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Vonage I am a long-time Vonage proponent..have used it as my main business line for nearly



I am a long-time Vonage proponent..have used it as my main business line for nearly 3 years...and I use it a LOT...at least 2 hours/day from my office here in Atlanta calling all over the US and Canada.

Since about Jan 2006 my service took a sudden turn for the worse...about 25% of my calls experience "drop-outs" lasting from just an annoying fraction of a second to sometimes 5 and 10 seconds. With all the infrastructure changes that Comcast is making (e.g. adding digital simulcast) and the resulting cable TV issues (massive pixelization of 10 channels for 6-8 WEEKS), I had presumed that these problems were due to a Comcast plant issue.

By Mid-March I was able to get Comcast to (largely) resolve their issues, but despite this my Vonage problems remained the same...as if I don't have my own business to run I decided that was time to open a can of whoop-a** and get down to business on resolving the problem...there is no way I'm going back to Bellsouth ;).

As it happens my busines is doing network and security forensics...I've basically run around with packet analyzers for almost 20 years...now mind you I'm not much more than a novice troubleshooting Voip (SIP, RTP, etc..) protocols, but I figured that it's the only kind of systematic and detailed process that will unearth the root cause of complex problems.

Not to be too degrading to some of the troubleshooting data was bantered around in the long-running "Comcast v. Vonage" thread, but most of the testing techniques have almost NOTHING to do with the things that a Vonage call depends on:

http://www.vonage-forum.com/ftopic11377.html

For example:

* Ever single Vonage phone call likely involves a *different* Vonage server...if you are having a problem you need to know which server you call was being handled by *at that time*

* The Vonage web site (www.vonage.com) and the IP it hosted on has NOTHING to do with call setup and audio streams. OK, maybe there were some problem reaching their web site at one point, but I expect those problems were completely independent from other voice quality problems that anyone is having

* Issuing Pings and Tracerts from a Windows system generates ICMP packets that are generally 64 bytes in size...this traffic is VERY different than the 250 byte UDP packets used for voice streams (aka: RTP - Real Time Protocol)...also many devices specially will not respond to pings (e.g.: Vonage RTP relays)..therefore it is NOT a good tool to use when trying to troubleshoot Vonage issues

* Yes, upstream throughput is critical to good Voip quality...depending on your bandwidth settings a Vonage call requires about 80Kbps. Doing a speedtest (e.g. DSlreports and the like) are typically do simple *TCP* throughput tests..presuming that Comcast was playing some games with QoS of RTP packets (UDP!!) doing a TCP throughput test probably wouldn't detect it.

Anyway, here's an example of utilizing packet analysis (Ethereal) and UDP Ping tools (PingPlotter) to REALLY diagnose Vonage problems:

http://www.mynetwatchman.com/KB/NetKb/Vonage/AtlantaRTP.htm

My conclusion from the above analysis is that 30% (3 of 10) of Vonages Atlanta RTP Relays have some kind of problem that results an average of 10% packet loss *on ALL calls routed through them*.

This is really a guess, but I bet that someone forgot to hard-code the Ethernet speed and duplex settings on their network adapters and switch ports they are connected to...this often results in a duplex-mismatch where the server negoitiates to half-duplex mode and the switch to full-duplex...depending on network load this will results in extremly high packet corruption and loss.



For those wishing to replicate this level of analysis, I suggest you read through my "Packet Analysis for Idiots" guide here:

http://www.mynetwatchman.com/pckidiot/

...pay particular attention to Ch. 4 as most folks do not currently have their network physically configured to enable promiscuous monitoring of your Vonage traffic...you'll probably need to inject an Ethernet hub to act as a monitoring injection point.



As an aside... I see absolutely no evidence of Comcast de-prioritization of Vonage voice traffic...I DO see some occassional loss across their local backbone and ATT's backbone, but (at least here in Atlanta) it's negliable compared to the Vonage-specific infrastructure problem I've detailed here.



Read The Full Thread:

How to open a can of Whoop-A** on Vonage problems


Did you give your analysis to Comcast? What did they say? My ISP was interested
Why would I contact Comcast? The whole basis of my analysis is that the problem
Do any of you know a direct way of getting in touch with someone from Vonage tech
"I DO see some occassional loss across their local backbone and ATT's backbone...."
Don't let the VT2442 turn you off to Vonage - it's been out for less than a month,
I got word from a Vonage engineer that they had isolated and resolved the problem...I
Impressive analysis, and your webpage detail does a great job of showing anyone

CyberCSI posted "I am a long-time Vonage proponent..have used it as my main business line for nearly" on 04/09/2006

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1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

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