Recently the FCC came under fire for poor response times in the aftermath of the major hurricanes that wreaked havoc across the United States. Thousands of people were left without access to cellular and internet service following these disasters, some for weeks. To respond, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the FCC would launch a Hurricane Recovery Task Force as the commission shifts its focus to longer-term telecommunication recovery efforts.
This brings up multiple questions regarding these types of recovery efforts for business, particularly around the challenges of disaster recovery for telecommunications. Do you have a well-thought-out plan? If not, you may end up regretting it, much like the FCC did when they realized they were not prepared for such major events.
ATL Communications president Mark Bilton-Smith weighs in on the necessity of telecommunications disaster recovery (DR), particularly in light of the fact that currently there are very few purpose built solutions to provide support for local numbers.
“The local numbers are at the greatest risk simply because there is no purpose-built solution. Every local number disaster recovery solution is custom built. Toll-free numbers have purpose-built disaster recovery, but my experience is that most organizations are unaware it exists.”
In the business to business space, approximately 50 percent of the communications occur via telephone, a percentage that is higher in contact centers. Most enterprises regularly discuss and plan disaster recovery for data and IT, but less focus is placed on telecommunications.
“The majority of time, receiving a telecommunications disaster recovery plan from a good partner is cost effective” says Bilton-Smith. “Think of it like an insurance policy. You pay a minimal amount of money per month to ensure your local number lines and toll-free lines are operational in addition to receiving a solid DR plan. After all, nothing is worse than realizing that you have a phone number that has been down for some time. It negatively impacts customer experience and revenue.”
Telecommunications Disaster Recovery – More Than IT
In today’s business environment, telecommunications and IT are typically combined, often because of the popularity of Voice over IP. Now voice runs over the local area network and wide area network, making it reasonable that the IT team manages telecommunications. The challenge comes when the disaster occurs outside the purview of the IT department, as in a carrier outage.
“If your carrier has service issues, what is your IT department going to do? A carrier outage has to be a part of the disaster recovery plan for your business telecom,” says Bilton-Smith. “They are not covered under any redundant server protocol or cloud back-up plan.”
The team at ATL Communications recognizes this gap and also the challenges in responding to a carrier outage.
“As I mentioned, toll-free numbers have a purpose-built solution that allows for that number to be switched to another carrier, something we have automated to ensure rapid response,” says Bilton-Smith. “Local numbers are more difficult, but we’ve found a solution for our clients that ensures their local and toll-free numbers stay up.”
ATL Communications is partnering with another provider to create a telecom service that monitors the lines, both local number and toll-free. If there is a percentage adjustment of calls dropping from the prior month, the team is alerted to investigate.
“Our intent is to automate the process, providing another innovative solution for our clients who will then have rapid responses to any carrier outage,” says Bilton-Smith. “The service allows for a switch of carriers for either toll-free or local numbers, ensuring the clients phones stay up.”
Choosing the Best Telecom Services Partner
Innovation is at the heart of ATL Communications, who recently launched PortingPro to fill the gaps on another industry challenge – local number porting. Yet that is not the primary focus Bilton-Smith suggests organizations use to select the best telecom services partner.
“In a word, they should look for experience. I would recommend finding a partner with a solid track record, as well as the ability to innovate to create solutions that solve problems.
“An organization would want a provider that has been in business for a while, has a good reputation that can be proven by testimonials and referrals, and most important, they want to look for a business that relies on their solutions to stay in business themselves.”
Finding an experienced telecom services partner, whether for a disaster recovery plan or other telecommunications support, that is hyper-focused on their customer needs will ensure that your organization is aligned with the right team. Contact ATL Communications to learn more about our RespOrg solutions, PortingPro, or our latest innovation, local number disaster recovery plans.