Posts Tagged ‘T-1’

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”

QoS – Voice Quality is Job Number One – Part 3

May 10, 2009

The previous two articles have addressed the overall quality of how your VOIP phone system works by identifying four components. They are Connectivity, Hardware, Software, and Network. All are important in their own ways in supporting VOIP. Let’s explore Connectivity in more detail to see which is best for your business situation.

Many small businesses use the Internet much as they use it at home. They contract for ADSL or cable service and get decent bandwidth for a low price, generally in the $40 – $120 per month range. Both ADSL and cable service are asynchronous, meaning that they have a robust bandwidth coming to your computer network and a much smaller bandwidth going out to the Internet. While this is fine for casual browsing and checking emails it does hinder some Internet programs that you might want to run.

Think of Internet bandwidth as a pipeline running water through it, only in this case the water is composed of packets of data which make up your web page, email and VOIP if you have that type of phone system. When you have a large incoming bandwidth or pipeline you can move quite a bit of information through the system and that results in fast loading web pages, quick updating of your email and clear VOIP. In an asynchronous pipeline, the outgoing movement is constricted by the limits of the bottleneck for moving data. The difference between incoming and outgoing bandwidth may be 768 KB / 128 KB on the low end for ADSL and 12 MB / 2 MB on the high end for cable services. This is why you may think your home-based VOIP service from the cable company or other consumer-oriented service sounds great to you on your end (large incoming bandwidth) but the other side has trouble hearing you because they are having issues from your much smaller outgoing bandwidth choking down your voice transmission to them.

This is why Select Phone Solutions always recommends having a synchronous service when VOIP is involved. A T-1 digital service run across optical fiber provides a nominal 1.5 Mb both for incoming and outgoing service. Multiple T-1s can be bonded together to provide more bandwidth where needed. Another advantage of a T-1 over cable service is that the T-1 bandwidth is not shared across a trunkline with your neighbors as is done with cable service. Your cable service bandwidth varies according to how all of your neighbors use their shared bandwidth. If they use streaming videos, run a powerful website, or any other high usage Internet function, that may strongly impact your service and VOIP quality.

ADSL is dedicated bandwidth but runs across copper lines at lower rates than a T-1 on optical fiber. While a one-person home office may be able to operate just fine on ADSL, a larger office with even 3 or 4 phones will find the service poor and not be happy at all with the quality of their VOIP. Does that mean that the VOIP is a bad choice for them? If cost is the issue and service must be through ADSL then yes, VOIP is not for them.

Select Phone Solutions’ experience is that choosing a T-1 provides the high quality VOIP service that every business expects to get for their investment. VOIP can also run extremely well when using a PRI with multiple copper phone lines but this raises the total communication cost of phone plus Internet compared to a T-1 which can provide both sides together.

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 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”