Thursday, June 13, 2019

10 Things About VoIP You Didn't Know You Needed to Know - PCMag.com

10 Things About VoIP You Didn't Know You Needed to Know - PCMag.com


10 Things About VoIP You Didn't Know You Needed to Know - PCMag.com

Posted: 07 Jun 2019 05:00 AM PDT

VoIP Phone

Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone services, especially those delivered via the cloud, have become the standard these days, especially for small to midsized businesses (SMBs). The choices are vast, the potential savings are great, and for many businesses, it turns out they can do things with VoIP they simply can't do any other way, especially around integrating it with other call-heavy back-end systems, like help desk, for example. But VoIP is also complex. As such, it can be finnicky, and it might not save you as much as you think it will. It could even cost you more than a plain old telephone service (POTS) after all is said and done.

IT Watch bug art During the series of tests I just completed for an upcoming PCMag review roundup of business-grade VoIP providers and phone services, I found 10 potential pitfalls for people who have never implemented a new phone system. Some of these pitfalls should be obvious, but they may not be to everyone—and some might not be obvious at all. But they're all important, and watching out for them can save you some serious headaches down the road.

  1. Before you do anything else, decide exactly why you're moving to a VoIP phone system. There are lots of reasons it might be a good idea but, unless you know what those reasons are and how they might affect your business, you're not ready to make the actual purchase or migration. A vague idea that it might save money is not one of those reasons. Examples of good reasons include building out a call center, providing a means of collaboration between different office locations, retaining call data from your customer relationship management (CRM) platform for use in marketing or customer service, as well as preparing for a new location or expected growth.

  2. Decide who is going to be in charge of the important stages in your move to VoIP. These stages include the initial needs analysis and design, the procurement process, the implementation, and finally, the ongoing operation of the system. Note that usually this can't be the same person. An IT staffer may be the best choice for implementation and operation, but they're usually not the ones who design the IVR system your customers will use or decide just what calling data is most useful to the marketing department. So you need to designate who all your stakeholders will be; and, yes, some of them may well be a vendor or consultant if you don't have the in-house expertise.

  3. You'll need to find or hire an employee to represent the company's interests during the procurement and implementation processes. While there will be plenty of vendors that will offer to do the whole thing, they don't necessarily have the same interests. Typically, they're all about selling you as much as they can, getting it installed and signed off on quickly, and then charging extra for any subsequent "scope creep." Only someone from your side of the tracks will worry about long-term operational reliability and ancillary things like maintaining call data securely so your company can remain compliant with any industry data safety regulations, for instance. Note that, for a really small company, this might be a collateral duty, but someone needs to be the point person. This person needs to have enough understanding of VoIP technology to make decisions and to know how those decisions will affect the rest of the company. This is not the same person mentioned in the previous bullet point.

  4. Make sure that your current network infrastructure can support VoIP and has the capacity to handle the increase in network traffic. You also need to know whether your infrastructure can handle the specific requirements of voice and video traffic, including supporting any Quality of Service (QoS) or virtual LAN (VLAN) requirements. This may mean some infrastructure upgrades if your current routers or switches don't support these capabilities. You may also need to upgrade your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if your current provider can't support the bandwidth requirements of a lot of phone traffic. Estimating your how much your call volume will increase your bandwidth is something your VoIP vendor should be able to handle, but you can hire an outside specialist to do those calculations, too.

  5. Don't underestimate the cost of VoIP. Sure, those monthly rates look good but dig deeper. If all you get are softphones that run on cell phones, then you'll need to also buy everyone a cell phone, with lots of data minutes or more likely an Unlimited plan. If those softphones run on Windows or Mac machines, then everyone will have to have a computer with the hardware to support VoIP, access to the internet, and something internally to handle sound and a headset. If the VoIP choice uses (or at least supports) desk phones, then remember that those cost somewhere between $75 and $150 each plus the cost of a wired network connection to each phone. Few VoIP desk phones support Wi-Fi, but those that do will require you to upgrade your access points if you give everyone a Wi-Fi phone. Oh, and remember the personnel costs: Someone has to manage all of this and somebody has to provide support. And then there's ongoing maintenance and licensing; it all adds up, so make sure you walk through the whole implementation in detail so you're not surprised by new expenses as they crop up.

    VoIP
  6. Figure out a realistic timetable for the change over to VoIP. Despite what some vendors might say, it will not be immediate. Even if you're changing from one VoIP system to another, this isn't a one-day operation. Sit down and calculate the time for planning, acquisition, implementation, training, and switching over, and then double it. Maybe even triple it. This is a major change to your company's ability to communicate with itself and the outside world. Rushing it is simply foolish. Work in time for a pilot roll-out, testing and optimization, and then a final roll-out that comes in stages so your whole operation isn't in chaos if something goes wrong.

  7. Decide what you're going to do with your old phone system. If you have a bunch of analog phones that are in good condition, then you may be able to use them with your VoIP phone system for employees who don't need VoIP features. Or you may want them in areas where they're available to the public or where they are in difficult environments, such as an outdoor assembly area or on the factory floor. And you may want some for backup (more on that next).

  8. Realize that your contingency of operations and business continuity plans will have to change, and that you will have to plan for, and invest in, added reliability. Basically, how are you going to continue doing business if the network goes down or even just has trouble? Because your phone system will depend on the reliability and performance of both your local network and the internet, you need to think in terms of failsafes and alternatives. Backups to your primary internet service provider (ISP), and if voice is critical to your operation, a way to have phone service even if the internet outage is total. Yes, this could mean keeping some analog lines and compatible phones available. It will also mean planning for failover, network redundancy, and of course backup.

  9. Don't forget security. All of the things that can attack your IT network can also attack your VoIP network, plus there are things such as call tampering and call hijacking as well as bad guys using your VoIP phone system to make long-distance calls and using your in-house equipment as a host for malware attacks. This can be made worse if your VoIP system doesn't play well with your security, such as requiring that you turn off packet inspection (as I found in one phone system I tested). Additionally, data privacy regulations sometimes have their own requirements when it comes to protecting VoIP traffic in transit and at rest if you retain any call data for sales or service purposes. If your industry is regulated this way, make sure you understand exactly how VoIP fits into the rest of your data safety precautions.

  10. Finally, take the needs of your employees and your customers into account when choosing a VoIP phone system. This includes deciding what features your employees actually need and what they don't. Generally, this means assigning stakeholders who'll map out any processes that involve your phone system and also sit down with the front-line employees operating those processes to see how they can be made better. It also includes designing the system so that customers don't get lost in menus, suffer weird key choices, or hear endless choices from the auto-attendant. If you lack the expertise to do this in-house, it's something most VoIP consultancies are trained to handle; just remember to add them to your overall cost tally during planning.

You also need to keep your real priorities in mind when choosing a VoIP system. For example, if you want it to work well, then cost shouldn't be the primary factor. Instead, you want functionality. If your VoIP system functions as it should and doesn't have features you don't need, then it will probably also save you some money directly, and it should make your staff more productive, which will save money indirectly.

Yealink, Grandstream, Digium Top VoIP Customer Satisfaction List - Channel Partners

Posted: 10 Jun 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Eastern Management Group logoBy John Malone, President and CEO, Eastern Management Group

In a new Eastern Management Group survey of small businesses, voice over IP (VoIP) phone providers Yealink, Grandstream and Digium received the highest customer satisfaction ratings. Almost 3,000 IT manager customers participated in the extensive evaluation of 17 VoIP phone companies.

Channel Partners Insights logoCustomers judged their VoIP phone vendor on 10 customer satisfaction measurements:

  • Product
    Measurements: Technology & Product, Reliability and Management Tools
  • Vendor Experience
    Measurements: Purchase Experience, Installation, Support and Contact Center Experience
  • Customer Delight
    Measurements: Value, Overall Satisfaction and Recommend to a Friend

The survey findings are in 2018 Small Business Market VoIP Phones Customer Satisfaction, a report by Eastern Management Group.

The survey found small businesses have vastly different vendor expectations than do enterprises. While providers may not intend to deliver a different experience to small versus enterprise customers, the perception is vendors frequently do. Here are a couple of examples taken from the study's 10 customer satisfaction measurements.

Small businesses rate Yealink as No. 1 for purchase experience and also No. 1 for contact center experience, two of the 10 customer satisfaction measurements. Enterprise customers rate Unify and Gigaset tops for purchase experience and contact center experience. The customer satisfaction studies find the Top 10 Leaders℠ for small and enterprise also reflect different customer choices. Only Digium and Polycom Digium are Top 10 Leaders for both small and enterprise customers. Digium is addressed in this post.

Yealink — Small business customers are ecstatic about this company, its products and support; it almost seems Yealink can do no wrong. In one of the most essential Customer Satisfaction Measurements, called Recommend-To-A-Friend, Yealink beat out every vendor, with 99% of Yealink customers saying they would recommend Yealink to a friend. This is a significant achievement. To accomplish it, Yealink needed multiple high place finishes in the 10 customer satisfaction measurements, which, in fact, Yealink did receive. Not surprisingly, Yealink achieved both Top 10 Leader℠, and Best-Of-The-Best℠ status in the study.

Yealink offers an array of VoIP phones. The T4 Series of tel sets range from the quite affordable SIP-T40P to pricier, full-featured desk sets. The T2 Series scales from an inexpensive SIP-T19P to the SIP-T29G high-end instrument, phones using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), a communications signaling protocol. There are also at least five Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phone models available.

The China-based company, founded in 2001, has VoIP phone distribution in 140 countries.

Digium — This company mustn't be overlooked as a world-class communications equipment provider. Digium's sweet spot is small business customers, although it's also an enterprise darling. Digium is the real deal, according to the company's VoIP phone customers. Now a subsidiary of Sangoma Technologies, Digium is twice as substantial (twice the revenue), with deeper pockets, more support and broader channel distribution.

Of the 17 VoIP phone providers evaluated, customers ranked Digium #2 in the overall customer satisfaction study. Digium achieved both Top 10 Leader and Best-Of-The-Best status.

Grandstream — Ninety-four percent of Grandstream Networks customers would recommend this VoIP phone vendor to a friend, making it the No. 2 finisher out of 17 companies evaluated for this category. The company is also a Top 10 Leader in …

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Malibu's Endless Cell Phone Problems - Malibu Magazine

Posted: 13 Jun 2019 03:30 PM PDT

During and after the Woolsey fire, citizens and emergency workers and other professionals struggled with communication challenges. Now, months on, in some isolated areas such as Nicholas Beach along the PCH and mountain and canyon areas, there still is no cell service. Further, there are pocket areas where some citizens consistently experience dropped calls and many Malibuites claim that they experience such frustrations more now than they did before the Woolsey fire.  

According to cellreception.com, a constantly-updated, well-respected industry ratings site that enables a person to check reception in his area, Malibu's area code – 90265 - gets abysmal ratings across all major carriers. Other nearby communities, including Calabasas, Topanga, get equally poor ratings. 

Malibu Magazine drove across Malibu, traveling from Getty Center to County Line and found that, although Sprint had a slight edge in East Malibu, overall, service from all vendors was sporadic. The attached maps were created and indicate red where there was no cell service and only up to one bar, yellow for areas with service between two and three bars and green for areas performing at between three and four bars. Seldom did a vendor's service achieve a 4-bar setting and service fluctuations were experienced using cell phones serviced by all major telecommunications carriers.  

"After the fire, we had dropped calls and no cell phone service at all at times," said Lisa Hall, the school secretary for Our Lady of Malibu School. "The school didn't have service for a few days during the rainy season, which caused serious concerns because staff needed to communicate with parents about early dismissals and other details that one deals with when operating a school."

Clearly, inconsistent cell service is not merely an inconvenience - it presents serious safety issues.  As one attempts to define the ongoing obstacles that Malibu citizens face as they try to obtain consistent cell service, one wonders whether it is really necessary for there to be a digital divide in America such that citizens of Malibu are the victims of information asymmetry?

There are several prefatory principles to understand when figuring out how to define and how to try to solve Malibu's cell phone service problems. First, cell service can be provided via cell towers, or via small cells, often referred to as "nodes" and fiber that are mounted on utility poles.  Alternatively, customers can obtain cell phone service via WiFi and it can even be accessed via satellites. 

Second, cell service coverage – the area that a particular type of communications infrastructure covers - differs from capacity, which is affected by connectivity limitations attributable to the fact that signals to and from a cell tower, or via another internet service mechanism, are only able to carry so much data at any given time.

The Traditional Infrastructure for Cell Phone Service

When people think about how cell phone service works, they often think of cell towers. "Malibu no longer has cell phone towers per se," said Adrian Fernandez, Senior Planner for the City of Malibu. "Verizon had a cell phone tower in the City center, but removed it to make way for the Santa Monica Community College and the company has since placed a temporary pole next to the Malibu Library to provide service."

Hans Laetz has been highly involved in seeking ways to ensure that the cell phone sector is responsive to Malibu's needs. He is very knowledgeable about cell phone vendors using telephone poles for infrastructure because he successfully advocated and convinced the State of California to bring an action before the California Public Utilities Commission against SCE and five co-defendant cell phone companies for their causing the 2007 Malibu Canyon Fire.  

Laetz, who manages KBUU, Malibu's only radio station, has to access consistent cellular and internet service for the station. "Using cell towers in Malibu is not cost effective because one-half of the signals would go out to sea and one-half would go to canyons that are very sparsely populated," He said. "Therefore, companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon, as well as others such as Google, utilize the infrastructure established by Crown Castle to put up cell antennas on a series of poles."

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Market in Phone-to-Phone Segment is Estimated to Grow At A CAGR of 17% by 2025 - Technology Magazine

Posted: 12 Jun 2019 09:56 PM PDT

The phone-to-phone voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of over 17% from 2019 to 2025. The market growth is attributed to the rising penetration of smartphones and affordable domestic and international calling service plans offered by VoIP service providers. This has facilitated the demand for IP phone systems, which offer advanced functionalities such as call waiting and routing options as compared to analog phones.

The rapid influx of advanced technologies has brought another vertical to the forefront of the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market landscape. Incepted somewhere in the 1990s, the VoIP technology is now garnering universal attention on account of the fact that it is one of the most effective methods of voice calling across the globe. As the landscape of mobile industry evolves by the day, it is being touted that VoIP might soon overtake the presence of PSTN as far as voice calling is concerned, thereby augmenting the global voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market.

The fixed voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market held a market share of over 62% in 2018 and is expected to dominate the market with a share of over 55% in 2025. As a reliable communications infrastructure is vital for the success of any organization to ensure seamless internal and external communications, they choose fixed VoIP. A system offers optimum security to safeguard communication as the numbers are assigned by the service providers, which can be traced back to the PSTN line to detect the cases of fraud.

The international VoIP calls market is projected hold a major share of over 50% by 2025. The demand for international VoIP calling services will increase as they enable huge cost-savings for enterprises who have their offices and customers across remotely distributed locations. Several affordable international calling plans or plan extensions are being offered by VoIP service providers, enabling organizations to conduct business across borders at low calling rates.

To access a sample copy or view the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market report in detail along with the table of contents, please click the link below: https://www.gminsights.com/request-sample/detail/2989

The education voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market is expected to witness a growth rate of over 18% during the forecast timeline due to the extensive use of IP phones and softphone applications to enable collaboration among classes and conduct seminars through VoIP systems without physically being present at the location. The technology is gaining traction to reduce the amount spent on procuring expensive telephony equipment. Phone systems are widely being used by school authorities to interact with parents to provide alerts and updates regarding child's behavior and progress. As traditional phones incur huge calling expenses, the educational institutions are adopting such phones to utilize the benefits of the cost-effective communication system. These phones facilitate smooth voice communication to enhance school administration and enable departments and teams to handle calls efficiently.

North America is projected to dominate the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market in 2025 with a share of over 40%. Huge adoption of cloud services, advanced telecommunications infrastructure, and rising popularity of workforce mobility will support the market growth. Enterprises in the region are migrating from traditional PSTN network to cloud-based telephony to reduce hardware dependency, increase scalability, and improve collaboration. For instance, in October 2017, Dialpad introduced its cloud communications platform and expanded its footprint to serve companies in Canada. By opening a new office in Vancouver, the company enabled SMBs and large enterprises to modernize their cloud infrastructure.

Browse Complete Report Summary @ https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/voice-over-internet-protocol-voip-market

Companies nowadays have begun to depict practical demonstrations such as instant website calling and live video assistance for customers. As the demand for these solutions increases across numerous end-use verticals, the global voice over internet protocol is expected to emerge as one of the most pathbreaking technology verticals in recent times. As per a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., the overall voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market is anticipated to surpass USD 55 billion by 2025.

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