02-15-2014 10:56:15 PM
I'm not familiar with the SIP ALG setting of your router but all you need, or at least what's required by AT&T is: DHCP enabled, IPSec Passthrough enabled, Fragmented Packets Disabled, MTU = 1492, and the four ports opened all the way to the AT&T servers. The connection needs to be as simple as possible. Ethernet from the MicroCell directly to the gateway (priority connection) or to the router. Nothing inbetween. I don't believe the MicroCell is designed to play nicely with other VoIP services and that seems to be the case if I understand your post correctly that the MC did work once you removed the V-adapter from the setup. The more devices you introduce into your LAN the more you increase your chances of affecting the MicroCell call quality. Anytime a provider upgrades their services (new network boxes, what ever) you may encounter problems with the MicroCell because of the new hardware configs. It's not up to AT&T to ensure that the MicroCell works will other networks after upgrades. It's the networks responsibility and quite frankly, they don't care if it's not their product.
I would try to make your MicroCell setup as simple and straightforward as possible and see what happens. Ping and jitter tests are fine but as Avedis53 has pointed out, they are no more than snapshots at a single point in time and really need to be taken over a long period ot time to really asess how your network is truly performing. It sounds like there's more to your network setup than you've indicated previoulsy mentioned so it's difficult to troubleshoot. Keep it simple.
02-16-2014 06:04:07 AM
Hi, thanks. Yes, I certainly understand to keep the setup simple and that the speed tests are just snapshots in time (I work in the IT field myself). My setup including the Vonage piece and MCell had always worked just fine in the past, up until 2 months or so ago when suddenly my Internet speeds and voice quality on both VoIP services went down the toilet.
Yeah, I had to force MTU to 1492 and I do have DHCP enable to hand out IPs. There's no setting control for IPSec Passthrough or Fragmented Packets in the router so I can only assume those are not causing the issue. Both my Netgear N750 router and my SB6141 are less than a year old.
I'll have to keep plugging away at this and possibly contact AT&T MCell and/or Charter Support to also get some feedback from them. Now, if they just had an entire team of Support staff as knowledgeable as you guys!
I'll keep you posted.
02-16-2014 09:47:34 AM
SIP ALG stands for Session Initiated Protocol Application Layer Gateway. That's a mouthful! SIP ALG is typically enabled in most routers by default. So what does it do? It optimizes VOIP traffic that uses SIP. The problem is that SIP ALG doesn't play well with VOIP applications that don't use SIP and it doesn't play well with NAT. I could go into the technical aspect of why this is so but I'll leave that to the reader to delve into it if they want to.
I'm guessing that the Mcell is not an SIP device and therefore presents issues when used with certain routers that have SIP ALG enabled. My Netgear 3500L router has SIP ALG enabled but I also have my NAT set to "Open" instead of "Secured". This option determines how the router deals with inbound traffic. The Secured option provides a secured firewall to protect the PCs on LAN from attacks from the Internet, but it may cause some Internet games, point-to-point applications, or multimedia applications(ie. the Microcell) not to work. The Open option, on the other hand, provides a much less secured firewall, while it allows almost all Internet applications to work.
I haven't messed with these settings since my Mcell works well with them as is. Since you have a different Netgear router than I do, perhaps the firmware is slightly different and is causing you problems with the Mcell with regards to SIP ALG being enabled.
Don't know anything about Vonage hardware so I can't be of any help there.
@ Otto - You should tuck this SIP ALG disable trick in the Tech Guide perhaps?
02-16-2014 10:27:27 AM
Thanks partner. I get so focused on AT&T's VoIP that I forget about other VoIP services and the fact that they may use a different type of connection protocol to move traffic. Sounds like the basic answer to this is don't use the MicroCell if you have Vonage as well because of the requirments that Vonage needs. I don't know if the Apple Extreme Base Stations has SIP ALG or not. I'll have to look into that and see what I can glean from AT&T on the SIP ALG/MicroCell issue as well.
02-16-2014 10:49:40 AM
I still have my Vonage adapter unplugged and completely out of my set up and still get some outbound garble on the MCell. It's so strange because with the V-Adapter out of the equation, I get much better speed and VoIP test results with minimal jitter... but like I said, I still get some garble when using the MCell which is behind the router.
It's got to be something to do with this Netgear N750 and something to do with how it prioritizes traffic that I can't control via the firmware (I do have the latest release installed). When I plug the MCell directly into my SB6141, the call quality is bang on. I would think there would be other people out there who are running an MCell behind an N750 too but I can't seem to find anything out there when Googling it.
I'll keep puttering away at this.
02-16-2014 10:57:21 AM
...and by the way Avedis53, I read about setting NAT to Open as well and am very hesitant to comromise security for this. What I'll do is set it to Open for a short time, do some test calls then set it back to Secure.
Some other people are suggesting to disable port scanning too but that's opening a big security hole too. Again, I'll disable this one for a short time to test then flip it back.
I agree... Otto: maybe add the disable SIP ALG setting suggestion to your MCell documentation as that for sure improved my call quality.
02-16-2014 11:15:32 AM
I've asked AT&T about the SIP ALG protocol so we'll see what I can force out of the engineers. If I can't get anything definitive, I just may have to add it as a "possible" interferent and leave it at that.
As far as NAT goes, you can't have both devices (router and modem/gateway) performing NAT duties. That is called double NAT and the MicroCell will have definite issues with that. NAT is disabled on my gateway and only my router (AEBS, Apple Extreme Base Station) is performing NAT. If port scanning interrupts the specified port in any way, even for a brief period of time, that could be another source of problems for the MicroCell.
02-16-2014 11:22:57 AM
I think that's a good idea to test your connection quality with NAT set to open to see if it helps. Likewise, testing the port scanning disable. I have a hunch though that neither will improve your outgoing voice quality.
Have you tried adding a QOS Priority Rule for your Mcell by MAC address? Do you have devices connected to your network that could be hogging your upload bandwidth?
02-17-2014 08:25:01 AM
So yes, we have hard reset, power cyceled EVERYTHING so many times I have lost count. A charter tech has even come to my house and reset the router back to factory settings. AT&T has replaced the microcell, both the old and the new have the same result. And yes this started about 3 weeks ago now. The lights on the microcell are all green, none have ever been red.
The top three are solid green and the bottom is flashing green. The microcell website activation process stops on the third stage trying to establish the GPS location. ATT and myself have deactivated the device and reactivated it multiple times.
Before this outage, NO equipment had been changed. This device has worked fine for the last year without issues.
02-17-2014 09:02:19 AM
Where are you located? I know that Charter was going to start rolling out the new network boxes after the initial roll-out in the Dallas-Ft. Worth areas so it's possible that they aren't fixing whatever the problem was until there are reported issues.
02-17-2014 09:52:17 AM
02-17-2014 10:30:32 AM - edited 02-17-2014 10:32:35 AM
I've attempted to email the Charter engineer at the email he supplied us and it is bouncing back as undelivereable. He may have changed his address for that very reason. You will have to contact Charter support then and see if you can find out if they have been upgrading the network boxes for your region and refer them back to the issues that were corrected in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area for similar problems. If it is due to a Charter hardware upgrade, there is nothing, or very little that AT&T can do. If we can't get it resolved here (it might not be a Charter upgrade issue) then I'd suggest sending a PM to CustomerCare detailing your issue, what you have done to correct it, refer to the previous Charter issue, include your account info and your location.
02-17-2014 12:35:25 PM
@acouse - Concerning the SIP ALG Vonage protocol:
SIP ALG will not cause problems with the MicroCell as the MicroCell does not use the SIP protocol. However, in many cases, SIP ALG is implemented poorly and can cause other issues. If you can get your MicroCell to work with SIP ALG turned off, then that's an indication that the SIP ALG is being implemented poorly causing MicroCell traffic disruption. In theory that shouldn't happen but......
The fix, if you want/need to use Vonage at the same time is to setup port forwarding on the Vonage V-adapter using the same ports required for the MicroCell: UDP port 123, TCP port 443, UDP port 4500, and UDP port 500.
02-17-2014 04:54:51 PM
Personally, I wouldn't put the V-adapter ahead of my router for the same reason I won't put the Mcell ahead of my router and that is limited bandwidth and latency.
You should be able to plug the V-adapter into your router just like any other LAN device. I would assign the V-adapter a static IP address in your router and then place that static IP address in your router's DMZ.
Try that and see if you can make Vonage calls.
02-17-2014 05:27:06 PM - edited 02-17-2014 05:35:54 PM
That might work as well. I haven't seen the V-adapter so I'm not sure what configuration options there are. I was able to get a hold of one of the MicroCell engineers and that was his suggestion.
SIP uses UDP and may be locked into specific ports. It also has difficulties with NAT.
02-17-2014 06:57:53 PM
The V-adapter is a one port basic router and does have a webpage accessed by IP address to make simple settings changes. I know it isn't as robust as a decent router/gateway and I don't think you can port forward with it but I'm not sure. It sells for $20-$30 so it can't be that good.
I've done speed tests with the Microcell in front of the router and it seriously degrades bandwidth to everything downstream of it.
I've read several posts about connecting a V-adapter to a router and it is commonplace.
02-17-2014 07:12:18 PM
02-18-2014 11:56:07 AM
Thanks guys for your latest posts...
Regarding my Vonage issue... I agree that it should be behind my router but in the past when I've tried to set it up that way, the configuration was a real beast to get it to work. At the time, Vonage had suggested to place it in front of the router but that's also causing double-natting which no one needs.
What I'll do is do a full reset on my Vonage box then hook it up behind my router to minimize overall speed latency and the double-natting issue. I'll also disable DHCP in there. You guys are right and that V-Adapter is pretty cheap and its firmware is very limited as far as custom configs go. I'll put it in the DMZ too as suggested.
Hopefully these changes will take care of the Vonage issue. I'll keep working on the MCell one too as that's driving me nuts now since it's not working properly.
02-18-2014 12:47:48 PM
02-18-2014 01:27:45 PM
Yes, I understand that it's certainly not a good idea to double NAT. It just amazes me how my configuration had always worked well in the past, up until about 2 months ago when suddenly call quality on the MCell deminished drastically and some Vonage calls too.. That was at about the time Charter was starting to make back-end changes to their network so that's why I posted my original message on here, pointing my finger at Charter.
02-18-2014 01:47:45 PM
I think I mentioned this already but I have been unable to contact the Charter Engineer (SVP-Corporate) who was so helpful when this happened in another region about the same time. His Charter email address now bounces back as undeliverable. I've tried to email him from two different email accounts (including my personal email account) and get the same results. We're trying from this end but are running out of ideas. Your best bet, unfortunately, is to start pressuring Charter to do whatever they did to fix their network boxes after the upgrade for AT&T VoIP in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, that they do the same for your area. It may end up that either Vonage or the MicroCell will work but not both.
02-20-2014 10:44:05 AM
Guys, just wanted to give you another update...
I did a full reset of my Vonage box, placed it behind my router and assigned it a static IP. It has been working well so far and my general Internet speeds have greatly improved since that device is no longer upstream of the LAN. So, thanks for that good suggestoin.
Now, the MicroCell seems a bit better now that the Vonage box is out of they way, just as long as I have no other devices on the network using any bandwidth. As soon as I use other devices (not all at the same time of course) the MCell outbound quality deminishes suddenly. (other devices accessing Internet include your typical things like two laptops, two cell phones, my DirecTV DVR, XBox and an iPad). That's basically it.
I have the 30/4 Charter HSI package but maybe the 4 Mb up just not enough speed to handle my devices, including the Vonage and MCell boxes that are constantly listening on the LAN, let alone passing voice traffic when active calls are made.
I'll contact Charter for them to test my line, to verify that's all good then will possibly consider bumping up my HSI package to their next teir if available.
Otto: I'll pressure them to fix their boxes for the AT&T VoIP issue as well.
02-20-2014 11:37:28 AM
It sounds like Vonage is your problem, that and the fact that it could be a priority issue as well where the MicroCell loses out to Vonage or your other devices. I have quite a few devices on my LAN as well but none of them interfere with the MicroCell. I can be streaming Netflix, have both laptops on the internet and still make and receive cell phone calls with no issues at all. I don't think bumping upload speeds will fix anything. My upload speeds are 1.0Mbps and I have aboslutely no issues. It may come down to choosing between Vonage and AT&T, or dealing with the connection issues when they come up knowing now what the problem probably is.
Have you tried to assign a static ip address to the MicroCell (based on its MAC address) and then forward the necessary ports to it? That may give it a bit more priority.
02-20-2014 12:07:59 PM - edited 02-20-2014 12:21:03 PM
Your router has QoS and as I suggested previously, you should set the priority of your Mcell to the highest setting based on its MAC address by doing the following:
Open your router admin page, select "QoS setup".
On that page, check the box for "Turn Internet Access for QoS On"
Then at the bottom of that same page where it says "QoS Priority Rule List", click on "Setup QoS Rule".
On the "QoS Priority Rule List" page at the bottom of the list of rules, click on "Add Priority Rule"
Once you are on that page:
1. Select "MAC Address" from the "Priority Category" list.
2. Enter the MAC address of your Microcell in the field provided.
3. You can also enter a name in the "Device Name" field.
4. Select the priority level: Highest.
5. You can also type the name in the "QoS Policy for" field for this rule.
6. Click the "Add" button.
7. Click "Apply".
This will hopefully minimize the impact on your Mcell when your bandwidth is tight.
02-20-2014 12:19:18 PM - edited 02-20-2014 12:19:39 PM
As far as going to a higher tier of Charter Internet service, you mentioned that you are currently at 30 mbps down and 3 mbps up. Are you sure it isn't 30 down / 4 up? That's what my Charter service tier is. You may be able to go up to a higher tier like 100 mbps down for an exorbitant amount of money but I don't think your up speed will change. I may be wrong.
Try my suggestion first and see if your situation improves.
02-20-2014 12:56:52 PM - edited 02-20-2014 01:10:58 PM
Thanks again to you both...
Yes, I have the MCell set on a static IP and have QoS set to high priority for its MAC. The default QoS rules in the Netgear router also have general "IP_Phone" services set to high as well. It also has a default "Vonage_Phone" rule set to high in there too.
Yes, in my previous post I mentioned that I'm on the 30/4 plan also. I'll try the port-forwarding trick for the MCell to see if that helps.
Otto: Yeah, I agree that my 4 Mb up shouldn't be an issue for all these devices.
02-20-2014 01:06:08 PM - edited 02-20-2014 01:08:03 PM
Honestly, I may just dump the Vonage service soon all together since services like the new BBM v2.0 with BBM Voice are available. The only reason I have Vonage is to make calls to Canada since I have some family and friends there. With more vendors offering free VoIP call services like BBM, I can only imagine Vonage will go out of business anyways.
02-20-2014 02:25:19 PM
Sounds like you've already set the QoS priority to high for both so maybe port forwarding will give the MicroCell an edge as far as priority goes.
Vonage seems to be a survivor. They were almost down and out a couple of years ago because they had all kinds of issues (my bro-in-law had them) but seemd to have bounced back. In fact, I think my bro-in-law may have gone back to Vonage. I should go ask him about the nuts and bolts of his service if he did. He's in the networking field so he may have some insight. Don't know why didn't think of that before
02-20-2014 03:56:10 PM
OK, I've got port forwarding to the MCell IP for ports 443, 500 and 4500 (public and private) but am not able to get UDP 123 to stick in the router config. It keeps telling me that the port is already being used. I've even temporarily disabled UPnP but no luck. I'll try some test calls later tonight to see if it's better with those 3 ports forwarding.
No worries about asking your brother-in-law earlier but if you happen to get some feedback from him on his Vonage setup, that would be great!