Last month we learned about The Service Provider. Today, we’re going to get into…

The WAN or Bandwidth provider

This is also known as the Internet Service Provider or ISP. In today’s VoIP deployments most customers run with the BYOB being Bring Your Own Bandwidth. In such cases many of these Bandwidth providers will promise the moon and stars all for $1.95. The fact is, you get what you pay for when it comes to a VoIP solution. Some ISPs actually look for VoIP traffic and will disrupt that VoIP traffic. The low cost providers, including cable and DSL service, are over-subscribed. These providers have what I like to refer to as the bathtub effect, meaning only so much water can get through the drain when you want to empty the tub. The #1 Reason why VoIP solutions do not work well or fail is the Bandwith provider.

In today’s market, the reality is it can truly be better for a client to upgrade to a more expensive ISP which offers better throughput and a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The service might seem to be slower but it actually is faster when speed tests have been performed. Important questions to ask:

  • Does the ISP have clients on the specific BYOB service in your area and can you call them for a reference?
  • What minimum service speed do you need so the service will actually support VoIP? You have to take into account everything that is running over the ISP.
  • Does the provider offer a SLA or is it just best effort?
  • How many times a year is the provider down? How long are the outages?
  • What happens when the provider is down? Is there a back-up solution in place? The reality is ISP’s will fail. How long is the average down time? What does your company do during the down time? What does it cost your business when your provider is down for an hour? Half day? A day? Two days? A week?
  • How easy is it to migrate ISP’s if you start having issues with your voice and other data services?
  • What is your back-up plan? Can you use a 3G/4G service? Will your VoIP provider work over the 3G/4G network?

Next month, we’ll be looking at Your Network better known as the LAN