The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted just how important telecommunications are in the day to day operation of a business, as well the IT support teams who help implement and maintain the requisite systems.
With company offices forced into closure due to repeated lockdowns, and members of staff forced to work from home, businesses have had to adapt to a new way of working in order to continue trading.
In many cases, organisations have had to migrate their traditional business phone systems to Voice over IP, giving staff members the ability to answer calls remotely. In addition, IT support teams have had to ensure that their internet connectivity is capable of supporting multiple VPN connections, in order that staff members can access IT systems from remote locations.
Voice over IP, also referred to as VoIP, and IP telephony, is the new standard for implementing business phone systems.
Prior to the development of VoIP, small businesses used hardware PABX telephone systems at their premises, in conjunction with mulitple ISDN lines, for simultaneous phone calls. Whilst robust in design, these types of business phone systems lack functionality, with users often confined to the office in order to use them.
In addition, PABX systems are expensive to operate, given the monthly rental costs of the ISDN lines, combined with PABX maintenance costs, before even making a single phone call.
Voice over IP, by comparison, is a much more versatile solution. Voice and video calls are converted into data signals which are then transmitted across computer networks, as data packets, making them cheaper than using the existing Public Switched Telephone Network.
Added to which, the UK is set to disband the PSTN network as of 2025, so users will eventually have to switch to IP telephony in any case.
IT Results recommends Voice over IP as the telephone system of choice for business users, with it offering significant benefits over PABX solutions:
At present, there are two ways of implementing Voice over IP for small business users, which are an on-premise IPBX and hosted IPBX systems, respectively. Both solutions have their various merits, which are discussed below:
These IPBX systems are located at a customer's premises, requiring the installation of a server with the requisite software to run the phone system. They are best suited to companies that want complete autonomy over their Voice over IP solution.
Hosted IPBX systems are deployed in the cloud, and are operated by voice and data service providers. These systems are better suited to companies that want to have Voice over IP, without the hassle of implementing and maintaining the system themselves.
During the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, one of our clients was forced to close their offices and move to remote working. Whilst their internet connectivity was geared up for remote access, their phone system wasn't.
The business had been using an in-house PABX with a number of ISDN lines for simultaneous calls. So when users moved to remote working, there was no way to access the phone system.
For a short period, all calls were diverted to a single mobile phone number. However, this proved problematical as only one call could be answered at a time.
We suggested to our client that they move to Voice over IP, highlighting the obvious benefit that users could have company phones, whilst working from home.
Consequently, we arranged the migration of the company's phone system to a Cloud VoIP solution from Voicehost.
As a result of the successful Voice over IP migration:
IT Results have assisted several small businesses in moving their business phone systems to Voice over IP. So, if you are considering migrating from away from a PABX system and need advice on how to progress matters, then why not get in touch and we will help find you implement an appropriate solution.
Are you ready to try Voice over IP?
In order for companies to communicate effectively with customers and suppliers, they need to have suitable internet connectivity, capable of supporting the needs of their respective business. Hence, any modern internet connection should be able to support a number of simultaneous users, with the following minimum services:
Voice over IP
Many companies also use their internet connectivity to host web and email servers. To do so will usually require more robust internet connections, with greater bandwidth than a standard Fibre To The Cabinet service from the likes of British Telecom.
With the development of Voice over IP, the internet has taken on the further role of delivering voice, as well as data services. Telecoms companies such as BT and Virgin Media are continually developing faster internet services, with more bandwidth, based on fibre optic technology.
This is great from a company perspective, as there are a number of internet connection options available for businesses looking to implement, or upgrade, their internet services:
FTTC utilises a fibre optic connection from the local telephone exchange, to a street cabinet near your company premises. The last hop of the connection is delivered from the cabinet over a standard telephone line.
The technology benefits from Local Loop Unbundling (LLU), meaning the service is available from a number of Internet Service Providers.
There are various suppliers offering FTTC services. We recommend plusnet business, who offer excellent value
Full Fibre, also known as Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), is delivered using a fibre optic connection direct from the telephone exchange into your premises. As a result, there is much greater bandwidth availability than an FTTC service.
The FTTP / Full Fibre solution is available from several suppliers, offering differing bandwidth options.
To learn more about FTTP services, and pricing, visit BT.com
Leased lines are dedicated fibre circuits, often used to connect several company offices together. They also provide high-speed, and robust, intnernet connections with no contention ratios.
The lines are also scalable, with differing bandwidth options available. So you could have a 10mb line installed and have the bandwidth increased to 100mb at a later stage, without any new installation.
Leased lines are available from a number of ISPs. Further information can be found at Virgin Media Business.
EFM is a business-grade and fault-tolerant alternative to a leased line connection. The solution is based on several copper pairs, bonded together to create a single Internet connection.
The EFM technology has the advantage in that if one of the copper pairs fails, the internet connection continues to operate, albeit, at a slower connection speed.
EFM is available from a number of Internet Service Providers. We have used Talk Talk in the past, with their solution being pretty resilient.
Virgin Media's Voom service works in a similar way to FTTC, using a fibre optic connection to a network cabinet, close to your premises. Where the connection differs, is that the last hop is delivered over coaxial cable, rather than a telephone line.
Consequently, the connection speeds on the Voom service are far superior to that of FTTC.
For more information on the Voom service, visit Virgin Media Business
Hyperoptic is a relatively new company, offering fast fibre connectivity to residential and business users. Like leased lines, the service is scalable with bandwidths from 50Mbps to 1Gbps.
Users can also opt to have a Voice over IP telephone number linked to their router, allowing for the making and receiving of calls using a standard telephone.
For more information about Hyperoptic fibre broadband connections, visit Hyperoptic.com
We have extensive experience helping small businesses implement their internet connections, configuring their firewalls, and deploying their in-house email systems and web sites online.
So if you are considering implementing new internet connectivity, or have an existing internet connection that is lacking in performance, then why not contact us with your requirements, and let us help you find the right solution.