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Finally Found Satellite VOIP Provider that WORKS!!

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Mar 27th, 2008 at 6:59am  
Hey guys,
I finally found a Satellite VOIP provider which works over my HughesNet HN7000 Standard $59.99 plan. I live in the rural area in Massachusetts called the Berkshires where I use to have to drive miles away from home to get cell phone service.  I have been looking for a VOIP provider that works for years over Satellite.

Anyways, I have a friend from Arkansas who is a HughesNet reseller and he recommended that I call SunISP. At that point I thought I was going to waste my money on another disapointment. I had already tried Vonage, Skype, SunRocket and many hours preying that they would work. The problem was, even if one of those providers did work, they took up too much of my bandwidth package in the Fair Access Policy us low package users are oh so familiar with. Not to mention it is so annoying how all those AOL users and video game players are slowing down our Satellite Internet speed as it is.

I went online and did some research. So many people told me that Hughes would not support VOIP. I think its because they would not be able to handle all of the additional VOIP traffic in addition to the mess they are currently experiencing. However, I got sick and tired of not being able to communicate cheaply from my home, let alone communicate at all. I decided to give SunISP a shot.

Surprise-Surprise, I was welcomed by an American English speaking individual. The first thing they asked - Are you using Hughes, Wildblue, Starband, I-direct, or WildBlue? I told them about my situation and they promised they would give me my money back if it didn't work. Looking at the collection of failed devices I had ordered from my previous hopes at a solution (now being used as coffee coasters), I decided I had nothing to lose, and their website was really simple and developed. So anyways, the technician walked me through the Activate section on the site, and 5 days later, the Postman delivered a box with an ATA device inside - Dejavou all over again.

I took out the box,  and downloaded the activation instructional PDF that they had sent me in my email. Then I plugged one of my analog phones which strangely I had kept from before I had moved up here. Then the moment of truth....I picked up the phone and heard the most beautiful sound of all - a dial tone.

The first person that I called was my dad. He automatically assumed I took a ride into town like I usually do when I needed urgently to use the cell phone. The best part was that the quality was amazing, and there was very little delay between my father and I. I don't know how SunISP did it but I don't really care. 10 Thank You emails later, I am still a happy SunISP customer.
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Reply #1 - Mar 27th, 2008 at 11:28am  
Quote:
downloaded the activation instructional PDF that they had sent me
I found their website, and it's almost completely devoid of technical info. I'd be interested in reading that instructional PDF, if you wouldn't mind posting the link

//greg//
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Reply #2 - Mar 27th, 2008 at 5:46pm  
Their instructional PDF merely explains how to set up the box once you receive it because there was no way I could set up the box with them over the phone when I can only use my cell phone many miles away from the system. So I just downloaded it and followed the step by step instructions. I wasn't really looking for technical information when I visited the site, but if I ever do have questions, I just go to the FAQ section or call them up. Will that type of PDF be of any value to you? I think you are looking to know how they actually transmit the VOIP over satellite. You can always ask them.
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Reply #3 - Mar 27th, 2008 at 8:00pm  
Their FAQ section is completely devoid of technical data, and the VoIP FAQ link doesn't even work. I see nothing of (technical) substance there whatsoever.

Your failure to provide a link to an already cited PDF is shoring up my original suspicion that you're shilling for Sun-ISP. I'll permit one more opportunity to volunteer the requested information before I delete this thread as SPAM

//greg//
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Reply #4 - Mar 27th, 2008 at 11:26pm  
The Activation PDF that sun-isp sent me was via email after I signed up but before I received the box. I can email it to you if you want, but I haven't been able to find it on the site as well.

I have a lot of respect for this forum and just wanted to talk about a product which has really helped me. I don't want you to think that this is some cheesy advertising stunt where I would be taking advantage of the community here. If your suspicions overcome you, I understand that you are merely doing your job.
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« Last Edit: Nov 17th, 2014 at 10:20am by Admin1 »  
 
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Reply #5 - Mar 28th, 2008 at 12:04am  
Nothing technical there either, just more promotional stuff. From their site map, I tried to follow what was identified as a VoIP FAQ link - on the chance it would lead to some technical info. Another dead end, the link didn't even work.

As I said, the entire site is apparently devoid of anything but self-promotion (and a massive subscriber agreement). I personally won't buy - or even recommend - any product until I know how (or if) it works.

//greg//
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« Last Edit: Mar 28th, 2008 at 10:31am by N/A »  
 
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Reply #6 - Mar 28th, 2008 at 6:45am  
You make an interesting point. They really don't explain to us how they actually make it work better than the others. I went to a lot of other sites in the past which were jam packed with all different types of information on the inner workings of their VOIP but when it came time to plug in the box, I ended up knowing a whole lot of information about services which didn't work.
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Reply #7 - Mar 29th, 2008 at 2:48am  
There is nothing "Magical" that a VOIP provider can do.  They can force the ATA box to use less bandwidth, but the bandwidth has to be there consistently, 100% of the time.    How many days have you had VOIP with Hughesnet?  Would you update us in a month or two?

Ordinary Starband or Hughesnet $59.99 customers don't all have the luxury of a consistent connection that permits VOIP calls.  I don't doubt you had success with your calls as you report.  Be prepared for problems once your resources on Hughesnet get stretched thin.

I noticed they sell VSAT systems and advertise the Starband Nova system supports 2 - 4 concurrent VOIP phone lines.  I know this is not possible as Starband uses TDMA, changes the transmit frequency constantly.  They burst data, and re-transmit if it collides.  They don't provide a connection for VOIP and don't claim VOIP quality.  It is a residential or small office product for data only.
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Reply #8 - Mar 29th, 2008 at 2:35pm  
Ok, I'll copy and paste your questions and email them to my friend from Arkansas who is a Satellite Installer/Dealer. I am sure he can provide me with a technical answer since I doubt he would recommend it to me without knowing something. I will also give you feedback on my experience with the product. Currently, since it came in the mail, it has been working fantastic. Once in a while my voice drops out but overall, I wouldn't mind if this thing wasn't absolutely perfect all the time, so long as it works most of the time (or more than the other companies). So far, I haven't had any issues but as I said, I am sure Arkansas guy can help us figure it out.
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Reply #9 - Mar 30th, 2008 at 10:03pm  
Hey guys,
I spoke to  my friend from Arkansas and this is what he told me . Initially when SunISP contacted him, he was also taken a back by the lack of information on the site. So then I  asked him - "why did you put your name behind the product and offer it to me?" He answered " I got to try the the product  for free." He continued to explain to me that SunISP would not divulge its personal technical information on how exactly they make the VOIP work. However, he was able to be sold on the product because SunISP allows its users  to have the product on a trial period via a software phone for free until they are satisfied with the product's viability before they sign up. On the technical end, he told me that they alleviate issues usually incurred by Vonage users by "lowering the amount of bandwidth required to transmit a call to 8 Kbps." This means that even during peak hours when Uplink bandwidth speeds are low, a call will only require requires 8 kbps of bandwidth to transmit the call. Although the company didn't volunteer the information to him, he was able to us a badwidth meter to measure the amount of bandwidth which was being used during the call.

Feedback on my use:
So far, since I have been using the phone, I find that the quality and dependability is superior to all the companies I have used without comparison. On about 2 or 3 calls, I did experience some latency. However, I called Tech Support and they helped me alleviate the issue to an acceptable level. I hope this was helpful.

Ruraldude
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Reply #10 - Mar 30th, 2008 at 11:15pm  
I would echo Greg's concern.   You should study the subscriber agreement carefully and try to work out the implications to you.  

Any system that involves downloading software to your PC and using your PC as part of a phone system risks you being defrauded as a result of your PC getting hacked in some way.  A bad service provider, some wireless hacker over the road, some bad person anywhere etc might actually route their VoIP termination traffic into and then out of your PC and you might then find your credit card debited for thousands of calls that have been directed into your PC which have then gone out again to the VoIP service provider you have signed up to with your card.   An always ON PC on a broadband connection needs a good firewall but if you download software this may bypass critical aspects.  Your PC may also get a silent virus or similar which compromises your PC.

I know VoIP appears amazing and almost free, but it does come with some risks which we are only just beginning to understand.  Rather then being billed for your calls made, you would be safer if you put in say $50 initially and were then cut off when the money ran out.

In my opinion, VoIP hardware phones, working directly via ethernet (i.e. no PC involved) are the safer way to go, but even then your router must be hardened. Use long cryptic passwords, 8 - 12 characters with assorted letters, upper and lower case plus numbers.   The same password considerations apply also to the configuration management of the hardware phone itself, which may well contain a mini unix style operating system.

Best regards, Eric.
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Reply #11 - Mar 30th, 2008 at 11:52pm  
Thanks for such wonderful advice. I'm definitely going to research a company a lot more before I run any services which require a connection to their servers. On the brighter side, I am happy that I have the hardware. I am also happy that it was a friend, a fellow VSAT installer, whom I had trusted. I guess the company will have to make some changes to their website which will give off an energy of trust by providing more information.

However, whats stopping individuals from simply collecting information, putting it on a site making promises and then doing all those horrific things that you spoke of earlier? Why should a bunch of words take precendent over a "proof is in the pudding" type approach?

In an attempt to answer my own question, I think people gain trust for a company when the company places itself in the public spotlight for the world to see and criticize.

But then, how should small companies achieve trust from the public  if they don't  have the same advertising budget as Vonage?

Rural Dude
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Reply #12 - Mar 31st, 2008 at 4:02am  
Eric is saying a hardware approach to VOIP is safer and better than a software/hardware system.

You are representing SunISP to be different in some matter from 3 other VOIP providers but haven't shown anything they do differently.  Nothing on their website shows what they might be doing magically to make their system work for satellite users.

Your statement about updating the SunISP website to gain customer's trust and the one about a small advertising budget of Sun ISP really does suggest to me that you work for them.
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Reply #13 - Mar 31st, 2008 at 4:52am  
Quote:
Your statement about updating the SunISP website to gain customer's trust and the one about a small advertising budget of Sun ISP really does suggest to me that you work for them.
Sun-ISP has started similar self-promotions on other satellite forums, many of which were (justifiably) deleted as SPAM. I withheld the temptation to do that to this one, waiting to see how this new approach developed. But the tone of his last post pretty much nailed it for me too. 

//greg//
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Reply #14 - Mar 31st, 2008 at 12:49pm  
Quote:
So my real question is - does a website packed with information have any bearing on the workability of a product?
At this point, the topic will remain open. It's currently of more value to the subject of slick but uninformative product promotion, than it is to otherwise glowing but unsubstantiated claims that "it works".

And even the word "workability" in this instance is uninformative. It's a noun that's essentially meaningless until quantified against reference or standard. Informed customers want to know - or at least be given the opportunity to figure out - HOW and WHY it's better than WHAT. The SunISP website - especially with regard to this nebulous VoIP product - was apparently put together by a marketeer and a lawyer. It's completely devoid of any technical description, specification, or even reference to VoIP standards. In the extreme, it's an insult to the intelligence of comparison shoppers.

To me a more appropriate word in this instance, may have been "salability". You can't SELL me anything, until I'm given the opportunity to compare your product against the competition. The first step in doing that in this case, is to freely provide usable technical information to put on one side of the decision scale.

The vast majority of retailers understand this, and provide - at a minimum - manufacturers' tech specs. That opens the door to giving potential customers the opportunity to make an educated purchase. That's salability to me. But in the case of Sun-ISP, I'm left with the impression that this outfit is a reseller of a product that they don't understand in the first place. Subsequent self-promotion and pandering further insults the thinking buyer.

//greg//
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« Last Edit: Apr 1st, 2008 at 2:10pm by N/A »  
 
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Reply #15 - Apr 5th, 2008 at 6:21pm  
Sun ISP contacted me also and mentioned seeing my posts here regarding VOIP.

They set me up with a free account and I downloaded the softphone application ( yes I know it is a software approach and risky but it was on an unimportant PC I use for testing)

I could not get the product to work over a Starband Nova 1500 account.  i got the dial tone but an error message indicated the call was timming out while the line was ringing.  We tried to work through the issue to no avail.

I figured what the heck, since it claims money back I figured I would give the ATA box a shot.  I ordered it a few days ago and when it gets here I will post results.  As anyone who has read my posts here on VOIP, like satbaja I am very skeptical to say the least.

The guys were nice enough on the phone and a test with the hardware box is really no skin off my back.
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Reply #16 - Apr 5th, 2008 at 7:02pm  
Yup - When they were attempting one of these self-promotions on another satellite forum, two satellite professionals offered to test drive for them; me over over a HN7000S connection, the other guy over his iDirect system. The offers were never even acknowledged, much less accepted.

//greg//
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Reply #17 - Apr 17th, 2008 at 10:06pm  
I also received a call from SunISP and we set up a test for the following Monday. It worked quite well ... not toll-quality voice, but quite acceptable, especially for someone in a location with no other options ... like many of our RVer customers.

I bought a USB headset a couple of days later and did another test on my own account, which we activated. It worked even better.

There were a few dropped syllables and occasional "pauses", but all-in-all, it worked quite well. This is the first time I've actually conversed on a VoIP over satellite call without wanting to end the call immediately.

In other words, so far, it works better than any other solution I've tried.

Fingers crossed! Wink
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Reply #18 - May 15th, 2008 at 6:06am  
I have wild blue. I live off the grid and too far for a phone line as well. I've read the posts on this thread with interest.
NetZero VoIPwas great until it died, $14.95/mo unlimited long distance and I could actually hold a conversation, once I got my family used to the 2 second delay. At 1st they thought I was a telemarketer, as they also have that 1st intial delay, while mine was always there. Right now I'm using MediaRing Talk. It was free to try. I used it free for several months, hoping to find something better. The only restriction on the free account was you could only talk for 10min at a time, and then had to redial. Right now, I had to sign up for another free MRTalk account as they don't seem able to confrim my credit card. So I'm back to the 10min limit. I am going to try the SunIsp VoIP. I signed up, but haven't got any email confirmation yet. I hope they're legit. They seemed to take my credit card readily enough. Everyone's been good at that. Skype, Gizmo Project, Raketu, Net2phone, Packet 8, etc., didn't work with WB, but they sure took my money.
MediaRing does work, more or less. More often less. Failure to connect is frequent. No hardware, just software. And it doesn't have an incoming phone #. 2cents/min for the USA isn't great either. I prefer unlimited calling.
Doesn't anyone use the "Crystal Voice" software that NetZero used? Does anyone know why NetZero VoIP quit? Thanks for the forum.
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Reply #19 - May 15th, 2008 at 6:36am  
Has anyone tried Hughes Sat VoIP? They use Vonage or Net2Phone last I checked. I think you had to use the highest grade service and then pay $25-$30 for the VoIP provider. More than I wanted to pay. Are there any VoIPs that work with lower speed Hughes? Does Hughe's modem dw 7740 that prioitizes VoIP packets make any difference?
Wild Blue claims not to support VoIP. From my experience they seem to mean it too.
5 years from now there'll be a dozen sat VoIPs that work well except for the 2sec latency. Unless the price of rocket fuel explodes like the price of gas has. Maybe there'll even be high altitude airplanes relaying VoIP with less latency...
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Reply #20 - Jun 4th, 2008 at 2:17pm  
Well do not write off Vonage over satellite till you try this .

1. In the last 6 months Vonage added ISP for satellite settings to their set up on activation .

2. Lower the bandwidth saver to 30K from the default 90k , found under features

3. If you have Vonage already call the tech support and tell them you are on satellite and they will change your settings .

Finally real great phone that even a year ago was rough over satellite .

Lastly our US uplink offers Voip enhancement for a small fee.

hope this hepls
don paul
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Reply #21 - Jun 15th, 2008 at 1:41am  
A couple of friends of mine who are VSAT dealers were quite excited about SunISP recently. They had both tested it and it worked quite well. I spoke to both of them over their respective connections and it was as good as any VOIP over consumer level satellite that I've experienced.

But when they ordered equipment from SunISP they got the run around. They were charged for their orders, but did not receive the equipment they ordered. When they call SunISP, they just get stall tactics.

I would definitely beware of that business. Too bad. Seems like they have a good product but if they can't be honest with their dealers, the business will collapse.
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Reply #22 - Jun 15th, 2008 at 9:44am  
Anyone contemplating using VoIP either as an end user or as a service provider intending to provide VoIP service should search Google using the two words <  VoIP fraud >.

End users should never set up open ended accounts; always pay in advance and make sure your service stops and you have no further liability when the money runs out.  You may lose your $100 but you won't find yourself running up bills of $10,000 per day due to calls that 'appear to have come via your PC or VoIP phone'.

Service providers need to assign substantial and expensive human and technology resources to anti-fraud activities.  Any contract with up the chain call termination providers needs to clarify in advance how fraud involving possibly millions of calls will be handled.  Try to agree that you pay in advance, as above, and get cut off with no further liability when the money runs out.   It may inconvenience your customers to have the service temporarily cease occasionally but that is better than your business going bust and ceasing the service altogether.
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Reply #23 - Jul 24th, 2008 at 8:18pm  
Just to update this thread:

I finally received a call from Sun ISP about the charges and I was told that there were issues with the original credit card provider/gateway they chose. They had moved on to a more reputable provider.

I was refunded the money charged to my card by my credit card company.

I also asked for a single unit of the hardware, so I could test with it.

I also asked for my account to be switched to the $15.95 per month plan. This plan covers all of the US and Canada ... unlimited calls. It also is the low cost plan which uses the G.729 compression. This is the scheme that only uses 8 Kbps, which is a desirable thing for satellite users. I also want to test with this before I recommend it to others.

I am still waiting for my hardware and service plan change.

Incidentally, part of what Sun ISP does to keep the connection "smooth" is to send a steady stream of pings. This keeps a small amount of data always in the pipeline, thereby contributing to smoother buffering and less jitter.

Incidentally, I found most calls needed a few minutes at the beginning to "settle in" to a comfortable voice session. Perhaps this is the time needed to buffer data along the end-to-end path. Using jitter buffers along the path is part of how all VoIP providers achieve a smoother session.
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Reply #24 - Aug 20th, 2008 at 7:43pm  
I've been using SunIsp over Wild Blue satellite since June of 2008. It works well about 1/3 to 1/2 the time. The rest of the time people can make out 1 out of 4 or 5 words that I say, while I can hear them just fine. I am using the X-Lite free trial softphone. It doesn't use the G729 codec, but the full version does. Does anyone know if the G729 will make much difference?

Media Ring still consistently sounds better when I can dial out. I have given up trying to get them to take my credit card and so am limited to 10 min / call. And it won't dial out 95% of the time (unable to connect reason 489).

I don't want to pay $25/mo for Vonage.  Plus all the other fees. I tried Vonage a year or so ago. I finally got dial tone after a lot of hassle and that's all I ever got. Never could connect with anyone. Maybe it's better now.  But I want 100% money back guarantee, including s/h. And I want a lower /month price before I'll try it. 
Anything else out there?
Thanks for the info so far.
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Reply #25 - Sep 17th, 2008 at 4:29am  
Just when we debunked the original post, we have gone full circle and start again.  I don't doubt VOIP can work sometimes on wildblue or hughesnet.  I do doubt any VOIP service, as perfect as it can be, incredibly efficient, can make reliable phone calls consistently on these two networks.  These are residential grade satellite internet services with inconsistent resources.  Due to planned oversubscription, other user's traffic will prevent you from transmitting non-stop.  If you go 1-2 seconds without sending data due to network congestion, your voice call will not be up to par. 

I think it makes sense to promote your VOIP equipment and services with a good partner ISP that provides consistent VOIP resources.    If people plan to use VOIP on Wildblue or Hughesnet, they will be trying to plan their calls around the peak traffic times and hope to get lucky.
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Reply #26 - Oct 11th, 2008 at 8:47pm  
Satbaja --

While I would have agreed with you before we started having sizable customer base on these networks  our customers are reporting consistent results.  Yes it is true that the latency on these links can push upwards of 3-4 seconds, however our systems account for this.  Granted, when using our VoIP service on Wildblue or Hughesnet, it is much more like a 2-way radio than a phone call and in no way compares with something like a well managed iDirect network, it is still reliable enough for use. 

We now have many customers on both WildBlue and Hughes that use our services, and often as their only means of voice communication.   They are very happy with our service.  Though you must take into account that most of these customers have little to no other means of making phone calls.  Perhaps Iridium or Globalstar, but these are generally too cost prohibitive.

We of course recommend some of the better satellite networks if they want their service to be comparable with a landline.  I posted to this thread simply to offer our service that will not only work on Wildblue/Hughes, but any network.  I think you would agree that if our service works on Wildblue - it will likely work on almost any network.

Not to mention that our protocols use dramatically less bandwidth than any of the others which on shared links that are metered by the amount of data transferred can be very cost effective. 

I do agree with you on partnering with ISPs that are actively making efforts to ensure their networks support VoIP and we are forming such alliances.
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Reply #27 - Feb 3rd, 2009 at 4:36am  
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!!
Sun-Isp  had a fire fridayand his main frame and servers burned up.that is why we lost service
Namron67
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