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Subject: SIP in higher education

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Re: [] Call Notes - 1/19

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  • From: (Dennis Baron)
  • To:
  • Subject: Re: [] Call Notes - 1/19
  • Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 08:19:45 -0500 Conference Call January 19, 2006


Dennis Baron, MIT
John Covert, Independent Consultant
Joel Dunn, UNC CHapel Hill
Candace Holman, Harvard
Jeff Kuure, Internet 2
Bruce Mazza, Avaya
Joe Mailander, University of Oregon
Don McLaughlin, UCSD
Mark Spencer, Indiana University
Ben Teitelbaum, Internet 2
Mike Van Norman, UCLA


Today's call begins with Don McLaughlin discussing UCSD's SIP
deployment. They spent about a week configuring and troubleshooting with
John Todd of Tello, and as of last week registered for an ITAD number. Don
would like to know more about the benefits of having an ITAD number,
and also asks about the SIP clients in use by others on the call. They
are currently using the free X-Lite package, which he finds limiting in
some ways.

Dennis is using eyeBeam as a soft client, but knows others that
are using X-Lite which he hasn't used in a while. He has also used
pulver.Communicator, but found it easier to use a separate SIP client
instead one that did IM as well. Softjoy's SJphone is another which
seemed to work fine but lacks some of the features of eyeBeam.

Dennis asks Bruce Mazza if the Avaya soft or hard phones are SIP
based. Bruce says that both are - the soft phone is available in two
versions, one a free peer-to-peer version and another licensed version.
The free version does dialing by IP address and does not register with
a sip proxy. He's also done testing with eyeBeam and X-Lite.

Ben has tried eyeBeam, but always reverts to a hard phone as he's had real
usability problems with soft phones. Dennis has luck with eyeBeam at home
where everything is more or less controlled, but has had problems with
his laptop - eyeBeam loses track of things, mic placement is an issue,
and he finds it cumbersome so he usually uses a small USB speakerphone.

MIT has about 75 Unidata/Hitachi Cable WiFi phones, work surprisingly well
- both WiFi and SIP parts. There are a few oddities, such as the phones
default settings de-registering themselves all other devices when turned
off, which led to some confusion.

As for using PDAs to make calls, Dennis has tried an HP Ipaq with built-in
802.11. The SIP portion worked fine, but the audio was terrible. Ben had
a good experience but doesn't use it on a regular basis, other than taking
it on trips. Mark Spencer has a Blackberry 7270 on his desk which someone
won at a vendor show. He hasn't tried it yet but will in next week or so.

Dennis used to use Pingtel phones but these are no longer supported. He's
using Snom phones now which he finds to be a bit quirky with too many
buttons; Woods Hole has many of these in use. He's also investigated
Polycom phones which had some issues at first but seem to be functional
now. The Cisco 7960, 7940, and 7912 all work, and some high end Cisco
phones should have SIP now too.

UCSD implemented using a second Asterisk box, which is also doing
LDAP lookups, but their directory is only about 85% accurate. They are
ready to be added to the list of schools with implementations;
Dennis will ask some questions and will provide pointers to other
information. Some of the questions are simple, but others may be more
complex, such as the number of reachable users.

Earlier, Don asked about the benefits of the ITAD registration and
ISN dialing, which Ben provides an overview of. ISN is Internet/ITAD
Subscriber Number, which is a global dialing scheme that is very
domain-centric and enables people with 12-key devices to contact someone
by SIP. It's an acknowledgment that there will be 12-key devices for
a long time, and that it is difficult to do alphanumeric entry with
them. ENUM progress is glacial and tied up in legacy telco politics. ISN
was developed quickly, and IANA is set up to administer such the ITADs. The
format of the number is a locally significant number, an asterisk, and
an ITAD number suffix. The goal is to do away with local escape codes
to dial out whenever possible, as the ISN is globally significant.

At MIT, there have been some issues with the asterisk going through
the PBX as well as how to fit the ISN into the campus dial plan, as almost
every 2-digit codes has been used already. They will push forward but
the solution may not be elegant.

Don asks if anyone is billing based on SMDR records for calls that go
through campus PSTNs. Mark at IU bills for those, but they come from
SMDR from the PBX, and as they require an authorization code and can
be associated with the originating call number. On MIT's SIP proxy,
they have started generating call records just so people can see who
they called as well as for future billing. They have to avoid two call bills
for every call, one for calls from network and one for calls from PBX.

Ben asks for more scrutiny of the ISN cookbook and mentions that more recipes
would be nice, particularly an Avaya or Cisco recipe as there are only
SER and Asterisk recipes right now.

UCSD believes that their version BIND won't work with an asterisk in the
domain name; he's not sure what version you need, but they are scheduling
an upgrade. Ben would like to know the specific version number for the
cookbook if this turns out to be the problem.

Finally, Dennis brings up the Spring member meeting. The PIC working
group has suggested a general session on experiences that campuses have
had with modernizing real-time communication systems. They would like
to come up with good case studies that will get the attention of senior
administrators. Dennis will send a note to the group. Some specific
topics to cover are costs, relationships with suppliers, funding models,
new user requirements, doing interesting things with commercial products
or open-source tools, using free services like Free World Dialup or Skype,
interesting devices, disaster recovery, and staff skill requirements and
training. Dennis would like to know what people would be interested in
hearing about, or about who is doing interesting things.

Ben mentions based on last year's experience he'd like to set up some sort
of non-hands on tutorial, like a compressed workshop. Joel Dunn suggest
that this would be a good idea. He'd be interested in a presentation about
what SIP is about, what benefits it provides, and why it's relevant to
organizations. Dennis would like to see more CIO interest as opposed to
the current more grass-roots involvement.

The next call will be on February 2nd.

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