About two years ago, I started a journey to convert the analog phone system found in my home to a sleek, modern VoIP system. There was one important requirement : the system should work with the existing phone line. That was a perfectly reasonable requirement, many providers already had that phone number and it would be quite a hassle to get everything changed. Porting the number was out of the question, as the phone was also used for DSL Internet. This meant that an FXO gateway would be needed to connect the existing phone line with a digital PBX. After two failed attempt, the final solution was a Yeastar Neogate TA810. However, the journey was not simple.
Attempt 1 : Grandstream HT813
On October 2019, I ordered a Grandstream HT813 which provides both an FXO and FXS port. This meant that the HT813 could allow me to use the existing phone line and one of my existing analog phone. Grandstream is well known in the VoIP for its affordability and wide product selection. Unfortunately, Grandstream is also known for its poor software with the looks of a website designed in the early eighties.
The HT813 is designed to act as your home gateway, with the Internet arriving on its WAN port and distributed on the LAN port. Not wanting to replace the existing firewall, the HT813 was simply connected on the LAN port. However, the device does not function without Internet on the WAN port. If the device was connected on the WAN port, then the administrative console would not function. The only solution was to plug both the WAN and the LAN on the network, but using different VLAN as the software requires separate networks for WAN and LAN. This was just the beginning in a long series on configuration problems. After a week of fighting the device, it was returned to its place of purchase.
Note that almost all the problems that occurred were software based. It is quite possible that the HT813 is now a better machine. Unfortunately, during our testing, it was an aggravating gateway to configure.
Attempt 2 : Cisco SPA3102
A few weeks latter, it was time to try the other popular and affordable FXO solution for small systems: the Cisco SPA3102. Acquiring one of these devices was a little more tricky, as Cisco had stopped producing them a while ago. However, after a quick purchase on Ebay, we were ready for testing. Like the previous model, the SP3102 offers both an FXO and an FXS. It also offers a WAN port, so it can be used an Internet gateway.
Luckily, the SP3102 is much better designed and does not rely on its WAN port. Using only the LAN port, we were able to quickly reach the administration interface. Unfortunately, early in the configuration tests, our unit died, failing to reboot after a configuration change. After numerous attempts to revive it, the device ended up in the garbage. With the device end-of-life and the return policy passed, there was little to do.
Final Attempt : The Yeastar Neogate TA810
Given the two popular and affordable solution did not work for us, we knew the project was going to get expensive. Midrange solutions were available on Ebay were from Yeastar, Patton and Sangoma. In Mai of 2020, luck would guide us to an incredible offer on a Yeastar TA810. Although 8 FXO ports were a lot more than needed, the price was reasonable and the feedback on Yeastar was generally positive.
Setting up the Yeastar was incredibly easy. Like the previous FXO, it features both and WAN and LAN port. Luckily, it operates correctly with only the LAN port. The use of a static IP or fixed-DHCP address is encouraged, as it makes the configuration with the PBX easier. Connecting the TA810 to our FreePBX was trivial, all the instructions are provided by Yeastar. With the phones already configured our existing PBX, we were making calls over our analog line in less than an hour. To keep the analog and digital lines separate, call routing was configured to that outgoing calls would use the VoIP.ms line unless 9 was dialed first.
One month latter, the TA810 is still working like a charm. Although it might not have lots of fancy features, the TA810 is reliable in its core job : being an FXO. A couple of debugging tools are also provided, including one to record the audio passing through its ports. That audio can then be downloaded as a file and analyze in any audio software. This can be useful when debugging certain call features, such as Caller ID.
The journey for a reliable FXO was long and complicated. But Yeastar hardware proved to be a reliable solution. Given how well their FXO performs, I might even take a look at their hardware PBX.