Choose the right VoIP integrator the first time.
Let’s face it, today everyone and their mother are becoming VoIP integrators. How do you choose the right one? How do you stay away from the VoIP burn unit that thousands of companies have visited? The simple answer is to do your research. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1 – Make sure the firm you are choosing is not a one-man shop, nor, a multi-national corporation. Yes the prices will definitely be better with a one-man shop, but what happens on the weekend when he is out with his buddies at a bachelor party in the woods with no cell phone service? He could also be busy with another client or in a meeting. On the flip side, you should ask yourself, “Do I like calling Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint when I have issues with my phone lines or cell phones?” No one does! You want to deal with a VoIP integrator who has a real live person answering the phones that is in the US and can speak your language beyond a pre-written script, like the ones you often hear from an internationally out-sourced customer representative when dealing with multinational corporations.
Another pitfall to watch out for are the larger companies that just ship you a phone and tell you, “Plug it in and it’ll work.” How do they know the health of your network? What if your company doesn’t have CAT 5 or 6 cabling? Or you have a firewall with SIP ALG turned on that will destroy any SIP packet it sets eyes on? The right integrators to choose are the ones that will send a technician to your office to run cables, if necessary, check your firewall, install your new phone system, and then train you and your employees.
Your phone system is your company’s lifeline, if your system is down and you are waiting for a customer service representative that will be “right with you,” you are losing valuable time and money. Your company can’t afford to deal with that down time or slow turnaround time. You need your name, route, DID changes and emergency service calls dealt with NOW – not in five minutes or twenty minutes from now. When going with the lowest bidder, you need to factor in the added cost of having your phone system down for half a day at a time.
2 – VoIP is an interesting technology; it draws people from two industries. Your IT guy and your phone guy are both trying to win your business, so which do you choose? That’s a tough question to ask. A lot of VoIP is networking and VoIP phones are basically computers at this point, but you must be sick of hearing, “Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?” . This is why you should go with a phone company as your VoIP Integrator. Companies with telecom backgrounds know that you can’t just tell a client to restart their phone every week or even worse restart their PBX every month.Your phone company also understands, and knows the history of, POTS lines, DIDs, MPLS, PRIs and other telecom technologies. A good way not to get burned by VoIP is to use a company that can leverage all these technologies for your business. These technologies aren’t a secret but telecom firms generally have a lot more experience using them.
Traditional phone systems had to run forever. VoIP PBXs are the next generation phone system so they should too. Telecom firms are better suited for trouble shooting phone issues. A one-stop shop is not always the best solution, though. Leave your computers to the computer pros and your phones in the hands of telecom pros. But to avoid your trip to the burn unit, please make sure they are an established telecom VoIP provider with a proven track record. Remember, you can always ask for references…
3 – Wondering where your dial tone is coming from? Then ask your integrator who their carriers are! You don’t want your integrator to be partnered with a sketchy carrier that has lapsed on their FCC registration, or only has one server housed somewhere without a backup generator. You want your integrator to connect your PBX to a reliable VoIP carrier like Flowroute, which they have a great relationship with.
Why does carrier matter? A VoIP PBX is only as strong as its carrier. If your VoIP PBX is being connected to a fly-by-night carrier, you will experience horrible call quality, post dial delay (PDD) on your calls, and you won’t even be able to get these issues resolved. Choosing a carrier that follows RFC standards is very important. RFC standards are so important because they govern how servers respond to events and how they should behave. If your carrier doesn’t follow RFC standards, there is no telling what issues you will encounter during setup or down the road.
Also make sure they don’t have a “carrier of the month.” You want a VoIP Integrator who is tied to a carrier and won’t be porting your number every month or two for that better deal, or worse, because they had a fight.
Here’s the simple answer if you didn’t feel like reading the tips: You should make sure the company you are using is large enough to actually support your VoIP system, but small enough that they will pick up the phone and give you A+ service. You should also use an integrator that actually comes from a telecom background. Remember, you are allowed to ask where your dial tone is coming from. Make sure they have a reliable carrier backing them up who they have an excellent relationship with. If you stand by these tips you should be able to avoid that trip to the VoIP burn unit.
1 The IT Crowd (Channel 4, 2006-2010; FremantleMedia)
Gilad Abada is the Chief Technology Officer at Steadfast Telecommunications. He has 14 years experience working in the telecommunications field. Steadfast Telecommunications is a family owned firm that has installed business telephone solutions for over 35 years out of New York City.