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Here are a number of questions we get asked frequently by customers about Telecommunications.

1. Can I spread the payments on my system?

Yes - we are a licensed credit broker and can usually arrange a hire agreement.

2. What is the difference between analogue and digital lines?

Analogue telephone lines transfer sound as electromagnetic waves, whereas digital lines sample sound waves and translate them into bits (zeros and ones) to approximate the original wave shape.

Digital data can be processed and stored more efficiently, giving you direct dial facilities, call diversion or transfer to external destinations and direct transfer of customer database details to your PC. A digital line also allows a large network of users to share a 'pool' of lines, reducing wastage and costs.

3. What is the difference between ISDN2e and ISDN30?

The functionality of ISDN2e and ISDN30 is very similar. ISDN2e is supplied in multiples of two lines. You can expand further in multiples of two, but each expansion requires a visit from BT (two week lead-time) plus system programming.

If you require 6 lines or less on your telephone system and it is likely that this figure will not increase, then ISDN2e is usually adequate. For larger organisations, the correct solution is ISDN30. ISDN30 is delivered as 'a site connection', you merely specify how many lines you want (eight is the minimum).

One advantage of ISDN30 is the use of fibre optic cable, which is more reliable than traditional copper wire. (note ISDN30 is quite often now supplied on copper).

4. How should I compare telephone system quotations?

Many system resellers do whatever they feel necessary to secure your order (including looking as cheap as possible). First Office Systems always quote the specification that is necessary to do the job properly. Businesses appreciate our honest and open approach.

Guide to choosing a new Telephone System

5. What is VoIP?

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet. If you have a LAN (Local Area Network) or WAN (Wide Area Network) linking your computers, you can also use that network for your telephone calls. This allows staff to communicate with the office wherever they have Internet access.

Potentially, once Quality of Services has been achieved, calls can be made to anyone with an Internet connection. This topic needs careful consideration and we suggest you discuss it with us.

6. Can VoIP provide cost savings?

Yes, potentially, but each scenario is different and requires careful consideration. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. There are generally five areas of VoIP to understand which are as follows:

  1. IP trunking – linking of sites so that they are acting 'as one'.
  2. IP extensions – the use of one data outlet per desk (your telephone connects to your data cabling and your PC connects to the back of your telephone). This potentially reduces costs for businesses faced with re-cabling or new cabling.
  3. Home or remote working – broadband users can log on to the company telephone system via the Internet. In some instances functionality is identical, as if the user is actually in the office.
  4. Accessing carrier VoIP networks for routing calls to all destinations – there are a number of companies (e.g. Skype) offering such services. Whilst these are ideal for constant one-to-one conversations between registered users, the practicalities are currently a little cumbersome, although this is likely to change with time.
  5. Hosted services – basically you don't have a telephone system as your system will be hosted via a broadband connection – whilst suppliers will make this look attractively priced, it requires careful consideration and we suggest you discuss it with us.

7. What are the main considerations when buying a new phone system?

  1. How many telephone users are there currently in your business? This will determine the number of extensions and the number of lines.
  2. Is this number likely to increase? On average, businesses change their phone system every 5-7 years. Buy a system that you will not out-grow too quickly.
  3. What is your budget? Prices of telephone systems vary considerably, dependent on the number of users and the applications needed.
  4. Purchase, or hire? Hire offers tax benefits and allows the cost to be spread over a number of years. Ask us about the various hire agreements we offer.
  5. What applications do you need? Features like group hunting (incoming calls can try several extensions if the main number is busy), pick-up, transfer and speed dial are standard on most systems. Applications such as voicemail, computer telephony integration (CTI) and call recording are usually additional, but can greatly improve efficiency and customer service.
  6. Do certain staff need to be contacted at anytime from anywhere in the building? Many companies are now investing in DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephony) systems that provide cordless coverage in an office or industrial site via a series of strategically placed wireless base stations.
  7. How do you choose your supplier? Choose a supplier that is fully trained and accredited by the manufacturers that they represent. Make sure that they can offer a comprehensive service including consultancy, project management, installation, service and support. Do not be afraid to ask for customer testimonials. Geographical location is also extremely important to ensure an efficient service.
  8. Do you want to reduce the cost of calls? Carrier Pre Select (CPS) and Least Cost Routing (LCR) give significantly lower costs for all outbound calls without the need to change your existing BT numbers or install additional hardware.
  9. Have you seen a live working demonstration of the system you are considering? Ask for a working demonstration, as it will help determine suitability. This will also help you decide which functions and features are necessary. A visit to the prospective supplier's premises will also help ascertain their ability to provide timely and competent support.
  10. What level of technical support do you need? Whilst telecoms technicians still have to visit in the event of a system failure, many suppliers now offer remote support, allowing them to dial-in and fix minor faults. It is vital that you choose the right level of support and are aware of what is, and is not, included.

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