Posted on November 30, 2018 by Charlie Galaviz
By 2020, 34% of international business leaders believe over 50% of their employees will work remotely.
Accordingly, should companies meet the requests of their employees, the telecommute pendulum will swing closer towards that norm in 2019, and it won’t be just requests to work from home. In a survey of remote professionals, 27.08% say they prefer working from coffee shops over working from home or coworking facilities.
What’s not to love about coffee shops? Free wifi, cost-savings, and the aroma of freshly brewed cups of joe. Consequently, what makes coffee shops great can also make them not so great if you don’t come prepared. With our top 5 essentials, you can maximize your productivity and efficiency at your local coffee house.
Already a customer? You’re in luck! The VirtualPBX Web Phone is included for free with any business phone plan. Take a look at our Adding a Web Phone Guide for easy step-by-step instructions on setup.
Posted on November 27, 2018 by Casey Houser
CIO Applications, a Silicon Valley IT print publication, has chosen VirtualPBX as one of the Top 25 Enterprise Communications Service Providers for 2018.
This grants us a prominent title among all communications service providers and a full-page feature in the coming issue of CIO’s magazine.
Our CEO’s Take
For the CIO Applications feature, VirtualPBX CEO Paul Hammond commented on our present service offerings:
“We are on a mission to offer the best voice solutions with the utmost attention to customer care,” he said. “We have raised the bar for our performance as a communications service provider with solutions that address the needs of any business, regardless of our size.”
He continued by noting our path for the future:
“We intend to offer another 20 years of service and continue to operate as we always have – with an open office door and a dedicated team of employees ready to meet the ever-changing face of the communications market.”
Our Product Lineup
Our portfolio of products begins, foremost, with our business phone system, Dash. It comes with multiple enterprise-grade features such as Call Recording and Conferencing, Hot Desking, Ring Groups, and an Automated Attendant. Large businesses with hundreds of employees, or startups with only a dedicated few, can take advantage of the best feature set in the industry.
We have something for every employee – whether they work from home, in an office, or make the majority of their sales while in commute. CIO Applications covered that fact by highlighting both our products and services before focusing on our future endeavors like API Access and Call Recording storage options, which you can see further in the article copy shown here.
Our Dedicated Team
Paul’s praise of our staff only begins to scratch the surface of each individual employee’s dedication to the portfolio we offer.
From our Marketing team to Sales; from Services to Support; and from Product Development to the Management Team, we all put in the hard work necessary to make VirtualPBX a leading medium-size company in a market filled with giants. We create an enterprise-level set of products with the feel personal touch that only a smaller outfit can provide.
This comes across well in the CIO Applications piece that notes our humble beginnings – a basement in San Francisco – and our trajectory from creating the “first commercially-available hosted business phone system” to today. Our distributed workforce of a few dozen employees completes what takes other businesses double the budget and manpower to achieve.
We’re all excited to be recognized in the Top 25 in our market. This award bears that out and gives us reason to keep looking forward.
Posted on November 20, 2018 by Casey Houser
At VirtualPBX, we take a lot of pride in our business phone plan features, including our VoIP service uptime, which we advertise as 99.999 percent.
That last digit might seem showy. We don’t mean to brag, though. The final .009 addresses an important issue: we deliver phone system reliability that not every service provider can match.
Our claim of that last digit is anything but simple. We operate six servers across the globe, work with multiple phone carriers, and protect our networks with enterprise-quality firewalls and backups to assure that your phone system is reliable.
99.9 vs 99.99 vs 99.999 Percent
It bears repeating that the figure — 99.999 percent — isn’t meant to be flashy. When you round to that many places past the decimal, you actually see some significant effects.
There are 525,960 minutes in a year. When you break those minutes down by the whole percent, you end up with 5259.6 minutes in each percent. In other words: 525,960 / 100 = 5259.6
This means that, if we only offered 99 percent uptime, you could see outages in your phone system, on average, of 5,259 minutes a year. That’s almost four whole days! It’s clearly unacceptable.
You can extend those calculations to the tens, hundreds, and thousands place by dividing the number of days, respectively, by 1,000, 10,000, and 100,000.
|% Uptime||Downtime per year (minutes)|
What we strive for at VirtualPBX is only five minutes per year of downtime. This industry gold standard is extremely difficult to reach, but it’s achievable through a number of efforts.
No VoIP service provider is equipped to properly handle enterprise clients without multiple servers to their name.
VirtualPBX’s global network of servers makes it possible for us to work with clients worldwide. They also assist with our reliability because we can lean on them as fallbacks for when a local outage occurs.
If, for instance, one of our U.S.-based servers experienced a power outage, we could immediately route traffic from that location to another inside the U.S.
Our clients’ calls would still connect because the second server picked up the slack.
Firewalls and Backups
In our servers, we use firewalls to protect malware from getting in, and we use backups to make sure your company information always remains accessible.
Our firewalls provide double-duty – like much of what you see in this article. They help keep the information in our servers safe by protecting them from internet malware and keeping bad actors at bay. They are essential for keeping yours and our data safe so the whole system can function as expected.
Similarly, our backups reach across multiple physical locations to provide a redundancy for both VirtualPBX processes and client information. Our global network gives us the ability to move important data from one secure lockbox to another. Everyone in our ecosystem remains protected and accessible.
Multiple Phone Carriers
As VoIP service provider, we connect calls through internet connections. We work with various phone carriers – think AT&T or Bandwidth – to connect calls to other VoIP devices, smartphones, and landlines.
In fact, the process of connecting calls can get complex, as we discuss in our feature about how VoIP calls use the PSTN.
The way we’re able to hand calls between users is by working with carriers. Our portfolio of relationships with these companies means we can reach phones across the globe, and it also means we can increase our uptime.
We aren’t limited to handing off calls to a single carrier. Therefore, if one of our carriers experiences a problem, we can look to others to help route calls to the proper destinations.
You can read even more about the structure of the public telephone network in our comprehensive guide, What is VoIP?.
Does Your VoIP Service Measure Up?
We maintain and bolster our 99.999 percent reliability by doing everything we can to protect your data. We secure our relationships with carriers and work hard to continue our position as a leading VoIP service provider.
Does your current service provider measure up? If your service isn’t what you expect, it could be time to switch to a better business phone plan.
Posted on November 15, 2018 by Casey Houser
If you have received an automated call to your home phone or smartphone recently, you’re not alone. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that, if nothing is done to combat the problem, robocalls could represent nearly half of all calls in 2019.
The The Washington Post reports that this increase in robocalls is part of a multi-year trend where spam has jumped from 3.7 percent of total calls in 2017 to 29 percent this year. This dramatic increase has finally forced the FCC into action. An FCC press release this past week says the federal organization “will do everything we can to catch and stop spammers” and that it’s urging VoIP providers to “implement tools to speed the traceback process” to catch spammers in the act.
Furthermore, the FCC issued letters to 14 prominent telecommunications companies demanding that they implement the SHAKEN/STIR method of call protection. The Commission’s rhetoric includes the promise that it will “take action” if the telecoms do not fall in line.
What is SHAKEN/STIR?
The Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) specification and Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) protocol provide methods for caller identification. They appear to be the best chance the telecommunications industry has in defending the public against robocalls.
You can think of these protocols as the equivalent to websites that use the https:// communications protocol. In short, https:// sites differ from ordinary http:// sites because they use a method of encryption called Transport Layer Security (TLS). TLS makes sure that the information you send from your computer to a website is unable to be read by any entity except you and the website you want to reach.
TLS is essential for online banking, purchases on e-commerce sites, and sensitive communications between individuals. In addition to encryption, TLS also identifies the parties involved (in this example, you and the website) so bad actors can’t get in the middle and intercept your communications.
SHAKEN and STIR offer similar protections. SHAKEN defines the framework within which STIR can function. They work together in your phone system to identify callers and make sure that calls on a SIP session originate from an approved location.
How Does This Affect VirtualPBX?
The robocall spam you receive happens from within networks that use IP-based calling mechanisms. Spammers use the same type of technology that much of the telecom industry, including VirtualPBX with its Business Phone Plans, uses to process legitimate calls.
Spammers can enter the market for an extraordinarily low cost. They can also rely on the fact that the system isn’t inherently built to stop them. There’s no mechanism in place to establish secure, verified SIP calling sessions in a way that combats spam.
SHAKEN/STIR can effectively shake up (sorry) the situation by creating a mechanism where information stored in each calls verifies the legitimacy of the caller. It will also work with non-SIP parts of calls to further validate call origination along its path.
You can read more about how the PSTN handles VoIP calls in a feature on our blog. For this robocall issue, understand that there are parts of the public phone system that use the internet to manage calls. Not all of the information used in an IP-based call is necessarily used in an analog call, but SHAKEN/STIR should have the ability to authenticate data through the entire path, regardless of the underlying platform.
Protecting the Consumer
VirtualPBX and other hosted phone service providers use carriers – including the ones the FCC addressed in its letters – to move calls between their endpoints. The adoption of SHAKEN/STIR methods across the board will be good both for individual consumers and our business customers.
When we hand off calls to carriers, we can be sure that their internal processes verify the authenticity of those calls. This situation will hurt spammers’ ability to flood our customers’ phones with robocalls, and it will create a more secure network for calling overall.
We’re excited to see what the telecom industry will do with these new spam-fighting processes. And we certainly hope that, in the coming months, the number of robocalls inundating the public will shrink and disappear.
Posted on November 13, 2018 by Casey Houser
The holiday season is in full swing. For all the small businesses and enterprises out there: It’s time to winterize your VoIP phone system.
Today is the day to update your Automated Attendant, sweeten your Customer Greeting, correct those Holiday Hours, and change some individual Voicemail greetings to let customers know when and how you’ll be available in the coming weeks.
This post will lead you through our Dash Business Phone System settings so you can easily make your changes before the customer rush.
Automated Attendant and Customer Greeting
Your Automated Attendant, if you use one, will face your customers before anyone else they encounter in your VoIP phone system. It greets everyone with important information such as your hours of operation and a friendly hello.
In all cases, you will want your Attendant to be personable but brief. When recording its introduction, don’t just launch into “Press 1. for Sales, 2. for….”
Take time to say “happy holidays” so your callers feel welcome. And don’t forget to update your mention of business hours, since they might change for the days surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other holidays you celebrate this time of year.
To access your Automated Attendant in Dash:
- Click Main Number in the left-hand menu on your dashboard
- Click the Incoming Call Handling sub-menu
- Select the Virtual Receptionist link in the Open Hours tab
In the new window that pops up, you can change your Text to Speech dialogue, record your own new greeting over the phone, or upload a file from your computer.
This is also the time to change your menu selection where customers can dial to reach specific departments. If you’ve added a temporary department for holiday product returns, for example, you can add a selection for that group.
And if you don’t have an Automated Attendant selection for your holiday hours, this makes a great opportunity to add one.
Mentioning your abbreviated or extended hours in your Automated Attendant is only the first step. You can use the Holiday Hours feature in Dash to route your callers based on when you’re open or closed.
In your Dash Dashboard:
- Click Main Number in the left-hand menu on your dashboard
- Click the Office Hours Strategy sub-menu
- Select the Custom Office Hours radio button, and update your times
- Click the Office Holidays sub-menu
- Update the days your office is closed
Make sure to also return to your Incoming Call Handling sub-menu where you can select the Open Hours, Lunch Hours, After Hours, and Holidays tabs and tell the system how to route your calls during those times.
During your open hours, for instance, you may want you calls to go directly to a Ring Group. But after hours, you might want to move callers directly to the Automated Attendant.
Individual Voicemail Greetings
All the users in your Dash VoIP phone system have the ability to make their own Voicemail greetings. Your Automated Attendant might only speak for the business as a whole, but your individual employees can give callers a unique message for their statuses.
Any employee can update their voicemail: 1. Dial *97 2. The system will prompt to record a greeting, or the user can press 5 at the main voicemail menu 3. Record a greeting when prompted, then press 1 to save, 2 to listen, or 3 to re-record.
During the next several weeks, employees may be out of the office more than normal. Or their personal schedules might not fit exactly with company hours. A personalized holiday voicemail can clear up any inconsistencies.
Your personal greeting can also be a warm reminder that you will return the caller’s call soon.
Is Your Holiday VoIP Phone System Ready?
Changing these Dash settings shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Yet they can offer a host of benefits for your business and your customers.
Updates to your greetings and business hours are essential when customers want to reach you or learn how you’ll function throughout this busy season. Don’t keep them in the dark. Take a few minutes to update your system, and everyone will be happier for it.