Is SIP Trunking or PRI better for your Business?

PRIToday’s telecom market allows companies access to a numerous types of business phone systems, two of which are SIP Trunking and PRI. While some may consider the two indistinguishable, they have differences in terms of versatility, equipment, and cost.

What is PRI?

PRI is more of a traditional form of business phone system communications. It relies on the Public Switched Telephone Network and requires a circuit switch and physical phone line. Each line has 23 voice channels in order to handle simultaneous calls. You purchase additional connections per circuit of 23 channels at an additional cost. In other words, if you want to up your call capacity, you will have to install more lines.

What is SIP Trunking?

The biggest difference between PRI and SIP Trunking is that the former connects virtually to the aforementioned Public Switched Telephone Network. It routes all your VoIP calls through the Internet as opposed to through a physical line. Arguably the best thing about SIP Trunking is that you can combine data, voice, and video in one line and does not limit the amount of voice channels you can use.

SIP Trunking is also more cost efficient than PRI; SIP connections are sold as per call path. If you need to increase call volume you purchase more SIP Trunks (each one allows for 2-3 users).

Major Differences Between PRI and SIP Trunking
Cost

PRI requires you to pay per-minute fees if you want to make long distance phone calls. SIP Trunking, on the other hand, permits you unlimited local and long distance calls.

Hardware

As mentioned, PRI requires a physical phone line with 23 voice channels. If you want to expand your business you have to install additional lines. SIP Trunking doesn’t require new hardware if you want to grow your business.

Features

If you want additional features with PRI, you have to pay extra. SIP Trunking, however, has customizable features at no additional cost.

Our Conclusion

In terms of equipment, versatility, and cost, SIP Trunking is almost certainly the better choice for your business’s telecommunications. If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

Why a Disaster Recovery Plan is Vital to your Business Phone System

disaster recoveryNot all business phone system hardware issues are necessarily due to crashes. Oftentimes natural disasters are the culprit. Furthermore, fires, floods, and other natural disasters can not only bring down your equipment, but it can render your business premises inaccessible. It is important that you have a disaster recovery plan in place to help your business recuperate all the faster.

Business Continuity

Business continuity refers to the plans and techniques meant to ensure that your business’s vital functions remain operational in the event of a disaster. There are three fundamentals of business continuity.

  • Resilience: Most of the companies achieve this by engineering the critical business functions and supporting infrastructure in a way that limits their risk of catastrophic failure.
  • Recovery: In the event of failure, companies make specific arrangements to recover or restore business functions.
  • Contingency: In the event of resilience and recovery failures, these refer to last-resort plans.
Cloud Calling

VoIP business phone systems have one large benefit over PBX systems in terms of disaster recovery in that they are cloud based. As opposed to housing your data on-site, cloud based systems have data centers around the globe. In the event of a disaster, VoIP services reroute traffic to servers thousands of miles away.

Business Phone System Disaster Recovery: Planning and Prevention

One of the most important tips of any disaster recovery plan is to work in conjunction with your IT administrator or your phone system administrator. This is especially true if your are still using an on-premises system as opposed to the cloud.

Hopefully your business will not be the victim of a natural disaster. However, it always pays to be prepared. If you have any questions regarding disaster recovery or business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

How Advanced Call Forwarding Can Help your Business

Advanced Call ForwardingIn the modern business world, customers expect to reach businesses immediately. However, it isn’t feasible to take each and every call personally. If you have a hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system though, there are some powerful features that can help. The most important for assisting you in this area is Advanced Call Forwarding.

Advanced Call Forwarding allows you to forward an incoming call to either a mobile number or an alternate person if you are unavailable. With this feature you and your staff won’t miss out on any calls. Here are some of the ways in which Advanced Call Forwarding can help your business.

Set up find me/follow me calling for remote workers

Many businesses use remote workers. Remote workers allow businesses to expand their employee and client pool. However, keeping track of remote workers can present a challenge. If you enact find me/follow me however, it makes the task much easier. Find me/follow me is a staggered Advanced Call Forwarding option that allows employees to receive calls at numerous numbers. For example, if a call goes unanswered at the default number, it will ring to a secondary number (such as a mobile number).

Route calls based on time or day

Another frequently used Advanced Call Forwarding option is to route calls to a number or location based on a specific time of day or day of week. This is most commonly used to ensure that all after hour calls don’t go to your business line but to a mobile phone. The best part about this feature is that the caller doesn’t even realize that they are actually reaching a different number.

Prioritize top customers

The majority of hosted PBX solutions also allow businesses to prioritize top customers. Based on your configuration answering rules, a specific inbound number can be directed to a specific number or extension. You can also permit specific contacts to reach your number during off-hours or holidays.

Advanced Call Forwarding permits businesses a large competitive edge and helps them manage calls without breaking a sweat. If you have any questions regarding business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Three Ways to Improve your VoIP Call Quality

VoIP Call QualityMany businesses hesitate to switch to VoIP due to concerns over call quality. Will your customer service lines suffer due to the change? The hesitant businesses often recall the past when Internet connections were sluggish and wonder if their own Internet connection is up to the task. That is a fair concern, even if present day VoIP has improved a great deal. Here are a few ways that you can make sure your VoIP call quality is up to your business’s demands.

Use New Headsets

VoIP call quality depends, in large part, on your microphone and earphones. Many people make their calls on headsets but use outdated equipment. These people run the risk of dampening their VoIP call quality. If you try better quality headsets, you—and the people you’re calling—will hear the difference. Headsets with short, insulated cords tend to have better results with VoIP.

Eliminate Jitters

VoIP—as stated—works via the Internet. More specifically however, it works by delivering the voice information in small packets. If you want that information to make sense to the end user, they need to be spaced evenly and delivered consistently. There are a few types of network issues that can disrupt this information delivery. Depending on the severity of the VoIP call quality jitters, there are numerous solutions. If the problem isn’t that bad, try swapping Ethernet cables with Cat 6 cables. Cat 6 delivers information to the source a lot quicker than Ethernet, and thus reduces the odds of it scrambling. If your jitter problem is severe, you can install a jitter buffer.

Lower Bandwidth Use

Sometimes VoIP users simply have an overloaded bandwidth. If your VoIP call quality is suffering as a result, there are a few solutions. You should stop downloads when using VoIP and eliminate simultaneous calls. However, the best solution is simply to spend a little bit on increased bandwidth usage. It depends entirely on how many calls you receive on any given day.

If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

The Pros and Cons of Unified Communications

Unified CommunicationsOne of the biggest advantages of modern telecommunications is Unified Communications. Unified Communications, or UC, merges voice, chat, video, mobility, and presences management and puts them on your laptop, smartphone, and other devices. The best thing about UC is that busy people can stay in touch and not miss important meetings and events in the office. Not only does it permit better communications in general, but it improves customer service. It sounds great, but is there a downside?  

Pros of Unified Communications
Softphone

Ever since the development of softphones, they have beneficial to remote workers. Soft phones run on your laptop or smartphone and connect you directly to your desk phone. Not only can you make and receive calls as though you were on your desk phone, but you can check voicemails, call logs, and the directory from it.

Voicemail to Email

One of the other great features of Unified Communications is that you can get your voicemail delivered into your email account. Now, if you’re on the go or have a few spare minutes prior to a meeting, you can catch up on your voicemails. In many ways, it’s less complex and more convenient than calling them up from your desk phone.

Find me Follow me

Find me Follow me (or Twinning) connects your smartphone to your desk phone. Whenever someone dials your DID number, not only does your desk phone ring but your smartphone does as well. This decreases the likelihood of playing phone tag with a colleague or client.

Cons of Unified Communication

One of the biggest drawbacks to unified communications is that you are a little too available. Unfortunately, work can often seep into your free time. Now that everyone is available all the time, instant responses have become the new normal. While all of these features are fantastic, it is advisable that you implement some rules and set clear expectations in regard to response time.

The other challenge is that sometimes IT staffs forget that there are voice applications operating on the LAN and routed to the internet. If your LAN, IP address or ISP changes, all of your UC features may stop operating. You’ll have to work with your IT staff to make sure that any changes are during business downtime.

Unified Communications should be a vital aspect of your business communications. Even if there are some downsides, the advantages far outweigh the negatives. If you have any Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Why a Legacy Business Phone System Could Be Hurting Your Business

legacy business phoneThe way businesses communicate is completely different than they did just a few years past. Nevertheless, many businesses cling to legacy business phone systems purchased over ten years prior. There are numerous reasons that businesses don’t make the switch, but the most obvious one is that you don’t fix something that isn’t broken. However, there are a few issues with that sort of thinking.

The biggest problem with legacy business phone systems is that they use technology and hardware that is now entirely obsolete. If your system breaks, you will have a difficult time finding parts for it because the manufacturers no longer support them. Hanging on to a legacy phone system to save some money will eventually blow a whole right through your budget.

The issue with older business phone systems goes deeper than that though; by sticking with obsolete equipment you’re limiting your business’s potential. For example, remote workers comprise much of the workforce. Legacy phone systems exclude a business from that segment of the workforce.

To put it simply, there has been a total transformation in telecommunications. If you don’t keep up with the changes, it could hurt you in the long run. With all that said, what are some of the biggest benefits of a modern business phone system?

Current Communications Equipment Costs Less

Years ago, brand-new business phone systems were often the most expensive idea companies purchased. The costliest part of that business phone was the PBX. Now, businesses have the option of buying a Virtual PBX. Virtual PBX’s allow the company to only buy the phones, drastically reducing costs.  

The other added benefit to Virtual PBXs and modern technology is the reduction in a catastrophic communications failure. If you have a hardware failure on a legacy phone, it could severely hinder your business.

Connectivity

As mentioned earlier, modern business phone systems erase geographic barriers and allow you to hire outside of your immediate area. It goes without saying that legacy phone systems don’t allow for remote workers—at least not practically. If you try to have employees work outside of the office (or predominantly work in the field), they could have numerous phone numbers and numerous mailboxes. Modern business phone systems make this endeavor a lot more practical and a lot less confusing.

If you have any questions regarding business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Five Most Important Methods for Securing Your Wireless Network

wireless networkWireless networks have been a huge leap forward in the telecommunications world. While their benefits are large, they do have one big drawback; they are one of the most vulnerable access points into your system. Unfortunately, hackers have discovered numerous ways to steal your personal information via your wireless network. The following methods are ways in which you can ensure that your information remains safe.

Customize Your Network

Many people leave their router in the default mode after they set it up. The first, and arguably most important, tip is to customize your router admin name and password. Be sure to make it complicated (i.e. using letters, numbers, and special characters). Just remember that your default username and password are public, which is why you need to customize it.

Install Updates

Always be sure to install updates. Once firmware becomes outdated, it is a vulnerable point in your wireless network. Given enough time, hackers learn how to outwit firmware, hence the frequent updates. Additionally, updated firmware provides new features and quicker Internet speed.

Install Firewalls

All routers have a built-in firewall. When setting it up, be sure to activate it. It is also a good idea to install firewall security on your laptops and desktops.

Disable WPS

The WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) could leave your network vulnerable to a hack. WPS makes it easier to pair devices to your router. While this is a great convenience, it also permits unwanted guests easier access to your network. If you turn it off, you can have greater control over who has access to your wireless network.

Use a VPN

A VPN (virtual private network) is vital to your wireless network security. VPN’s use a third-party server to protect your information in another layer. It prevents potential hackers from viewing your internet traffic and habits.

If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

3 Ways to Improve Employee Productivity with a Hosted PBX

Hosted PBXOne of the most important factors in a company’s success is their employee’s productivity levels. There tend to be two schools of thought on the matter; either develop incentive programs or use restrictive policies to ensure that they remain working. However, there is potentially a simple answer. When you provide your employees with the best possible tools, they’ll be able to do their job efficiently. There are many different tools to help people work and communicate more effectively, but Hosted PBX has features that not only provide something new but also allows companies to get more out of the resources they already have in place.  

Less Downtime for Technical Problems

An outage can be extremely problematic for any employee who is on the phone for long durations throughout the day. Hosted PBX solutions alleviate this problem because troubleshooting them is far easier. Furthermore, if a user’s individual phone they can use the softphone on their computer or in an app on their mobile phone.

Increased Mobility

Many industries have seen a rise in remote employees in recent years. Without a tool like Hosted PBX, it would be difficult for these employees to stay in constant communication with the office. Hosted PBX allows these employees to access the company’s communications system. Additionally, their calls can even be routed from their desk phone to whatever app or computer they are working from.

Unified Inbox

Many employees have stopped listening to their voicemail due to time constraints. Who wants to listen to ten voicemails just to get to the one that is relevant? Hosted PBX has a helpful feature that converts voicemail to mp3 files in your e-mail inbox. This permits you to sort through them and find the relevant ones that much quicker.

A Hosted PBX solution has benefits to any company. Not only can help reduce costs, but it can increase employee productivity by giving them a tool that permits them the ability to perform their jobs efficiently. If you have any Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

The Most Important Benefits of Virtual Call Center Software

virtual call centerMost business owners know what a call center is. A call center is typically a large group of call center executives working in a single location. What is a virtual call center though? Though only difference is the location. A virtual call center removes the large investment and resources necessary to handle a customer service team. The emergence of virtual call centers has allowed even the smallest of businesses to use call centers. Below we’ve outlined a few of the biggest benefits of virtual call centers.

Mobility and No Location Consent

Virtual call centers permit you to hire agents all over the world. This provides you with a larger talent pool, all the while ignoring distance. Another benefit of remote call center employees is that they won’t have to commute, which can play a role in reducing office stress. Self-oriented and relaxed environments tend to increase efficiency as well.

Reduced Upfront Cost

Virtual call centers cost less than traditional ones because you pay less in office rent and don’t have to invest in as much hardware. Unfortunately, traditional call centers require hosted servers, a PBX, and phone terminals.

A perceived drawback to virtual call centers is that customers will be able to tell the difference. Fortunately, this is not the case. Thanks to virtual call center technology, customers won’t be able to tell that your employees are all scattered in remote locations.

Eco-friendly

Virtual call centers are cloud based, which are better for the environment; their data centers use less wattage to provide back-up power and cooling for their data centers due to superior hardware setup. Also, as mentioned as above, your employees don’t have to burn up as much gasoline traveling to and from the office.

If you have any questions regarding a virtual call center or business phone systems in general, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Top Benefits of VoIP Analytics

VoIP Analytics VoIP Business Phone Systems have changed the way companies communicate. VoIP offers features such as mobility, scalability, and cost savings. However, one of the most overlooked features is VoIP analytics. VoIP analytics is the study of your voice processes in order to gain actionable insights. It is one of VoIP’s most powerful tools, because it allows a business to not only monitor but act on data-based insights.

VoIP analytics is especially powerful for sales based companies. VoIP allows you insights into employee performance, sales campaigns, average customer sentiment, etc. Once you have access to the data, the possibilities are endless.

VoIP Analytics Data

VoIP Analytics gives you access to the following data points:

·         Number of calls answered during a given time

·         Recognizing time-frames when phone traffic spikes

·         Geographic location of calls

·         Time duration of calls

·         Average customer wait-period

Craft a better calling experience

The biggest benefit of VoIP analytics is probably in the customer service department. Sales managers, by using the data from analytics, can better hone their strategies. For example, by knowing their customer’s call patterns, they can find ways to reduce wait-periods.

Showcase customer trends

One of the other benefits of VoIP call analytics is that you can record and play back as many different calls as you want to.

When it comes to VoIP call analytics, you can record and hear back to multiple calls as you require. Sales managers can search keywords such as ‘cancel’ and listen to all the calls containing their search. This is a powerful feature, as it can help elucidate trends.

Thanks to VoIP analytics companies don’t have to rely solely on customer feedback surveys if they want to gather trends on their business. If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.