Telephone Systems: Headaches Revisited

This post was written by Kathy on March 5, 2012
Posted Under: Behavioral healthcare

Almost two years ago, I wrote about moving our telephone service to a Voice Over IP (VOIP) system. Getting into the system was a challenge, but for 17 of the past 23 months, we have had a mostly successful experience. The last six months have been terrible.

Our Internet Service Provider (ISP), from whom we contract two DSL lines with 10 MB service, had been fine. We would sometimes have slowdowns or interruptions of service, but for the most part it was OK. About six months ago that changed. We started getting disconnects regularly. Our Internet speed would slow to a crawl. Our callers or those we were calling would experience lots of breaking up of our voices or our call would never connect. In short, the service got unbearable.

Unfortunately, we are located in a place where we have no options for ISPs. The cable companies won’t drop cable to us even if we pay for it. Verizon’s new LTE service does not do the job. We have only one telephone company from whom we can purchase DSL service. We are going back to telephone land lines, with that same telephone company.

I feel like we are going backward. Unless we just went forward too soon when the infrastructure did not really exist to support our move. In either case, this has not been a good experience in adoption of new technology. And I do not have much patience with technology that does not work well, easily and quickly!

Do any of you use VOIP? What has your experience been? Are you in urban areas or rural communities? I hope we have not disconnected any of you. If we have, please accept my apologies. We should have better service later this week.

Please share your comments below.

Reader Comments

Kathy – what a hassle! We just moved our main counseling and corporate office from Milwaukee to a suburb. We built fiber into our building, installed a new digital phone system, added IP Phones to our clinic offices in WI and MN. For the most part, everything went extremely well and we are saving quite a bit by eliminating POTS lines. We also added a unified messaging system with voicemail and fax directed to therapists through Outlook. Thankfully we have a number of ISP options in this area, but it sounds like you have few. Hopefully that will change.

#1 
Written By Dan on March 6th, 2012 @ 6:46 am

Kathy:
At Mosaic we have used VOIP for several years, and the experience has been largely successful, although in our more rural facility we have had some problems because of bandwidth chokepoints (we also run data over the lines). We are running MPLS lines though – I could imagine as DSL gets busy it could start to slow horribly, especially if you are at the end of the loop! At my home I have exactly the same problem as you do – relying on a DSL line at extreme distance from the station. We have had to stick to traditional lines for phone service as a result. We use satellite for our TV, which is great, but was a complete fiasco when we tried it for computer.

#2 
Written By Spencer Gear on March 6th, 2012 @ 10:31 am

Dan, that sounds like a dream! We are in what was once rural area and is now suburban. Fortunately, we are on a lovely five acre tract on a small lake. . . so we have a wonderful place to work. Unfortunately, there are not many buildings on the lake and we are all set back about 1000 feet from the road. The cost for the companies to run fiber optics to us would be astronomical with little return on the investment for them. We have been here for almost 20 years. . . I don’t see it changing soon!

#3 
Written By Kathy on March 6th, 2012 @ 10:48 am

Your home situation is very much like ours, Spence. Without moving the office, I think we will need to stick with land lines. Moving the office is just not an option! We are very spoiled.

#4 
Written By Kathy on March 6th, 2012 @ 10:50 am

Hi everyone –
My situation is a bit different, in that I am not using VOIP technology, but have been forced by my move from Maryland to Massachusetts to switch from Verizon to cable service for broad band internet and phone as well as television. The connection slows enormously in the summer when my Cape Cod village fills up with tourists. Recently Comcast shared with me that the complaints I have about our service are likely worsened by the fact that my incoming box (not sure what this is called) is not 5′ from my wireless network box.
No one had made this requirement clear before and it took some doing to make the 5′ requirement work in my limited office environment. The real test will come this summer, but so far, service does seem to be more reliable. I do a fair amount of video chatting, so pixelating is not a happy experience …
Best – Ann Aukamp

#5 
Written By Ann Aukamp on March 6th, 2012 @ 5:39 pm