Wednesday, December 07, 2005

T1 PRI For Call Centers

If you own a call center or are thinking about it, you'll likely be interested in digital telephone service. Individual analog phone lines are only a good solution if you have a handful of seats and don't need to integrate your phone service with a computer system containing customer records. Once you reach a dozen lines, moving from analog to T1 digital carrier service is almost certainly a cost savings. If you elect to go with a VoIP telephone system, you'll need reliable broadband service for even fewer lines.

First let's consider call centers with traditional PBX phone systems and, say, 10 to 12 lines. Your PBX equipment has or can get a digital interface that brings all your phone lines in on a single T1 carrier. Now, you have a choice of how you want your T1 line configured. The original legacy configuration is called channelized T1 and offers 24 independent phone lines per T1 line. These lines can be set up for local and/or long distance service and as incoming only, outgoing only or both. What you don't get are any of the advanced features such as Caller ID or ANI (Automatic Number Identification). That's because the 24 channels of the T1 line are completely consumed in carrying the voice conversations.

A more sophisticated T1 line configuration is called T1 PRI or Primary Rate Interface. This term comes from ISDN or Integrated Services Digital Network) technology. A PRI line is also channelized into individual telephone lines, but carries 23 simultaneous calls rather than 24. What happened to the other channel? It's been assigned to be a data channel to serve the 23 bearer or voice channels. All the dialing information is passed through the data channel rather than as touch-tones over the voice channels. That helps make call set up and tear down faster. You'll experience that as phone calls going through faster. On the receiving end, the data channel accepts Caller ID or ANI information. This can be fed to display units to show who's calling, or fed to a CTI (Computer Telephone Integration) system so that customer information will pop up on an agent's screen based on the number of the incoming call.

You are not limited to a single T1 or PRI line. Many larger systems can double, triple, quadruple and so on the capacity of the phone system. A single PRI data channel can service two PRI lines, freeing up one extra channel for voice. In practice, if you are going to have multiple PRI lines, you'll probably want at least two data channels for redundancy.

What about VoIP and softswitches? VoIP or Voice over IP networks actually convert phone conversations to digital data within the telephone instruments. Your phone wiring then becomes a standard Ethernet LAN which can serve both telephones and computers. They all look the same to the network. For transmission of data beyond your facility you'll use an unchannelized T1 line. That's a T1 that is configured to look line one big data pipe with 1.5 Mbps bandwidth. It's also called a data T1 line because the information is carried as IP data packets. Data T1 lines can be combined in a process called bonding to multiply the bandwidth of the network from 2 to 6 times or more.

So, what type of T1 service is right for your call center and how much does it cost? The best way to find that out is to let our friendly Shop for T1 consultants evaluate your particular needs and give you multiple competitive quotes for service. It's fast, easy and available at no cost to you. Simply put in a T1 service quote request at T1 Rex for new or replacement service. Please note that T1 lines are only intended for business locations, not residential broadband use.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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