Michael Mansfield has been working in the telecom & data networks industry since 1986, having completed his apprenticeship whilst working at CAMTECH™ Electronics as part of the design team behind the famous Joint Academic NETwork [JNT X25] (JANet) the forerunner for what we now know as the internet.
Janet developed out of a number of local and research networks dating back to the 1970s. The JANet system first went live in April 1983, hosting about 50 sites with line speeds of 9.6 kbit/s. In the mid-80s the backbone was upgraded to a 2 Mbit/s backbone with 64 kbit/s access links, and a further upgrade in the early 1990s sped the backbone to 8 Mbit/s and the access links to 2 Mbit/s, making Janet the fastest X.25 network in the world.
Renowned for his in depth knowledge of both voice and data transmission protocols our founder has worked with some of the UK’s largest network providers, private corporations and government bodies whilst specialising in cyber counter-intelligence and network security.
Whether you’re considering deploying a new system or upgrading an existing one, you probably have a number of questions about UCaaS vs. other more traditional technologies and what to expect if you deploy a cloud solution.
ZERO42 has teamed up with RingCentral, the worlds number one UCasS provider to bring you this simple guide and provide answers to the most common questions customers have and gives an overview of your choices when it comes technology platforms—PBX, IP PBX, and cloud.
The face of telecommunications has changed rapidly over the last few years, more and more businesses are moving their workforce online and becoming more flexible in their approach towards telecoms in general.
It’s not so long ago that a business would need to invest heavily in a dedicated telephone system and a range of expensive handsets if they wanted to communicate effectively with the outside world. The fixed nature of the telephone system meant tethering employees to a particular desk, extension number and handset and moving the employee inevitably meant moving the phone socket or having an engineer reprogram the phone system.
Telephone line rental and call charges formed a huge part of the businesses monthly running costs and equipment prices were kept artificially high by manufacturers because of the length of time between hardware sales (typically well over 15+ years).
As the traditionalist telecom installers witnessed the collapse of the market in the early part of the last decade, those involved in data networks and computer systems filtered in a range of telecom solutions piggybacking onto the spare capacity inherent in most data networks and of course this was the fatal blow for standalone system manufacturers and installers.
A few reasons why RingCentral is the leading cloud communications and collaboration solution:
Today, businesses have a number of choices when it comes to telecom technology..
PBX A PBX (public branch exchange) is a telephone switching system that manages incoming and outgoing calls for a company’s internal users. So why would you need a PBX? Imagine you have 200 employees in your organization. They all work from the office, and they all need to call their customers and partners, as well as their coworkers. Without a PBX, you would need 200 analog trunk lines from a telecom service provider to provide telephone access to all your employees. Plus, when they call one another, those calls are charged as if they are routed from the public telephone exchange. The PBX system addresses this obviously impractical scenario by serving two purposes:
1 Sharing trunk lines: Because not all employees make calls all the time, you can procure a trunk line from the telco and share perhaps 10 of its lines for 10 employees. The PBX manages this sharing.
2 Routing calls: This allows employees to make internal calls—based on dialing extension numbers—without charge. The PBX works like a miniature version of the switching system at a public telephone exchange, except it routes calls from one extension to another extension internally.
The PBX is also connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and automatically routes incoming calls to specific extensions. A typical PBX system in a small to medium-sized business includes hard-wired phone lines, a computer server that manages call switching and routing, and a console for manual administration and control.
This is the traditional business phone system, and it provides a familiar, stable, and durable service. Unfortunately, it requires a significant up-front investment in hardware. The complexity of the hardware and building wiring also makes it difficult to make changes, such as moving, adding, changing, or deleting users (MACD). Plus, you need to have someone (either your staff or a third party) with PBX and telephony expertise to manage and support the system.
Traditional PBX systems are also limited to voice functionality, which puts a ceiling on adopting new technologies such as HD video conferencing or collaboration software. Businesses with multiple locations will also need a PBX at each location and telco connectivity between locations. Additionally, employees in one location may not be able to direct extension-dial coworkers in other locations, and customers may not be able to reach an employee from a main company number.
The diagram shows how a PBX connects to the public telephone network with multiple analog trunk lines, as well as the telco connections—and the respective telco relationships— necessary to connect multiple business locations. Note that each site requires PBX hardware as well as local maintenance of the hardware and software. In addition, since the PBX architecture was originally designed to route calls within a building and to and from the PSTN, it does not support mobile or remote workers.
An IP PBX is similar to a traditional PBX except it runs on an internet protocol (IP) data network. This allows it to perform the switching and connecting of voice over IP (VoIP) as well as conventional landline calls. A PBX connects to the PSTN via conventional trunk lines, but an IP PBX routes calls via SIP trunking, which uses the internet and eliminates the physical connection to a phone company. An IP PBX system works much like the familiar PBX system while offering several advantages. In addition to landline phones, you can use IP phones and softphones. Also, a conventional PBX requires two networks, one for data and another for voice. But an IP PBX system runs on an IP data network and SIP trunking, which reduces costs and minimizes network management while offering slightly better scalability. However, an IP PBX shares some of the disadvantages of a traditional PBX. It still requires a substantial investment in hardware, is limited to voice functionality, and has a ceiling on deploying new technologies. These systems also require on-site expertise, and the complexity of the hardware makes moves and changes slow. And although the connectivity between multiple business locations is less expensive, you still have the cost and complexity of hardware and support at each location.
This diagram shows how an IP PBX not only connects to telcos for traditional analog voice calling but also integrates with the internet and IP telephony (VoIP) features and functions. However, similar to PBX, it relies on telco connectivity to connect multiple locations, and it is not designed to support mobile or remote workers. IP PBX systems are also needed at each location—along with the associated capex, maintenance, and upgrade costs.
Today’s small and medium-sized businesses require specialised features and unified communications capabilities to support their particular workflows. UCaaS combines reliable, high-quality voice calling with features that traditional PBX and IP PBX phone systems can’t deliver. A mature cloud UCaaS solution, like RingCentral Office®, also integrates with common business apps and new collaboration tools. Additionally, moving business communications to the cloud not only eliminates the cost and complexity of on-site hardware but also enhances collaboration, improves productivity, and more. UCaaS also reduces the cost and complexity of connecting to telcos and between locations. Users connect directly to the cloud system via the internet—either “over the top” or using a dedicated private network (MPLS) from a telco or an end-to-end UCaaS provider like RingCentral. This approach dramatically reduces communications and network management costs. Also with UCaaS, virtually anyone—without the need for specialised telephony or PBX knowhow—can move, add, change, or delete lines and administer the system from a web-based dashboard.
For businesses with multiple locations, the cloud UCaaS architecture inherently eliminates not only the investment in PBX hardware at each location but also the cost and complexity of enabling connectivity between them. It further provides the benefits of a completely integrated phone system across multiple locations, such as the ability to transfer calls or dial coworkers using extension numbers.
Since the voice component of a UCaaS system like RingCentral Office uses IP-based technology, all calls traverse your internet connection to the cloud (for call processing/ routing), and then on to the destination network or phone. Therefore, the quality of your business communications depends on quality of service (QoS), which is the ability of a communications network to perform consistently and reliably. Guaranteeing QoS is imperative for delivering reliable business communications over the internet. In a VoIP call, for example, the sound of your voice (and the other caller’s voice) is converted into thousands of packets. Many factors can affect the packet transport, impacting call quality. The three most common factors are latency, jitter, and packet loss.
Getting ready for VoIP and IP video and connecting RingCentral to your network will involve a few different elements, most of which you likely already have.
This diagram depicts the network components involved and the process when you connect your location to your ISP (internet service provider). The internet first connects to your modem and then goes to your router. After that, it passes through your firewall (if you have one) and then to your switch. Finally, the switch connects your phones, computers, Wi-Fi router, etc., to the UCaaS system. Your hardware may be a variation of this setup.
ZERO42 will help assess your specific network needs, and will recommend any changes required.
Ensuring adequate network capacity (available bandwidth)
Internet traffic issues, such as latency and jitter, do not impact services like email or web browsing. For instance, even if the packets arrive late, they will be reassembled in a buffer in microseconds, and the email recipient will not notice any impact from the delay. However, with real-time applications like VoIP, jitter, packet loss, and latency can reduce quality or even render a service unusable.
For this reason, when moving to UCaaS, there are some simple network readiness considerations. A primary consideration is making sure you have a QoS-enabled router that prioritises voice traffic over lower-priority data traffic, such as large downloads.
Due to varying demands from different users sharing network resources, the bit rate that can be provided to a certain data stream may be insufficient for real-time multimedia services if all data streams get the same scheduling priority.
By applying QoS mechanisms, network administrators can employ network resources efficiently without reactively expanding or overprovisioning their networks and can better manage the required level of service. This may include prioritising VoIP and IP video traffic over bandwidth-hungry but less time-sensitive traffic.
RingCentral manages QoS at the firewall and router level by either partitioning or prioritising bandwidth. Partitioning bandwidth reserves and sets aside a certain amount of your bandwidth as a whole and dedicates it to RingCentral’s voice services only. Prioritising bandwidth ensures that in instances of high bandwidth use, voice traffic will maintain optimal speed, but the router and firewall will slow down bandwidth being used for other things, such as streaming video.
Mobile readiness and Wi-Fi
RingCentral Office is fully available on Android™ and iOS® devices via free mobile apps. Users enjoy a complete UCaaS experience on a mobile device, using either Wi-Fi or the device’s cellular data connection.
Mobile users can make calls, take calls, IM, video chat, share screens, use team messaging, and manage their system from their mobile device. Any function available to users at their desks is also available on a mobile device.
Calls made on Wi-Fi connections will not take away from the data plan of the mobile device, while calls made over the device’s data connection will take away from the pool of data. Voice requires very little data and is typically negligible. Callers are also able to use their carrier service instead of their data plan, which avoids using the data plan of the device.
Wi-Fi vs. stable cable
Your employees can use Wi-Fi on their mobile devices or on a softphone on their personal computer to connect to the internet. While they may often experience optimal call quality over Wi-Fi, much is outside your span of control when employees are connected via Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi connections can be significantly impacted by the number of users on the network, the distance from the router, and other factors.
It is rare that mobile workers will have connectivity issues—such as many users on a single Wi-Fi network—while traveling. However, in an office environment, it is always recommended to use a direct connection into the LAN (router) for the most stable connection. This allows you to prioritise your bandwidth so that your VoIP users will always have a consistent and stable connection.
Small and medium-sized business will notice some immediate impacts of moving to a UCaaS solution.
First, it integrates all of your communications and collaborations solutions into a single platform. For example, the RingCentral Glip® team-messaging application can link to the same features and user base as your phone system. This allows users to quickly invite other team members to a group chat, and then escalate the meeting to a video conference with one click if the team might benefit from the shift.
You’ll also see concrete business benefits like better support from a single vendor, faster moves & changes, and more seamless integration between contact center software and the phone system.
Greater customer satisfaction
All of this translates into a better experience for the customer when they interact with your company. They can reach your employees from a single business number for phone, fax, and text. And when your employees call or text a customer from a mobile device, the customer sees the business number.
Employees can directly transfer a customer’s call to the right person in another location. Contact center agents can bring up the customer’s information instantly or bring an expert on to a support call. Or, using calling and texting functionality integrated into your custom mobile apps, you can let the customer know when your representative will arrive at their location.
A single platform for all your communications and collaboration can also provide better business intelligence, such as reports to let managers view the performance of telemarketers.
And an open platform gives you the ability to grow revenue and improve productivity by embedding calling features into workflows and business applications. You can also leverage investments in existing phones and other hardware, because RingCentral is based on open standards and is operating-system agnostic.
Plus, because all infrastructure is housed in remote data centers, a cloud UCaaS system is inherently resilient to local outages and natural disasters.
The workplace is changing, and the need for collaboration, mobility, and efficiency is greater than ever.
A UCaaS solution like RingCentral Office provides a single ecosystem for all of your communications and collaboration needs. Users can reach coworkers and team members more easily and share real-time collaborative workspaces—no matter where they are. With more immersive collaboration enabled by HD video conferencing, teams can make better decisions, faster.
Salespeople can work more efficiently with calling features integrated directly into the Salesforce® user interface. Mobile workers can join a voice conference or web meeting with one touch on their smartphone screen.
Greater customer satisfaction
All of this translates into a better experience for the customer when they interact with your company. They can reach your employees from a single business number for phone, fax, and text. And when your employees call or text a customer from a mobile device, the customer sees the business number. Employees can directly transfer a customer’s call to the right person in another location. Contact center agents can bring up the customer’s information instantly or bring an expert on to a support call. Or, using calling and texting functionality integrated into your custom mobile apps, you can let the customer know when your representative will arrive at their location.
The most important step in transitioning to UCaaS is choosing the right service provider. For three consecutive years, respected analyst firm Gartner has named RingCentral a Leader in its Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide. RingCentral has more than 350,000 global customers and owns and controls a robust global network backbone and has established relationships with leading Tier 1 local carriers and ISPs around the world.
The RingCentral UCaaS platform is the result of 15 years of research and development, and it offers industry-leading reliability and QoS. It also offers a comprehensive set of features, including Business SMS and MMS, fax, web meetings, audio and HD video conferencing, team messaging, and a mobile app—all for one inclusive monthly service fee.
RingCentral business users also benefit from a number of integrations with key business productivity applications, including Salesforce®, Microsoft Office 365™, and Google.
RingCentral is also a Tier 1 Google partner and trusted advisor to European enterprises across 17 countries.
Additionally, RingCentral is the only open UCaaS platform, offering customers access to source code, open APIs, and SDKs to make it fast and easy to create custom integrations.
Let ZERO42 help you make the switch to RingCentral.
Making the switch between providers can seem intimidating, but ZERO42 makes the process as seamless and risk-free as possible.
We will guide you through each stage of the process and ensure that your network infrastructure, bandwidth and hardware are up to the task, plus we will help you with telephone choice, programming tasks, user & extension planning and even training for your key personnel.
Key transition items
Number porting: As a local exchange carrier (LEC), ZERO42 can facilitate porting between your existing provider and the RingCentral cloud service on your behalf. During service setup, the RingCentral team assigns temporary numbers to get the system up and running. ZERO42 also works with you to get the appropriate information and documentation in place to ensure the port takes place effectively and with a goal of zero downtime. Once the port is approved, you choose a port date and time. When that moment arrives, the temporary numbers will disappear and your numbers will port to RingCentral, at which point you will be 100% on the RingCentral cloud UCaaS platform.
With a PBX or IP PBX, working with a telco carrier to move numbers to a new location or set up a new office can take
months. However, with a cloud UcaaS system, you can have a new office up and running in as little as 48 hours. This is a huge benefit for
companies with seasonal employees, construction companies that need to quickly set up offices on a job site, or any
company that needs agility to capture new markets.
Need Help? If required, we will manage the entire process for you. From installation of the cabling infrastructure and data network equipment to the programming and setting up of your new telephone system.
Our feature rich RingCentral solution also uses plug-and-play phones that call in to the network and provision themselves. This eliminates the need for someone with IT skills to travel to the location and program desk phones. Getting remote workers connected to the company phone system is a simple as us drop-shipping a phone. The remote employee simply plugs the phone into an Ethernet connection, and they are ready to start making calls.