SIP Trunking – In depth Guide and Tips

 

Sip Trunking guide navigation:

  1. What is SIP Trunking
  2. How does SIP Trunking work
  3. Benefits of SIP Trunking
  4. Main Disadvantages
  5. SIP Trunk Migration Tips
  6. Is SIP the Right Choice

 

What is SIP Trunking?

SIP Trunking uses VoIP to connect a PBX and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). It is an application layer protocol that sets up audio or video sessions between two devices. As such it replaces the traditional phone trunking. SIP requires on-site PBX and a connection to your Internet telephony provider.

Trunking to a Hosted PBX is typically done using SIP. Another solution would be SIP PRI (Primary Rate Interface). When compared, SIP is the more scalable and profitable service. While PRI offers better quality of voice transfer but has some limitations to its usability.

With SIP trunks, companies can connect multiple channels to a cloud PBX. This allows companies to make simultaneous calls over the existent Internet connection. Without restrictions to the number of incoming or outgoing concurrent calls.

Why SIP Trunking:

  • Costs less
  • Scales easier
  • Is more reliable
“SIP is a well-established technology with minimal upfront investment costs”

 

How does SIP Trunking work?

SIP manages signalling and access to a Voice IP network. Trunks are a mediator between your phone systems and your Internet Telephony Provider. In other words it provides a connection between your telephony system and your provider of choice.

With SIP Trunking need of a physical connection to a phone company is obsolete. You no longer need that old wiring, or the circuit boxes used for connection to the PSTN.

“Just think of SIP trunking as a virtual version of an analog phone line.”

Benefits of SIP Trunking

“The cost savings and benefits of SIP trunking are hard to neglect.”

Main sell points of Sip:

  • Cost Savings
  • Disaster Recovery & Security
  • Cheap Long distance calls
  • Extremely Scalable
  • No infrastructure
  • Mobility
  • Remote access to lines
  • Reliability
  • Less constraints
  • Cost Savings

 

SIP trunking saves a significant sum of money reaching from 20 up to 60% of company telecommunications costs. Additionally it saves time and if implemented correctly reduces stress.

SIP trunks are virtual and provided over Internet making it easy to add or remove capacity. It’s easy to scale, add or remove team members when required, often at minimal costs and without hardware requirement.

Hardware and maintenance

Hardware and maintenance are almost virtual as well. No wiring is required, no on premise hardware is needed and maintenance is not mandatory. Even tech support is often remote.

Recovery and Security

In case of emergencies, Sip trunking is actually quite helpful. It is easy to setup a rerouting, and backing up with a spare internet provider is not that expensive. The service is Cloud based and does not have many of the limitations of on site PBX systems, especially when it comes to power losses. Almost every provider has a failover countermeasure and recovery strategy.

As every technology Sip trunking has its security exploits and vulnerabilities. Data safety is a big concern for most companies and should not be neglected. You can find a list of possible glitches here. Any Sip trunk provider should walk you through the possible breaches as part of the provided service.

Mobility

SIP can be used with VoIP apps that come a very high degree of mobility. It allows company employees’ to connect with mobile devices or from remote computers. Some VOIP/SIP providers have even developed VoIP applications that require no data connection. Those apps can be used everywhere a mobile connection is available. With them mobile workers can remain connected to the communication system, and be reachable at all times.

Remote access to lines.

SIP supports remote access which is particularly handy for companies with offices based in multiple locations or countries. For outgoing calls it allows the use of all available numbers, no matter where you are located at the moment. Thus redirecting the incoming calls to your office of choice. SIP is extremely scalable, allowing startups and fast growing companies to open new sites or use full-time remote workers regardless of geographical location.

“You can make calls and still assure professional pick up in a different office or even in a different country.”

No Physical Infrastructure

“SIP trunking does not require additional hardware investment.”

Moving and expanding the company infrastructure before SIP trunking ware challenging. Both costed a hefty sum and ware lengthy processes. With SIP adding a new line is as simple as putting on a new pair of headphones and scaling your service agreement. Off-site workers are easily integrated with applications and can be reached with a simple extension number. Moving is fast and virtually free as no on-site hardware is required.

Reliability

Traditional telephone service is often reliable. But it can still interrupt at times, because of construction works, bad weather conditions, or simple human errors. And if the line is broken there is no viable workaround. SIP trunking is a bit more reliable solution. Internet backup line is almost a must and guarantees calls will get through even if the main data provider fails. Cloud servers often have backups and can be restored within minutes, and vendors often offer mobile failover. Mobile VOIP applications can take over the SIP trunking functions until the service is restored.

Simple Management

Extensions management and functions like call pickup, call routing can be managed through simple administrative portals with a few clicks.

Most providers offer full control of all the outgoing and incoming calls, as well as real time monitoring and statistics. It is easy to check who used which phone with which extension, who was called and now long the calls lasted.

In addition, SIP trunking also:

  • Works with most modern phones
  • Can use use your old phone numbers
  • Can help you rationalise your telephony
  • Is perfect for seasonal companies
  • Can have flat plans

Main Disadvantages of SIP

 

Bandwidth Costs

Migrating all your communications to SIP always comes with the need of better bandwidth. Depending on the number of simultaneous lines that are to be used the additional cost might vary from a small sum to a small fortune. Despite the ne Internet connection costs, the final balance is still in SIP Trunkings favor.

Simultaneous Calls

When a company starts using SIP trunking it often chooses the wrong plan. The number of simultaneous calls is mostly ill-considered and needs to be re-assessed. Companies often miss-judge how many lines they will need and need to change their SIP and data plans.

“To determine the number of simultaneous calls you have to take into account both incoming and outgoing calls. Calls that exceed the limit will receive a busy signal and won’t wait in line for pickup.”

Porting Numbers

When switching to SIP all your DID numbers can be kept but have to ported to the new system. This process is not complicated but can take a good amount of time.

Possible SIP Trunking problems if it is not implemented correctly:

  • Call recording – can become messy
  • Fax – highly dependant on providers and might not be supported
  • 911 – proper implementation is required
  • Long carrier lead times
  • Number porting can take months
  • DTMF might not work

Successful SIP Trunk Migration Tips

 

Migration to SIP-Trunk

 

SIP trunking migration might become a complicated process if not planned and executed correctly. Here are some tips that will help the implementation:

Planning

Plan everything. Begin with inventory of the existing infrastructure. Number of phone lines, DIDs, check the overall usage both outgoing and incoming. Note if you will need to use the system from other locations. Don’t forget to include the backup system.

Key Decisions

SIP Trunking plans and carriers are flexible but you should make some firm decisions.

    1. Choosing the right voice compression between clearer sound and reduced bandwidth?
    2. Choosing the backup bandwidth (to fully cover or to be just for emergency)?
    3. Choosing what to do with the old hardware
    4. Choosing the carrier
“Choosing the Carrier for your SIP Trunking should not be left as the last decision. You should carefully review the available carriers, judging to what grade the offers they make are in line with your demands”

Expected Carrier Cost

In the end it is not all about the money. But the cost should not be neglected. Not all carriers list the following costs for comparison yet if asked they should provide the numbers:

Non recurring:

  • Initial Implementation
  • DID porting
  • Initial Training

Recurring:

  • DID numbers
  • Toll-free numbers and features
  • Number of lines
  • Caller Identification
  • Cloud Services
  • Support

 

Preparing for SIP

When you have determined what you need from your provider, and who it will be you should start planning the implementation. Every SIP provider has its course of action and you should make sure it is lined up with your needs. Be sure to take a test flight before you start the full implementation:

  1. Create a test plan
  2. Test the quality of service
  3. Create and test new DIDs
  4. Port few of your existing DIDs for testing
  5. Assign few checkers form your team that will gradually and troughtly test all new changes and options
  6. Test the internet bandwidth and backup
  7. To test the provided support, check time to action and availability
  8. Check the toll-free and 911 numbers for traffic and availability
  9. Check the control panel, reports and call logs

 

Potential Problems

As with every new undertaking, it is common for problems to arise. Consider several potential pitfalls areas that should not be neglected:

  1. Call recording, and storage might not work correctly or be messy
  2. Faxing might not work or need to stay on traditional line
  3. Tall free numbers and 911 numbers might not be connected or misbehaving
  4. Carrier screening or spoofing of outbound Caller IDs
  5. Carrier lead times might be too long
  6. Number porting might take too long
  7. Control panel might not work correctly
  8. Call logs reports and statuses might misbehave or be hard to read
  9. DTMF might not work

Is SIP Trunking the Right Choice?

SIP Trunking isn’t an alternative to hosted or on-premise PBX. It’s an alternative to publicly-switched telephone network. Is well-established and can lead to significant improvement in reliability and cost savings. The offered flexibility is a big plus but as any other solution it has more than a few disadvantages.
Still SIP Trunking is the right choice for a lot of companies which have left high priced and unreliable phone lines in the past and moved their business communications to the Cloud

 

Advanced factors! – How to choose a VoIP solution

 

So, you are convinced that Voice over IP will provide a solution to your company’s problem and provide additional benefits. But how and why should you choose a specific VoIP provider?

Apart from the basic knowledge we covered here, there are more advanced factors worth of consideration:

Software

Many vendors will force you into buying a hardware solution from them. This means you’re not only locked into using your vendors preferred hardware brand. You also have no control whatsoever over warranty and support for the hardware. Furthermore, how do you know if this particular solution is the right one for you? You’ll never be sure until you actually purchased the product and then, it might be too late.
Choosing a provider that supplies in different formats is very important. Also check if they provide software downloads and documentation for the hardware(phones) they use. You should be able to easily download the software, documentations and Help files for further use. Best scenario will be if they also provide mobile application that works without use of specific hardware.

Limitations

Limited functionality, is a way for mostly bigger companies to charge you extra. In some cases you won’t get everything that has been advertised to you, and you will find that the information on their websites is misleading. Make sure there is no service expiration time, but a complete, fully functional VoIP PBX for your company. As most companies provide demo accounts and test periods, it is very important that you are testing the exact plan that you are going to buy and use.

Proven vs Innovative Technology

Make sure the software is built on stable, proven technology such as the Linux operating system and Asterisk PBX core. The applications should be easy to manage and integrate with your existing software programs. Feature rich and innovative software is a good add-on but if the company can’t back it up with a stable IT team they might do more harm than good.

Innovative companies have their software under rapid, continuous development, which guarantees regular updates. The system can often automatically downloads software upgrades, without any intervention required from your part. In most cases this is good but, can sometimes lead to new feature misunderstandings and confusion.

Integration

When you are choosing a VoIP solution, integration with your existing environment is paramount. Most VoIP PBX provides support for every kind of phone line available, analog, ISDN, or VoIP but you still have to make sure it is so. You should be able can connect existing analog phones or use any brand of IP phone. You can either be a slave to your provider or enjoy the freedom of being able to choose the phone you like, regardless of the brand.

Support

A good product is nothing without great support. Especially for a telephony system, reliable support is a key factor. In most environments, telephony downtime is unacceptable. The support team should have extensive experience with Voice over IP systems and network related issues. Therefore it simply can’t be outsourced.

The company must provide you the best support in the least amount of time. Tech support engineers should be available around the clock to make sure your phone system is available 24/7.
Extensive monitoring and optional remote backup solutions are a plus, as companies should guarantee maximum availability of your IP telephony system. The engineers should be able to access your IP PBX over the Internet, to help you solve the problem without loosing time. Think about it, when considering VOIP vendors: “When things go wrong, will they be there for you?”

Choosing Voice over IP for your company is an important step. Don’t rush it.

Be The Best At Conference Calls

THE ART OF CALLING

The art of conference calling … Wait. You didn’t know it was an art? It’s definitely a skill worth building if you’re running a modern business, and as much an art as any other form of presenting. Whether you want to blame it on technology and the Internet, or the costs associated to flying, or even the huge slowdown in flying America took after 9/11 that forced us into doing more calls, the conference call has become a huge part of doing business and you can’t escape it.Here are the top five ways to be the best at conference calls.

1. Smile

Did you think it was about technology or the content you’re presenting? Perhaps a little, but the way you deliver information is the key to capturing your audience’s attention. How you talk on the phone is no different than how you present yourself on stage when presenting to an audience. In reality, your conference call is very similar to being on stage where the lights are so bright you can’t see anyone’s faces. Smile while you speak and your positive energy will come through – the people on the other end of the phone will be able to sense and feel your smile. Try it.

2. Energy

You’re going to start seeing a theme here in how conference calls relate to public speaking. The energy you put into the call is directly proportionate to the energy you’ll get back. What is a great result in a conference call? Everyone enjoying the call. By bringing energy to the call you’ll lift everyone up, maybe even create laughter and ultimately better rapport. Inflect your voice. Get excited about the items you care about. Tell stories that bring out your passion. At a minimum, speak clearly and with sufficient volume so everyone can understand and hear your words.

3. Be Yourself

Conference calls are like emails – it’s too easy to lack emotion, interpret things wrong, and to dismiss the opportunity to build relationships. Since you saved so much time by not travelling, why not use some of the conference call time to build rapport and get to know people? It can be as simple as asking everyone for an introduction and as meaningful as talking about family and life at the beginning and end of the calls. Do what you’d normally do if you were in person for the first few minutes – say hello, check in with each other, and ask questions not related to the call topic. Be a person, not a robot at the end of the phone.

4. Focus

The benefit of a conference call is speed. No flights. No hotels. No time wasted to get the meeting started. Don’t waste all that saved time by being at the meeting, but not taking part in the meeting. Focus your time and energy on the topic, the people, and the overall meeting. Eliminate distractions by hiding your phone, turning off email, and taking notes the old-fashioned way: pen and paper. If you’re easily distracted when you’re not talking, taking notes will help you stay engaged. It’s also a great way to capture questions you want to ask when appropriate.

5. Technology

Know your tech. There’s nothing worse than a presenter who has never used the conference call technology and wastes the first ten to fifteen minutes getting setup. Dial in early. Setup and test the service well before you meet. Download the software ahead of time. Most conference calls are very short, and nobody wants to sit around wasting that valuable time on bad technology or users who aren’t prepared.

What do you do when you feel like nobody is listening to you?

There’s no worse situation than being the presenter on a conference call with people in a conference room on the other line who put you on mute. They give you no feedback. No laughter. Nothing. You may as well be an audio-book or a pre-recorded webinar! But don’t fret. These five skills will save you. Your smile and energy will lift up the room. Be yourself to gain rapport with your audience and people will unmute themselves to ask you questions. Stay focused and even ask questions to verify you’re on the right track (this is a great way to engage everyone and to force them to unmute themselves). You might even find ways to make technology engage people more. For example, you might use the chat feature to gather questions and feedback while you present. Or perhaps your conference call service can track participant engagement.

On your next call, dial in 5 minutes early, greet everyone as they join, be sociable and inquisitive, and SMILE. If you do nothing else but smile, you’re going to have a better call.

Advice – Communications for Enterprise

Lets address some points that should be taken under consideration for IT managers looking at packetized communications for their Enterprise.  Below are the highlights and my thoughts:

Highlights

Look For SIP Support

I couldn’t agree more!  SIP is a protocol used to establish, teardown, modify, etc communication sessions.  It’s very diverse and relatively simple when compared to past mechanisms.  Most importantly, it has become the defacto standard within the world of telephony.  There’s native SIP support in nearly all the major vendors that supply VoIP gear. (Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Microsoft)

Consider The Benefits Of Hosted PBX

This topic has be discussed numerous times in the past, and even before that within a TDM context (PBX vs. Centrex).  The thing that’s different within an IP context is the feature and functionality available.  When comparing a PBX to a Centrex offering, one key difference was additional feature and functionality in a PBX.  Centrex offerings didn’t have the same “whiz-bang” features.  In today’s Hosted Telephony offerings, there’s near feature parity, so the key determining factor becomes cost of ownership.

Think Unified Communications

VoIP (or Telephony) MUST be seen as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of Unified Communications.  IT managers should consider the roadmap to UC when choosing a Telephony solution.  Real-time communications need to become multi-modal, meaning there should be options to transition communications from IM to voice to video to online collaboration on a document, and then back again – all within the same context and within a common look/feel.

Traversing NAT

Though the issue of Network Address Translation (NAT) is well known to negatively impact SIP sessions, the real point for consideration here for the IT Manager should be around considering the deployment of a Session Border Controller (SBC) within their Enterprise as part of an overall design.

Know & Apply Codecs

There are more ways to packetize voice and video communications than one can shake a stick at.  The author points out the predominant technologies of G.711 and G.729.  Issues of bandwidth consumption and quality of user’s experience must be balanced.  Generally speaking, the more bandwidth consumed, the better the experience.  But the more bandwidth used, the greater the cost to upgrade the LAN/WAN infrastructure to accommodate.  If you skimp on cost, the result would be poor quality, and then adoption and experiences would suffer.  It’s a delicate balancing game.

Some further comments :

• Make sure to have 100k in bandwidth free and available for every conversation when determining whether the enterprise really has enough bandwidth for VoIP.  With multiple calls made from one location a simple DSL  won’t cut it.

• Get VoIP phones that are both wired for Ethernet and wireless for Wi-Fi connectivity. That way, people can wander, and all internal calls within the building are free of charge because they stay on the network. Check the mobile voip solutions, few of them even work without need of data plan.

• Make sure the vendor is going to be around to support the purchase.  An older vendor with roots, commitments, and financial means is an obvious choice. A new vendor with strong management, skills, and reputation who proves out through considered research can also be a sharp choice.

VoIP Considerations for IT Decision-makers

VoIP Decisions

Lets address some points that should be taken under consideration for IT managers looking at packetized communications for their Enterprise.  Below are the highlights and my thoughts:

Look For SIP Support

I couldn’t agree more!  SIP is a protocol used to establish, teardown, modify, etc communication sessions.  It’s very diverse and relatively simple when compared to past mechanisms.  Most importantly, it has become the defacto standard within the world of telephony.  There’s native SIP support in nearly all the major vendors that supply VoIP gear. (Cisco, Avaya, Siemens, Microsoft)

Consider The Benefits Of Hosted PBX

This topic has be discussed numerous times in the past, and even before that within a TDM context (PBX vs. Centrex).  The thing that’s different within an IP context is the feature and functionality available.  When comparing a PBX to a Centrex offering, one key difference was additional feature and functionality in a PBX.  Centrex offerings didn’t have the same “whiz-bang” features.  In today’s Hosted Telephony offerings, there’s near feature parity, so the key determining factor becomes cost of ownership.

Think Unified Communications

VoIP (or Telephony) MUST be seen as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of Unified Communications.  IT managers should consider the roadmap to UC when choosing a Telephony solution.  Real-time communications need to become multi-modal, meaning there should be options to transition communications from IM to voice to video to online collaboration on a document, and then back again – all within the same context and within a common look/feel.

Traversing NAT

Though the issue of Network Address Translation (NAT) is well known to negatively impact SIP sessions, the real point for consideration here for the IT Manager should be around considering the deployment of a Session Border Controller (SBC) within their Enterprise as part of an overall design.

Know & Apply Codecs

There are more ways to packetize voice and video communications than one can shake a stick at.  The author points out the predominant technologies of G.711 and G.729.  Issues of bandwidth consumption and quality of user’s experience must be balanced.  Generally speaking, the more bandwidth consumed, the better the experience.  But the more bandwidth used, the greater the cost to upgrade the LAN/WAN infrastructure to accommodate.  If you skimp on cost, the result would be poor quality, and then adoption and experiences would suffer.  It’s a delicate balancing game.

Some further comments captured in the article.

• Make sure to have 100k in bandwidth free and available for every conversation when determining whether the enterprise really has enough bandwidth for VoIP, according to Andy Abramson, blogger at VoIP Watch and founder and CEO of Comunicano (www.comunicano.com). With this understanding, it’s easy to see that DSL or a cable modem line won’t cut it.

• Get VoIP phones that are both wired for Ethernet and wireless for Wi-Fi connectivity, notes Abramson. “That way, people can wander, and all internal calls within the building are free of charge because they stay on the network.”

• “Make sure the vendor is going to be around to support the purchase,” Abramson says. An older vendor with roots, commitments, and financial means is an obvious choice. A new vendor with strong management, skills, and reputation who proves out through considered research can also be a sharp choice.

 

Best VOIP blogs list and comparison

The Top VOIP Blogs Out There

There are hundreds of blogs about VOIP and most of them are as bad as it can be. It is not an easy task to find to find the one that is really worth reading. Our blog is still small and we know  that you won’t find all the answers here so we offer you a list that could help you in your search for knowledge.

Here are all the VOIP blogs we deemed worthy of your attention:

Voipsupply

I’m still not sure if this blog should be first one on the list or last one in the prehistoric section. Since it is arguably the best in both sections I’ll let it sit here for a while.

About: VoIP Supply operates on North America’s soil for about 15 years now. It is the leading IP communications provider for NA and as such keps a good blog


Voipreview

The blog of voipreview consist of mostly well written news rarely mixed with poor quality articles. The Blog/news are  updated once a week and the generic trash articles are quite rare.

About: VoipReview.org is shopping and information website mostly for middle to small business VoIP providers. On the website you can can search for and compare different VoIP providers and plans, to find out which one is best for your needs. Also the information provided on communication solutions is quite impressive.


Voipinnovations

Company blog targeting mostly their clients and other VOIP providers. If you fit any of those categories, the blog is good and you can find a lot of interesting and informative articles.

About: Voip Innovations is a normal VOIP provider that offers nothing out of the ordinary. And they seems to do that quite well as they have grown a lot. You won’t find any Innovations as the name suggests, but a well working services might just be the thing you need.


Mixvoip

Might have been the best company blog on the list if it had some more articles. It has some self promotion but it is not that much. Good diversity of articles about VOIP and similar thematic. Not updated very frequently but you can still expect to find one or two good articles each month.

About: MIXvoip is a regulated  telecom provider and is one of the new players on the European market. As such they rely on innovations and unique proposals. Some of the features like VOIP for mobile that is not using any data connection are quite amazing. The aggressive innovative marketing and pricing tactics seem to be working as they are expanding fast. Lets hope they don’t forget to expand the blog as well


888voip

Good blog focused on both providing information and gaining clients in the process. A bit too many links in the articles leading to nowhere useful. And of course no signs of any navigation except the next page button. If you can live with that you should definitely check it out.


Net2phone

With the very first opening of the blog you say to yourself “Finally a nice looking blog with proper navigation”. If it was not for the naive “Why Music On Hold Makes Callers Happy” articles it would have been my blog of choice. Seriously no one and I mean NO ONE wants to listen to on hold music, no matter how many shitty excuses you make for it. It is a regularly updated blog about voip which authors seems to be pushed to place a bit too many articles per month, resulting in some plainly stupid articles mixed with the good ones.


Orbtalk

It seems someone is bringing that forum back. I would not have mentioned this blog if it was not for the few really good articles in it. All in all its lacking quantity and making up with quality. Due to poor font selection the readability is not the best there is.


Surevoip

Very good blog with lots of interesting and helpful posts. Vast amount of articles that show only the good side of VOIP. All of this wrapped in the ugliest interface available. Don’t even bother opening on mobile.


Getvoip

Half the articles are Top 10 clickbaits, while the other half seems to be news. Well there is enough info in there to get it in the list even if it is on the last position.


And that almost ends it.

 

Let’s finish  with the iconic trio. Here you can admire the dinosaurs of the voip niche, and as such the articles they write are kind of prehistoric too. Mostly row data, news and self service promotions, nothing really catchy or interesting. If you don’t identify yourself as voip techie just skip them and go to the real list


3cx’s Blog

3cx posts are mostly self promotional. Quite a lot about their (and their partners) services and promotions. If you have time to scroll 130+ pages with articles you might just find few interesting pieces. I would not waste my time there.


Onsip’s Blog

Onsip posts are quite a lot better than 3cx’s. They make phone reviews, show best practices, guides and so on. The diversity of what you can find in this primordial soup is amazing. The quality of the articles on the other hand is not. I have to admit that the blog is a tat more readable than the first dino in this list.


Asterisk’s Blog

Asterisk is quite unique. Everything is technical but very well written. Abbreviations and tech names take up to 50% of the text and it is still readable. Don’t ask me how it is done, go there and read an article or two. But as I said before, if you don’t identify yourself as techie, just skip this blog and check the others.

 

Why Always Use Call Recording

Call recording and VOIP

Monitor your conversations and diagnose arising problems.

Everyone has called a customer service at some point in his life and been greeted with a message of this sort: “This call MAY be recorded for quality assurance purposes.” Its a white lie as it is not based on a chance. All the conversations get recorded and for a good reason. Call recording is being used to ensure customer satisfaction and monitor employee productivity. And while it can hardly be used as evidence in court it can help refresh the memory of an employee or stubborn client. Today, more and more businesses know the true value call recording and are using it to some extent. The truth is that most Apps for call recording are not integrated in the dialer. And most dialers insist on saving all data on the phone limited memory.

Dispute Resolution

When a customer calls support, he is usually trying to convert, seeking help or reporting a problem. The reason for the call can be from unclear information to customer mistake or simple lack of knowledge or information. Of coarse it can also be because of defect product or simple misunderstanding. In many cases the person conversing on the phone can’t comprehend the root of the problem right away or simply misses some of the provided information. Having a call record allows the tech team or managers to listen to that conversation and diagnose the specific problem. The process slow, time consuming and often neglected but can improve the overall work flow if used for similar cases.

Fosters Growing Businesses

As businesses develop, its not uncommon that they establish offices in multiple locations or start to outsource part of their tasks. It becomes more difficult to manage multiple locations and offices that are located abroad. Call recording than steps in to ease the diagnosing if conversation and conversion problems as well as monitoring of customer satisfaction. It can be done at any location without need of much or any investment.

Productivity

When recording calls the business can make customized call reports based on different factors. Call length, call scoring, and number of calls per employee, time to answer, calls peak hours and even customer satisfaction can be measured. It is even possible to highlight personal calls, leading to better interconnectivity in the company or weeding the employees that tend to make excessive personal calls. Just knowing that you can listen on the conversations your employees will deter from making personal calls, will pay more attention to how they are addressing the customers and refrain from sharing sensitive company information. Overall, the business achieves better productivity and optimizes the use of time and resources.

Where VOIP kicks in

Apart from all the other benefits of VOIP we have already discussed it can really shine when it comes to call recording. VOIP providers have it hard as VOIP is harder to sell and has to bring more to the table. Voice recording is one of those things and it is easier and better than because of the Internet nature of VOIP. Voice recording is provided as free feature and in most cases is embedded in the VOIP servers. That means that the calls are saved a remote server and the you get a link to the media that you can open from any device at any place and any time you wish. As a bonus it does not clog your phone memory and if done right can be used from both office VOIP phones and mobile applications.

Better pay attention – Identity and Security

What happens when you get a letter in the mail and it appears to be tampered with?  I don’t know about you, but I either think that it got mangled in the postal sorting machines, or someone has been tampering.  I don’t immediately assume that it’s tampered with, as I am not that important of a person. But there are a few “less than desirable” folks I have come across in my travels that necessitate thinking that way at times. If I suspect that it is tampered, I have the ability to complain to the US Postal Service (or whoever the carrier is) and start an inquiry.  There’s a certain level of accountability.

Telecommunications accountability

With telecommunications, accountability is less effective.  Say your phone rings – do you assume that someone is listening in on your phone call?  Probably not unless you are in a similar profession as Tony Soprano.  The fact of the matter is this – people’s historical sense of security, or assuredness regarding source and point-to-point communications must be questioned.  I don’t mean to sound like a harbinger of doom, but this questioning comes as a result of modern technology.  Let’s take the simple example of the receiving a phone call.  Your phone rings.  The name of the person calling you is displayed on the phone’s screen.  It’s your Mother’s name, or her phone number.  Most of us would proceed with answering the call expecting the person on the other end to be our Mother.  Now, this leap of faith may be questioned if the masses understood the ease of “spoofing” this data. Мeaning, people can pretend they are your Mom just to get you to answer the phone.  Telemarketing companies are very savvy employing some techniques.  They realize if the caller ID displays “ABC Telemarketing Company” the odds of the phone being answered decreases tremendously.  But what if the caller ID were something more ambiguous, like “out of area”?  Well they did just that, then the FTC mandated they had to stop the “out of area” practice, and start displaying their phone number, and if possible company name.  Frankly, that didn’t do much as most people just lumped the “out of area” calls as telemarketing calls anyways.  At least that’s what I did.  This is really just a ‘cat and mouse’ game between the FTC/FCC and the telemarketers.  To keep things ambiguous, most telemarketers elected to just provide their phone number to display.  While not ideal to conceal the identity, it’s better than having “ABC Telemarketing Company” displayed.  In fact, because I am from Michigan, I usually accept most phone calls from any area-code in Michigan because I don’t know who’s phone might have changed – so I elect to answer rather pass the call to v-mail.  The constant balancing act our governing bodies must play between protecting free markets interests (read as commerce/business) on the one side, and protecting constituents on the other side, necessitates that we be more vigilant.

Phone calls (not only VOIP)

Back to the comparison of receiving a parcel versus a phone call.  If I get a package from my friendly postal working in the mail, I know for certain that the package was carried from the sender to me by the courier. UPS, FEDEX, etc.  When it comes to phone calls, the only thing we can be certain of is that the last part of the call was carried by my phone company.  The reality is that mostly phone calls, regardless of the technology, are carried by multiple phone companies.  Out the window goes any accountability.  Say I received a call, and heard some someone other than the person calling me starting singing a song (rare I know, but definitely possible), how can I determine where or how this intrusion took place?  I would start with my phone company, for sure, and if the breach into our conversation happened within the administrative domain of my phone company, there might be something that could be done.  The odds would that being the case aren’t great, though, and pinpointing where the breach occurred could very well be impossible.  The routes or paths that phone calls take over the telephone network change so frequently that oftentimes placing, say five simultaneous calls to the same destination might take five different paths through the network.  It’s the way things are.  Add to this situation the different technologies used, like VoIP versus TDM, any end-to-end reconstruction is arguably impossible.
 
At the end of the day, what this means to “Joe consumer” as a politician would put it, is that you can’t trust the source, or the path phone calls take through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) with any level of certainty.  This is an unfortunately truth of the world we operate in today.

Ten Easy Steps to mobile VoIP (For Dummies)

Here are ten easy steps for going mobile with VoIP.

You will need a cell phone that runs on IOS or Android with data plan.

Almost any cell will do but you will need data plan and durable battery with most VoIP providers. When you are comparing and choosing VoIP service providers, take special note to see if they run their Apps on Android or IOS. Don’t just assume that all VoIP providers will have your needs in mind. Technology advances everyday, and this includes cryptography and safety masseurs that usually require better hardware. If you have a “dinosaur” of a mobile, there is a chance that the application used for the connection won’t work with your outdated specs. You can check with the company’s requirements for Android/IOS version but if you already know your phone is in need of change don’t expect the App to run miracles on it.

You must have high speed data plan

In most cases it is required that you have high speed Internet before purchasing VoIP services. Most mobile providers are offering 3G or better data plans so it should not be a problem. If you can’t afford good connection or are working in remote locations there is still a solution (check here). A good data plan produces a higher quality audio sound and better overall experience. When it comes to transmitting data, audio, and video files, nothing beats High Speed.

Evaluate your Needs

You must decide why you want to switch to VoIP. A good idea is to make a list and write down your reasons for wanting VoIP over normal calls. If you are lets say a residential homeowner and are fed up with paying high fees for local and long distance, then by all means, write that down. If you are looking for business solutions and want to incorporate all of your data, audio, and video needs, then add that to your list. By composing a list, you can clearly see what your needs are and what service is best suited for you.

Choose between Private, Business, or both

Many people opt to keep their business needs on standard connection, while testing VoIP for private calls. Not soon afterwards, they come to realize the potential benefits for their businesses as well. There are not many differences between private and business needs but some VoIP providers have “basic” and not “unlimited” plans, and some companies even throw in amenities such as free yellow book advertising. Again, writing a list down of what you want in a VoIP service will help you better determine what your telecommunication needs are.

Compare Service Providers

Now it is time to compare various service providers. There are many sites on the Internet that will let you review and compare different plans. Also, word of mouth is always a great form of advertising. If you have friends and relatives who have switched to VoIP, find out from them how they like their service provider, and also inquire about any providers that they may have had a negative experience with. If you are on a budget or cant use good data plan there are companies offering VoIP almost without the use of any data.

Select the plan that is Right for You

Now that your list is complete and you have compared service plans, it is time to decide on a service provider. Choose the provider that you feel best meets your needs stated on your list. You will also have the choice of purchasing monthly or yearly contracts, so know which option is best for you ahead of time.

Choose your Area Code and Phone Number

Many providers will give you the opportunity of selecting your own area code and phone number. This is great for those who have family and friends in a specific area, and who would like to save them money on their long distance bills. It is also an effective marketing tool for businesses that are targeting a specific region.

Configure your Phone’s features

Your VoIP app will come with a variety of features. You may configure them to achieve greater freedom. You will typically set up your, call block numbers, and other features the same as you would on your cell phone.

Spread the Word

Now that you are enjoying your new VoIP service, spread the word and let others know how they too can save money.

Problem Solving:

  • If you have slow or no Internet at all there is a solution. An App called Pindo can be used to with most VOIP providers. It can run with very little or no data usage at all. The drawback is that it makes a local call to make the connection.
  • If you are visually impaired you can check my article on Team Talk 5

How to Choose a VOIP Provider and How Important Is It For Your Business

 

VOIP is a telecommunications technology that replaces and upgrades the legacy Public Switched Telephone Network cabling. Its only drawback is that it requires Internet, but in return VOIP provides secure access and lots of extras important to business telephony.

VOIP BENEFITS

 

Transferring to VOIP is almost mandatory if you are running business that relies on telephony or if you are simply planning to change your telecom system. VOIP offers important benefits, both financial and operational. It simplifies the infrastructure and reduces call, maintenance and moving costs.

A growing trend

Growing numbers of businesses have already moved to VOIP realizing these benefits. The trend is not surprising considering the lower costs for businesses. According to analysis switching from legacy systems to SIP trunking lowers the total cost by 50%.

Upgrade legacy systems

VOIP gives the business access to the all the benefits of Internet telephony. With the new infrastructure Voip connects your PBX to an Internet Telephony Provider, benefiting you from the lower cost of long distance calls and professional pbx functions. You can even use rented cloud PBX to lower maintenance and infrastructure costs.

Connect your branches

If have interstate branch offices and want to connect them to the communication facilities of head office, you can connect them with VOIP. This can be done by connecting the sites to your infrastructure or using a service provider that can connect your facilities with cloud PBX. Both ways, you provide your branches with improved communications eliminating duplicate infrastructure while effectively halving the support staff needed.

Simplify infrastructure

Operate separate networks for data and voice is not cost effective and is even harder to backup. You can make significant savings with VOIP transition. using a single channel for data, voice and video will reduce network complexity and you will cut the costs for upgrades, backup lines and maintenance.

Mobile communications

As mentioned before the main disadvantage of VOIP communications is the requirement for internet connection. It is not much of a problem when you are calling from the office but field workers don’t have that privilege. Some VOIP providers like MIXvoip recently solved that issue by using DTMF allowing mobile VOIP calls to be made even without internet connection.

Selection factors

With that many benefits, how would you proceed when choosing a VOIP provider? Which are the most important factors to consider?
As people that have been in the VOIP business for quite some time now, we recommend you to choose by:

  1. Security
  2. Quality of Support
  3. Extended Services
  4. Pricing
  5. Mobility
  6. Call Quality

 

Security

Security the most important factor because VOIP is an Internet technology. As such it can be subject attacks and other risks that come with that environment. Service providers offer different security measures and techs. Software measures include authentication, encryption and the use of secure real time transport protocols. Hardware security is mostly done with the use of separate network access routers it is called transport-layer security and is used to protect your network against attacks that can disrupt the phone service.

Quality of support

Quality of support really important too and definitely should be considered. As with every service, at some point problems will arise and you should be confident that your provider can minimize the downtimes. VOIP is an Internet service often hosted on cloud servers, as such businesses don’t need support staff on site, the service provider support teams have the responsibility to keep everything running.

Pricing and mobility

Pricing and mobility are mostly self explanatory. They are both very business specific and depend on individual business structure and needs. Some providers charge flat, based on number of devices, others charge based on the number of calls your business makes. Most VOIP providers do not offer unlimited calls but there are exceptions. If you have lots of field workers you should make sure the company offers a mobile app.

Call quality

Call quality is not that important but shouldn’t be neglected. Most providers promote on call quality but you should know that sound quality requires more data. When more data is used you can make less simultaneous calls without call interferences and you will need to upgrade your internet plan.

VOIP is essential if you want to enjoy the advantages of business communications, save money and achieve business, financial and operational benefits.