A Video Demo of how Wholesale SIP DIDX Routing Works
Listen to Aptilo's CEO Torbjorn Ward talk about Broadband Connectivity, too. Thank you for this opportunity to guest blog.
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From Neil Ende, Managing Partner, Technology Law Group
When trying to convince your boss that your company needs T1 bandwidth to help solve a network issue and meet business function requirements …. it comes in handy to know just how a T1 line works. Without that understanding you’re more likely to lose the argument and remain stuck with whatever dinosaur set-up you’re trying to move away from. As your company’s go-to IT person … you can’t afford to lose those battles.
Many saw this coming years ago when Sprint dumped their broadband wireless division and the $1B of spectrum they had (old MMDS). But Craig McCaw's wealth and deep pockets were/are behind Clearwire. He was behind Teledesic, the expensive low earth orbit adventure-flop. These things apparently are more like expensive hobbies to him!
So many customers when choosing a new phone system always ask about redundancy and disaster recovery, but they really are asking about back or fail-over. Most have no concept of true redundancy and DR entails or how you can implement in a communications systems. Start with trunking.
If you look at your trunking, how do you have redundancy at any level when most connections come in through a single LEC, even though you may have separate CLEC’s. One option is SIP but you still have data that usually is single LEC-based copper or a fiber connection. If you can divide your services between wireless, copper, and fiber, you have better chance of redundancy, but fail-over is then an issue as most secondary carriers will not be able to send the original DNIS digits to you as the original carrier. Having a single carrier will allow this across different trunks, even in separate locations, so that is an option as is SIP over different carriers, but retargeting SIP trunks is not easily accomplished with most providers. Some customer believe that if they put all their eggs into a data center, they are protected and don’t need to think about redundancy, but the question arises of business continuity when the MPLS to the data center fails.
Phone sets are another issue. If you are still deploying digital sets and haven’t moved to SIP – good luck! While there are systems out that can redirect calls to other units in a network, for DR, not having IP sets is the same as expecting agents to take their computer with them to work at home if the corporate site is down. SIP sets offer the ability to register to multiple locations, meaning if your main site goes down, sets can use alternate routing to other servers or even be taken to other sites and brought up on the DR servers. With soft phones and remote number login, all you need is a web browser and a phone line or cell phone to stay connected to the office and your customers through a secondary DR server.
Phone systems of the past was not very redundant or able to provide full DR. Some had simple fail-over and most offered backup, but instantaneous redundancy with full mirroring of information has only been around for a few years at most. Today’s servers can be stacked, dispersed, and stored (virtually) anywhere and be able to take over automatically or with very little intervention from system administrators. One important factor to look at when choosing a phone system is if they applications servers like voicemail, IVR, or speech servers have full redundancy that work with the DR capabilities of the actual phone system -- though with systems like the ININ CIC server, all applications are in one box, so there consistent and replicated databases and functions no matter what server you are on. If a switchover to a backup server does occur, planning must be in place to redirect trunks, re-register phones, and allow clients to reconnect to the new server. Without this, no amount of DR work will work.
At a hardware level, DR and redundancy includes insuring good, off-site backups, RAID configurations on the hard drives, redundancy power supplies, dual-NICS, and all the other protection you can give your servers to survive the longest in a disaster situation. If you look outside of the actual phone platform, what about the networks – do you have dual switch fabric in place? Do you use spanning between multiple switches and routers? Do you have dual routers in place with complete capabilities to route your inbound and outbound traffic.
Obviously thinking about DR to this level can give any IT manager an ulcer in not time at all. It is important to include experts at all levels in your DR plan, starting first with your phone vender since telecommunications is the life-blood of any company – no one can survive without communicating to the outside world and customers. It is far more important to have people answering questions on the top of there head for an inbound call center than to have a web site up in the middle of a disaster. So many companies take the other approach – build Fort Knox for their data silos and plan for complete redundancy at a DR site, but still count on their single PRI, single voicemail computer, single phone system to get them through a disaster or major outage.
There are many consultants that can help you think through your DR and redundancy plans, but don’t go overboard. Remember that people in a disaster will not be thinking about how they should be answering the next call, but how to reached their loved ones the fastest. Plan all you like but remember the people factor in the equation.
Robert Wakefield-Carl, QoS Telesys
At the tail end of last month, the FTC dropped their inquiry into the Google Wi-Fi Street View kerfuffle, satisfied by Google's argument that their collection of user Wi-Fi data was a screw up, the data wasn't particularly useful, and that Google had made changes to prevent this from happening again. That supports studies from earlier this year showing that Google vehicles were moving too quickly, and changing channels too frequently, to really collect much useful information from the unsecured hotspots passed.
Each week I take stock on the major headlines hitting the wires in the world of telecom. The news this past week has been chock full of companies announcing global Ethernet deployments, data center expansions and a variety of partnerships including some interesting M&A activity. A few companies jumped out in the headlines this past week - so I will use this space to tell you a bit about what they are doing.
AT&T has settled a class action lawsuit claiming that the company charged wireless users certain Internet taxes on their mobile service bills that were in violation of the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act and other laws. On Thursday November 11 AT&T contacted customers, sending them to a website that states users may be eligible for refunds if they paid for smartphone or mobile data services between November 1, 2005 up to and including September 7, 2010. According to the wording of the settlement, AT&T has agreed to prepare and process tax refund claims with the various impacted states and counties.
November Telarus Vendor News
This video will provide you with a list of GREAT questions to ask your potential SIP provider that will help you find a qualified provider from amongst the hundreds out there. You also get an email with an attached list of questions to ask to qualify a SIP provider
It will also prove that relying on SIP providers for an appropriate solution is a wish.
The video (results are shown on slide 6 at 3 minutes) reviews the initial results of a mid sized business requesting pricing for SIP Trunks to replace their existing LD T1s and Local PRI. After the inital round of quotes none saved money with SIP. Consultant engaged and average price of quotes dropped 25% and final offer saved the client 35% from existing telecom costs.
There is a lot of confusion about USF. The FCC does not require companies to charge USF. Many companies are required to pay into USF and are allowed to recover their contributions from customers. Companies pay into USF based on information included on their quarterly and annual FCC 499 reports. If your client is paying into USF, then it is a business decision whether to pass the cost on to customers. The FCC was scheduled to release some proposed rules this quarter on changes to the USF contributions and might require more companies to contribute. It would be months and maybe years before the proposed rules become effective. Hope this helps.
Thanks to Jerry Weikle at Weikle & Co.
You're looking for pricing on dedicated bandwidth for your company's voice and/or data network. It may be T1, DS3, OC3 or ethernet based. It could be for fractional, bonded, burstable, point-to-point, PRI, integrated, or MPLS. Whatever you're need is ... the search experience can be frustrating and painful.
Movistar has obtained a concession to operate a public telecommunications network nationwide, to offer pay television and satellite data services.
I have many customers asking me about virtualization, virtual desktops, and hosted solutions, but when it comes to phone systems, there is not much choice for any of these. While this will most likely change and even reverse in the next 3 to 5 years, there is still not a big advantage to hosted solutions and most systems don’t support virtualization at this point. There are several reasons for this and why you should be careful when looking at hosted solutions.
The biggest different between having CPE and Hosted phone systems is control and who takes responsibility for the equipment and programming upkeep. With most hosted solutions, vendors will give web access to the programming to allow for small changes like phone assignments, user names, passwords, and workgroup assignments. For the business that does not want to spend resources getting trained on the system, this is ideal, because any workgroup leader can make changes. The hosted company is responsible for the server, updates, backups, and billing. Responsibility is two-fold in a hosted environment – the vendor takes responsibility for the reliability of the server and the customer is responsible for connectivity and local equipment. On the flip side, having CPE means you are in charge of everything, meaning if you can’t pay your bills, you still can make and receive phone calls – not so with the stinted hosted vendor.
This comes in two flavors – flexible environments and customization. A hosted solution gives you the ability to change the number of phones very quickly or move people from one office to another without redeploying much more than a phone or gateway. Also with most hosted solutions, you usually have access to a the full functionality of the product without any upgrades or much investment on your part. CPE however gives you much of the same flexibility, but only after some up-front purchase. You can still move people around, re-deploy phones to other office, and grow or shrink your system as needs arise, but you usually get the added feature of customizing your system more than the vendor would allow in a shared environment. Imagine if a vendor allowed customization of the server for 100 customers. Next update to the system software would mean testing it against each of those 100 customized environments before deploying to the server farms hosting the applications. Now extend that to 1000’s of customers and you can see why most hosted vendors only give you limited control and access to the server software. If your company has not changed much in 5 years and you were happy with your old key system, then hosted might be your preference, but if you see unknown growth or applications and need specialized functionality, then CPE is a must.
Sales people with that “is is only $25 per month per phone” routine make hosted solutions sound very cost-effective. Not bad when you have 20 phones, but if you have 100, that means $2500 a month in fees perpetually. A lease on a similar CPE system would probably be about half that and you own the stuff in the end. Why is it nice to write off the monthly as a business expense rather than a capital expenditure, it is usually a decision about whether the company has the up-front investment for the equipment or if the company is eligible for a lease. No matter what the choice, it is important to look at an overall ROI including investment, monthly recurring costs, annual maintenance, and upgrade costs.
One other strong factor for your decision should be ongoing support and maintenance. Are you going to have the people on staff to train new individuals or will the hosted vendor do this? Do you have to keep up the software at the desktop or will the hosted system do this automatically? Who is responsible for your local phones and gateways and insuring good quality on your local LAN? If you have CPE, you know you can turn to your phone vendor for all of this. How much do you want to invest in time and effort to keep your phone system running efficiently?
Whether you choose hosted or CPE for your next phone system is a hard choice since any option for most companies means changing out their entire phone system, but in 3 years time when most companies have already purchased SIP gateways and industry-standard phones, switching from CPE to Hosted will be a simple and more-likely option. Whatever your decision, make sure it is based on your company’s needs and a good ROI model, not on sweet talk from a sales guy!
Robert Wakefield-Carl, QoS Telesys
Follow this process when designing on a new, upgraded, or replacement voice/data network. Gather information addressing each of the points listed and go from there ....
Cons or Negatives ....
There has not been a lot of hub-bub about the fact that for the first time carriers can peer their etherent networks instead of using carrier to carrier network to network interfaces called E-NNI.
Why is this important? As a network or internet backboone provider, in order to connect to another carriers network, I used to have to buy a set bandwidth (usually large bandwidth) and cross connect to that single carrier. Using an E-NNI (Network to Network Interface). There was often issues to be engineering out because my ethernet might not be exacxtly the same as yours. Then I would have to sign a bunch of engineering and contract documents. It is very complex. I have to do that for each carrier I want to connect to.
Now I can buy the bandwidth I need and connect to many carriers all through one portal. Ethernet peering is now being offered at seveal telco hotels around the country and the world. Recently the rack and hosting providers have started to expand their offerings with this service.
The game hasn't changed but the field has! Welcome the new little guys to the world and their pricing. It will be interesting.
I am one of those guys that always has the latest and greatest, meaning living on the bleeding edge – dealing with misconceived GUI’s, unforeseen bugs, and no end of frustration.
When considering a migration to a MPLS data network from your current architecture .... plenty of info is available on the Web. Some resources are given below ... Bluntly, there is no one right answer, it depends on the requirements of your organization. A few questions you need to ask to arrive at the answer are ...