As we begin to use Cloud products every day, we’re conditioned to believe technology just works.
So when we buy services such as IP telephony, the frustration associated with poor quality voice and video performance is not only bad for productivity but often impacts a business’s bottom line.
In our review, we discuss the overall licence features and what your business must consider to successfuly procure Cloud Voice services. If you're looking for pricing, we're offering a 10% discount an all orders placed via the channel. Visit our product page to learn more.
The traditional ISDN PBX vs. Cloud Voice
The BT IP voice platform replaces on-site PBX hardware by moving the intelligence to the cloud (the BT network).
These newer technology services are classed as virtual - in this respect; you are no longer managing and maintaining the aforementioned hardware. This approach means features are continuously added and updated with new patches and enhancements deployed automatically. A major benefit of hosted telephony.
The overall value proposition surrounds flexibility vs. your precise needs, businesses require various licence types to fit the specific requirements of users. For example, some users will be office based, others will work out in the field or from home and require access via tablet or mobile.
ISDN calls charges were typically calculated on pence per minute rates. In keeping with the flexibility of Cloud Voice services, there are new call bundle options including pay as you go to help manage costs and ease cash flow. Then there's the ability to grow, as your business size increases, cloud functionality and further call packs can be added.
What will your business require to run Cloud Voice?
Essentially, a BT Internet connection, a call plan and compatible IP phone handset or the services are available via a client application.
A component of the sales process involves checking the predicted performance of your access. This test is undoubtedly important when using BT Broadband as an access method.
Current BT products are as follows:
- BT Infinity Premium: 76Mbps / 19Mbps
- BT Infinity Unlimited: 38Mbps / 9.5Mbps
- BT Business Broadband: 17Mbps / 0.9Mbps
- BTNet Internet Ethernet Leased Line: 100Mbps or 1Gbps with tiers, e.g. 100Mbps tiered at 10Mbps
Bandwidth, or lack of it, is one of the primary reasons cloud-based applications do not perform.
Each concurrent voice call over IP will require 100k per user. The rate at which bandwidth is consumed is dictated by a feature called the CODEC. Good voice quality is achieved typically when the G711 CODEC is used.
While this may be getting too deep into the weeds, the way to think about this is by using simple maths.
If your current Broadband is supporting 2Mbps upstream (for example), your connectivity would potentially support 20 concurrent calls.
Of course, this would only apply to a broadband which is not being used for any other application, i.e. Internet browsing. As Broadband circuits are often shared, BT configures QoS (Quality of Service) to prioritise your traffic outbound to avoid congestion issues.
Even with QoS, we recommend considering how much utilisation your Broadband circuit is being subjected to as this will dictate whether a standalone circuit is required.
With BTNet circuits, the bandwidth is much more plentiful and symmetrical (the same upstream and downstream speeds).
BT Cloud Voice vs. BT Cloud Phone
The main and most obvious different is the platform. The legacy Cloud Phone product used Ring Central as the intelligence behind the portal.
Cloud Phone includes calling packages which range from 500 minutes to mobile and landlines to 60000 minutes depending on your business size.
One of the restrictions of Cloud Phone was the inflexibility of the licences. Once your business has selected a particular feature licence, they were effectively stuck on that option as the system was not flexible enough to support different licences across a single site. We're not totally clear on why this restriction exists but presume this was a by-product of the need to integrate Ring Central with BT systems.
There is also more flexibility with the feature set. If a user required a couple of additional features, the product allows upgrades to be completed with ease.
BT Cloud Phone Pricing
Please view our product page for more information on pricing.
- The licence features - Basic, Connect and Collaborate
- BT Cloud Voice Features and Benefits
- Additional Add-ons
- BT Cloud Voice Optional Add-ons
- Numbers and number porting
DDI's are available within ANY geographical range and are not limited by location. With every licence, a number is required for hunt group, voice portal dialling and auto attendant. The cost for the number is low and set at 50p per month per number with the ability to purchase additional DDI's at a future date. The majority of numbers can be ported except 0800, 0845 and 0870 - BT manages the process.
The calling packages
All call minutes are shared across your users wth an easy to manage portal.
Cloud Voice Handsets - the IP Phones (2017 prices)
- Polycom VVX 301 - 6 programmable line keys with 3.2" backlit LCD display £106.00
- Polycom VVX 411 - 12 programmable line keys with 3.5" colour LCD display £154.00
- Polycom VVX 601 - 12 programmable line keys with 4.5" touch screen display £213.50
- BT T41P Handset - programmable keys. HD sound quality. Loudspeaker with ports for a headset and PC. £106.00
- BT T46G Handset - support for Gigabit connectivity, 4.5" TFT colour display, 27 programmable keys. HD sound quality. Loudspeaker with ports for a headset and PC. £154.00
- BT T48G Handset - support for Gigabit connectivity, 7" TFT colour display, 29 programmable keys. HD sound quality. Loudspeaker with ports for a headset and PC. £154.00
- Polycom Conference Phone - 12-foot microphone pickup with LED backlight display. £589.00
- Cloud Voice ATA - Enables customers to use an analogue device on the BT cloud voice service.
- DECT Small Office Mobility - TFT colour screen with a range up to 30 metres indoors and 100 metres outdoors. Supports up to 5 handsets per base.
LAN and Cabling
With the addition of handsets, your business will need to consider the LAN environment. BT recommend a minimum base of cat5e cabling. The most basic checks include ensuring there are enough free ports and there is sufficient capacity. All LAN switches should also support power over Ethernet.
All BT Managed Routers are configured with QoS, prioritisation of voice is enabled. The latest BTNet routers are based on Cisco edge routers with Broadband supported by BT's own Business Hub 5. With the Business Hub, BT can enable to inbuilt Firewall functionality to secure.
For those of you considering BTNet or using a BTNet leased line, other Firewall arrangements should be made. Our experience with data networking ensures we have the ability to assist if required.
Some ports will need to be enabled to allow calls to flow through; these are all outlined within the welcome pack.
This is the first in a series of posts on the Cloud Voice proposition. We're happy to answer specific questions you may have, if you use Discuss, please leave a comment.
Finally, we can:
- Provide you with account management to find and establish the best solution based on your requirements.
- Complete a site survey where required.
- There's a welcome to the service call with an interactive discussion to refine your purchased service.
- Full user guides available.
- The service is very user-friendly allowing you to upgrade, add licences and features.
- Cloud Voice support is the UK based via dedicated help desk with experts.