Tag: Hosted VoIP

18 Sep 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Disaster Recovery and your Telephone System

So how do you plan for Business Continuity around your phone system? In light of the multiple natural disasters that have plagued the US, it is prudent to review this now.

 

The world of telephony is changing. Subtly, over the past several years, there has been continual change as the convergence of voice and data continues. Everyone agrees about the need to have data accessible via some cloud strategy.   What I have discovered is that people think primarily about the data, and the idea of keeping the pulse of your business alive – your phone system, is relegated to a distant second place. Phones are taken for granted, and, as a result, most people do not even know the questions to ask.

The purpose of this article is not to provide you with all the answers but to help you start thinking and asking better questions. A checklist is included at the end.

 

We start with deciding between a premise-based system and a hosted one. The way Disaster Recovery (DR) is handled with Hosted systems IS NOT the same as with premise-based systems.

 

Premise-Based Systems

How do you identify a premise-based system? It is fairly simply. If the PBX is located in your building it is premise-based. Your carrier connects directly to that PBX. They have responsibility to deliver dial tone to that PBX only. Meaning if that PBX is not “there” to receive that call, the person originating the call will get a fast busy. For the customer to not get a fast busy that PBX will need to stay up. This means that you need extra protection, extra features and even a secondary PBX to protect you in case of a natural disaster.

 

You will want need to talk to your PBX maintenance person about an off site PBX or off site backups. You will also need to talk to your carrier about what to do when your PBX is off line. Where can you forward your calls? The most common answer is to a cell phone. You will need to keep in mind that one cell will get every call that comes on that forwarded number with no ability to transfer that call. Plus, juggling calls in a cell is not easy, and, typically, you can only manage two calls at a time.

 

Hosted Systems

Hosted VoIP is a model that leverages the Internet. The idea is that the call control is out of the building and in the cloud. You should make sure that the company that is hosting the PBX (call control server) has it housed in a facility like a carrier hotel and is, preferably, georedundant. Georedundancy means that the facility is operating at more than one geographical location, as a form of redundancy in the of case site failure.

Hosted systems have become more popular as VoIP has become a stable and effective business model.

But not all hosted VoIP providers are the same. It is very much caveat emptor when it comes to VoIP, especially if you are basing your choice of providers exclusively on price. When considering a telephony DR plan you must be an educated buyer and interview each potential vendor.  A separate article will cover how to interview VoIP providers.

 

Click here for a simple check list that will help organize some of your thoughts around DR. It is meant as a starting point and is far from an exhaustive list. A comprehensive DR plan will spell out hourly costs associated with downtime, a business impact analysis, and action guide that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each employee.

 

Most companies do not do this exhaustive planning and become comfortable as long as “most bases are covered”. The checklist below is designed to assist in helping you start to think through some of the major needs.  You can count on a high-quality VoIP provider to assist with DR planning. You can reach any of our experts at (718) 887-0330 to discuss your company’s specific Disaster Recovery needs. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

16 Aug 2017

Beware the Auto-Renew Clause

Here at CompuVoIP, we get calls every week from customers that are unsatisfied with their current dial-tone service provider or VoIP business telephone service providers. After spending some time with the customer to get a better understanding of their concerns, we generally share with them how the CompuVoIP VoIP service will better meet their needs. That’s when it usually happens. When the CompuVoIP representative asks the question “Are you under contract with your current provider?”, a period of heavy silence usually follows. Far too often, the silence is followed by the response “Yes, and our contract just auto-renewed and we are stuck for another 24 months!!”.

While often touted as a convenience for the customer with the promise of hassle-free uninterrupted service, auto-renewal or “Evergreen” Clauses are clearly advantageous to the service provider. They lock the customer in for the full duration of the original contract term.

Auto-renewal clauses are often referred to “boilerplate clauses” with the intent of giving the impression that they are fixed and cannot be changed, and most customers are sufficiently intimidated by the term to acquiesce to their presence in their agreements. The truth, however, is that EVERYTHING is negotiable. As the customer, you can leverage the power of the purse and the pen. Never relinquish that power unless it is to your advantage.

And what to do if your carrier tells you that your 24 month contract has just auto-renewed and you want out?

California Law requires that automatically renewing charges for subscription services be disclosed in a “clear and conspicuous” manner, which means that it must be more conspicuous than the surrounding text and in close proximity to the signature line. The extraordinary remedy for a service provider failing to comply with this provision is that any additional services provided to the consumer will be deemed an “unconditional gift. Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Oregon have similar “clear and conspicuous” requirements in automatic renewal provisions.

Are you located in New York State? Rejoice!

New York has taken the “clear and conspicuous” requirement one step further by requiring the service provider to notify customers at least 15, but not more than 30, days prior to the renewal that the provision in the clause is to be activated. See New York General Obligations Law Sec. 5-903. This notice must be served on the customer personally or via certified mail and failure to comply will render the automatic renewal unenforceable. The New York statute only applies to contacts for service, maintenance, or repair, but the customer can be an individual or a business.

There’s never a contract for our service at CompuVoIP. We ‘lock you in’ by delighting you so you’ll never go anywhere else. Looking to upgrade your service, or to move to a service provider that doesn’t lock you into a contract? Visit us at www.compuvoip.com or give us a call at (718) 887-0300.

 

05 Jul 2017

The End of the PSTN

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). It’s been around forever. Since 1878 to be precise. To consider its demise seems blasphemous and even suicidal. I ask you to be brave and join me on a journey to explore the possibility of a world without the PSTN, and why you should care.

Why a PSTN?

In 1876, telephones were sold in pairs. If you wanted to talk to your sister on the telephone, you would need to lay cable between your house and hers. In January, 1878, the world’s first telephone exchange was established in New Haven, Connecticut. Call switching was performed manually. Operators manned switchboards repeatedly requesting “Number, Plee-uhz”. As the popularity of the telephone grew, iconic telephone poles became part of the landscape in both urban and rural areas in the United States.

By the late 1880s electromechanical switches were introduced, and in the 1920s, rotary dials on telephones replaced the telegraph key on telephones. Crossbar switches that were capable of completing a call in a tenth of a second were introduced in 1935. Electronic switches that completed calls within nanoseconds were introduced in 1968.

In the 1980s the industry began planning for digital services assuming they would follow much the same pattern as voice services, and conceived end-to-end circuit switched services, known as the Broadband Integrated Services Digital Network (B-ISDN). The B-ISDN vision was overtaken by the disruptive technology of the Internet.

Next week we’ll discuss the role of the PSTN today.

29 Jun 2017

Premise vs Hosted IP PBX – Which One is Right for You? (Part 3)

SURVIVABILITY

In the event of a physical disaster that makes it impossible to operate the enterprise from its regular location or to reach that location, both system types support the ability to take one’s desk phone to any location where there is internet service, plug the phone in, and continue to operate as though one was at their desk at work.

However, if the location where the premise-based PBX is located suffers physical damage that impacts the electrical system, and/or the communications infrastructure, the entire phone system will be offline. Off premise phones plugged into the internet will not operate at all. With the hosted system, the PBX “in the cloud” generally has a hot spare redundant system typically located in a geographically distinct area that virtually eliminates the possibility of switching system failure.

With a bit of stretch, let’s include the subject of feature enhancements. The hosted PBX solution will generally install feature enhancements and software patches during its regularly scheduled maintenance window. With the hot spare system taking over during that time, there is no impact to system users. This is especially important to enterprises with locations across multiple time zones or continents.  Premise-based systems would need to schedule the upgrade at time that would cause the least amount of disruption to its users.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Compu-Phone and CompuVoIP offer a comprehensive selection of premise-based and hosted VoIP solutions. We’d be delighted to talk to you about creating a future-proof solution for your business. Give us a call at (718) 230-9292 or visit us on the web at www.compu-phone .net.

21 Jun 2017

Premise vs Hosted IP PBX – Which One is Right for You? (Part 2)

USABILITY

Usability is a mixed bag when comparing hosted and premise-based PBX systems. For the most part, the two system types support an equivalent set of the most sought-after business features.

Where the two system types diverge is in their ability to support line appearance buttons.  Here’s the scenario:

A company has 4 lines. A call comes in for John on line 2. After speaking with the customer, John wants his colleague, Sam, to pick up the call to continue the conversation.

In the premise-based PBX world, John can merely call out to Sam saying “Sam! Pick up line 2, please!”. Sam has a button for each of the four company lines on his phone. To pick up the conversation, Sam merely needs to depress the button for line 2 and begin talking.

In the hosted PBX environment, it is not that simple. To enable Sam to continue the conversation with the call, John would need to use the Call Park button to put the call on ‘public hold’. Sam can then access the call by depressing the Call Pickup key on his phone. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a different way of operating. For new enterprises not coming from the premise-based PBX world and are not accustomed to the ‘squared’ systems it won’t really matter. For customers that are transitioning from a premise-based PBX, it is something that will change.

Both system types typically support softphone applications for Windows, IoS, and Android operating systems.

Next week.. we’ll talk about survivability.. summarize, and wrap things up.