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VoIP advice from the trenches

ITKE, or ITKnowledge Exchange, is simply a cool (and quick) way to get a response to your VoIP-related questions.

You have a question. Maybe it's an important, significant question or maybe it's more along the lines of some little trick that remedied a glitch, but a little trick you've forgotten nonetheless. Can't bring yourself to ask the buddy in the next office another question? Maybe you don't have a buddy to saddle up to. has buddies – buddies that can help you with all your questions; big, small and in between. Maybe you feel an overwhelming drive to repay your debt to buddies who've pulled you out of a few jams. We also provide a means for you to pay it back -- to lend your expert advice to other buddies in need.

ITKE, or ITKnowledge Exchange, is simply a cool (and quick) way to get responses to your work-related questions. I, as the editor of, encourage you to send in your questions if for no other reason than to keep our editorial staff sharp on tech speak.

Here's a glimpse into what goes down in ITKE:

Gforsythe submitted a question with the subject line "Microwave WAN?" to the ITKE forum. Within six minutes, he has a response from one of the ITKE buddies. Just over two hours later, another buddy fills in with some helpful tidbits. About two hours after this response, yet more information is packed in. These responses are not coming from analysts who work with surveys and market stats. The responses are coming from those who are paid to know how to do such things (or know how to get the answers they need to do their jobs – like you!)

Here is Gforsythe's question as it appeared (no edits – you're welcome!):

have a good one for you to chew on....

I currently have a WAN using PTP T1's to 3 remote offices, about a 75 mile haul on 2, 10 on the 3rd. I run EMHR (electronic medical health records) database, practice management, http, DNS, domain, etc, etc, plus VoIP (Cisco) over this WAN. You guessed it, I am in healthcare...

My boss just came to me and said. I want you to be prepared to meet with me next week and discuss Microwave. If we had it, how would we use it?

Here is my concern:
VoIP- QoS, latency
Remote access via internet/VPN, NAT

Any of you out there have any experience with this?

BTW, I use 2800 series Cisco routers at all locations and am currently using DSL for Internet access.

icestormz said:
The 75 miles would be a problem, but the 10 mile would be ok. I would just watch the VoIP.

bobkberg added:
I would also be leery of rain, fog, large trees, and anything else that can absorb the signal.

I've used microwave links of 1 mile and had no problems, and the other poster is probably right about 10 miles.

However, unless you've got a REALLY tall set of towers (or buildings to use the roof), I dare say that if you can't clear ground-based objects, even the 10 mile one could be iffy.

BobYoung had this to say:
I've deployed microwave for a major cellular company. All of the things you want to do can be done, and have been done, but distance and path quality are the issues (besides cost) that will need to be scrutinized. For a quick, free estimation: go to any of the microwave manufacturer web sites, like Harris Microwave.

They will have calculation tools. Put in the information from your system and you can get a rough calculation of whether or not the path can even be considered. There is a great deal of difference in capability when it comes to licensed microwave versus unlicensed. The vendor rep can help you, and will provide some free pre-sale analysis. Send me a private message if you'd like to discuss this more.

Don't let VoIP mess with your head. Get in on the ITKE thread.

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