Strategies for Home Working

For those customers that do not currently work at home with their Voxhub service it is relatively simple to make the move.

Using the Voxhub for iPhone or Android App, it can work as a replacement for the office phone with exactly the same telephone numbers and ringing rules for teams and main lines. Calls between users work the same way as with office desk phones using the normal extension number and are free of call charges.

Getting up and running with the Voxhub App

The app needs to be downloaded from the App Store or Play Store and the user then logs in using their Voxhub username and password.  For customers without user accounts active they will need to be set-up first.

Depending on the complexity of your account with us it is possible to move to apps by us taking your current set-up and simply adding the Voxhub App to it. The current ringing rules and extensions stay the same.

The current challenges we are having with some customers include.

  1. Needing to set-up user accounts for those without accounts.
  2. Verifying the set-up on your account is up-to-date.

Largely speaking getting up and running with the App is reasonably straightforward and our team can work through any snags you may have.

Limitations of Home Internet Connections

Working at home means that you will be relying on the quality of your home Internet connection and Wifi equipment you are using.

VoIP is a realtime service meaning that it is immediately obvious if there are any connectivity problems. Your connectivity must not become congested with other traffic, so if there are others in your house using the Internet then this can affect the quality of your calls.

Some home broadband providers supply equipment that is not compatible with all VoIP services. The only way to know if this is the case is to try it.

Home Wifi might be advertised as the best on the market but these are often nothing like as good as commercial and office Wifi. Wifi access points costing over £200 easily outperform home Wifi from home routers.  You may find that you need to work nearer your Wifi aerial or move your router if it is poorly located or shielded behind other objects.

You may be able to use the Voxhub App over 4G instead of Wifi depending on your cellphone signal strength and provider.

Taking Office Phones Home

We do not recommend that you try to take your office desk phone home. The majority of phones we supply do not come with a power supply in the office and this may need to be purchased.

Office desk phones use ethernet cables and these need to be plugged in to your router. Location of where you want to work and the distance to the router needs to be cabled properly.

Finally, we have more problems with home connections and office phones due to home router incompatibilities when compared to our Voxhub App.

Posted in Latest, News

Coronavirus Update Tuesday 17th March

This week our team have begun working at home. The biggest impact to our team is the increased demand for our support as a result of customers moving to home working. We are currently keeping up with requests but the work involved is not always straightforward as we are trying to understand that requirements that do differ between customers.

The majority of the customers that are working from home have taken our Mobile App for iPhone or Android as a direct copy of their office phone to use over their home Wifi. We are currently offering this with no set-up charge and as a simple add-on to existing services for each phone or user already on the account.

Please remember that VoIP based calls are sensitive to the quality of your network. If you are in a household that is trying to make the best of being at home by using the Internet,  this increased household demand could affect quality of calls.

We will be publishing advice for customers in the next set of posts on various strategies to help deal.

We all wish our customers well in this current time.

Posted in Latest, News, Voxhub

Coronavirus Readiness Planning

In response to the emerging coronavirus threat in the UK, I am outlining some of our preparations and providing transparency on how it may affect the operations of our Voxhub business.

It is looking very likely that over the coming weeks many people will be asked to work from home by their employers. For our customers, we will become a focal point to ensure their communications continue to operate and we will be aiming to help them work effectively despite the challenges this may cause.

Operationally, we have two areas that provide the greatest concern to us.

  • Our ability to deliver new services if we receive a sudden increases in demand for the set-up of home working services.
  • Our own staff being off work and the corresponding impact to our operations.

What are we doing right now?

To address these concerns we have begun by reviewing each of our customers’ accounts and their readiness for these changes. For office based workers we have some set-up work we can do in advance to speed up the process of enabling working from home. For other environments like restaurants, warehouses and retail environments we may need to put in place alternative plans. We will be doing this behind the scenes and it is likely that we will be contacting customers about any individual challenges they may have. This is a precautionary step and we are hoping that our efforts will not be needed.

For our own team we will initially be curbing any non-essential business travel. We will be recommending our team reduce the number of unnecessary trips into Central London and to places with a large number of people. Our team are already prepared to work from home as part of our existing business continuity planning.

How can Voxhub help?

The Voxhub mobile app for iPhone and Android can be used to work from home using WiFi to make and receive telephone calls, as well as communicate internally. We also have our CallStation softphone for Mac and Windows for those that want to use their computer for phone calls.

Many customers already have these services but for those that need to take them due to coronavirus we will be making a concession on contract lengths and a reduction of set-up charges that would otherwise be charged.

What can our customer do now?

We urge customers to involve us sooner rather than later as part of their readiness planning. We need to understand any specific challenges they may have and to prevent us receiving sudden requests for rapid assistance that we cannot deliver at short notice.

To discuss your specific requirements call us on 020 3030 3150 or by dialling 150 from your Voxhub phone.

Posted in Latest, News, Voxhub

Voxhub Christmas and New Year Operating Hours 2019

Voxhub would like to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of our customers.

See below for our working hours over Christmas and New Year. We will be working our standard office hours with the exception of Bank Holidays where our office will be closed. We will of course be operating our usual 24hr fault reporting service throughout the holiday period.

Our availability

Sales, General Enquiries and Non-Urgent Support

Open

Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:30

excluding Public Holidays

We are closed on the following days over the festive period

Wednesday December 25th

Thursday December 26th

Wednesday January 1st

Service Affecting Faults

For service affecting faults we offer a 24 hour fault resolution service all year round including weekends and all public holidays.

 

Posted in News, Voxhub

Call Quality Issues 09/12/2019

 

Update at 11:22am 

This issue has now been resolved and no further issues should be experienced by our customers.

Call Quality Issues

Our customers have reported intermittent call quality issues impacting both inbound and outbound audio.

Our Systems Team are currently investigating the issue and are looking to put a workaround in place.

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Posted in Voxhub

Voxhub Easter Opening Hours 2019

See below for our working hours over Easter. We will be working our standard office hours with the exception of Bank Holidays where our office will be closed. We will of course be operating our usual 24hr fault reporting service throughout the holiday period.

Our availability

Sales, General Enquiries and Non-Urgent Support

Open

Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:30

excluding Public Holidays

Easter Weekend Closures 2019

Friday April 19th

Monday April 22nd

Service Affecting Faults

For service affecting faults we offer a 24 hour fault resolution service all year round including weekends and all public holidays.

Posted in Voxhub

Voxhub Christmas and New Year Opening Hours 2018

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of our customers.

See below for our working hours over Christmas and New Year. We will be working our standard office hours with the exception of Bank Holidays where our office will be closed. We will of course be operating our usual 24hr fault reporting service throughout the holiday period.

Our availability

Sales, General Enquiries and Non-Urgent Support

Open

Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:30

excluding Public Holidays

Christmas Closures

Tuesday December 25th

Wednesday December 26th

Tuesday January 1st

Service Affecting Faults

For service affecting faults we offer a 24 hour fault resolution service all year round including weekends and all public holidays.

 

Posted in News, Voxhub

Changes to call charges to UK 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers

This summer the communications regulator Ofcom is introducing a new initiative called UK Calling. UK Calling has been designed to make it clearer and easier for everyone to understand how much it costs to make a call from consumer mobiles and landlines to all 0845, 087, 09  and 118 numbers (also known as ‘service numbers’).

From 1st July 2015, the cost of calling all 0845, 087, 09  and 118 numbers will be made up of two parts:

  • An access charge: This part of the call charge goes to your phone company, charged as pence per minute.
  • A service charge: This is the rest of the call charge. The organisation you’re calling decides how much you will be charged and will tell you this.

When numbers are printed or advertised on websites you will see a message like this to communicate to you the service charge for that number.

“Calls cost XXp [or XXp per minute] plus your phone company’s access charge.”

Ofcom is requiring all major phone companies, including Voxhub, to introduce these changes. The access charge from Voxhub will be 3p +VAT per minute. Voxhub has no control over the service charge part of the costs.

Other points to note:

  • The changes do not affect calls made to ordinary landline numbers (01, 02), 03 numbers or mobile (07) numbers.
  • Neither do they affect calls made from payphones, international calls, or calls to the UK when roaming overseas.
  • All calls to Freephone numbers (which begin 0800 or 0808) we be made free from mobile phones, just as they are from landlines.
  • If you operate any 084 or 087 numbers you will need to ensure that your service charge is clearly displayed wherever you advertise or promote the number. The service charge must be prominent and in close proximity to the number.

To find out more, go to ukcalling.info

Posted in Industry, News, Voxhub

WebRTC: Game changer or time waster?

At this coming weeks European VoIP Summit, I am speaking on the panel titled, WebRTC – Game changer or time waster? This is a subject that has been discussed to death over the last couple of years at industry gatherings. The title of the panel discussion seems to indicate that some are beginning to tire with WebRTC.

I am not sure how it happened but at some point WebRTC has been implanted into the industry psyche as a wonder technology that will be a huge disruptor in telecoms. I think that a lot of this hype emanates from ‘thought leaders’ like Dean Bubley whose Disruptive Analysis blog introduced many to WebRTC. Dean’s early reporting of WebRTC should have woken people up to the technology but I cannot help but wonder that anyone still undecided by it’s importance might be those that will be sitting it out.

The format of panels makes it difficult to discuss a topic in any real detail. So just in case my panel session does not give me the chance or you are not attending this weeks VoIP summit, here are some of my thoughts on WebRTC and who I think is best placed to benefit from the technology.

WebRTC is a user to user technology, it connects two or more people at the browser level and provides the plumbing to then share text, video and audio content directly. The obvious uses are instant messaging, conference applications and voice calls but there are a multitude of uses where WebRTC can add features to existing services. Regardless of the application, there must exist a strong user model to form the foundation of any WebRTC application. So service providers without a strong user model will find it difficult to capitalise on WebRTC. The majority of VoIP providers and channel resellers that I know in the UK have focussed on providing telephone replacement services and have little or no multi-user based services provided by web interfaces. They lack the foundations to build WebRTC services. Online services providers with a social media focus, community sites or those that have a strong user model are better placed to provide WebRTC based services. Communities like LinkedIn for example. Our team at Voxhub developed a strong user telephony model right from the beginning and this has meant that we have found it relatively easy to incorporate WebRTC into our existing services.

WebRTC is a developer technology, it adds capabilities to the browser that opens up a world of applications that otherwise required cumbersome and proprietary plugins to achieve the same result. Competent JavaScript developers can bring their existing skills to WebRTC. This greatly increases the number of people that can create WebRTC applications. In my opinion the World Wide Web exists today only because it was easy for people to write HTML. The greater the number of people that can get involved, the greater the potential and chances of success for a technology. JavaScript is slowly becoming the dominant programming language on the Internet. So it will be online service providers and those with strong development teams that will be best placed to capitalise on WebRTC. It often amazes me at the VoIP industry events how few people I meet are from Internet software backgrounds or have any development ambitions further than their own online management portals. The telecom industries’ reliance on selling rather than developing is a huge weakness. The whole channel market relies on selling products and services developed by other people. So perhaps it is those with reliance on others to develop or provide WebRTC services for them that view it as a time waster?

WebRTC is an enabling technology. It is just one important component that goes towards the overall movement of software replacing and enhancing traditional markets. At the moment everyone in the telecoms industry is concerned with service differentiators, WebRTC provides an opportunity to develop those differences but only to companies that are prepared to invest in service and software development. WebRTC might prove to be a game changer for some but in my opinion the game changer for the industry is software.

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Years: Hello Ofcom

Before we started Voxhub it wasn’t our first thought to pay a visit to Ofcom. We were Internet people and had never had any need for dealings with the Telecom regulator.

I had been reintroduced to VoIP technology by a friend, Daniel Pocock, in the early part of 2004. When I last tried it in 2002 it looked promising but had not captured my interest as something that was ready for widespread use. Daniel wanted to start a VoIP wholesale business and at the time I was still trying to clear my commitments to start work on Voxhub.

Daniel needed to apply for telephone numbers through Ofcom and although this process is reasonably straight forward at the application level he was concerned that he had to justify the application. You were given blocks of 10,000 numbers for each area code and the 0207 area for example was running low. Daniel really wanted this area code as it represented a large target audience for his customers.

At that time, I can confess to knowing very little about how the UK Telecom market operated at a technical, process or business level. I had been one of the few that had worked already for 10 years in the Internet industry which was pretty rare at the time. I knew domain names and how they operated, so I assumed that the central process of allocating and managing numbers would be very similar.

Daniel invited me along to his Ofcom meeting as an example of a potential wholesale customer for the numbers.

The meeting seemed to be going well. However, as the meeting went on it became apparent that we were being pushed away from our original goal of applying for new numbers. One of the Ofcom team was a porting specialist and he was adamant that we needed to focus on porting since most people wanting services already had telephone numbers. He also gave us the impression that porting was something that was very straightforward to do.

Fantastic, I had learnt some useful facts about telephone numbers from the experts and helped Daniel have his application granted. A perfect day.

STOP, present day reader. All is not as it seems. This appears to be story of hopeful people, getting advice and heading off in to the future with everything they need to provide new and innovative services to the market.

Roll forward six months to just before we launched Voxhub. Daniel had his number allocation, they were however not live on the UK telephone network though due to the time it takes to get new number ranges up and running. Porting seemed like a distant dream too with no movement from any other communications provider Daniel had contacted. We had some 0845 numbers but these were only good for testing.

Roll forward another six months. The 0207 numbers were live for Daniel. However, we needed a full UK coverage of just over 600 area codes and porting to be able to continue.

We had hit our first major stumbling block. We needed numbers and the ability to port numbers that had been explained to us as a simple thing to do by Ofcom. Our loyalties to Daniel were being stretched as he couldn’t supply what we needed. So we started to look elsewhere.

What we discovered was that other companies were also finding it difficult. One in particular, Magrathea, had got further with porting. They had about 20 area codes due to be ready for porting any day but only for BT numbers. Although, this turned out to still be another 3 months.

So with porting being such an important process and it being so simple. Why is it that Magrathea took another 3 years to get porting working for all area codes with just BT?

Daniel was forced to give up his wholesale dreams and is now a leading contributor to open source telephony and Debian Linux. We ended up buying his wholesale business so we could continue to operate his telephone numbers.

Roll forward to 2015. Ofcom are still the regulator for our industry and have played a largely observer role in number porting. It is my opinion that number porting in the UK has actually gone backwards over the last ten years. During 2014 Voxhub had significant problems porting with BT IPExchange which seems to have been set up as a service with no thought to number porting.

I will come back to porting in a future blog post with some ideas that I think could improve the processes for both consumers and providers.

Posted in Industry, Voxhub