Prime Telecommunications Informs Small to Mid-Sized Businesses of the Top 5 VoIP Audio Issues

Expert in Unified Communications Shares Reasons Why Many Organizations Are Not Benefiting from VoIP

5 Factors Affecting Voice Quality

Prime Telecommunications, Inc., a leading provider of unified communications, has been informing small to mid-sized businesses of the top five VoIP audio issues so they can maximize utilization and reap the rewards of this technology. Unfortunately, many companies that have made the investment in VoIP have experienced subpar performance, particularly in the area of call quality. This is due to a variety of factors and left untouched, will cause frustration for everyone associated with the phone system including employees, customers and vendors. Prime Telecommunications has been educating customers on the five most likely culprits of subpar VoIP performance and what steps an SMB can take to fix these issues quickly and simply.

1) Disable The “Comfort Noise” Setting. This is a setting on many VoIP systems that inhibits the flow of data that simply doesn’t need to be turned on. Usually, its default setting is “on” but it’s as unnecessary as jazz music in an elevator. It’s especially important to turn off when users are having call quality issues, as this directly affects performance. Imagine an elevator that doesn’t stop at every floor because it’s running low on power, but you still are expending power on soothing jazz music.

2) Make Sure Your Firewall Isn’t Accidentally Blocking Out VoIP. Nowadays, intelligent CIOs are erring on the side of overprotection, and one of the byproducts of that aggressive approach is that sometimes firewalls block out mission-critical applications, like VoIP. Firewalls are built specifically to keep things outside of a network and SMBs would do well to make sure that VoIP audio packets aren’t being blocked from access. In other words, VoIP audio data packets should be treated like VIP data coming into the network, instead of having to wait in line to be let in. This often results in one-way audio.

3) Ports Aren’t Open or Are Misdirecting Data. Take a look at your gateways and ports on your network. If the correct configuration isn’t set up, your incoming data has no choice but to get mixed up, like an air traffic controller who has no idea which gates are open and which already have planes at the gate. This is happening all the time, but we notice it with audio because we can hear it immediately.

4) Make Sure Your Codecs Match. Since VoIP data is real-time-transport protocol (RTP), both sides of the interaction must be set to the same codec, otherwise the audio packets won’t function properly. It’s like one person speaking through a cell phone and the other using a walkie-talkie. Since, they’re not using the same frequency, there will be distortions even if they can vaguely hear what the other party is saying.

5) Make Sure You Have Enough Bandwidth to Avoid Jitter and Latency. Everyone has experienced spotty conference calls that sound crystal clear one minute, and then very choppy the next. The big culprits here are jitter and latency, which are the result of too much traffic on a network. Just like traffic, instead of focusing on optimizing the car, it’s best to just add lanes to your freeway so that all the data functions better. This is accomplished simply by purchasing more bandwidth for all your devices. It should be a last resort, after you’ve tried everything above.

“This is how we differentiate ourselves,” stated Vic Levinson, President at Prime Telecommunications. “We conduct all of this assessment up-front, instead of waiting until our customers report issues with call quality. Our clients can’t afford to have poor quality calls with their prospects, employees, and vendors so we take care of this with every customer. We take a consultative approach and become a trusted IT advisor to our customers so they can focus on their business, instead of IT and telecommunications.”

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So Your Company Wants to Adopt VoIP… How Do You Know If Your Network Is Ready to Make the Transition?

While the cost savings and new applications of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are rapidly attracting many small to mid-sized companies to this popular communication solution, it may come with a significant price to your network.  Not only must your network carry more traffic, but VoIP traffic demands very high performance and is more sensitive to normal network problems like delays and choppy communication.  Even modest levels of impairment, unnoticed by users of most data applications, will cause significant caller frustration and will not sit well with your customers, business partners, or even your own employees.

Before investing in a large-scale VoIP deployment or even in a small trial, you need to know how well your network infrastructure will handle the additional, quality-sensitive voice traffic.  Many seemingly well-planned trials encounter delay after delay, exceed cost estimates, and are eventually cancelled when the network proves unable to meet the unique requirements VoIP places on it.  However, these business issues can easily be avoided if your telecommunications provider properly assesses your network ahead of time to truly understand the scope and type of work required to ensure a successful transition to VoIP.

Gartner reports that 85% of networks are not ready for VoIP.  What’s even more shocking is that 75% of companies that do not perform a pre-implementation analysis of their network infrastructure will not realize a successful implementation.  These are astonishing statistics because without conducting a network assessment with a quality assessment tool, the potential for wasting time and money is extremely high.  In order to increase the likelihood of a successful VoIP implementation, an evaluation of the network must be properly executed and should include the following four steps.

  1. Pre-Deployment Assessment

The pre-deployment assessment step analyzes the current capabilities of the network, evaluates its ability to support VoIP, identifies potential problems, and determines the requirements needed to handle expected call traffic.  It is strongly recommended that the pre-deployment test is conducted prior to the purchase or installation of any VoIP equipment.  The analysis should include such items as bandwidth, utilization, jitter, throughput and latency.

  1. Post-Deployment Assessment

The purpose of the post-deployment assessment is to gain a complete understanding of VoIP quality and network efficiencies prior to turning it on.  This step determines the level of success and prevents issues with call quality or dropped calls.  Whenever new equipment is introduced to a network the chance for unexpected issues rises; therefore, it is critical that post-deployment assessment is not overlooked.  This assessment should be immediately performed so any changes can be made in a timely manner.

  1. Regular Maintenance Assessment

As you’re probably aware, your network is dynamic and constantly evolves.  New devices such as IP phones, laptops, switches, and routers are added or removed.  Whether it’s a minor change or a major one it will impact your network.  Therefore, it is important to re-evaluate your network regularly to identify any faults so they can be corrected as soon as possible.  Conducting ongoing assessments will help your organization increase quality, optimize system infrastructure, and reduce costs.

  1. Break/Fix Strategy

Unfortunately, unforeseen things may happen to a network that’s not readily identified by your IT department.  The situation may be brought to your company’s attention by a customer, an employee or business partner.  The Yankee Group has reported that some companies’ labor costs grew 30 to 40 percent with VoIP because of dealing with network problems.  Having a network assessment tool in place enables one to take action quickly, diagnose the problem, and resolve it, while minimizing its impact to the system as a whole.

Essentially, these four key steps have illustrated the primary objective and the many benefits of conducting network assessments.  Whether your company is about to take the plunge into VoIP or has already gone down that path, it is critical to deploy a tool that can accurately analyze your network.  Surprisingly, most companies overlook this integral component of the VoIP implementation process and the research clearly shows its negative impact.

As you tap into this relatively new communication solution that’s changing how business gets done, make sure you ask yourself this question.  What is my telecommunications provider doing to create a network environment that enables my company to take full advantage of VoIP? If network assessment is not included in the response then something is definitely wrong.

5 Reasons Every Business Needs a Unified Communications (UC) Solution

No matter what type of business or size business you have, the one aspect that you cannot afford to neglect is the communications you have with your customers. Businesses today are reaping the benefits of adopting one reliable solution for all of their communication needs thanks to the evolution of cloud-based unified communications (UC) solutions.

Here are 5 reasons why every business today needs a quality unified communications solution in place.

1. Cost
If you think about all of the individual services, equipment and staffing your business requires to communicate with your customers, you will be shocked at your monthly expenses. Communications, no doubt should be an investment, but one that is affordable. Quality and affordability are often both difficult to achieve, but thanks to modern cloud-based unified communications solutions, both are now obtainable. Every business should be looking to adopt a full service, subscription-based UC solution, one where everything is included. When we say everything, we mean it. The best UC solutions will include your phones, advanced calling features like auto attendants, unlimited calling, online faxing, video conferencing, toll-free and the latest mobile apps and tools, all for no capital expense. When you think about the value of this and what you can eliminate, for example, your fax machine costs and maintenance, modernizing and unifying your communications into one cost-effective solution is a no-brainer.

2. Disaster avoidance
When you think of disasters in business, you immediately think of revenue lost and unanticipated costs. Disasters can range from man-made interruptions to natural disasters like hurricanes and blizzards that can affect your business for days on end. With a cloud-based unified communications solution, disasters are no longer a concern. Communications can remain intact because all of your features and services are managed and accessed through a secure, online portalfrom any device. This means, that you can forward your calls to any number and voicemails can be retrieved from anywhere you are. Features like auto attendants, can also be used to inform customers of office closures. So, while your physical place of business may need to close, your communications with your customers will never be down.

3. Mobility
One of the greatest benefits of a cloud-based unified communications solution is the mobility and flexibility they provide. The world has become forever mobilized and so should your business. You no longer need to be chained to your place of business waiting for calls, or be worried about giving out your personal cell phone number. Cloud-based UC solutions offer the mobility to get calls on any device, through features like mobile twinning, where your business phone and mobile phone will ring simultaneously, so you never miss a call or mobile softphones, where you can make and receive calls on your mobile device using your business number. The ability to make business happen wherever you are and on whatever device you choose, is a benefit that no business should overlook.

4. Scalability
No matter what type of business you have, your hope and plans are for growth and profitability. Since the speed of growth is unknown, it is often difficult to plan ahead when making important investments, such as your business technology. Fortunately, cloud-based UC solutions allow you to scale up and down as needed. Having the reassurance that you can add and remove new employees, services and equipment instantly, gives you peace of mind and more control over your bottom line.

5. Productivity
With a cloud-based UC solution, your employees productivity level gains an instant boost. Not only can employees from any of your locations communicate on one system through 3 or 4 digit extension dialing, but they can also chat live through a secure, online customer portal. New tools like video, audio and web conferencing allows your employees to meet, collaborate and share documents from any device, anytime.

Cloud UC solutions offer countless advantages to businesses and help to ensure it is business as usual, no matter what takes place or where you or your employees physically are.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of UC solutions? Prime offers an award-winning, 100 percent cloud-based unified communications solution, and has more than a decade of cloud experience. Click here for more information or a free quote for your business.

Got Cloud Voice? Don’t Let Your Competitor Beat You to It

Why cloud voice

It’s no secret that the business world isn’t what it used to be. Simply put, the old age of operating within the normal hours of 8-5pm is an outdated paradigm. The traditional workforce is no longer the norm and remote workforces continue to grow in number because of the drastic reduction in overhead and increases in employee satisfaction. While this level of flexibility was unavailable in years prior, expanded capacities offered by the latest in technology have made this new working environment possible. This new environment is also enabling businesses to keep their customers happier than ever before. Companies leveraging the latest technologies, like cloud voice, are able to keep their customers happy 24/7, which is leaving their competition in the dust. The business leaders who have shifted their mindsets in order to take advantage of these new opportunities are being rewarded handsomely.

One problem that virtually every company faces is the need for quick responses. This is especially true of inbound customer calls. In the past, when a customer would call-in and seek immediate support, companies would typically juggle the phone call between departments, until the customer was frustrated and then eventually transfer the call out to a manager’s cell phone, where they would usually have to leave a voice mail and wait for a call back. As you can expect, it didn’t take businesses long to realize that this way of conducting business was completely unacceptable and damaging relationships.

Companies have solved this problem with Cloud Voice phone systems. Since these systems operate “in the cloud” they are no longer tied to a single physical location and can accommodate the flexible workforce better than ever before. Best of all, the corporate experience is maintained all the way through and calls are handled with more elegance and professionalism than ever before. From the customer’s perspective, it’s as if these two were sitting right next to each other, collaborating on the issue at hand and resolving it as quickly as possible. The bottom line here is that when customers feel important and valued, they will continue to do business with any company. This is a rarity in today’s marketplace and technology is transcending these limitations better than ever before and this is making it much tougher for outdated companies to compete.

Also, today’s leading companies utilize cloud voice in order to assign “Find Me Anywhere” numbers to staff, which are essentially single numbers that will call the office phone, then cycle to their cell phone, then cycle to other staff members, so that customers can reach the exact department they need, without being stuck on-hold for long periods of time. These numbers can also be configured to all ring simultaneously, so anyone that can solve that exact customer problem can handle it immediately. Reduced wait times and instant connections with the right person are huge advantages for today’s organizations over their competitors. Imagine if your customers never had to wait on-hold again and that they got their problems resolved in only one-step. This is another way in which Cloud Voice is creating competitive advantages.

A superior customer experience is only one reason why more organizations are embracing this technology at an increasing rate. A significant reason that companies are utilizing this technology is because there is no risk. Prime Telecommunications, has created an innovative program to get this type of technology in the hands of business owners without making them invest in equipment which has required large, up-front, capital outlays in the past. Business owners can get access to all equipment and services without any substantial expense as cloud voice can now be acquired on a month-to-month agreement, which incentivizes performance and satisfaction across the board.

Since the barriers to entry for cloud voice are lower than they have ever been, it’s no surprise that this is gaining widespread adoption. Businesses need to be aware of these solutions and need to take advantage of these opportunities to get a leg up on their competitors as soon as possible, before they’re beat to the punch.

 

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