Contributed by Alon Cohen, EVP/CTO at Phone.com
Many businesses today have begun to switch to Internet-based telephony, or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Many benefit from the vast operating cost savings and flexibility of hosted cloud based VoIP solutions where there are no capital expenses involved in the installation of a new system. Some still rely on a local PBX but connect it to the world using VoIP Trunks or what is known as SIP Trunking.
Most SMBs rely on the public Internet to achieve VoIP connectivity. Hence, even the best hosted solution provider will not be able to deliver the service if the last mile Internet connectivity is severed. Unfortunately, adding redundant failsafe Internet connectivity or a private network makes most solutions very expensive and sometimes very hard to achieve with today’s geographic monopoly by some vendors. On top of that, commercial buildings, in NY for example, might not allow more than one vendor into the building.
Since customers kept looking for a cost effective solution for disaster recovery, Phone.com created the following set of solutions to match different size offices.
A business that already owns a PBX and a SIP trunk can set up a “parallel” Phone.com hosted PBX solution that mimics the company’s phone tree and call routing except that, in the event of emergency, when the office Internet connectivity is out, the calls can be forwarded to employees’ cell phones instead of the SIP trunk. In case the SIP provider fails, the company re-routes its main number to an alternate hosted VoIP solution such as Phone.com and continues working almost as if nothing happened. The recovery time will depend on how fast the main phone number routing can be switched to the alternate provider.
This is where the following solution - in a matter of seconds, switching the main number over to an alternate destination - can save the day. It works for large businesses but is most valuable for smaller businesses.
For these smaller businesses, instead of hosting the main company phone number with Phone.com, the company can host the number with a cell phone provider such as ATT Wireless (assuming you believe that they provide 99.999% up time). The cell number is then set (using this as a disaster recovery cell phone) to forward all calls to Phone.com. This way, the small business can enjoy the wide range of VoIP service features and functions. On top of that, the Phone.com service uses that main cell phone number (now with the cellular company) as the company's caller ID for outbound calls.
In a normal situation Phone.com handles all the calls and directs them to employees’ IP phones or cell phones. Now if the Internet connectivity to the business fails, the company can re-direct the calls to any available cell phone of their employees still using Phone.com services. However in case Phone.com fails, the company can (from that disaster recovery cell phone) redirect all calls to their alternative hosted telephony solution provider that supports the company phone tree similar to the previous solution and will forward the calls to employees’ cell phones until the problem is fixed.
The cost of that solution is very small in comparison to other redundancy options available in the market. For instance, setting up such a parallel solution with Phone.com as a stand-by can cost as little as $15/month. There is also the cost of going through the cellular provider where an unlimited plan is expected to work very nicely. And if you are wondering, based on tests that I did with an AT&T wireless number, they will forward concurrent calls as well, which is key in selecting the right wireless provider for the job.
Editor note: the views & opinions expressed herein are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of ff Venture Capital.