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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.

Robocalls: Not Just an Annoyance, But a Threat

Back when machines (or programs) first started making calls as a way to cheaply find a live person answering his/her phone, they were more annoyance than anything else.

robocalls

However, as the technology has evolved, they have now become a true threat: With the exception of reminders from medical professionals and pharmacies, many of these calls come from scammers, thieves, collection agencies and the like.

To help you combat this latest technological scourge, I’ve compiled the information you’ll need to both better understand the dangers it poses, and and some tips for avoiding them.

Dangers:

  • New AI (artificially Intelligent) programs can fool you into thinking you are speaking with a live person. The calls use even the most basic responses from you to then commit you to fraudulent activities. I consider this to be is the most dangerous threat;
  • Simply by answering the phone (even if you say nothing) you could find yourself on the equivalent of a “do call list” and the calls increase, clogging your phone line; in many cases the folks paying for robocalling do not care if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call List (Registry);
  • A Robocaller from another state or overseas can easily generate a local caller ID signature, thus fooling you into answering/considering the source legit and it’s downhill from there (see bullets 1 & 2).

What to do (personal phones):

  • Register all personal/mobile numbers with the National Do Not Call List.
    If you have a Google Voice number remember to register that too. While it may not stop some callers, it at least cuts down on the number of calls you’ll receive.
  • If you don’t recognize the incoming call phone number, don’t answer it.
    Let it go to voice mail. If it’s legitimate, the caller will leave a message.
  • Do not say a word.  If by accident you do answer the call and you don’t know the caller,  hang up.
  • Never hit the opt-out option.
    This used to be a legitimate way to stop further calls, but now it’s a sign to the robocalling service that they have reached an active line. This will result in more robocalls.
  • Use your cell phone blocking feature.
    This by itself is far from a full proof solution to the problem but it helps
  • Report suspicious calls to the FCC.

What to do (office)
(especially one that gets large number of calls from unrecognizable numbers)

The good news is that most of the current voice scams won’t work on calls to businesses simply because at any given time multiple people can be answering the phone and that defeats some of the scams.  But they do still happen, and when they do:

  • Don’t hit the opt out option
  • Report any suspicious calls to the FCC
  • Do an internet search on the phone number
    …to determine if a legitimate person or company is associated with that number. You can then decide whether taking calls from that number benefits your business.

If you have any questions on this or any other phone safety topic, don’t hesitate to call us at  813-276-1666, or toll free: 866-459-7266.

How to choose a phone service company

Many believe that all business phone service providers are alike, even people who diligently shop around for the best provider at the best price for personal use.

In fact they are not, so here’s the important basics you need to choose the right company for your business’ needs:

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  1. Do not use an internet carrier for your phone lines (exception: low priority fax and alarm lines) because:
    – Internet providers monthly costs for phone lines will be higher than most other carriers
    – If the Internet carriers infrastructure goes down your service could be out for days
    – Internet carriers are great at providing internet – they are not phone companies
  2. Do not use a company with less than $50M in financial resources, meaning they have
    – Technical teams that work 24/7/365
    – Separate divisions for support, new service, phone number transitions, software R&D, etc.
  3. Check to ensure the company has a good record of consistently high quality customer service – don’t take their word for it
  4. Phone equipment products will include top of the line equipment by Polycom, Yealink and Panasonic:
    – Other manufacturers’ phone products we have found to be lesser quality
  5. True cloud based hosted phone service products will not require intermediary equipment other that the internet modem and possibly Ethernet switches: make sure the one you choose complies with this.

If you still have questions or want help finding the right phone service company, we’re glad to help.   Call us: 813-276-1666. Ext 115; or email us: info@jhbtele.com

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