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Incoming calls on softphones

posted Jun 8, 2015, 4:32 AM by EZvoip Co   [ updated Mar 10, 2021, 1:56 PM ]
Some of our customers had difficulties with incoming calls on their smartphone softphones or even Windows, and more specifically, with the great Zoiper

This article deals with the problem of being able to make outgoing calls but not receiving incoming calls. You can test outgoing calls by calling our echo service at 4443. If that works, it means that you have a working connection to our server and are able to place outgoing calls.

If you can place outgoing calls but cannot receive calls, one simple reason may be that your DID (phone number) is set up on one server (e.g., Toronto5) and you connect to a different server (e.g., Toronto2). For incoming calls to "ring" you need to connect to the same server as your DID. You should always connect to the server closest to you geographically, and if there are several in the same city, pick one of the higher numbers, then adjust the DID from your portal to use that server or POP (point of presence).

Another very simple reason why you might not be able to receive incoming calls is that you have closed or killed your softphone. A softphone will not ring if it is not working.

If you are certain that you are connecting to the same server as your DID, but still cannot receive incoming calls, there is most likely an issue with your LAN or your device (smartphone or laptop) blocking connections to your router and thus to our server. In particular, your OS might "kill" your softphone program or its connection after a while for power saving or security reasons. For example, some Windows computers will disconnect Internet connections when the screensaver kicks in. That would definitely prevent incoming calls from ringing.

Even with updated instructions, softphone developers change their interface and create new features and GUIs all the time, which is why specific instructions are not always useful - it is better to have a general understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. The following tips might help in setting up softphones for incoming calls.
  1. Most softphones on smartphones (such as Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry) are designed to conserve battery and for low resource use. Maintaining a connection for incoming calls uses more battery than having a connection "on-demand" only for outgoing calls. As such, by default, softphones set up accounts without incoming calls. For most softphones, receiving incoming calls requires an additional step in setup, such as checking off an "always available" checkbox. This may also be called "allow incoming calls" or "maintain connection to server".
  2. Any number of devices may be set up with one subaccount for outgoing calls. This means that with the same credentials, you could be making a phone call to Honolulu on your Windows PC, your spouse could be making a phone call to Buenos Aires from her iPad and a relative could be calling Shanghai, all at the same time. However, if one was to call you, there is no telling which device will ring. If incoming calls are important, it is best to set up a different account for each device. You can then have an IVR menu allowing callers to choose who to call with an extension, or even have all devices ring at the same time with the Call Hunt or Ring Groups feature.
  3. If setting up a different account for each device is undesirable (even though we can usually do so at no extra charge), you may register only one device on the server with the incoming phone number, and all the other devices, used only for outgoing calls, on geographically close but different server(s). This way, only the device registered on the server with the incoming phone number will ring (if properly setup as explained below).
  4. In our current setup, phone numbers and their respective connected accounts must be on the same server. We generally attach a phone number (DID) to the server we recommend to you in our welcoming email and you can change the server or POP yourself from your DID options in your portal. If you decide to change the server (for instance, if you are traveling and wish to connect to a server closer to your geographical location), make sure you move your DID to the server of choice. Don't forget that you may also order a new phone number anywhere in the world, so that you can be called with only a local phone call and then forward your calls to the number connected to your other geographically close server.
  5. Some network providers may disable incoming calls for competitive / monopolistic reasons (for instance, they might want you to use their more expensive voice service if they are a cell phone provider). In our testing, we have not found this to be the case with any of the providers we tried, yet that does no eliminate the possibility that they may do so in the future. This would violate net neutrality. See Net Neutrality by Country.
  6. If you are using Wi-Fi, your router may not allow these connections to take place. All the routers we tested allow incoming calls with no issue, but incoming calls may explicitly be denied with a setting on some routers.
  7. A device might disconnect from the Internet or even kill connections due to inactivity. The following are people complaining about this very behaviour with Windows 10 from 10forums, MsAnswers, Seattle. To fully monitor and troubleshoot this issue you can use ping or other tools.
  8. Finally, when troubleshooting a partially-working connection, it is useful to bear in mind that some of the changes you make in the setup of your softphone may not be immediately reflected in the way it operates, because the softphone might not immediately update its connection, keeping the old, stale connection. Sometimes softphones update and reconnect to the server only every hour, and rebooting the smartphone or restarting the softphones may not necessarily force the new settings on. In such situations, you might need to change the "polling time" setting on your softphone and reboot, or simply wait until the next server polling has taken place.
Most importantly, be sure that the server we indicated in our Welcome Email (or updated in subsequent communication) is the server you are registering on! If unsure, delete your account in your smartphone and try setting it up again.

If you tried all the above and you are still having problems, we could try to help you troubleshoot your LAN even though that is not part of our offer, so you can contact us and provide as much information and as detailed as possible.
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