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Totek - Asterisk VoIP (SIP) News & Technology Source

Linksys SPA400 As An Asterisk FXO Gateway PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Web Master   
Tuesday, 04 September 2007

 The SPA400 is designed to work in conjunction with the LVS9000 to provide full Voip and Analog Telephony features. The LVS9000 system was a product I was initially excited to see Linksys release. And even though this product had problems from the beginning I had confidence that this product was too important for Linksys not to improve. It's been over two years since I first touched the LVS9000 but my opinion over time has changed.

This is no longer a product I would recommend to any client. New firmware and configuration wizards have been released for the LVS9000 and it is a better than it was two years ago. In that time my experience with Asterisk has steadily increased and the limitations of the LVS9000 have become more obvious.

Fortunately for me the Linksys IP phones and SPA400 really work well with Asterisk. You can take a complete Linksys phone system solution and replace the LVS9000 component with Asterisk and you have a complete “working”Asterisk system to deploy to your customers. And if you are struggling to support LVS9000 you have already deployed you can go back and offer a worthwhile upgrade.

It maybe a little difficult to convince clients that have already paid for the LVS9000 to pay more for an Asterisk system. To make it a little easier you might want come up a with a feature comparison list and point out how an Asterisk systems are more reliable than the LVS9000. You can be honest with the customer and say that during the time you recommended the LVS9000 you honestly believed it was a good product and were confident that Linksys would fix any problems. Unfortunately Linksys has not been as committed as you had hoped.

Linksys does not provide any documentation to support or configure the SPA400 with Asterisk. And I really don't expect them to since in their eyes Asterisk is a competitor. I honestly believe that Linksys makes more money by providing handsets (SPA942/962) that are compatible with Asterisk than the amount of sales from the LVS9000. You can find sample configuration files for Asterisk/FreePBX setups on the web sites and online forums. Depending on where you look you can find the SPA400 for as little as $230 to as high as $375. Shop around there is only one version of the product being sold right now.

There are some limitations you should be aware of when using the SPA400 with Asterisk based systems. Using the SPA400 with Asterisk does not allow you to use the gateways voicemail server – but you don't need this with Asterisk, You have plenty of voicemail space and features provided by the Asterisk server.

Other limitations include not being able to use each FXO port as a separate trunk. There are no routing or manipulation tables in the gateway itself. FXO outbound port selection is handled automatically. Ports that are not busy and have a dial tone will be used starting from the first port. All incoming calls can only be routed to one context.

Even with these limitations the SPA400 will work incredibly well with Asterisk. When used in conjunction with Asterisk the SPA400 does not exhibit the same registration problems as it does with the LVS9000. You will not need to reboot the device after a certain period of time. It releases FXO ports properly when they are not being used. Calls are answered and forwarded to Asterisk in a reliable manner.

Be warned however...the voice quality is good but not great. The echo cancellation works well. I've had no issues with this – including a deployment where the customer had noisy lines. The SPA400 do not do a great job cleaning up the line signal. You may find using simple line filters ($3.00 each) worthwhile to get rid of emf noise. The unit is not wall mountable but with a couple of ZIP ties this is not a big issue.

One undocumented feature of this product is it does have a telnet login. Once you login there is not much you can do for debugging purposes. It doesn't provide command tools to monitor the status or add any more features than you get from the standard web interface.

Overall the SPA400 is a good low end FXO gateway.



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