Posts Tagged ‘QoS’

Increase Your VOIP ROI By Connecting Remote Locations

May 19, 2009

Once your company has made the investment in a VOIP phone system, there are ways to keep expanding the use of the technology to increase your profits and ROI. A VOIP phone system connects the IP-PBX phone server to each of the phones in any of three ways, all of which work very well. 

The most common method is through the data network infrastructure at your office, using the cabling, switches, routers and other network equipment that is also used by the data side of your business. That would be the main computer server, workstations, printers, etc. Instead of a separate phone system such as was used in the last century with CAT 3 cabling, the modern VOIP system can piggyback on your existing data network, eliminating cost and delays at the startup. With Quality of Service (QoS) enabled in your network, voice traffic is given priority so that the talk is crystal clear to everyone. 

The second method is by wireless networking. Again, when you can run your data network across a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), you can add your VOIP phone system as long as you have enough bandwidth to support it. Most G and N band WLANs are fine for office use. 

The last method is via the Internet, using your broadband provider as the conduit for your phone packets to travel to the destination. This opens up your VOIP phone system to connect to telecommuters, field service technicians, sales people, temporary offices, branch offices, and home offices. Everyone who activates either an IP phone or a softphone (computer program installed to work like a screen image cell phone) can connect to the main office as just another extension for the office. They can use the voicemail, page other employees, transfer calls, and use all of the other features used while actually located at the main office. 

A specific example of how useful this VOIP phone system remote connectivity can be are companies with temporary locations such as construction companies for homes, buildings, and everything else you can think of. It is a tremendous advantage to have a live phone at the trailer and worksite to enhance communication between management and the remote work crew without waiting for Ma Bell to run a phone line with a setup and monthly cost attached to it. 

Another example is a managing entity with a main office and many satellite offices. For instance, if a government agency was managing a district with lakes, pump houses, laboratories, fleet offices, warehouses, etc., they could all be connected and just an extension away from each other, even if separated by many miles. How far is many miles? It doesn’t matter if it is on the other side of the city, out in the country, in the next county or on a remote island. As long as a good internet signal is delivered by the telecom company, the connection is strong. 

A franchised business with multiple locations can really benefit from having one VOIP phone server in the main office creating their own hosted solution for every remote store. The cost of the total phone system company-wide might be a fraction of what a normal pre-VOIP system would have cost them. In addition, having the VOIP phone system in place company-wide allows the management to filter all of the phone use data via their desktop Internet browser at any time they need to see the company Call Data Reports and associated metrics. 

Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 281-501-6464.

“Productivity Through Technology”

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QoS – Voice Quality is Job Number One – Part 2

May 9, 2009

In the previous article we defined how a phone call is composed of four distinct components, all of which must be operating at peak efficiency to provide premium Quality of Service (QoS) for your business. The components were:

 Connectivity – the dialtone or broadband connection to the outside world. It could range from a plain old analog copper wire pair (POTS) to a digital T-1 optical fiber or better.

  1. Hardware – this is the phone system that you buy. Part of it is the PBX in the back room, part is the handset on your desk that you use to answer a call. Hardware is the fastest component to become obsolete and is also typically the most expensive. A VOIP system has an IP-PBX which is a reprogrammable computer and is not as likely to be obsoleted.
  2. Software – this component drives the phone system hardware to do what it needs to do at your command. Old PBX systems are heavily dependent upon the hardware for features that you can use. Modern VOIP phone systems are mainly driven by the software which can be reprogrammed as needed, updated and kept from obsolescence quite easily. This extends the useful lifetime of your phone system investment.
  3. Network – Your phone system requires a network of cables, routers and switches to connect the brain (PBX or IP-PBX) to the handsets unless you are wireless. A radio can broadcast phone signals to built-in corresponding wireless receivers – see hardware. Digital VOIP phone systems piggyback on the data network and avoid the cost of a duplicate network as in analog wiring pre-2000.

Never make the mistake of using consumer quality equipment that is designed for low traffic volume on a high traffic office network. You may save some money at the store but you will pay for it many times over in equipment reboots, system failures, data loss and lower productivity for your business. Get a recommendation from your IT/phone system vendors and buy the best router and switches that you can afford. Have a qualified technician install real CAT5e or better cabling, not patch cables running through your ceilings

A VOIP phone system goes further than other phone systems in bringing clarity to your business phone. Since the phone system shares a network with the data network, the packet traffic must be prioritized such that the voice packets go first at all times. This is implemented in VOIP QoS. The network is instructed to differentiate voice traffic from data traffic and prioritize the voice traffic. There are metrics that VOIP technicians use to measure how well this works and see where it can be improved. QOS does not particularly slow down data packet transfer. There is no noticeable lag in Internet usage or file transfer across your local network.

 The key to all four components in QoS is planning. Talk to your vendors and see what your options are, particularly from the telco for connectivity and the phone vendor for the other three components of hardware, software and network. An IT company may understand the network component but may not be familiar enough with phone systems to know the pitfalls that are out there. Would you bet the quality of your phone system for the next ten years on an IT staff that has little experience in business phone systems? Acquire the right vendor for this vital part of your business communications and your business will be far better off in the long run.

 Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 281-501-6464.

“Productivity Through Technology”

QoS – Voice Quality is Job Number One – Part 1

May 5, 2009

It is a given fact that phone systems are a key component of how a business communicates with customers, vendors, friends and family. The quality of how those conversations sound is crucial to being effective. Anything other than crystal clear talk is just not acceptable. How can we measure that clarity and decide if our phone system meets our expectations?

Let’s separate the phone call into specific components which all together create the overall experience. First we have connectivity. The “dialtone” may be standard copper lines with the same technology that was used 100 years ago. These work very well and typically provide great service at a low cost (not counting taxes and extra fees). More modern types of connectivity include broadband (DSL, cable, T-1 for example) and allow much more capacity through single cables. Frequently broadband service piggybacks voice and data together so one bill pays your telephone and Internet service together.

The next component is the phone system hardware. If you use copper lines then you may simply have a Princess Phone (dating myself!) or other handset on the desk. Very simple, works well but features are totally dependent on the PBX. Your PBX may be hosted and controlled by the telco or it might be in your own office. In a hosted situation you likely have few features and they are the same as what was available 20 years ago. If you have a modern VOIP phone system in your own office then your phone hardware has many features. Some are visible on the handset, many more are software driven and are detailed in your manuals.

The last component is the software that drives the phone system. The most desirable features such as AutoAttendant (the menu system), FindMe-FollowMe, Voicemail to Email, and many others are added as necessary and modified for your business by your phone vendor. You do have someone you can talk to about your VOIP phone system features? Someone who will make the changes you need when you need them as your company grows?

The combination of these three factors presents what is called QoS or Quality of Service. The bar must be set very high in QoS in order for your calls to be crystal clear and effective. Phone companies measure QoS with technical metrics such as Latency (delay in packet delivery), Packet Loss (missing voice data), Network Jitter (voice data packets arriving out of order), etc. They monitor the many metrics available to see if you are receiving top quality or if improvements are required. Voice data can also be given priority over data traffic in a VOIP scenario to improve QoS.

At your own office, the local network also plays a huge role in what QoS you encounter. Whether you are using an old phone system with skinny cables or a VOIP phone system piggybacking along your data network fat cabling, it must be installed properly and maintained. There should be no kinks in the cables or tears in the insulation. The network equipment in the phone room must be “business quality”, not something designed for low traffic residential use. All too often a small business owner tries to save money on routers, switches and other network equipment not realizing that the QoS goes down because the equipment is not good enough for the task. Network bottlenecks can be eliminated via a thorough audit by a quality vendor.

Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 281-501-6464.

“Productivity Through Technology”