TalkBroadband - Some glitches and solutions

I just got off the phone with Primus TalkBroadband tech support. In particular, I had excellent service from Andy Boak, who works out of Montreal. He's a senior tech, and very knowledgeable.

First, my glitch. I had opted only for the Basic bundle, which does not include call answer a.k.a. voicemail. However, when I was on the phone or if the box was offline, calls to my number would go to voicemail, instead of answering with a busy tone or using my backup call forwarding. Since I didn't have voicemail, however, I couldn't actually log in and check any messages.

So I called to get this fixed, and actually decided to add call answer/voice mail, since Kate is starting to use the number to apply for jobs. As well, we decided to add an alternate number, an Ottawa area code, so our friends there could call us locally. Luckily for me, I got Andy on the line.

The first thing Andy pointed out was that TalkBroadband uses MGCP, not SIP. He brought up my profile and saw that the ticket hadn't gone through yet, so he made some amendments, then put me on hold while he connected with customer service to add features.

The tech support hold times, by the way, are quite long right now, about 20 - 30 minutes or so. Andy did say that there were some more techs coming on line this weekend, so that should ease, "unless demand goes through the roof again".

I got Daniel from customer service, and Andy stayed on the line to immediately apply the changes to my profile. It doesn't get processed immediately, but it was quicker than going through two steps. Daniel processed everything from my account and informed me that my new charges would be $29.95 ($6 for call answer/voicemail and $4 for the alternate number with an Ottawa area code). Yes, this is the same price as the Power bundle, but that one has call answer, call display, and call waiting. Since I personally never use call display or call waiting on my home phone, my "custom bundle" was a better value. I did give Andy my feedback that in my opinion, lowering the cost of the extra services would be a good strategic move, since every customer automatically uses Primus for long distance (unless you use a calling card and a local access number for another service).

A few other things to note. If you do get call answer, the "backup call forwarding" should essentially never occur. Calls go to voice mail if you are on the phone or if your DVG is offline (power outage, Internet outage, etc.). So, call answer should probably be part of the basic package (especially given my broken experience).

To access voice mail from your VoIP line, just dial *98. The default password is the last four digits of your primary phone number. Although it isn't listed anywhere, you can access your voice mail from elsewhere by calling your number, hitting *, your password, then #.

(Hmmm...a second voice mail box for your alternate number might be an interesting idea)

So, I'm still happy with the service. I've made about a dozen calls, and have not had any drops, quality issues, or other problems. And with my non-standard setup, too! Feel free to leave questions in the comments, or use the contact page to email me. Andy did also mention that my site was being put on their internal list, so some of the TalkBroadband techs may be stopping by to make sure that I don't have any factual inaccuracies.

Update: Primus fixed everything for me double-quick. Voicemail works, and it's got some cool features. For instance, each message starts by reading out the phone number that called (kind of like audio call display), then the date and time. Also, you can have up to three messages -- one for no answer, one for do not disturb (*04 to activate), and one for busy.