FLLA phones?

jcheek

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Found this thread discussing the availability/activation of VoLTE on Telkom Mobile on the forum.
There is also this Telkom VoLTE FAQ PDF (copy attached) that has been floating around on the 'net for about a year.

In a nutshell, it seems that VoLTE support was/is being rolled out on the Telkom Mobile network over the past year or so, but hasn't been widely available (or activated) to date. Some of the last posts in the thread above were made within the past few weeks and indicate that some users with TM contracts are starting to see VoLTE going active on handsets that support it.

If and when VoLTE becomes available on the FLLA/SmartVoice contracts, the main advantage would be faster call setup and the ability to make calls without interrupting the data connection whilst connected on 4G/LTE. Call quality would be likely to be better than VoIP and comparable to a normal cellular voice call. Support for high-quality calls using the HD Voice codec would depend on whether it is supported by devices at both ends of the call.
 
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jcheek

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I also decided against cancelling the 2nd voice line, in favour of porting it to SwitchTel VoIP. For R49/mo for the VoIP line, R150 for the port and some odd Rands in call time, I will be able to do some tests to see how well VoIP works over 4G/LTE. My folks live practically in the shadow of a cell tower, so their 4G/LTE signal is excellent, we'll see if that translates into good VoIP call quality. If it works well, we'll port everything to SwitchTel; if not, we'll just stay with the (expensive!) Telkom FLLA/cellular service.
As a bonus : The whole porting/line cancellation process is driven by SwitchTel, and from previous experience it's absolutely seamless. The first Telkom will know of the line cancellation is when a number port instruction arrives from SwitchTel. For the pleasure of not having to deal with Telkom for canceling a line, the princely sum of R150 is a bargain :love:
As expected, the process of porting the 2nd Telkom line to SwitchTel went flawlessly, even over the festive season.
Placed the order with SwitchTel on 19/12/2019, order was approved on 3/1/2020, hardware arrived on 6/1, line was up on 10/1. Outbound calls already work, porting (to receive inbound calls on the old number) will be completed this evening. Telkom are fully aware of the port request and resulting line cancellation (thanks, SwitchTel).
On a technical level, the first few calls made on the SwitchTel service, using VoIP-over-4G/LTE, seem fine.
Sadly, SwitchTel say that as yet, they have no plans to offer VoLTE for their customers who have 4G/LTE connections.

Started the process of downgrading the FLLA/cellular line from SmartVoice300 to SmartVoice100 and returning the DWR-956M router to Telkom for credit. I feel more than a little trepidation for how much pain the latter issue might cause me lol.
Also as expected, this process has been shambolic. Submitted a verbal downgrade instruction on 19/12/2019, and despite numerous follow-ups and a written confirmation (sent to 10213@telkom.co.za on 9/01/2020), we still can't even get Telkom to acknowledge that a downgrade order has been received, or give an order number, let alone execute the order. Stunning service as always ...
 
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Clebo81

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Oct 15, 2019
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My gran has the FLLA wifi phone and whilst using it it has muted itself. When a call comes through it only shows up on the small screen but the phone no longer rings. When I tried to adjust the sound of the ring and click ok to set it it always reverts to the muted volume setting. How can I fix this?
You ever got this sorted? I'm having the same problem.
 

AirWolf

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DLink FLLA is the worst piece of crap I have ever come across :thumbsdown:.

Can the routers work with a multiple device setup? (A phones across a house all connected to the same line/number).

In a single device setup what other FLLA handsets work well?
 

jcheek

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DLink FLLA is the worst piece of crap I have ever come across :thumbsdown:.
As a personal opinion, that's an amusing sentiment, but a bit lacking in specifics lol
What specific 'D-LINK FLLA' device are you referring to ? The DWR-720PW, or the DWR-956M ?

Can the routers work with a multiple device setup? (A phones across a house all connected to the same line/number).
Well, if you mean the DWR-956M modem/router, it has a single RJ-11 telephone socket, into which you can plug any number of analogue handsets. All handsets will operate in parallel and all will be able to make and receive calls on the same FLLA (cellphone) number.
Other modem/routers like the ZTE MF286 and Huawei B593 have two analogue phone sockets on the device itself, that will operate in the same way

In a single device setup what other FLLA handsets work well?
Have a read through the full thread and you will see reference to several different makes and models of standalone FLLA devices, as well as modem/routers that can be used for both FLLA and VoIP.
 

AirWolf

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As a personal opinion, that's an amusing sentiment, but a bit lacking in specifics lol
What specific 'D-LINK FLLA' device are you referring to ? The DWR-720PW, or the DWR-956M ?
DWR-720PW - full signal and it stops receiving calls - restart the phone and get smss for all the missed calls. Poor audio quality on calls.

Edit: the last straw was half the keypad becoming non-responsive, requiring a few restarts.

Well, if you mean the DWR-956M modem/router, it has a single RJ-11 telephone socket, into which you can plug any number of analogue handsets. All handsets will operate in parallel and all will be able to make and receive calls on the same FLLA (cellphone) number.
Other modem/routers like the ZTE MF286 and Huawei B593 have two analogue phone sockets on the device itself, that will operate in the same way
This setup is for someone else that has one of those RJ-11 multi-lines (4 ports) - so cable from router to multi-line and they should be good to go.

Have a read through the full thread and you will see reference to several different makes and models of standalone FLLA devices, as well as modem/routers that can be used for both FLLA and VoIP.
I have skimmed the entire thread, and as it was started in 2018, I wanted info on any new models out.
 

AirWolf

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Oh, and work colleague has the DWP-720PW - only rings once for incoming calls. Any idea how to fix that?
 

kabusi

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Hi. Can I just put the sim in any cheap cellphone?
Yes, I tried my Telkom landline on a cheap cell phone and it worked like any other sim card.
Try it with your existing cell phone and see how it works for you before you make any decision.
 

Suspect99

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Yes, I tried my Telkom landline on a cheap cell phone and it worked like any other sim card.
Try it with your existing cell phone and see how it works for you before you make any decision.
Thanks for the tip. The SIM is the big standard sim so It wont fit in my cellphone, but I'll check if i have a old phone lying around
 

AfricanTech

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It doesn't matter who is more or less experienced in anything; the power of a forum lies in information sharing!
The links and options you have brought to the table - while perhaps simpler - are incredibly useful, perhaps more so than you realise. Thanks again!

So ... over the weekend I did some research at my parents' place using the D-Link DWR-956M router that Telkom dropped off on the SmartVoice contract. The device is a lot smaller than one might think, about the size of an A5 book and about 1" thick. Its most imposing feature is the four relatively large antennas, two for 4G/LTE and two for Wi-Fi :
View attachment 757518
The DWR-956M has dual-band Wi-Fi and is fibre-ready; there is a WAN socket (for a feed from a fibre ONT) on the back panel, along with a single RJ-11 socket for plugging in an analogue phone.
The router is somewhat customised for Telkom and the firmware has a 'setup wizard' that is actually quite user-friendly, it guides the novice user through a basic setup of creating UserID/Password combo for the device's login page, doing a basic (wired) DHCP network setup and setting up Wi-Fi. There is a SIM tray on the underside that takes the Telkom-supplied 'SmartVoice' (or other) micro SIMcard:
View attachment 757524
After running the setup wizard, the internet (data) side of the things worked pretty much out the box. Voice calls made from an analogue phone (corded or cordless) plugged into the back phone socket worked fine too.

Accessing the router's "advanced settings"page revealed a 3-way setting that allows voice calls originating from the analogue phone socket on the back to be routed in one of 3 ways:
  • 'CS' ("Circuit-Switched") - meaning voice calls are carried as a normal cellular call (GSM or 3G) over a dedicated digital voice circuit;
  • 'VoIP' - meaning the call will be carried on a SIP/VoIP link over the router's 4G/LTE or fibre WAN connection;
  • 'VoLTE' - meaning the call will be carried using the dedicated VoLTE protocol over 4G/LTE.
  • 'Auto' - like the name says (this was the default setting as Telkom deployed the device)
The router's front panel has a few indicator LEDs; one of them (the rightmost one in the pic below) indicates which phone mode is in use : solid green for CS, blinking green for VoLTE and solid blue for SIP/VoIP:
View attachment 757540
Out the box, the 'phone' light was solid green indicating CS mode, ie the device was routing over a normal cellular voice circuit. Changing the voice-call setting to explicit CS on the router made no difference, ie phonecalls still worked fine.

Conclusion : At least for now, Telkom is routing voice calls originating from the back-panel RJ-11 socket as normal cellular (GSM or 3G) calls, ie they are not doing anything special (like using VoLTE).

My parents already had LTE internet using a ZTE MF286 router that was supplied previously under an MWeb-over-CellC contract. That contract was recently migrated to an MWeb-over-Telkom contract due to CellC exiting the fixed-wireless market. So we already had a working MF286 setup and that device has some nice additional features including a lithium-ion backup battery and two RJ-11 analogue telephone sockets (the D-Link DWR-956M only has one).

After moving the Telkom SmartVoice SIMcard from the DWR-956M to the MF286 and changing a few settings, I was able to make phonecalls and get internet on the MF286 as well - no problems. My parents used to have two incoming analogue telephone lines, one feeding a set of 3 DECT cordless phones and the other feeding a wired bedside extension/fax (yeah, I know). I plugged both RJ-11 cords into the MF286's two RJ-11 sockets and all worked fine. Calls originating on either of the analogue phone sockets are carried over the same cellular circuit and appear to the called party as originating from the same number, which in my parents' case was the number ported from their old landline. Happiness.

Subjective impressions so far, using the ZTE MF286 router and an old Siemens analogue corded phone and three Panasonic DECT cordless phones :
  • Audio quality from all the analogue phone sockets is excellent - as good as any normal 'good' cellular call;
  • Call volume is excellent at both ends;
  • Dial tone sounds a little different (no warble, just a long, continuous tone);
  • It takes a little while longer for a dialed call to connect and for the router to recover (give back dial tone) after a call is terminated - about 10 seconds for both;
  • The voicemail number on the Telkom cellular network (181) is different to what it was on the analogue landline network and voicemail needs to be set up from scratch.
Nothing too much there that the elderly folks can't deal with. Happiness again.

So, the superfluous DWR-956M (with its horrible 2-year contract) will be returned to Telkom this week; and the 2nd voice/fax line my parents had will get cancelled.

So : if you already have a 3G or 4G/LTE cellular modem/router that has analogue phone support, it seems this can be used directly with the SmartVoice contracts with no particular issues. It is now proven to work with the ZTE MF286, it is almost certainly possible with the Huawei B315 or B525, and I have done something similar in the past with a Huawei B593 (2 phone sockets).
If you are starting from a clean slate, it will of course also work with the D-Link DWR-956M that Telkom supplies with a 2-year contract. But it may be a better option to purchase a router and go month-to-month, avoiding the contract with Telkom. With the steady uptake of fibre internet, there are plenty of these types of routers on the 2nd hand market.
Bit of a necro but thanks again for this detailed post.

My mom is being forced to switch to FLLA so this is very useful and pertinent
 

jcheek

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As expected, the process of porting the 2nd Telkom line to SwitchTel went flawlessly, even over the festive season.
Placed the order with SwitchTel on 19/12/2019, order was approved on 3/1/2020, hardware arrived on 6/1, line was up on 10/1. Outbound calls already work, porting (to receive inbound calls on the old number) will be completed this evening. Telkom are fully aware of the port request and resulting line cancellation (thanks, SwitchTel).
On a technical level, the first few calls made on the SwitchTel service, using VoIP-over-4G/LTE, seem fine.
Sadly, SwitchTel say that as yet, they have no plans to offer VoLTE for their customers who have 4G/LTE connections.


Also as expected, this process has been shambolic. Submitted a verbal downgrade instruction on 19/12/2019, and despite numerous follow-ups and a written confirmation (sent to 10213@telkom.co.za on 9/01/2020), we still can't even get Telkom to acknowledge that a downgrade order has been received, or give an order number, let alone execute the order. Stunning service as always ...
[ Warning : Slightly O/T, not strictly about Telkom FLLA, but rather how to get rid of Telkom FLLA :) ]

So .. an update, some 9 months after porting out of Telkom FLLA to using VoIP-over-LTE.
To anyone considering going this route (ie VoIP-over-LTE rather than Telkom FLLA) ... provided you are in an area with reasonable LTE coverage ... just do it. Don't even hesitate.
We happen to be using SwitchTel, who I can wholeheartedly recommend, but there are many companies now offering VoIP service over your existing internet connection. Take your pick.

After 9 month's experience (and a LOT of voice calls!), we can count the number of 'bad' VoIP calls on half of one hand. My folks are in an area with good LTE coverage, which I am sure helps, but even so, the call quality is consistently excellent.

The only real downside - versus a traditional analogue fixed-line phone - is that during loadshedding, the "landline" basically dies when power fails. Even when used with a 4G/LTE router that has a battery backup (like the ZTE MF286) and can theoretically maintain an internet connection without mains power, in practise some critical part of the VoIP link (handsets, router, LTE comms or internet) is lost when power goes out. But since most everyone has a cellphone of some sort these days, emergencies during loadshedding are covered that way.
 
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