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VoiceHost
Advanced Telecommunications Hosted PBX and VoIP Network Provider
Advanced Telecommunications Hosted PBX and VoIP Network Provider
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What is #HostedPBX? This explainer video covers the basics of VoIP 'Cloud Telephony', 'Hosted PBX' and 'Unified Communications.' #voicehost

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What is IP Telephony?
IP telephony (Internet Protocol telephony) is a general term used to describe voice and fax using the Internet Protocol. It's used interchangeably with the other mainstream telecoms acronyms VoIP and UC. This form of digital communication is much more efficient and resilient than SS7. The PSTN (The aggregate of telecommunications networks) is moving to digital IP based technologies and by 2025 the PSTN with the United Kingdom should be completely IP based.[1]

Using IP data connectivity, calls travel as packets of data in the same way your mobile 4g or your home broadband works. This avoids the bottlenecks of the analogue based connections and offers scalability relative to the available bandwidth. According to global internet firm Akamai the average internet connection in the UK is 16.1Mbps[2]

This average speed of 16.1Mbps crudely translates to circa 100 concurrent IP voice calls using the G.711 codec (PSTN Quality Equivalent). There are of course major enhanced capabilities such as High Definition HD audio quality, video and instant messaging.

Unlike traditional phone services, IP telephony services when used in conjunction with a Cloud Telecommunications Provider can be routed anywhere that offers IP connectivity, this means that your service is dynamic and can be accessed from anywhere and routed to anywhere.

What are the Standards?
The standards proposed for IP telephony on the PSTN currently open for consultation with the UK regulator Ofcom and the NICC[3]

The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is proposed along with the G.711 as the default voice codec for internetworking.

What do I need to make VoIP calls?
You can use a physical handset or a computer program/application to make and receive calls. The SIP hardware market is mature now with major brands offering analogue alternatives at competitive prices. Apps from computers and smartphones are also available. See the VoiceHost store store.voicehost.co.uk for further information.

Openreach to consult Communication Provider customers on switch to digital phone services by 2025 - http://news.openreach.co.uk/pressreleases/openreach-to-consult-communication-provider-customers-on-switch-to-digital-phone-services-by-2025-2507133
Average UK broadband speed 2017 - https://www.akamai.com/uk/en/about/our-thinking/state-of-the-internet-report/
NICC Standards ALL IP NETWORKS - http://www.niccstandards.org.uk/meetings/All%20IP%20NICC%20slides%20for%20230318%20event%20v3.pdf

https://www.voicehost.co.uk/blog/what-ip-telephony-internet-protocol-telephony

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Why Choose VoiceHost? - The IP Telephony platform providers market
A retrospective of the last decade highlights provider consolidation due to the increased number of providers selling telephony platforms and partly due to the complexities and costs of running a scalable platform.

There are two distinct camps in the 'Cloud Telephony Platform' arena and those are:

Pure-play telco platform vendors such as BroadSoft, Metaswitch, Netsapiens, and Ribbon (Genband), Centile (Providers include Vonage, CenturyLink, Gamma, Wavenet, Exponential-e, VanillaIP, BT, Daisy and many many more........)

Orignal Platform Developers such as VoiceHost

Why do providers choose Broadsoft?
The benefits are comparable to Personal Contract Hire agreements. The providers get a shiny new platform but only on a licenced basis. There's no capital outlay or investment and the maintenance overheads are vastly removed.

The flood of Vanilla platforms is almost exclusively down to current Broadsoft dominance and is the reason why VoiceHost can differentiate as a platform provider.

Why should the consumer or reseller care and does it really matter?
There are some obvious points to understand before making any decisions and how these are ranked against your needs, they are:

Costs
User fees will be supporting the providers bulk licence pool which means unused capacity is still paid for, so higher user fees are inevitable.
Obsfucate costs through bundles and long-term contracts. Most will try to tie you in as Pure-Play Providers will need to forecast their licences and tightly control their overheads making them need to tie you in for long periods upwards of 12 months.

Agility
The lack of ownership means that as customers requirements change, the provider may not be able to. In a rapidly changing landscape companies that can be agile and offer dynamic propositions keep their customers happier for longer.

Resolution Times and SLA. The increased length and complexity of the supply chain means that fault and query resolution times will be longer.
Privacy

Privacy is paramount in cloud provider space and you can be assured that because we manage and run our own platform that there are as fewer people exposed to our systems as possible.
GDPR and other privacy legislation is also a factor as companies like Broadsoft Inc would constitute an international data transfer which is even riskier when dealing with companies that are not Privacy-Shield registered and attested https://www.privacyshield.gov/list

Development and Neutrality
Vendor Agnostic. We firmly believe that interop should be customer driven. The recent purchase of Broadsoft from Cisco presents a huge conflict of interests. It can no longer be considered vendor neutral which is bad news if you want to BYOD or use another vendor.
Customer-driven development and bespoke work are unheard off or extremely expensive as providers have no control over the development and performance of the platform.

VoiceHost develops and manages its platform along with the added benefits of being an ISP. Our Network is designed specifically for IP Telephony and cloud communications.

https://www.voicehost.co.uk/blog/why-choose-voicehost
Why Choose VoiceHost?
Why Choose VoiceHost?
voicehost.co.uk

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BT aims to move its UK customers to IP telephony by 2025.

BT is shutting its traditional telephone network in the UK, according to an email seen by The Register.

The public switched telephone network (PSTN) closure is part of the company’s plans to move in a fibre network direction in terms of its infrastructure.

All phonecalls will eventually be made over broadband using VoIP systems, which means the company’s existing wholesale line rental products, which are reliant on the PSTN, will need to be removed.

BT Openreach runs the network used by all but one of the telecoms providers in the UK.

A legacy technology
Openreach will be opening a consultation in May to discuss transition strategies with UK providers. A switch to VoIP will mean BT will have one less network to maintain, and therefore be able to funnel its efforts into improving broadband standards rather than continuing to manage a technology with a declining number of users.

VoIP-only necessitates that every home in the UK has the internet capacity required to submit voice, and this may take some time to organise. Openreach is regulated by Ofcom, and the body will likely have many caveats in place.

From analogue to digital
Openreach explained the change to communications providers in an email: “This is a truly significant change for the industry and represents a move from an analogue to a digital, fibre-led future. These changes will affect how you do business with Openreach.”

A spokesperson for Openreach said: “We’ll be working with our communication provider customers over the coming months as we consider the move to IP voice services, where broadband rather than voice becomes the primary service.”

While the end of the landline may evoke some nostalgia in people, the focus on improving and expanding fibre-optic infrastructure is a crucial step in terms of keeping up with the pace of digital transformation elsewhere.

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A new survey of 500 UK businesses by Opinium, which was commissioned by broadband ISP Beaming, has found that on average firms suffered two major internet outages each during 2017 and thus lost almost 82 million productive hours.

The good news is that an average of two outages during 2017 is roughly half the number from 2016. The bad news is that the total amount of productive time lost increased by 4% year-on-year, mainly due to the severity of the outages and it taking longer to restore service. The table below shows how this breaks down for different sizes of business.
https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2018/03/uk-businesses-suffered-two-major-internet-outages-each-in-2017.html


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What is an IVR and what are its benefits?
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is simply the automation of call routing from basic inputs such as keypad tones (DTMF) or speech. IVRs are a vital addition to your call handling capabilities.

If implemented intelligently, IVRs can strengthen your customer care and save you money by improving workflows.

Make it Personal
Use custom prompts to make it personal. Just because your callers are hearing a recording and not a live operator, doesn’t mean it can’t be personal. Use your handset/softphone to record or upload professional cuts via the portal.

Increase Productivity
IVR will increase your productivity. Routing your callers to the desired department or staff member first time means that less time is spent on hold whilst someone confers with colleagues to find the right answer. Transferring the caller around unnecessarily in a game of virtual ping-pong is the fastest way to irritate and lose customers permanently. The less time you and your staff spend finding the right person to help, the more people you can help.

Offer a get out clause
Not everyone wants to talk to a real person and conversely, some people don’t live exhaustive IVRs. Offering clearly defined routes with the options for direct extension entry or to transfer to a physical receptionist keeps everyone happy.

Increase first contact resolution
Skills-based routing will increase your resolutions on the first attempt and leave a great impression. When a caller is routed to the best employee to service their needs, questions are often answered and problems are resolved on the first try. That equates to satisfied customers and a more efficient customer service department.

Efficiency = Successful Business
IVR increases inbound call capacity as they answer every possible inbound call directed at them. This means you can easily handle high call volumes. If your business uses IVRs to direct callers, then more calls can be answered simultaneously. With traditional reception, there would be a spike of “please holds” or annoying on-hold music while customers awaiting transfer. IVR allows for a higher call volume because customers transfer themselves!

Image is everything
It can make your company look bigger than it is. IVR creates the illusion that your company is so huge, one receptionist couldn’t possibly manage your call volume. It contributes to a professional image, especially if you are working in a 3 person office!

Reduce operational costs
IVR systems will replace a receptionist or a customer service agent who answers calls and directs calls to agents. They are also very affordable, will increase efficiency and will reduce operational costs, so the ROI is huge.

https://www.voicehost.co.uk/blog/benefits-ivr
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The Future of Telco Number Portability – Combining ENUM and Blockchain

There is no doubt that number portability is antiquated. It currently serves only to perpetuate consumer and business harm as telecoms marches irrevocably into the IP world and the PSTN in its current iteration becomes obsolete.

The fundamental flaw with the current Ofcom number portability system is that it relies on telecommunications providers agreeing to communicate and crucially update the data on their private ENUM database and coordinate the updating of other providers too. ENUM databases essentially store data on telephone number(s) that’s not dissimilar to an ISPs internet routing table, both are fundamentally used for a lookup and potential onward destination.

There are, of course, a series of checks and balances and this is where telecommunications number portability has been left behind the curve due to advances in technology.

Historically there have been investigations into how to join the dots between providers by using a centralised database of numbers and subscribers. The obvious non-starter is ownership. No single provider nor consortium wanted to invest or manage the system and the regulator Ofcom rebuked the concept. Introducing a single point of failure with an overlord would be irresponsible thus the idea fell by the wayside.

Thanks to the power of Blockchain there is now no reason why number portability cannot be achieved almost instantaneously. Blockchain, a technology that has been rampant in the FinTech sector now stands ideally placed to disrupt telecommunications and benefit providers, businesses and consumers no end.

The potential marriage of ENUM and Blockchain is nothing new. TelcoFuturists have been musing over the potential synergy for a few years now.

Blockchain is a technology that enables information to be recorded in a shared database and it’s often referred to as a "distributed digital ledger technology". Blockchain technology has been in the public domain since 2009 with cryptocurrencies and is credited to the person(s) behind BitCoin.

Blockchain inherently offers the following advantages over alternative systems:

It cannot be controlled by any single entity.
It has no single point of failure.
Communication Providers remain in control of the data through verification
The system is transparent and incorruptible
Collaborative by nature
Blockchain negates issues over the cost of ownership and minimises the risks of poor data quality from either human error or data mismatches. It lends itself perfectly to the IP world and reduces the risk of consumer harm as a consequence of poor inter-provider communications from antiquated processes.

Blockchain can help solve other telco problems too....

As the number of telecommunications companies grows rapidly, so does the need to provision new numbering expeditiously and a blockchain system would negate the current modus operandi of a Yahoo! Group containing the telcos. Yes, you did read Yahoo! Groups correctly as this is a method in which numbering information is exchanged.

Blockchain would also reduce the danger of another communication provider announcing routes to your numbering as transactions are digitally signed and verified, not to mention a predictable decrease in CP led number slamming.

ENUM and Blockchain offers a fast, safe, fair, secure decentralised system for operators to manage their number portability and beyond without critical management by Ofcom.
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11/15/17
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https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/team/voicehost
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What are the benefits of call recording and which legislation do I need to be aware of?

Call recording has many benefits but businesses must be aware of the legislation to navigate in order to ensure compliance with the law.

The core benefits of call recording are:

Improved staff training and performance (this impacts directly on customer service).
Protecting against disputes and to deter crime (our call recording is admissible in court).
Supporting compliance (see section on compliance).
Tangible insights on customers, campaigns and products. (ROI).
Compliance and Legislation

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) - EU wide from 25/05/2018

GDPR provides a single set of rules handling the data of EU citizens. In relation to call recordings, the key elements are consent, responsibility and accountability. These can be boiled down to simply ensuring that people are aware of being recorded and that the recording/file access is controlled and secure. Consumers will have greater data rights than the current Data Protection Act such as the right to know the scope of personal data collection and rights to port data or be forgotten and all at no charge to consumer. The role of the data controller to facilitate this with a clear data policy and concise processes is imperative to avoid financial penalties.
http://www.eugdpr.org/the-regulation.html

MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) - EU wide from 03/01/2018

MiFID I and II applies to businesses/persons offering financial advice and mandates as compulsory rather than best practice previously, that all calls incurring financial advice and/or subsequent transactions should be recorded and stored for a prescribed period of up to 7 years.
https://www.fca.org.uk/markets/mifid-ii

PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) - Worldwide and non-compulsory (last updated in 2016)

PCI-DSS is not compulsory and was introduced by payment providers (Card Companies) in a bid to curb credit card fraud. As far as call recording is concerned, there are particular sensitivities around the storage of private card details and the standard has required businesses to make “best endeavours” to ensure the three-digit CV2 security numbers are not recorded or are not identifiable on any call recordings.
https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci_security

How does call recording work on the VoiceHost platform and what are the features?

Complete Call Recording - Call recording is configurable per inbound number and/or per outbound hosted seat or SIP trunk. This allows the account holder to set recorded and non-recorded routes. If enabled, an optional warning prompt can be played to callers but inbound only.
Legal Notice - VoiceHost offers a built-in recording notification to help you stay compliant with legal requirements and avoid litigation (available for both inbound and outbound call scenarios). The VoiceHost platform plays a recording announcement at the beginning of the conversation to notify the customers, that the call may be recorded.
Flexible Retention - VoiceHost enables users to easily configure the retention period for call recordings. Different retention periods can be selected for different types of calls to keep storage costs down.
Secure Storage and Transfer - VoiceHost can deliver call recordings via FTP or FTPS made nightly direct to the customer. Recordings are decrypted for FTP delivery otherwise playback would not be possible. Call recordings remain encrypted on network storage until the user-defined period has elapsed. Call recordings are then permanently deleted and cannot be recovered.
Fine-grained privileged access - Access to data is password-protected and provided to authorised users only. Role-based access control allows defining user’s rights, such as playback, live monitoring, administration, resources access etc.
File Watermarking - VoiceHost call recordings are admissible in court and VoiceHost can ensure that call recording remains intact and unaltered whilst within our network
Admissable in court

Once a call is recorded, it is stored using 256-bit encryption and each recording has a unique key and modification hash (checksum) to ensure authenticity at the network generation level which makes the recording admissible in a court of law.

No archiving of call-recordings is allowed at a network level and once the defined call-recording storage period has elapsed, the recording is permanently deleted.

FTP and FTPS (File Transfer Protocol with optional encryption)

The delivery of call recordings via FTP or FTPS is available. Access to the VoiceHost edge is not permitted and delivery is made nightly via FTP to the customer. Recordings are decrypted for FTP delivery otherwise playback would not be possible. Call recordings will remain encrypted on network storage until the used defined period has elapsed. Call recordings are then permanently deleted and cannot be recovered.

Create an FTP server and user with read/write privileges
Pass the user details to VoiceHost so that we may start sending you the call recordings each night.
Other Legal Considerations

Call recordings are pursuant to the following legislation which is applicable in England and Wales.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 ("RIPA")
Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice)(Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 ("LBP Regulations")
Data Protection Act 1998
Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999
Human Rights Act 1998
The Computer Misuse Act 1990
Storage

Call recordings are compressed using MPEG layer 3 encoding @ 24Kbps. 1GB of storage should accommodate 92.59 hours of audio recorded or approximately 10.8 MB per hour of audio recorded.

Conclusions

Given that VoiceHost offers unlimited call recording stored FREE for 30 calendar days makes it an obvious choice in deciding whether to enable it.

The VoiceHost privacy policy is available here: https://www.voicehost.co.uk/privacy-policy
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