Phone Numbers – Do We Still Need Them?

Phone Numbers – Do We Still Need Them?

In an era of smart phones, social media and instant messaging apps, is there still a place for the traditional phone number?

It sounds like a daft question, but it is actually very relevant to today’s communications.

The way people are phoning has changed since the Post Office set up the phone system in the UK in 1912. The system for area codes was set up in the 50’s.

Quite a lot has changed since then! Trilby hats are no longer fashionable, and neither are Teddy Boys.

It’s no wonder that the way we use our phones has changed.

In 1969, the mobile was undreamed of. Neil Armstrong had famously landed on the Moon using less powerful computers than we now have in a watch. Now we have watches that synch automatically with your smartphone. You can speak to a small box and have it order your shopping, or play music.

The traditional phone number has fallen a bit behind. Set up in the fifties, it is designed to identify the geographic location of the number, and reach an individual or company.

You may not realise that your area code for your landline may contain a location identifier. The second and third digits often match the first and second letters of the town or city (for instance, for Aberdeen, the area code 01224 contains ‘2’ and ‘2’ as the second and third digits, corresponding to ‘A’ and ‘B’ on the alphanumeric phone keypad).

But changes in technology mean that such geographic identifiers are unnecessary.

In fact, many younger people no longer what an area code or what it is for. It is becoming unnecessary to even dial numbers, as our smart phones now serve as a contact directory, storing numbers we need and dialling with a single click.

The changes are set to continue. BT is discussing moving the whole phone system in the UK from wires to the internet. This will effectively change the requirements for the UK numbering system.

As you will probably know (as you are reading our blog), it is becoming increasingly common for calls to be made and received using the internet just now, as more and more people adopt VoIP.

 

Get in touch to discuss your options or find out more

See more on this topic on the Ofcom website

The Benefits Of A Status Page

There is nothing quite like transparency. When working with your suppliers, do you receive full notification as to what they are up to and why? When they have issues, do they try and cover it up or are they open and transparent?

This is particularly relevant when dealing with internet connectivity or telecoms.

Websites and Social Media makes it easy to keep customers informed, and both these industries deliver services where problems can often be identified quickly by the supplier.

Are you working with suppliers who keep you informed? If not, are you wondering why not?

The SureVoIP® Status Page is where we keep our customers updated with any issues and how we are doing with fixing them.

We don’t often experience problems, but when we do, we are open and transparent.

We always list any and all issues which may be affecting our customers’ service. We give a brief run down of the situation or problem we have encountered and state what we are doing to resolve it.

We also keep this page updated as the situation unfolds, giving updates and more information as we get it.

We will update this page when we have fully resolved the issue, listing what went wrong, what we had to fix it, and giving technical details for the more IT-literate.

Fully supporting our position as an independent, business-grade VoIP Provider, we believe in the quality of our service. We take our obligations to our customers very seriously, and our Status Page is one way in which our service reflect this.

Three Ways To Make BYOD Work For You

Is BYOD a real thing? If so, what is it?

We have been reading more and more articles which mention BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). So we thought now would be a good time to examine this topic in more detail. What is it, what does it all mean, and what difference will it make to your decision-making process when considering VoIP?

Some hardware choices can be very restrictive for users. Not everyone wants a phone on their desk. Not everyone has a desk.

At a time when most employees attend their workplace with their own communication device already on them, is there a case to be made for companies ‘outsourcing’ employee communications to the employees themselves?

This raises a number of questions. Firstly, will the employees like this idea? Second, does it allow the functionality and flexibility the company requires in order to operate as usual? And lastly, are there any employee safety issues regarding customers now knowing employee’s personal phone numbers?

There are two options SureVoIP® can offer as a better solution to the problem. One is to use Hosted VoIP with softphone apps running on smartphones. The other is a dedicated company SIM card.

A ‘soft phone‘ is an app which runs on your smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. This effectively means that the app has become a virtual device, operating in the same way as a standard phone attached to your larger phone system.

When hooked to a company-wide VoIP set up, employee’s phones behave just as if they were a standard device running from a company-wide telecoms set up. Users can pick up and transfer calls. Customers calling you get the same experience as they do phoning you on a traditional phone system. Your company Music on Hold, for instance, will play as normal. The customer will experience a phone call to your company, with no indication that the staff member in question is not using an ordinary desk phone sitting in one of your offices.

A company SIM card uses an existing mobile (or a newly bought one) and replaces the standard SIM with a company issued one. As an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) our SIM Card Only Plans work with all available networks to ensure you always receive a signal. You no longer need to be tied to one of the big players. No matter where you are in the world, your SureVoIP® SIM will keep you in touch. When in the UK, it uses EE, O2 and Vodafone.

Businesses can then use mobile phones as part of an overall telecoms set up. The advantages are a vastly increased capability to stay in contact with staff in an easy, cost-effective way.

Companies with a lot of staff working overseas will find this a particularly attractive option.

We can also help with a third way to interpret ‘Bring Your Own Device’.

Many companies will have been through setting up a VoIP service before. After all, considering the cost savings and added features, it has to be an interesting option for most companies.

If you have existing VoIP-ready hardware, then this can be ‘adopted’ by any capable Provider. When done by SureVoIP®, this process involves automatically pushing end user configurations and settings to the phone, so there is no need to prepare the device to work as it should when integrating into the overall company-wide phone system.

Users do not have to spend hours fiddling with menus and buttons to set the phone up. IT departments are not flooded with calls which they don’t have the training or experience to help with. And the company benefits from an improved implementation time-frame, with less hassle and staff time lost.

So – to run through the whole Bring Your Own Device scenario:
1) There are many ways to utilise a BYOD approach to work for your company

2) Most VoIP Providers will be able to offer at least one option to facilitate this

3) The three most common ways are listed here.

If you are considering a ‘BYOD’ transition to a VoIP Provider, and wish to discuss which of the three options might work best for you, or to discuss your options in more detail, just get in touch.

The Impact Of Shifting From A Traditional Retail Model

Few can have failed to notice the impact the internet has had on the traditional retail model. If you had missed it, then your local High street clearly reflects the changes.

Declining footfall, rising costs, and more consumer choice have sounded a death knell for many traditional high street shops. They are simply unable to compete with a competitor with much lower business costs, which would offer more choice and better pricing.

The advent of many new technologies and solutions provide a vista of alternate operating models.

‘Just in time’ stock ordering, outsourced supply and delivery, online purchasing and ordering have all changed the retail environment. And there is no way back – the genie won’t go back in the bottle.

Within this retail model, the business’s online presence is all important. Branding, social media, email marketing and attention-grabbing home pages have now replaced the traditional store.

The general buying public is now far less likely to be impressed with an upmarket decor (if they even see it in the first place), and more likely to be impressed with a facebook advert or informative, colourful PDF.

However, just as one door closes, so another one opens.

As the change has affected shops adversely, so it has given a boost to smaller retailers.

Setting up and maintaining a website, administering stock and deliveries, and undertaking marketing make it easy and cost-effective to launch a brand.

The only expenses required are connectivity, telecoms, and paying brand and website consultants.

You can also develop this new model even further. Not just your customer-facing presence can be remote or ‘just in time’, so also your entire business can be.

Thanks to VoIP, office workers don’t need to be in the office at all. They can work from home, answering customer calls, playing company messages and displaying your company phone number, just as if they were in the office.

Not only do you need a shop any more, you don’t need an office either! To find out more about how VoIP can help your business, just get in touch.

How To Select The Perfect VoIP Phone

Buying VoIP hardware for your business telecoms system can be a nerve racking experience.

In fact, it combines two confusing unknowns for most of us – computers, and VoIP. Most consumers find themselves quickly drowning in a sea of acronyms.

From SIP, DDI and PBX, it is very easy to get caught in a world where the IT literate know what’s happening, and the rest of us are lost.

If you have a VoIP system, and a VOIP provider which supplies your phone system, then supplying hardware should be a good test of the service they provide.

The benefits of using a regular, trusted supplier is that any doubts over the providence of hardware is (or should be) removed. You know the hardware is genuine, and you receive the manufacturer’s warranty.

It is the same as making any other purchase. Would you be happier buying a Rolex in a jewellers, or from an ebay shop? The problem is the same – you don’t know where the item has come from, if it will work or even if it is genuine.

The next part of the puzzle is to narrow down your requirements – what exactly do you need your phones to do?

Do you have multiple phone calls to direct and multiple users to keep track of, or do you receive fewer calls, going to one or two users? Do you need to walk about as part of your job role, or are you situated at a desk? All these things will influence your hardware choice.

One of the best features of working with a trusted VoIP Provider is that they should be able to advise in situations like this. Any Provider who you are paying for a service, or in fact any decent Provider who you are discussing a service with, should be able to offer guidance on the best hardware for you based on your requirements.

A really good Provider will even be able to supply your hardware, and preconfigure it with your user settings so it will work as a functioning part of your phone system as soon as it arrives!

As you can see, there are a number of advantages of working with a trustworthy VoIP Provider when sorting out your telecoms hardware.

Have a look at our online store to see the hardware we can supply
Get in touch if you want us to help you select your perfect hardware

The SureVoIP® SIM Card Only Plan – A SIM That Works With Any Network

You may have missed our Social Media posts where we have been shouting about our new SIM Card Only Plan, so here is your chance to find out more.

Our SIM Card Only Plans work with all available networks to ensure you always receive a signal. You no longer need to be tied to one of the big players. No matter where you are in the world, your SureVoIP® SIM will keep you in touch. When in the UK, it will use EE, O2 and Vodafone.

Businesses can then use their mobile as part of an overall telecoms set up. The advantages are a vastly increased capability to stay in contact with staff in an easy, cost-effective way.

Companies with a lot of staff working overseas will find this a particularly attractive option.

The other big advantage of a SureVoIP® SIM card is the ability to stay in touch no matter what the mobile coverage is like. No matter where you are, as long as you can receive a mobile signal, your SureVoIP® service will work.

Effectively, your mobile will roam between the major Providers, always finding a way for you to communicate. As long as there is a mobile signal available, your SureVoIP® SIM will work.

Users will be able to transfer an existing number. You don’t need to lose your mobile number, just port (transfer) it over, and keep using it as you always have. No need for people to forget you, or to get in touch with everyone to update them with a new number.

There has been a lot of interest gathering round the subject of MVNOs (or Mobile Virtual Network Operators).

The benefit of the new MVNOs is that the market opens up considerably, giving consumers more choice.

Light MVNOs control some provisions and services, and provide their own technical support. They can control marketing and aspects of support, but don’t have their own infrastructure, limiting their technical abilities.

Full MVNOs operate along different lines. They only need to access the mobile network, and handle the rest of the service provision themselves. They can control more technical aspects of the service, offering differentiating factors such as data usage and customer control.

SureVoIP® is a Full MVNO. We control billing, can port in (or transfer) existing numbers, and perform provisioning for new users. In essence, this means we have full control over all aspects of billing, contract terms and packages, and plans.

We offer full control over how your SIM works, right down to whether it delivers data or not. If you need to control a multiple end user set up using company mobiles, or deploy end users anywhere who use a company mobile, you will have full control at the highest level. You will be able to control the features that end users can access. Want your end users to have calls but no internet access? Need to record calls for compliance purposes, or control end user caller ID? No problem, we can offer you that level of control.

If you have users operating in various countries round the world, you have the reassurance of a communications solution which works with you, and for you. Your SureVoIP® SIM Card Only Plan allows access across the globe, finding the best carrier for your call.

As a Full MVNO, SureVoIP® is able to enhance this product. The feature list is set to expand as we bring our own unique innovative expertise to develop the MVNO sector.

There is a lot more to come with this product. Register your interest here – and take advantage of our great early sign up rates, bundles and packages.

Our History As Told To The FreeSWITCH Team

Join us as we talk to Michael Mavroudis as part of the ClueCon weekly broadcast. See the whole broadcast at https://youtu.be/uIs9n23BMdo on the YouTube FreeSWITCH channel.

Our Founder and MD, Gavin Henry, starts his informative talk with a run-down of SureVoIP’s history, and gives the background to our story.

Some the most salient points come across as the conversation starts with a discussion about the UK infrastructure, and moves onto common problems and issues for UK VoIP Providers. The discussion finishes by analysing our current situation, and outlining our plans for the future.

Starting with how he became involved with IT Consultancy, and then VoIP in particular, Gavin Henry runs through how we progressed from a 2 server set up, to owning and managing our own independent network.

Born from the Consultancy set up by Gavin and two others, SureVoIP® was born from his desire to deliver high quality VoIP communications.

Starting with just a two server set up, we progressed to the one currently under-pinning our service today. SureVoIP® runs its own MPLS-enabled network, allowing it to remain independent, and to retain control and quality.

All equipment is doubly redundant, with peering to an extensive network of partners. SureVoIP® is a member of LINX, LONAP, IXScotland and IXManchester.

This means our connectivity customers have their traffic brought straight to our network, bypassing the public internet. If they take VoIP from us, then this receives priority, ensuring their phone calls are of the highest possible quality.

Having taken the time to build a resilient network suitable for delivering a genuine, business-critical service, SureVoIP® then started a long journey to build relationships with the big national players.

Working inconjunction with Ofcom and BT, we established our call routing, and negotiated the legislation involved.

What this means in practise is that SureVoIP® has moved up the food chain. We are now communicating with BT on a regulated level, discussing projects and contracts as equals.

From there on, it was the journey of developing and continually improving our services to our customers.

The most recent part of our journey is our move into mobile SIM cards.

With a SureVoIP® SIM card, users have the advantage of a fully free roaming SIM card, that will work with any of the main providers. No need to change SIM, swap phones, or miss calls when travelling. If (and when) the provider loses service, then your SureVoIP® SIM will switch to another Provider automatically.

The SIM card will operate as part of an overall VoIP system, so if you have a service with us then we can carry over many features to work with your mobile. This is predicted to be most beneficial to companies and corporations with large numbers of staff working out the office. Large staff deployments who requiring to communicate with the office or other staff members will benefit from using SureVoIP® SIMs.

The Importance Of Correct Equipment

As the internet becomes increasingly important in all aspects of our lives, so we find ourselves having to think ahead regarding hardware provision. It seems as if no sooner have you caught up than the game has moved on! There is no point now in providing for your requirements today – you need to be thinking further ahead.

This is particularly relevant when running a business. Your connectivity hardware is no longer safe to be left in the hands of free, proprietary equipment. The routers sent out as part of a home-based set up are not appropriate to a business environment. In fact, they could be potentially damaging.

There could be security issues, which aren’t being addressed. The hardware firmware could be lagging behind, leaving it unable to work with other equipment or settings. It might be impossible to alter any of these things. After all, the company aren’t making any money from supplying the equipment. Think of it this way – if you had given someone something for free and they came back to complain, would you be inclined to help?

At SureVoIP®, we are understandably focussed on VoIP. The issues experienced regarding a VoIP system range from Router settings blocking traffic altogether, to voice quality being detrimentally affected by hardware configuration which can’t be over-written.

Another problem we frequently encounter is handsets being exposed to the general internet, allowing hackers to exploit this equipment for fraudulent use. This is directly due to the Router being inadequately secure. Consumer-grade equipment is not designed to combat these threats.

This is one of the main differences between business-grade and consumer-grade equipment.

Internal settings can be set by the equipment supplier (eg a broadband provider). It is often the case that these settings are harmful in a business environment, particularly when using a VoIP system.

This is why we supply Draytek Routers from our online store, and advise all customers taking connectivity products from us to invest in a good quality, business-grade router. Drayetk are our first choice, as they are well made and designed with business use in mind.

As a supplier of true business-grade connectivity, we feel that Draytek support our offering well, and work with us to achieve a common goal. It can sometimes feel as is consumer-grade equipment is actively working against you!

In an environment where success or failure now relies on your internet connection, it isn’t an exageration to say that good quality internet Router is a valuable asset which you won’t regret buying, and a bad quality one is something you will regret on a daily basis!

For more info on internet, connectivity hardware, or any related questions, just get in touch. We’ll be happy to help.

Making A Good Impression: How VoIP Can Help A Sole Trader Or Micro-Business

Many smaller businesses struggle to make an impression. When up against the big players in a market place, it can be difficult to make yourself stand out. And how do you become bigger when the bigger guys are competing against you.

The answer could lie in a VoIP system.

With the potential to give a load of additional features, a VoIP system will allow a smaller business to appear like a larger one. An IVR menu can guide calls as they come in, giving a better customer experience and giving the appearance of a larger company.

Music on Hold gives the same advantages, as do Ring Groups directing calls.

Sole Traders can benefit from a Memorable Number, a local number area code, a virtual land-line sending calls to a mobile, or a one-person set-up delivering a VoIP service.

A micro-business (defined as one employing fewer than 10 employees) can also reap the benefits of a VoIP system. They might have more sophisticated requirements than the one-man band. They may need more sophisticated call routing for a larger staff count, and the ability to transfer call between users. A VoIP system allows much more complicated phone set ups than were traditionally possible.

A Hosted VoIP system will send calls to any of the users specified when a caller rings up, and the system will then allocate calls according to the user’s wishes. One, two, three or all phones can ring when the main number is called. Calls can be passed to a dedicated person, or a team. You can use a receptionist to answer calls, an answer team, or an independent call answering service.

If you don’t want to employ a receptionist, then a a menu auto-attendant (where you hear a voice which, for example, prompts: “Press one for sales, two for accounts” ) can guide callers to the correct person or department. Just one of the many enhanced features available on many Hosted VoIP services, this saves staff time, and enhances the customer experience.

Even Music on Hold can help. Think of the difference between being on hold with music, and being on hold without. One experience is pleasant and the time goes by, the other seems to take an eternity.

All these things make for an improved experience for customers. Smaller organisations seem bigger. A room with one person in it makes the same impression as a building with various teams and departments. The upshot of it all is customers feel happier and more reassured doing business with a smaller company.

Which, of course, is a good way for a small company to become a larger one.

SureVoIP Best Business ITSP (Medium Enterprise) 2015 Finalist

SureVoIP is delighted to make the finalists’ shortlist for the 2015 ITSPA Best Business ITSP (Medium Enterprise) award.

The Award is open to companies offering a VoIP service to medium size enterprises for more than 10 and less than 150 employees/seats.

The company winning this category must provide the best all round voice service to medium size businesses. This company has to provide a good selection of business features, including multiple telephone numbers; call queuing as well as support for remote workers.

Entrants were also required to submit details of its operation, a case study for review and undergo two months of technical testing which examined reliability, stability and quality of its VoIP service. A panel of independent experts have chosen the winners based on their written self-assessments and providing they have passed the benchmark testing metrics.

The winners are announced on the 19th March 2015.