Archives: September2017

KP360 Blog – What You Need to Know About SIP Trunking & Hosted PBX

SIP Trunking & Hosted PBXYou’ve got questions, KP’s got answers. Kevin Peyton is, on the surface, the Vice President of Sales at VirtualPBX, but digging a little deeper reveals so much more. An expert in everything from hosted telecom to competitive roller-skating (seriously) and everything between, Kevin fields whatever we throw at him, so we thought we’d let you have a shot. The gauntlet has been thrown, welcome to KP360!

SIP Trunking & Hosted PBX: What You Need to Know

First of all, what is the world is SIP Trunking and how is it different than VoIP?
In many ways, SIP Trunking provides the same type of service experience that you can expect from standard VoIP plans, and before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s in many ways very much the same. The key differences don’t arise until you dig deep into the actual architecture of a business’ phone system. SIP Trunking provides a path on which companies with an on-premise telephone system can access the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network, and basically where all telephone calls need to go to in order to be placed or received) in a sort of hybrid of both on-site and hosted PBX technologies. Investing in an on-site PBX, that only handles the configuration of the telephone system for the employees in the office, to access the PSTN, they then need to leverage an expensive Primary Rate Interface (PRI) to digitally access the PTSN. Or, they can bypass the need to add to their costs by using SIP Trunking that will perform the same tasks through hosted PBX technology. Either way, all of this also indicates that SIP Trunking is typically used by larger organizations that have the need and resources to invest in large, on-site telephone platforms and therefore generally not the concern of smaller organizations.

You’re losing me, so SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX are the same thing?
In the sense that both are cloud-based telephone technologies, yes, they are very much the same. However, whereas a standard VoIP plan like Dash will handle both the company’s extensions and general configuration in addition to providing digital access to the PSTN, SIP Trunking is for organizations that have the on-site configuration settled but still want to route calls over the internet to save money. Previously, the only way to do that was with the aforementioned PRI, but I compare that to analog telephone adapters in that you can marry some analog systems (an on-site PBX, for example) to digital networks (cloud-based telephone traffic) with an adapter, but you will probably lose some functionality in the process. SIP Trunking is technology with the same cloud-based DNA as any hosted PBX, but it’s designed specifically to be the bridge from an on-site system to the cloud that is totally lossless in terms of sound quality and brings the flexibility that users expect from a hosted system.

Okay, that makes sense. But why then would a business choose SIP Trunking over a VoIP system like Dash?
We’re seeing that new businesses adopt end-to-end hosted PBX systems like Dash at far higher rates than they do an on-site PBX option. This is the right choice for most companies with the freedom to select a system without any encumbrances of having invested already in an on-site PBX or if they’re ending a current service agreement and can switch to VoIP without any hassle. SIP Trunking is the equivalent to other companies that desire the cost savings of leveraging the cloud along with all of the flexibility that comes with a hosted PBX, but that have already invested in an on-premises PBX, as well. Therefore, the question of whether to choose Dash or SIP Trunking is less about functionality and more about the existing telephone system that any particular company is already using. If it’s a proprietary, physical system, they should look into SIP Trunking, otherwise, Dash is most likely right for them.

Are there any downsides to using SIP Trunking to combine on-site and cloud-based communications?
Definitly. Just like with all telecom solutions, there are pros and cons associated with SIP Trunking. Primarily, there will always remain the fact that by relying on physical hardware for a portion of the overall telephone functionality, that hardware will eventually require costly maintenance and hardware replacements or updates. Additionally, by introducing a hosted voice element into a business that has traditionally been exclusively relying on copper-wires for their voice traffic, that also puts a new burden on the network the business uses. Both of these issues are easily addressed in that the hardware can be amortized as the investment depreciates until such time that a SIP Trunking system can be transitioned fully into an end-to-end hosted PBX solution. Also, the network requirements for any hosted platform can be quickly diagnosed and optimized with services like a Network Health Check or VoIP Clear Fix Service which is unlike any other service available in that it can actually be used by any business anywhere, regardless of who their telecom provider is.

Is there anything else anyone would need to know about SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX
Ha, well there is always more to know about the topic of hosted telecommunications but I’d suggest the most important takeaways are these.

  • SIP Trunking isn’t outside of the world of hosted PBX, it’s just a cost-effective method to bridge physical PBX systems to the cloud.
  • Switching to SIP Trunking typically means that businesses need to find a telecom partner with the ability to diagnose network thresholds for optimum performance.
  • SIP Trunking is also mostly ideal for larger companies and can be most cost-effective at a greater scale.

The most important thing to remember, though, is like all telecom questions, the idea that one-size will always fit all is way off base. I always recommend that people looking to switch to a new telephone system for their business connect with experts in the field to work with them in assessing their true needs and the most value-packed route to address them.

Get Your Own Assessment

You can begin your own journey into leveraging SIP Trunking or Dash VoIP for your business today with a free, no-obligation business communications assessment today. Simply contact our telephony experts and we’ll make an appointment to help illuminate all of the options that make the most sense for you, your business, and your budget! And as always, remember to give us your thoughts on the KP360 blog on Twitter or Facebook, and we always welcome your questions for the next installment in the all-new KP360 blog!

How VirtualPBX 24/7 Customer Support Makes us the Keebler Elves of VoIP

Customer Support Keebler Elves of VoIPWe’ve been at the grindstone for over 20 years now building, selling, and servicing some of the greatest business telephone systems available. Sometimes, when we look back on the things we’ve produced or take a peek down the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap, it can get pretty unbelievable to consider all of the changes that have occurred over that time. Plus, building things may be our wheelhouse, but servicing our customers is really our true passion. That’s why sometimes it can feel, just as the various armies of small, diligent workers that build some of our favorite cookies and snacks, like we’re operating our own oak tree factory sometimes, too. Now, with us unveiling a totally new 24/7, year-round, US-Based, and totally included with every plan, Customer Support policy for vConsole, that’s true now more than ever before.

Millions of Little Hands Hard at Work

I’ll admit it could be creepy to consider comparing ourselves to some of the more fringe depictions of laborers in fantasy. Nobody likes the idea of the forced subservience of Roald Dahl’s Oompa Loompas, after all. However, I believe the comparison stands because, according to the bedtime stories of families that celebrate Christmas, it’s the diligence of Santa’s Elves that make all the toys for all the children in the world each year. Plus, the Doozers from Fraggle Rock dutifully build their structures only to have them repeatedly setback time and time again. Not too unlike real construction sometimes, no? We can liken ourselves to those hard-working little Doozers or the Keebler Elves because our work is definitely a labor of love. Plus, it’s best that we are now available to literally every customer in over 100 countries all night long because, when you cover such a large area, it’s dangerous to assume that it’s not also the middle of the workday somewhere else.

Getting the Most From Your Service

Admittedly, this has been in the works for a while. Once we opened up our 24 hour service to Dash, users, we knew we couldn’t leave our other products and services behind for long. But there was also some great feedback we got on both the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap and through our social media channels that really reinforced the decision to unroll 24/7 Customer Support to vConsole users, as well. Which leads us to the next point being that if you ever want to see more or less of something with your service, let us know! We’re always around (ahem, 24/7…) and always eager to hear what you have to say. If contacting our Customer Support through the regular channels isn’t your preference, you can also always reach us on Twitter or Facebook, too. Either way, please enjoy the new 24/7 coverage and I apologize if now, all you can think of is cookies and Willy Wonka. Go grab a snack, you deserve one!

The Mexico City Earthquake and How to Help through Los Topos

mexico city earthquake los toposWe’ve all been reminded recently exactly how unpredictable life can be. The recent surge of hurricanes that have battered the Caribbean and United States is proof enough, but additional forest fires all over the Pacific Coast states and into Montana are stark reminders that even without low pressure systems, natural disasters can strike in an instant. Nowhere has that been made more apparent, however, than in the capital city of our neighbor to the south. Mexico City has been literally rocked to its core by a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the most populous metropolitan area on the continent on Tuesday. Now, with emergency crews scrambling to free survivors from tons of rubble, the world is looking on in anticipation and with a desire to find a way to help.

What Makes The Mexico City Earthquake So Significant

First, a little background on what makes this week’s earthquake so significant. Not only was the Richter Scale tipped on Tuesday so much as to cause such pervasive destruction, but the timing of this quake came at a particularly significant time, as well. The quake on September 19, 2017, came exactly 22 years to the day after the catastrophic tremor in 1985 that leveled Mexico City with an 8.0 on the Richter Scale. In the wake of that event, the city was ill-prepared with a formalized response to such widespread carnage. What they didn’t lack, however, was a willingness to act. Therefore, the minutes following the historic quake saw the almost immediate formation of a group of volunteers who began to unearth survivors and clear debris. This group, which is now known as Los Topos, was barely formed before it was dispatched to nearby El Salvador following an earthquake there. Since then, Los Topos have been fixtures all over the planet in helping emergency responses to all manner of natural disasters where there are massive impacts to infrastructure. And while the group has been instrumental in helping save countless lives the world over, they remain relatively unknown, even during this moment of their greatest need in the most auspicious of circumstances and setting; Mexico City on September the 19th. We’d like to help change that.

Los Topos, The Moles, To the Rescue

We’re typically quite deliberate in avoiding an overt endorsement one way or another on a lot of topics. There are some agendas, however, which we feel obligated to work towards advancing. From our philanthropic endeavors, to our focus on service, and commitment to personal wellness, we have no qualms with asserting some positions. We believe that supporting Los Topos in our neighbor’s time of need is one of those times. In the vacuum of more well-known agencies and NGO’s that we typically direct our donations and support to in times of domestic disasters, we’ve seen that many people want to help Mexico City but don’t know exactly how to do that. Therefore, we’ve pulled this information below on exactly how to donate to the rescue efforts of Los Topos.

Los Topos is a professional non-profit Mexican rescue team. They need our support more than ever. If you can spare a few extra dollars this week, please support them via the following methods:
From Mexico:
Bank: Santander Cuenta, #92-00070929-4
CLABE: 014180920007092942
Reference: Brigada de Rescate Topos Tlaltelolco, A.C.
From Anywhere Else:
Paypal: donativos@brigada-rescate-topos.org

No matter how much or little anyone gives to Los Topos, we believe it’s important that we recognize their efforts as they rush to save lives in their own backyard. For an organization that has given so much to so many around the globe, we are humbled to give our thoughts and prayers to them, the people of Mexico City, and anyone who has been affected by all of the recent natural disasters around the globe.

Exactly What is DNIS for Business Telephone Systems?

what is dnisA Dialed Number Identification Service, or DNIS, is a way for business operators to organize inbound callers into the topics they are calling about by using special inbound telephone numbers. That, on the surface, may not immediately describe exactly what a DNIS is, but it sets a necessary foundation for understanding one of the most common questions asked about business telephone systems today. Remembering, though, that DNIS numbers are capable of giving your employees a head start on their calls will frame much of their true power into a business context.

Often times, businesses that are investigating new business telephone systems are attracted to the many advantages of a hosted PBX option over a standard, on-site telephone system. The cost savings of a cloud-based telephone service such as VoIP over a legacy, copper-wire platform are often enough to get companies to switch. More often than not, the added functionality and flexibility of VoIP with features such as DNIS end up being the icing on the cake, too. Being able to add, remove, and manage multiple telephone numbers for pennies on the dollar over what an older telephone system would cost makes understanding what DNIS numbers are and how to use them effectively more important now than ever for establishing a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

How do DNIS Numbers Work?

As a way to sort inbound callers based on their needs, DNIS numbers give advance warning of the exact reasons for a call before an employee even answers it. Even for the most difficult to impress clients, that’s an impressive and expedited way to deliver the best customer experience possible. VirtualPBX DNIS numbers are numbers selected from our proprietary bank of tens of thousands of local, international, and toll free business telephone numbers that have been given a special designation to your particular business operations. That exact designation is limited only by the bounds of your imagination in that we currently have DNIS in use for dozens of categories of reasons for our customers. To help illustrate some of the more common ways to leverage this feature that is included with every Dash account, we’ve outlined some of the more popular ones below.

  • Track ROI on Promotional Spending Lets say you want to venture into print advertising, billboards, or any other new medium for your business that can’t be tracked with digital methods like UTM codes. To gauge the effectiveness of the campaign, you could ask all of your inbound callers how they found you, or you could just put a DNIS number on the printed advertisement and then you’d know anyone using that number got it from the advertisement in question. That type of data is also available real time with your Dash VoIP account, too. Plus, that’s way more accurate and appealing to showcase in your next marketing dashboard than all of the hash marks made by your team.
  • Assign Team Leaders to Key Accounts For strategic accounts, you want to have your best people handling them at all times. That’s not to say everyone on your team isn’t capable of handling the demands of your most important accounts, but it does mean that they would also benefit from the enhanced service of being recognized as a strategic account off the bat. By giving a DNIS to these clients, your inbound team can immediately know they are about to field a call from a particular tier of business, giving everyone the chance to treat the call with the importance it requires.
  • Bilingual Business We have telephone numbers for businesses from well over 100 countries across the globe, and as a result, we also have customers with a variety of different language requirements. Being able to ensure that your language-specific callers reach the team members who can help them quickly and smoothly is another way to use DNIS.
  • Assign Numbers to Specific Products For companies with large divides in the products or services they provide, dividing the inbound traffic to the appropriate parties is another useful way to leverage DNIS numbers. Because product specialists are, well, specialized in their particular area of expertise, they need to be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. And having them only fielding calls pertinent to their area of expertise is far more effective than having them transfer out calls to other team members.

How Would You Use a DNIS?

These are obviously just a few of the virtually endless variety of ways a company can use DNIS for their operations. How would you use them for you company that we haven’t listed here? Make sure to let us know on Twitter and Facebook, or better yet, you can even sign up for a free consultation on all of the possible ways that a unified communications system can benefit your business today!

Make the Ultimate Survival Pack with a Softphone in Your Emergency Backpack

Ultimate Survival PackWith all of the recent havoc that hurricanes have been causing across the United States Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Caribbean, it’s important to take stock of the ways in which we prepare for disasters. Of course, no single effort will protect you from any eventuality, but there has been an increased emphasis on preparations that can be stored indefinitely and relied on in a pinch. Specifically, people are researching more and more how to prepare the ultimate survival pack in the form of an emergency backpack. One thing that needs to be considered when preparing your next emergency backpack, though, is not just how you will escape danger, but how you will manage to live under potential refugee conditions after the worst has past. No single item will possibly prepare you for that scenario more than the VirtualPBX Softphone App.

What Makes the Best Emergency Backpack

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area. We know we live in earthquake territory. That’s why many folks here have kept emergency backpacks or earthquake bags for a while now. But with the recent historically bad flooding and damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the idea has become more of a relevant consideration for many more people, as well. Obviously, the most important ingredients of a good survival bag include clean water or water filters, food, warm or dry clothing, batteries, radios, cash and a few other essentials, but here are the reasons why you should never consider your survival pack complete until it has a softphone included it as well.

  • It Weighs Nothing That’s right! Unlike your other survival essentials, softphones are completely weightless. How is that, you ask? Because like all cloud-based communications, softphones are totally hosted on the servers of the company that created it and your access to them only depends on a good data connection.
  • You’ll Need to Plan on Rebuilding For a While That goes for your office building, too. And unless your business already has a automatic failover system as part of a comprehensive business continuity plan, you’ll be at a loss on how to keep the ball rolling for a while. Using a softphone means that you can keep your office hours from anywhere you happen to be during reconstruction.
  • Most Damage Comes During the Days After any Natural Disaster We’re seeing some terrible news come out of Florida as assisted living communities and hospitals scramble to keep their patients safe while there is no power and limited reliability on backup generators that got totally submerged. It’s well documented that many of the deaths from natural disasters come in the days following them for exactly this reason. As a result, you’ll need to anticipate more than how to stay fed and hydrated for an extended period of time, and nothing will help you set-up a semi-permanent shop quite like the peace of mind of knowing you can keep your job performance as high as can be expected under such conditions.
  • It’s Free Unlike some other options, the VirtualPBX Softphone App is free to download from the App Store or on Google Play. The use of the app itself is simply billed according to the parameters of the specific VirtualPBX business telephone system that it’s connected to, but it costs the user nothing to acquire as a failsafe in the event of an emergency (or simply as a great way to take work onto the road!).

What’s in Your Survival Pack?

We at VirtualPBX are most interested in the safety and recovery of everyone in the areas affected by the recent storms to hit our shores. And obviously, these tips on survival bags aren’t retroactive so we hope that they aid in helping people prepare themselves now for whatever else is yet to come. With that in mind, what other, nontraditional survival essentials would you include in your emergency backpack? Let us know by chiming in on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll be sure to include them in future editions of how to make the ultimate survival kit. Until then, stay safe, and please keep those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in your thoughts and prayers.

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