While we expect our phone line to work close to 100% of the time, most of us have experienced broadband outages cutting us off from the Internet. So – if we’re using broadband to carry our phone calls, what happens if our broadband fails?

We get asked this question all the time. As Internet services improve and we move toward a general acceptance of VoIP, reliability is so much better than it used to be, but it’s a concern that still needs to be addressed.

Analogue and ISDN lines can have their problems! If you have a line fail, then you’ll probably hear that “we haven’t been getting calls this morning”. You’ll then test-call your number from your mobile and confirm that the call doesn’t get to your office. Although it’s a good idea to have the help-desk number for your telecom’s service provider in your mobile phone – not many of us do! [So – go on, do it now!] We then spend a lot of time tracking down that contact information to register a fault. The telecom’s provider then schedules an Engineering visit. How soon, depends on the level of ‘care’ you pay for with your line subscription – and if requested, the provider will set up a divert on your main number off to a mobile or alternate land-line. After your problem is fixed, you may get a test call to let you know all’s well, and then you’ll need to call the help-desk again and ask them to remove the divert on your number. A drawn-out process needing a lot of time and effort from you …

Strong Foundations

How a broadband fault impacts on your VoIP phone system depends entirely on the choices you make when purchasing your new system. This is where some carriers and some VoIP systems are better than others. There are several things that can be done when you purchase and set-up your new phone system that will ensure that a broadband fault has minimal effect;

  • Choose your Broadband supplier wisely. If your phone system is business critical, then don’t choose a home-grade ISP! Not all broadband is created equal, and business grade broadband services cost more for a reason! This choice alone will dramatically improve service up-time and ensure that your speed and bandwidth to/from Internet will remain constant 24×7.
  • Wherever possible, make sure that the line and the broadband service on it, are being billed and supported by the same carrier. This prevents issues where the line provider plays ‘support ping-pong’ with the broadband provider when you are wanting to get a fault resolved.
  • Broadband services are provided on analogue lines (i). Make sure that the line is on a ‘business’ rather than ‘residential’ rental package, so that if there are faults, they are escalated and dealt with quickly.
  • Broadband services are provided on analogue lines (ii). That means we have at least one analogue line available to our VoIP system to connect through an IP-PBX Gateway or module, so that these can be used as alternate trunk line[s] in the case of SIP Trunk channel failure due to broadband loss. This ‘fail-over’ to the analogue line happens automatically and will stay in place until the broadband service is restored – then it will simply revert [again – automatically] to the SIP Trunk services through the Internet connection.
  • VoIP relies on a call set-up protocol called ‘SIP’. SIP relies on two-way data conversation and therefore, if the carrier’s Servers cannot talk to your phone system, the servers can be configured to route the call to alternate fail-over numbers. These fail-over destinations can be mobiles, analogue lines or business answering services.

If you have made the right choices, then a loss of broadband will become a minor problem. After 21CN upgrades to the UK’s broadband delivery platforms, Internet connection has become faster and much more reliable. If you do get a broadband fail from your ‘Enterprise-level’ ISP, then your carrier’s, and your own VoIP systems, will immediately route the calls via the alternate lines and numbers. The big differences being that you won’t have missed calls, you’ve not had to call a help desk, and you don’t have to revert settings when the problems are solved.

So – while the perception may be that legacy analogue and ISDN lines are more reliable than VoIP, the flexibility that VoIP has, to automatically use pre-configured alternate routes in the case of problems, shows that its ability to deal with a connection issue is far superior to analogue and ISDN lines.

Contact Foxhall Solutions 01787 228402 – to talk about your next phone system …