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1.3 Using TalkBroadband
Most of there features are also listed below and described in further detail in Sections 3 and 4 of this FAQ:
Call Answer (VoiceMail)
Caller ID Block Release/*82
Visual Call Waiting
Caller ID Block/*67
Long Distance/1-900 number blocking
My TalkBroadband (Web) Portal
Primus' Terms and Conditions state:
9-1-1 service is available in the exchanges as posted on the Primus website at www.primustel.ca. 9-1-1 service is available to you only if the municipal address (your municipal address) where you operate your TalkBroadband service is located within the boundaries of the exchange associated to your TalkBroadband telephone number and you have registered your municipal address with Primus. Should you choose to operate your service outside of your municipal address as registered with Primus, either temporarily or permanently, 9-1-1 service will not operate properly and may not be able to assist you.
On Monday, August 22nd, 2005, Primus made the following announcement in the TBB Portal Forums:
Primus Canada is proud to announce that emergency 9-1-1 Service is now available to all TalkBroadband customers.
Basic 9-1-1 Service
Basic911 Service is provided in the following situations:
9-1-1 Service will NOT be available if your Internet connection is down or your TalkBroadband service is not available, e.g. in the case of a power failure. 9-1-1 Service may not be available when calling from outside Canada.
TBB customers whose addresses are native and who will not be using their TBB service from more than one location are eligible for Enhanced 9-1-1. All other subscribers receive Basic 9-1-1 service. Primus has clarified this distinction as follows:
Native vs. non-native. To be "native" you should have both your address and municipality corresponding to your phone number. When we have been defining the 911 treatment to our existing customers we have checked their addresses against public address databases (non-Primus). As there are many ways to spell address and municipality, including typos, there are always a number of customers whose address does not match. Where the typo (or using North York instead of Toronto, etc.) is 100% clear, we correct the address and give E911. However, when we are not sure, we default to Basic 911. Also, any database may be not 100% up-to-date, meaning that some of the newer addresses will not match either and get Basic 911.
With Enhanced 9-1-1, Primus connects you directly to the 911 dispatch centre and transmits your TBB account address electronically. This is the billing address that you signed up with and registered on the TBB Portal. If this has changed, or there were other circumstances which meant a different billing address was provided, or you are just plain unsure, please contact Primus TBB Customer Support and ask them to verify the address on your account's 911 TAB.
Your 911 service will operate as Basic 911 if you are not located in your TBB Primary Number's 911 calling area - you live in Montreal and have a TBB Primary Number in Vancouver - or live in Oakville(905) or Thornhill(905) and have a number in Toronto(416).
Currently, all TBB Basic 911 calls are routed to an emergency call center that will verify your address before transferring you to the correct 911 dispatch centre. This takes only a few extra seconds. If the 911 caller is unable to provide their current address, Primus does electronically transmit the address information on file to the call centre, who will transfer the call accordingly. Needless to say, this is another important reason to keep your address information up to date in the TBB Portal even if you are on Basic 9-1-1 service.
Furthermore, if you travel with your DVG ATA to another place/location, Primus does not know your current location, and so cannot correctly communicate it to the emergency call centre. If you call 911 and do not verbally provide your current address, then police/ambulance/fire will show up at your registered address.
911 Service in Alberta
A number of subscribers in Alberta have inquired as to their ineligibility to receive Enhanced 9-1-1, even though they appear to meet the basic requirements. Primus has provided the following answer:
It has been explained before that to provide E911 we need to have access to a municipal database to do the address matching. This database is created by the local municipalities and managed by the incumbent telco (Telus in your case). We do have such access in every province, except for Alberta, where Telus is not forthcoming. Since we cannot match your address, we are forced to assign you Basic 911.
If Your TalkBroadband ATA is Out-Of-Service (OOS).
This can be due to (Internet) network issues or power outages. Generalized blackouts, or a local blackout can affect power supply to Primus equipment, your ISP equipment, or your home.
If you are uncertain as to whether or not your 911 service will work correctly from your TBB service, it is recommended that you contact Primus beforehand for clarification, or (in the case of an emergency) use a landline or cell phone to dial 911.
The editors take no responsibility and accept no liability should you unsuccessfully attempt to reach 911 by any suggested means in this FAQ.
411 service is provided through AllStream Directory Assistance. A service charge will apply to your TBB account for each query made.
Pressing 0 on your Primus TBB phone will connect you with Primus Customer Service.
Operator Services are not currently offered, however development is underway and Primus expects the services to be enabled in the near future in a number of markets.
Since Operator Services are not provided, it is not possible to receive collect or "bill to third party" calls using TBB. You can use a 3rd party service for outgoing calls only as described below.
INCOMING COLLECT CALLS
Calling collect or trying to bill a call to TBB number gives an error message from the carrier of your local line (the call is placed from).
OUTGOING COLLECT CALLS
Dialing 0 + Area Code + Number from TBB transfers the call to Primus' Customer Service as noted above.
However, dialing 1-800-555-1111 will enable you to reach Bell's automated Operator services through which you can place OUTGOING Calling Card or Collect Calls on Bell's network.
•Set your FAX device to 9600 baud. Higher rates are not "officially" supported by TBB.
•Set your TBB Web Portal - Options - Call Quality to "High Bandwidth Voice / Best Quality"
TBB Faxing is only supported officially at 9600 baud since there are technical limits related to bandwidth and jitter. However, depending on the quality of each user's LAN and ISP connection, TBB faxing can work at 14400 or more (some users report using this successfully).
Following is "snickerdo"'s tip that helped him and others with faxing more than one page:
A DSL filter is meant to remove the DSL signal from a phone line. However, used in this way with the DVG, it probably removes high frequency noise due to jitter (etc), from the fax line, thus perhaps making it more stable.
Put a DSL filter on your fax machine. Yes, a plain ol' filter used for the same DSL that Bell sells. They can be purchased for about $5, or you can get them for free if you have a Sympatico DSL High Speed account. In other words, place a DSL filter on the Line 1 port of the gateway, and split it from there as needed.
If you have trouble with FAXING, run the Primus VoIP Test. At the end of the test, provide the ticket # to Primus TBB Technical Support who can sometimes help to resolve the issue.
A Primus comment on Faxing:
Note that faxing is considered a best effort service over IP. (IP itself is considered best effort). With the nature of the underlying protocols and codecs supported by most major VoIP providers, it's currently very susceptible to packet loss.
Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
There are (different) Distinctive Rings available for your Alternate Numbers:
- short ring - long ring - short ring ..pause (every 5 seconds)
- short ring - short ring - long ring ..pause
Please contact Primus TBB Customer Service to configure the Distinctive Rings for your Primary line and Alternate numbers, or for Privacy Guard.
All "in-network" calls between TBB phone lines use the Primus TBB MGCP VoIP protocol and provide CallerID and Caller Name transparently.
However, incoming and outgoing calls from a TBB line to a PSTN number use different standards in various portions of the call path. Primus TBB uses a 3rd party "Softswitch/SS7 Gateway" which interconnects the VoIP call to the PSTN. This SoftSwitch is based on American Bellcore standards (which differ from the old Canadian Stentor one somewhat). Hence, calls to and from the USA usually show the Name and Number correctly. However, calls to/from Canadian telcos may or may show the CallerID as "unavailable" - or if it shows the Number, it may not show the Name.
•The CallerID (CLI) number is generally always shown on the phone CID (displays). Sometimes due to "standards" or other issues, the CLI may not be shown or appears as "unavailable".
In addition, for some customers, 10 digit numbers seem to display the correct information, while long distance numbers (11 digits--including the '1') do not.
In rare cases, the number is also not displayed and is shown as 'Unavailable' or replaced with a star '*'.
•NAME display is provided for some users on most calls, while other TBB subscribers rarely get any NAME display. This is probably because NAME display in Canada does not follow the same "standard" as in the USA. Given that Primus uses 3rd party equipment based on the US standard, they seem to have modified it to work with most Canadian telcos, but not all telcos, or all specific "interconnections".
In addition, although your phone may show 15 characters, TBB NAME display is limited to 14 characters. However, the Caller Log will show the full 15 character NAME.
Note that not all phones and faxmodems handle CallerID and NAME display correctly. It is not just a "switch" issue, but a "phone/modem software" (interpretation) issue also.
Refer to »www.ainslie.org.uk/callerid/cli_faq.htm for more information (points 7 & 18).
There are a number of CallerID standards. Most people think that Canada uses Bellcore, just like the USA. It does--almost. For some reason, the former Stentor member companies use a non-standard implementation of MDMF. Bellcore uses DN Directory Number), usually the 10 digit number that includes the area code found in the phone book. Stentor uses DDN (Dialable Directory Number), a variable length number that is the number that must be dialed to call the other person back (ie local calls don't include area code, long distance includes the preceding '1'). Normal Bellcore MDMF identifies each part of a message with a Message Type Word parameter, and the DN is assigned Parameter Type 02. The Canadian Stentor switches assign DDN to 03. This is incredibly confusing for anything that only looks for the DN in 02.
Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
•Using REMOTE PHONE MyTBB Portal Access (with Internet & Direct Dial telephone access to your location in Canada & the US - LongDistance charges may apply depending on your TBB plan).
•You can also take the ATA with you and connect it to a Broadband connection. You make and receive calls like you would at home; except you are plugged into a different Broadband connection.
•In the future, you will also be able to use a SoftPhone. Although this is planned, it is not yet available with Primus TBB.
Regardless of where you and your ATA are located on the planet, you can receive and make calls like you would at home. Calls to your TBB Primary Number's local calling area are not charged Long Distance.
For example, although you may be in Tokyo, with the ATA, a call to a Tokyo number is still International Long Distance and has to be dialed as such - and will be billed as such. However, if you are in Miami, making a call to a local Miami number (you still need to dial Long Distance), charges will apply depending on your TBB plan.
•You can take the ATA to your neighbour's home, just as simply as taking it with you on vacation in Hawaii. You might have to modify the DVG ATA's settings depending on the Internet connection.
•It is also recommended to take along a small telephone dialpad/headset combo (Practica T50 or the like - cost $30-$50 - from TheSource or FutureShop) which simply plugs into the ATA. No separate power supply is usually required for a dialpad telephone. This is applicable regardless of where you are travelling, since even within North America, you may be staying in a hotel, or with family/friends, and there is no extra phone for you to use.
•Travelling with the ATA through airport security customs is not usually a problem, even in carry-on (cabin) luggage. If you do carry a small phone to use with the ATA, it is preferable to have a newer model, as older models may be suspect to certain custom's agents - as a user has pointed out !
•There is a growing user-submitted list of Hotels with a Broadband connection for your ATA (portable TBB service) at which TBB subscribers have successfully used their ATA.
Some other points to consider:
Phones and the phone jack
Its better to carry a phone with you, since a phone that you know works with the ATA, is better than one that has never been used before.
•Does the foreign phone system have an RJ11 jack/plug such that you could plug those telephones directly into the ATA? In the worst case, you should at least carry a plug adapter to convert between the RJ-11 on the ATA and the host country telephone cable/plug. See this site or other such sites for more info.
•The standards for the telephones themselves are different in various countries (Touch tone signals for a country`s telephone may not work with the ATA).
The Foreign Power System & Plugs
See Electricity around the world for a list of Voltages and Plugs in various countries.
•If the foreign power grid is 120VAC, you need to consider if a power socket adapter is required to plug your ATA power supply into a foreign power socket - N.A. uses 3 prongs (2 flat + 1 round for ground), other 120VAC countries have "L" shaped prongs etc.
•If the foreign power grid is not 120VAC, you need to consider not only a power socket adapter, but a transformer to convert the foreign system (220VAC etc) supply to the ATA's 120VAC power supply input. Sometimes, the adapter is built into the transformer, and sometimes they are two pieces.
•If you travel often to a country without 120VAC power, you may want to consider purchasing, in that country, a 220-240VAC power supply suitable for the ATA. Please refer to ATA's website (DLINK's) - it needs to provide the same output voltage (12V DC) and output current (1 amp = 1000 milliAmps) as the 120VAC power supply that is packaged with the ATA. Using a power supply with less amperes WILL cause problems with your TBB service. If you do find one, please post the model # to this FAQ such that it can be added here. Alain LaBont recently travelled to Vietnam with his ATA and reported back as follows:
The idea was to replace the D-Link-provided transformer by a universal one, not to complete it with another transformer (as small as it could be) which generally needs an adapter itself (it begins to be much actual horizontal weight [actual Newtonian weight, not electric load] and length beyond the wall electric outlet.
List of Adapters
•Kensington 33117: $30cdn Future Shop - $20us Dell, Amazon, Radioshack
•Go Forward Enterprise Corp 12V,1A: available in Asia (see Alain LaBont's quote above)
NOTE: See some recommendations when Travelling with your ATA; such as carrying a small phone and/or power supply (adapters).
You can use your TBB service (with your ATA) at various Hotels that supply Broadband connections. The Broadband connection may be included (free) in the room price or purchased for an additional fee ($5.00/day etc) - see your hotel for details.
In some cases, you will be provided with a device that you need to plug into a wall jack; with ethernet ports for your computer and/or ATA. These sometimes also provide wireless access. In other cases, you will simply have RJ-45 ethernet wall jacks available.
Large and/or consistent hotel broadband network bandwidth may be an issue. For example, during conferences, there may be a tremendous amount of people accessing the network. During these times, although email and file transfers may "work", albeit slowly, your TBB service may be choppy on your outgoing voice, or compromised altogether.
HOTELS USED WITH TBB/ATA
Parkway Toronto North
The QoS feature is disabled in the DVG firmware and TBB PSTN Gateways since there is no standardized QoS capability amongst ISPs at this time. The TOS1 and other bytes currently used to control QoS are ignored by most ISPs, thus providing no QoS capability.
•Even with DVG QoS disabled, most TBB users will get great PSTN like call quality - notwithstanding network issues as described in Internet Connection and ISP which can lead to "choppy" audio. Any given TBB user will encounter a congestion free VoIP call, most of the time.
•However, call quality will suffer if you consistently maximize use of your Broadband bandwidth, or stress the DVG ATA.
For most VoIP users, the lack of QoS at the current time simply implies that when there is severe Internet congestion in the path that a VoIP call takes, there may be some degradation on the call - sound cutting out, or lag/delay. This may occur for only one second or it may be a larger amount of time (10secs+); as determined by the congestion itself. This is impossible to determine in advance as the Internet is inherently a distributed system, and congestion can occur at various times and places - much like traffic on a highway. Unlike rush hour highway traffic, your VoIP calls will NOT be a problem every evening - it all depends on what is going on in the path your VoIP call is taking. This will change with every call you make!
As quoted from a Primus post in the Forum:
This was in response to user (Number6) providing the following details about the TOS byte in TBB VoIP packets from the ATA:
In order for us to get full benefit from QoS, all the ISPs involved in passing the packet from you to us (or vice versa) would need to respect our TOS, Diffserv, or other settings. Most ISPs erase such things on the way in and out of their networks, which has been our experience in the Canadian market, unfortunately.
1TOS - Type of Service
I have been working on ways to modify the QoS of my router to improve the quality and minimize the latency of VoIP packets being sent to/from my DVG gateway. During this tweaking I have noticed that although the TOS field of the packets originating from my DVG is set to 0xb8, the TOS field of packets being sent by Primus is set to 0.
In most major Canadian cities (serviced by TBB), beginning in June 2006, it is mandatory to dial with ten (10) digits - the area code and the seven digit number. Amongst others, this includes Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa/Gatineau, the entire 905 code, and Vancouver (and surrounding area--basically anything that's 604).
Although you can currently dial with seven (7) digits, there are exceptions with TBB. You sometimes need to dial 10 digits when calling:
•a local number in an adjacent area code (613 to 819, 514 to 450, 416 to 905, etc)
•some Cell phone numbers (Bell Mobility seems to require this consistently--although this may have recently changed for some calling areas)
•services like Cable Phones, or other VoIP providers
In these cases, if you dial only seven digits, you may hear a misleading busy tone, while dialing with 10 digits will ring through.
Note that if either your TBB number or the number you are calling is NEW, please refer to Problems dialing TBB NUMBER -or- FROM TBB LINE to certain numbers.
(Note that all TBB<->TBB calls are handled by the TBB Gateways in Toronto, but the actual voice path is between the two ISPs concerned. There is no connection whatsoever with the PSTN.)
PSTN <-> TBB Calls
Incoming or Outgoing PSTN Calls consist of two "legs":
A "Facility" may not be a complete Telco CO/Switch as it may simply be what is called a nailed-up synchronous PSTN connection (Trunk) between the ILEC's equipment (Bell, Telus) and the Toronto TBB Gateways. Although given that Primus also offers Regular Home Phone Service, TBB is probably piggybacked in some or all cases, to the Primus Regular Phone Facilities - thus leveraging their network capital costs...
TBB<->TBB calls are different in that only some control messages are sent between the ATAs and the TBB PSTN Gateways. The actual VOICE path is routed between the two ATAs through your ISP's network and the far-end connection's network. In other words, there is no TBB Gateway involved except for when you flash, hang up etc..
Since the calls (Voice path) do not use the the TBB PSTN Gateways, there are no LongDistance (Toll) charges for any calls between TBB subscribers, no matter where either of you is located - anywhere on the planet with an ISP connection!
Degraded Call Quality
Given the above, any Call Degradation issues on TBB<->TBB calls are tied to the connection from your ATA to the far-end ATA via your respective ISP networks. Hence, you need to determine what the latency/jitter is from your ATA to the other and VICE VERSA.
However, there is no of-the-shelf software to determine JITTER between two specific ATAs easily and accurately. The results of the JITTER test on your ISP connection may not reflect your actual situation for TBB<->TBB calls due to various technical reasons.A possible solution is that EACH of you can do a Ping/Traceroute to the other ATA. This may sometimes help to pinpoint where the problem lies.
EXAMPLE: Each of you should get your web IP address (www.whatismyip.com) and give it to the other person. Then do a ping and a traceroute to that address.... you may have to ensure that your computer or router will respond to the ping /traceroute.
Post your results to the TBB Forums in a new Topic for further help.
Primus has recently introduced a beta version of an online technical support chat application within the MyTBB Portal. This is a cross-platform chat client that operates within your web browser.
While the online support is still in beta, Primus has limited the frequency with which it will appear for each user (approximately one in 10 sessions):
It's not every 10 of YOUR sessions, it's 1 in 10 sessions. In fact, it's actually not 1 in 10 if you want to be technical. For each session, a random number is chosen between 1 and 10. If that number is 1, you get the icon. That way, each session did not have to have any prior knowledge of other sessions, and nearly the same effect is reached.
If the icon appears during your Portal session, clicking it will bring up a new window into which you may type or e-mail address and the question you have for Tech Support. Submitting the form initiates the chat session.
Once connected you must wait for a response from a Tech Support representative. Currently, this can take several minutes. Most users have reported inconsistency in reply times. At this point it is still recommended to contact Tech Support via telephone or e-mail until more priority is placed on staffing the online support option.