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1.1 What is TalkBroadBand (TBB) ?

Primus TalkBroadband is a VoIP telecommunications product that allows you to make telephone calls via the internet, rather than over the tradition telephone network.

From Primus' website:
•Phone service that works on both DSL and Cable High Speed Internet Service

•No installation fee or monthly network charge

•The option to keep your phone number or get a new one

•Significant savings over traditional phone service

•All the phone features youre used to

•My TalkBroadband portal to check your calls, access voicemail and much more

•Easy self installation

•Your choice of area codes

•A phone number that travels with you, as long as theres access to High Speed Internet Service

•FREE calling to any other TalkBroadband line

•Ongoing AIR MILES reward miles

by Styvas See Profile edited by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2005-05-21 13:36:01

TalkBroadband can work with virtually any always-on High Speed Internet service (DSL or Cable) or some Wireless ISPs, anywhere in the world.

However, it is strongly recommended to verify that your ISP connection provides a minimum of 256kbs of "Bandwidth/Speed/Throughput" in each direction - downloading and uploading. In most cases, you should not have any problem using TBB with the minimum bandwidth requirements noted above.

However, in some cases, even though:
•You may have the minimum bandwidth requirements
•Your connection "Speed" is 5Mbps(!)
...you may still have Degraded Call Quality: Static, Choppy, Breaks-up!

Obviously, TBB System related issues affect "everyone" and will eventually be posted by someone in the TBB Forums. These do occur, but now very rarely.

NOTE: 99% of Call Quality Degradation issues are tied to your ISP connection rooted primarily in HIGH JITTER within the ISP network, and NOT with TBB or Primus (unless Primus is also your ISP).

You may be able to resolve Call Quality (High Jitter) issues with your ISP by following the information provided in the links above.

•This may require your ISP to decrease the number of customers on your local shared Cable connection (i.e. resegmentation), adding equipment (routers, switches, DSLAMS, etc) or increasing other network parameters - these all take significant time (weeks to months) to be modified.

•You may be required to upgrade to a higher level ($$) of ISP service to achieve decent TBB Call Quality - but this does not always work as in the case of SHAW, including their QOS feature.

In some cases, using a particular ISP from a specific location will never give you decent TBB Call Quality. Once again, this is definitely a problem with the ISP connection and has nothing to do with TBB (unless there are TBB System problems as noted above). Note that the same ISP may provide excellent Call Quality from a different location (building) - all due to the manner in which the connection is made!

NOTE: Especially when having serious problems with Cable ISPs, you should consider getting DryLoopDSL (aka NakedDSL) service where you DO NOT have to pay for a phone line!

by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2006-04-13 01:13:59

Depending on the TBB Call Quality setting you select, TBB can actually operate at two different speeds (88Kbps or 32Kbps).

These are "perfect world" numbers and in reality, for good TBB Call Quality, your ISP connection should support a minimum of 256kbs of "Bandwidth/Speed/Throughput" in each direction - downloading and uploading.

Note that all ISPs advertise high numbers, but it is important to note that this means speeds UP TO the numbers provided. In most cases, you will actually get less bandwidth than what is actually advertised! Look at various Internet sites like »/stest or »www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ to determine what your actual line speeds are.

Broadband ISPs

DSL & DSL Lite
(Primus, Bell Sympatico, Telus, ...)

DryLoop/Naked/Dark DSL
DryLoopDSL is Standard DSL at the same price, but you do not have to have & pay for a phone service. This is currently only offered with the Incumbent Telcos (Bell Sympatico, Telus, ...) as there are surcharges if you use the competitors (Primus, etc). This will change over time as these charges are constantly being reviewed by the CRTC.

Cable Broadband
(Rogers Cable, Shaw Cable, Videotron, ...)

Wireless & Satellite ISPs
In addition, TalkBroadband will work with most Wireless ISPs. However, Satellite ISPs may or may not work depending on the actual connection latencies and jitter. See the TroubleShooting section of this FAQ for more details.

With "Lite" Broadband connections, it is recommended to Set the Codecs for TBB Call Quality & Faxing on your TBB account to the lower bandwidth (G.729) codec.

Although "Lite" connections can be used with TBB using the lower bandwidth codec, the actual bandwidth and latency (delay) on any particular connection may still not be sufficient. This can vary based on each users' physical location and the ISP's network. In some cases, "Lite" with a lower codec has still been reported to provide choppy TBB service.

by Styvas See Profile edited by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2006-04-09 14:53:55

TBB works well with either DSL or Cable ISPs. In most cases, there should be no difference.

However, in certain situations, one can be better than the other. It all depends on each person's street address (physical location):

•Cable ISPs share the last "hop" with your neighbours. These lines can sometimes produce degraded calls, especially your outgoing voice; you most likely hear the other person well - but they hear your choppy voice.

•DSL originates from the Telco's Central Office (C.O.). This can sometimes be too far to your home to provide a good signal so you can have calls cut-off for either a few seconds or completely.

You can always try the TBB Pre-Qualifying Test from a neighbour's ISP connection. However, note that this may not always provide accurate results:

•Their Cable shared line may have fewer or more problems that what you might end up with.

•Their DSL connection may have a shorter or longer physical cable path to the CO than yours (amongst other issues like line coils, or the physical equipment at the CO which might be maxed-out or not).

In either case, the "network" to each home may be different, so although a neighbour may have a good connection, you may end up with a bad connection (or vice versa).

NOTE: Especially when having serious problems with Cable ISPs, you should consider getting DryLoopDSL (aka NakedDSL) service where you DO NOT have to pay for a phone line!

For further info, please see the Troubleshooting Sections (6.0, 6.1) in this FAQ

by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2006-04-11 00:34:32

There are some TBB subscribers who have had success using a Wireless ISP service with TBB. On the other hand, one user with a Satellite internet connection reported latency so great as to make VoIP virtually unusable.

If you are currently using a Wireless or Satellite ISP and are interested in trying Primus TalkBroadband, we can only recommend that you first Test (Pre-Qualify) Your Connection for VoIP service and then contact Primus with any questions.

As TBB subscribers submit their Wireless and Satellite ISP information we can create a list of successes for future reference. This list is subject to change as more users provide updated feedback for each service provider:

Works with TBB
-Xplornet.com - Wireless (intermittent choppy calls)

DOES NOT Work with TBB
-Xplornet.com - Satellite (latency between 700ms to 2000ms)

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • We have been subscribers to Primus TalkBroadband for many years using a wireless link to our ISP in the Southern Gulf Islands. Initially there were serious problems with voice quality both directions which likely related to our wireless link. More recently (several years) our voip connections have varied from acceptable to landline quality and we now take it for granted that we will have stable no cost connections to Canada and the US and inexpensive long distance. Having run many tests it's apparent that jitter and consistency of service measures are critical,quite modest speeds support solid phone connections, and higher speeds with poor jitter or consistency will compromise connections. Despite the Primus VOIP test giving fluctuating results between qualify and don't qualify, our Primus voip service has been totally reliable for years and most of the time it is completely acceptable.

    2013-12-19 02:58:28

by Styvas See Profile edited by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2006-04-11 00:34:39

TalkBroadband is built specifically for always-on High Speed Internet connections and cannot be used with any type of the dial-up Internet service.

by Styvas See Profile edited by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2005-05-21 13:27:46

Primus provides the Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) to connect your telephone(s) to TBB, through your Broadband ISP connection.

The following ATAs are currently deployed and supported by Primus:

•D-Link DVG-1120M
Initial deployment from Sept 2004. Based on the MGCP protocol.

•Cisco/Linksys (Sipura) SPA2100
Started deployment in late March 2006. Based on the SIP protocol.

•Cisco/Linksys (Sipura) SPA2102
Started Deployment in January 2007. Based on the SIP protocol.

There is also a purchase option with TBB which reduces your monthly service price. See »www.primus.ca/en/residential/tal···dex.html and the TBB Forums for pricing details.

There has been user discussion of Primus unofficially supporting user-supplied ATAs (BYOD); however, Primus has, up to this point, categorically refused to support this option.

by Styvas See Profile
last modified: 2007-01-31 18:39:50

At this time, the only ATA/Gateways accepted by TBB are ones that are provided by Primus: the DLINK DVG-1120M and the LINKSYS SPA2100.

In addition, Primus has made the statement that their system is only setup to handle a certain range of MAC addresses for those Gateways provided by Primus.

There is no mechanism whereby another ATA can replace the Primus supplied ATAs, as the firmware supplied with these ATAs is specific to them; and will not execute on another device successfully. Unless you have the original source code and can 100% replicate the Primus ATA functionality, no other ATA can replace it.

Below is some technical detail that explains some factors for not supporting BYOD/BTOG.

NOTE: For anyone interested in hooking up Asterisk with TBB, this can be done simply with FXO/FXS cards to either TBB ATA.

Why can't we BYOD?

Some of this is a question of understanding what BYOD really means - and being careful not to compare apples (router, OS) and oranges (a VoIP service/ATA).

Technically speaking these are two different things given these services deal with different layers in the OSI stack: »www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/OSI_Layers.asp.

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is solely concerned with layers 2-3-4 in getting IP packets routed to your modem/pc. They do not care about the applications (except perhaps SHAW). NOTE: Physical Layer 1 is the actual cable (maintained by the Telco/Cable "wire" division - not necessarily the ISP).

Using Linux, Windows, or Unix (or various flavours of Modems/Routers...) makes no difference at all - except that from a customer point of view, they want to minimize the support costs of the different flavours of setups. Actually, before modems had the PPPoE/DHCP layer built in, ISPs had to provide software for this - and they started out by first supporting the most common platform... PCs... remember those "PPPoE Connection" icons which are no longer needed... Layers 2-3-4 are pretty well standard (i.e. ATM, DOCSIS, TCP/IP, UDP..).

An Application Service Provider (ASP) like TBB Voip, is concerned with OSI layers 5-6-7. The protocols here are very general(i.e SIP or MGCP). However, each company implements a distinct flavour and hence need particular Clients (software/hardware = ATA and softphone) to communicate with their particular Servers.

It is not simple to create "generic" clients to handle a variety of servers. There are too many possible combinations for any company to support other than their own. There are also security, proprietary, billing, and other technical and strategic data which are built into each protocol flavour. There is also the much bigger question of maintenance and upgrades (new releases).

In conclusion, we need to be careful when comparing "technical" issues. Opening the device for multiple clients is certainly technically feasible, only if you know all the parameters above. Realistically, the support and maintenance costs outweigh the benefits (at $20/mth).

If you really want an open device platform, there are services provided with "open SIP", but these are much more costly; and Primus does provide an OpenSIP platform (i.e. it is not TBB.. and it costs more).

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • 1) Save the following HTML snippet onto your desktop as 'primus.html' then double click it in your browser

    2) Enter your username (phone number) and password (8 digit pin), and click SUBMIT 3) Look for the following in the response for your VOIP settings proxies:proxy0:domain="vsbc-4.voip.primus.ca:5062" <- your server name proxies:proxy0:username="403xxxxxxx" <- your phone number proxies:proxy0:password="XyXy12Xy" <- your password 4) type these three things into the VOIP application of your chosing. YMMV

    2010-09-29 18:45:23 (boffin See Profile)

  • It is possible to BYOG to Primus; you just have to understand how it works behind the scene. the bottom line is that your 8 digit pin isn't actually your login ID to the primus VOIP gateway. When you connect, it makes an HTTPS request to primus with your pin and userid(phonenumber); and then responds with a bunch of data including an 8 character(alphanum) password which is actually used to log in.

    2010-09-29 12:47:31 (boffin See Profile)

  • I am not sure that I agree with any of the points in this post. I have a Primus TBB gateway that I have had for many years. I also have a SIP trunk from VoiceMeUp.com with a DID and an iNUM. I pay roughly $5/month (plus $0.017 per minute), and I can connect from my iPhone, softphone, SIP hardphone, Asterisk PBX, or any other SIP device that I choose. There are countless other companies just like VoiceMeUp. I think that less than $20/month is worth it to all of them.

    2010-08-30 00:59:44

by Styvas See Profile edited by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2006-04-13 20:11:37

A SoftPhone is software that runs on your computer that replaces the ATA and phone. You could thus be using a laptop with SoftPhone software and an appropriate headset to make and receive TBB calls.

A TBB SoftPhone is planned but there is currently no firm date for a rollout. A beta version is currently being tested by a small group of TBB users, and it is expected that the release version is not too far around the corner.

In the meantime, user JDM has provided a "workaround" that allows one to use a generic soft phone with Primus TBB.

I have been able to use a generic SIP based soft phone with TBB.

I'm using X-Lite which is available free from CounterPath.

The method is a bit of a kludge, but it works.

Here's how I did it:

    •register for a free DID(telephone number), I got one from STANAPHONE, but others offer them as well (IPKALL) setup your soft phone to connect to it.
    •Configure this DID to be your remote phone, and enable remote phone.
    •now if you click on a number in your portal directory, your soft phone will ring and you will be connected to the number you clicked on.
Of course you can just use the remote phone if you have access to a direct line, but if you are in a hotel with a switchboard the above procedure works great. It also allows anyone to call your soft phone directly with your DID or your TBB #.

by canoe See Profile edited by Styvas See Profile
last modified: 2007-04-19 01:19:16

Primus TBB uses two audio codecs: G.711 and G.729.

  • G.711 is the higher quality codec and uses about 87.2Kbps(1) (including overhead) in each direction (upstream and downstream).

  • G.729 is the lower quality codec and uses about 31.2Kbps(1) (including overhead) in each direction.
NOTE: Your account's setting is on the Portal OPTIONS Tab.

This requires approximately 38.3MB (76.6MB) per hour at the higher quality and about 13.7MB (27.4MB ) per hour at the lower quality. The values in brackets show the actual full duplex (both directions) VoIP bandwidth usage.

For example, using your TBB line with G.711:
- One (1) hour a day for 30 days requires a total bandwidth of about 2.3G.
- Four (4) hours per day translates to about 10G per month.
- Twenty-Four (24) hours per day (!!) translates to about 60G per month.

You may need to be taken into account if your ISP service is subject to bandwidth caps. Based on your historical or estimated talk time, you should be able to calculate your monthly total.

The gateway also communicates periodically with the Primus servers.

One user has provided the bandwidth used on his account (as reported by his ISP) during a period when the only activity on his broadband connection was the traffic between his DVG and the Primus servers (i.e. no internet activity and no telephone calls). This amounted to about 0.34 MB download and 0.16 MB upload daily.

Based on this info (which may or may not be typical), the combined monthly upstream and downstream traffic generated by your TBB account will be about 15.07 MB (megabytes) - insignificant compared to most usage patterns.

(1) Data obtained from VoIP-Info.org.

by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2005-09-29 16:16:16

TBB is based on a standard telephone connection to an ATA which send Voice Packets (VoIP) via your ISP connection to the Primus network and finally to TBB servers in Toronto; the VoIP path. From there, your call can be connected to the PSTN number you have dialed, unless of course it is a call to another TBB subscriber.

Although you may wonder if the length (distance) of the VoIP path from your location to Toronto Server affects your TBB Call Quality, it is actually the High Latency, JITTER, and Packet Loss on this VoIP path that is more relevant.

As you can see from below, unless of course there is a TBB System wide problem affecting either the TBB servers or the VoIP path on the Primus network - which rarely occurs, it is actually your ISP connection that affects Call Quality the most.

In some cases, using TBB from a particular house/location over a given ISP may provide great quality. However, connecting the ATA to the same ISP, but at a different house/location (next door or across town), may provide terrible quality. This is all due to the particular manner in which the VoIP path is setup by the ISP in each case - and this is where JITTER in some portion(s) of the ISP VoIP path plays a major role in Call Degradation.

Hence, under normal circumstances, the fact that TBB servers are located in Toronto has no bearing on TBB Call Quality. It is generally a HIGH JITTER issue with your local ISP connection (neighbours also affected), an ISP regional network bottleneck affecting many users (city district), or even at the interconnection point to the Primus Network.

For example, EVEN if Primus had a TBB Gateway in each city, or across the street from where you live, it may still take 6 HOPS on your ISP network to get there - and if there is any HIGH JITTER in ANY of these ISP HOPS, you will have Call Degradation issues.

The VoIP Path
Consider the time VoIP packets spend travelling from your ATA to the TBB servers - through some wires and devices (routers etc), aka hops:
•The Medium - The transmission time through the wires (ethernet, coax, copper, fibre optic).
•The Hops - The time spent within the devices (modem, routers, switches).

The Medium - the Wires
For IP packets, distance (across Canada anyway) is not a big factor since an electrical signal - or light on fibre optics - can cross the span from St. John's (NF) to Victoria (BC), 7300km, in less than 30ms!!.

This transmission time is part of latency; any total latency less than 300ms round trip (150ms one way) is OK. In other words the transmission time can be considered to be low overall (see the communications section in »en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light ).

The "Hops" - Devices
IP Packets also spend their time in devices where they are switched or routed onto different paths/cables etc.

Each time packets go through a device, depending on the quality of the router, it can take from .1ms to 1ms to get through. In some cases, there can be special software (data shaping, etc) to slow down packets at these points.

The other factor here is if a particular router has too many inputs that it becomes congested at times, then this can be a major problem and add serious delay (30-100ms+) and JITTER to incoming packets (like having too many onramps onto an expressway). This all comes down to how an ISP builds their network - and some can be cheap in forcing too many wires/packets through some routers to save cost etc.

The end result is that practically speaking, the time it takes to go through HOPS is more important since this can vary widely; transmission time is not really a concern (it is generally a fixed time of <30ms).

So the more HOPS you have between your ATA and the TBB servers is the more important issue - not the distance.

ISPs generally have "agreements" to peer (i.e. interconnect) at certain points. This simplifies the ISP networks in that they do not have to connect absolutely in every city - also minimizes cost. So depending on which ISP you have, they interconnect to the Primus Network somewhere convenient (traceroutes may show you this).

by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2006-04-19 19:25:39

Good Call Quality is determined primarily by LOW JITTER on the VoIP Path in the Broadband connection. Any HIGH JITTER (>50ms) will severely affect your VoIP Call Quality!

There are four parts to the VoIP path as follows:

    Your LAN (ATA, Modem, ISP 1st HOP "router")
    Any HIGH JITTER issues here will affect ANY VOIP provider. You may be stressing the bandwidth by running too many applications on your LAN; there may be a faulty modem or router; some wiring/plugs may be loose or degraded leading to low signal conditions. HIGH JITTER also usually happens with Cable where there are too many people on the shared cable (choppy upstream).

    Your ISP Network/Backbone (from ISP 2nd hop and all the other HOPS within the ISP network on the VoIP path ** BEFORE the Primus Network**)
    Any HIGH JITTER problem here and this will affect various services; VoIP, gaming etc. Note that depending on which HOP (router) where the HIGH JITTER is located, one VoIP service may work OK and another may not.

    The CONNECTION (peering point) between your ISP's network and Primus' network.
    Any HIGH JITTER problem here, and various people using TBB between their ISP and Primus will be affected. There may be several physically different connections between the two networks, so only VoIP Paths using the HIGH JITTER connections are affected.

    The Primus Network/Backbone and TBB servers
    If there are TBB general system issues, then this will obviously affect Call Quality. Although there are issues, perhaps once every 6 months, these rarely cause the constant problems that various TBB users keep complaining about which are generally related to HIGH JITTER in the other HOPS above!

For most users, the VoIP Path in each of the four sections descibed above has LOW JITTER - less than 60 ms - and these users have great Call Quality, perhaps with some intermittent static (general Internet "noise").

However, some users constantly have Call Quality problems, and these are usually attributable to the first three components in the VoIP path described above - meaning these problems are usually the result of a BAD ISP CONNECTION somewhere!!

PS: The description above applies to VoIP in general (all 3rd party VoIP providers and not just TBB).

by canoe See Profile
last modified: 2006-04-28 14:24:12