— How do you guarantee quality?
Our service is based on a BYOI (Bring Your Own Internet) model. You must provide stable and reliable internet in order to successfully use our service. However, to assist in making sure your voice service has the best possible connection, we deploy a piece of equipment that prioritizes voice over all else. Your internet will connect to our switch and your firewall’s WAN port will connect to our switch’s “Customer Network” port. Lastly, your phones will connect to our switch’s VoIP port.
—Can I use my existing network infrastructure?
Absolutely, we welcome it. However, your network hardware must support certain options in order to work properly with our VoIP service. A dedicated voice VLAN is required, as well as proper QoS (DSCP) settings. Depending on the size of your deployment, we may also have specific settings required for DHCP and DNS. If you want to use your existing firewall to support VoIP traffic, your firewall must be capable of supporting SIP ALG (aka: SIP Transformations) and you must program it to prioritize that traffic over all other internet traffic.
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN:
—How fast does my internet need to be?
The internet speeds required will depend on how many simultaneous calls you plan to have. Each call consumes 80k of bandwidth in each direction (upload and download). With traditional broadband internet service, the upload speed is usually lower than the download speed, so that will be the figure to keep an eye on. This means, an internet circuit that has 1 meg upload (and 5 megs download) will permit approximately 10 simultaneous calls. We also have the option to use a higher compression codec, which reduces the call’s bandwidth to approximately 20k in each direction, but the call will sound more like a cell phone call than a land-line call.
—What is QoS and do I really need it?
Quality-of-Service (QoS) is a mechanism that exists on most business-class data switches and routers that prioritizes network traffic by marking it with a special “priority flag”. Once marked, this traffic is treated with higher or lower importance as it traverses your computer network. If you’re visiting a website and part of it can’t be loaded, the request is simply retransmitted automatically and you never notice the delay. With voice, the delay is far more noticeable.
QoS markings becomes most important when there is network congestion, and something has to be rejected or re-transmitted. Voice is considered a “real-time” application, in that it must be transmitted as quickly as possible to the other end. Imagine part of a phone call being delayed or if words in a sentence were missing or out of order – the sentence wouldn’t make sense. With VoIP, the call is actually chopped up into much smaller chunks (parts of words instead of whole words), so if parts of the call arrives out of order, the missing parts can simply be dropped and you won’t miss them. However, if this happens too often or back-to-back, a large enough chunk of the call is noticeably missing.
QoS allows the network to prioritize voice traffic to make sure that it is the least likely to be dropped or retransmitted during network congestion. QoS does not apply over the public internet, only on private networks with the proper equipment.
NON-TECHNICAL (LAYMAN’S TERMS):
—How does the call quality sound?
Unlike traditional land lines, VoIP telephone quality offers two key advantages. First, it is a digital technology that takes what it hears and turns it into ones and zeros, then transmits it to the other end. This means, when the call is reassembled for the other end to hear, it is an exact recreation of the original speaker. Older land lines amplified the sound to prepare it for transmission over long distances, which made it susceptible to distortion and excess noise.
The other key advantage is that additional quality options exist with VoIP telephone service. A high definition audio codec called G.722, offers a much broader range of sound representation than traditional land lines.
—What is an “IP Phone”?
An IP (Internet Protocol) Phone is a device that functions like a regular telephone but connects directly to your computer network. The flexibility of the technology allows you to share the computer network infrastructure with phone devices that used to require their own dedicated cabling. Through other advanced networking technologies (such as Virtual LANs and Quality-of-Service), phones and computers can share the same networking hardware without causing any conflicts or issues, as well as save money on maintenance and repair costs.
—What is an ATA (Analog Terminal Adapter)?
An ATA is a device that converts traditional telephones (such as the ones you might use in your home) into a VoIP-capable device. The traditional telephone plugs into the ATA and it is now able to communicate over the computer network in a similar fashion to IP phones.
—Can I keep our business phone numbers?
Yes, you can. That’s the great thing about VoIP – it’s flexible enough to support using your existing number. Your existing number is “ported” into our VoIP service and delivered directly to your VoIP phones. In very rare circumstances, smaller “co-op” telephone companies do not permit their number to be ported out of their jurisdiction, but this is extremely rare, and we can usually work out some sort of special setup (such as call forwarding) to get the call into your new VoIP service.
—Can I set up additional numbers in other area codes?
Yes, you can. You can actually do this without having a business presence in that city. For example, you can set up a number in Los Angeles to route to your office location in New York. You don’t have an office in Los Angeles, but you do receive a lot of calls from that area and want to provide a local number for your customers to use instead of calling a long distance number. This can easily be done.
—What if my office experiences a disaster or I lose internet – is my phone service dead?
If you experience a power outage, your phones will not be able to connect with our cloud platform and outbound calls will not be possible. However, your business phone numbers will still be able to reach our equipment. This means, inbound callers will still get menus and voicemail for your users, having no clue you’re experiencing an outage. When your internet service is restored, your phone will automatically re-register with our cloud platform and receive your voicemails. If you utilized our Voicemail-to-Email service, you will likely not experience an outage with voicemail reception at all. If your deployment makes use of on-premise equipment, we have other options for insuring uninterrupted service during internet outages.
—Will my phone work during power outages?
As long as your internet works during power outages, your computer network is operational, and the phone has power, your phone will continue to operate during a power outage.
—How expensive is Long Distance (Domestic and International)?
There are no charges for domestic long distance with our service. International long distance billing varies based on the destination dialed.
—What kind of contract or commitment do I need to sign?
Our service is a month-to-month offering. We specifically chose this option in the event your internet connection turns out to not be stable enough to support reliable voice transmissions (we didn’t want you stuck in a contract for service you weren’t able to fully utilize).
—What about these companies that offer free phone equipment – why don’t you?
If you look closely at the model phones being offered in that “free” tier, you’ll see its mainly very simple features and capabilities (such as, a single line IP phone with call waiting, or a 2-line phone). You might even discover the network connection on the phone doesn’t support gigabit ethernet, or that the phone’s screen is hard to read in black/white. We evaluated over 50 different IP phone models and selected the models that met our rigorous criteria at a phenomenal price. All of our models are capable of handling a minimum of 4 calls at a time, they include easy-to-read color screens, and all models support gigabit ethernet so your computer’s speed isn’t hindered by the phone. If you’re comparing our service to another company that is offering a low-end “free” phone, we can offer another model to be competitive, we just don’t usually recommend it because those models don’t provide an optimum user experience.
—Can you also provide service to my analog FAX machine or alarm line?
Our service is compatible with FAX, but issues can arise when attempting to transmit or receive FAX tones over the internet. Alarm system lines are not compatible with our service due to the way they transmit tones in rapid succession. It is recommended you maintain a single analog landline and share it for both your FAX and alarm system if that is required. For internet service that is provided by DSL, that line can be used for FAX/Alarm as well if setup to do so.
—Can I add/remove phones as my business needs change?
Absolutely! Remember, we’re month-to-month. Additions will simply be effective for the current billing month. Removals will be effective the following billing month.
—Can I take my phone home with me?
Depending on how your system is deployed, you should be able to take your phone home with you. In fact, if set up properly, your phone will have no idea it’s not on your office network. However, you may need an external power supply if your office network powers the phones through the network connection.
—Can I use “softphone” or smartphone app as an extension off my system?
This is similar to taking your desk phone home. Softphone applications must meet certain minimum requirements, but are technically able to connect to our platform.
—Can I use cordless phones as an extension off my system?
Yes. We offer a VoIP-capable integrated DECT cordless phone model. If you have a specialty cordless phone (such as, an extended range handset), use of an ATA may be required to make it compatible with our platform.