Moving to VoIP? What you need to know
When moving to VoIP from a traditional telephone system there are a few things you need to be aware of.
The transition is normally a relatively smooth process but there can be a few ‘gotchas’ which are mostly out of your control. It always helps to know what to expect throughout the process so there aren’t any unwanted surprises.
Not Porting Numbers Straight Away
In the first instance it’s recommended to setup number forwards from your current telephone provider instead of trying to move your phone numbers to a new provider straight away. Before you ever request any numbers to be ported it’s important you check no other services are tied to those numbers like alarms or internet services.
Number porting itself can be tricky and sometimes there are issues at the ITSP (your new Internet Telephone Service Provider, think of them of the ‘Spark’ of the VoIP world). So we like to split out sending the new VoIP system live and porting your phone numbers away from your current phone provider into two different tasks. In our experience it’s best to go live first, and port numbers second.
If there are any problems when your new VoIP system goes live, taking this approach gifts you a very simple rollback method to your old phone system while any bugs are ironed out. VoIP systems while simple in concept, require a well configured network to run on. In most instances if there are kinks in the network, it’s from issues which weren’t apparent before go live.
VoIP systems rely on real-time services and they are much more susceptible to problems from a poorly designed network. In general your computers & servers are more resilient to network problems which is why it takes a system like VoIP to be installed to highlight existing issues.
Not Advertising Caller ID’s
While your phone numbers are still getting ported you may need to block your caller ID for outgoing phone calls.
Our preferred ITSP is 2talk and they, like other providers, sometimes have issues with showing your phone number as the outgoing number until it is fully ported into their system.
We always do our best for our clients, but we rely completely on 2talk’s systems to provide outbound calling identification.
All this means is if there is an issue, you may have to configure the system to show up as calling from a private number until your number ports are complete.
Don’t Cancel Yet
One mistake we’ve seen during this transition period is some people cancel their old phone accounts because their new phones are working. This is a very bad mistake and could mean you lose your phone numbers completely.
Wait until your number ports have completely come across to your new ITSP until you do that. Ideally you would wait until your VoIP installer (someone like us) tells you it’s ok to close your old phone accounts.
Your Number Ports Are Ready, what now?!
It’s the day of number porting so what should you expect?
We’ve ported literally thousands of phone numbers and have seen all types of issues. As you can imagine switching a phone number from one provider to another (even if it wasn’t VoIP), has a lot of moving parts behind the scenes.
This process is completely handled by your old phone provider and your new ITSP. The request is simply submitted and then you wait for a notification email confirming the port is complete.
Sometimes the numbers don’t port properly and you may need to go to your ITSP for support, or possibly chase up your old phone provider.
As this part is completely out of anyones control, the responsibility for an error free transition lies with your ITSP.
If a number port is accepted they normally go through without much hassle and you can expect maybe five to twenty minutes of incoming call downtime once your numbers have been moved. This is unavoidable but only has to be done once.
We like to order the number ports in the afternoon and they’re typically done out of hours. Most times you won’t even notice the number ports have happened. One thing to note is you cannot choose exactly what time this will happen. So once again, please know you are at the mercy of your old telephone provider and new telephone provider throughout this whole process.
We always do our absolute best to ensure our clients don’t notice any downtime during this process. In the rare occasion something does go wrong we work as fast as we can with your old & new providers to get any problems fixed as quickly as possible. Knowing what can go wrong will hopefully help you get issues promptly resolved if you’re attempting to make the move to VoIP on your own.
Finally, don’t be surprised if you, or you VoIP installer, has to request your phone numbers to be ported repeatedly. Big telco’s like Spark, or Vodafone especially, can make it quite difficult to release your phone numbers. Legally (at least in New Zealand) if you can show you pay for a phone number, that number is yours and you are allowed to take it to any telephone provider you like.
So you can understand why they make this difficult…. if they lose your number they’re normally losing your business too.
They do this by rejecting the number port for the simplest of errors. A great example is Vodafone rejecting a number port because the account number is incorrect. What they don’t tell you is the account number they give you on your telephone bill, may not be the internal account number they use to identify your phone numbers. Vodafone are by far the worst for this.
With a little patience, and sometimes a lot of work on our behalf, we always get the job done for our clients. Don’t be put off by this, VoIP is a great solution and the potential cost savings are huge.