d want the BT brand to be at the forefront of the market. With 24.5 million mobile subscribers EE has many more end users that BT’s fixed line services (BT annual report says 2013/14 broadband tails = 7.5m Openreach “broadband tails” 18.5m – presumably you don’t add the two together). Too much scope for confusion I’d think. BT will want one big brand, eased in over a two year window perhaps. Integration would be slightly complicated by the fact that EE are still probably in the process of integrating TMobile and Orange.

On the other hand I really know nooothiiing. Otherwise I’d be running BT and dictating this to my PA’s PA from the back of my Rolls Royce.

In answer to Fraz’ question I imagine he will still be able to source low cost broadband through some BT brand or another. If he can’t he could always take his business elsewhere.

broadband Business media Mobile

The future UK telecoms landscape

Future UK telecoms landscape – UK telecoms in period of massive change.

The twittersphere is going wild following the news that BT has tabled a bid for EE. Mostly with messages like this one:

I’m not commenting on the tweet itself, just reporting. I’m also assuming that the deal will go ahead. I’m further assuming that Vodafone will buy Virgin Media, or its parent company Liberty Global. Last week a reliable source told me that Voda has already tabled a bid although I don’t think this is yet in the public eye.

So in the UK that leaves us with two giant telcos – a red one and a purpley bluey green one, a content provider (Sky) that rides on the back of the purpley bluey green network and TalkTalk (mostly purple with yellow tinges) who coincidentally have recently teamed up with O2 (blue) having ditched Voda as their mobile provider.

Word has it that these manoeuvres have been going on for a while with the protagonists delaying to see if someone else moved first in order to get around the tedious Ofcom process that will inevitably ensue. Once this concept of market consolidation has been accepted as workable it will ease the passage of the second and maybe third mergers/acquisitions.

Sky may be able ride high and operate as a content provider that all the other networks will want to work with. BT however has been after a piece of Sky’s pie and has been buying up sporting rights left, right and centre. One wonders what will happen to the Murdoch machine if it gets to the stage where it’s TV packages no longer have the best content deals.

All good stuff. Here’s an interesting one for you. In the future UK telecoms landscape Sky, TalkTalk and O2 merge… Not so stupid an idea. TalkTalk is talking about building out a UK wide fibre network. That would give us three completely separate networks and some serious basis for competition.

The future UK telecoms landscape – you heard it first on, maybe.

Business Mobile

TalkTalk, Vodafone & Telefonica

Of Mergers and MVNOs

Interesting mix of news this week as TalkTalk ditch Vodafone’s MVNO in favour of Telefonica O2 whilst at the same time Vodafone are rumoured to be looking at buying TalkTalk.

I’m not going to dwell much on the subject. The web will be awash with industry experts analysing the subject, holding it upside down and shaking it.

I’ll just fade momentarily to the Vodafone boardroom (cue ethereal music) …

“Sir, Sir, looks like we lost the TalkTalk MVNO business to O2”

“Hmm bugger, that was incompetent. It’s going to hurt our market share. What’s your answer to the problem?”

“Well Sir we could buy O2…”

Music swirls and brings us back to the present. John Wayne gets on his horse and rides into the sunset. Wrong story.

It does seem clear that the world is moving more and more towards one bill for all communications services. Vodafone need to join the club or lose out. One might consider that O2, in ditching their broadband offer, have already given up on that race.

An MVNO deal whilst good for subscriber numbers can’t be that great for margins and O2 will have had to dive in with a very aggressive offer to tempt TalkTalk away from Voda (don’t know the whole story here – maybe they were getting poor support). Having ported numbers away from an MVNO at Timico I know what a hassle it can be to swap services.

In the communications world it does feel as if mobile is just becoming a bolt on to fixed line services. I wouldn’t have made that statement a year ago and I may be wrong now but that’s certainly how it feels to me.

This is odd as the mobile is increasingly becoming the device of choice for making phone calls. For example our home phone is currently out of action. The broadband still works ok so I’m surmising its a broken bit of kit on the voice path in the exchange. For most of us in the house not having a phone line it isn’t a problem as we all use mobiles.

The only person who can’t call us is the mother in law who at the age of 81 doesn’t want to mess about learning new numbers.

EE have up until now, and since O2 left the game, been the only mobile operator aggressively chasing fixed line services growth, at least in the consumer market. And EE still have a long way to go to catch up with BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk.

I suspect that TalkTalk would be an expensive acquisition for Vodafone. Their management will feel they are doing alright as they are which I very much believe to be the case.

If nothing else it all serves to show that our world is a constantly changing world. It’s what makes it exciting to live in.

Ciao bella:)

End User phones

A week with Oneplus One CyanogenMod in the UK

After I got my Samsung Galaxy S4 back from the menders, again, the screen was fixed but the microphone seems to have been totally jiggered. At least broken enough to not be able to rely on it for phone calls. A little research and the Oneplus One CyanogenMod jumped out of the web page at me.

I was thinking Google Nexus 5 but that handset had been around a while and we were waiting for the Nexus 6 to be launched. The Oneplus One CyanogenMod had great reviews, better than the Nexus 5 due to being newer, and I could get a 64GB version for £270! Nobrainer I thought.

Oneplus One had different ideas. You can’t buy a Oneplus On CyanogenMod UK without being sent an invite by someone who already has one. Doh! I decided not to. What a terrific marketing ploy!

A week later and I gave up on my SGS4. I found that I did actually need to talk to people every now and again. Even if I used VoIP over WiFi I still needed the microphone to work. Twitter found me someone with a Oneplus One invite and I ordered.

I paid for express delivery  but this still took a few days. It came from the good ole US of A. When it did arrive the packaging was great – fair play. Setup time was short though I did find that not all the apps I had previously installed on my Galaxy S4 automatically ported to the Oneplus One. With hindsight this was a good thing as I probably had too many apps I didn’t use on the old phone.

The biggest complaint about the Samsung is the bloatware. You don’t get this with the Oneplus One CyanogenMod. Whizzing through the gallery is v quick. There are a few things I think are greats and others not so.

Great is the fact that I can turn on the camera from the lock screen by just swiping the icon. You can also do this from standby mode by drawing a circle on the screen. The camera comes on. Yay. V handy for taking snaps of something you need to be able to respond quickly to and far better than having to enter a pin number.

You can also turn the torch on and off by drawing a V on the phone in standby mode. A sideways V or arrow switches on the music player. This can be a bad thing as I have occasionally found the torch on in my pocket and likewise the music.

The fact that the lock screen has options also sometimes makes it difficulet to enter a pin number – you only have to catch the edge of the screen with your palm and it thinks you are after the camera instead.

Another negative is that fact that the Oneplus One doesn’t support O2 4G bands in the UK.  Seeing as I can’t get 4G in my home town Lincoln this seems to be a relatively small price to pay. It would work if I was on EE.

Doesn’t really matter though. This phone cost £270, it has the spec of a high end job and feels great in the hand. I do sometimes find I have it the wrong way round but hey. It doesn’t matter. Power consumption seems good – not a particularly scientific test but at least a whole day in my experience so far.

The Nexus 6 has now been announced. I may also buy one of those and use the Oneplus One as a backup. Having had to be without a handset (I don’t call the Samsung Galaxy Mini a handset!) for periods of up to ten days whilst getting my own fixed it is clear that I can’t function without one. This isn’t an admission of weakness. It’s life Jim.

Stay tuned…

Business Mobile mobile connectivity phones security voip


Those who build or sell VoIP systems need to begin coping with BYOD, because soon enough it will inevitably be on your system’s spec sheet. welcomes VoIP Week contributor Paul Hayes, ProVu Communications Ltd.’s Product Development Director

Whether you’re a developer of IP PBX or a provider of hosted VoIP telephony services, you need to be doing something about mobile BYOD. BYOD (aka Bring Your Own Device) is the concept of company employees using their own hardware in addition to, or instead of, the hardware provided by and owned by the company itself. I use the term mobile because increasingly people want to use mobile phones and not desk phones. It may be a slightly foreign concept to a lot of readers, but there is a whole generation of future business people just around the corner who will have grown up with a mobile phone in their hand at all times.

It’s a simple idea on the surface, you have an iPhone because you like it and find it easy to use, right?

It might seem like this is all about greedy employers wanting their staff to buy their own kit, but not so. It stands to reason that allowing staff to use devices that they know, trust, and perhaps even enjoy should result in good productivity.

Enough has already been written on the advantages of BYOD, so what I want to talk about instead is how you as someone who builds or sells VoIP systems copes with BYOD, because if it’s not on your system’s spec sheet in the near future you’re going to seem rather old fashioned.

In my eyes there are two main issues the VoIP platform must overcome: maintaining professionalism and management of the devices.

First is the issue of maintaining professionalism. In the early days of VoIP there was a sense of triumph whenever pressing that tick button on your shiny new VoIP phone resulted in a working call with good audio quality. Thankfully, things have moved on, but the last thing you want is for your BYOD solution to represent a step back. It has to work reliably and it has to sound good, too, just like your VoIP desk phone does. At the same time, businesses need to look professional and maintain their own presence. For instance, most businesses don’t want the outbound phone calls they place to be seen as coming from different mobile numbers.

The second issue is device management. How do you know what people are using their mobiles for? How do you control which application they are using? How do you even change a setting on the device when it’s not owned by the business? How do you do all that without crippling the device?

The key to resolving these two issues is centralised management. We’ve been doing this with desktop VoIP phones for over ten years now, the same techniques must now be applied to mobile devices as well.

A company in Sweden called Opticaller Software has an interesting take on it all, offering a solution that involves an application for mobile devices (the usual suspects: iPhone, Android, Blackberry) and a server part that (for now) runs alongside an Asterisk IP PBX. That’s fairly interesting, of course, but what really makes it relevant here is that they also have a hosted management engine, a system that allows you to push the app out to mobile devices and that manages all settings related to the operation of the app. This is absolutely essential, and it seems to make the Opticaller solution fairly unique for the moment. Thus, no matter where the mobile devices are, provided they have just a tiny bit of a data connection, it is possible to control mobile telecommunications much like you can with desktop phones. All phone calls go through the VoIP PBX where they are recorded and accounted for and, crucially, you can control the outbound caller identification used for each call.

The mobile application itself does something that is both clever and yet simple. It uses the mobile voice network for the actual phone call. Maybe one day Wifi will be good enough to be used for mobile voice whilst out and about, but today that simply is not the case.

I used the Opticaller system myself on a recent business trip to Prague and found it very handy for calling people in the office using nothing more than their internal extension numbers. Also, it was very handy in reducing costs as I only suffered roaming charges for inbound calls and not outbound one. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking this is all about saving money, though, as the real problem being solved is how to integrate mobile BYOD into a VoIP phone system.

End User H/W phones voip voip hardware Weekend

VoIP Hardware: Giving a British Icon a 21st Century Makeover

Repurposing a 20th Century British classic for the new millennium. is pleased to welcome “VoIP Week” contributor Mark Williams, Director of Sales at Obihai Technology.

The GPO746 is loved by many – it’s hard to ignore the classic look and high quality construction of the original — but with most of us now using VoIP it is often left to sit there as an ornament and gather dust.  But we can give it a 21st century upgrade!

The GPO poses a few challenges for VoIP hardware enthusiasts. First, it requires a ring capacitor to drive the bells when it rings. Also, the GPO is a rotary dialer, which most modern ATAs don’t support. But where there is a will there is a way, and here I will offer detail on two approaches that can be taken to ready this classic for the world of IP.

The Easy Approach

The easiest way to get your classic phone to work with VoIP is to plug all the adapters inline, external to the phone. To convert the rotary dial clicks into DTMF you can use a Dialgizmo, a device that sits inline between the ATA and the phone. It works well, though it will occasionally detect the hook flash as a “1” and send the DTMF so you need to be careful when taking the handset off hook.

Along with the Dialgizmo you’ll need to find a ring capacitor. You can either purchase an inline ring capacitor from an online store, or you can repurpose a master socket if you have one lying around.

Finally you’ll need an ATA.

mw1-GPO746 plugged into a re-used master socket
The GPO746 plugged into a re-used master socket, which in turn in plugged into the Dialgizmo, which is plugged into an Obihai OBi202 ATA.

Using this simple conversion approach you can get your classic phone working over VoIP.  But you want a more elegant solution, I hear you say?

The Advanced Approach

You say you don’t fancy having a string of adapters connected to your classic phone? Well, if you are handy with a soldering iron, the Rotatone offers another method, an integrated solution, installed inside your GPO746.  And if you’re not handy with a soldering iron, don’t worry – they also have a service where you can send in your classic phone to have the Rotatone and a ring capacitor installed (after making a ham-fisted attempt at soldering — It’s been many years — I chose the send-in option).

The Rotatone is the black box on the left.  It is wired between the rotary dialer and the control board of the GPO746.
The Rotatone is the black box on the left. It is wired between the rotary dialer and the control board of the GPO746.

The Rotatone has the advantage of not suffering from hook switch triggering DTMF tones, and having the ring capacitor installed in the device also removes another item from the daisy chain between the phone and the ATA.

So how about we go a step further an install the ATA within our classic phone as well!

The OBi200 (and OBi300) ATA both fit perfectly between the hook switch of the GPO746.  If we remove the line cable from our phone we can wire this plug internally straight into the back of the ATA and route the power for the OBi via the line cable’s port.  Rather than drill into the case to create a hole for an Ethernet cable we can instead plug an OBiWiFi adapter into the back of the ATA to allow it to operate wirelessly.

Everything installed inside the GPO746.
Everything installed inside the GPO746.

We now have our WiFi-enabled GPO746 IP Phone, repurposed and ready for the 21st century.  And you can even take it a step further by installing an OBiBT USB adapter into the USB port.  To do this you’ll need to use a USB hub to allow plugging the OBiWiFi and OBiBT adaptors into the one port. If you can find a place to squeeze that in you will have a GPO746 that’s not only wireless but that can also pair with your mobile phone via Bluetooth.

So what are you waiting for?  Winter is just around the corner, and there are few better excuses for spending an afternoon converting your phone in a small room filled with solder fumes.  Best of luck!

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