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ISDN Withdrawal – the key questions answered

In this article we answer some of the key questions you may have about the upcoming ISDN withdrawal and the wider closing of the PSTN.

What is the PSTN?

The Public Switched Telephone network or PSTN currently forms a large part of the UK telecoms infrastructure. It is made up of copper telephone lines, fibre optic cables, microwave transmission links, satellites, undersea telephone cables and mobile networks. It used for several functions, including the making of calls using analogue voice data and Supporting digital services such as ISDN.

Why is the PSTN being withdrawn?

According to Openreach:

‘the equipment which runs the PSTN is ageing and will reach its end of life by December 2025.  This means the analogue telephone voice services that are reliant on this network will no longer be available……. Spare parts are becoming out of manufacture and, additionally, many of the people who designed, built and operated the system are retired or close to retirement so skills are increasingly scarce.’

The current PSTN network will be replaced with a fibre and VoIP network.

What products will be affected?

The PSTN network currently supports a number of products which, when it is withdrawn, will no longer be available. The key one which will affect business customers is the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). Many companies have telephony systems which use either ISDN2 or ISDN30 channels to make and receive calls. Over 16 million lines and channels are affected by the swicth off and will need migrating prior to 2025.

When are the services being withdrawn?

Openreach plans to stop allowing the connection of new PSTN services, like ISDN, from September 2023. All connections will be finally switched off in December of 2025.

How will the switch off be managed?

This is still an ongoing discussion. Openreach are in regular discussion with Ofcom and the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA2) about this process. The Federation of Communication Services (FCS) is also involved in these discussions. As a member of the FCS, Deep Blue is part of the wider conversation about how the withdrawal will be managed for communications providers and their customers.

What alternative products will there be?

Openreach are currently in the process of introducing a range of new services alongside some of their existing ones to ensure internet access is available once the PSTN is discontinued. From there, call traffic will be handled as Voice over IP (VoIP). This basically means that your voice call is sent as bits of data via your internet connection. If you are using SIP trunks, Horizon or InBound then you are already making calls via this technology.

I’m using ISDN lines, should I make the switch now?

As always when big changes are happening, some companies use the uncertainty for their own gains. We have already seen customers who have received communications, both at their business and at home, implying their connectivity is under threat and they should move now before it’s too late! This, luckily, is not true. There is still almost five and a half years until the PSTN is deactivated so while it is something to start giving thought to, it is not a reason to rush to make changes.

There are, however, plenty of other good reasons to make the switch. Keep a look out for our article ‘ISDN to VoIP- is it time to make the change?’ coming soon. In it we will detail the many benefits of switching to a VoIP solution: like potential cost savings, resilience and features.

In Conclusion

Many companies are already taking advantage of digital services which will serve them now and after the switch off. For those that aren’t, there is plenty of time and plenty of options for them to make the move to. Openreach, the FCS and service providers like Deep Blue are all working closely to put plans and procedures in place to manage the switch.

Deep Blue customers can rest assured that we will be on hand to make the change as easy and stress free as possible.

Have more questions, want to get ahead of the crowd or keen to start taking advantage of VoIP for it’s many other benefits? Contact Deep Blue today on 0333 240 9100 or by email to theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Horizon – 6 tips to make sure you get the most from your Horizon system

Whatever the size and shape of your business, with Horizon you have a wealth of features available to you. Ensure you are getting the most from your Horizon system with these helpful tips so your telecoms can be truly unlimited.

Horizon Disaster recovery

Don’t get caught out! There are many things can stop you using your office but with Horizon that doesn’t mean losing your calls. With pre-programmable disaster recovery you can designate an alternative number to automatically route your calls to in the event of your Handset losing contact with Horizon (for example due to a power outage).

Can’t get to your office? Control your call plan from anywhere you have an internet connection – even your mobile. Just login to your Horizon account and redirect your calls to an alternative number or update your voicemail to let callers know what’s going on.

Custom Hold Music

Did you know you can upload custom hold music on Horizon? Use free to air music or have special music created for your company with bespoke messages. It’s so easy to change. You can even have seasonal messages or advertise promotions or events. To find out more about formatting your audio files and changing your hold music, visit our knowledgebase.

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Horizon Statistics

Visit the Performance section of the Statistics tab to learn all about your calls. See where your customers are located; great for doing target advertising. Find out when your busy days and times are to manage staffing levels accordingly.

You can also view statistics for outbound calls. Get an overview for the whole company or use the search facility to view details for a specific user.

For even more detail you can view the Advanced Statistics section. See detailed information for all calls in and out as well as internal calls. Use the search boxes at the top to filtre your results by day, time, call type (inbound or outbound), call scope (internal or external) and user. Click download to export a csv file of all results.

Call Plans

Regularly review your Horizon call plans to make sure you aren’t missing important calls. Use the scheduling tools to send calls through to overflow hunt groups at your busiest time or add an auto attendant to get calls where they need to be as quickly as possible.

If you haven’t already, consider upgrading to full call queuing. Queue up to 25 calls at a time, offer callers the option press 1 to leave a voicemail and add your own custom comfort messages.

Company Blacklist

Missing important calls due to nuisance callers tying up your lines and staff? Getting harassed by problem callers? Use the Horizon blacklist tool to stop them from getting through. Any number added to the blacklist will get an unavailable tone whenever they try to call you. Visit the knowledgebase to find out how to manage your blacklist for call groups and user handsets.

Horizon Knowledge

Deep Blue customers get full access to our knowledgebase. It’s full of helpful guides on how to setup and manage many functions on Horizon, with images to help guide you along. You also get access to our friendly, knowledgeable staff who are happy to assist you in the management of your system. We even provide free refresher training on using the Horizon portal, just give us a call on 0333 240 9100 or email horizon@deepbluetelecom.co.uk.

Not a Deep Blue customer? If you think Horizon maybe the solution you need then speak to us today about moving your numbers on to it.

Already on Horizon? Speak to us about migrating to Deep Blue.

3CX UPDATE – The latest V15.5 Update – 6 – has gone gold

3CX Update

The latest V15.5 3CX Update – 6 – has gone gold. It’s an important update too, not only does it come with many new features & improvements but it also has updated SSL certificates that are required.

Check if you already have the latest version by looking at your license on your dashboard, it should end in 6.
 
SSL Security Updates

In the next month 3CX will be updating the security certificates on their servers, required for secure communication with 3CX. This means that you will need to go to update 6 as soon as possible. 3CX continue to add many security features under the hood to ensure safe operation of the PBX and secure communications.
 
For those of you who missed the release of V15.5, Update 6 it comes with some great new features. Amongst others, it includes a WebRTC softphone within the web client, smarter smartphone apps, SSL Security updates and more. Upgrading to the latest service pack is critical and we highly recommend you do so as soon as possible.  

3CX Version 15.0 and 15.5 Users

To make the upgrade process easy for you 3CX have prepared some tools which will automatically upgrade your PBX to Update 6 through all service packs. These tools can be used by all customers who are already on version 15.0 and 15.5 regardless if you have maintenance or not.

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Back up 3CX to either your documents folder (preferable) or desktop.

Uninstall 3CX

Install version 6 – download the up to date version here: https://www.3cx.com/phone-system/download-links/

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Employee Leaving – seven things to remember

Employee LeavingAn employee leaving is often a stressful time – and if it’s not a happy split could cost your business thousands in lost revenue or expenses. Here are seven tips you can take to protect your business and make the employee leaving as hassle free as possible.

1 Numbers

Did the leaver have a DDi? Don’t miss a call by recording a voicemail message to say it’s no longer in use or forwarding the number on. Learn how to do this for Horizon, InBound and iPecs.  If the employee leaving was part of any Hunt Groups make sure to edit these.

2 Email

Change the password on any email accounts the employee leaving had access to. Consider how you are going to manage the closing of that email address. Shutting it down too quickly may result in customers and suppliers not being able to reach you, or worse, new business opportunities being missed. Use options like forwarders to send any emails to alternative addresses and auto responders to let people know that that email is no longer in use.

3 Infrastructure

If the leaver was involved in the management of your telecoms systems, IT infrastructure or any other technical systems you have, make sure these are reviewed. Change login details, review user permissions and update security settings. Find out how to make changes to your Deep Blue provided services at our knowledgebase.

4 Portals

With workers moving away from the traditional office environment, many systems now have online portals. These can be accessed anywhere at anytime. Take time to review portals to make sure that they are up to date and that only those who should have access, do. To find out how to manage your Deep Blue provided services visit our knowledgebase.

5 Suppliers

Suppliers are the lifeblood of many companies. If the leaver dealt with your company’s suppliers make sure they are updated. Tell them of the employee leaving and who their new point of contact will be. You can update your Deep Blue approved contact by completing our Contact details form.

6 Training

Arrange training for new staff so they are ready to take over from the employee leaving. At Deep Blue we provide free refresher and new starter training on Horizon and InBound. Specialist training on other systems with one of our highly trained engineers is also available. To learn more or to book email theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk or call 0333 240 9100.

7 Leaving do

Plan the party safe in the knowledge that everything else is taken care of (whether you invite the leaver is up to you….)

 

As business communication specialists Deep Blue are available to support you – whatever the situation. Not yet a customer? Speak to us today about moving your services to Deep Blue.

 

 

 

Top Tips for a stress free Summer

Everyone looks forward to the warmer months, but in the business world it can be a balancing act between giving your staff the time off they deserve while still giving your customers the service levels they need.

Here are our top tips to becoming a summer sensation and recharging your batteries without compromising on service!

Prepare Your Customers Let your customers know in advance when you will be away, give yourself that time to really enjoy your break.

Put Marketing on Auto-Pilot Don’t go completely dark on the marketing front so people start to wonder where you are. Pre-schedule posts, blogs and other forms to stay connected.

Set Your ‘Out of Office’ Decide how often and when you plan on checking in, what date you will be returning back to work and how you can be reached in an emergency (if at all) and detail those Summer rules in your out of office announcement.

Intelligently Handle Incoming Calls Whether you close completely or reduce your hours, let a ‘Virtual Office’ take care of the day-to-day. From voicemail to call forwarding to auto-attendants, your phone system has the capability to intelligently handle incoming calls while you are away.

Deep Blue customers can log into our Knowledge Base to find assistance with setting these facilities or contact us for more information on a tailored system for your business

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It’s here! The Deep Blue Knowledgebase

The first few customers have received their logins for the Deep Blue knowledgebase and the feedback we have had so far has been really positive! Don’t worry if you haven’t received your login yet as we are rolling these out throughout the week.

When you first login, try typing ‘How do I use the knowledgebase?’ in the searchbox to find out how to get the most from the information available.

If you spot an error or can’t find the answer you are looking for please let me know at rachel.macleod@deepbluetelecom.co.uk so I can get it fixed, the knowledgebase is a continually growing and changing resource so we appreciate any comments or feedback.

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Avoiding Telecoms Fraud at Christmas and year round

With many offices closing or operating with minimal staff at this time of year, it is the ideal time for fraudsters to strike. Telecoms fraud is something that spoils the start of the New Year for companies year after year, but there are steps you can take to prevent your company from being affected.

Make sure phone systems and voicemails are secured with passwords that are changed regularly, if your system has remote access configured, make sure your network is secure.

If you don’t need to make calls to premium rate and international numbers, consider setting up outbound call barring for these numbers. If you are using Horizon you can do this yourself through the portal, for any other system just give us a call on 0333 240 9100 to get it setup.

If you get your calls through Deep Blue you get the reassurance of knowing that our systems monitor call traffic volumes and alert us if you hit your daily or weekly threshold to minimise your exposure if you are unfortunate enough to get hacked.

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#FestiveFailovers

The last thing you want at this busy time of year is to be worrying about your phone system being out of action so for the final part of our Christmas tips section we will be talking about festive Failovers.

 

InBound DR Plan – Build an alternative call plan to use if the destination of your main call plan is unavailable for any reason, when you have finished your call plan, click Validate to make sure it is correct then check the box that says ‘Make this my DR plan’. You can then go to the point my number tab and activate this plan at anytime that you need it.

 

Horizon Hunt Group Unreachable – Go to Call Groups > Hunt Group and click edit next to the number you wish to set up. Select Options and check the box next to ‘Enable Call Forwarding when unreachable’, put in your failover number (any number that wouldn’t be affected by a power/broadband outage such as a mobile) and click Save.

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The system will automatically trip over to the failover number if communication between the handsets and the Horizon platform is disrupted.

Fixed Line – Should your phone lines go down, or should you be unable to access your premises, simply call the office on 0333 240 9100 and we will be able to apply a temporary divert at the exchange to forward your calls to an alternative number.

 

That’s it for our Christmas tips, all that’s left is to wish our customers a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Keep a look out in January for updates on the launch of our New Knowledge base to help you get the most from your telecoms set up.

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#ChristmasCallPlan – Call Forwards 2

With the Horizon and InBound platforms it is quick and easy to re-route your calls over Christmas.

Previously InBound – Create a Christmas call plan using the date and time control nodes to send calls where you need them, when you need them. Add in a Divert node to build additional destination numbers if your main destination is busy or unavailable. Use the ‘Schedule Activate Option’ so you can build you Call Plan in advanced, knowing it will activate when you need it to. Available here.

Today Horizon – Use Call forward and Divert options to send calls to mobiles. Set up Voicemail to email alerts so you get copies of your Voicemail messages sent to your email for you to listen to where ever you need to. Use the Hunt Group schedule facility to plan your call plans in advanced.

Horizon Call Forward Hunt Group –

Send calls to your mobile or home phone using the Hunt Group Call Forward options. Go to Call Groups>Hunt Group, click Edit next to the Hunt Group you wish to forward. To send calls directly to your Divert number, go to Advanced Settings and use the call forward option (make sure to hit Save whenever you make changes!).

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To forward to another number after first ringing on your Horizon handsets go to Options and Use the Forward after x seconds option.

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Voicemail to Email Hunt Group –

Receive an email notification whenever someone leaves you a voicemail, including the date, time, callers number and a copy of the recording. Go to Call Groups>Hunt Group and click edit next to the number you wish to make changes to. Go to the Voicemail tab tick the box for ‘Notify me at this address’, type the address you wish the email to be sent to and click save.

 

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Hunt Group Schedule –

Add Christmas, New Year and other Bank Holidays into your call Schedule. Under Advanced settings, click Edit Next to Schedule, then click the plus sign next to Additional Routing.

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Name your Schedule and click Create, on the Add Event screen, give you event a name and specify the start and end dates (these are displayed in month/day format). If you untick the box marked All day event you can specify your start and end times. In the example below the event covers from midday on 24th Dec to 5pm on 28th, after this normal routing would apply:

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Once you have set your date and time you can then click create, you can add further events (such as New Year) by clicking on Add event again. Once all your events are created, close the window. Finally click Save.

Not sure? Just email details of the dates, times and forward number to info@deepbluetelecom.co.uk with the subject Christmas Call Plan and we will set it up for you.

#Festive Failovers coming on Monday.

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