Basic Troubleshooting for Your Communication System

phonestarewebThe storm season has begun in the Northwest, with some high winds and heavy rain lately. Many homes and business in the Seattle and King and Snohomish county areas suffered loss of power and communications during the recent storms. Any time your business is experiencing any type of communications problems, including intermittent blackouts or dropped calls, you should ask yourself these five questions:

  1. When did the problem start? Did something happen around this time that could cause this problem.
  2. Have you made any changes to your network or infrastructure that may be affecting your communication system?
  3. Is the problem on all lines or one line?
  4. Is the problem on one phone or all phones?
  5. Is the problem constant or intermittent? If intermittent can you recreate it?

When did the problem start? Did something happen around the same time that could have caused the problem. Look back at the recent weather and see if it coincides with the beginning of your communication system issues. Even if the storms in the region didn’t hit your business directly, it may have caused problems somewhere else that cascaded to your phones.

Have you made any changes to your network or infrastructure that may be affecting your communication system? The timing of the problems and recent storms could be simply a coincidence. Recent changes made by you or your provider could be causing issues because of incorrect installation or incompatible parts. Check into the last time any changes were made to hardware or software.

Is the problem on all lines or one line? Is everyone in your office experiencing the same issue or is it confined to one line? Issues with a single line are usually easier to diagnose and correct, but be sure the problem is actually limited to that single line and not just more pronounced than on other lines.

Is the problem on one phone or all phones? Problems with the actual phones may be different than problems with the line. If possible, try moving the problem phone to a different location to see if the problem moves with the phone. Try to track down and isolate as best you can the starting point of the problem.

Terminals_largeIs the problem constant or intermittent? If intermittent can you recreate it? Of course it is much easier to pin down a consistent problem. By following the first three steps you can probably find the issue quickly. An intermittent problem can be much more frustrating. Try experimenting with your phones to see if you are able to reproduce the problem. Write down a list of each thing you try and the results you get so you don’t end up working in circles. Keeping a log of intermittent problems will help find patterns as well.

If the problem is not readily fixed by someone within your organization, keep all the information you have discovered handy to help in the diagnosis by whoever you call in to work on your system. SoundTel can help diagnose, repair and replace a wide range of phone systems, from simple, older landlines to the most advance cloud-based communications network.

For over 25 years, we have assisted companies like yours in their every communications need. We are a local, family-owned business invested in our community. Contact SoundTel or call 425.481.5493 or 800.797.3663 to learn about diagnosing, repairing and replacing your current communications system. Arrange for your free 15 minute CheckIn communications system analysis and SoundTel can help make sure your business is protected.

Phone Tips and Tricks: Voicemail to Email Phishing Scams

Getting your voicemail sent to your email is a great way to keep up on messages when traveling or away from the office. But scammers have discovered a new way to turn this convenience to their advantage in an attempt to grab your personal information.

necmonitor16Recently some customers have received emails that look identical to normal voicemail to email messages they receive, usually with a subject line such as “Voice Message from Unknown (734-563-XXXX).” The deceptive difference is that the attachment is a .zip file, rather than the standard .wav file normally sent. A .wav file is specifically a type of audio format, or as Wikipedia puts it: Waveform Audio File Format (WAVE, or more commonly known as WAV due to its filename extension) is a Microsoft and IBM audio file format standard for storing an audio bitstream on PCs. This is simply an audio recording of your voice message.

A zip file, by contrast, is a way to compress any type of file into a smaller form for easier sharing or storage. A .ZIP file may contain one or more files or folders that have been compressed, according to Wikipedia. In other words, when you receive a zip file, you really have no idea what may actually be inside it before you uncompress it. Usually you are sending and receiving these file from trusted colleagues. By disguising the file as an attachment from what appears to be a trusted source, even the most web-savvy employee can be caught off guard. Any jpg may be easily converted 2 pdf.

nec-monitor-152webBe sure to protect yourself and your business. Keep your anti-virus and firewall software up-to-date. Make sure employees are aware of the latest scams. And work with a trusted communications partner that can help keep your systems protected 24/7.

For over 25 years, we have assisted companies like yours in their every communications need. We are a local, family-owned business invested in our community. ContactSoundTel or call 425.481.5493 or 800.797.3663 to learn about internet security, anti-virus, firewall protection and more. Arrange for your free 15 minute CheckIn communications system analysis andSoundTel can help make sure your business is protected.

Migrating Your End-Of-Life NEAX 2400 and NEC 2000 Telephone Systems

NEC has announced End of Support for all NEAX 2400 and NEC 2000 telephone systems effective March 31, 2014. End of Support means no parts and no tech support will be offered by NEC for these systems. Both the NEAX 2400 and NEC 2000 have been End-of-Life products for some time, and NEC will no longer develop or make new parts for them.

NEC2400Your investments in technology are extremely important. They bring value to your business NEC2400and often help increase your bottom line and competitive advantage. But as systems near their end-of-life, the prospect of upgrading to a new system can be overwhelming. The investment in time, learning and money could be more than a small business has resources to manage. SoundTel and NEC are committed to helping you maintain your investment in your current NEC system while providing a clear migration path to a new, upgraded system.

We want to make sure that no customer is left behind when innovation hit the market and new technologies are delivered. Because of this, SoundTel has partnered with NEC and developed a straightforward migration path for systems such as the UNIVERGE SV8500 communications server or the UNIVERGE 3C unified communications and collaboration solution. There are options available to fit any budget.

SoundTel is a fully authorized NEC dealer that can help you choose the right upgrade for your business. For over 25 years, we have assisted companies find solutions to a wide range of communications needs. Our professional staff will make any job a worry-free experience for, saving the headache and stress of trying to do it yourself. As NEC experts, are staff can guide your business to make the most of your current investment in communications systems for the least cost and effort on your part. We can help you through every part of the process and provide best in class customer service following the upgrade.

We are a local, family-owned business invested in our community. Contact SoundTel to discuss which option is best for your company. Call 1-800-797-3663 or 425-481-5493 to learn more about your options for upgrading your systems and for a free communications analysis.

What is Unified Communications?

Unified Communications (UC) is the ultimate communications tool. Integrating all forms of communications, networks, systems and applications in your business – on any device, in any location, UC improves productivity and efficiency by enabling you to communicate more effectively than ever before.

nec-conference-611A new name for a group of established technologies, Unified Communications have been around in different combinations for quite some time. To take advantage of UC today, you don’t have to replace all your current hardware: in most cases you can leverage your existing communications infrastructure and enable some truly amazing ways to communicate.

UC consists of several important building blocks:

  • Presence
  • Telephony
  • Instant Messaging
  • Conferencing and Collaboration
  • Mobility
  • Unified Messaging

Together, these pieces make a flexible, integrated communication system across your entire business, in every mode of communication on every platform.


Presence is a fundamental change in the way we communicate. Just as the name suggests, it’s about other people reliably knowing your presence, or your current whereabouts and how to contact you, at any time. It has been around for quite some time but presence information was initially about the phone (or to simply forward calls), not the person. The core concept of Unified Communications is your presence state providing rich information to others about your physical location and types of communication available to make it easier to contact you.

• Are you currently interacting with your PC, or are you away from your desk?

• Are you in a meeting and what time does the meeting end?

• Are you on a phone – desk phone, mobile phone, wireless phone?

• Are you in a conference – voice, video, application sharing?

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging provides a new way to effectively hold multiple, simultaneous conversations and it provides a level of immediacy that email does not without being as obtrusive as a phone call. With an enterprise grade Instant Messaging system, all of your communications are secured and encrypted. Every message can be logged for auditing and compliancy purposes. And if you choose to federate with external parties, messages between organizations can also be encrypted end-to-end to ensure your privacy is never compromised.

NEC-hospitality-108Instant messaging can be critical in your Contact Centers where many consumers are now opting for web chat to talk to your business. This can drastically increase the number of calls your operators can handle at the same time, and provide a familiar and reliable communications method. With clients on your desktop, messaging available from your desk phone, web access, and apps for your smart phones and tablets, access to instant messaging from anywhere is now a reality.

Conferencing and Collaboration

Dedicated video phones (usually SIP based) can now be used to provide desk-to-desk video conferencing. They can also be a low cost high quality video and audio option. Soft-phone technology provides everything you would expect from a high quality business phone, but also incorporates a dedicated conferencing and collaboration solution, allowing users to perform point-to-point video conferencing with application sharing and instant messaging.

Room-to-room solutions allow for high quality video for important board meetings. These solutions are the highest quality audio and video and can be used to hold meetings with multiple parties across the globe.


With current Unified Communications solutions, you can now communicate with almost the same functionality you have at your desk from an internet café, in a hotel room or through your mobile device.

With IP telephony, moving desks is simple. You can log your phone in anywhere and your entire telephony profile moves with you. If you take your laptop, then using a VPN solution, your complete communications solution is always available.

Unified Messaging

Often Unified Messaging is used to describe voice mail that is delivered to an inbox such as Outlook, but there is so much more to Unified Messaging. Most offices have faxes scattered around, but with Unified Messaging you can have users fax directly from their PC’s – even receive faxes straight into their inbox. Receiving your voice mail as an attachment in your inbox is one thing, but with Unified Messaging you will not only be able to play that message in your email client, you can get it to play on your desk phone, or even get it to call you on another phone number and play the message.

Unified Messaging takes your current presence status and ensures your callers are up to date. Rather than recording a new message, the system knows where you are and speaks it: ‘I am sorry, Dale is not in the office, and will not be returning until 8:30am’. With Unified Messaging you can play different messages based on the callers’ identity, or even control the call flow. A key customer is calling and you are in a meeting, forward to your mobile. A colleague calls while you are in a meeting, take a message.


NEC is the leader in telephony – this is our core strength. They have been connecting people with traditional and IP phone systems since 1899 and pride themselves on giving customers migration paths forward. Their Unified Communications offerings are no exception. Customers with traditional PBX’s up to ten years old can take advantage of Unified Communications, either directly on their existing hardware or with minor upgrades to PBX capacity.

NEC-hospitality-39What is Unified Communications? Just as the name suggests, it is unifying all of your business’ methods of communication into one integrated, cross-platform unit that functions together seamlessly. The benefits to your team in time and efficiency savings could be immense. NEC is the leader in Unified Communications and SoundTel is a certified NEC dealer able to answer any of your questions and design, install and service the perfect system for your business.

Now is a great time to update your current phones to a modern total communication system. Find out how you can move to Unified Communications: call 1-800-797-3663 or 425-481-5493, or email SoundTel for a free, comprehensive communications analysis and discover what Unified Communications can do for you.

NEC SV8100 Telephone and Voice Mail System Updates

NEC has recently developed some great updates for your Univerge telephone system platform, including enhancements to all voice mail platforms and desktop suites. Here is just a few of the updates we are most excited about.

System Wide Highlights:

Virtual Extension Enhancement
Caller ID is now available for Virtual Extensions, allowing you to selectively screen calls, avoiding surveys and telemarketers. This enhancement also makes caller-ID appear on LCD for station-to-station calls, external calls and a virtual extension.

USB Backup
Administrators can now back-up programmed data to a USB drive via Webpro. System data can also be uploaded from a USB drive.

Do Not Disturb Enhancement (DND)
DND enables users to activate the Do Not Disturb feature on a phone, ringing or not. Callers will simply hear the user’s customized message and be transferred to voicemail.

Softkey Disable
Management can easily disable the softkey function per station (ie. Breakroom, lobby)
Voice Mail Highlights:

Terminals_largeUM8000 Voice Mail
Mobile Web Mailbox Manager (MWMM)
The MWMM web application is designed to run on a smartphone browser, allowing subscribers to listen to messages and configure their mailbox settings, including the Presence Greetings. Great for mobile employees.

Google Chrome Support
In addition to Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome is now supported for both the Web Administration Console and the Web Mailbox Manager.

Presence Greetings Support
The available subscriber greetings have been expanded to support over 10 Presence
Greetings, allowing the subscriber to provide callers feedback on their status.
Subscribers may use any of the following user interfaces to configure the greeting that callers hear:
• Telephone User Interface (TUI)
• Web Mailbox Manager (WMM)
• Mobile Web Mailbox Manager (MWMM)

Inmail Voice Mail Enhancement
The Answer Table determines how the Automated Attendant answers outside calls on each line, according to the time of the day and day of the week that the call is ringing. The answer table has been increased from 8 to 16.
The Dial Action Table defines the dialing options for the Call Routing Mailbox chosen by the active Answer Table, which in turn provides those dialing options to Automated Attendant callers. The Dial Action Table has been increased from 16 to 32.

Queued Message Notification enables configuration of each voice mailbox to receive new-message notifications at a pre-set time. DT730_24_lg This is useful for companies that commonly receive messages after regular business hours, or a service desk collecting after hour messages that can be delivered at a pre-set time.

You already know how valuable your NEC SV8100 Univerge system is to your business. To ensure your phone system always gets the most up-to-date software, SoundTel provides Software Assurance Packages and Service Protection Plans. SoundTel can affordably provide or upgrade both types of plans for your business today. To learn more about the latest updates for your NEC SV8100 and get a free CheckIn to assure your system is doing all it can for your business email SoundTel or call today at 1-800-797-3663 or 425-481-5493 for a full preview.

Call Quality and Reliability Issues for Cloud Based Phone Systems

Should Your Next Phone System Be Cloud Based – Part 3

In our second blog, Is your network ready for Voice over Internet Protocol we looked at what checks you could do to make sure your business could easily and efficiently move to a cloud based communication system. First, a full network assessment was recommended to assure that your current computer network could handle the particular needs of sending voice over a traditional internet system. We also recommended a careful look at any cloud based system provider’s service level agreements before you enter into any contract to guarantee you will receive the service you were promised and your business needs.

Call Quality for Cloud based systems

From the beginning to the end, you need to make sure the system you select is reliable and secure. You have made sure your local network can handle the demands of VoiP, but can your provider do the same? As we discussed in our last blog, there are five major factors that can seriously affect the success of a Cloud based system:

  1. Carrier (what phone carrier will be providing service and what are their SLAs)
  2. Data Center (where are they, who runs them, how reliable are they)
  3. Unified Communications Level (will this be a simple phone system or a fully unified communications system)
  4. Delivery (what kind of connection will the service be delivered over: guaranteed call quality requires more expensive connections)
  5. User (who will install the equipment, what kind of training will be provided, who will you call if there is a problem?)

Any trustworthy service provider can clearly and confidently answer these five questions. And don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it, ask for it in writing. Chances are you won’t see him again after the sale and he will be working somewhere else before your contract is over.

Reliability Issues for Cloud based systems

Naturally your phone system must be secure and reliable, cloud based or not. A provider should have multiple, redundant data centers to eliminate points of failure when networks slow or servers fail. One way many do this is with what is called a Five 9s Reliability – SLA Guarantee. Built to five nines reliability is simply a way of saying they guaranteed their service to 99.999% reliability. This is an industry standard and should be part of any SLA from a reputable dealer.

Continuous high availability and disaster recovery is essential to a modern unified communications system where you are using a variety of methods of communication that must be available 24/7 and must keep your documents, emails and records safe and easily accessible. Virtualization, redundancy and data replication using open, standards-based and secure methods that feature the latest encryption and security protocols is critical to accomplishing this at 99.999% reliability.

One way to assess the quality of your provider is to ask if they use FedRamp (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) Certification. This certification meets the stringent security requirements of the US Department of Defense and specific industry compliance requirements.

Before you make an investment in a cloud based communications system, be sure your network is ready to handle the speed and quality required for voice communications. And before you commit to a service provider, be sure you understand their SLA and all that it entails. Always consult with a reliable, trustworthy expert in the communications field. SoundTel will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can help you decide if moving to the cloud is the right decision for your business. Call 1-800-797-3663 or 425-481-5493 for a free communications analysis.

Our next blog will cover Obsolescence and scalability of a cloud based system

Should your next phone system be Cloud Based?

Cloud Based Communication vs. On-Premise Solutions

When choosing a communications solution that is best for your business, do you go with a tried and true traditional on-your-business-site system, or should you consider the latest communications technology and move to the cloud? As with all business decision, you need to weigh the costs and benefits of all options. Consider the following when comparing traditional on site vs. cloud based solutions for your business:

  1. TCO – total cost of ownership
  2. Network Assessments and Service Level Agreements
  3. Call quality and reliability
  4. Obsolescence and scalability
  5. Flexibility and remote access

SoundTel will post a series of blogs on the subject of cloud based communications systems comparing these five considerations, and more, in the following weeks. Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on social media so you don’t miss any.

Like all technology these days, communications is moving to the cloud. Just as you can choose enterprise software as a service (SaaS), telecommunications providers are now offering PPI solicitors that are web based. The advantages are obvious: scalability, flexibility, ability to use a wide variety of devices from anywhere 24/7. But there are other considerations: cost, both initial and over time, reliability and security.

In the past, on-premise solutions were often chosen because of low TCO and high levels of security since the communications system was onsite. Cloud based communications solutions offer low upfront cost, greater flexibility and low maintenance costs. Of course every business is different, and TCO depends greatly on the size and number of locations of a business. A business with a few very large sites may end up with lower TCO staying with on premise solutions, while a business with many small sites would benefit using cloud base solutions. Such a solution may be seen in distributed antenna system installation companies – call Us!.

If you have a large, spread out employee base with  a wide variety of needs and mobile devices, the cloud based solutions can save you a significant amount of money by allowing BYOD: Bring Your Own Device (how, why). Using the cloud, you are not bound to any specific brand or even certain standards, since there are apps available to connect virtually any communication device imaginable, now or in the future. It also allows for one number access no matter where or what device an employee is currently using.

But if you are a small single location office, this type of flexibility and scalability is unnecessary. A business should not let the excitement of moving with the newest technology trend to outweigh a thorough review of the costs and benefits. Always consult with a reliable, trustworthy expert in the communications field. SoundTel will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can help you decide if moving to the cloud is the right decision for your business. Call 1-800-797-3663 or 425-481-5493 for a free communications analysis.

Are your Communcation Systems Ready for the Holidays?

Here is a quick checklist of communication systems items to think about  before the holidays:

  • Are any changes needed to your company voice mail greeting and schedule?
  • Does your personal voice mail greeting need to be changed?
  • Are any changes needed to your emergency and/or afterhours system?
  • UCB user’s may want to update their profile
  • Do you have a current back up?

happy holidays

Give us a call at 425.481.5493 if you need help. Oh and ………

Hosted vs. Premise Based Business Communication Solutions

Too often, initial cost is the most important factor when choosing a communications solution that is best for your company. You should also consider the following when comparing Hosted vs. Premise Based solution for your business.

• Functionality
• Local and long distance tolls
• Maintenance Contracts
• Technical and Administrative Staff Costs

In past years, Premise Based Solutions have been optimal because of low TCO and the higher level of perceived security due to the communications solution being onsite. Today there is a move towards hosted communications solutions because of the low, upfront cost. However, consider these facts when deciding on your communications solution.

• Improvements and Upgrades to your system are performed by the provider according to their schedule, not yours.
• Research your provider and consider their viability as a company to insure they will be around for the long haul. The provider may have you sign a multi-year contract.

• Improvements and Upgrades to your system can be performed by your onsite IT staff or via a maintenance contract from your provider.
• The systems are purchased up front or leased and the customer has full ownership of all the hardware.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) High Low
Equipment Ownership No Yes
Monthly Telephone Line Fees Yes Yes
Control of / Access to Equipment No Yes
Technical and Administrative Staff Needed No Yes
Ease of Scalability Moderate Moderate


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