2013 is now in full swing and we’re seeing some very encouraging economic signs that we haven’t seen in almost 5 years. Companies aren’t just evaluating and talking about the benefits of new technology; they’re acquiring and deploying it, and reaping tangible rewards. This includes the replacement of legacy phone systems with new Voice Over IP platforms (aka IP-PBX’s), implementing seamless multi-site VoIP networks, updating older carrier services with SIP trunking facilities, and increasing broadband network speeds.
Some clients have been able to offset the new technology costs with the monthly savings gained by deploying new SIP trunk services, while others are justifying the new gear with gains in efficiency & productivity. And there are some that are benefiting from the ability to easily support remote employees. So it’s inspiring to see the positive impact of new technology and the momentum building towards a brighter future.
Lessons From The Field
Here are a few examples where a little firsthand experience can save you a lot of time and frustration. Our intent is to share with you some common scenarios so that you can gain a better understanding of how a Voice Over IP solution can best fit into your organization.
- Wiring: What’s the best way to deploy a new voice over IP solution from a wiring perspective? Ideally, you need category 5e or 6 rated wire to support VoIP phones; however, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. There are times when rewiring is simply not possible (for a number of reasons). So what should you do? First, survey to see if you have a spare data cable at each location where you intend to install a new phone. Some vendors will recommend sharing one wire for both voice & data. We completely disagree with this approach; well at least 99% of the time. There are too many potential pitfalls involved when you share the same wire, which could be the cause of some “unpredictable results” if you do.
So if rewiring is not an option for you, don’t worry. We have a viable solution. Phybridge makes an appliance that will optimize and VoIP-enable your existing voice wiring so it can be re-used with your new VoIP server. It’s a reliable and cost-effective alternative to rewiring, and provides an added bonus – Power Over Ethernet (PoE) to your new VoIP phones.
- SIP Trunks: SIP trunks are the rage, and they’re here to stay. Say goodbye to your old “copper” Verizon POTS lines – they need to be replaced. When you combine SIP trunks with your new IP-PBX, you’re in for a real treat. SIP trunks offer tremendous benefits & flexibility. Here are just a few:
- Caller ID inbound and outbound with unlimited domestic US calling plans. And you can easily add direct inward dialing (DID’s) at $0.50 per number. DID’s can be used for private lines, departmental hunt groups, or for applications that include an internal conference bridge.
- Number portability allows you to keep your phone number when you move, regardless of where you move. In the past you would have to set up a remote call forward. That’s not necessary anymore with SIP trunks. You can also establish a local presence with DID’s in areas that you do business but don’t necessarily have a local office.
- Automatic failover to another office, to your cell phone (or any 10-digit phone number), to an answering service, or to a cloud-based auto attendant / voice mailbox. This built-in disaster recovery protects your company and clients during an extended power outage or inclement weather emergency.
There is also the rare occasion that you can lose call quality while you’re on a SIP call, which is simply based on the nature of TCP/IP technology. So what can you do?
a) Don’t always assume that the problem is on your end. Take note of what occurred and ask to call the person back.
b) Make a note of it. Include call example information including the date, time, phone number of the other party, and a brief description of the issue including any specific details that you feel are relevant.
c) Send us an email with the call example information requested above.
d) You can also reset power to your phone by unplugging it. If you’re using Power Over Ethernet (PoE), simply unplug your patch cord under the phone and then plug it back in. By the way, resetting power is great advice for any technology related equipment including your cell phone, laptop / desktop computer, iPad, Wi-Fi router, printers, servers, copiers, etc… If you’re ever dealing with technology and experiencing a strange problem, reset power.
- Firewalls & VoIP: Firewalls are primarily in place to protect your network and keep it secure. At a very basic level, your firewall will allow access to authorized users, and block traffic to unauthorized users or applications or websites. This is all fine and is not going to necessarily change anytime soon. However, there are times where your firewall can be a nemesis to your VoIP network, and visa versa. If it occurs, it typically becomes evident during the initial setup of your new VoIP server. It can also occur if you change or update your firewall; or if you’re sharing one wire with your phone and computer, and a new network application is added that conflicts with ports that are used by your VoIP network. This is rare but it can happen.
So in summary, there are tremendous benefits that accompany the new VoIP systems and VoIP services. However, in order to get the most out of your new technology investment, you need a competent and experienced professional to help you. One that’s dependable & trustworthy, that can help you accomplish the results you expect.