In this section we answer some of the most asked questions regarding IP Telephony, Unified Communications, Faxing, Softphones, and Service.
What is IP Telephony?
The telecommunications world has changed. The world wide web has matured to become the media of choice for voice and data transport. The concept of long distance calling is now a memory with VoIP. Establishing a voice call is virtually the same process as using your computer browser. Voice calls initiated through the internet can terminate on appliances on the PSTN, wireless network or other Internet devices and soft-phones. Even the on-line gamers use the technology with Play-stations to play games across the network.
With unified communications you can link all of your communications services and appliances over a common medium, anytime or anywhere; security systems, desk phones, mobile phones, laptops or any other IP device. Receive and listen to voice mails from your email. Twin your desk-phone with your cell-phone to achieve true mobility with find-me / follow-me capability. Seamlessly transfer between desk-phone and cell-phone with presence indication. Road warriors need only their cell phone to access all of their communications services using smart phones and a soft-phone client.
Western IT Group delivers VoIP solutions that challenge the incumbent telephone service providers without the huge operating expenses, infrastructure overheads and legacy systems support. Delivering Internet Telephony service does not require huge investments in brick and mortar, (central office exchange) to provide telephone services. With a voice network gateway, home office, mobile office, and multi-site enterprise can all be serviced from a single internet telephony server, regardless of physical location with access to the internet. This capability provides huge cost reductions in multi-site deployments, with a single point of operations, administration, maintenance, service and support.
How do I get started converting my business service to internet telephony?
Assuming you have existing service contract with an established telephone service provider, we need to review your latest phone bill and terms of contract to understand the impact to changing service. Western IT Group will conduct a business communications needs assessment to understand your business operations and processes. We then recommend a solution for you with an estimate of the potential cost savings. There is usually no charge for this service.
Depending on your business needs we can recommend 3 options;
- Legacy PBX Conversion – The simplest solution for smaller businesses, typically less than 30 extensions. We connect your analog trunks to a conversion unit and run your existing system over IP trunks for significant connection fee savings. There would be no changes to the functionality of your existing telephones.
- If your existing phone system (PBX) is ready for a change-out we can replace the unit on your premises with a completely new IP-PBX, new IP telephone sets and IP trunks. The equipment is purchased by the customer and physically installed on the customer premises. It can be administered by the customer or optionally by Western IT Group.
For customers that do not want to purchase the capital equipment, we can offer a hosted PBX on our site. The benefits of this option are:
- reduce capital expense - purchase only the IP telephone sets or adapters,
- minimal technical expertise on site required for maintenance, service,
- minimal facilities real estate required ,
- reliable service in a secure data center with backup power,
- cost effective and scaleable at all line sizes,
- full administration included in subscription fees.
What about Faxing? I have heard about problems with Fax call completions.
There is an industry standard solution for FAX line called T.38. We fully support T.38 on our network through the use of small hardware devices called an ATA. No matter which solution you choose, faxing will work normally.
What is Unified Communications?
Unified communications (UC) is the integration of real-time communication services; instant messaging, presence information, telephony, video conferencing, call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and FAX).
UC also refers to a means of business process integration, simplifying access from all forms of communication media and reducing device and media dependencies. UC allows an individual to send a message on one medium and receive the same communication on another medium. For example, one can receive a voicemail message and choose to access it through e-mail or a cell phone. If the sender is online according to the presence information and accepts calls, the response can be sent immediately through text or video call.
What is a Softphone?
A softphone is an application installed on a computer (or smart phone) that behaves like a virtual phone. A telephone image or representation on the screen allows the user to make and receive calls by using the GUI (graphic user interface). Soft-phone applications are created, marketed and sold by independent 3rd party developers, many are directly linked to VoIP service providers as a product.
There are many soft-phone applications on the market, optimized for laptops and mobile phones and are specific to the device’s (appliance) operating system. Similar to the computer operating system, smart phones are built on an (Android, RIM, Apple, Windows, etc.) operating system and are subject to frequent updates. Each application requires verification on every version of mobile phone.
London Business Phone service is capable of provisioning most generic production soft-phone applications as extensions or clients on our service. We cannot guarantee full interoperability with the soft-phone applications, and cannot resolve technical problems on the 3rd party application. We appreciate feedback from our clients on their experiences with various soft-phones, to share with our client base.
The best way of assessing suitability of soft-phones is to check out the on-line forums where users comment on their experiences with various products. http://wiki.voip.ms/article/Softphones
London Business Phone recommends CounterPath's Bria 4 soft-phone application for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone and Android. For more information or to purchase Bria 4, visit the CounterPath Store.
Can I use this service with my Cell Phone?
Yes you can!
Most business class (3G) cell-phones can be loaded with a SIP client application. This feature allows the cell phone to behave as a data appliance connecting to our system allowing full VoIP calling.
Great for long distance by-pass savings over the service provider’s long distance rates. Your mobile phone can also be paired with a stationary phone to follow you and find you wherever there is service, enabling you to answer the call, or receive information in real time.
Will the London Business Phone work from my home office?
Yes it will! Our IP-Telephony solutions will work in any home or business environment. Since the technology is extremely scaleable, London Business Phone can offer a single or dual line solution for home office applications at lower costs than the incumbent service providers. The single or dual line solution can be used with your existing residential phone system with virtually no service interruption.
The service involves porting your existing number to our system if you choose, with very little equipment costs (typically less than $90 installed plus $35 one time porting fee). This cost is normally recovered within 3 months, and sooner if you consider long distance fees and WATS.
Cordless Phones on VoIP service also work extremely well. The base unit line connection is plugged into the VoIP adapter to connect to the internet. On the phone side, the wireless phone system behaves as normal.
Is my telephone service portable?
Most metropolitan areas in Canada are deemed to be competitive by the CRTC, meaning that the subscribers can change service providers and retain their existing phone number. There are several exceptions, mostly in smaller and northern communities served by an incumbent local telephone company.
The CRTC does not require the incumbent local exchange provider to release phone numbers to competitors. London Business phone will advise prospective customers of the situation and can offer alternate solutions.
What happens to my phone service if the power fails?
There are two answers.
For businesses with mission critical phone service, a small uninterruptable power supply is used to maintain power to the system during a power outage. Systems will be designed for specific hold-over times based on typical expectations for power restoration. Otherwise, if the network connection is un-available, incoming calls will be diverted to Voice mail or forwarded to an alternate answer point.
For SOHO systems, the best practice is to connect the modem/router, ATA, electronic display phone, or VoIP appliance to a low cost battery backup unit (typically less than $100).
How does the service compare with Skype for video calls?
Video calls are more susceptible to data delay and loss than a pure voice call. This is due to the increased amount of bandwidth required to carry the video channel in addition to the voice. So, your overall performance on video call is going to depend much more on the bandwidth capabilities at both ends of the call than normal. Generally speaking for most social users, the video call performance is good and acceptable to most.
It is because of this general bandwidth concern that our video calling is no better or worse than Skype since they face the same bandwidth issues as our services do.
What are the terms of contract for London Business Phone?
Western I.T Group expects that their customer’s will renew service without being locked into a fixed term service contract. There is no penalty for terminating service, other than payment for services rendered to the end of the current billing period.
If we are not meeting the expectations of our clients we would appreciate knowing why and having the opportunity to remedy the cause.
Is there any problem with a point of sale terminal connected to VoIP?
Not at all. If you currently have a point of sale terminal with internet capabilities, there is no difference or impact on service. If you are using an older analog POS terminal (modem based), it will require an analog line to operate.
Can I get VoIP service from London Business Phone, outside of London area?
Absolutely! Internet telephony has no physical boundaries on where the service provider can be located. Internet access is extendable to anywhere internet broadband services are offered. London Business Phone currently supports clients across Canada and in the USA.
Will my monitored security alarm system be affected by a VoIP conversion?
Many older alarm panels use an analog “line” shared with a FAX to send status reports back to the monitoring center. Most cases require a conversion to more recent internet “IP” or cellular service. Otherwise the alarm system requires the subscriber to retain an analog line for dialup, that will attract additional service costs for monitoring.
Western IT Group partners with IRS Security to offer solutions for conversions or replacement systems.
Are there long distance charges?
Not for calls to locations in North America. All calls made to locations in North America are considered "local calls" so no long distance charges apply. However, calls to locations outside North America are subject to long distance charges.
For long distance rates Click Here