Critical questions you should ask your suppliers

Summary: Telecommunications is a critical part of most modern businesses. Extended downtime often results in lost business is thus very expensive, not to mention the frustration involved. Fully changing over to the NBN is a very complicated process, particularly in relation to your telephone service, not dissimilar to relocating offices. Business owners should consider very carefully before they start this transition process. There are many interlocking services from different suppliers who must work closely together to achieve success. It is fraught with opportunities for failure, which will result in extended downtime for your business.

To give you an idea of what is involved, here are a list of questions for you to ask your existing suppliers.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Am I willing to research and understand the technologies involved with changing over to the NBN, in particular how it relates to the phone service?

  • Am I willing to manage this whole process? If not, who is?

  • Am I willing to prepare a project plan, understand the relationships between the various activities (changes to one part will often have knock on effects to other parts), get performance commitments from suppliers and drive the project to completion?

  • How am I going to handle conflicts (“buck passing”) between my suppliers who depend on each other’s services to operate correctly?


Questions for your internet/telephone provider

  • Can you provide an NBN connection at my address?

  • Am I in a cease sale area and when will my copper based phone lines be compulsorily disconnected?

  • Am I currently in a contract, will you continue to provide the same service at the same price on the NBN? If not can I terminate the contract the contract? Will I be entering a new contract with your NBN service and what are my options to rescind the contract if your service does not perform as expected?

  • Can you install the NBN alongside all my existing services without disconnecting any of them?

  • Do you provide SIP Trunks, including inbound and outbound call termination?

  • Do you provide number portability?

  • Do you provide traffic classing or use other methods to ensure the quality of my calls over the connection?

  • Do you support the T.38 Fax protocol (both inbound and outbound) or do you provide an alternate solution such as a fax to email service?

  • Can you guarantee that my telephone lines will not be down for an extended period of time?

  • Are you willing to work directly with my other suppliers to ensure the quality of the phone calls and resolve any other issues?


Questions for your PABX supplier/maintainer

  • Will my existing PABX support SIP trunks? Will any extra hardware, software or licenses be required?

  • Will any recabling be required to implement the chosen solution?

  • Do you provide any guarantees of the call quality using the method you propose?

  • If the chosen solution does not work can I return the equipment to get a refund and cancel any contract?

  • Are you able to perform any temporary forwarding of numbers, help me manage the porting process?

  • Are you able to supply a T.38 Fax gateway? Do you have experience with using these?

  • Are you willing to work directly with my SIP Trunk supplier, NBN supplier and/or my IT suppliers to resolve any issues?


Questions for your IT supplier

  • Do I need a new router for the NBN? Does my current or new router support QoS and/or packet labelling to ensure that the voice packets have priority over my general data traffic? Do you have experience setting this up?

  • Will my internal network need redesigning to accommodate any changes required to my PABX solution?

  • What special requirements are needed for my NBN connection (such as static addresses) to work with my IT setup.

  • Are you willing to work directly with my NBN Supplier to resolve any issues?


Questions for your alarm monitoring company

  • Does my existing alarm system need a phone line to perform the monitoring service?

  • What options do I have to change over to using GPRS or IP to replace this telephone line.

  • What backup options do you have in case the primary connection goes down?

  • Are you willing to work directly with my IT company if you choose the IP option?


Questions for your fax machine supplier

  • Does my existing machine have the ability to do scan to email? Is there anything required to set this up?

  • Are you willing to work with my IT supplier and NBN supplier to deal with setting the machine up on the network and send emails (SMTP servers etc)?


Questions for your EFTPOS supplier

  • Do the terminals I currently have use a telephone line?

  • If not, what are the options to upgrade these to using GPRS or an IP solution?

  • If you choose the IP solution are you willing to work directly with my IT supplier to set this up and resolve any issues?