My VoIP phone is dead [telecom]

My callcentric VoIP phone stopped working yesterday, and it's still out.

I have a new ISP: they bought out the old local company which was providing cable TV and Internet service, and I've been having trouble ever since. Streaming media such as Reuters and CBS news have gaps in their audio feeds, and even missing video while the audio continues on, and the online Zoom video call I (and others) used yesterday to attend my Quaker meeting without risk of Covid-19 was so intermittent that I had to drop out and log back in twice.

The new Cable TV/ISP owner started their operations a few weeks ago. On the day they took control, I lost the ability to log in to the T-D servers at M.I.T. I had to install VPN software to regain access, and then when I tried to find out which North Carolina government agency regulates such companies, the TCP port which is used for "ssh" connections was suddenly not blocked anymore.

Yesterday, my VoIP phone went dead. It's a three line phone, and there are two VoIP services I use it for: Callcentric, where I get my "home" phone number, and the Hamshack Hotline, a free VoIP service for Amateur Radio operators like me. They both quit at the same time.

This morning, I talked to a person at the new cableco's "trouble" number, and she told me that she was going to reset my cable modem. Lo and behold, the Callcentric line came back, long enough for me to make a call to my sister's home in Massachusetts: I talked to my brother-in-law for a few minutes, and said 'goodbye,' and hanged up. A few minutes later, the line was out again.

I called the new cableco's trouble department again: they told me that it's a problem in my router and demanded that I call the company that made the router for help. I told them they were wrong, and demanded to speak to Tier 2 support, and they said they would submit a ticket but that the departement which handles that isn't open today.

This reminds me of what Comcast was caught doing a while back: they would block any port that they didn't like, and when anyone complained, they'd open the port for a few days, and then go back to blocking it again.

I'll call the new cableco tomorrow, and ask what it will cost to restore VoIP connectivity. Suggestions welcome.

Bill Horne

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Bill Horne
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Yesterday (Wednesday, 9/7), I got a call from someone at "Galaxy Cablevision," and he told me that my VoIP lines are out-of-service because of "Cee-Gee NAT." He did his best to convince me that the ports used for the "new" Internet layout that my local cable company is using can't be "mapped" to my VoIP phone, and that there was nothing he could do about the problem.

I did my best to explain to him that I used to be a Certified NetWare Engineer(tm), and that I have been the Moderator of the Telecom Digest for about fifteen years, and that my job gives me extraordinary access to world-class experts on the subject of Network Address Translation, the TCP three-way handshake, and VoIP in general, and that there was no "port mapping" involved. I told him that I didn't need any ports mapped, and that such capability wasn't what I had sought after.

He told me that my problem would be solved by a "Fixed IP Address," but when I advised him that I wasn't interested in paying for a capability which isn't guaranteed to solve the problem, he said he'd do some more research and get back to me.

So, I'd appreciate your help: please point me to a source of easy-to-understand information about current VoIP practice, especially as it relates to NAT of any flavor, and let me thank you in advance for your help. I'd also like to know if there are more current versions of the story about being born at night in the back of a turnip truck, since I'd like to have answers ready if and when someone at Galaxy Cablevision calls me again.

Bill Horne

P.S. I'll also call Alexis Rosen at Panix, and ask if he can support the "OpenVPN" capability of my ASUS router. Here's hoping ...

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