Use Voice PRI to Eliminate Excess Analog Lines
By Steve Norris
Does your thriving business still operate on numerous analog lines in addition to your Voice PRI? Do the monthly charges seem to add up month after month after month, and you wonder why you even still have them? Did you know you can get rid of nearly all of your old analog line technology when implementing a Voice PRI, and eliminate those excess costs?
All too often, companies continue to operate on archaic telecom products when they have not been properly advised on the latest and greatest products in the marketplace. Although analog POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines are traditionally among the most reliable voice circuits available, the cost of having too many justifies a better solution immediately.
POTS lines run anywhere from around $25 a month for a bare bones service line to over $50 a month depending on local serving area, calling package, features and provider. If you are using analog lines for your local calling service, it may be in your best interest to seriously consider other alternatives.
With your business telephone system or PBX, you can insert an analog line card to convert your digital station ports (which you typically have available) into analog ports specifically for analog devices. Examples of analog devices include the following:
- Cordless telephones
- Conference room speaker phones
- Fax machines
- Modems (Yes, there are still some out there!)
The investment in a typical 4 port analog card is only a couple hundred dollars, so the payback is well worth the investment if you can eliminate high monthly recurring expenses. By leveraging the power of your PRI circuit, you can eliminate all of your excess analog line costs to save hundreds of dollars in unnecessary expenses per month. Very few large companies operate ANY analog lines except as required by law for elevators, burglar alarms, fire alarms, or backups. They have consistently found that the reliability and capabilities of their PRI circuits make analog lines an unneeded expense.
Are there situations where I should consider keeping analog lines?
Yes. Let’s take a look at first things first though. What do you have and why?
It’s not uncommon to run across companies with dozens of analog lines that are no longer in use if they have not been audited in recent years. The costs of unused lines may be costing you hundreds each month if you are unaware of their use. You should know EXACTLY how many analog lines your facility needs, and EXACTLY what they are for. Otherwise, you ARE wasting your money. Old lines that are left intact and forgotten about are often for old fax lines or modems.
The idea of backup analog lines in case of PRI failure is also reason that is consistently used by your local telephone company to “save” their POTS line revenue stream. “What if your PRI goes down?” is one of their favorite questions. Are you telling me your 99.99% guaranteed uptime isn’t any good? Of course outages can happen, so just make sure you have a plan in place in case of service failure.
Larger facilities will have default forwarding at the carrier switch level to forward their calls on their PRI in case of interruption to another facility or to another number if the circuit is down. (That feature is often called Truck Group call forwarding.) The number that you forward your PRI calls to will typically need to have staff available to answer the rerouted calls, or a voicemail attached to catch incoming messages. You do NOT need numerous outgoing analog line banks “just in case” because nearly every one of your employees on staff carries a cell phone. The major concern of years past used to be about safety and being isolated from communications access. “If my PRI goes down, and I have no analog lines, I won’t be able to make a call!” That is simply no longer the case. However, make sure that if you do have line failure, your calls are routed as desired so you do not miss calls during your service interruption.
On occasion T-1’s CAN lose connectivity, but it is most often from line cuts on the local loop. If that happens, since your PRI runs on the same copper wires as your pots lines, they are likely going to cut and out of service as well. So why pay extra for them?
In case of power failure, battery backup can provide temporary power service for your PRI carrier piece of equipment and phone system, just as you might use for your computers. Areas with dirty electricity and transient voltage problems should consider a backup analog line or two, as the power runs through those lines, and they can still provide connectivity in case of electrical failure. That is a recommendation based strictly on the area in which you operate, and you will already know if you electricity issues in your area. One thing to keep in mind: If you hook up those backups to your telephone system and the electricity is out, the phone lines will only work if your phone system is still powered. If your backup power does not last, your phone lines will not work unless they are set up to operate outside of the switch.
In years past, older business telephone systems or data technology also would often require a modem for remote access to service, troubleshoot, etc, but that method is now arcane and outdated. Any newer technology would be assigned a static IP address on the LAN (Local area network) behind a firewall and be accessible over your High speed internet connection by your vendor of choice. You should no longer need analog lines for these services.
Take inventory of all analog lines in your facility, and convert as many as possible to your PRI via analog card technology. Remember that some services like elevators, burglar alarms and fire alarms must be run over analog lines, and cannot be converted. Although they will actually work over the PRI in most cases, you put your facility at risk for regular false alarms during carrier line testing and severe liability in case of emergency. In addition, if the electricity is out at your facility, and your battery backup is depleted, your facility is wide open for theft and fire without proper authority notification. As always, work with your telecommunications professional to conduct a thorough facility audit before converting or disconnecting lines.
Steve Norris is a Texas based Independent Telecom Agent for over 80 carriers nationwide, and specializes in multi-location businesses with advanced infrastructure needs. In addition to representing carrier services with his company Telephone Guru, he also represents high end business telephone system solutions. Over 90% of his clients are able to implement new technology at little or no cost with his proprietary TeleTAP solution. Visit him on the web Business Communication Solutions and IP Telephony Solutions.