blog

a way to share and reference emails, rants, thoughts and musing to help our customers. These are official ring-u wiki pages, but actual full customer names, IP addresses, etc may be edited.

Dear E.

You've been with us a long time, we have seen each others businesses grow. I have respect and admiration for the journey you have made. It's time for a technology reality check.

Your network at your new location is lacking. Lets start with our Reliability and Stability basics. You are using your cable company router for main phone system network, it is providing DHCP (Addresses for devices) and all NAT (Network Address Translation) and firewalling for all of your phones and some other devices, plus the network behind the SonicWall that most of your office is on. You can't manage the cable router, you can't reserve an address for your Hello Hub specifically, so every time there is a glitch, reboot or power outage, everything gets new addresses. This is the number one reason some phones have to be reconfigured constantly. The Hello Hub must find the phones and configure them constantly. This device is also simply overloaded providing NAT and services to 80+ devices.

At the physical level, you seem to have network connection problems at specific locations. You have tried swapping phones and ethernet cables to the wall jack, and the same locations often need a phone reboot, to get an address and join the network again. This is symptomatic of physical wiring or ethernet switch problems. It could be something like: ethernet cables wrapped around/over building wiring that causes a problem when the florescent lights go on and off or a “switching loop”.

My recommendations:

You need a good network tech. That person will want to:

  • Put your cable modem in “bridge” aka “public IP mode” - At no point should you be “double-natted” like you are now.
  • Install a modern business grade firewall/router capable of handling your traffic. I recommend Ubiquiti equipment a lot, current Sonicwall and other gear would also work. Specifically, you have grown past commodity consumer or pro-sumer equipment. Your tech should have experience and knowledge with the product they recommend.
  • Test and repair your existing cabling. We see a lot of variability of ping times, indicative of poor wiring. I use a slightly older version of Fluke Cable Testers but I've installed thousands of drops in my past, Your network tech should have an actual tester, not just plug things in and say 'works for me'.
  • Evaluate your network switches. They might be fine, you might need some upgrades. It might be as simple as noticing that you have what is called a “switching loop” and relocating some cables.
  • WiFi AP's.. Your network tech should have experience with and recommend business grade high density WiFi Access points. Again, I like Ubiquiti WiFi, but Cisco and other vendors provide solid WiFi AP's. These should be wired back to your main ethernet switch. In no case should a real business use “mesh” or “repeater” technologies. Good campus/business WiFi AP's provide coverage as a team, over wide areas, with seamless hand-off. Using your overloaded cable company router for WiFi is the main problem with your WiFi phones.

Respectfully Submitted, –Mike Harrison– Chief Technologist at ring-u.com and an old experienced network geek.

2021/07/14 13:52 · admin

Got a Polycom VVX series phone that no-one remembers the password to? In theory, the following instructions will do a factory reset, and then the default password of 456 should work again.

https://knowledgebase-iframe.polycom.com/kb/viewContent.do;jsessionid=0C3EFDD990C4D10BB55A50077A086D38?externalId=32151

Just in case that link, and the video goes away:

The procedure:

This procedure works for all VVX phones up to the VVX 601 series. It describes and demonstrates the following steps:

  • Locate (find) and document your phone's MAC address (alpha numeric number, usually above the bar code on the back of the phone)
  • Unplug the power cable from the phone to turn it off.
  • If there are multiple cables, the power cable will connect to the AC adapter port.
  • If there is only one cable, you have a Power Over Ethernet Network cable, and you should unplug this to turn off the phone. It is recommended not ‘unplugging all cables’. Not seeing a wire in the AC Adapter port would indicate POE.
  • Plug back in the AC Adapter or Power Over Ethernet Network Cable to initiate power to the device.
  • Return the device back to the standing, up-right position.
  • When a Cancel button appears in the lower right hand corner of your screen, press Cancel
  • A count-down will begin. Before the countdown has ended, simultaneously hold down the numeric keys 1, 3, and 5.
  • The VVX will ask for a password. This will be the MAC address you wrote down earlier. Enter the MAC address, use the dial keys. There are two typing modes on the VVX. The third button from the right will be labeled 1→Aa (one, arrow, capital A, lowercase A). The first character is the current keypad output. Therefore, in this mode, numbers will be entered from pressing the corresponding dial keys. (not actually the left-most) left button with label, yes. But, not the left most button, that one is blank at this state. the button will be labeled with 1→Aa. the first character is the current method of keypad output. Therefore, numbers will be entered from pressing the corresponding keys. Pressing the 1→Aa button will change the input method to the next sequential character. In this case, one press of this button will change the Keypad output to ‘capital letters’ (A→a1). Each press of the key will enter the letter assigned to that specific key. For example, to produce an “F”, the 3-key would need to be pressed three-times. To produce a “T”, the 8-key must be press only once. Please note, that you should offer a 3-second pause before moving on to the next character in the MAC. If the character is repeated, like FF, then press the 3-key three times, pause for 3 seconds, then press 3-key three times again. This pause allowed the cursor to move to the next position. Pressing the typing mode button will change the output method to the next sequential character. In this case, pressing this button once will change the keypad output to capital letters, and the button will read Capital A, arrow, lowercase A, one (A→a1). Press again to type in lowercase letters. When entering the MAC address, please enter all letters in lowercase. Because each key has multiple letters assigned to it, you need to press the key the number of times corresponding to the placement of the letter. For example, if you want to type the letter “F”, the 3-key would need to be pressed three-times. To type a “T”, the 8-key must be pressed only once. Please note that if a character is repeated, such as FF, you should pause for 3 seconds before typing the second character. This pause allows the cursor to move to the next position. The letters and numbers you type in will only appear on screen as asterisks, so this may take a few tries. However, on phones with a directional pad, such as the 101 through 411, the left arrow key will act as a delete key, should you make a mistake. On touchscreen models (500 through 601), the volume down key can act as a delete key. The data entered is masked by asterisks (*) and will not show the characters entered. Therefore the MAC should be entered slowly and concise to ensure the MAC is entered correctly without needing to restart the process. However, on phones with a directional pad (300, 310, 400, 410, 411), the left arrow key will act as a ‘delete’ key, should you make a mistake. On touchscreen models (500, 501, 600, 601), the volume down (-) key can act as a delete key.
  • Once complete, press OK.
  • The phone will either prompt Configuration Reset or Incorrect Password. If you see Incorrect Password, re-enter the password. If you see Configuration Reset, do not press any keys. The phone will begin its factory reset.
  • After the reset, you can reprogram your phone, including its password. Please refer to the instructions for your individual VVX phone model for this. Once complete, press the OK key.

* The phone will either prompt “Configuration Reset” or “Invalid Password”.

2021/04/05 16:09 · admin

Sometimes it takes experienced eyes on the ground. This is a slightly edited copy of an email sent this morning (3/31/2021) after several hours of strange network behavior troubleshooting. I hope to update this soon.

The email

Ada, Sarah, James,

The really curious strange issue was not being able to dial out from 2 different phones at James's location and/or extension 101. We tried several things, including changing his extension number and moving that phone to a different location and ethernet cable.

I made it work by changing his “transport” from UDP (Unidirectional) which is the standard, to TCP. While it works, it's indicative of issues with your network / firewall configuration and or the use of range extenders or bad ethernet switches. Your network is not very large, but it may be more than the ethernet switch and Netgear firewall at that location can handle. It's time for a checkup visit from a decent business network technician and possibly some wiring checks.

My #2 indicator is the ping time to the phones at James's desk. More than 1ms for a physical ethernet cable to a good phone like his GXP2170 or GRP2614 is a sign of poor cabling or equipment. You may note that the ping times to the other phones at that location are all under 1ms.

If I/we can assist a network technician, we are more than willing and able. There is a level of skill and awareness of conditions that an experienced tech can do on site that we can not achieve from remote.

Summary of all of this: It's time for a checkup from a network/IT professional.

The image below is a display from the tool that scans the network, finds and configures phones and is available on your customer web portal at: https://portal.ring-u.com

2021/03/31 16:19 · admin

Another customer “upgraded” and was having issues. I was surprised by the netmask 255.255.252.0 being used, and very selective DNS results. A manual lookup works (host command based), but PJSIP does not get a reply and errors out. Now I know why. another EERO.COM residential WiFI gateway.

The Email

Michael, 

I've checked on your system this morning to see if those other 2 phones had been rebooted or received new addresses and noticed you were not getting a valid upstream connection. Calls were being blocked. DNS inquiries for upstream connections were getting invalid results.  It looks like you put in an EERO system. These are NOT compatible with VoIP phone system without some serious tweaking. They are famous for VoIP issues. Amazon.com is attempting to be very pro-active for home users, and actively block and disable services in an attempt to protect home users. 

Please consider a business class network solution. Our current recommendation is Ubiquiti Edgerouter X as a firewall, and Ubiquity Access Points. Bluntly, you may want to hire a professional, and if they want to use home grade mesh WiFI gear, (Google/Amazon/TP-Link..), find another. 

I'll be keeping an eye on your system this morning, and expect a call. –Mike–

2021/03/11 15:04 · admin

This is an edited version of an email from Phil (The “CEO”) to a customer that has at least 1 mesh network (maybe 2) and constant VoIP issues. He's using Luxul and Eero.com mesh WiFI trying to cover a large building without installing proper ethernet cables and solid real multi-use Access Points (Ubiquiti as an example). Add Sonus speakers, with a lot of chatter.. and you got issues.

The email

Chris,

I don’t have much to report other than a rethink on something we already discussed.

You said that you took one of the phones down and plugged it into a switch/router/ethernet port directly. This didn’t change the behavior, still poor sound quality.

I didn’t catch this at the time but here’s the thing:

The phones have 2 MAC addresses, 1 for the wifi side, the other for the wired side. To actually get the phone to work, you have to plug it in via ethernet, then add a new extension in our interface, and THEN turn off the wifi on the phone, turning it into a “wired only” device. Following this procedure is the ONLY way to test the wired vs wifi thesis. If you do this and you have good, or even improved sound quality it helps us to find the correct solution.

My gut says that the only way to fix this properly is with an IT person on site, and possibly the creation of a separate wifi network that would use conventional wifi tech such as the access points made by Ubiquiti (Ubiquity Uni-Fi) and others. You have a large and complex network, that needs active management to set it up properly for SIP/VoIP use.

Suggestions: (some may not apply as I do not know what equipment you have)

1. Do not use a modem/router provided by your service provider. Far better to use a cable modem from Motorola, Netgear etc ($50-100), and a separate router (Ubiquiti Edgerouter or other semi-enterprise grade gear $80-200). We are happy to make suggestions.

2. Your network needs to be flat: Only 1 device can be set up for DHCP. (Yours may be, we haven’t gotten that deep yet).

3. Mesh networks and VoIP are not the best of friends. Better to run the VoIP side off of traditional wifi via access points.

4. Some of the network segmentation may be possible using v-lans instead of a physically segmented network, but this part will very much depend on your network map/topology.

5. There are a fair number of people in the Sonus forums that have consistent network issues. Let me explain why: Sonos is the best at what they do for many reasons, one of which is that the music being streamed to multiple endpoints remaines in perfect sync, not even a millisecond delay or lag. If there were lag, it would create an echo/surround effect changing the music considerably. The only way to keep multiple endpoints in perfect sync is to have them talk to each other over the network constantly and check/adjust their “timing”. This creates an enormous amount of continual “chatter” on the network. This can be particularly troublesome on the wifi side of the network. When you disconnected the Sonus endpoints did you get ALL of them including the “master” at the head of the system? If a single unit is left on it will try and find all of the other units that it used to be speaking to in order to maintain sync. It is also possible that the Sonus is NOT the issue.

The advantage of implementing these suggestions is that anyone’s devices and services should work properly if these steps are followed and maintained.

We really do want to help you, but there is very little we can actually do regarding your network.

This can be very frustrating. I know from personal experience of chasing gremlins in my own network.

Reach out if/when you need further assistance. If you decide to hire an IT guy we are happy to work with them, or even speak to them before you hire them. There are a lot of IT folk that are not very well acquainted with SIP/VoIP and best practices.

Phil Sieg

2021/03/09 16:43 · admin
  • Last modified: 2020/06/08 11:17