VoipPowerFailureI want to start by validating a common fear that people and businesses have about switching over to VoIP.  If your power fails, so does your VoIP service.  This occurs since VoIP phones rely on your own electrical supply.  Power failures do happen and your best defense is being prepared ahead of time.  Here’s the good news: there are some relatively simple and cost effective ways to keep your service running during a power failure.

In the old days of landline service, home users and small businesses could still have working phones in the event of a power failure –assuming the phone lines weren’t also interrupted (say, by a fallen tree).  Landlines connect to a central office before they branch off elsewhere.  Each central office is typically equipped with a huge array of batteries (which are backed up by generators) to keep the lines powered during a power failure.  This is only useful if you have independent corded phones.  A typical business PBX system would still fail without backup power.

 

What can your business do in the event of a power failure?

  1. Forward your calls to a cellular or home phone

    You can do this with VoIP service so that in the event of a power failure, you won’t miss your calls.  It’s also really simple to engage forwarding.

  2. Use Bria on your smartphone

    Bria is a cell phone app that allows you to make and receive calls, just as if you were using one of your office’s VoIP phones.  Automatic call forwarding, or simultaneous ringing can even be enabled.

    • Problems with Bria and Solutions:
      • Problem 1: Bria requires internet.  You won’t have WiFi if your internet is down.
      • Solution 1: You’ll likely still have cellular data.  A typical smart phone has more than enough bandwidth for VoIP calls; if you want to lower your data usage, you can switch to the GSM codec.  With the GSM codec, an hour of talk time (with generous allowance for overhead) should use less than 20MB of data.
      • Problem 2: Your smart phone’s battery will run out at some point.
      • Solution 2: For much less than you paid for your smart phone, you can get an external battery pack to keep your phone going.  Mine has 5 USB ports, so I just plug my iPhone in and it will re-charge.  I have yet to deplete the entire battery pack during any one outage or trip.
  3. Take your VoIP Phone to another location

    Most VoIP phones are set up to enable them to be physically relocated to a place that does have internet and power (maybe your home?).  This should work as long as your internet connection is not behind a restrictive firewall.  Keep in mind that most of the time, you will need a separate power adapter to power your VoIP phone.

 

Some remarks:

  1. In major metropolitan areas, the probability of having a power failure is very low; in a suburban or rural environment, if the power lines are physically down, it’s very likely that even the traditional copper lines are also down.
  2. The numerous benefits of VoIP service far outweigh the small risk of a potential power failure– which can happen with landline service, too!  Go ahead, write a comment and challenge me on this.
  3. A well-equipped VoIP provider will have redundant data centers in completely different geographic areas.  This ensures that your carrier will not have any downtime because of a regional power failure.
  4. After copper lines are damaged, telephone companies have been replacing them with alternative technologies.  This has a lot to do with: copper lines being expensive to maintain and also because replacement parts are no longer produced, which makes obtaining them extremely difficult. You can read more about this here: https://www.steadfasttelecom.com/blog/end-copper-based-landline-networks/

There you have it.  While I certainly hope that you won’t experience another power failure, these things do happen.  The good news is that, now that you’ve read this article, you’ll know what to do if it does happen.

What do you think?

Have power outages been a concern? (Perhaps a reason why you haven’t yet switched to VoIP?)

If you’ve experienced a power outage, how have you managed your calls?

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