Find out what can affect your VoIP Calls (and what to do about it)If you’re using VoIP or SIP trunks with your PBX system, there are a number of factors that can impact the quality of your calls that have nothing to do with your PBX system, or the quality of your VoIP or SIP service. If a web page is slower to load because you’re downloading a large file in the background, the pauses in your internet speed are usually unnoticeable, and don’t cause too much bother. But with internet phone calls these pauses, no matter how minute, can become an obvious interruption to your phone call quality. And that can cause a lot of bother. First and foremost, having a good internet connection is essential to making sure your calls are clear and uninterrupted, however, that’s not all there is to it.
Where does Quality of Service fit into the PBX puzzle?Before we get into what Quality or Service is, it’s important to understand what it isn’t. This means understanding a little about breakpoints and bandwidth – which can both affect your calls – so that you can rule other issues out before deciding that QoS is the reason for your drop in call quality.
BreakpointsBreakpoints are all of the different locations where a fault can occur in your phone service. Think of the way your plumbing is connected to the public water plant. There are pipes within the plant itself, public pipes and connections, t-sections where the pipe moves from the mains to your house, and pipes to every different tap in your home. When you turn on your tap and there’s no water, the fault could lie in any of these places (probably more, but we’re not plumbers Telecommunications breakpoints work in the same way – there are breakpoints in the public network and inside your premises, from the wall outlets, your PBX system, your modem, and your wall outlets. Issues with call quality can be impacted by breakpoints and, depending on where they are, finding a solution could be the responsibility of your VoIP service provider, your VoIP service carrier, or your IT team.
BandwidthBandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted through your internet connection in a set amount of time. Yes – this one is all about your internet connection. You will see bandwidth expressed a MBPS (megabits per second), and your connection will have a upload bandwidth (speed of data you send out), and a download bandwidth (speed of data that’s incoming). When you selected which internet connection to get in your office, there would have been a maximum bandwidth included, usually referred to as ‘connection speed’. For example, you may have a plan with a 100g download limit with a connection speed of up to 12/1 mbps. When you connect your PBX system to your internet connection, each call will be taking from your maximum bandwidth. If it’s sharing the load with your general internet use, it could put pressure on your bandwidth, and you could experience interruptions and a drop in call quality. Your service carrier should have discussed your phone and internet use before you signed up for a plan. Often, a single data connection will be able to carry your internet and your phone calls easily. But if it can’t, the best solution is to have a dedicated data service for each. That way, your phone and internet run each on different services, and the use of one will never affect the quality of the other.
What is Quality of Service?When you experience drops in your call quality, the problem could in fact be one that is beyond the power of your phone system provider, SIP service carrier, and even your resident IT guy. These factors are referred to as Quality of Service, or QoS, and are more concerned with the finer details about how the internet works, and how your devices connect to others.
LatencyLatency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. When you visit a website, download a video, or send an email, latency refers to how long it takes your computer to connect to the source, and retrieve their data for you to access.
PingPing refers to the reaction time of your connection, kind of like the way the reflexes in your body work. It measures, in milliseconds, how long it takes for you get a response after you’ve sent out a request. The faster the ping, the better the reaction time of your connection. The number of breakpoints your service travels through will influence the speed of your ping.
JitterWhen devices communicate with each other over the internet, they do so using packets, which are chunks of data sent back and forth. If device A sends a packet to device B every 10 milliseconds (ms), and device B is sending packets back at the same rate, there is no jitter. However, if device A is sending packets every 10ms, but device B is busy downloading a large file or video, it may not be able to receive the packet you’re sending in the same timeframe. In this case, it might get zero packets for 60ms, and then get 6 packets all at the same time. Now, this doesn’t matter if you are browsing websites of checking your email, because 60ms is no time at all. However, if you are sending and receiving calls, every millisecond counts, and you will notice the interruption, no matter which end of the line you are on.
Finding a SolutionAs you can see, QoS are issues that are rooted in the wide expanses of the internet, and cannot be repaired by your phone system provider, the carrier of your SIP service, or by your IT guy fiddling with the settings on your modem/router. While it’s important that you eliminate other possibilities first (those we mentioned above), one step closer to a solution is to have a dedicated internet connection that exists solely for the purpose of carrying you phone calls. This way, general internet use in your office will never have any impact on your call quality. If you aren’t making VoIP calls or using SIP to run your PBX system yet, getting the right provider to carry your service is an absolute must. We recommend SpringCom because we know that their priority is the same as yours – ensuring that your voice and data services work for your business – and they tailor their phone plans to suit your needs. You can get in touch with them on 1300 857 194 to find out more about switching your PBX system to a SIP service.
Save yourself from the cost and hassle of switchingTechnology has changed a lot in the past few years. The NBN is being rolled out across Australia, VoIP and SIP have become the powerhouse of the phone network and, as a result, the rise in businesses using cloud based PBX systems has been dramatic. And while the benefits of these IP systems are no secret (their use is on the rise for a good reason), many businesses are left wondering if they should just bite the bullet and get rid of their legacy phone systems for a new cloud-based solution. If you’re looking for reasons to keep your existing system, it might be difficult to wade through the mountains of information and websites that are telling you an IP system is just plain better. Here you will find some useful information about why keeping you existing on-premise PBX can be sensible and practical, and how you can still take advantage of other technology without forking out for an entirely new system.
#1 You can still use SIP with your existing systemHere’s two facts you may know; cloud based phone systems and SIP go hand in hand, and VoIP and SIP both require an excellent internet connection to function. But here’s two facts you might not have been made aware of:
- You do not need the NBN to have a VoIP/SIP service – a quality ADSL connection will do the trick
- You can utilise a VoIP/SIP service with your on-premise PBX system – you can say goodbye to hefty PSTN line rental and expensive calls WITHOUT having to purchase a new cloud based system
#2 If it ain’t broke – don’t fix itIf your existing PBX system delivers everything your company needs, and you and your staff are happy with what it does, why change it? You’ve already spent the money setting it up, whether it was 6 months or 5 years ago, and now that you can switch to a SIP service (with or without the NBN), it would be logical to keep what’s working for you, and simply get rid of the old PSTN phone lines to save yourself a lot of money. The bottom line: If it works for you, don’t go through the hassle of buying and getting used to an entirely new phone system.
#3 ManagementKeeping your existing PBX system means that you continue to control the management and maintenance of all the system features you and your staff are familiar with. If you switch to SIP, using and controlling these features will be simple and hassle free for your resident tech wiz. Bottom line: Work with what works for you and your IT team, and keep the control in the hands of your company.
#4 MoneyThere’s two big areas to save. The first is that, by keeping your on-premise PBX system, you won’t be forking out for new hardware and cloud-based system setup and features. The second comes if you get rid of the old expensive PSTN lines and make the switch to a SIP service. Line rental is super-low (sometimes up to a third of the cost of traditional landline)and, because you’d be using the internet to make calls, they are also a LOT more affordable than they have been in the past. Bottom line: if your system works for you, keeping it and switching to SIP basically means you are saving a lot of money without actually sacrificing anything. Sound pretty good, right?
#5 FamiliarityWhile there are obvious advantages to cloud-based PBX systems, the truth is that any new technology in the office can take a lot of getting used to. If you’ve read the other reasons on this list and made it all the way to this one, it could be that you’ve found yourself wondering if you really do need to make such a big change to your phone system, after all. At the end of the day, getting the hang of a new system could be a major time waster if you’ve already got something that can work with SIP trunks and deliver savings, is easy for your team to update and manage, and has pretty much everything you need, anyway. Worth a thought.
Only you know what’s best for your businessAt the end of the day, you know what’s best for your business when it comes to the way you communicate. There are a lot of reasons to switch to a cloud-based PBX system but, if you’re happy with how your existing system works, there are some pretty good reasons not to. In the meantime, if you are thinking of getting rid of your expensive PSTN line rental and saving on the cost of phone calls, we recommend our carrier partner SpringCom to help you make the switch to VoIP or SIP – and you can still keep your existing PBX system without any hassles. We know that they work with their customers to find the best solution, with the least cost possible. You can give their Australian-based team a call on 1300 857 194 to find out more.
Being prepared for the switch is not an optionEven if you’ve got an understanding of how your phone lines will be affected by the NBN, you may not have had a chance to think about what that means for your EFTPOS terminal. We’d all love it if the switch was a simple one, and you could just unplug your terminal and plug it into your new NBN connection without much more thought. Unfortunately, there are only a very few businesses that will be able to do it this way, and those are the businesses that wither only have one terminal, or won’t get to enjoy the NBN in it’s full capacity for quite some time. The truth is, the NBN is going to bring big changes to the way the majority of Australian business uses their EFTPOS terminals. It’s not a choice, so the best thing you can do for your business is get ready ahead of time, understand how it works, and make sure you don’t end up without your essential services for days or even weeks. Here’s the not-so-good news. Because the switch to the NBn can be an (understandably) confusing and complicated process, many providers are taking advantage of people and also making sure it’s an expensive one. the more educated you are about how your business will nee to prepare, the less likely it is that a shifty salesman will be able to come along and convince you that you need to spend a fortune to make the switch. Ignore the fact that you’ve got to be prepared and you business could find itself without internet, phone lines, or an EFTPOS terminal for days, weeks or, in the worst case, even months. To understand the switch, you need to understand three things;
- how your NBN service will be delivered to your building,
- what type of NBN phone service you will be using, and
- the model of EFTPOS terminal you currently use.
Why your NBN connection is importantTraditional phone and internet services have been carried to our premises via copper infrastructure, while the NBN is a Multi Technology Mix (MTM) network, which means that not every connection will be delivered to your office the same way. However, while there are significant differences in how the NBN gets to you, the result is the same in every case; reliable, high speed broadband. In most cases,, the NBN will be delivered to your premises by fibre optic cables in one of two forms
- Fibre to the Node (FTTN) – fibre cables will carry your broadband connection from the public telephone exchange to the nearest node in your neighbourhood. From there, it will travel along the existing copper wiring that’s previously carried your traditional phone and internet services. In this case, those existing phone and internet services will be made redundant to make way for the NBN.
- Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) – just like FTTN, fibre cables will carry your broadband connection from the public telephone exchange to the nearest node to your office. From the node the fibre continues directly to your premises – fibre all the way! In this case, existing phone and internet services will be removed to make way for fibre.
A note on timingThere have a been a few scattered warnings on television from NBN Co, reminding you that your existing services will be cut off. Not enough, in our opinion, because when it happens there’s no turning back and, if you haven’t made the switch, you will be without your phone, internet, and everything that goes along with it. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of being prepared for the NBN long before this happens to you. It’s not something you can save for another day and risk forgetting, unless you can live without your essential business services for days or weeks. When you order your service, you don’t get to decide when it will be installed (and neither does your provider) and you don’t get the guarantee that everything will run smoothly the first time round. Generally, NBN Co. will have a technician come to your office from ten and anywhere up to 30 days from the time you order your service. But if they cancel, it could be another months wait. Now let’s imagine you’ve already left it to the last minute and, before the technician arrives to install your NBN service, your existing services are switched off. The repercussions for any business – small or large – aren’t pretty.
Choosing the right NBN Phone Service for your BusinessIf you thought the NBN sounded a bit complicated already, here’s where it gets really interesting. If you are getting an FTTP connection, and NBN technician will install a Network Termination Device (NTD) in your office. On this NTD, there’ll be four yellow Data (Uni-D) Ports, and two grey Voice (Uni-V) Ports. The grey ports were designed by NBn CO. as a simple replacement for your existing phone line – you’ll be able to plug in your old phone or EFTPOS terminal into one of these ports, and it’s smooth sailing from there. But did you get the catch? There are only two ports. ONly two, and it’s highly likely that your business has more than one phone, more than one EFTPOS terminal, maybe a security system and fax machine, and possibly a HICAPS terminal. They all need their own phone line, and this solution simply will not work for you. You’ll have to find another solution. If you’re getting an FTTN service, the above isn’t even an option because are no grey Voice (Uni-V) Ports in sight – you won’t even have an NTD installed. You’ll also have to look elsewhere for a solution to your EFTPOS and phone line needs…
VoIP to the RescueVoice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a tool we can use to make phone calls using our internet connections. You can connect every and any device that needs a phone line to a VoIP service, but there’s more (of-course) it won’t be as simple as plugging your existing phone line or EFTPOS terminal into your existing modem. That’s because the traditional devices that you’ve most likely been using will communicate using analogue data, and VoIP uses digital data (hint: they’re not friends). try plugging your analogue phone or EFTPOS terminal into your modem and you’ll get zilch. Earlier we mentioned that there are providers out there who are taking advantage of people’s ignorance, and this is the most common point where that occurs. If someone tells you that you need to spend a fortune on a new phone system or new devices, they are probably dead wrong. An Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) can act as a translating tool between VoIP and your analogue devices and, in many cases, this means you can still use your existing hardware. But… EFTPOS terminals differ widely, and i’s important that you work out where yours fits into the picture.
Use the right terminal for the right serviceThose details about the type of NBN you may be getting in your office – FTTN or FTTP – were there for a reason because whether or not you can use your existing EFTPOS terminal, and how you go about it. If you have an FTTN service installed in your office, you will be able to connect an ATA between your modem and your existing analogue EFTPOS terminal. However, the NTD installed with an FTTP service does not support the use of an analogue EFTPOS terminal with an ATA. For many businesses, your only option will be to upgrade your EFTPOS terminal. We can’t offer personalised advice about it, because every business is different. You will need to contact your bank to talk about what kind of terminal you have, and whether or not you will have to upgrade. It’s not just us – most banks also urge their clients to get in touch with them about it so they can be properly prepared.
Consider an NBN ready Audit for Peace of MindThe fact is, you don’t have a choice when it comes to switching to the NBN, but you do have a choice about how smooth the transition will be. If you haven’t already, contact Infiniti today on 1300 889 792 to learn about our NBN-ready audit service. During the audit we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make sure your NBN transition is a smooth one, including advice about your phone lines, PBX machine, and EFTPOS terminals. If you’re still trying to get your head around how the NBN switch works in general, watch this video that provides a quick guide to the NBN. Whatever you do, don’t wait until time runs out!
How to make sure you’re backed upYour phone system is the heart of your company’s infrastructure, not only connecting you with your clients and suppliers, but also giving your employees a way to communicate with each other effectively. Communication is key in business and your phone system is what keeps everything running like clockwork. But have you ever wondered what you would do without it? What would the flow on effect be if your system were to cease working for a few hours or worse; a few days? Unfortunately it’s a possibility that, one day, you might experience damage, a fault or loss of service for other reasons, which means no phone system. Fortunately, there is something you can do to make sure your business phone system always has something to fall back on. [READ MORE…]
Which is the best solution for your office phone system?VoIP and SIP; the acronyms that we can no longer ignore. The fact is, these are two very important technologies that have revolutionized the way we communicate every day, even if we don’t know it. But when it comes to your office phone solution, which one is the better choice? Here, we’ll explain what they are, how they work and help you decide whether SIP or VoIP is right for your business.
What’s VoIP?VoIP stands for ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’ and is the umbrella term used to describe any call made using the internet instead of traditional PSTN or ISDN phone lines. VoIP converts your voice calls into data packets that can be transmitted over the internet. The important thing to note here is that VoIP is a voice service, which is key to the difference between it and SIP. Protocol refers to a set of digital rules that developers use to manage communication between computers, phones, tablets and other digital devices. At both the receiving and transmitting end of the connection (called ‘endpoints), the same digital rules must be followed in order for the communication to be successful. It’s like sending something using snail mail – for the mail to be sent properly, you need a stamp on the envelope and in order for it to be received on the other end, you need the correct address. Otherwise, the communication will fail.
What’s SIP?SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is different to VoIP in that it is used for managing not only your voice calls, but also multimedia communication including video calls, instant messaging, media distribution and a whole lot more. SIP is a specific type of protocol that facilitates VoIP and we often refer to it as the ‘VoIP Superhighway’. That’s because it can be used to communicate between several devices or endpoints simultaneously, it’s scalable, calls are clearer, QoS is higher and line rental and phone calls are a lot more affordable. It’s no surprise that SIP is becoming the number one communication solution for businesses across Australia. It’s probably also no surprise that we’re going to tell you that, in the battle between VoIP and SIP, SIP is the winner. If you’re running a PBX or other unified communication system in your office, there really isn’t any competition here.
The Benefits Of SIPWe’ve already mentioned that SIP is capable of carrying all of your multimedia communications, which is a major draw card for businesses using an office phone system. But there are a lot more benefits of going with a SIP provider:
- Affordability – the cost of line rental is significantly lower than traditional PSTN lines and local, mobile, national and international calls are also a lot more affordable than they used to be.
- Scalability – your SIP provider can scale the size of your office phone network up or down without having to come into the office to install new equipment and without major cost.
- Reliability – when you go with a provider that’s out to give you the best service available, they’ll talk to you about your data service and help you decide how to run your SIP service with the highest Quality of Service possible.
- Redundancy and disaster recovery – SIP offers more re-routing options for redundancy than PSTN or ISDN service.
- Independent network access – Unlike PTSN and ISDN services, SIP can be carried over any data network type, including fiber, copper and wireless networks. This means that switching to the NBN won’t affect your SIP service.
Making The Right Choice For Your BusinessTechnically, there isn’t a competition between VoIP and SIP, because SIP is really just a protocol used to achieve VoIP… which still has it’s place. When it comes to deciding how you will improve your business phone solution and reduce your monthly phone bill, it’s important you talk to your chosen provider about how your staff makes and receives calls and what you hope to achieve by using a VoIP or SIP service. There are a lot of providers out there, some who are less likely to bring you savings than others and we generally refer our clients to SpringCom. We know that they provide a lot of information on their website about the options available to businesses and always strive to deliver the best solution with the greatest savings possible.
The bottom line is that, when choosing your phone service, knowing about VoIP and SIP – and how they work – can make the world of difference between a smooth and efficient phone experience and an unreliable and disappointing one.
If you’re interested in finding out more about switching your business phone system to SIP, we suggest having a chat to our carrier partner SpringCom. The’re experts in providing honest and useful information, and helping businesses find the most efficient and affordable solution for their communication needs. Give them a call on 1300 857 194 today.
Make sure your business is prepared for the changes that lay aheadThe NBN is slowly making it’s way to more and more Australian businesses every day. With promises of reliable service and high download speeds, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your internet service is all that will be affected by the roll-out. The truth is, there’s a lot more at stake and business owners are being urged to give some serious consideration to how their businesses will be impacted.
More Than Just Your Data SpeedsYes – the NBN will mean you’ll get access to faster download speeds and a more steady service than what you’ve probably been used to. This is fantastic news, of course, but when it comes to making the switch, you’re also going to have to make some major changes to the way everyone in your office communicates. When fibre is installed in your area, NBN Co. will only leave your existing phone lines active for a certain amount of time before they will be switched off. This is because, in some cases, existing copper infrastructure will be entirely removed and in other cases, they simply won’t work the way it has done in the past. Either way, it means that your current internet and phone setup will become redundant and this will potentially affect your:
- Phone services
- PBX system
- EFTPOS machine
- HICAPS terminal
- Fax machine
- Security systems
- Any other device that requires a phone line
Getting The Right AdviceWhile the migration of your services is unavoidable, taking the worry, hassles and expense out of the equation can be. But the most crucial factor is that you get the right advice, from the right place, before you have to make the switch. Many providers are actually taking advantage of people’s ignorance on this issue and convincing them that they need to purchase entirely new office hardware in order to use the NBN. When in actual fact, it’s rare that you will need to spend any large sum of money at all; in 99% of all cases, you’ll be able to put measures in place that ensure you can continue using your existing equipment. If you’re not an expert on the NBN or how it will affect your business, you need to get an NBN ready audit as soon as possible. It’s not worth a) spending money unnecessarily or b) leaving it too late and ending up without any service at all. Infiniti offers a complete NBN ready audit for Australian businesses. We value our integrity and that’s why our advice is genuine and supportive and seeks to bring the greatest financial benefit to your company. During an NBN audit, we will:
- Find out the type of NBN you will have in your area, when it will be available and how it will change your current services
- Assess your current internet and phone setup and make recommendations based on this information
- Talk to you about what you would like out of an NBN service, including PBX management, phone services and data
- Evaluate your existing cabling and make recommendations based on your preferences for an NBN service
- Provide upgrade recommendations and implementations for your current devices
- Provide advice about how to continue using your current hardware
When @POTUS calls, you answer.Watch as Coach Lue receives a ring from the @Whitehouse.https://t.co/m9xkCRCBqf — Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 24, 2016
PBX & VOIP HackingPBX & VOIP hacking is responsible for millions of dollars in losses for organisations each year, and it’s having a massive impact on Australian businesses.
Who is responsible?PBX & VOIP hacking can result is a substantial amount of unauthorized call charges on your telecommunications account from people or groups who have infiltrated your system and used it to make long distance and international calls without your knowledge. It is your responsibility to maintain your own company’s phone system security, which means that if you are ever hacked, you’ll have to pay the charges that have been made by hackers. Ideally, you should’ve been briefed by your provider when you purchased your phone system; they should have told you about the risk of hacking and ways that you can avoid it. If you do find your business phone system has been breached, they should be the first people you contact. Infiniti may provide notification if we suspect any possibility of fraud on your account, however, we may not find out until after the event. We will not take responsibility in maintaining your system security, nor do we take responsibility for any damage caused should your system be compromised. That responsibility falls onto you.
How is it done & Why?The main point of hacking your phone system or service is so that the hackers can make obscure international phone calls at no cost to themselves at all; any charges are payable by the organisation whose system or service has been hacked. If they do it for long enough undetected, these costs can become quite large. They exploit any weaknesses in a company’s phone system by deciphering their voicemail pins and or call feature codes. Once they have entered the system they can then reprogram it to make international phone calls. They will then do one of two things; either on-sell any calls they make by mimicking an operator, or divert the calls to their own plans so that they don’t have to pay a cent for anything, while the hacked business is left with the bill. Most often a hacker will attempt to do this after office hours in order to avoid detection. This also means that a lot of damage can be done before anyone in your office notices a problem.
Ways to Protect your Phone System
- Don’t use default pins
- Change your pins on a regular basis
- Turn off any abilities that can be made from your voicemail ports (such as call forwarding and outbound calls)
- Make sure to get rid of any unused voicemail boxes
- Unless its absolutely necessary disable all international call access
- Keep your phone system administration unit in a secure place
- Make restrictions to all outgoing calls made after office hours
- Unless absolutely necessary, turn off remote access to the systems features
- Check regularly to see if there are a high amount of calls being made at night, on weekends or on public holidays
- Disable all administration short codes
- Constantly review all call records for any unusual activities – familiarise yourself with what’s normal, so you’ll be able to immediatelt identify what’s not
Signs That You Have Been HackedKeep your eye out for one or more of these possible warning signs that your system has been breached:
- You may receive a phone bill from a provider that you aren’t even associated with
- You get a “busy” error message when trying to receive a voicemail
- High amounts of calls being made on weekends, nights & public holidays
- International calls showing up on your bills that you usually don’t or never call
- Very quick calls in your records (less than 10 seconds)