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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5 Pain Points Found in SMB VoIP Deployments

Sometimes small and medium-sized businesses focus too much on cost and not enough on deployment details.

In deploying VoIP, small and medium-sized businesses often experience pain points in five critical areas, Adtran found in examining its Custom Extended Services deployments. The troubles crop up for a variety of reasons, from poor equipment choices to shoddy installation work.

Is Somebody Managing the Switch?
Large enterprises may take managed networks for granted, but to many SMBs the concept of a managed switch doesn’t take hold until comparing a $119 stripped-down appliance lacking in features and performance to a fully managed switch appliance costing $1,000 or more. Throw in Power over Ethernet (PoE) and associated costs, and many SMBs will ask, “Why should we pay so much for a switch?”

In the answer to that is an old problem: value-added resellers (VARs) installing cheap retail solutions. While these “trusted” partners initially may garner kudos for providing low-cost deployments, they aren’t really helping their customers in the long term. Unfortunately, issues will eventually surface for any number of reasons, including when customers attempt to deploy VoIP, call recording, or a local server supporting voice recognition. Trying to troubleshoot a LAN without managed switches is akin to chasing your tail — and this can become very costly as VARs bill for time and material.

When installing managed switches back in the mid 1990s, we used to tell customers they had 10 days to cancel their orders. None ever did, because the managed switches resolved the target issues; business owners place value on solutions that address their problems.

During this same era, we had arguments with plenty of IT and non-IT people about ripping out hubs and replacing infrastructure with managed switches. Today, the argument spills over to managed vs. non-managed, with the inaccurate but deep-rooted perception that a switch is just a switch.

Got Enough Capacity on That LAN?
Insufficient bandwidth certainly impacts SMBs with streaming video requirements, but a sluggish switch is going to bog down performance for low-bandwidth applications, too. An unmanaged switch is going to allow havoc to occur on that customer network, and the ability to isolate core problems greatly diminishes.

When these off-the-shelf unmanaged switches are uplinked to other retail appliances, problems compound. “A switch is just a switch” — well, no, it’s not. This argument from the IT perspective isn’t only lame, it is ill founded. How much backplane bandwidth a switch supports matters just as much as which features it includes.

Making cost the key consideration is where many SMBs err. They shouldn’t be evaluating on price alone, but factoring in considerations such as productivity and ability to operate on a network with a degree of consistency. A user experience that involves constant rebooting as a “fix” is not a good one. A managed network can boost productivity, streamline business processes, and improve customer relationships.

You Really Think Your Cabling Infrastructure Is Ready?
In some cases, Adtran found that SMBs thought their cabling infrastructures were ready when they weren’t. It would find, for example, that materials in use were not appropriate for the type of job or environment. With such errors comes problems like reverse polarity; in general, shoddy work on cabling infrastructure can end up costing an SMB in repairs and lead to lost revenue and even lost customers. Yet, it’s totally avoidable.

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Sometimes I find cabling infrastructure that’s not just not ready, but a mess of old and new layers of cabling added in over the years. Different contractors touching the cable plant coupled with bad work or inferior or misaligned products spell trouble.

One of my favorite cabling anecdotes involves the men’s room of a certain establishment — its telephone connections are vulnerable and the work is shoddy. Even more importantly, who would hang a network interface over the men’s room door?

How Much Value Is in That Low-End Solution?
Customers cite the benefit of being able to log in to their IP/SIP telephone sets from anywhere in the world, but when it comes to logging into their LAN infrastructure locally or from any other location there’s a gap. Unmanaged LANs are troublesome and carry security and other risks. On the other hand, a managed switch can help an SMB meet compliance mandates and lock down the network and endpoint assets.

Many retail locations utilize low-end Wi-Fi to serve customers; however, these often uplink to unmanaged switches and a poorly secured LAN. These companies are putting themselves at risk and, when security issues arise, they disconnect and abandon the Wi-Fi. They utilize off-the-shelf products and, again, trusted partners or IT staffers throw in low-cost solutions that result in high-end problems.

The value of logging into a telephone is highly overrated; how often do employees really need this capability, and what are the real benefits of providing it? If the answer were to save on expenses for moves, adds, and changes, then I’d question that because most phones in most SMBs remain static for years or at least until there’s a turnover. Even then, some SMBs simply don’t manage or pay to manage these changes, and many users simply don’t care so long as they can utilize the desk phone for what they want to accomplish.

Got the Right Power?
Adtran found switch ports suffering damage and other issues caused by the use of local power supplies for endpoints. This timeless problem is completely avoidable, too. Local power bricks create the potential for a wired lightning rod of sorts. Investing in a centralized managed PoE switch that is power protected and backed up with an uninterruptible power supply pays off.

These issues are real, but some SMBs with whom I’ve engaged head on at times don’t fully understand the need to address them and the benefits in doing so — until they experience low latency and high availability after deployment. Adtran offers free pre-sales engineering services, including heat mapping for Wi-Fi deployments, and this should entice the many if not the few SMBs that move from off-the-shelf appliances and step into solutions that managed PoE switches offer.

Adtran has incorporated power protection into its Netvanta 1550 series switches to prevent damaged ports from the numerous transients that occur on LAN infrastructures. LANs and local power infrastructure married together equate to increased risk and loss from local power disturbances. Unless you mitigate those risks you will continue to have losses.

The was originally published on NoJitter. As a service to our readers-I thought to repost it here. Matt Brunk did a good job writing about this. Here is the link to the original post! http://www.nojitter.com/post/240170322/5-pain-points-found-in-smb-voip-deployments

 

The Secret to Business Productivity

69% say productivity is the top benefit of cloud computing. That’s big, especially considering that cost efficiency is another huge benefit. By moving essential aspects of business, like data management, content and collaboration tools, to the cloud, organizations are able to avoid many issues that come with locally installed computing solutions. While some businesses still hesitate to move to the cloud, most are already using it in some way, even if they’re not aware. Common tools like WordPress, Gmail, Skype, GoToMeeting and Constant Contact are cloud-based, and businesses naturally use them to make their lives easier. In other words, these tools help improve productivity. So what is it about cloud computing that leads to such great productivity? Let’s take a look. Here is another post from Sommer Figone from RapidScale. 

Accessibility Won’t Lead to Laziness

The cloud allows enormous flexibility when it comes to how, when and where employees can work. By implementing cloud solutions, businesses enable their workers to access data from anywhere, on any device. In the day and age of mobile devices, this is extremely convenient, as it enables your team to access relevant files from wherever they are, whether that’s in the office, on a plane, or at home. 2/3 report faster access to technology thanks to the cloud. This characteristic certainly boosts productivity, as it enables employees to be more flexible and collaborative.

Businesses held an initial fear that allowing remote accessibility would lead to laziness and decreased productivity. This fear has largely been unfounded. Instead, businesses are able to cut down on employee travel time and interruptions while actually increasing employee satisfaction. Team members will positively respond when given the freedom to work how and where they want, and in many cases, this will actually incentivize them to work harder, rather than burn out. 36% of employees would even pick working remotely over a pay raise!

A Convenient, Central Location

So how are employees able to have such flexible access to data? Well, the cloud centralizes data, putting it in one easy spot so all team members can access it from wherever they are. Not only does this lead to data integrity, but it greatly improves collaboration and efficiency. Employees can avoid the hassle of emailing files back and forth, instead accessing an easy, central location that’s available to all authorized users. 58% collaborate across the organization in the cloud, and 82% said that cloud-based collaboration allows faster executions. This streamlined process obviously results in productivity, and it can also lead to greater innovation.

Adapt to Changing Environments

Now let’s talk about scalability. It’s a highly popular characteristic of cloud computing, and we want to discuss it in terms of productivity. The cloud allows organizations to scale their resources up or down based on demand – this means businesses can quickly and easily react to changing market conditions and internal demands. With traditional computing solutions, this wasn’t as easy. It required time, effort, and often, new, expensive hardware. The cloud introduces a productive way to adapt to changing business environments, allowing organizations to rise and meet high demands, and then decrease when the demand drops. This also eradicates problems of over-provisioning and wasting resources, or overloading IT systems.

Refocus Time and Money

The cloud enables businesses to be more productive in how they spend their money. By moving to a cloud environment, an organization outsources the expensive burden of managing its own servers and software to a knowledgeable provider. This, in turn, replaces the organization’s massive IT expenditures with predictable operational ones. Businesses can see savings on real estate, travel, transportation, utilities, security, routine maintenance, updates and more. And if employees opt to use their own devices, businesses can even save on hardware! And in terms of productivity, this means an organization can refocus a significant amount of time and money.

3 Major Trends in Global Telecommunications

The competitive market of telecommunications creates a constantly changing global landscape. With all of the shifts and new technologies, following the trends as closely as possible is the best way companies can anticipate future demand and be better prepared.

What does that look like for the next couple months? Three major trends will take center stage to dictate the industry priorities and work to redefine the standards for years to come.

Data Management

Rather than storing huge amounts of data on overloaded infrastructure and software—weighing down internal departments with security and maintenance measures—businesses will begin to seek out more realistic ways of managing data.

Cloud deployments and analytics will play a big part in redefining how business leaders and managers view the location and security of their data. The flexibility of cloud architecture—and growing demand from businesses and across employee groups—will outweigh the skepticism and win companies over by showing benefits of convenience, cost effectiveness, and increased productivity.

Analysts anticipate the decline of small data centers as large ones grow and expand. As businesses determine how much of their data can be entrusted to the cloud and whether they should maintain private data centers, they must consider the investment in technologies and weigh the energy consumption, along with IT costs and the physical footprint.

Wireless Networks

One of the largest and most innovative sections of the market, the wireless network is also one of the founders of modern technology, and so will have to continue to deliver at the highest level in order to maintain its status. These operators must increase efficiency in order to provide the coverage, capacity and quality that will be expected of them.

Modernization of equipment will be evident in comprehensive upgrades to LTE and through the discovery of improved infrastructure. In order to be successful, operators will add capacity by cell splitting and via a metro layer, according to experts.

Mobile Accessibility

Experts anticipate mobile app development will double in 2015, with some 35% of big enterprises investing in the creation and production of these applications.

Mobile applications, once sufficient if produced for smartphones and tablets, will rise in demand to include the Internet of Things and wearable devices. The ability for apps to sync across multiple applications will be essential, and consumer expectation for high quality content and functionality across each platform will remain high.

Newer and better designs of small devices will soon appear on the market, and rather than picking and choosing, consumers will add to their mobile access points. Companies must meet these new needs with an increase in syncing capabilities and on-the-go accessibility.

Key trends will continue to shape the industry in 2015. The way in which companies respond and react will determine how effectively they can manage these trends and where they will stand in the resulting new normal.

 


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The True Pros & Cons of VoIP for Your Business

Over the last several years, great strides have been made to improve communication capabilities through Hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions—a series of transmission capabilities that make communication over the Internet possible. This cloud-based phone system not only provides significant cost savings and superior flexibility, but also offers businesses of all sizes productivity, mobility and functionality features that are unmatched by traditional telephony.

What is VoIP?

VoIP converts analog audio signals into digital data, which can then be transmitted over the Internet. Implementing a VoIP system eliminates the pressures and costs of managing and maintaining a PBX, while giving your employees enterprise-grade features and other common features, including:

  • Voicemail
  • Call waiting
  • Toll-free numbers
  • Call forwarding
  • Visual voicemail (voicemail to email transcription)
  • Simultaneous and sequential ring
  • Audio conferencing
  • Auto attendant
  • Call Recording

Additional features are also available that allow users to specify how incoming calls are routed and/or forwarded, ensuring no important calls are missed. Furthermore, employees can make and receive phone calls on their cell phones through various mobility features through the VoIP business number. This means that VoIP long-distance calling plans can be utilized while working remotely, even from a mobile phone.

Scalability and Flexibility

Utilizing VoIP means that even as a company grows, there is no need to worry about installing new phone lines. Instead, businesses can use their existing broadband and simply purchase new handsets as needed.

In addition to scalability, the flexibility of VoIP is also a unique benefit. Since VoIP phone systems work through computer-to-computer connections, users can make calls and hold conversations anywhere there is an Internet connection. In addition to audio calls, VoIP also allows for video conferencing, meaning businesses can stay in touch with their employees or clients, regardless of their location.

Cost

When it comes to cost, VoIP is a winner. Most VoIP services are offered through a subscription-based cost model, allowing businesses to purchase only what they need, and then allocate funds that would normally be spent on traditional phone expenses to other parts of the business. Additionally, VoIP runs on the same network as the data, versus traditional phone packages that require businesses to manage separate networks and hardware for voice and data. This not only brings considerable cost savings and streamlines management, but also delivers more efficient communications.

Reliability

While VoIP can certainly increase productivity, efficiency and collaboration efforts, reliability is a common drawback – especially if you frequently experience downtime or hiccups with your Internet. These types of issues can cause users to experience latency, jitter, and packet loss during VoIP conversations. Doing your home and finding the right provider for your business needs is crucial in guaranteeing reliability.

The Bottom Line

When considering VoIP services, it’s important to understand how a service provider manages quality of service across their network, how features compare, if and how voice traffic is prioritized, and what kind of post-sales support you’ll receive. For more information, contact us today.

 

Small to Mid-Sized (SMBs) Businesses Deploy Mobile Workforces to Increase Sales and Productivity

 

According to a Cisco study, the growth of the mobile workforce has evolved from startups to enterprises and 3 out of every 5 workers say that they no longer need to be located in an office in order to be productive. With clear benefits in reduced rent costs, flexibility in scheduling, reduced employee commute times, environmental friendliness, improved employee morale, results-focused productivity and enhanced accountability, it’s no wonder that managers and employees alike are embracing the notion of the mobile workforce.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to embrace the idea of a remote workforce is that there is finally the capability for business owners to properly manage telecommuters through recent advances in technology. Also, the functionality of such technologies has matured to the point where they are reliable, simple and scalable.

One such feature that is quickly rising in popularity is called presence management. This technology enables a manager the same functionality as if they were in the same room as a remote worker, without actually needing to physically be there. Presence management technologies monitor employee location, track laptop activity, share availability and enable instant messaging for quick collaboration. In fact, presence management has gotten so precise that it can actually notify a manager when a remote worker has left his or her desk, is on the phone, or has taken a break to go to lunch. With managers constantly within an arm’s reach for assistance, this advancement completely eliminates the frustrating element of “phone tag” inherent in antiquated telecommuting environments.

Many of today’s businesses operate with a central folder on the Local Area Network (LAN) which stores all of the businesses key documents, spreadsheets, presentations and files. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one that enables remote workers to access all of the exact same files as if they were sitting at their desk in the office, through a secure and safe remote connection. With VPN access, remote workers can instantly collaborate with in-office or out-of-office coworkers, since they all have the same documents at their fingertips.

Furthermore, telecommuters can now leverage Desktop Optimization Centers (DOCs) which monitor, manage, enhance and fix remote laptops or desktops with ease. For example, regardless of location, an employee can call into a designated customer service line and get immediate assistance with any technical issues that arise. In fact, DOCs often solve computer issues much faster than in-house IT staff because of the inherent scalability associated with these firms and sheer number of technicians available. For example, if a computer crashes during an installation of new software program, an employee simply calls the technician and the technician remotely connects to the off-site computer and resolves the problem right in front of the employee’s eyes.

Lastly, call accounting, call forwarding and caller ID features have absolutely vital use-cases in the work-from-home environment. Sales managers can utilize simple call accounting software to track employee outreach, see how long employees spend on the phone, number of calls, and screen calls all the way down to specific words that are used. So, if a salesperson is never supposed to say “free,” a manager can know how many times that word was used. You now can have a remote workforce that essentially functions “under the same roof,” enhancing the customer experience. To the outside world, calls will sound the same to the end user whether that call is being answered at an employee’s home or in the boardroom.

When you have the same level of technology in the home office as you do in the corporate headquarters employees are able to save time on their daily commute, business owners can scale the organization more effectively by adding staff and everyone involved can enjoy increased flexibility and productivity. Now, business owners can leverage the talents and skill sets of people all over the world and it is our role at Prime Telecommunications to provide the technology and the guidance to get this accomplished.

Hang-Up on Your Traditional Telephone System: 3 Advantages of VoIP

Along with adopting cloud services, many businesses are taking advantage of progressive technological developments to further save money and allocate resources elsewhere. By implementing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), businesses are enabling vocal communication over the Internet, and reaping the many benefits of the system.

In essence, VoIP—colloquially referred to as Internet telephony—is a series of transmission capabilities that facilitate communication over the Internet. The technology converts voice vibrations to compressed digital signals, and then transfers them into regular telephone signals—thus, playing the part of a conventional telephone.

But enough with the tech talk. Here are three quick tips that illustrate why VoIP services will make you want to hang-up on your traditional telephone system.

Costs Savings

The most obvious—and arguably most attractive—feature of VoIP is the money you will be saving from the get-go. For starters, moving away from public telephone networks makes long-distance calling affordable. VoIP also reduces the cost of equipment, manpower, lines, and maintenance. Despite the initial setup costs, businesses save immensely by managing only one network and not having to bear the financial burdens of a telephony system. Gone are the days of needing a team to manage your data network and your voice network.

Flexibility & Mobility               

Sure, VoIP increases savings by lowering your businesses initial communication costs. However, it does so much more. Internet telephony enables users to access software programs—think common features such as email, fax, and remote conferencing—over the Internet. In short, users can utilize voice services while accessing other applications simultaneously.

And what’s even better? VoIP users can use their adapters anywhere that Internet is offered, including their mobile phones. This is mobility, people—and a feature that is proving to be extremely relevant in a workforce that has become more mobile and remote.

Approachability

VoIP requires very little technical knowledge. In fact, the installation process is simple compared to traditional telephones. With VoIP systems, businesses are no longer required to use separate cabling (which also greatly reduces clutter and fire hazards associated with electrical wires!). Once installed, VoIP systems are easy to maintain—after all, the transfer of voice to digital signals requires no specialized hardware. Finally, VoIP is scalable, meaning that it’s simple to add extra components with very little hassle.

Sound enticing? These are only a few of the benefits of switching to VoIP services. Much like transferring to the cloud, making the switch to Internet telephony is a no-brainer. For more information, contact us today. old phone

Seven Really Good Reasons to look at Hosted VoIP

Outrageously Affordable, Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Business is more unpredictable than ever––growth one year, contraction the next year. Ideally, you want to be able to secure the most advanced technologies without having to spend significant money upfront on hardware. Hosted VoIP makes this possible. With a Hosted VoIP solution, you save from  day one on your monthly communications service fees and upfront capital costs. All you need are VoIP-ready handsets. That’s right, no expensive boxes or systems required.

And the last thing you want to do in this economy, or any economic climate or that matter, is spend tens of thousands of dollars on a phone system. With Hosted VoIP, there are no large servers or systems to purchase. Other than the phones, there are no capital expenditures to depreciate over time. Which means it comes off of your books. And with low monthly communications service fees, you get an outrageously affordable solution that connects your business and employees to a host of capabilities thatdramatically improve productivity.

Minimal IT Support Required

Unlike the complex traditional phone systems that sit in a closet, Hosted VoIP requires very little IT support or training to administer. You can quickly add users, delete users, enable additional features––all without additional support or staff. The reason? A simple web interface. In fact, a Hosted VoIP solution is so simple, users can manage their own features right from their computers. It’s one management issue that can be taken off the shoulders of your IT or Office Manager. Who knows, maybe they’ll even thank you for a change.

Business Continuity

Let’s assume some worst case scenarios: Your building is flooded. Or an earthquake wreaks havoc. Or a fire knocks out power for miles around. Now, let’s assume you have Hosted VoIP. Want to know how things would be?

Business would go on––uninterrupted. Since no physical box resides on your premises––it resides in redundant and secure data centers––customers can still connect with your business because employees can work from anywhere.

The reason? A web-based portal that allows you to quickly forward calls to cell phones or other phones in unaffected locations. It’s an incredibly fast and easy way to take control of a disastrous situation and ensure that anything major becomes just a minor incident.

Scale Up/Scale Down

Five year projections? Ten year projections? Frankly, for most businesses, it has become nearly impossible to make accurate predictions. It’s why you need a highly-flexible technology like Hosted VoIP. Hosted VoIP is a sure way to give you the peace of mind that comes from not being constrained by a phone system that only supports a fixed number of employees and can be costly and complicated to expand. If resources become squeezed, you can quickly scale back. On the other hand, if you open a new branch office, or need to provide remote communications, or just need to prepare for a spike in demand around the holidays, it’s quick and easy to scale up without any disruption to your business.

Total flexibility. Easy to manage. Quick to deploy.

Hosted VoIP is a decision with only upside

More Functionality

Even if you’re jaded about technology, once you see all of the advanced features and functionality that are available from a Hosted VoIP system, you’ll be seriously impressed by the impact it can have on your business. And the best part is you can activate only those features that you need to make your company more productive. It starts with HD voice, the clearest a business call can get. That’s just scratching the surface. Through Hosted VoIP, you can have voicemails automatically forwarded to your email; you can make a call from a cell phone or remote office and have it appear as a call from the main office. You also have the ability to integrate with Outlook or Salesforce.com.

Basically there isn’t much you can’t do with Hosted VoIP.

Automatic Upgrades

With Hosted VoIP, there’s no box on your premises, so there’s no hardware to upgrade in order to take advantage of new features and technologies. Because your service is outsourced, upgrades are provided through software changes that happen automatically in the background. Of course, you’ll be made aware of any new capabilities as they come on line. That way, you can quickly utilize them to support your employees and better service customers.

So stay focused on your business and leave the upgrades to your Hosted VoIP service provider.

Focus on Your Business

One of the best ways to stay competitive is to focus on your core business. With a Hosted VoIP solution, the management of increasinglycomplex business communications is done for you off-site. It all happens in the background while you and your employees utilize advanced features and productivity tools like voice, web meetings, and internet fax to take up new goals and take down obstacles that stand in their way.

This information was taken from an article written for a leading hosted voice over IP provider. If you are interested in learning more, contact me and I will be sure to give you as much information as I can to assist in helping you make the right decision for your company

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How to sell your management on a new IP based phone system

An Internet Protocol (IP)-based phone system is much more than a few new phones plugged into your network.
It transforms your phone system into a next-generation communications hub, complete with cutting-edge
technologies that let your organization deliver better customer service while cutting costs. An IP-based phone
system piggybacks on your IP-network, connecting to the public-switched telephone network (PSTN) via your
Internet connection. Use this checklist to sell management on a new IP-based phone system:
1. Reduce the cost of phone charges.
IP telephony can significantly reduce the cost of your long-distance charges. It also reduces the
number of circuits to the PSTN you must pay for; for companies with several branch offices, this can
be a significant savings.
2. Reduce the cost of network management.
Moving to an IP-based phone system lets you consolidate your data and voice networks onto one
network, which translates to less money and time spent on network management.
3. Provide better customer service.
An IP-based phone system can be integrated with other business applications you use to provide
customer service, particularly a customer relationship management (CRM) program.
4. Simplify phone system management.
An IP private branch exchange (PBX) has an easy-to-use, Web-based interface that can be used to
make changes to any extension on the network. Your IT team can even move and add users remotely.
5. Gain enterprise-scale features.
IP-based phone systems include sophisticated features that are otherwise out of reach for all but the
largest companies. You can add an auto-attendant, integrated conferencing, and even a call center to
your phone system.
6. Leverage new technologies.
IP telephony enables more than VoIP (Voice over IP) phone calls. It also enables advanced communications applications like unified messaging, which integrates voicemail, e-mail, and texts, and Unified
Communications (UC), which integrates real-time and non-real communication media with collaboration tools.

Figuring out Total Cost of Ownership for an IP Phone solution

For more than a decade companies large and small have been taking advantage of the new IP-based communications solutions.  Being able to unify all your communications—voice, e-mail, Internet and more—delivers a wide range of advantages. But do those advantages really put dollars on your bottom line?  What is your true total cost of ownership (TCO)?

Using years of data to collect on thousands of IP implementations, the consulting firm Nemertes has come up with some answers.

Savings —IP telephony does produce some real hard dollar savings that you can take to the bank:

  • Wiring: By making it possible to consolidate Ethernet connections, IP systems typically deliver savings of about 40% on cabling costs in new buildings. Smart use of WiFi phones can cut the costs even further.
  • Administration: As a company grows and changes, the office communications system inevitably needs some TLC, e.g., moving, adding or changing extensions. IP-based systems are much less expensive when it comes to day-to-day administration. According to Nemertes, many companies have justified their entire IP telephony rollout on administrative savings alone.
  • Conferencing: Because IP systems have the ability to route a single call to multiple destinations simultaneously, this can eliminate the need for third-party conference call services, delivering a significant savings.
  • Centralizing servers:  By centralizing servers at the data center, organizations report savings in the number of servers they need to buy, along with reduced tools and resources to manage applications such as unified messaging, conferencing, and even the communications system itself.
  • Connecting offices: If you have multiple offices, linking them via SIP trunks as opposed to traditional PRI lines can save about 40% off the monthly circuit costs, though this varies based on calling requirements and the existing architecture.
  • Mobile costs: Companies with many mobile employees eliminate roaming charges by routing mobile calls through the IP system (typically this involves first calling a local number and routing the call from the IP PBX through the corporate WAN).
  • Staff: Many companies see savings in support staff, (i.e., using the automated attendant to replace a receptionist.)

Costs—IP systems aren’t all a one way street to savings—there are some extra costs.  According to Nemertes:

  • Getting started with IP telephony takes more effort—implementation costs during the first two years run higher than with traditional communications systems.
  • LAN upgrades –If you don’t have Power-Over-Ethernet switches on your LAN, you will need to get them. IP phone deployments typically require Power-Over-Ethernet switches to function in the event of a power failure. This can be an extra cost
  • Many companies don’t budget for voice quality management and monitoring tools, which Nemertes says is a mistake. These management and monitoring tools cost more upfront, but pay for themselves in efficiencies over the long run.

Softphones: A Killer App?
A key advantage of IP systems that is increasingly coming into focus is the ability to equip employees with a softphone. A softphone essentially duplicates the capabilities of a deskphone on the screen of a PC or laptop. You get a dialpad, buttons for Hold, Conference, Transfer, etc., plus you can easily see a directory of contacts. Add a USB headset and you have everything you need to handle all your calls—no need for a phone. In addition to being less expensive than a deskphone, the softphone/headset is ideal for employees who are on the move a lot and also makes it unnecessary to upgrade LAN switches for PoE. A big variable, however, is the cost of the headset. Some companies are fine with a $20 to $100 headset; others say they can only get by with a much more expensive model.

Which Vendor: 
The Nemertes report provided some vendor-specific cost data, primarily for Avaya and Cisco, the only two companies for which it had enough data. Based on several scenarios, Nemertes found Avaya’s annualized cost savings to be consistently higher than the competition. The Nemertes study is available at: https://bitly.com/Sa8Qn4+. We recommend trying both Allworx and SNET Hosted Solutions in calculating total cost of ownership. In case you’re interested, give us a call or send us an email – and we would be happy to work with you on your solution!