Broadband Internet … & getting camels through the eyes of needles!


We are finally beginning to see the roll-out of ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ [FTTC] broadband Internet services, with leased-line type bandwidths, but at enterprise-grade ADSL costs. However, looking at the distribution of Fibre enabled BT exchanges around the UK, it looks like you’ll stand a much better chance of getting FTTC at home, long before it gets to your business park! … Perhaps that’s a reflection of the need for certain ISP’s to get return on their investment in on-line media and entertainment, rather than their commitment to the needs of businesses in this difficult economic climate?

So – faced with a long wait for FTTC, and the need to squeeze more capability out of the ADSL services we have in place, Foxhall have joined forces with ISP – Chicane Internet, and software developers – Voipex, to offer ViBE [Voice over IP Broadband Enhancement], to businesses who would like a low cost alternative to ISDN30 lines, but can only get ‘standard’ ADSL or ADSL2+ services to their offices.

Follow the links in this article to read Voipex’s technical descriptions, but in essence, ViBE takes advantage of the fact that VoIP is transmitted in ‘packets’ across local networks and Internet. You can get much deeper into the reasons if you want to, but much of the ‘header’ data in each VoIP RTP packet is either redundant, the same as in the previous packet – and – the same as in the next one! ViBE strips out this ‘redundant’ header data at each end of the DSL link leaving just the VoIP, transmits it, and then puts it back again at the opposite end … This means that a lot less bandwidth is required to carry the same phone calls – or – to put it another way, a lot more calls can be carried in the same bandwidth!

Of course this needs equipment in place at your office, and at the ISP. A ViBE router must be installed at your site, you must use Chicane’s VoIP SIP Trunks, and Chicane will connect your ‘ViBE Enabled’ service to their Head equipment to complete the picture. Once this is in place there are a lot of clever things that we can do to enhance your VoIP connections:

Firstly, there is a straight-forward increase in the number of calls that a ‘ViBE Enabled’ ADSL broadband service can carry. Depending on distance from the exchange, we will typically see a standard ADSL Max business-grade service giving us between 600 and 800 Kbps upstream bandwidth. Note: you’ll get more downstream, but VoIP is a two-way conversation, so the lower ‘upstream’ figure will set the limits on available bandwidth … A 3CX system licensed to support 8 simultaneous calls, would use 4 x G729 codec’s and 4 x G711 codec’s when max’d out at 8 calls in progress (see this article about codec’s & ADSL). Without ViBE, this would require around 600 Kbps of stable bandwidth to and from your 3CX.

Using this same example, a ViBE enabled connection would require only 312 Kbps to support the same 8 simultaneous calls in and out of a 3CX IP-PBX system.

In fact, it gets better the more calls you carry! A ViBE Enabled 3CX configured to support 16 simultaneous calls, would require just 536 Kbps bandwidth. In other words, we are able to double the number of SIP Trunk channels supported in an average ADSL service – giving twice the call capacity of a non-ViBE ADSL. This is where we squeeze that camel through the eye of the needle!

Another clever feature is that a ViBE router will accept and ‘bond‘ two ADSL broadband lines to be used as a single ‘pipe’ to carry voice and data services into a company. In this configuration, dynamic ‘Quality of Service’ [QoS] will actually ensure that voice calls get priority in and out of your system – and ViBE will also ensure that just the right amount of bandwidth is reserved for each phone-call in progress. In the past we have had to pre-assign and reserve a ‘worst-case’ amount of VoIP-only bandwidth at the router – but ViBE does this dynamically – ensuring high quality calls in all conditions and leaving plenty of room for data traffic when there are just a few phone calls taking place.

And of course – you could elect to use a bonded service to just carry voice, meaning that two low-cost ADSL lines can provide the equivalent voice channels as a full-blown & very expensive ISDN30!

In the bonded configuration, the ViBE router is also able to offer a ‘resilient’ [“rain”] mode, so that loss of one line and/or broadband service would not effect your ability to make or receive calls on the other. Its also possible to sit a standard ADSL alongside a high-capacity leased line / FTTC / EFM , to act as a low-cost but high-capacity fall-back in the case of a failure on the primary DSL service.

So – due to the low-cost lines and broadband, we can implement highly featured SIP Trunk solutions for companies who are big enough to consider using ISDN30 lines, but not quite into using leased-line or EFM DSL access. Rental charges for a fully equipped ISDN30 (30 channels), would be in the region of £500 per month. Two ViBE enabled ADSL Max services, with 30 SIP Trunks, would be charged at approx. £190 per month. Spot the difference! [and … 16 ch. ISDN = £250/mth V’s 16ch ViBE SIP = £95 /mth].

In summary, a ViBE Enabled 3CX system can;

  • Put more voice calls in your available DSL bandwidth.
  • Can guarantee QoS by prioritizing VoIP on a shared DSL connection.
  • Can dynamically allocate bandwidth so as not to penalize data on a shared DSL connection.
  • Can provide active or passive fall-back in case of primary DSL failure.
  • and – can dramatically reduce costs compared to ISDN!

Voipex are an established Suffolk based Company, with International presence and a proven track-record in deployment of ViBE. See their case studies here …

What’s all this cost? Surprisingly, we can ‘ViBE Enable’ a Chicane SIP Trunk group for less than £300 set-up costs, and for a small [+£2] monthly rental applied to each active SIP Trunk channel. Use our ‘Contact Us‘ page to drop us an inquiry, or call us now at +44 1787 228402 – We can explain what’s involved – and how you can enhance your business telecom’s, and remove ISDN as a major ongoing business cost!

What Superfast Broadband can do for your business

Laying down fibre

We’re hearing a great deal about superfast broadband these days, but what we’re hearing doesn’t always sound very relevant to business. Yes, your children may well enjoy the chance to download music quickly and easily, and to watch high-definition movies and TV replays on anything that happens to be connected to the internet, but neither of those is exactly a business priority!

However, it will be good for faster email, faster web searches, and better, more efficient connection with ‘cloud-based’ internet services. And that’s why BT is investing £2.5 bn in a programme to upgrade its exchanges all across the UK in the course of this year.

Even so, you’ll have to wait: it will take time to install fibre optic connections to the street cabinets on each upgraded exchange, leaving just a short length of conventional telephone line connecting your home or your business to a superfast service.

‘Fibre to the cabinet’, or FTTC, promises download speeds of 40 or 80 Megabits per second – right now you’ll be lucky to achieve 8 Megabits per second even on ADSL broadband.

To get more you currently need a leased line, giving speeds around 10 Mbit/s for an installation cost of more than £1,000, and a monthly rental over £800. But a typical 40 Mbit/s FTTC service will cost just £99 to connect, with a monthly rental of around £35!

Better yet, a single high-speed broadband line could carry up to 100 simultaneous phone calls – so if you used FTTC broadband and a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system instead of an ISDN line you could cut costs by up to 80%.

A smaller company could use a single line for both voice and data – and effectively eliminate telecom line costs entirely!

Use this Superfast Broadband checker site to get some idea of when high-speed broadband is coming to your [UK] area.

Exchange and cabinet upgrades are already starting, so contact us at Foxhall Solutions to discuss the implications for your business…

Is VoIP as reliable as analogue and ISDN?

VoIP telephone systems are capable of using analogue and ISDN lines just like other telephone systems. But – it’s when they use Internet that their cost savings and flexibility become apparent, with lower line and call costs, and their ability to support a phone located anywhere in the world, as a ‘local’ extension.

Internet connections have become more sophisticated and reliable, with Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) on some business grade services, matching those of ISDN phone lines. Even so – people are still cautious about putting telephone calls across the Internet …

There are a couple of basic rules that we follow; first – we make sure that the ISP supplying your Internet trunk lines, is the same company that’s providing your Broadband service. This is so that your calls don’t have to go into the server-farm at one Internet provider and then transit the web to find the telecom’s server at another. Following this rule ensures a nice clean connection between your phones and the carrier’s central switch system designed to onward connect you to local, national, international & mobile calls.

The second rule is to be careful about your choice of Internet / line provider. VoIP provides huge savings over ISDN or analogue lines – so it doesn’t make sense to choose your ISP partner purely on price. In general, business-to-business ISP’s are more expensive because they CAN provide some assurances that ‘when the kids get in from school’ their servers and bandwidth won’t be pushed to the limit! For example – working with an ISP that guarantees a 30% reserve on bandwidth – and provides automatic call fall-back to alternate land-line or mobile numbers is going to give you that warm & fuzzy feeling … Where an ISP you sign-up to out of a shopping trolley may not!

With the right service in place, you will experience VoIP connection that is pretty much as you’d get from an ISDN service – without the cost! However, that’s not the end of it! To provide additional security, we can use the analogue lines used to deliver broadband services into the business, as alternates in case of a broadband problem. We could even use mobile gateways to carry calls and by-pass land-lines completely.

VoIP systems are typically running on [non-proprietary] PC’s or servers, and therefore, even if the fault is due to failed computer hardware, it is possible to quickly and easily load the system application and a configuration back-up onto another PC and get service restored fast.

So – in a lot of cases, VoIP systems are actually becoming more reliable than ‘traditional’ land-line based systems – simply because there are so many safe-guards and alternates built into them.

See this post for an update regarding this subject