Time Warner (Spectrum) Business had some major issues yesterday with its voice services in Texas. We fielded calls all morning from clients all over the state that they were not able to receive inbound phone calls. After checking into a few of them, we finally got the jist that it was, at minimum, a local Spectrum issue and seemed like it was indeed the whole state. It was a bit later before we confirmed that not only Texas but also areas of California were included in the outage. 2 weeks prior we had a similar, but much less wide-spread, outage limited to the Corpus Christi area.
So what can you do about this? There are multiple options to protect against something like this. The first thing to realize, though, is that it isn’t your phone system. Your phone system is operating just fine…it’s your phone service. The phone lines feeding in to the phone system from a Spectrum, Centurylink, AT&T, etc… (your phone service provider) are the problem. These lines, while usually quite reliable, are susceptible to being dug up, cut, or (perhaps even worse) having an outage like yesterday which originated at the carrier’s “Central Office”– which is what they call the building or facility where your phone service comes from. That’s kinda what this outage was yesterday, only quite a bit worse. This one looked like a problem with their whole system rather than just one local Central Office.
So, (#1) you can have your phone company setup Emergency Call Routing to a designated phone number (like a cell phone) in case the phone lines fail–not a bad solution if you have low enough call volume. This involves simply calling your phone provider (or using their “portal”)(when your lines are up) and having them setup a point where your calls go should the lines go down.
Or (#2) you can get a 2nd set of phone lines coming from a completely separate phone company coming in to your phone system (not cheap, but a good option if you’re mission critical). We need to make sure your phone system has the capacity for this and find a phone company that is truly separate (not just reselling services from another phone company).
Or (#3) you could get SIP phone lines that come in via your Internet connection (less expensive and can some offer emergency use packages, but you need good internet). Again, we need to make sure your phone system can handle SIP phone lines (aka SIP trunks) and that your internet connection can support the additional traffic (and you may even want to have redundant internet connections).
Or (#4) you could get a Cloud Hosted Phone System so instead of your phone system being at your building and susceptible to these sort of outages, it’s hosted somewhere else off site and probably has built in redundancy to deal with issues like this. This is essentially subplanting your phone system with a Cloud model. Concerns here would be the monthly cost and making sure you have a redundant internet connection, but most cloud providers can direct calls to individual cell phones as well should your internet go down (or even you just happen to be away from your desk).
We’d be happy to explore any of these options with you and we can help with all of them. There is no one size fits all model here, we just want you to know there are options and we can help you find the option that fits your business needs the best.
Pyramid Communications is a Unified Communications Provider headquartered in Corpus Christi, TX. Pyramid deals primarily in ShoreTel Unified Communications systems, but can also service many other types of phone systems. We can also handle your structured cabling needs, Video Conferencing via LifeSize, Wireless, and most anything else communications related. Pyramid is a division of Richline Technical Services (RTS) which is a Managed IT Services Provider. We provide helpdesk and network management to small and medium businesses as well as consulting and network design services to large companies, city and county governments as well as school districts. Together we are your one stop shop for almost anything technology related.
Josh Richline is one of the Owners of RTS and is certified by Microsoft, Citrix, ShoreTel, Sonicwall, Lifesize, Ruckus, US Sailing and others. He specializes in VoIP, large networking projects and sailing.