The National List’s Phone System Saga began several months ago when we installed a VoIP hosted phone system. In the beginning, we were very excited with all of the features and flexibility that this system offered. We soon discovered that it had tradeoffs in our environment: flexibility, mobility and lower cost vs. poor audio quality and multiple dropped calls. We found that the underlying problem we were experiencing was with the Internet, even though we had more than adequate bandwidth. When you rely on the phones as heavily as we do for our day-to-day business, the fact that we could not control the call quality over the Internet once it left our office was a huge factor for us.
We tried every viable option to make the VoIP work for us before looking at alternative options. Ultimately we decided that we had exceeded our “pain threshold.” We contacted multiple telecom companies, spoke with our network support company, and after several weeks of research, we all came to the same conclusion. We had to make a change. We signed a contract for a new system. It’s an IP PBX-hybrid system, with an ISDN PRI (T-1) line to our office for call reliability and stability, and with hardware in our office that gives us IP functionality over our in-office network, as well as with our external offices.
A Learning Experience
We look at the whole experience as a learning one. Even though we had problems, we learned things about how we operate as a company that ultimately helped us determine the type of system that will work best for us. Others may have a different experience. During the process, as I spoke with an attorney, the call was dropped. I apologized to him and told him the problems we were experiencing with our VoIP phone system. His response was “No worries! I have VoIP, as well, and it happens to me, too, but for me that’s okay, because the tradeoff in cost and the ability to be able to call my other office (opposite coast) with a click of a button is worth it.”
The Saga Continues
The new system was just installed and we are waiting to see how our saga ends. Watch for the continuation of our Phone System Saga in our April 17th eNewsletter. We hope our experience gets you thinking about the quality and reliability of your own phone system. The article will include advice that a few telecom experts we talked to are willing to share. If your firm or agency is looking for a new phone system or for ways to get more out of the one you have, using their words could help you ask the right questions and come to a satisfactory conclusion of your own Phone System Saga.
by Leslie Herr, Randy Nicola and Nancy Lender, National List Staff