Business Phone Systems

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#613850 11/03/17 02:04 AM
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Up until 2007 I worked for a business phone co. that had mostly modems for remote access. Back then I had T&R from telco at home and would could access systems reliably via dialup. I then worked for a retailer where the PBXs with serial/modem access used a Digi-Server, which was an ethernet to serial converter. I rarely had to connect to a PBX with a serial cable. Since every store throughout the country was part of our network, any could be accessed if the IP was known. When on call I'd VPN into our network and connect from there.

Last year the retailer stared downsizing big time, eliminated many I.T./Telecom positions, including mine. Now I'm working for a business phone co. again. Ironically - as technology has progressed I've found remote access has become more difficult because of it. We do use LogMein for a few accounts, but many that were previously accessible via dialup modems are not, or intermittent at best due to VoIP or cable co. provided lines. I no longer have T&R and home (have Ooma) or at the office. I'm told a modem connection with Ooma or any most other VoIP service with an A.T.A just isn't going to work. The T1 quality in the office I believe is adequate.

I haven't tried yet - but was told a system with analog lines through a cable co. ATA such as Arris probably will not allow a reliable modem connection. I wonder what others have done as a workaround, if any? At times I'm driving over an hour for a change that takes a minute on site. I'm thinking we should invest in the serial to ethernet adapters, which requires the customer to have a public IP address for access off site. The good 'ol days of a reliable connection at 9600 baud almost seems like a luxury.

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If you do get a serial to ethernet box (Moxa), you can get into serial equipment with a Raspberry Pi. I have Aeroadmin sitting in my office machine that gives me remote access to a PC and that PC has a hard serial port. I have a very long password set on that machine. I also carry a memory stick with my private key for accessing Pi's that I control. I like that solution better because no one is getting through the network, or even knows it exists.

Carl


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Thanks - I'll check out Moxa and Raspberry Pi. I did get LogMein credentials to what we have set up now. I've been asked to see what we can do for some others that we occasionally get orders for just basic software changes. If we do set something up it would be of no cost to the customer. Some customers don't have a pc to dedicate, so I'm looking for a small investment for us.

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Even some analog and PRI circuits are not modem friendly. I found it impossible to use dialup with AT&T PRI hand-off. We have a Cable company analog at our office that seems work close to POTS. Since I don't have an analog at home I have a PC at the office with Logmein software that I use for dialup connections to the locations that still work. As more people switch their phone lines it is getting increasingly harder to support a dialup connection.

Some of the equipment we installed has a Windows operating system, so Logmein would work fine. Some of the equipment is Linux based and administered with a Web browser. Unless their IT forwards public ports or grants VPN access we can't admin those accounts.

As a test I was able to use a Linux machine as a gateway device using Logmein Hamachi. With this I was able to access the system through a network connection behind the firewall. I believe that you could do the same thing with a Raspberry Pi, but I did not test it this way.

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The other product I use on my laptop and home workstation is Aeroadmin www.aeroadmin.com It allows remote access and can be set up to do it unattended. If you do remote, remember SECURE passwords.

Carl



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For new systems, if there is room in the budget, we will include an el-cheapo refurbished laptop and load TeamViewer and setup with unattended access. It can sit on the customer's network and if serial is needed, a cheap USB to serial adapter does the trick.

Customers have been fairly open to it. Only takes a couple trips with 2-3 hours of travel to cover the cost of the additional hardware.

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We were looking in the shop to see what we had for old PCs in storage. We have a few, that is an option. I also want to continue to investigate what's available for serial - ethernet adapters, preferably 2 ports, one for the PBX and one for voicemail. After a few trips could be eliminated it certainly could cover the cost of the hardware. I saw one 2 port unit for about $90. There was another one port unit, very basic - no enclosure or power supply (5v) but those of course are minimal investments. That was only $30. I just don't know if it would be compatible, previously with the retail co. I'd use Procomm, but occasionally Avaya's windows client, don't recall the name - A.S.A? Anyway, those were accessing older Definity systems with a Digi Portserver. It was nice since of course the stores had Wi-Fi, so I could access the PBX from anywhere in the store.

We do have a PC in the office with a modem, that is an option as well if I could get LogMein on it.

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I've been told by some cable techs that not all cable operators use IP for their transport medium. I'm not sure how many of those still exist, but I seem to be doing OK with my Arris EMTA at home on Spectrum service in NC. At my office, we also have Arris EMTAs on Comcast that do OK as well. Certainly not as well as we got with copper, but they aren't bad.

My biggest problem is with the customers using fiber-based products, where we know they are using IP. Most of the IP service providers have mentioned that we can request G.711 compression on numbers that are used for analog devices, such as modems and they will configure their routers to accommodate this. It is the traditional compression rate at G.729 that causes the issues. Of course, you're not going to get someone from the cable company's customer service to understand this, but if you're able to talk to one of their technical support people, they will understand and accommodate. Usually, if you mention a modem, fax, alarm system or even better, heart monitoring equipment, they will do what they can. I know for a fact that this can be accomplished if the customer is using an Adtran 900 series router.

I also use TeamViewer for situations where an on-site PC can be connected. Customers aren't willing to pay for a dedicated public IP address for us to have remote access. They don't recognize the value, and since many ISPs charge as much as a phone line for a static IP, it's not often an option to use adapters.

For maximum flexibility, I have a desktop PC with a VERY tolerant modem that I keep running 24/7 at home. It uses an analog extension on my system that accesses my POTS line from Spectrum. I then use TeamViewer from my cell and laptop to access it from anywhere. It's nice to be able to dial into a system's modem while I'm sitting at the bar to change system programming.


Ed Vaughn, MBSWWYPBX

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