Everything, Everywhere

Amongst the deeply exciting (!) things this week I’ve been doing was to enable the supposed marvellous new feature from Everything Everywhere Ltd , the joint venture company that owns Orange UK and T-Mobile UK.  It is now possible to ‘roam’, free of charge between the two networks if you are a customer of the two networks.  The advantage of this is that if you are in an area where there is (say) Orange coverage but not any T-Mobile coverage, the phone will automatically pick up the other network’s signal and start using it, all for no extra charge.

There is one caveat to all this, and that it is currently 2G only.  Eventually, 3G networks will be able to do the same thing but that is coming later, courtesy of an agreement by EEL and Hutchison 3G UK Ltd (Three) to form a company known as MBNL (Mobile Broadband Network Ltd).  This allows both companies to share masts, and eventually should permit Orange, T-Mobile and Three to share networks on both 2G, 3G (and who knows, maybe even 4G).

Another thing I’ve noticed is that you will have to enable roaming on your phone, and also data roaming as well.  Despite the dire warnings that may come up about excessive charges, that won’t happen between Orange and T-Mobile since the roaming is free.  Foreign network roaming will still cost an arm and a leg as usual, though.

To sign up, visit either http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/share or http://www.orange.co.uk/share – it isn’t automatically enabled.

Telecoms overload

I feel like I’ve got “telecoms overload” today.  I’ve just created a new virtual machine to hold the latest Asterisk (*) 1.8rc2 release.  That will bring the total number of PBXes running in this flat to three.  I’m also threatening to, if I ever find the time, to see if I can figure out one of the SER family (e.g. Kamailio, OpenSER, OpenSIPS etc.) just for good measure.  All I can say is I’m glad I don’t have to finance a real physical machine for each server – virtual machines were a great invention!

I’m still no further forward in deciding what I’m going to about my “telecoms infrastructure” (if you can call it that, since it sounds so pretentious).  There’s now so many products to choose from, and each has their advantages and disadvantages.  Asterisk, the open-source PBX that started it all, has nearly reached version 1.8 but I’m fast falling out with it on the basis that its SIP module is still far from RFC compliant.  FreeSWITCH, on the other hand, is a much more modular, clean design, and a standards-compliant SIP stack, but the XML configuration files drive me up the wall.  The OpenSER/SIPS/Kamailio family are also very capable and powerful softswitches, but you need a degree in RFC 3261 just to configure them!

My head hurts…