In my quest to transition from a standard land-line to a completely digital phone experience I purchased one of the new Belkin Skype Wifi Phones. In my previous post about the pros and cons of the Belkin phone (read here), I mentioned the issued about the phone dropping calls right in the middle of conversation and said that it was similar to a drop call with a cell phone. I thought it was because of the Wifi connection and how it interacts with the phone but I’ve still not had much success at getting it to a more consistent standard. Myself and a friend of mine, who also has this same unit as his primary phone of communication, feels that the inconsistent manner by which the phone operates does create some concern about the using the device as a full time alternative to land-lines. In my hope to make the device more efficient I learned several useful tools for maintaining the device in case something goes wrong or make the signal stronger.
Belkin Skype Wifi Phone Settings:
1. Signal Strength: There are a few key factors that can help keep the call online.
A. Preferred Networks: The device works well on one or two networks, but when there is a lot of saved networks in the system it tries to connect to the other ones the minute a signal is not found in the current wifi area. This means that a person that roams should also check the settings in the preferred networks and make sure that the current signal that the phone should receive is the on the very top of the list. There are settings inside the option area to move the preferred networks up and down. I try to clear off ones that I’m not using or don’t need so that the phone only keeps the current network that I want. The other option is the set the phone to not connect automatically to networks that you don’t use and this will also help the phone receive the right amount of data to keep the signal strength. Go the the phone settings and there is an option called preferred networks, and from there you can use the option pad to move them up and down, as well as select them to change settings like the auto connect.
B. Receiving and Sending Audio: It takes a lot of data packets to move the audio back and forth and the phone is sending this data in the air to the router which is then sending info back in the air to the phone. From my experiences, I’ve noticed that when conversations are getting loud, or there is a lot of noise in the background, that is when the phone call drops. If I’m trying to talk over the other person and we are both sending a lot of data and the same time, then it starts to get weak and I can hear the phone quality dropping. If I’m patient and allow the conversation to flow easy without a lot of extra noise or audio input then the calls stays on longer. I’ve actually talked on the phone continuously for over 1 hour on the same call without one drop. However, I’ve had conversations where for whatever reason the phone call dropped several times, but there were often other audio distractions going on so there was feedback going in. The additional noise could be a loud TV, noisy room, music, or even sometimes yelling into the device makes the audio start to fade out the signal. When I noticed it and calm down the signal quality starts to return.
I’ve read that Belkin is aware of these issues and are working on ways to improve the firmware that runs it to make it more stable. I hope there is an update coming soon and that is also be available to current owners through the software update service on the phone device.
C. Router: I’ve learned that is also helps to have a good router and one that puts out a good strong signal. I noticed that when I replaced my router with a newer and stronger router with better signal stability, it also improved the connection with the phone and made the calls much clearer. It may be a no-brainer but stronger signal strength starts where the signal is coming from so make sure that the device you are connecting to isn’t the problem rather than the phone.
2. Power Down: Every now and then the phone just needs to be reset. None of the data is lost in a full power down, but it may ask you sign into your Skype account again. I’ve noticed this to be very handy when I don’t get a signal or the signal strength is poor. I give the phone a power down and when it comes back up it seems to be working fine. The entire power down usually takes about 5 minutes as it may take about 1 minute to go down and about 3 minutes to come back up. You may also have to sign in again which may take another minute or so.
I’ve been enjoying most of my experiences thus far and hope that the new firmware updates will make the device applications more stable so that it will continue to be a productive and efficient part of my communication. There are also a few other devices on the market that I will be reviewing soon and look forward to seeing if they can be good parts my communication chain. I’ve been hearing good thing about the Vosky Call Center Device. It hooks up to any phone and can make Skype calls. It sounds be pretty interesting but I’m already seeing some flaws with this device and I’m sure I’ll be writing about it soon.