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How to Select Telephone Systems & Services to Fit Your Needs

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1 How to Select Telephone Systems & Services to Fit Your Needs
Introduction to Telecommunication Equipment: PBX, ACD, IVR, CMS, CAS and Workforce Management or How to Select Telephone Systems & Services to Fit Your Needs Bill Brackin Program Director, North Sound 2-1-1 And Telephone Systems Manager Volunteers of America Western Washington

2 Telephone Services Telephone Systems Dial Tone Long Distance
Networking Telephone Systems Centrex with Single Line Phones Software as a Service with Single Line Phones Switches Digital Switch VoIP Switch PBX Optional Special Features

3 POTS = “Plain old telephone line”
Telephone Services Dial Tone - POTS Lines POTS = “Plain old telephone line” POTS lines are the simplest telephone line you can buy. They are often referred to as “business lines”. Even in complex applications POTS lines have their place. They provide backup lines, fax lines, and other simple applications. They are usually delivered as analog lines.

4 Dial Tone – T Carrier Lines
Telephone Services Dial Tone – T Carrier Lines T1 means any data circuit (including voice packets) that runs at the Mb/second line rate. T-1’s are point-to-point digital lines that can have multiple unique numbers (DIDs) assigned. Each T-1 is a dedicated leased digital line that is connected to a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) from the central office (CO). Features are provided by your telephone system. T2 and T3 circuit channels carry multiple T1 channels multiplexed, resulting in transmission rates of and Mbit/sec, respectively.

5 Dial Tone – T Carrier Lines
Telephone Services Dial Tone – T Carrier Lines T1s come in a couple of versions T1, which has 24 paths for incoming and/or outgoing traffic. T1 PRI, which in North American includes 23 voice channels + 1 data channel. The D channel carries control and signaling information, including caller ID. Fractional T , 348, 512, 768 Kbps services providing less than 23 voice channels.

6 Telephone Services Long Distance Services – 3 Classes
In the United States, long distance can refer to three different classes of calls that are not local toll-free calls. The most common class of long-distance is often called interstate long-distance, though the more accurate term is inter-LATA interstate long distance. Another form of long-distance, increasingly relevant to more U.S. states, is known as inter-LATA intrastate long distance. This refers to a calling area outside of the customer’s LATA but within the customer's state. Often, in large LATAs, there is also a class known by the oxymoronic name local long distance, which refers to calls within the customer's LATA but outside of their local calling area. This is sometimes also referred to as intra-LATA long distance.

7 Telephone Services Long Distance Services – Purchasing
Before buying any long distance services make sure you know what rate will be charged for each of these three categories. Intra-LATA calls can legally be billed at a much higher rate than are Inter-LATA calls, and often are. This may be a point of negotiation. It is also very important to know the approximate minutes of each of these categories of calls that your agency makes, so that you can evaluate the financial impact of a long distance proposal on your agency specifically. You can buy long distance services from your dial tone provider, or anyone else you want to do business with. You will need to tell your dial tone provider which long distance carrier you are going with, because they need to program that into their systems.

8 Telephone Services Long Distance Services – Slamming and PIC Freezes
“Slamming” is the illegal practice of changing a consumer's telephone service—local (intra-LATA), toll (inter-LATA intrastate), long distance (inter-LATA inter-state), or international—without permission. To prevent slamming you can arrange in advance with the local exchange carrier (local telephone company) to initiate a “PIC Freeze” to prevent unauthorized changing of the long distance telephone carrier. It stipulates that your carrier may not be changed without your written consent. This feature is free of charge. If in the future you want to change carriers, remember to submit a written request to remove the PIC Freeze before placing your change order.

9 Telephone Services Networking
If you plan on tying together multiple locations into a common telephone and/or data system, you will need to design a networking system. Your specific telephone system may dictate the options that you have available to you. Some systems won’t work well with DSL networks, for example. Some work very well with them. Networking is a very technical area, and your IT staff or consultant should help you make this choice. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of “dumb” questions. This is complicated stuff, and each option comes with good and bad features, security considerations, installation and operational costs, maintenance and support issues, and more.

10 Telephone Services Networking
Here are some, but not all, of the many items to consider: Is your telephone system VoIP capable or not? Size of the data packets that your VoIP telephone system sends across the network. The reliability of each type of networking service. Is the proposed network “point-to-point”, “cloud”, or some other design? Who manages the maintenance, security, and upgrades? Do you need to purchase the routers, or are they provided as part of the service? Does your telephone system have the capacity to add the networking service, and if not, what will it cost to add that capacity? How long of a contract must you sign in order to get a reasonable price? Is the provider using “compression”, and if so, how much? Can the vendor give you access to existing customers who are using the proposed system in a similar way to what you are proposing?

11 Switching Software is Located Here Local Central Office (CO)
Telephone Systems Centrex with Single Line Phones Switching Software is Located Here Call Center or Agency Agent at Home Local Central Office (CO) Centrex lines are analog lines provided by the local telephone service provider that provide programmable features on the line. The cost is based on usage and features programmed for each line and monthly service fee. Hardware and software maintenance is included in the monthly costs. No technical staff is required to operate such a system. Agents can easily be set up to work from home.

12 Telephone Systems Software as a Service with Single Line Phones or Telephone Systems Switching Software is Located Here Call Center or Agency Local Central Office (CO) Agent at Home SAAS Provider Switch (s) “Software as a Service” rides on analog or digital lines provided by the local telephone service provider. It includes additional routing, call center management, voice mail, etc. provided by a different provider than your local telephone company. The cost is based on usage and features programmed for each line and a monthly or per-call service fee. Hardware and software maintenance and upgrades are included in the monthly costs. There may be an initial setup fee. No technical staff is required to operate such a system. Agents can easily work from home, and center can easily be relocated during emergencies and disasters.

13 Telephone Systems Switches
A telephone switch is a system of electronic components that connects telephone calls. It is hardware that is controlled by software in modern telephone systems. In the past switching was often done manually. A switch can be located in a local or long distance telephone company’s office or on your premises. Telephone switches are a small part of the large telephone network. When a switch is in-house, it is often referred to as the telephone system or PBX (Private Branch Exchange). In-house switches require you to pay for maintenance and hardware and software upgrades as needed. They are more challenging to set up for at-home agents, and are not as easily relocated during emergencies or disasters. They usually need you to hire technical staff or to contract with a maintenance provider to make changes, upgrades, or maintenance. In large agencies, where IT staff is already available, they may provide a lower cost solution.

14 Telephone Systems Digital Switch
A digital switch is a type of switch that connects two or more digital circuits together. It is a type of switch that has been used by telephone companies, agencies, and businesses for a long time. They operate on time tested and reliable telephone engineering. If you have a switch that is five or more years old, you probably have a digital switch.

15 Telephone Systems VoIP Switch
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) refers to communications services—voice, facsimile, and/or voice-messaging applications—that are transported via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The basic steps involved in originating an Internet telephone call are conversion of the analog voice signal to digital format and compression/translation of the signal into Internet protocol (IP) packets for transmission over the Internet; the process is reversed at the receiving end.

16 Telephone Systems VoIP Switch
Other terms frequently encountered and synonymous with VoIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband (VoBB), broadband telephony, and broadband phone. Because these systems connect telephones and switches by way of the Internet, they are typically easier for IT staff to deal with than digital switches. They do require firewall security systems, as do computer networks.

17 Telephone Systems VoIP Switch – Quality of Service Considerations
The underlying IP network is inherently unreliable, in contrast to the circuit-switched public telephone network. It does not inherently provide a mechanism to ensure that data packets are delivered in sequential order or provide Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees. Because of this VoIP implementations face problems mitigating latency and jitter. The receiving node must restructure IP packets that may be out of order, delayed or missing, while ensuring that the audio stream maintains a proper time consistency. Variation in delay is called jitter.

18 Telephone Systems VoIP Switch – Power Considerations
Traditional residential and business analog POTS line services are usually connected directly to telephone company phone lines. They provide direct current to power most the basic analog handsets independently of locally available power. In a VoIP installation you must plan for power and power backups, since the phones, servers, and switches will not work without local power being supplied.

19 Telephone Systems VoIP Switch – 911 Considerations
A fixed line phone has a direct relationship between a telephone number and a physical location. If an emergency call comes to 911 from that number, then the physical location is known. In the IP world it is not so simple. A broadband provider may know the location where the wires terminate, but this does not necessarily allow the mapping of an IP address to that location. IP addresses are often dynamically assigned, so the ISP may allocate an address for online access, or at the time a broadband router is engaged. The ISP recognizes individual IP addresses, but does not necessarily know what physical location to which it corresponds. The broadband service provider knows the physical location, but is not necessarily tracking the IP addresses in use. Since IP is portable, the location may be a moving target calls will often mis-locate the caller. This has resulted in known deaths because of responders being directed to an old or incorrect address. It is critical that you maintain tables in your VoIP phone system to locate all extensions.

20 Telephone Systems VoIP Switch
With all of these considerations VoIP has still become the standard. Why? Low cost, especially when combined with Internet, cable TV, and computer data networking. Easily transportable. Software can be placed on a laptop to mimic a telephone set. This is called a softphone. VoIP service is nearly indistinguishable from the PSTN. VoIP phones allow VoIP calls without the use of a computer. Of course, Internet connectivity is still required. VoIP allows for more flexibility and interchangeability of software and hardware in many cases.

21 Telephone Systems VoIP Switch Internet Cloud
Fractional T1 512k Remote Agent Internet Cloud Call Center Central Office 256k committed rate Full T m 384k committed rate Central Office Call Center Central Office Call Center VoIP – Hardware and software that allows people to use Internet protocols to make telephone calls.

22 Telephone Systems PBX A private branch exchange (PBX) is a telephone switch that serves a particular business or office, as opposed to one that a telephone company operates for many businesses or for the general public. PBXs make connections among the internal telephones of a private organization and also connect them to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) via trunk lines like T1s. PBXs are differentiated from “key systems" in that users of key systems manually select their own outgoing lines, while PBXs select the outgoing line automatically. Hybrid systems combine features of both.

23 Optional Special Features
Telephone Systems Optional Special Features Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) Skills Based Routing Voice, , Fax, Chat Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Speech recognition Call Center Software Call Recording Call Accounting Voice Mail Workforce Management (WFM) Online Hiring Software Integrated Training Tools Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) Work at Home or Remote Agents Contact Management System (CMS) And more….

24 Telephone Systems Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
Routing incoming calls is the task of the ACD system. ACD systems are often found in call centers or offices that handle large volumes of incoming phone calls from callers who have no need to talk to a specific person but who require assistance from any of multiple persons (e.g., customer service representatives) at the earliest opportunity. The routing strategy is a rule-based set of instructions that tells the ACD how calls are handled inside the system. This capability may include , fax, and/or chat as well as voice. Many switches already include an ACD in their software.

25 Telephone Systems Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
Skills Based Routing Call routing can send calls to the agent best suited to handle that call. For example, Spanish speaking callers can be routed to agents who speak Spanish if they are available. A person with disabilities can be routed to an agent who specializes in services and resources for persons with diabilities. Call routing can also be based on other factors such as the caller ID of the caller, the number that was dialed by the caller, a database that establishes priority of certain callers, etc.

26 Telephone Systems Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
IVR is an interactive technology that allows a computer to detect voice (speech recognition) and keypad inputs. IVR allows customers to access a company’s database via a telephone touchtone keypad or by speech recognition, after which they can service their own inquiries by following the instructions. IVR systems can respond with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct users on how to proceed. IVR systems can be used to control almost any function where the interface can be broken down into a series of simple menu choices.

27 Telephone Systems Call Center Software Call Recording
Many telephones systems come with ACD built in, but if you want more than just call distribution, you will need to add call center software, and possibly a server, to your telephone system. These usually provide a better agent interface through their computer screen, a customizable real-time supervisor screen, statistical reports, and more. Call Recording Call recording software or call logging software allows a party to record a telephone conversation to a digital file, usually in .wav or mp3 format.

28 Telephone Systems Call Accounting Voice Mail
A Call Accounting System is a software or hardware application that captures, records, and costs telephone usage events. Call accounting systems detect outbound and inbound calls, call ring outs, call routings, abandoned calls, and other activities. Voice Mail Voice Mail is a centralized system of managing telephone messages for a large group of people.

29 Telephone Systems Workforce Management (WFM) Online Hiring Software
Workforce management software provides a tool to manage scheduling needs for the agency. WFM collects information on the number, length and time of day of calls and calculates the number staff needed for each shift. It also provides trends from historical data with a variety of reports. Managers use Workforce software for planning meetings, time off or vacation time for staffing based on service levels. Online Hiring Software Some systems offer optional hiring management software that pre-screens candidates, introduces the applicants to your company, gives online tests, and introduces the candidates to the position that is being offered.

30 Telephone Systems Integrated Training Tools
Call centers often have slow times. Integrated Training Tools can observe slow periods and feed short training modules to idle agents to make the best use of the time. These trainings can be linked to assessment tools in some systems so that the training modules are the ones that will be most helpful to that specific agent. Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) CTI enriches your caller’s experience by retrieving caller-specific information and matching it with the best agent to help them. Also, the screen pop feature saves both the caller’s and the agent’s time by automatically opening the right screen directly to the agent's desktop.  Finally, CTI lets a caller utilize self-service by getting or setting his own account information over the phone without talking to a live agent.

31 Telephone Systems Work at Home or remote Agents
Functionality in your telephone system or services that allow agents to work from home, relocate to another location, or to work in a mobile environment. Check with your vendors to see what you need to do to add this functionality. Contact Management System (CMS) A Contact Management System (CMS) is an integrated solution that allows organizations to record relationships and interactions with their callers. This information includes all s, documents, jobs, faxes, calendar and more.

32 And more….. If you can think of it, a telephone systems manufacturer has probably already developed a system to handle it. Ask your vendors. Questions???

33 More Information Bill Brackin, Program Director North Sound 2-1-1

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