ZoomTel X5v Model 5565, which states on the box, “The All-in-One Solution for DSL Users. DSL + VoIP” is a unique ATA (Analog Telephony Adaptor) within the VoIP industry. Essentially it is an ADSL modem, four-port 10/100BaseT switch/router, integrated firewall, and VoIP-capable with the device pre-configured to use Zoom’s Global Village VoIP-to-PSTN termination service. You can think of it as a “plug and play” ADSL modem with “plug and dial” VoIP capabilities.
Zoom also has another X5v model without the Global Village VoIP service bundled (Model 5585/5586) for third-party VoIP service providers that support the SIP protocol. In fact, Zoom told TMC Labs that one of their main goals is to preach the gospel of “openness” in the VoIP world, avoid proprietary methods, and promote open standards and protocols, such as SIP. We should point out that the X5v 5565 “Global Village” version, which they sent to TMC Labs to test, also works with other SIP-based VoIP providers.
The ADSL X5v integrates a full-rate ADSL modem, router, firewall, four-port 10/100 Ethernet switch, USB port, and VoIP phone port into a single product, which is perfect for home broadband users who don’t want to buy multiple pieces of networking equipment. Zoom claims that the integration of the voice processing with the firewall in the same router ensures reliability of VoIP calls and reduces service provider support requirements.
Zoom’s TelePort feature provides a phone port that lets you use a standard analog phone for conventional phone calls over the PSTN or low-cost Voice over IP calls or “free calls” to fellow Global Village users and other SIP users. The phone port of the 5565 is an intelligent relay that allows an analog phone to place and receive both VoIP calls and calls over the PSTN. PSTN Fail-Over allows the X5v to automatically route calls over the dial-up phone network when power is lost. When using emergency dialing services like 911, it will route over the PSTN thus negating the need for E911.
No support for multiple VoIP providers
No integrated wireless
The 5565 and 5566 models come with Zoom’s Global Village, a VoIP phone service that lets you dial PSTN phone numbers and the calls are routed over IP to Zoom, which then terminates the call. You can look up Global Village’s calling rates and dialing plans on their Web site. In fact, one unique aspect of Zoom’s product is that there is no monthly commitment — you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for unlimited VoIP calling. Instead, the user fills out a form on the Web site and provides a credit card, opting for a pay-per-call approach. Global Village service also offers an option for the user to pay a low monthly fee ($3.95 per month) for a United States phone number to receive incoming calls from the public switched network. Wow! To pay only $3.95 for a U.S. number and then pay as you go? That’s pretty impressive. Their rates aren’t too bad either. Calls to the U.S., Hong Kong, U.K. France, and Spain are all currently $0.029/minute.
The X5v’s has a built-in four-port Ethernet switch, which eliminates the need for a separate Ethernet hub for most home networks and small office environments. In addition, a USB port allows direct connection of a fifth computer to the ADSL X5v, though you can simply connect another switch/hub or wireless access point with a crossover cable. The USB port is a nice feature to have, but considering that USB cables are generally very short and the X5v may be far away, it is of limited benefit. By daisy-chaining more hubs or switches you can connect up to 253 network devices.
To install the X5v we needed an ADSL connection. Since TMC Labs has only T1 and dial-up connectivity in the labs and only cable broadband at home, we had to ask our fellow coworkers for a volunteer DSL line to play with. We found one such volunteer in the local area that uses SBC DSL and then proceeded with our testing during lunch.
Installing the X5v was a breeze, especially when using the Quick Start step-by-step guide. We disconnected the existing DSL router and plugged the phone wire into the X5v as well as connected a PC to one of the network ports. Next, we entered in 10.0.0.2 into our browser to access the X5v’s Web interface. After authenticating, we entered in the DSL account information. We then tried to surf the Internet with no success.
Next, we ran the X5v’s diagnostics from their Web interface and discovered that one of the diagnostics tests failed. After some troubleshooting, we decided to give their tech support a call. We have to say that Zoom’s tech support was excellent — and we never mentioned we were with the press. She was able to pinpoint the problem in no time flat. It was in fact “user error” — our volunteer had mistyped the password in two repeated attempts. So if it weren’t for a password typo we would have been up and running in less than five minutes — a true plug and play experience! We tested that it was working by surfing the Web and it performed flawlessly. We should mention that the Web interface was extremely easy to navigate and configure various settings, from the DSL connectivity, to the firewall settings, to the VoIP settings (Figure 1).
The firewall was pretty powerful and includes stateful Packet Inspection, protection from Denial of Service attacks, NAT, and more. It also supports a DMZ host for special applications, such as gaming. The firewall’s features seemed comparable to other SOHO firewall/routers and as such, we couldn’t find any features lacking.
Since it took longer than expected to get the DSL connection working we were only able to make three test phone calls during this “lunchtime” test. The first test phone call was simply a traditional PSTN phone call by simply dialing a number. The call was connected using the DSL’s PSTN connection without a hitch. Next, we made a VoIP phone call by dialing “#2035551212” to dial a cell phone number. Interestingly, the CallerID on the phone we dialed showed our seven digit Global Village number (4810531), so it took a second to get used to not seeing a 10-digit number with area code. The latency was extremely low, however the voice quality was only OK, but not great — it sounded a bit robotic and tinny as though the codec was performing too much compression. We tried a second call and the voice quality was the same. Perhaps SBC’s network was a bit overloaded?
Since it may have been network congestion, we decided to make some test calls on another date. We had someone call us from another X5v unit and the voice quality was superb. Our 10-minute conversation sounded very natural with no delay or hiccups. It was equal or better than other VoIP services that we have tested — including Vonage, Packet8, Net2Phone, and more. So, the SBC DSL connection must have been congested after all during our first test.
To Pound or Not to Pound, that is the Question…
In order to make a VoIP call we needed the “#” prefix. We were curious if we could change this behavior so that the “#” prefix defaults to the PSTN or if we can set VoIP to be the default. For instance, if we decide to use VoIP more often than the PSTN, we’d like the “#” prefix to be used for PSTN calls instead, so we can simply dial numbers and by default the calls are router over IP. We discovered there is a “VoIP-Only Mode” which you can turn on so you don’t have to dial the # first, however if you do that you can’t initiate traditional PSTN calls. The unit should simply toggle what dialing method is used when dialing the # prefix.
The X5v is fully SIP-compliant and has the ability to reach other popular SIP destinations simply by hitting “**” followed by the pre-defined SIP “area code.” Thus, you can dial SIPPhone, IPTel.org, FWD, etc. In addition, if you forget your Global Village number, rather than log on to the Web interface, you can simply dial # and then 1, 2, 3 and an automated attendant will respond with your phone number.
The X5v features Voice activity detection (VAD) and Comfort noise generation (CNG) as well as echo cancellation. The ring generation supports 5 REN (Ringer Equivalence Number), which supports more than 5 typical telephones. There is also a unique ring for an incoming PSTN call versus a VoIP call.
Voice over IP Analog Telephone Adapter Specifications
Analog Voice Port
- Type: Loop-start FXS interface
- DTMF tone detection/generation
- V.21/V.25 Modem/fax tone detection
- Ring occurs for incoming VoIP and POTS calls
Call Control VoIP
- SIP (RFC 3261) Protocol
- Digest Authentication using MD5
- Record-Route Headers
- G.729A, G.711 A-Law, G.711 U-Law Codecs
- Line-echo Cancellation
- G.165, G.168 compliant
- Eight to 128 msec configurable echo length
- Nonlinear echo suppression
- Dynamic jitter buffer (adaptive)
- Packet Loss Concealment
- Bell 202 and V.23 Caller ID
Zoom Router Mode
- Static routing
- RIP V2, RIP V1
- DNS Proxy
- Port Forwarding
- DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server and client
- NAT (Network Address Translation)
- NAPT (Network Address and Port Translation)
- Simultaneous USB and Ethernet operation
- IEEE 802.3 compliant
- Four 10/100 Mbps auto-sensing RJ-45 ports
- Phone Ports
- Two RJ-11 jacks, one for the ADSL/PSTN connection and one filtered jack for local phones
- USB Interface
- Compliant with USB Specification, Revision 1.1
- Full-speed USB (12 Mbps)
- Status Indicators
- Nine indicators — power, link, data, USB, four LAN port connection indicators and VoIP
- WAN and LAN side connection statistics
- Configuration of static routes and routing table
- Configuration of NAT/NAPT
- Selection of bridge or router mode
- Specification of PPP user ID and password'
- Configuration of virtual circuits.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
We’d like to see support for multiple VoIP providers all at the same time. In addition, perhaps Zoom can access the provider’s current rates (often in XML format), load that info into the X5v firmware on a daily basis and then perform LCR across the VoIP service providers. This is going to happen one day — you can bank on this TMC Labs prediction. We’d also like to see a model with integrated wireless (802.11b/a/g) to negate the need to buy a separate wireless AP (access point).
Zoom’s X5v is unique from other analog telephony adaptors (ATAs) in that it has a built-in DSL modem and a built-in SIP firewall. Also, many competing ATAs “lock” the device or use proprietary methods. TMC Labs loved the fact that Zoom’s X5v product line was open and completely standards-based, including SIP and using standardized codecs. According to a source, they are also in discussions with Global IP Sound to possibly use their excellent GIPS iLBC codec, which just recently received standardization approval by the IETF. TMC Labs can best describe the Zoom X5v as a “plug and play router and firewall with plug and play VoIP service that uses open standards.” If you have DSL broadband service in your home and are looking to easily add a DSL modem, VoIP, and a router all in one package, then Zoom’s X5v is the perfect match.
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