Friday, 7 June 2019

OnePlus 7 Pro How to Enable Hidden VoLTE and VoWiFi Menus

OnePlus 7 Pro How to Enable Hidden VoLTE and VoWiFi

Here in the UK, I've been aware that my mobile phone provider, Vodafone, supports Voice over 4G (VoLTE) and also Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi).

Both of these technologies are interesting because they allow you to call on your mobile in different ways.

A solution for Vodafone UK customers was to buy a Vodafone Sure Signal. These are interesting devices because they use a little bit of your broadband bandwidth to mostly fill your home with a 3G signal. As great as that seems, there are a few problems however:
  1. They run bloody hot
  2. You have to register each Vodafone number one by one to allow them to be recognised
  3. If you have used a PAC to port your old mobile number from another network, the online MyVodafone app will usually tell you that this is not a Vodafone number. To be fair, a call to Vodafone can normally fix this as long as you wait a few hours
  4. If you have a problem, a call to Vodafone gets you the help of a low paid helpdesk person who is just reading from a script.  After trying to explain your problem, they invariably come back with the "I've reset it and it could take up to 6 hours to come back online"
  5. They are quite expensive, especially as you are buying them for the sole reason to use the mobile phone network you are already paying for....

VoLTE

4G does not carry voice communications natively; it is just a higher speed data service. On a normal 4G mobile when you either place or receive a phone call, the phone will switch out of 4G and drop back into 3G. Have you ever noticed your signal level change when you are on a call? This is because your mobile changes to a different mode and quite possibly a different frequency when a call is initiated.

In the past this was significant because there were fewer 4G capable mobile phone masks than there were 3G masks. In fact during a call you would find the signal level jumping a few bars higher. Additionally, since 4G (or LTE as it's also known) is on a completely different frequency, this can be a big factor too.

Nowadays signal strength is not too significant because most celular masks are now all 4G capable. However, as 4G is a higher bandwidth than 3G, it makes sense to add VOIP capabilities to a 4G cell; this is termed VoLTE.

Since the Operating System of Apple phones is stable and the same, if you are an owner of one of these devices you can hunt through the menus and enable VoLTE there.

Android, however, has many different flavours and most providers have not got round to certifying the many different handsets - therefore VoLTE is probably missing. Frustratingly the OnePlus 7 Pro (and most others) fall into this category. But don't worry, if you're brave you can switch it on! 😁

VoWiFi

If you're in the countryside or even have a house constructed using modern insulation, you probably get a somewhat sketchy signal indoors. Generally, the quality of the voice reception can cut in and out. Fear not, you can switch your phone to allow Voice over WiFi and still use your phone as if you lived next door to a mobile phone mast even if you have no signal.

The same situation arises like above, you should be OK if you've got an Apple phone but an Android phone usually needs to have been bought from the mobile operator themselves.

However, you can switch-on WiFi calling in your Oneplus 7 Pro... hoorah! 😊

A chap on another forum explained all this as:
Simon Farnsworth says:
If VoWiFi works, and the handset does VoLTE on networks that support it, you want to turn VoLTE on, too - assuming that the handset and network actually implement the standards properly, support for VoLTE will give you seamless call hand-off between WiFi and 4G (LTE) mobile networks, plus calling on 4G with seamless fallback to 3G/2G as appropriate (and fall-forward to 4G when in coverage), plus audibly glitchy handoff between WiFi and 3G/2G networks.
On its own, this gives you better chances of sustaining a voice call; further, there's optional components to the spec that, if implemented at both ends, will give you seamless handoff between WiFi and 3G networks for voice calls, meaning that you can keep a voice call going until you lose coverage.
For the nerds among us; VoWiFi and VoLTE are the same thing on different radio networks (both are SIP + RTP talking to the network operator's IMS service). In VoLTE, the IP packets are carried over LTE directly to your network; in VoWiFi, your phone establishes an IPSec tunnel to a well-known DNS name (epdg.epc.mncXXX.mccYYY.pub.3gppnetwork.org, where XXX is the three digit MNC, add a leading zero if you have a 2 digit MNC like 30, and YYY is the MCC, such as 234 for the UK).
There's specified handovers to cleanly (no glitches) hand over the IP packets between radio types, and to switch from IP to circuit-switched voice if on the mobile network. There's also specified hand overs for IP to circuit-switched if not carrying IP over the mobile network (which are allowed to glitch), and an optional spec for carrying the IP packets over UMTS/HSPA instead of LTE.

Secret Sauce

There are a lot of of discussions about enabling VoLTE and VoWiFi over the internet but when you dial *#800# to access the secret OnePlus Logkit program menu on your OnePlus 7 Pro, excitement soon turns to disappointment when after navigating the menus, lands you to the set-up page where VoLTE and VoWiFi are not there.

After having thoughts about going through the pain of rooting my brand new phone, I came across this site here. You need to replace the factory supplied Logkit with a new version - it's actually called
com.oem.oemlogkit_1.0-1.apk

The good news is, this is very easy. Just head on down to https://www.theandroidsoul.com/how-to-enable-volte-and-vowifi-on-oneplus-7-pro/

Friday, 3 May 2019

FTTP/ FTTH Installation With Zen Internet

FTTP/ FTTH Installation With Zen Internet

I live in the countryside and was quite jealous of hearing about people getting access to FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet). A few years back my local exchange was upgraded to FTTC and I thought "excellent" - now I could at last get an internet connection greater than the ~3Mbps I was getting with ADSL Max.
This is here just to show up on the searches

FTTC

I saw BT Openreach contractors digging up the main roads and installing fibre to my local exchange in Prestbury, UK. After it finally went live, I did an availability check and my heart sank. I researched the technology and saw that over long line distances FTTC is worse than ADSL Max - Prestbury exchange is over 2km down the road.

VISPA

A year or so later, a new up and coming company arrived promising 50Mbs speeds for £38 per month via wireless broadband and they were called VISPA. Vispa is based near Manchester Airport (if you can see the airport's control tower, you're in luck) and works by installing wireless repeaters at various properties to allow residents nearby to connect to their internet. So suddenly, after a small 5GHz Ubiquiti dish was installed on the side of my house and pointed at a local repeater, I had 50mbps internet! Yey! 😃 I could also now save a bit of money and completely discontinue my analogue phone service and move completely over to VOIP. Unfortunately I had to say goodbye to Zen Internet because VISPA are their own ISP.

The only downside I had with the wireless VISPA service is that the internet is now dependant on the local mains power supply at each of the repeater points along the chain. Additionally, when the repeaters power back up, they do a spectrum search in the 5Ghz band before trying to reconnect again - this takes around 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Being in the countryside with overhead 11kv power lines, even a small power glitch can cause a large internet outage and some frustration, especially if you were in the middle of doing something.

What's This?

Miracuously, around summer 2017, the vans of BT Openreach were in my area installing a fibre-optic network. Hmmmm! I do feel sorry for these guys because even though my property is fed via overhead phone lines, there is a lot of underground cabling fed through very old collapsed ducting. And here is the crunch, if the underground team cannot pull the new fibre cabling through a section of ducting, they have to hand it over to another civil team who then have to go through all of the permissions to erect traffic lights and carry out groundworks to install new ducting. Once the new ducting is installed, this is then passed back to the cable pulling team who then get another chance to try again.

Hello FTTP

This process took approximately (an agonising) 18 months to complete 😳! But, returning home from work in February 2019 I saw a BT Openreach man walking outside of my house with a measuring wheel. He was there to do a quick survey (i.e. are the telegraph poles high enough, etc) and to sign off availability of the fibre network. That Friday I did a search on the BT Openreach website and my area was ready for fibre broadband! 😁

Interestingly, the only providers given (April 2019) were BT and Zen Internet. I have been using Zen Internet since the early days of the internet (approximately 1997) and have also used BT. Out of the two, Zen gets my vote every time because of local call centres and that you just knew that they knew what they were doing rather than just reading from a script.

Full fibre is referred to as FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) or more recently as FTTH (Fibre To The Home) to make it sound more residential. Zen offer two FTTP broadband packages 150Mbps for £50 per month and 300Mbps for £75 per month. Both services are unlimited but I chose to save a bit of money and go for the 150Mbps service. Interestingly, Zen also offer their POT (Plain Old Telephone Service) as an extra but since I already have a VOIP number I chose not to have that (also it's not like ADSL where you have to have a phone number because ADSL sits on top), although it is automatically enabled when you order.

From booking the service to having an appointment booked takes approximately 3 weeks. On the day of installation, two Openreach guys turned up mainly because one was being re-trained to install FTTP. The installation is interesting because they swap your POTS drop-wire to your property with a dual analogue/fibre figure of 8 cable. The cable comes on a reel with one end already made up with a Fibre-Optic connector; this is the end that gets connected up first at the pole end.

The other end (obviously) runs to your house and can go wherever you wish. Make sure there is a power socket available nearby because the Fibre-Optic termination unit (Optical Network Termination device) needs to be plugged into the mains. 



There is a rechargeable NiCad battery also supplied with this unit but I think most people will not have their computer equipment connected to an UPS so therefore their kit will power down during a powercut (unless you're like me and happen to have an UPS too).

The Openreach installer will drill through your outside wall, drill your inside wall to mount the termination equipment called the Optical Network Termination device (ONT) and then make-off the Fibre-Optic end to attach. They then plug in a short standard ethernet cable, close the lid and then you're done. Finally, after a Fibre-Optic strength check, the will plug in your router and confirm the installation is up and running.
Optical Network Termination device (ONT)

The Huawei EchoLife HG8110H-20

Optic Signal Strength Test




Zen supply a Fritz!Box 7530 router to connect to the Huawei EchoLife. This is quite an impressive router because it's got gigabit ports, VOIP (Voice Over IP) capability (complete with an analogue telephone port) and can also act as a DECT Base Station for your wireless phones. The on board Wi-Fi can also be made part of a MESH network too.

However, being a bit of a geek, I have already got a LinkSys WRT1900ACS router with the latest build of OpenWRT installed. I like this alot because it's regularly updated, fast and can be enhanced with add-on software modules relatively easily.

VOIP

For VOIP, I have an account with Sipgate which is quite nice because setup-up is free and they allow you to choose from a dropdown list of available numbers in an area of your choice. For emergency use, you have to prove where you live so that emergency numbers such as 999 or 112 can be used. They have a nice internet web interface and also allow you to pick extras such as Caller-ID and an answer phone service free of charge. For a small cost, you can either add credit or opt for one of their monthly call packages for those of you who still like to use landlines. Oh, credit doesn't expire too!

To incorporate VOIP into the house wiring, I opted for a GrandStream HT802 which is an impressive piece of kit. It has a web interface which allows you to enter your VOIP account details (along with a million other settings, should you so wish).

Note that eventually the whole of the country will have their POTS service converted to use VOIP. In fact, the Fibre Optic terminating unit that Openreach install already has an analogue port on it, ready for the inevitable switch-over in the future.

Is it any good?

My OpenWrt setup also runs a QOS addon (Quality of Service) which limits the upload speed to play nicely with the VOIP modem. Heading over to Broadband Speed Checker yielded these results:


Of real interest here but not shown on this screenshot is the ping time. Regardless of the internet bandwidth you have got, the line latency is really important and needs to be as low as possible. This is what Zen Internet excel at and mine is currently a very respectable 15ms.

Final Thoughts

The UK Government has committed to switching off the analogue phone service (POTS) and replacing it by FTTP/FTTH within the next several years. This is a massive job, just to get our house fit for fibre optic took over 18 months with a lot of civil works and road closures - all for overhead phone lines. Because of this, I think Openreach are concentrating on the areas that have really poor ADSL firstly as they train up an army of installation engineers.

If you already have FTTC and are above the USO (Universal Service Obligation) which is currently defined as "the whole of the UK will have access to speeds of at least 10 Mbps by 2020" then I strongly think that you will have to wait a lot longer because there is a lot of catching up to be done.