Frequently Asked Questions

These are the questions, and answers, we get asked the most so we hope these will answer your questions too. If, however, there is a question we haven’t answered, give us a call on 020 8912 0845 or email us and we will answer your question, as well as adding it to the list.

Voice over Internet Protocol – the modern equivalent of a PBX. Instead of dedicated on site equipment the technology is held in a data centre and accessed via the internet. Instead of a capital purchase users pay a monthly licence fee per user. Customers still need to buy phones although some companies offer rental or lease deals. Users need to watch out that many VOIP providers are not signed up to the ombudsman. Unless FTTC is available then customers will need a separate broadband for VOIP from their data if they have more than 3 users as a guide..

Private Branch Exchange – also known as a phone system. The traditional way for companies ie having a box on their wall to which the phones on desks are connected. Provides the functionality such as call divert, call transfer, voicemail, announcements etc.   Traditionally a large capital purchase. Some suppliers now offering 0% interest finance. Also a favourite area for the sale of dodgy lease hire arrangements.

Session Initiated Protocol – the modern equivalent to ISDN. Enables phone systems to connect via the internet to make and receive calls. The cost per channel is about half that of an ISDN but it does require a data connection.   For those companies with ISDN unless FTTC (see below) is available and no spare data capacity exists it is not cost effective until 60 channels are required. It is cheaper to set up than ISDN for new sites.   Also offers greater flexibility in terms of adding and removing channels.   Enables businesses to retain a number if moving to a new area eg a company in Bristol could use a London number.   Easier to divert calls in the event of a disaster / system failure.   Can also be used to support remote workers Some older phone systems will not work with SIP whereas the vast majority of new ones do.

Both ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) and PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) will be turned off in 2025. Even older systems will start to be phased out in 2020. It is at that point that BT will stop taking order for ISDN lines.

They are being phased out for the simple reason that they are out of date. IP-based solutions are replacing them.

Traditional broadband as found at home and used for internet access. Maximum speeds are 20mbs down and 1.2mbs up.   Various packages available some have a cap of usage others are unlimited. Many small business try and use residential packages are cheaper for a good reason and are not designed for business use and have slower fix times.

Special type of broadband which increases upstream speed by sacrificing downstream speed. More expensive and not available nationally. Good for companies such as video productions, architects etc who are regularly uploading last files.

One of the factors that separates cheaper residential broadband from business broadband. It measures how many users are sharing the line back to the exchange. Residential connections are often 40:1 or 50:1 meaning your speeds are affected by the extent of usage of other connections.   Business connections are typically 10:1.

Direct Dial – A feature on ISDN services that enables each user to have their own phone number and have calls routed directly to them without going via a receptionist.

Ethernet First Mile – a dedicated business circuit with a 1:1 contention aimed at businesses who need a faster internet connection. Come with a full service level agreement and fix time. Can be expensive to set up although there is a Government voucher scheme in some cities.

A product unique to BT. It is like a PSTN but is aimed at offices of 2 – 10 people who do not have a phone system but require features such as Hunt Group, call transfer or call divert. Expensive compared to VOIP and often mis-sold to customers who require a basic line for fax, broadband or credit card machines (PDQs).

Fibre to the Cabinet – business equivalent of the Infinity service advertised. Offers speeds of up to 80Mbs down and 20Mbs upstream.   BT want a two year contract whereas 1 year deals are available from some providers – unlimited usage deals available from around £28 excluding phone line. Not available nationally and Government policy is focusing rollout on residential areas.

Software phone in PBX and VOIP to route incoming callers to a number of users either in sequence or ringing a number of phones at the same time. Can be an alternative to receptionists or also popular in help desk and sales environments.

Integrated Switched Digital Network – For use with phone systems (PBXs). It comes in two forms ISDN2 and ISDN 30.   ISDN2 connections will support 2 simultaneous calls and ISDN 30 will support between 8 and 30 calls. (generally known as channels) Both ISDN2 and ISDN 30 connections can be combined in multiple eg 4 ISDN2 connections will support 8 calls. ISDN also has the advantage over PSTNs in that fix times are quicker and they support DDIs. There are about 3 million ISDN connections in the UK but are gradually being superseded by SIP.

Integrated Voice Response also known as Auto Attendants – these are the press 1, press 2 solutions that many of use hate. But very many companies use them to route callers to appropriate member of staff.

Local Loop Unbundled – a type of broadband mainly offered by Talk Talk and Virgin. Not connected to BT network – generally cheaper but difficult and sometimes impossible to transfer to another provider.

A code required to transfer a broadband from one provider to another. Should be issued with 5 days valid for 30 days

The term for grouping PSTNs or Analogue lines together so that more than one simultaneous call can be made or received on the same number.

An industry term (Public Switched Telephone Network) for an analogue line as you would have at home – required for broadband, fax or alarms.   If used for the latter they cannot be used for anything else.

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