December was a bit of a roller coaster in the VoIP community. But the world didn’t end after all. In fact, we’ve got lots to celebrate as we break out the 2019 calendar. The demise of HiFormance left many of us in the lurch because it was a nearly perfect VoIP platform for Incredible PBX. Well, not to worry. So long as you have a backup of your settings, the transition to our latest discovery will be painless. And making a backup may still be possible. As we write this the Atlanta, Buffalo, and Los Angeles servers still appear to be operational and accessible. We’ll pause here to repeat our warnings about using what we call "sandbox platforms." These are dirt-cheap, cloud-based offerings that provide adequate VoIP performance for experimentation. But they may not be around when you wake up tomorrow. Then again they may keep chugging along for years. The point is don’t stake your business on resources like this and, if you can’t afford to lose one day’s lunch money, don’t sign up at all.

We find most of these providers on the LowEndBox web site. They have a symbiotic relationship with ColoCrossing although we’re not quite sure how it works other than to note that they advertise specials from a number of new companies that apparently take advantage of ColoCrossing’s rental program which gets you a cloud-based server platform for under $50 a month with all the tools to set up your own hosting business. Some obviously oversubscribe their available resources, and you can typically spot these after about 5 minutes of aggravation attempting to log in. Almost all provide a 24-hour refund policy so it’s a good idea to sign up using a credit card provider that will go to bat for you if things go south.

Having said all of that, we got at least 18 months of excellent service out of HiFormance in numerous locations. If you do that well on an investment of $10-$15 a year, you’ve done a good day’s work. HiFormance quickly became our development platform of choice because we could spin up servers in minutes, and they agreed to host the Incredible PBX® image for others that wanted to experiment. As we said above, this sort of platform isn’t for everybody and it isn’t suitable for production use. But, if you’re just learning about VoIP, it’s a perfect sandbox and the cost is less than you’d spend for electricity hosting a server in your home.

Our first find for today is a new company called Hosting73. Their server(s) are hosted by ColoCrossing in Atlanta. The performance is nothing short of spectacular with download AND upload speeds approaching one gigabit. Our latest results showed a download speed of 930.74 Mbit/s and an upload speed of 805.02 Mbit/s. Once you set up an Incredible PBX platform, you can test it yourself:

wget -O speedtest-cli https://raw.githubusercontent.com/sivel/speedtest-cli/master/speedtest.py
chmod +x speedtest-cli
./speedtest-cli

Today’s Hosting73 offering provides a cloud platform with 1.5GB RAM, 25GB of SSD storage, and 2TB of monthly bandwidth for $14 a year. If you open a ticket after you sign up, they will double the monthly bandwidth at no additional cost. Ours was reconfigured in under an hour, and the initial setup took less than 5 minutes. All you really need to provide is a hostname and your name, address, and email.



Once your server is configured, your credentials will arrive by email. Log in to your server as root and immediately change your root password. Then complete the Incredible PBX 13-13 two stage install which takes about 15 minutes. Complete Incredible PBX tutorial is available here and Skyetel setup is here. For those that hate reading, here are all the required steps:

passwd
yum -y update
yum -y install net-tools nano wget tar
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx-13-13-LEAN.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx-13-13-LEAN.tar.gz
rm -f incrediblepbx-13-13-LEAN.tar.gz
# kick off Phase I install
./IncrediblePBX-13-13.sh
# after reboot, kick off Phase II install
./IncrediblePBX-13-13.sh
# add Full Enchilada apps if desired
./Enchilada-upgrade.sh
# add HylaFax/AvantFax if desired
./incrediblefax13.sh
# set passwords
./update-passwords
# set desired timezone
./timezone-setup
# add Skyetel trunks
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/add-skyetel
chmod +x add-skyetel
sed -i 's|from-trunk|from-pstn-e164-us|' add-skyetel
./add-skyetel
chmod -x add-skyetel
# remember to first enable TUN/TAP in VPS Control Panel
# then reconfigure PortKnocker for OpenVZ platform
echo 'OPTIONS="-i venet0:0"' >> /etc/sysconfig/knockd
service knockd restart
# fix pbxstatus for NeoRouter IP support if desired
cd /usr/local/sbin
sed -i "s|cat /etc/hostip|cat /etc/hostip \| cut -f 3 -d ' ' |" pbxstatus
nrclientcmd

Once you get this far, you do need to read the two tutorials linked above. Happy New Year!



We’re updating this article with two new providers that now have passed our testing with flying colors. Above all else, a second provider gives you redundancy and considerable peace of mind. SolvedByData offers VPS servers in your choice of Buffalo, NY and Los Angeles for even better redundancy. Their pricing is slightly higher, but you also get a more powerful platform as well as a provider that’s been in business for five years. Here are their VPS specs.

UPDATE: We’ve been advised that SolvedByData now is blocking SIP traffic on UDP 5060 so we no longer recommend them as a provider.



We’ve saved the best for last, but you better hurry. This one won’t last long. Our third provider is a company with whom we have had excellent results using their $22/year KVM offering. They’ve just announced a $7/year OpenVZ platform with 1GB RAM, 20GB disk storage, and 1.5TB/mo. bandwidth. Their 1Gbit port upgrade adds $1.50/year. In order to add (recommended) swap space to your VPS, you’ll need to open a ticket. There’s no cost.



Originally published: Saturday, December 29, 2018  Updated: Wednesday, January 3, 2019


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a difficult place to address support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forum. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, the PIAF Forum is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

FULL DISCLOSURE: RentPBX, Amazon, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Digium, Sangoma, 3CX, TelecomsXchange and others have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

Skyetel $50 Free Trial: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $50 free trial and free number porting when you sign up for a Skyetel account. No restrictions on number of simultaneous calls, and triple data center redundancy assures that you never experience a failed call. Tutorial and sign up details available here.

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 


RentPBX, a long-time partner and supporter of PIAF project, is offering generous discounts for Nerd Vittles readers. For all of your Incredible PBX hosting needs, sign up at www.RentPBX.com and use code NOGOTCHAS to get the special pricing. The code will lower the price to $14.99/month, originally $24.99/month. It’s less than 50¢/day.


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This article has 4 comments

  1. Doesn’t it concern you that the look / feel of this hosting is suspiciously like HiFormance.

    As for me, I lost 3 years service x3 with HiFormance. I put in a claim with PayPal, HiFormance has the nerve to fight my claim!

    Burned once, ouch! Burned twice, that would be my fault! Sitting this one out. Paying the premium at Vultr. At least for production systems!

    [WM: Nobody ever suggested using this provider for production systems!]

  2. Whether the sites are similar to HiFormance or not, these are really good deals for setting up test servers, it would seem.

    Is there an article or any info on redundancy of systems – specifically using one softphone on two different PBXs, so if one of these were to fail, the softphone can fallback to the other one?

    [WM: I don’t know of a softphone that has failover, but most the major SIP phones support this so long as the extension number and password are the same. When you configure the phone, you will see two fields for server IP addresses.]

  3. Just bought the special deal from solvedbydata. installed wazo 18.03 on debian 9 template, all sip trunk registrations time out. submitted a ticket to support and I was told media streaming is not allowed. Has anyone been able to run wazo or IncrediblePBX on solvedbydata’s VPS server?

    [WM: Sounds like the tech doesn’t understand VoIP communications. SIP (UDP 5060) only negotiates the call to verify credentials and identify a call path for RTP. The RTP (stream) actually processes the audio, and that is solely between the endpoints (phones) and sometimes the VoIP carrier. It has nothing to do with your SIP registration at solvedbydata.]

  4. Yes. I agree.
    However, when from tcpdump, I can only see traffic from asterisk to remote sip server, nothing coming back.
    I checked with my sip service provider, they receive nothing from my IP address. It looks like solvebydata is blocking outbound SIP for no good reasons.
    I tested with 3 different SIP service providers, all failed the same way.
    Very disappointed with solvebydata, hope I can get a refund.

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