83 Replies Latest reply: May 3, 2013 10:57 AM by witnessofjesus RSS

Call quality and customer satisfaction

ckh 3 Bar

The new wifi + app now asks for user feedback on call quality, up or down.

Will RW release those stats?

I have had excellent call quality and results after the Over The Air update, and those stats would help many decide to buy in now.

I am asking because PR and Marketing is definitely not an RW strong point and is clearly not a priority.

And the business model/ customer interface here does little or nothing to promote or sell the service.

In fact, it almost certainly discourages new customers.

You would think that releasing some positive stats would be very desirable.

When?+

  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
    bambam 3 Bar

    Most of the time, with almost every wifi call I make, there are a few pops in the beginning and then it goes away and, for the most part, very clear.

    Sometimes, I get the person on the other end saying they can't hear me or, we end up talking like on walkie talkies (wait till the other is done).  Probably the most annoying thing is when I'm on a long conversation, it sounds like someone flicking paper on the other end.  I have asked several people "What are you doing right now and that is that flicking noise?".  Apparently, it's only on my end because they never heard the noise.

    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
      bitflung Ambassador

      bambam wrote:

       

      Most of the time, with almost every wifi call I make, there are a few pops in the beginning and then it goes away and, for the most part, very clear.

      Sometimes, I get the person on the other end saying they can't hear me or, we end up talking like on walkie talkies (wait till the other is done).  Probably the most annoying thing is when I'm on a long conversation, it sounds like someone flicking paper on the other end.  I have asked several people "What are you doing right now and that is that flicking noise?".  Apparently, it's only on my end because they never heard the noise.

      odd - i've never had a half-duplex connection (walkie-talkie: bi directional call but only one side can talk at a time) nor have i ever had a persistent flicking sound. i also haven't heard of others with this. your symptoms sound rare to me - have you opened a support ticket? i think it might be the proper response here.

      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
        billg 4 Bar

        In the instant case, and in situations where multiple satellite hops are injected in the path, the noticeable transmission delay reduces full duplex to what I'll call 'psychological half duplex."  Make that 'pathological half duplex' when it really becomes annoying.

         

        To fully appreciate what I'm saying you need to have two RW phones in the same room so you can hear your correspondent over two paths, directly and over the phone.  When we did this there was about a 3-word offset between paths.

         

        When there is less than a 3-word period in the pause between sentences the correspondents start talking over one another and the only way to overcome this unintentional rudeness is to treat the phones as if they were half duplex walkie-talkies.

        • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
          bitflung Ambassador

          two VoIP devices, in general, will often have this issue as well. and two cell phones (non voip) in the same room are difficult to communicate with.

           

          still - i now see your point. it's not that the call is literally half-duplex, but rather the inherent delay in the connection is long enough that using it as full-duplex becomes an unobtainable goal.

           

          you referenced satellite hops - it is very unlikely that two devices in the same room will be connected via satellite. it is also unlikely that any two devices anywhere, connected via satellite, will provide a meaningful VoIP connection.

          • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
            billg 4 Bar

            I mentioned satellite hops because 'psychological half duplex' was an important consideration back in the old days when ma bell was deciding whether to spend our money on ocean cables or satellites.

             

            Real-time path optimization takes place in the setup of a land-line call because it has been integrated into the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).  Cell technology was incorporated after I worked with this but I suppose they do this too, limited by the final hop from tower to phone.

             

            This might not be possible with TCP/IP, I don't know.  It strikes me that there is a big difference between granting someone exclusive rights to a pair of 3 or 4 kHz channels and setting them up to compete with a few billion others for bandwidth along a path of opportunity.

            • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
              bambam 3 Bar

              Interesting read billg...always enjoy learning!   Thanks

            • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
              bitflung Ambassador

              Real-time path optimization takes place in the setup of a land-line call because it has been integrated into the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).  [...] This might not be possible with TCP/IP, I don't know.

              nope, not really possible. the constraint isn't TCP/IP per se, but the heterogeneous mix of networks and network maintainers you use the protocol on (or, more correctly, UDP/IP). in theory, every packet could take a different route and "path" optimization from the end-point perspectives is never taken - instead there is "hop" optimization from each router's perspective. in practice, most packets will follow the same route as those preceding it, but the optimization "issue" still exists. the internet is self-optimized the components of each member-network. the overall path is not part of the equation.

               

              It strikes me that there is a big difference between granting someone exclusive rights to a pair of 3 or 4 kHz channels and setting them up to compete with a few billion others for bandwidth along a path of opportunity.

              yup, that's a big difference right there. of course, there are only so many 3-4 kHz channels available to use, while internet bandwidth can scale more easily to meet demand from emerging competitors. the internet based system is more robust in some ways, more prone to failure in others. still, the internet at large is more than capable of handling VoIP traffic - but one slow link in the chain will screw up a call, and each link decides dynamically which link is next, so you can't easily avoid slow links... so some voip calls aren't going to be good. a well designed hybrid cell phone will take this into account and hand-off to cellular when the voip link deteriorates.

              • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                billg 4 Bar

                For all the variables impacting VOIP we've discussed, I'm at a loss to explain why I just enjoyed another flawless Facetime experience that uses much more bandwidth than a VOIP-only call.  The Facetime call was followed by an incoming cell to Wi-Fi call that I rated thumbs-up despite the occasional voice breakup and noticeable half-duplex-like experience. 

                • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                  seanr republicEmployee

                  The issue is not always the Internet. Skype to Skype and Facetime to Facetime do not have the issue of inter-operating with the PSTN. If a republic customer was more likely to talk to another republic customer (ala Skype) then we could use an High Definition (HD) codec like Silk or an adaptive codec like Opus to make the calls sound great, but our customers talk to the old cellular and land-line worlds so we have to focus on that. We use G.711u as our primary codec, because it is the most commonly deployed, keeping us from having to trans-code audio as we pass calls to other carriers. almost all core carriers support  G.711u.

                   

                  With the issues outlined above, the local (home) network and Internet connection can make or break the already present VoIP quality vulnerabilities. Excessive latency will make echo more pronounced. Packet-loss will cause calls to sound like a robot or even drop. Jitter can cause calls to break up mid-word.

                   

                  I hope this helps. It was long on explanation but short on practical help

                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                    billg 4 Bar

                    Great explanation, Sean.  Thank you.

                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                    ckh 3 Bar

                    Sean, will we be able to see the Up Down vote ratio?  Assuming it is positive, it would be a great boost for the public image of RW.  No other carrier would do that.

                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                    1 Bar

                    I've had Defy XT for 2+ months now, the call quality over Wi-Fi has been very iffy... Especially for calls lasting more than 5 minutes. So I usually ended up having to switch to cell to get a more stable call quality.

                     

                    Since the OTA, the wifi call quality has improved, but for calls lasting more than 10 mins I'll get complaints that my voice cuts in and out, they can't hear me, etc.

                     

                    Is there a place other than the forum that we can report these simple call quality issues? I'd think that these will help you improve your service. I do have the republic app installed, but it doesn't always ask me about call quality.

                    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                      billg 4 Bar

                      My WiFi calls are very iffy too.  You can set the quality feedback to be either once every 5 calls or every call.  Go the WiFi+ app itself (not the Widget) and press the menu button and then choose settings and then Call rating feedback.

                    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                      timmses 1 Bar

                      After hearing the better half complain about Republic VOIP calls breaking up and disconnecting after 5-10 minutes I loaded the magicjack Beta app. BINGO!!! Used our MAGICJACK account and no more problem (so far). This should work until the quality issues are worked out. No issues with non VOIP calls. Phone can only be used on speakerphone thru magicjack and audio voice on keypad does not work with MJ installed.

                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                    ckh 3 Bar

                    Sean,

                    Given all the inherent technical issues, how much improvement in call quality do you think RW can achieve?

                    Can we expect significant improvement in the near future, or do you think the technology is mature at this point?

                    Thank you.

        • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
          nathanh 3 Bar

          I'm having a similar issue in terms of the "walkie talkie" effect.  It can be fairly annoying.  I don't talk on the phone a lot, but the few times I've been on wifi calls I've had the same thing happen to me.

  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
    bitflung Ambassador

    i agree - stats would be good

     

    but for now, RW is likely compiling this data for internal review. specifically, i suspect they are looking to capture info about the poor quality calls so they might correlate issues affecting call quality as perceived by the end users.

     

    this being a beta, i would expect them to start modifying the parameters of a subset of users (codecs, etc) and observe how their reactions (thumbs up/down) change accordingly.

     

    eventually though, i think releasing stats would be a GREAT thing. even the stats of the dissatisfied. in fact, i think the progression of 'thumbs down' reducing over time would be a great signal that they've done "something" proactive to ensure a high level of quality for the RW members.

  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
    bambam 3 Bar

    Wifi quality for me is ok but definitely not cell quality.  I consistently speak like I'm in a walkie talkie and there are always "pops", more prevelent in the beginning of the call.  It's like this on every router I've tried at differnt locations.  It's tolerable so I use it.

  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
    trishb 2 Bar

    W-fi call quality has been iffy for me during this first 30 days I've had the phone.  I have tried all the usual troubleshooting.  My internet speed is insanely awesome through charter (40 mb down, 3 up, ping around 25ms).  The rw phone has priority on my $200 Linksys EA4500 router that's being backed by a docsis 3 cisco modem.  green arc is always there on the rw phone.  still, calls have a popping sound, dropped words, and sometimes entirely dropped calls.  yikes, I hope there's another OTA coming soon.

    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
      mchasal Ambassador

      Have you tried running a 24 hour test using VoIP Spear - VoIP Quality Test and Call Quality Monitoring: Homepage? The actual bandwidth isn't very critical to wifi calling. Your ping looks fine, but maybe you have some issues with jitter or packet loss. VoIP Spear will check all that.

      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
        trishb 2 Bar

        I have begun a voipspear test. thanks so much for the help.  I'll try to post the results tomorrow.

          • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
            bitflung Ambassador

            trishb wrote:

             

            voipspear.PNG

            wow - those two inverted spikes - that's horrible!

            but it's only for the west coast... so it SHOULDN'T affect your connection to RW.

            if you have call quality issues when talking to normal non-voip phones, this graph isn't showing why just yet.

             

            I wonder about jitter; i also wonder what these graphs look like when the west coast issues aren't forcing it to zoom out so far.

            • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
              trishb 2 Bar

              what is jitter?  also, pictured are my latest results. also, is it possible that rw is concerned that the source of these wi-fi call quality / dropped call issues are actually on their end because of their routing system somehow instead of at the end user's location?voipspear results with replacement router.PNG

              Ill let u know if I see any more bad spikes

              • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                bitflung Ambassador

                what is jitter?

                jitter is a measure of how latency changes over time.

                 

                if you're a math nerd (like me) you can think of it as the derivative of the latency graph (it's not calculated this way, but that's a workable analogy). otherwise there's good info here:

                General concept: Jitter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

                VoIP specific info: Voice over IP - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

                 

                The second link is about VoIP (wifi calling) and you'd have to search for 'jitter' in the text to see where it is discussed.

                also, pictured are my latest results.

                those results look good. nothing there is indicating why your calls aren't working well. at this point i'd suspect your wifi rather than the internet connection itself. you mentioned a while back that you've got a very high-end router. is there any chance you've got local interference? if your router is operating on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz, it is possible that you won't see the effects of interference on other devices (those that support 5GHz) but the Defy is 2.4GHz only... you can install an app on your phone to check for other wifi access points operating on the same (or nearby) channels as you are using; if you see any, it would be good to change to an unused channel. If you don't see any, you might want to change channels anyway in case you've got interference from a chaotic source (like fluorescent lights, or other electronics that output RF noise). check your local channel space with an app like this: Wifi Analyzer - Android Apps on Google Play

                also, is it possible that rw is concerned that the source of these wi-fi call quality / dropped call issues are actually on their end because of their routing system somehow instead of at the end user's location?

                are they concerned with it? i'm sure they are. they run the service, that sort of issue is one of their primary concerns.

                is it likely the cause? no.

                 

                simply put, if the issue were on their end we'd ALL have problems. much like trying to figure out why you don't have water pressure at your house: if you and your neighbors are all on town water, you don't have pressure but the neighbors do, it is unlikely that the issue is outside of your own house. sorry, if it were RW's side it would have made things much easier, i know.

                 

                let me know what you find with the wifi analyzer and what happens when you switch to a new channel.

                i'm running our of ideas; if we don't find noise in the 2.4GHz spectrum and changing channels doesn't help, the issue may be beyond my pay-grade. did you ever open up a support ticket with RW? did they have any input for you?

                • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                  trishb 2 Bar

                  thanks again for your kind attention.  I just returned from my local mcdonalds where I had the exact same issues I am having at home.  Also, at home, my network is the only one that the defy sees.  I did already have wi-fi analyzer and signal has always shown that it's good.  There are no other networks around that it's picking up.  Only two neighbors - one neighbor barely knows what a computer is and the other is quite a distance away, across the street and back from the road a bit.  Once in a while, I can see his network on my computer, but I've never seen it on the rw phone.  I will switch channels though, just in case there is some wacky interference from another source, as you mentioned.

                   

                  I want to agree with your description of a logical approach to troubleshooting, but as a technical person I'm sure you've run into mysteries as you've fought problems that undermine that simple logic.  Some scenarios run deeper in their logic, and this may be one of those that rw is facing.  First of all, it's not an all or nothing thing - these tough issues are rarely one user, all users, or no users.  Unfortunately, like many of the toughies, this one is SOME users, SOME of the time.  If the water pressure is being reported as low only some of the time for only some houses on the road, maybe there are peak times when a lot of 30 somethings on the road are taking a shower - they all go to work at 8am, and on days when they all hit it just right, they notice the problem.  But the retired ones on the street, who are either up at 4 am because they can't sleep, or they don't rise until 10 am, never see the problem at all.  But they aren't seeing the problem as much, not because it isn't a system problem, but rather, because they simple are not EXPOSED to the problem as much and so they report that they have no problem, which can easily throw off whoever is investigating the issue.  So the 30 somethings call the water company, and they respond "Hey, everyone isn't having this problem, so it must be you."  I hope you get what I mean without feeling as though I'm attacking.  I appreciate your help very very much.  I do have an open support ticket through the help desk, and they are giving me things to do, but not much that I hadn't tried myself, and nothing of much consequence yet.

                   

                  Thanks again, I'm still hanging in there b/c I like the premise of what rw is doing as a game-changer, but to this point, they are missing on their core technology, wi-fi calling, and that is kind of a shame.  My understanding is that one of the goals of the last ota update was to address wi-fi call quality, so I assume they are seeing my issue with many people - maybe not all, but many - and maybe the ones who they aren't seeing it with, just aren't reporting it.  The only rw customer I ever ran into in person keeps wi-fi disabled all the time and just uses Sprint.  Yikes!  Totally defeating the purpose of the service, but why does he do it?  Wi-fi call quality is lousy!  Anyway, maybe they are working on another update for the Defy, or maybe they are working on something else behind the scenes.

                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                    ckh 3 Bar

                    I didn't read the entire thread, so this may be redundant.  But in the first weeks of being with Republic I had WIFI calling issues too.  They went away when I discovered that my brand new and improved router had shipped with an out of date firmware version.  Updating that firmware corrected all my issues with WIFI.

                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                    bitflung Ambassador

                    thanks again for your kind attention.

                    you're welcome. sorry i wasn't able to be more productive in finding a solution for you. i sure hope RW support staff can help further.

                    [...]  I will switch channels though, just in case there is some wacky interference from another source, as you mentioned.

                    hope it helps. after that, i'm all out of ideas. ckh pointed out firmware updates, which is a good idea too.

                    I want to agree with your description of a logical approach to troubleshooting, but as a technical person I'm sure you've run into mysteries as you've fought problems that undermine that simple logic.

                    whenever issues defy simple logic, there is something we're failing to observe - an error in the logic if you will. that could very well be the case here, of course - i wonder what we're failing to see?

                    [...] it's not an all or nothing thing - these tough issues are rarely one user, all users, or no users.

                    true. in your case there is a large (minority?) of users complaining of similar (identical?) symptoms.

                    Unfortunately, like many of the toughies, this one is SOME users, SOME of the time.

                    yup. if it were easily reproduced by anyone any time it would be simple to find and often simple to fix.

                    [rephrasing of water pressure analogy - pointing out valid issue with the analogy wherein pressure may drop at times that affect some users but not others]

                    absolutely true. i'm not sure if the same logic could be used to imply the network issues are on RW's end though (the root premise for that analogy) since the issues are not consistent enough across many users (tens or hundreds of thousands of folks are using the service all over the country - no correlation to time of day or location has been made to date).

                     

                    perhaps more likely than an issue on RW's end would be an issue on some intermediate routers between SOME users and RW. This would be harder to identify than an issue on either end simply due to the dynamic nature of internet routing (other routers are MEANT to route around an overloaded or failing node).

                     

                    It is certainly possible that the issue is NOT on your end. Sadly, that's the only place we can diagnose. "if all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail": perhaps it is wrong for us to assume an issue on your end, hopefully we've come close to proving that this isn't the case (that you're issue is not "a nail").

                     

                    I appreciate your help very very much.  I do have an open support ticket through the help desk, and they are giving me things to do, but not much that I hadn't tried myself, and nothing of much consequence yet.

                    i'm very glad to offer the help; would be more glad if it had actually resulted in a fix though

                    i hope you keep me in the loop: if RW does fix it (or at least come up with another unique test) it would be great to hear the details and use the new knowledge next time I try to help someone.

                    Thanks again, I'm still hanging in there b/c I like the premise of what rw is doing as a game-changer, but to this point, they are missing on their core technology, wi-fi calling, and that is kind of a shame.

                    yeah - great when it works, crummy when it doesn't.

                    i wish everyone had the same experience i have with my wifi calls.

                    My understanding is that one of the goals of the last ota update was to address wi-fi call quality, so I assume they are seeing my issue with many people - maybe not all, but many - and maybe the ones who they aren't seeing it with, just aren't reporting it.

                    the OTA update actually fixed a specific set of issues - it wasn't a blanket 'improvement' with ambiguous bettering goals. the update was successful: the problems (not symptoms) being addressed were fixed.

                    The only rw customer I ever ran into in person keeps wi-fi disabled all the time and just uses Sprint.  Yikes!  Totally defeating the purpose of the service, but why does he do it?  Wi-fi call quality is lousy!

                    it's not that way for all of us, i assure you. for me, wifi calling is superb but sprint calls are lousy (fair warning: i really dislike sprint, so i may be a little biased against them). my wifi calls are equal in quality to my office (landline) phone. i've found only a few hotspots where the quality wasn't superb. the vast majority of the time i have consistently high quality voip calls.

                     

                    that's not meant to rub salt in your wounds or anything - i just wanted to offer the counter example to the one other RW customer you've met in person.

                    Anyway, maybe they are working on another update for the Defy, or maybe they are working on something else behind the scenes.

                    i doubt an update to the defy would help here. perhaps an update behind the scenes would - maybe a different codec or some additional geographic locations for their voip backend systems... it's not hopeless: but i don't see anything you can do to affect positive change in the short term yourself hopefully RW has more tricks up their sleeves than i do.

                    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                      billg 4 Bar

                      I have a question.  Are all of our WiFi calls routed through a single switching center in NC or are they routed through multiple switches around the nation as with the POTS?  If they all go through a single center then I can understand why NC - NC calls would consistently better than MN - MN calls.

                    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                      trishb 2 Bar

                      Well, wi-fi call quality has still not improved for us.  rw did something on their end that required us turning the phone off, removing the battery, then getting it back on.  same problems with wi-fi calls.  I have tried setting the channel manually for my router.  A quick summary of a couple key points regarding our situation:  The magic jack app on our iphone 3gs works fantastic on our same home network that rw works terrible on.  When I say fantastic, I don't exaggerate - we had two absolutely PERFECT calls last night of very long length with the magic jack app last night.  Interestingly, the magic jack app for android on the rw phone doesn't work as well as the ios version of it on the 3gs.  I'm just wondering if the Defy xt (or maybe a certain batch of Defy xt's, or maybe just a few bad ones) has a poor quality wi-fi chip in it.  I always get worse speed tests with my rw phone than I do with my iphones/ipods/ipads.  Also, the rw phone works fine when away from wi-fi while using sprint (as long as we're in a good sprint area of course).  rw says they have some more tricks up their sleeves to try with my situation, so we'll see how it goes.  For now, my wife has had it up to here with wi-fi calls on rw and will only use magic jack while at home.  I think this all points more and more toward either 1) not a system-wide problem, but some type of back-end or routing performance issue or glitch or 2) a defy xt issue.  But my hope remains slightly alive that this can be resolved with the magic touch of some rw tech who gets ahold of my issue.  Otherwise, this phone is largely a $250 paperweight for us besides the small benefit of some very spotty sprint coverage when out and about.

                      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                        southpawkb Ambassador

                        Hi trishb,

                         

                        trishb wrote:

                         

                        [...]  Interestingly, the magic jack app for android on the rw phone doesn't work as well as the ios version of it on the 3gs. [...]

                        I've recently seen another user describe some trouble making calls over Wi-Fi and RW support told him to uninstall Magic Jack. Could you give that a try, reboot the phone, and see if Wi-Fi calling is any better?

                         

                         

                        ~~~~~

                        SouthpawKB, customer since 2011, not a republic wireless employee

                      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                        billg 4 Bar

                        My experience parallels yours.  Some of my WiFi calls are good, some aren't.  My IOS devices all work great.  I wish we had an android phone with the latest OS to see if that makes a difference.  If it does, perhaps RW can pressure Google/Motorola into updating the Defy XT OS.

                      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                        seanr republicEmployee

                        I looked at your request in our ticketing system. My concern is that your experience at home and when you tested at MacDonald's showed a huge difference. It was quite a bit better even though the bandwidth at the MacDonald's was 30x slower and having much more latency than your home network. This would point me to it not being a phone or service issue. I think we still need to focus on your home network.

                         

                        We unfortunately do not have a magic touch in support. We have no special quality button we can push. Every customer has the same chance for a good quality call. We try to be the constant.

                         

                        Magic jack uses a low bandwidth codec which to me also points to network congestion, since the only time G.729(codec) offers better quality is if there is high congestion but not packet loss.

                         

                        Just my two cents, but I hope it helps.

                        • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                          trishb 2 Bar

                          Hmmm.  I see where you are coming from given your interpretive conclusion that there was a "huge" difference between my experience at McDonalds and my experience at home.  However, given the fact that I am not being paid as a beta-tester, but rather am a paying beta-tester for rw, I don't have the luxury of doing extensive scientific-style testing because I have to work outside this community effort :-).  Therefore, my testing at McDonalds was so limited (only a small number of calls on one given day) that it could only serve one purpose at this point:  to show that I was not able to go to a location outside of my home and have consistently good calls over wi-fi.  Basically, I had enough time to go and make calls until I had a bad one or two to show that the problem doesn't ONLY exist at home.  However one may interpret what I have written about my experience at home and at McDonalds, I have unintentionally misled them if they come to any other conclusion than this:  In both places, I had some lousy calls that were useless and some calls that were useful.  That fact SHOULD have us looking at service and phone issues, NOT personal home network issues.  Aside from that, my reference to a magic button simply refers to the fact that one of the techs working on the ticket said he was performing "something on his end" that was not explained and that he had some more things he could do if that didn't work.  To us end users, when those things are not explained (not that we would understand them if they were), they might as well be magic buttons.  Thankfully, the testing we have done since the first magic button press has been limited, and I am hoping that that limited "data" has simply been in error.  I discovered that one reported bad call that my wife told me about since that magic button press was merely a call that began on Sprint's network, continued as she drove and came home (where we have iffy Sprint reception), and then got terrible in quality naturally.  She was under the impression that there was hand-off technology from cell to wi-fi so she reported it to me as a bad wi-fi call.  However, I explained to here there is no hand-off tech right now for rw.  Maybe some day.  I made a great call today at home.  That's the only one I've tested personally so far since the magic button, so I hope to test more.  And please don't let this one experience I've related move you to think that all of our problems can be chalked-up to such things.  I assure you, they cannot.  While I was not personally involved in this one reported bad call, I have been involved with most of them, so we have a legitimate issue.  Still, I am hoping it is solved from the magic button.  The coming days will tell from my own personal testing.  My wife will no longer use the phone on wi-fi.  She is burned-out from spending $250 on a phone that doesn't work as advertised and spending much time with very frustrating phone conversations.  I am not burned out yet as I appreciate what rw is trying to do.  I do expect that, at some point, if the problem doesn't go away, that there will be a shift away from blaming my home network.

                          • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                            billg 4 Bar

                            I've had those magic buttons pushed a couple of times too.  Calls are still inconsistent.  My lady friend winters at her condo where she enjoys 50 Mb cable service whereas I have 10 Mb DSL,  We both have decent upload speeds and both pass the VOIP Spear test with flying colors.  WiFi calls from both places are inconsistent.

                             

                            She doesn't want to hear words like jitter or latency.  She could care less about Qos or ports.  Like most folks in their 70's who have enjoyed a lifetime of reliable phone service, she just want to enjoy telephone conversations.  Consequently her Defy XT is usually gathering dust and when I call her I call her land line or we use Facetime.  A couple of hours ago she called me on Facetime to whine about leaving home with a fully charged phone, going shopping and to the dentist, and coming home with a dead phone because the battery had been drained.  She doesn't want a phone that she has to tweak to get decent battery life.  You know what they say about the road to hell.... I wish I hadn't given her a Defy XT for Christmas.  These phones are really just for nerds like me.

                        • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                          trishb 2 Bar

                          Hey I wanted to update you on my situation.  Last night, at the direction of one of the techs, I did a factory reset on the phone and have not installed anything additional on the phone since.  I also have not even logged into a google account.  I've had about 15 wi-fi calls since the factory reset last night that I'd grade between A- and A+ in call quality - just a couple pops here and there but NOTHING like before - nothing that would really disturb a conversation.  I have had no bad calls since the reset.  However, since we have nothing on the phone right now that is important to us besides call capability - such as apps, google accounts, etc., it hardly qualifies as a true smart phone, so I'm anxious to see what happens when it starts being fully used again.  I'm wondering if the call problems were happening when apps and accounts tried to sip data or update in the background during wi-fi calls, thereby putting the wi-fi capabilities of the phone to the test, with the phone failing those "tests."   I'll keep testing calls without anything additional for a couple days.  If the wi-fi calls continue to be good, my plan is to start adding additional things to the phone, one per week or so.  First, I will log into my wife's google account and use the phone for a week or so after that and see how things go.  If that works well, I will add her desired apps one at a time (one per week) and see if I can find out if one of them was causing the problem.  Maybe we're getting somewhere.  If things continue as they appear now, it may have been a phone issue all along from the standpoint that it may not be able to handle too may things happening over wi-fi at the same time.

                          • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                            billg 4 Bar

                            Great!  Keep us posted as you add apps.

                          • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                            bitflung Ambassador

                            [...] I'm wondering if the call problems were happening when apps and accounts tried to sip data or update in the background during wi-fi calls, [...]

                            that's a good question.

                            i've often stated flatly that i don't have ANY wifi calling issues (i still don't) but it's worth noting that i do not allow my apps to auto-update. i like to be in control of when (and if) an app will be updated, so i update them manually myself (and obviously not when on a call).

                             

                            i wonder if this isn't a significant piece of the puzzle - perhaps it's one of the reasons i never see these call quality issues others keep having??

                             

                            -bit

                            • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                              rajivb Ambassador

                              bitflung

                               

                              You have raised an important issue. The use of bandwidth (Wi-Fi or cellular during a call) - could be regulated at the OS level, and should be something that could be addressed by Republic in future system updates.

                            • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                              billg 4 Bar

                              I was under the impression that all services related to data were disabled whenever a call is in progress.  Anyone know whether or not this is the case?

                              • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                rajivb Ambassador

                                That is how it should be. However, the question is whether the suppression is done at the OS level, or does the Phone app set a flag that "well written apps" are supposed to "honor?" In that case, a poorly written app, may not halt the data stream in sufficient time to prevent poor call quality.

                                • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                  bitflung Ambassador

                                  That is how it should be.

                                  in reference to blocking data traffic while on a call?

                                  no no - that is NOT how it should be. no actual-3G phone has done this since 3G was first implemented. CDMA pseudo-3G does this on the cellular interface simply because it is a 2G network, but that has nothing to do with the phone's requirements, its all about the network - so for a wifi call this is most definitely NOT NEEDED.

                                  However, the question is whether the suppression is done at the OS level, or does the Phone app set a flag that "well written apps" are supposed to "honor?" [...]

                                  There should be no suppression in the first place. If RW needs to add it to the OS they'd have to write an app to control the connection manager; that would block any app which accessed the connectivity APIs (should be all user facing apps)

                              • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                glarepate 4 Bar

                                billg wrote:

                                 

                                I was under the impression that all services related to data were disabled whenever a call is in progress.  Anyone know whether or not this is the case?

                                If you are placing a cell call then yes.  That is how CDMA networks operate.

                                 

                                For WiFi that shouldn't matter but once you have saturated the data connction of either your phone or your router then you may start seeing some problems with voice dropouts, pops & clicks, or downloads stalling.

                                • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                  billg 4 Bar

                                  Thanks for the clarification re cell calls.  Maybe someone from RW can tell us if data traffic is disabled during WiFi calls.

                                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                    glarepate 4 Bar

                                    billg wrote:

                                     

                                    Thanks for the clarification re cell calls.  Maybe someone from RW can tell us if data traffic is disabled during WiFi calls.

                                    Perhaps by mentioning his name here we can get seanr to provide us some info on this point. 

                                     

                                    However, I think you will find that there would be little reason to add code that would disable other data traffic (since a VOIP call is just a data transfer over a specific set/range of ports) when you are making a call over WiFi.

                                     

                                    Let's see if he chimes in on this and if he has something that will clarify the point.  It may be that the information in question is not available for one or more reasons that we might have thought of.

                                    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                      rajivb Ambassador

                                      glarepate, why do you think

                                      that there would be little reason to add code that would disable other data traffic (since a VOIP call is just a data transfer over a specific set/range of ports) when you are making a call over WiFi.

                                      I would have thought that there would be all the reason to stop other apps from sending data over Wi-Fi when there is a call over Wi-Fi - this would in fact be mimicking what is already being done over CDMA

                                      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                        billg 4 Bar

                                        Powerful as the phone is not, it would be a good idea to stop all apps and swap them to the SD card to free-up main memory.

                                        • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                          glarepate 4 Bar

                                          Totally different issue.  The number and size of apps is constrained by available RAM, not bandwidth.

                                           

                                          Unless a custom process scheduler was developed and implemented to cater to this borderline condition.  No reason it couldn't be, just that it would likely be the result of, of all things, the kind of testing that we are doing every day on these phones.  So, maybe ...

                                        • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                          bitflung Ambassador

                                          billg wrote:

                                           

                                          Powerful as the phone is not, it would be a good idea to stop all apps and swap them to the SD card to free-up main memory.

                                          in the past many phones actually had a second core specifically to run the "baseband" code - that is the code which executes to control the codec and cell radio and therefore the critical code for voice calls. those phones were seldom branded as dual-core processors, but they actually were (often on the same die).

                                           

                                          even if a phone were to ship with this baseband specific core today, a wifi call would require software which isn't allowed to execute on that core.

                                           

                                          so for wifi calls in particular, you're right: halting other services could very well help. as for swapping to SD, i'm not sure what you mean. regardless, none of this SHOULD BE NECESSARY - processor intensive apps can run in parallel to active VoIP communications on plenty of contemporary phones. the big catch is those phones typically offer some kind of hardware accelerated VoIP stack (i'm looking at a Nokia device right now with hardware VoIP support and the ability to have a flawless VoIP call while playing memory and processor intensive 3D games).

                                           

                                          I doubt the Defy has this extra hardware - so on THIS phone I agree that (some/many/not-all) other processes should be halted while on a wifi call; but i'd hate to see that become the defacto-standard. the ideal solution would not force us to remain in the equivalent of a 2G network (or worse with all processes halted) just because this one phone can't cope with voip while running other cpu intensive apps.

                                      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                        glarepate 4 Bar

                                        The rationale I am applying is that WiFi bandwidth, even though it may be shared among many data connections and users, is far, far higher than anything that was in place (and maybe even imagined) when the CDMA protocol was developed.  On top of that the TCP/IP protocol is excellent at managing multiple data streams for very large numbers of processes and connections.  So that's not a 'fix" that would be trivial to implement within the constraints of the phone OS.  But not impossible either.  But would it be worth doing.  And maintaining the code base for as well.

                                         

                                        I'm sure it wouldn't be horribly difficult to cause the kernel to block other data connections when a VOIP call is active (or two or more for placing a caller on hold to answer another call or to do a conference call for example) but a [single] call only needs 80 kilobits of bandwidth to work.  Compared to 54 megabits this amount of data use would be pretty much negligible.

                                         

                                        But if you are at Starbucks instead of at home then the load on the WiFi router won't be just you and yours around the house.

                                         

                                        It seems to me that this traffic shaping both would and should be built into the router rather than the phone.  But I didn't design the algorithms and don't know what the initial design considerations were when the code was being developed.  So there is more than one possibility.  Hopefully we will find out.

                                      • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                        bitflung Ambassador

                                        rajivb wrote:

                                         

                                        glarepate, why do you think

                                        that there would be little reason to add code that would disable other data traffic (since a VOIP call is just a data transfer over a specific set/range of ports) when you are making a call over WiFi.

                                        I would have thought that there would be all the reason to stop other apps from sending data over Wi-Fi when there is a call over Wi-Fi - this would in fact be mimicking what is already being done over CDMA

                                        on CDMA it's not the phone which prevents the ongoing data connection while on a call - it's the network. 2G networks do not have the ability to carry both simultaneously, the data connection DROPS from the network side when the voice channel is activated.

                                  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                    seanr republicEmployee

                                    Cellular data is not disabled during Wi-Fi calls only cellular calls.

                              • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                                bitflung Ambassador

                                billg wrote:

                                 

                                I was under the impression that all services related to data were disabled whenever a call is in progress.  Anyone know whether or not this is the case?

                                i am quite confident that this is not the case.

                                and i don't think it SHOULD be either. at least not for phones in general.

                                 

                                outside of CDMA, the rest of the world has been enjoying actual-3G for years now - and that includes simultaneous data and voice capabilities even on just the cellular connection. for example, with my old Nokia N95 on T-Mobile's actual-3G network, I could fire up JoikuSpot (an app to turn the phone into a wifi hotspot), connect my laptop to it, stream Netflix in HD (netflix calls 720 'HD'), and if my phone rang I could answer it, walk into the other room, and my Wife's show on Netflix wouldn't be interrupted.

                                 

                                That's what actual-3G can do. different folks use simultaneous data+voice for different reasons, but there is nothing inherent to cell phones which SHOULD stop data connections when using the phone for voice. There are limitations inherent to 2G networks like CDMA, but that's about the network not the phone - so wifi data during a cell OR wifi call should be fine.

                                 

                                I think the issue with wifi usage on a RW VoIP call is really CPU related. I believe the codec and echo cancellation functions are still primarily software based, meaning that other software executing (like the play store downloading/installing an updated app) could starve the software and cause these issues.

                                 

                                as for network performance itself - it's also possible that throughput-optimizations are causing the phone's IP stack to queue up larger buffers of data before sending out (or collecting larger buffers of data before notifying the app) when the network utilization is high. this improves throughput on any network, but obviously worsens latency and jitter. That might be beyond RW's control (it could be built right into the driver, a binary blob they likely don't have rights to the source code for).

                                 

                                So in RW's case, perhaps it's worthwhile to strangle data while on a VoIP call - but that's not something phones should need in general (and i'd much rather see a better solution so we can at least say that wifi calling meets the 3G spec - the thought of 2G wifi calling just makes me sad).

              • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
                billg 4 Bar

                I find considerable variance in call quality and attribute this to the technology.  My best calls are those I place to land lines, next would be those I place to cell phones and least would be those placed to another defy XT also using WiFi.   I don't make enough calls to consider this finding reliable.  I've had terrible quality to land lines and decent quality calls to a second defy XT but the defy-to-defy calls are bad often enough I choose Facetime instead whenever practical.  I rarely have a Facetime call that doesn't have exceptional audio AND video quality so I believe your feeling there are still problems with RW's equipment and/or the PSTN are right on the money.  Sean mentioned they are trying different digital/analog converters and I wonder if this is why some calls are much better than others.  Luck of the draw, perhaps.

    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
      rajivb Ambassador

      How crowded is your WiFi spectrum where you live? If you do a scan using your computer, do you see many WiFi beacons? Sometimes that is a cause of call problems, and may sometimes be rectified by tweaking the WiFi router.

    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
      bitflung Ambassador

      W-fi call quality has been iffy for me during this first 30 days I've had the phone.  I have tried all the usual troubleshooting.  My internet speed is insanely awesome through charter (40 mb down, 3 up, ping around 25ms).

      you really should run the voip spear test mchasal referred to - folks elsewhere are getting GREAT wifi calls with far "slower" internet service.

      The rw phone has priority on my $200 Linksys EA4500 router that's being backed by a docsis 3 cisco modem.

      phew - my 5+ year old $50 router and 5+ year old crummy cable modem are providing flawless wifi calls for me even without setting up QoS on my router. sure sounds like it's not your equipment - that voip spear test will help figure out what is wrong but it sure sounds like jitter and/or packet loss.

      green arc is always there on the rw phone.

      this just means it was able to register to RW's servers. call completion requires this but it isn't sufficient for call quality.

      still, calls have a popping sound, dropped words, and sometimes entirely dropped calls.  yikes, I hope there's another OTA coming soon.

      popping: very likely from jitter and out-of-order data on the wire

      dropped words/calls: very likely from packet loss

       

      run the voip spear test and look for a Mean Opinion Score (MOS) of 4.0+ (or more correctly, you should expect an MOS less than this since you've clearly got some line quality issues).

       

      feel free to post the resultant data here - there are plenty of folks how frequently help others digest the data. it might be enough data for you to convince your ISP to fix whatever is broken!

       

      -bit

  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
    paulrich 1 Bar

    Call quality for me has almost always been very good.  However, it wasn't until someone mentioned that they always hear an echo on their end that I started asking the people I'm talking to about their call quality.  Invariably, everyone I talk to Cell and Land Line states that they get an echo on their end.  So, while my call quality is good, it isn't good for the people I talk to.

  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
    brianf.20xvwo 1 Bar

    Does T-Mobile have these sort of issues? Also, is this type of call quality the norm or the exception?  thanks!

    • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
      bitflung Ambassador

      brianf.20xvwo wrote:

       

      Does T-Mobile have these sort of issues? Also, is this type of call quality the norm or the exception?  thanks!

      tmobile's wifi calling is called UMA and yes, they do have quality issues at times:

      poor quality of outbound wi-fi calling | Support

      Poor voice quality in UMA mode on T-Mobile 8220 - BlackBerry Forums at CrackBerry.com

      WiFi (or UMA?) calling ONGOING PROBLEMS | Support

       

      just like with RW, the issues are almost always due to the local network the user is trying to call from. some rare instances of protocol specific or user specific issues are sure to arise. in general, though, the RW system (SIP) and the T-Mobile system (UMA) both share the same chilies heel: the local network and its connection to the carrier's network MUST be 'fast' enough (as in low latency, not high throughput).

       

      Quality issues are the exception, not the norm. though it's a popular exception it seems. I'd wager that more than half of VoIP users get great quality consistently, but that leaves almost half possibly having issues. In my experiences with many VoIP providers I've had my share of issues and my share of success stories. Perhaps the WORST network i used was sipphone.com (aka Gizmo5), but many many others LOVED that service (i loved how open it was: it JUST WORKED, albeit rather poorly); perhaps the BEST network i used was Truphone.com, though based in the UK I did have some issues with jitter and latency about 6 months in (like Google Voice, they launched with free service 'for one year' multiple years in a row).

       

      If you have a good device and a good network the odds are extremely high that you'll have good quality VoIP calls (with any arbitrary provider). Those with issues who still have good devices and good networks are a very unlucky minority. Others with issues have either poor devices or poor networks and they can do something about it (including the vast majority, in my opinion, of call quality symptoms).

  • Re: Call quality and customer satisfaction
    witnessofjesus 2 Bar


    I think releaseing these stats would be a positive thing and would help us get our friends, family and neighbors to sign up!