Monday, 4 April 2016

Number porting, Broadband, and VoIP

Hopefully I am not jumping the gun here, but we'll know for sure in two weeks.

Normal landline phone services have phone numbers, and some times there are numbers people have had a long time and do not want to lose.

People want to move numbers to VoIP. This allows the numbers to be handled in a much more flexible way than a landline - easy to route to different places, diverts, and well, almost anything. You can set up your own VoIP platform and do almost anything. It is also really good if moving house as it means you can keep your number. VoIP usually has lower running costs and call costs too.

Broadband is usually provided on a normal landline phone number, and requires that phone line to stay working or else the broadband gets ceased - making it expensive and time consuming to re-instate it.

Maybe you can see where I am going with this. People with a landline, and broadband, sometimes want to move their number to VoIP and not kill their broadband.

We have known for some time that this is, in theory, possible, but only now have we managed to find the exact incantation that should allow this to be possible. Yes, my wife is sat in the front room knitting and watching Happy Potter. Working with BT does make me feel that I need to spend a few years in Hogwarts before I try the correct XML spells on BT.

Normally, a number port is "Gaining Provider Led" and means that the new operator asks to take the number. 14 days later, if no objections, the number moved over. But this is the rub - the porting system is done on "service" not number. Having ported a service, like a normal landline, the service is inherently ceased as a result of the number port. That ceases the broadband.

However, we now know there is a modify order called a Renumber with Number Export which should renumber the landline, and make the old number available as part of a number port out to another operator. The Renumber part should not in itself break the broadband. Well, that is the theory.

We have this in progress on two of our lines and will know in just over 2 weeks if all works.

This means we'll be able to take over the phone line for someone with broadband, allow incoming calls on the line and outgoing on VoIP, and then move the number over to VoIP totally 2 weeks later. If we are really lucky, it may be possible to do the take over and renumber and port all in one go.

The line is then broadband only and somewhat cheaper (we charge £10/mon) and the number and telephone service is VoIP (we charge £1/month plus call charges). I don't know yet what this will cost but I don't think a renumber is that expensive. We'll have to price it up.

So, fingers crossed!

Update: First attempt went badly with renumber cancelled by number ports, and then ceases due to port not properly cancelled on BT systems, and a mess we are trying to get sorted. However, the good news is we now know how the process works, and it appears it really is possible to so what we want, so we are testing again.

44 comments:

  1. Hooray. I have wanted to do this for ages. I exclusively use my 03333 number, but sometimes people question it, like for example renting a van locally, and they insist on having my landline number.

    I know I can buy a local VOIP number, but I don't want to learn a new one.

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    1. Well, wait a couple of weeks and we can confirm it works and then will be on order pages

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  2. It's interesting that people like Voipfone don't think this can be done ( http://www.voipfone.co.uk/PB_Porting_Numbers.php ) - I shall watch with interest...

    I'm not sure VoIP would compete with a BT flat-rate deal anyway, but it would be nice to have the option.

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    1. I said you need Hogwarts training - let's see how it goes.

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  3. You did this for me the hard way last November: i.e. order a new wires only service, then cease the original and free the number for VoIP use. The result is MUCH cheaper than a BT phone line. Typical savings over previous BT supplied service in the order of £15 per month.
    A simple VoIP to analouge phone converter allows existing wired analogue phones to be used unchanged. My wife doesn't notice the difference - acid test believe me!

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    1. Ian, thank-you, I had no idea these converters existed. I've been delaying going to VOIP for two reasons: having to lay a cat5 cable around my house to get from the router to the telephone and converting SWMBO (I might as well try converting water into wine).

      A converter could solve both problems and if the Rev's plans work out I get to keep our current number which is a bonus.

      Cheers!

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    2. In case it helps, I picked up the older model of one of these on eBay — this new model seems to do IPv6, if that is important to you:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00684PN54/

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    3. I've had good results using the Gigaset N300A paired with a load of old DECT handset. Works well at my fathers using AAISP VOIP behind NAT on his HomeHub. Standalone convertors tend to be quite expensive. The Gigaset VOIP DECT base is a good option.

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    4. IME the Gigaset route is the way to go (it essentially seems to an embedded linux box with something asterisk like sitting on it, which can terminate the call and handle DECT handsets hanging off the other end).

      The problem with the SPA route - at least in the UK - is that you to fiddle around with the settings in order to get all tones to work. And will probably need additional adapters to get a lot of phones to ring (as the signal applied isn't UK standard).

      The SPAs were good at the time - but are essentially a kind of braindead semi-SIP server with lots of quirks.

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    5. Not had a lot of luck with the Cisco ATAs - the echo cancellation seems sketchy. It can be really hard to have a conversation, worse at the remote end.

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    6. Indeed. I have only used the SPA to allow a Sky box to phone home.

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    7. I used an OBIHAI VoIP to analogue converter, with a BT compatible adapter. Cost in order of £30, works with one configuration download from their support site. Much less cost and hassle than some suggestions above I think. Old phones just work.

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    8. I've found DECT pretty unreliable in practice (not to mention stupidly easy to eavesdrop on and hijack wirelessly, even compared with standard telephones). Gigaset feels as though it wants to be your complete VoIP solution rather than just doing one job well. I use Snom fixed phones, a no-name 802.11 mobile brick (which roams seamlessly across Unifi saucers), and a local Asterisk box with an OpenVox A400 to talk to the analogue line.

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    9. I have a FRITZ!Box which works well with mulitple VOIP accounts and calling plans, able to support DECT and wired handsets.

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  4. I already have a friend that quotes 01223 area code as his mobile, or was that his voip line. Maybe both. Anyway, it confuses people, because he doesn't live anywhere near Cambridge yet has a Cambridge area code number.

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    1. I assumed that if anyone still had one of those "free calls in same area code" deals going it would probably be my mates in Cambridge.

      (VoIP line, but I pick it up on my 802.11 portable phone rather than one of the corded ones.)

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  5. Not being able to do this is the only reason I'm not an AAISP customer. If you can get the process sorted, I'll be signing up straight away.

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    1. I'm in exactly the same boat. Non-tech user who used to be an AA VDSL customer at a previous address, now only with a long ADSL2+ line, but with light at the end of the tunnel as my local cab is in the process of being upgraded to FTTC. I want badly to return to AA and take VDSL and VoIP, retaining my current geographic number, but the hassle of having to order a new copper pair (presumably with new faceplate) for the new VDSL, the porting over the number from the old line (which will terminate ADSL) rather than suffer several weeks without incoming calls on my old number puts me off. If you had a solution which allowed me to port the old number onto the same line with the new VDSL and VoIP, I'd be writing the cheque now.

      Or am I missing something - quite possible - please advise if so!

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    2. As it stands, A&A can do ADSL or VDSL on that line while you keep the PSTN service with another company - that's an easy change, just switching ISP. This new service would then let you migrate the PSTN service to them as well, turning it into a VoIP service (so your landline gets a new "dummy" number and your main number becomes a VoIP one) without needing a new pair at any point.

      The next stumbling block is if you wanted the Home::1T VDSL service, as opposed to the regular 100Gb one - as I understand it regrades of those aren't available yet. I'm looking forward to both these migration options coming online!

      (Incidentally, it seems the 20CN/21CN distinction has disappeared: have the old 20CN IPStream services been regraded to WBMC on the same backhaul as the rest?)

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    3. Well spotted. We do still have a few lines on an ever decreasing 20CN link but we have managed to move most of them now. As for Terabyte on VDSL without the MPF phone line - real soon now.

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  6. That'll be good news if it works. Will you announce here?

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  7. if this works and you could bundle the VOIP number rental into your 1 Terrabye home package, that would be excellent. :D

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    1. The VoIP is only £1+VAT/month. Bundling the price is a slight pain logistically - and I am trying not to do that.

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    2. Didn't realise it was that cheap, no worries then. (Only just started looking at switching to AAISP 3 months left with plusnet)

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  8. We went through this process a couple of years ago, the AAISP VoIP service is fantastic. Even when BTO screwed the physical service migration to the new exchange line number, our telephone number had already ported to AAISP and I simply redirected inbound calls to our mobile using the control panel.

    To get the best out of the service you are better with some handsets that support SIP natively so you don't need the ATA. I recommend the Gigaset DECT phones with the standalone base station. These support multiple concurrent calls; gave Mrs Cook a bit of a fright first time round when she was already on a call and the other handsets started ringing with a second inbound call. :-)

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  9. "Renumber with Number Export"

    Though from a quick look at the only documents I could find, this would still result in a 'standard' line at the end (albeit with the new number). In other words, it wouldn't leave you with a wires only service + your original number on some other provider.

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    1. You end up with the service we sell for broadband only use with no telephone service on the line.

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    2. Presumably once SOGEA becomes generally available it should then be possible to regrade to that, getting rid of the "dummy" phone service entirely?

      I'm very pleased with this development. Right now I have H::1 FTTC, with the PSTN service from another BT Wholesale reseller since I need to use that line. Presumably BT only accept this order from the PSTN SP, as opposed to the broadband one, so I'd need to port my number+PSTN service over to A&A first, then you'd be able to detach the number from the line for me? (Then port the number away again, to get a better tariff on a VoIP-only service.)

      (I'm tempted by this option, but might take the simpler route of the standard old port+cease after getting a cable modem in, then reinstating the FTTC service on the resulting "stopped" line - from A&A's end, regrading from FTTC to L2TP, then back to FTTC on a "new" broadband-only line.)

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  10. Please can you add an ability to cap the VOIP bill? Like a credit limit?

    I'm interested but I'm reluctant to have the unlimited liability if my VOIP account is hacked.

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    1. Have a look at http://support.aa.net.uk/VoIP_Security. Plenty of options including the ability to lock the service down to only being accessed from known and defined IP addresses.

      You also get notification emails when an unrecognised device connects or you exceed a pre-defined cost threshold.

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    2. I also would like to see this function. I like the balance warning but a hard limit on what bills you can run up would be good.
      Jon - They do allow you to set a maximum "pence per minute" on calls so you can vaguely limit the potential damage that way.

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    3. +1 from me for this - an overall 'circuit breaker' which only allowed a certain spend before needing the reset button pushed would be a great reassurance. Per-call spend-rate limits have some value controlling misbehaviour by otherwise-legitimate users (or baddies which look very like legitimate users), but don't seem to address the case where the bad guys make bajillions of calls at once or over an extended period that happens to coincide with me not reading 'warning' emails.

      A simple instruction of 'don't run-up a bill of more than XX pounds' would be all that's needed, and it would be a. much simpler to configure than the per-call rate stuff and b. much more reassuring, as it would address the underlying concern about 'what's the biggest bill I could get', which is not addressed at the moment.

      Can we have this please?

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    4. Never quite so simple but we do have some settings to get close - we have a per account spend level to trip a bill. This is not a "no more than X" thing, in fact it is if the hourly bill run spots the total bill is more than X. It is usually set at £100 on new accounts as a catch all to alert people to high spending if we have not spotted by the other various means we have of tracking fraud. To be honest, the systems we have at present are pretty good, but we can never 100% guarantee to catch mis-use. In the long term we may try and make a system for pre-pay usage, which is a tad more complex, but not technically, quite, impossible.

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    5. I'm guessing this £100 per-account spend level is a thing which only you guys can set? (I can't see it on the control panel).

      I assume 'trip a bill' means that you issue an invoice and then reset the account balance to zero, but otherwise carry on as you were? If you can do that, could you not also/instead block the account from further spending without attention? I get it that taking an embarrassingly large number off the VoIP account and putting it into the direct debit queue is a good thing from the AA PoV, but it's perhaps not quite what the customer is hoping for... :-)

      There's no particular reason why I would 'notice' an unexpected invoice arriving from AA in any timely fashion - it's just another email, filtered into an AA folder, and might be ignored for days/weeks - it would be no comfort to find that ten grand of fraud had been neatly billed in £100 increments, issued every few minutes over a long weekend.

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    6. Well people do usually notice the DDs and actual money leaving the account more than other communication. But I'll see what we can do. As I say, ultimately, a pre-pay account may be best for such things.

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    7. I think there is some kind of universal law which says that telecoms billing must leave the customer feeling at risk of being ripped-off by somebody - if it's not the supplier doing the ripping off then it must be bad guys waiting to hack your phone.

      Prepayment sounds awful, just as bad as the units-based tariffs for broadband.

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  11. that's taken over a year then !


    WLR021/14 WLR renumber with number export

    11/12/2014 For Information

    This briefing is for WLR Communications Providers. This briefing advises on the launch of a new renumber capability and is for all WLR Communications Providers (or their customers).

    In response to an Industry agreed Statement of Requirements, SOR8357, Openreach will be launching a new WLR renumber product as part of EMP - Release 2750 scheduled for delivery on 24 January 2015. The new product will enable WLR CPs to place an order to renumber a WLR service and simultaneously export the original number to an alternate network. Any associated SMPF product will be retained on the renumbered WLR line. This is documented in the WLR product description on the WLR PSTN page of the Openreach website.

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    1. Ah, so it is relatively new. We did not notice that briefing. And yes, looks like it is a totally buffered process at the moment.

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    2. who is your TPI, they should be keeping you better informed, or did you roll your own XML ?

      http://www.cvf.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/wlr3/gettingstarted/tpi.do#List of Third Party Integrators

      we struggle with RwNE ( Renumber with Network Export), but I am glad to say it was a big step in the right direction when our TPI informed us that we could do it back in March 2015

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    3. We have all our own XML and we do get these briefings normally, so not sure how we missed.

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    4. well done Adrian, we tried to do it ourselves back in 2007 with Webswell, but failed miserably, and used a TPI as time was not on our side to get on board with WLR

      http://ebxml.xml.org/node/566

      I do take my hat off to you Sir :-)

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    5. The signing code was the pig :-)

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