Is it just me or is the quality of phone service declining? I ask the question because we’ve been experiencing a higher than normal problem with carrier and dial tone related issues. And it’s not specific to one or two carriers; it seems to be spread evenly across the board with many well-known traditional carriers, newer VoIP service providers, cable companies, and of course we have to include the wireless 3G / 4G suppliers.

We rarely hear about the five 9’s of reliability, or 99.999% uptime anymore. For so many years this was an industry benchmark that traditional local & long distance carrier networks struggled to achieve and maintain. Today with the technology revolution, there are literally thousands of phone companies providing dial tone to end users, including cloud-based or hosted services, SIP trunking, traditional T1/PRI, and basic POTS line service from the cable companies.

Perhaps my observation is simply the result of our increased dependence on new technology and the impact that social media has on leveraging the spread of news & events in our world. And as a result, any “blips” we encounter are magnified 10X.

Is it reasonable or even feasible to expect five 9’s of reliability from your dial tone service provider? I’m not sure and here’s why. So what exactly does 99.999% look like? It equates to 5 minutes and 26 seconds of downtime per year, which is not much time. That’s near perfect in my book, and all it takes is one outage to jeopardize the stat. This five 9’s is generally referred to as a reliability figure, when in fact it’s more correctly known as availability. And availability doesn’t only mean how often something ‘breaks’, you also need to factor in how often it is out of service or unavailable due to routine maintenance.

Since all or most of this is out of your control and our control, we need to plan in advance so that when the inevitable occurs, you are equipped to handle it. You’re either in control of the situation, or you’re at the mercy of your carrier. So next month, we’ll look at a few ways you can insure yourself against the inevitable. Stay tuned… but in the meantime, join the conversation and leave your feedback. We’d love to hear your story and help others learn from it.

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