Sjur Usken

Views on new technologies and business opportunities from Sjur Usken

Are your provider ready for VoIP?


Companies are jumping on the VoIP wagon, but need to do their homework before implementing it locally and choosing a provider!

Tyler Merritt has written a nice article about it, I borrowed the bullet points:

Ask the provider detailed questions about their backbone.
Do they host their servers in a reputable data center? Do they get their bandwidth from a well-known provider like Level 3? A friend of mine thought it would be neat to start a VoIP company and began offering services through machines hosted in his garage. He did some good business for awhile, but his company didn’t last long.

Make sure your VoIP service requires authentication.
This point may seem like a no-brainer, but many VoIP providers do not require registration from the customer, making toll fraud incredibly easy for even amateur hackers. Authentication strings that use a hash in place of a clear-text password provide required security.

Find out what kind of VoIP architecture the provider uses.
Is their network built on a proprietary solution like Broadsoft or do they make use of Open Source VoIP solutions like Asterisk? Proprietary may turn out products with fewer initial bugs and open lines of communications to the developer via a support team, but Open Source means a much larger community of devoted followers hammering away at the application out of sheer pride and commitment to excellence. Asterisk is the most widely deployed Open Source telephony platform in the world precisely because so many people have contributed hours upon hours towards development and stability.

Figure out the DTMF type up front!
With analog lines and PRIs, DTMF was never really a consideration. VoIP companies have choices like rfc2833, inband, and info – and some companies use a different DTMF setting for inbound calls and outbound calls! If customers can reach your Auto Attendant but can’t dial an extension because key presses aren’t recognized, you might as well not have a phone system at all. This one is the Achilles Heel for almost every company I know.

Make sure your network supports QoS.
It cannot be stated enough that VoIP traffic on your network needs an all-access pass to the HOV lane. Because VoIP uses UDP instead of TCP, there are no second chances for these packets. They need to arrive in order, unchanged every time. If your network equipment does not support QoS, simple things like sending an email when someone is on the phone will have a noticeable effect to the conversation. Some customers may detect “clipping” or “clicking” on the line however briefly. A good QoS policy protecting VoIP easily soothes its greedy need for dedicated bandwidth. VoIP does not like to share.

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