After hearing about James's Vonage trials I decided to take a look for a VOIP Provider myself here in the UK. I looked at Vonage and behold they were setup in the UK as from January this year and with a Linksys RT31P2 VOIP Router as the main feature I decided to go with this plan. ALL UK calls are classed as free and Vonage to Vonage calls world wide were also free. The UK plans differ slightly from the Vonage US/Canada plans however for the UK home user the pricing was a mere Â£9.99 a month. This with all the usual features includes a RT31P2 as free, however there is a initial 16.99 setup fee to be added when signing up. The RT31P2 supplied by Vonage is at the moment the only VOIP device Vonage UK uses. To find out more on Vonage UK click on the Vonage UK Logo at the top of this review.
Signing up to Vonage UK was very simple and quick, major credit cards were accepted including Switch. I waited 5 working days to receive my Router and starter pack. As I had a WRT54GS already on my Network I decided to look into ways of connecting the RT31P2. The recommended way for connection of the RT31P2 to an extra router is like so:
DSL/Cable modem <--->RT31P2<--->WRT54GS
Though for simplicity I used the VOIP Router on its own, just to see how easy it was to setup. I logged on to the Routers Setup GUI pages to find the firmware version was v1.25 however within a few minutes this changed to 1.28 (Apparently Vonage updates firmware from their side automatically). The Phone Line Connection was also up and running within a few minutes. I decided to give linksysinfo.org USA (JDepew) a call just to let him know it was up and running with Vonage. I was amazed at the clarity of the call, in fact the clarity was better than calling a normal voice line.
Setting up RT31P2 with the WRT54GS
The default IP is 192.168.15.1 for the RT31P2 and 192.168.1.1 for the WRT54GS. There are 2 ways are for connecting both. I will described both ways of setting up the routers.
Internet<-->DSL/Cable modem <--->RT31P2<--->WRT54GS
The first way, gives maximum priority for Voice calls and my main PC could access the net connected to the RT31P2 without sharing the same hardware as the WRT54G and its wireless clients. The WRT54GS was connected to Port 3 on RT31P2 and the Alchemy based DDWRT prefinal5 firmware used. My Main PC was on Port 1 using a Static IP address. below are the main Index screens of the RT31P2 and WRT54GS
I was able to access both Routers via telnet and their GUIs. Notice that the DHCP Server is enabled on the WRT54GS, this was to allow for Static DHCP allocation to my Network. devices however I did setup a Static IP manually on my main PC to allow the gateway to point directly to the RT31P2 as if i let the WRT54GS assign the IP the gateway ended up as the WRT54GS.
Below is a view of the network.
If you are wanting to use the WRT54GS as the main router you can still put the WRT54GS behind the RT31P2 and turn on DMZ to point to the WRT54GS and use all clients to connect to the WRT. This would probably give better Firewall protection. and still allows the RT31P2 to have priority. However with Alchemy or DDWRT firmware's you can set QoS to give maximum priority to VOIP to the RT31P2 so the other way of connection may be better for you which is listed below.
Internet<-->DSL/Cable modem <--->WRT54GS<--->RT31P2
This way will give better firewall protection. As the RT31P2 as far as I know, does not have SPI Firewall protection. with a Alchemy based firmware you can prioritise packets for voice so loss of Voice packets is kept to a minimum. Since the RT31P2 has to connect to the WRT via its own WAN (Internet Port), you wont be able to connect the normal way to the RT31P2's GUI Web pages once it is connected to the WRT. Firstly connect it directly to your PC using a Static IP for your PC and change IP from default 192.168.15.1 to something outside of your DHCP Servers settings. As for this example I used 192.168.15.2 for the RT31P2 as DHCP started at 192.168.15.3 You will also need to enable Remote Administration in the "Management.htm" page.
Once this is done you can plug a network cable from the WRT54G/GS LAN port to the RT31P2 WAN port. to access the Router. You need to use the following IP address.http://192.168.15.2:8080 to allow the Remote Administration to access the GUI Web pages via the WAN port of the RT31P2. All other settings on the RT31P2 were default as there was no other device except the Phone plugged into the Router. Once this is up and running you will need to setup QoS in the WRT54G/GS to allow maximum priority to the RT31P2 VOIP Protocol.
WRT54G/GS QoS Settings:
Notice I have setup SIP for Premium Priority. This allows priority for Voice Calls. Also Netmask "192.168.15.25/32" is Premium (thats the RT31P2) and my other Netmask is Bulk (for Wireless Client IPs).
After this you should now have a fully setup WRT54G/GS in front of the RT31P2 and Voice calls should be as good as if the RT31P2 was in front of the WRT54G/GS.
The final result looks like this:
So far i have tried both setups and to be honest I didn't noticed any real difference. The choise of setup would be up to you. Vonage UK is one of the top known VOIP Providers and I have found their service outstanding. I would recommend their service to anyone. 4 out of 5 bars!
Vonage Rating 4 Bars.
Regarding the RT31P2 adapter this is just like any other Linksys Wired Router. The QoS of Ports and Voice(SIP) service are very good. If your are used to Linksys Wired Routers you wont go far wrong with this choice of router, however it is the only device at present for Vonage UK. Firmware upgraded are only done by Vonage Service which isn't a bad thing, as it stops the user from bricking his VOIP Device. 4 out of 5 bars!
RT31P2 Rating 4 Bars.