Need Input/Help/Advice on VOIP: Yes, or No?

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by Nigel Farage, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

    Feb 8, 2012
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    I posted this here in the Lounge vs anywhere else because I want as much real-life anecdotes as possible. Some quality technical information would also be useful.

    I'm the "computer guy" and my client is asking me to tell her whether or not I think she should switch her telephone service provider from the standard, hard-wired AT&T phone service to the VOIP phone service of AT&T U-verse.

    And I guess that's my 1st question, which is whether or not the Uverse phone service is any different than any other VOIP. I've talked to the mouth-breathing idiots at AT&T, even their "smart" Technical Support person, but none of them can answer the question, and this whole question hinges on the reliability of the service.

    It's a Doctor's office, and they cannot have their 4 phone lines go down, not even for 5 minutes, ever. Reliability is 1st and foremost. In the last 6+ years paying AT&T for their hard-line (copper wire) connection, they have not had the phones go down once. If I recommend that they change, and the phones go down at all, I'm going to look real bad. These are medical people, not computer techs or bona-fide business people. They are Doctors acting in the role of business people and have had to learn several business lessons the hard way. I do not think they fully-appreciate the consequences of moving to an unreliable phone service and what kind of long-term and "other" consequences there might be if they switch, sign a contract and then discover it's unreliable.

    The impetus for the move was provoked by 3 factors; 1) A phone call from U-verse offering the service, 2) the end of the Time Warner cable TV and internet package and the fact that they will have to start paying an extra $200 a month for being "out of contract" and paying "month to month" and 3) the fact that if they bundle the phone, internet and cable into a single package from Uverse they could save over $600 a month. This business has been around for years, and will continue to remain so, so we are talking 10's of thousands of dollars here over the long term.

    Conversely, they've also demonstrated a willingness to put up with chronic difficulties and inconveniences over the long term, adopting expedient and "work around" solutions when what they should do is replace what is barely working with something new, expensive and fully-functional. I do not want to be the guy that they think about every time they are regretful for having made the change that I recommended. However, I WOULD like to be the guy that recommends a course of action that saves them 10's of thousands of dollars over the long-term.

    My perception of VOIP in general, and U-verse in particular, is that the phone connection is dependent upon the functionality of the modem and the cable that connects to it. The phone service is only as dependable as the internet service, and my 1st-hand experience with U-verse from several years ago is that the reliability of those modems is crap. It went down constantly, and we had on-site techs in the house about once every 3 months. I'm sure it's improved since then, but (assuming I'm correct that the phone service is dependent on the modem's reliability) has U-verse's reliability improved to the point that their phone service is ready to service business-class customers? And note, this is a Doctor's office and not a business that is less dependent on their phones. A self-storage container place might be inconvenienced, but failing to maintain lines of communication between patient and doctor could be a matter of life & death. Worse, they could lose money.


    That's a full description of my problem. Any help appreciated, and thanks in advance.

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  2. kvmcable

    kvmcable Supreme Member

    Dec 28, 2010
    Likes Received:
    24 year business owner - old school dude
    KFC - BW3
    Being a computer guy also; I adapted the ideology a long time ago to NOT fix something that isn't broken. All to often I've seen scenarios like this backfire with clients saying why in the hell did we change? The joy of a great deal doesn't last nearly as long as the sting of a good ass-whooping.

    If they're spending that kind of money with a local phone company and soon to be "out of contract", I'd suggest you / they contact the phone company and tell them you've been approached by U-verse and considering switching (although you're not) and ask what kind of bundle packages they're able to offer to make them competitive with the U-verse service. You might need to get through a few lower level "reset your modem" reps that just read scripts but eventually you'll reach someone in the account retention group and then you have their full attention. You'd be amazed at what sort of offers they can provide when threatened with closing an account. Of course they'll want to get you back in contract but if you're not going anywhere, it shouldn't be a problem. I've received many concessions from phone companies and cable companies just for "asking".

    As for the reliability of U-verse, it only takes a few Google searches to find little praise and a shitload of complaints. I hate paying $200 a month for 3 copper lines at the store but I'd never move to VOIP after hearing all the "excuses" for down-times, less than advertised download and upload speeds, etc by ISPs. When you're purchasing Internet services you'll hear about all sorts of benefits; you might even get suckered into paying a higher premium for a better connection, dedicated IP, more bandwidth, etc.

    Now fast forward 1 year later when the service is slow or up and down like a two-bit hooker and that same company will act as though if you have any sort of connection you should be happy. No guarantee on upload or download speeds, not liable for the money you lose when their service is down, on and on with an almost endless supply of excuses. The LAST thing I'd do is put the business lifeline in their hands. You already know what you'll hear when the Internet is down so expect the same response when they have all your phones down as well.

    My 2 cents...
  3. seeplusplus

    seeplusplus Power Member

    Aug 18, 2008
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    Not read the entire thread but if it's a Doctor's office then I wouldn't, what if the power goes down? I'd stick with copper.