How VoIP is impacting the remote workforce

If the 2010’s become known for anything, it may just be as the decade of the remote workforce. Even 10 years ago, remote workers were few and far between but as we march towards the close of Q1 2018, 63% of employers in the US have remote workers. Shortage of talent is a key driver of the modern-day flexible workplace, but emerging technologies have played a key role in making remote work even possible.

Wireless internet, public wi-fi, laptops, smartphones, mobile technology, cloud computing, internet messaging, video conferencing, and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) are all included in the bundle of technology that makes officing anywhere — at any time — a possibility.

These technologies are becoming ever more important, as talent is starting to seek out companies that offer remote and flexible work. A 2016 Gallup survey revealed that “flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.” And 90% of remote workers say that they plan to continue working remotely for the rest of their career. The challenge for companies then becomes how to set up their operations not only in order to be able to offer that opportunity, but also to be able to maintain team effectiveness.

How VoIP impacts employers’ ability to offer flexible work

Communication can be difficult enough for teams that all office together, but how do you hold everyone together when you rarely meet face-to-face? And how do you present a united front to customers or clients, while still maintaining a professional quality, across a team of remote workers?

The difference between traditional office phone services and VoIP seems straightforward on paper: VoIP provides the ability to make voice calls over broadband Internet versus an analog, or traditional, phone line.

Simple, right?

But VoIP opens up a whole world of flexibility and possibility just by virtue of being wired through the Internet.

  • Appear and operate like a large enterprise, even on a small company budget
  • Use an auto attendant to route calls to employees, no matter where they are or office from
  • Customize call activity reports and graphs. This is especially useful if you oversee a team of inside and/or outside salespeople who operate remotely
  • Listen live — again, especially useful for sales managers
  • Send faxes and voicemails to email that will reach employees anywhere they happen to be
  • Unify teams, including freelancers, with easy conference calling
  • Set up vanity numbers and use call forwarding so that remote workers don’t have to give out their personal phone numbers
  • Ensure voice quality

What is VoIP and how does it work?

VoIP may sound highly complicated, but the principles behind VoIP are rather simple. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. According to the FCC, Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line.

In the fast-paced world of a hosted VoIP service, business phones are linked from all around the world through high-speed Internet connections. Every phone in an office shares one link. A VoIP service can be applied to several phones and devices within one building, or across a franchise with many locations, making it versatile no matter what industry it’s serving.


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There are many benefits to utilizing a VoIP system for your company. A full VoIP system can drastically reduce costs when compared to a similar analog phone system. VoIP also lays the groundwork for increased productivity company-wide, improving the ease and speed of both internal and external connections. Likewise, VoIP has the unique ability to provide remote connection to an established network. This means that remote employees (or traveling associates) can stay connected no matter where they are, displayed as a seamless communication service to clients and customers along the way.

Installation of a VoIP system doesn’t require any special equipment beyond a high speed broadband connection. VoIP connections can be used over computer systems through an inexpensive microphone, making it a cost-effective alternative to traditional office phones. Whether you are considering the switch from an analog system, or interested in improving your company’s communication connection to the world, VoIP is a great solution.



The VoIP industry has revolutionized so much with each passing year, that it is difficult to anticipate what the future will bring. As an organization looking to invest and adapt to a VoIP system, it is important to know what the future may bring.

Due to lower costs and less maintenance needed with a hosted VoIP service, more organizations are favoring this type of service. It is a good choice for businesses that are looking to transition from traditional business lines to IP enabled technology. Cloud services has always been favored by small to medium sized business, but even larger organizations will start using cloud


PBX systems as vendors scale up their infrastructure to match the growing demand. With the increasing level of customized features available, having a cloud PBX makes more sense for everyone.

Many organizations are moving towards SaaS services for various internal departments-whether it be accounting, CRM’s or contact centers. As VoIP continues to mature, integrations like this will quickly become essential providing a Unified Communication (UC) system. UC systems bring together various channels such as video, audio, IM, and more. VoIP systems are often used as the foundation on which further applications can be integrated with.

Today’s IP networks use mechanisms to deal with the time-sensitive nature of voice packets and also provide many advantages that are not possible with the traditional PSTN. Although the traditional PSTN has been a standard for decades, it has recently been surpassed by the quality and reliability of today’s VoIP networks, making VoIP the preferred choice when it comes to choosing a business telephone solution.

Understanding and Preventing Ghost Calls

Many people do not understand what a ghost call is and why they occur. A ghost call, which is also sometimes referred to as “phantom ringing” is an incoming phone call with no one on the other end, usually from a random number, and occurs frequently. They usually occur from neglected auto dialers from telemarketers, or hackers looking for a way to exploit your network. The majority of these calls occur during odd hours of the night when users in other countries are awake. A lot of times, clients believe this to be the fault of their service provider, in most cases, it is not. The good news is that these calls can be prevented by following a couple of basic steps.

Update Firmware:

Make sure your firmware is kept up to date. Some service providers do this automatically when pushing updates, but it is best to double-check. It can also be done manually from some older phone models. It is best to check with your phone manufacturer, for instructions as every phone make and model vary.

Use a Firewall:

A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. It can be either hardware or software based. Some routers allow you to block port scans in their settings page. Investing in the proper equipment will virtually eliminate these calls from occurring.


Change Local SIP Port:

By default, the SIP Port is usually set to 5060. By changing it to something between 5060-5070, for example, the port scanners will skip you. Although this is not considered a permanent solution, it will slow down any port scanners. When doing this, you will need to get your VoIP company and internet service provider involved as some ISP providers do not support VoIP traffic on different ports.

cute-ghostBy having the proper protection, whether it be hardware or software related, you can make sure your business is not affected by these annoying and sometimes costly ghost calls. Reach out to your service provider if you have experienced these types of calls for support and guidance.



A Beginners Guide to Disaster Recovery and your Phones

How do you plan for Business Continuity around your phone system? With the recent hurricanes, it may be prudent to review. The world of telephony is changing. Subtly over the past several years there has been some changes as convergence of voice and data continue. Everyone sees the need to have data accessible via some cloud strategy, but the idea of keeping the pulse of your business alive, the phones, is critical. What we have discovered is that people think about data and voice a very distant second. Phones are taken for granted, as result, most do not even know what questions to ask. The purpose here is not to give answers but help you start thinking and asking better questions.

The decision starts with a premised based system or a hosted type model. There are many variances within these two segments. However, most PBX’s (Private Branch Exchange) can be classified one way or the other. The way disaster recovery is handled with a Hosted Based system IS NOT the same as a premised based system.


Premised Based Systems

How do you identify a premised based system? It is fairly simply. If the PBX is located in your building it is premised based. Your local carrier will connect directly to that PBX. They have the responsibility to deliver dial tone to that PBX only. Meaning, if that PBX is not “there” to receive that call the person originating the call will get a fast-busy signal. In order for your clients to not get a fast-busy signal, that PBX will need to remain operational at all times. In the case of a natural disaster or outage in your area, you may need extra protection and extra features in order to keep your business from experiencing any down time. This will sometimes need a secondary PBX for your peace of mind and protection.

You will want to talk to your PBX maintenance contact person about an off-site PBX or off-site backups. You will also need to talk to your local carrier about what to do when your PBX is off line. Where and how can you forward your calls? The most common answers are to either a cell phone or a second office located elsewhere. Keep in mind the phone number chosen will receive every call that comes in and there will be no ability to transfer any of those calls back to your team. Having to juggle calls on a cell phone is not the most ideal solution, but it is one of the less expensive options you get with a premised based PBX.


Hosted Systems

Hosted VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a model that leverages the Internet. The idea is that the call control is out of the building and in the “cloud”. Hosted models have become more popular as VoIP has become a stable and effective business model. By making sure that the company you select is hosting the PBX (call control server) in a housed facility like a carrier hotel and is geo-redundant, your disaster recovery becomes a seamless transition. Each extension can be individually routed to any number(s), eliminating the influx of calls to just one number.

Something to be aware of is that not all hosted VoIP providers are the same. This is especially true if you are shopping exclusively based on price. When considering a telephony disaster recovery plan, you must become an educated buyer and interview each potential vendor.

Below is a simple check list that will help organize some of your thoughts around disaster recovery. It is meant as a starting point and is far from an exhaustive list. A comprehensive disaster recovery plan will spell out clear hourly cost associated with downtime, a business impact analysis, and possible action guide that is to be followed by each employee.

Most companies do not do this exhaustive planning and become comfortable as long as “most bases are covered”. The checklist below is to assist in helping you start to think through some of those major needs.  By reaching out to a good VoIP provider, you will be able to address these questions.


Question Premised Solution Hosted Solution
Do you need to have a power back up? (Like a UPS) Yes No
Do you have geo-redundant systems for fail over? Yes, if you have 2 PBX’s Yes*
Can you forward or direct calls to other numbers locations or cell phones if necessary? Yes, long process with downtime Yes*
Do you need to be on premises to forward or redirect calls? Maybe No
Will inbound calls always be answered? Maybe Yes
Will you be able to handle outbound calls? Maybe Yes*
Will you be able handle a prolonged scenario? Maybe Yes
Will voicemails be accessible? No Yes
Can employees work comfortably from home Maybe Yes
Does your business benefit during certain outages? (IE a Roofing Company after a storm) Make certain you can be up to assist people that need you.
Do you need a remote location to work from? And can you easily set up at that location No Yes


More than just a firewall…

The beginning of a new year is a time when many business owners reflect on highs and lows of the previous year and begin working on their goals for the current year. Business continuity and data security are, of course, top priorities and securing the network is a vital part of this.

For network professionals, there is no word more fearsome than “breach.” A security breakdown can mean lost data, stolen secrets, expensive lawsuits, and more. This is why nearly every organization that knows what’s good for it now invests in antivirus, data loss prevention (DLP), and of course, firewalls.

These days, however, we need to protect more than just data. Enterprise communications have grown into a multi-billion dollar market, particularly due to the widespread adoption of VoIP and unified communications (UC) services. This presents a new challenge that firms will have to face in order to gain a winning edge: voice security. IP phone services present a whole new attack area to potential hackers, a frontier that firewalls simply cannot protect by themselves. The essence of this challenge lies in the fact that we’re talking about two entirely different types of information transmission that, in turn, require different security solutions.

Distinguishing between two types of traffic

Data is transmitted in packets, or “frames,” with each one containing the addresses from which the information is sent and received. When threats emerge, firewalls identify and quarantine a select range of data packets before bringing the full force of its security tools to bear. Digital voice traffic doesn’t work this way — once the circuit (voice call) is established, no further address information is exchanged until the call ends (termination of the circuit). No packets are transmitted in this scenario. In essence, these two types of traffic are speaking in different languages. It would be a major coup for network professionals if these two mutually unintelligible languages could be reconciled and administered in a uniform manner. But that point of voice and data evolution has not yet occurred.

Fortunately, this not to say that voice security isn’t achievable today: intelligent edge solutions, particularly through the use of enterprise session border controllers (eSBCs), are fully capable of securing voice traffic. While firewalls are able to approve or deny access to certain callers or call recipients based on established parameters, intelligent edge systems monitor voice sessions as a whole, and in real time. No packets? No problem. That means the ability to cut out DoS (denial of service) threats without interrupting network traffic. Conversely, reconfiguring firewall protocols on the fly can be disruptive to IP communications services.

As VoIP and UC adoption expands and their offerings become more diverse, the essential need for intelligent edge solutions increases in lockstep. In addition to security, there are two main benefits offered by eSBCs that firewalls cannot match: interoperability and quality assurance. To get a handle on why this is, we need to talk about layers.


Where do voice calls fit in the OSI model?  

The OSI model consists of seven layers which all need to be administered in unison for enterprise communications to function as intended. The problem with firewalls by themselves is that they only address layers 3 (networking) and 4 (transport) without touching layer 5 (session). Modern workplace communications, from security to call quality, depend on coherence among all three. With no control over the session layer – the one concerned with network apps like video conferencing – QoS (quality of service) cannot be assured. Intelligent edge solutions avoid these issues altogether by working in concert with a firewall: depending on the nature of the problem, eSBCs can permit firewalls to police network threats, but when the session layer comes into play, intelligent edges address the danger while avoiding disruptions in service.


Firewalls were designed to address security first, with potential collateral impacts on network functionality taking a bit of a back seat. The brilliance of intelligent edge solutions lies in the fact that firms no longer have to choose between the two.

If you’d like to learn more about intelligent edge solutions for your business, contact us at 844-PCS-VoIP (844-727-8647).