If your business is like most, you probably get your voice and data services from one provider. This is not a problem as long as that provider never goes down. Unfortunately, the likelihood that this provider has an outage is not an “if” scenario, but a “when” scenario.
The question you should consider now is what will you do when that inevitable day arrives. With some easy-to-implement steps, you can prevent your business from coming to a screeching halt when your carrier crashes. The key to a preventative plan is to set up a redundant system. Don’t let the name fool you. You don’t need to double the telephony and data bandwidth you currently use; you just need to set up your current system with some built in fail-safes.
Here are some simple things you can do to assure that your voice and data services don’t simultaneously go down.
1. The easiest approach to protect your business is to use different carriers for your voice and data services. The odds of both carriers having a major network outage at the same time are extremely rare. Therefore, even if one carrier goes down, you will still be able to conduct business via the live service from the alternate carrier. To take advantage of this approach, when installing a T-1 or a PRI for voice, you should always keep a few POTS (plain old telephone service) lines available in the event of a carrier crash. If the T-1 fails you can still receive calls and make calls on the POTS lines.
2. The phone service for most office buildings connects at what is called the “entrance facility,” also known as the Dmarc or MPOE (minimum point of entry). If your building has more than one entrance facility (and most do), divide your service up so that one carrier is providing service through one entrance facility and another provider through a different entrance facility.
3. If you have more than one T-1, make sure they are on 2 different DS3’s. A T-1 can crash for many reasons, with the two most common being your DS3 goes out or a smart jack goes bad and requires the LEC to either replace the card in the smart jack or replace the smart jack altogether.
4. Have the carrier map your circuits to different POPS or DS3’s — this will minimize your downtime.
5. As a back-up to your Internet, make sure you follow the same rules for voice when it comes to data. If you have more than one T-1 of Internet, make sure your T-1s are on two different DS3′s or POPS (point of presence). For under $100 a month we recommend you install a cable or DSL Internet connection as a back-up.
6. Make sure your phone/data room has plenty of ventilation and the room is kept at 70° or lower. Without proper ventilation and cooling your equipment can easily overheat. Once this occurs, aside from taking your system down, you could cause permanent damage to your hardware. Then you will have to deal with financial consequences on two fronts: lost productivity/profits and replacing expensive equipment.
7. Take advantage of a service that carriers offer called DTO (direct trunk overflow). If your voice circuit fails, your calls will automatically be rerouted to another location or POTS lines at your location.
8. Make sure your phone system has a battery back-up.
If one of the carriers you work with does go down, it may not be business as usual, but at least, with these measures in place, you will still be in business.