by Gary Audin
VoIP is the method for calls today. There are many voice quality measurement tools on the market. But these tools do not always locate the voice quality impairments.
I reached out to Nate Reynolds, the founder and CEO of PhoneSentry https://phonesentry.com/. PhoneSentry is a startup tackling complex voice monitoring and alerting problems without monitoring appliances or installed software.
- What was the inspiration for PhoneSentry?
Our CTO and I were troubleshooting a mid-sized VoIP deployment for an international client. Their new CEO was complaining of call quality on all-hands calls, which meant that we had to troubleshoot the entire enterprise (more than 200 sites). We had spent the last three years deploying this system in phases, but found that our client, through routine maintenance contributed to configuration drift. We looked for automated tools to test the voice quality at their major sites and found nothing short of spending time manually troubleshooting routers, border session controllers (SBC), and call processor components. The client spent more than $80K in consulting services, only for us to ultimately find that the culprit was their SIP/PSTN calling provider – specifically the provider hadn’t provisioned enough concurrent call paths with QoS. After a number of simultaneous calls had been reached, all calls on the circuit started experiencing call quality issues.
We started designing PhoneSentry to test the voice quality end-to-end. When we identify an issue, it’s much easier to troubleshoot than by traditional methods. We already know the components in the call-chain, and can focus efforts there.
- How big a problem is poor VoIP services performance?
Digital PBX services were traditionally very reliable, but expensive to maintain and scale. VoIP itself is much more cost effective, but the quality of service on a shared data network is a real issue. Configuration drift, carrier performance, and capacity limitations can all affect the call quality that an end user experiences. Without being able to monitor that, many end users simply hang up frustrated, only to notify IT at a later time.
Many of the UCaaS and Cloud based PBX systems have high SLAs. These are typically self-reported SLAs. I’ve used these services, and they do fail. One of the coolest features of PhoneSentry is that we log call quality and connectivity at frequent intervals, so you can report and document your outage to the provider. We also flag the call error reason, so you can literally pay for our service with service credits.
- How much time or money can PhoneSentry save?
PhoneSentry can save a ton of time tracking down the “ghosts” of a call quality issue. We have a clear call chain for each site that we monitor, so we can help narrow down the problem with the voice network ASAP. We also help customers’ document service credits for UCaaS and Cloud-based PBX services, so there’s cost savings there too.
The biggest cost savings comes from getting your voice network working right in the event of an outage. You’re not paying a group of employees, whether in a call center, law firm, healthcare environment, or other professional services environment where voice is mission critical.
- What makes PhoneSentry different from other monitoring products and services?
We are the only SaaS based product with zero installation requirements, no setup fee, and no professional services required. There are other monitoring products on the market. They install in your data center. They require hardware. They take weeks or months to setup, and they cost five to six figures. We cost a few hundred dollars per site, and we monitor the voice quality, carrier connection, and your session border gateway without being intrusive. We have patents pending for our unique design and our platform. Our biggest differentiator is that with our patent pending technology, we can monitor your SIP carrier for outages and call quality while other network monitoring systems (NMS) may think everything is healthy because on your network, everything is fine.
- What types of businesses need PhoneSentry?
Anyone who has voice systems deployed to a user base and doesn’t want the first failure notification to come from their end user, line manager, or call inbound to the helpdesk. In addition, companies are looking to monitor their carriers’ SLAs. We are completely vendor agnostic whether on premise or a cloud PBX. Customers that use a cloud PBX utilizing public internet BYOB (bring your own bandwidth) or OTT (over-the-top) which cannot honor QoS markings are candidates.
- What do businesses do today without/instead of PhoneSentry?
- They have voice problems; don’t know it, end users complain, but mostly to each other. IT gets a bad rap, and isn’t even aware of a problem to fix it.
- They’ve had infrequent outages, but don’t know about it until someone calls the help desk on their cellphone, or puts in a trouble ticket that likely sits in a queue for minutes until someone picks it up. Their service might be out for a few hours before someone notices.
- They have an on premise network monitoring system but they likely do not have a proactive way of monitoring their SIP carrier for outages.
- Do you have any customers today? How are they benefiting?
We do. They benefit from knowing that their critical voice systems are working, all the time. We function like a combination troubleshooting tool, insurance policy, and record of availability.
- Have you thought about the value of PhoneSentry to channel partners/resellers, MSPs, and service providers?
For channel partners and resellers we offer a unique opportunity to add value by enabling the partner to share in the monitoring of the circuit, provide better support, increase revenue with a lucrative add-on, and retain happier customers.
A variation of this blog was posted www.nojitter.com.