Archive for disaster assistance

Dropped calls: Causes and Solutions

dropped callsIn my 30 + years in the telecommunication industry, one problem I have seen consistently are issues where the end of a phone call might be interpreted not as a drop, but as a deliberate act with one party becoming offended.

So let’s take a look at the causes and some solutions.

By and large the most common cause of dropped calls that my company has seen are due to problems with older phone systems that still are using copper  phone lines or similar. Such problems existed  in 1919 and still do in  2019.  In recent years problems with calls originating to or coming from cell phones have increasingly been contributing to problems with dropped calls.
One of the ironies of the dramatic improvement in cell phone service quality is that since one can rarely tell when another party is on cell phone or a  landline or VOIP line resulting landline or VOIP carriers getting the  blame for dropped calls that are in fact caused by cell phones.  The slight upside to this is that folks these days are less likely to assume  an abrupt end to a call is a deliberate act on the part of the caller.

Other causes of dropped calls include:

a) electrical power problems.

b) internet carrier or related IT problems.

c) user error, in which case it becomes an “accidental or deliberate disconnect” and not a dropped call.

d) on older non VOIP systems component issues.

e) user issues often related to persons new to the phone system.

On  VOIP systems however.., the problems most times are not due to phone carrier carrier  or issues or the equipment but  one of 4 things;

  1. inadequate internet bandwidth – in which case a simple upgrade in speed will often solve the problem.
  2. Issues related the your internet service provider. These issues can usually be corrected pretty easily by contacting the customer or technical support department of your internet service provider. When contacting them include asking them to make sure everything in your carrier provided modem is set to allow, give priority to and/or not bloc SIP signals. In the rare times we have seen such calls not completely solve the problem we have found that insisting the carrier replace their modem has solved the issue.
  3. Make sure your ethernet switch or ( if you have a private router) is upgraded to the latest gigabyte technology and speeds.
  4. Talk to an  IT professional about providing a thorough check of your IT system for viruses. Viruses can infect a computer and/or computer network at any time. Many virus can take up massive amounts of bandwidth on even the fastest of internet circuits and by doing so play havoc with your IP phones!

The best way to avoid dropped calls is through the use of the modern business telephone system.

On older phone systems, if a component is about to go bad  dropped calls would be one of the problems one could experience.  If it is not a problem with the systems components  things that will cause a call to drop on a modern “land-line” system include a loss of electrical power and carrier issues. Switching to a VOIP system improves greatly the chances of this not occurring – but does not eliminate completely the potential for this problem to occur

So, what to do when you experience a dropped call:

  • Immediately make a note of the phone number dropped, and the time of the dropped call
  • Call the dropped party back, apologize for the interruption and inform them that the drop was a technical problem, not a deliberate act.
  • If you have internet based (VOIP) phone service contact your  local internet  service carrier and create a service ticket.  In most cases your Internet provider can help  especially if provided the above information. As noted in this article earlier  in some cases you may need to insist they replace your/their modem.

If over  a period of several months you continue to experience dropped calls on a regular basis, consider changing local phone or internet service carriers.  Most often  however today’s carriers are very good at identifying  and fixing these issues.  As bothersome as these things are be  patient with your phone or internet carrier since it may take several reported incidents before they can clearly identify  and get a handle why this is happening.

If  ongoing  issues with dropped call  is getting especially frustrating – hang in there!  A solution can almost always be found! In the meantime consider taking a break and firing up a Jimmy Buffett tune on your computer or smartphone  until things finally get resolved!

Problems with dropped calls have been around the since the days of Alexander Bell. As good as our modern communications infrastructure is, I don’t expect them to go away anytime soon.  Take the advice I’ve given you here, and you’ll find the problem to be less pervasive, and frustrating.

How to Protect Your Phones & IT Equipment During a Hurricane

Especially during hurricanes and tropical storms, many companies spend unnecessary amounts of money recovering from lightning and other storm related power surges, any of which can fry equipment beyond repair, rather than a much smaller amount to avoid equipment damage altogether.

Harmful Spikes
To help ensure that your phones and other related equipment remain undamaged by hurricane-related surges, here are some tips that might help:

  1. Battery Backup/UPS everything. 
    This includes copiers, phones routers, internet modems, routers, switches; even the boxes provided by your internet and phone carriers need to be connected to a UPS battery backup unit. If you have TV’s in your office that go through the same cable equipment as your internet carrier, put UPS’s on those too. A POWER SURGE NEEDS ONLY TO FIND ONE WEAKNESS IN YOUR SURGE SUPPRESSION TO BLOW OUT ..,EVERYTHING.

  2. Surge suppress your old style phone lines for not just phones, but also alarms & faxes.
    And do this even if they are supplied by your internet carrier. There are fuse like devices that your phone lines can be routed through that – if they work properly – will take the power hit before the surge hits your phones, fax machines or alarm systems.

  3. Don’t depend on surge strips.
    Folks spend $10 – $15 each on 6 or 8 plug strips and think they are protected. Fact is in my 35+ years in this business, there was not one incident in which power surge strips actually stopped a surge.power strip
    Use a UPS battery backup instead. If you like you can plug the power strip into a UPS UPS unit and sue the power strip that way – depending on what your local fire code permits.

  4. Use the resources provided by your electric/power company.
    Many companies have some very affordable plans to put into place a system that will protect your whole office or building.  Or…
     
  5. Consult  a licensed electrician.
    Although your phone vendor, IT company and others can do a lot to help you minimize the risk of power surges damaging your electronic office equipment, a highly qualified electrician is the best resource for you to protect your entire office at once – including your air conditioner & other appliances

  6. Finally turn it off and unplug “everything from everything”…
    …including disconnecting devices from  internet power and phones lines. If you dont want to to lose it unplug it!  Especially during weekends, power outletvacations or holidays. Sure it’s a pain in the neck to turn on and reconnect everything when you have returned but put simply, electric surges can’t hit and damage something to which there is no connection.

Keeping that old phone system is bad for business

Old phone
While recently visiting a customer I mentioned that it was not in his best interest to continue running  his company, which relies on staff transacting thousands of dollars in business per day, with his old phone system.  He replied to me ” they work just fine why should I replace them?”

I  immediately pictured how much lost revenue and pain this business owner would suffer when his heavily used 8 year old phone system started giving him problems, or worse yet, broke down completely.  I tried to explain to him why not  making plans  to do this was overwhelmingly not in his best interest —when he jumped on another phone call and waived me out of his office.

Read More→

Helping Businesses Harmed by Hurricane Irene

We are proud to announce that we’re offering free technical consulting and assistance to any business whose phone system was damaged by Hurricane Irene. Please call us at 813-276-1666