Am I being scammed by my VoIP provider?

Tensoon

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Oct 19, 2019
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My workplace uses VoIP services , we have a large package which includes cloud saving of all our calls. It is a perk that some employees get to work from home. If so you receive a phone and a mikrotik router. All you have to do is supply your IP config and they will set you up.

Lately a lot of employees are upgrading their ADSL to fiber. Since last year, once an employee upgrades, the VoIP provider provides the same feedback whenever they are asked to assist with the switch to the new fiber setup. They ask you to send in the phone and mikrotik, they don't ask anything regarding IP's, new routers, ISP's or anything down that line. Once presented with the phone it takes about a day to receive an e-mail that says:
"Kindly note that the engineer has taken a look at the phones and they seem to be
working on our solution just like at <insert employee name>'s
We found that it is blocked by your internet solution."
They then insist that the only way you can get the phone working is to sign up for one of their expensive LTE solutions.

I get fiber via Afrihost and Vuma. Afrihost's website is full of posts saying that they don't block any VoIP service. Furthermore, some employees got this response when they just changed routers after lightning damage, no change to internet setup at all.

The whole thing seems highly suspect to me. Can anyone assist in establishing whether I am being taken for a ride?
 

Tensoon

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Oct 19, 2019
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Thanks for the reply.

In the situation where a client phones you and informs you that they upgraded their ADSL to fiber and they need their phone to work on the new router (they stayed with same ISP), what would you need to change in order to make the phone work again? Or at the very least, what information would you need from them? Would you need to make any adjustments on the new router?
 

websquadza

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If your VoIP provider is using a MikroTik, chances are they’re tunnelling the voice anyway (some sort of L2TP)- so even if your ISP did something to voip traffic, it wouldn’t matter. That said, I don’t know of a single ISP doing this (though VoIP providers love this line).
Either they’ve implemented IP filters on their own core (allowing traffic from known IPs only), or they don’t know what they’re doing.
And yes, LTE APN SIM cards are a sell up. And entirely unnecessary if you’re on fibre.
 

Space_Kriek

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If your VoIP provider is using a MikroTik, chances are they’re tunnelling the voice anyway (some sort of L2TP)- so even if your ISP did something to voip traffic, it wouldn’t matter. That said, I don’t know of a single ISP doing this (though VoIP providers love this line).
Either they’ve implemented IP filters on their own core (allowing traffic from known IPs only), or they don’t know what they’re doing.
And yes, LTE APN SIM cards are a sell up. And entirely unnecessary if you’re on fibre.

Alot of these VoIP providers are basically re seller of other BIG VoIP providers. I know ECN blocks traffic from alot of providers. You just have to mail them with your public IP and request that they add it to their trusted list. Takes about 2 hours for someone to add the IP to a firewall and list it as trusted
 

Tensoon

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Oct 19, 2019
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Alot of these VoIP providers are basically re seller of other BIG VoIP providers. I know ECN blocks traffic from alot of providers. You just have to mail them with your public IP and request that they add it to their trusted list. Takes about 2 hours for someone to add the IP to a firewall and list it as trusted
That is exactly what I thought, which is why I got suspicious when I was never asked for my IP. So I phoned them today since they were not responding to the e-mail I sent on Friday informing them that my ISP said that they have an open access network and that nothing should be blocked.

I started by asking them what they mean by my ISP is blocking them. So they said that on internet networks the providers like Telkom love monitoring VoIP traffic and blocking it to motivate people to use regular voice calling instead which is why they recommend people use their LTE solution which works off of their own network which obviously does not block VoIP traffic.

Then I asked how they came to the conclusion that my ISP is blocking them. I was told that they plugged my phone and mikrotik into one of their LTE modems and it worked.

I then asked whether there is a VPN tunnel set up with the mikrotik. I was told that there is in fact a L2TP tunnel set up with our office network so that we can always connect to the office network with our home phones.

I then asked whether their network only allows certain IPs to connect to it because if that is the case would my new router's IP not just be blocked? I was told that they themselves have a private IP and that they have a system that automatically detects my routers IP address.
I am not equipped to argue here since I have a very limited understanding of all this, but I feel like my question was not answered here.

I then asked whether a new router could not have certain settings enabled that would by itself block VoIP traffic. (reddit said SIP ALG is always on and has to be deactivated first). He conceded the point. So I asked why I am being quoted for an LTE router if no one even tried to look at my new router to configure it. He was then very surprised to hear that I was told that I am being blocked before their team did an on site visit because that is the only way they can determine that an ISP is blocking me. I was then told that he will investigate and look at my phone and mikrotik, which is still with them, and get back to me.

One of my colleagues have gone down this route before. He said all they do is come to our house, charge the company R940 for an on site visit and they perform the magic LTE trick right in front of you where they plug it into the one router and then the other to prove that your service provider is blocking them. This particular colleague did not even install fiber, he just had lightning hit his router so he bought a new one. When he told them that it worked before they said that his line is too weak. Yet, his phone worked fine a week before.

Please tell me how to argue with these people. I don't see why they need to do an site visit if they can just teamviewer. I am still not sure whether they are trying to generate revenue or whether they are just not sure what they are doing. Since they phoned me on my cellphone I could not record the call, so I tried quoting all the questions and answers from memory. Please comment and let me know what you think.
 

Space_Kriek

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That is exactly what I thought, which is why I got suspicious when I was never asked for my IP. So I phoned them today since they were not responding to the e-mail I sent on Friday informing them that my ISP said that they have an open access network and that nothing should be blocked.

I started by asking them what they mean by my ISP is blocking them. So they said that on internet networks the providers like Telkom love monitoring VoIP traffic and blocking it to motivate people to use regular voice calling instead which is why they recommend people use their LTE solution which works off of their own network which obviously does not block VoIP traffic.

Then I asked how they came to the conclusion that my ISP is blocking them. I was told that they plugged my phone and mikrotik into one of their LTE modems and it worked.

I then asked whether there is a VPN tunnel set up with the mikrotik. I was told that there is in fact a L2TP tunnel set up with our office network so that we can always connect to the office network with our home phones.

I then asked whether their network only allows certain IPs to connect to it because if that is the case would my new router's IP not just be blocked? I was told that they themselves have a private IP and that they have a system that automatically detects my routers IP address.
I am not equipped to argue here since I have a very limited understanding of all this, but I feel like my question was not answered here.

I then asked whether a new router could not have certain settings enabled that would by itself block VoIP traffic. (reddit said SIP ALG is always on and has to be deactivated first). He conceded the point. So I asked why I am being quoted for an LTE router if no one even tried to look at my new router to configure it. He was then very surprised to hear that I was told that I am being blocked before their team did an on site visit because that is the only way they can determine that an ISP is blocking me. I was then told that he will investigate and look at my phone and mikrotik, which is still with them, and get back to me.

One of my colleagues have gone down this route before. He said all they do is come to our house, charge the company R940 for an on site visit and they perform the magic LTE trick right in front of you where they plug it into the one router and then the other to prove that your service provider is blocking them. This particular colleague did not even install fiber, he just had lightning hit his router so he bought a new one. When he told them that it worked before they said that his line is too weak. Yet, his phone worked fine a week before.

Please tell me how to argue with these people. I don't see why they need to do an site visit if they can just teamviewer. I am still not sure whether they are trying to generate revenue or whether they are just not sure what they are doing. Since they phoned me on my cellphone I could not record the call, so I tried quoting all the questions and answers from memory. Please comment and let me know what you think.

If they have a Mikrotik on site with L2TP tunnels then they have access to the RB. No need for TV or Anydesk.
See if you can ping the SIP server via your fibre (So bypass the Mikrotik.) If you can then it should register without the Mikrotik.
From what you have given me in your post it sounds like they use the Mikrotik to VPN back to your office, so you have direct access to your work network. You will probably find that the voice traffic also goes over this VPN and then terminates via your office link.
The voice should work fine. they are probably routing it on the Mikrotik and the routes have not been changed to use this gateway.

If you have access to the RB then I could take a look if you want, but I will guarantee they have locked it. Will give you some security reasons why you are not allowed to work on the Mikrotik
 

Tensoon

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Oct 19, 2019
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If they have a Mikrotik on site with L2TP tunnels then they have access to the RB. No need for TV or Anydesk.
See if you can ping the SIP server via your fibre (So bypass the Mikrotik.) If you can then it should register without the Mikrotik.
From what you have given me in your post it sounds like they use the Mikrotik to VPN back to your office, so you have direct access to your work network. You will probably find that the voice traffic also goes over this VPN and then terminates via your office link.
The voice should work fine. they are probably routing it on the Mikrotik and the routes have not been changed to use this gateway.

If you have access to the RB then I could take a look if you want, but I will guarantee they have locked it. Will give you some security reasons why you are not allowed to work on the Mikrotik
Please explain like I am 5. When you say gateway do you mean like default gateway as in router's IP? Should router and Mikrotik have same IP or be set to work together?

RB as in router board? The guy sitting next to me says that he tried getting onto his mikrotik but needed a password, so no luck there.

We don't know how to ping the SIP server, we don't know how to determine its IP.

At the moment the VoIP provider still has our phones and mikrotiks but they sent an e-mail saying that they are ready for collection (weird considering they did nothing), so we can get it back this afternoon after work.
 

dillydog

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Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Messages
180
I would get the company to take a hard line with the voip provider. Tell them that the technology requirements of the remote users have changed and include fibre, if they are not capable of making it work then you are with the wrong provider. This is about the right solution not how much money they can make. You as the customer must tell them your requirements and they must either comply or move to one of the reputable providers that will assist.
 
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