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Power Outages & VoIP Phone Systems

What happens to my VoIP phone systems during a power outage?

Your VoIP phone system won’t go dark when the power goes out.

For anyone out there who relies on the internet to get work done, we all know that downtime can be a serious pain. Loss of communication, credit card services, and other issues related to telecom can be negatively impacted when the internet dies.

In fact, the loss of a solid internet connection is such a concern to folks what we’ve taken the time to address what happens to a VoIP Phone System when the internet goes down in another article.

But suppose something equally disrupting happens. Something a lot of business owners ask us is what happens to my phone system during a power outage? It’s a great question to ask because once the power goes out, many communication methods, such as computers, phones, and their associated pieces of hardware are left without power. That could mean that you’re leaving your customers in the dark, which certainly isn’t good for business.

Fortunately, there are options available to those who use a VoIP phone system at their business to ensure that even during a power outage, you’re covered. Businesses that use VoIP systems at their business won’t have to worry about not being able to connect with customers and clients, meaning they’ll keep business flowing as usual.

 

Power Outages & VoIP Phone Systems

 

What happens to a VoIP phone system at a business if the power goes out?

It breaks down like this.

When the power goes out in your office, there’s a lot of telecom related equipment that’s going to go dark. Your modem won’t have power. Your router won’t have power. Network switches, and other related items likely won’t be working.

And worst of all, your desktop IP phone won’t have the power it needs to stay on. Phones on a VoIP system need power. No power, no phone, simple as that.

So how do folks get around this? What are your options to ensure you’re in communication with your clients & customers? There’s a few, so you’ll have some options to take advantage of if your office loses power.

Battery backups can keep VoIP system equipment functioning.

There’s a short term solution to keep things running the same in the office in case the power goes out. This scenario is assuming that your internet signal is fine, but the power is out.

What you can do is use battery backups for all your communication equipment. If you’re unfamiliar with battery backups, I’m referring to those large, surge-protector looking like power cords. They have a built in battery that can keep your equipment running for quite a while.

So, you could have your router, modem, and switch plugged into a battery backup to ensure that if the power goes out, these items stay on. You could also keep your desktop phones plugged into the battery backup to ensure they still function as well.

If that’s not an option, we’ve seen some offices use softphones on a laptop instead of relying on their phones instead. You could have your desktop computer plugged into a battery backup and use a softphone on their as well. But, if you’re going through all the trouble, why not just plug in your phone as well?

So battery backups can keep the system running for the short term. This solution works, but isn’t ideal. If the power’s going to be out for a while, or you’re backups aren’t working at 100%, you’re going to eventually lose power regardless.

Fail over is a foolproof method for keeping VoIP phone systems functioning during a power outage.

The term fail over is fairly simple to explain. If part of the VoIP system at your business fails, it rolls over to another option. Customers never hear busy or dead signals, so it’ll never appear that you’re unreachable.

So when it comes to fail-over options during a power outage, you really have three options.

Ring to smartphones during a power outage.

Your VoIP system can be configured to automatically reroute calls to smartphones and mobile devices in case of a power outage. It can be configured where multiple phones ring, or just an extension will ring, or really any sort of setup or combination you deem necessary.

The best part is, your customers calling the business won’t be aware they’re on a smartphone. They’ll be rerouted automatically and won’t notice the difference, and if you need to call out, your number will show as the company’s number, not your personal or cell number.

During a power outage, this is a very helpful & easy to use way of staying in communication.

Route calls to a voicemail when the power goes dark.

This is a pretty simple setup as well. If the power goes out at your business, calls can be automatically forwarded to a voicemail. It’s not ideal since people who call in won’t be able to talk to anyone, but it’s certainly a better option than hearing a busy or dead signal.

So when someone calls in, they get sent right to voicemail. After they finish leaving their message, an email with an audio file of the recording will be sent right to the voicemail owner’s email address. They can click to listen to the audio, and get back in touch with the customer however is easiest.

This is a great option for when you still have access to your email, such as on a cell or other mobile device. Also, voicemails, if necessary, can be sent to multiple recipients.

Multi-site companies can forward calls to another location during a power outage.

Again, another simple option to ensure that your customer gets to talk to someone, even if the power’s out. If your company or business has more than one location, and assuming they’re both using a VoIP phone system, you can forward calls from one location to the other during a power outage.

There are some limitations here. For instance, if one location is all salesmen and the other location is all administration, forwarding calls one way or the other might not work since all staff may not be able to handle all inquiries.

This is an example of a solution that works excellent for some companies, and is completely implausible for others.

When the power goes out, you’re in control of your VoIP system.

Regardless of your choice in how best to handle your customers during a power outage, you can easily change settings and preferences by something called a ‘portal’.

Simply put, a portal is a web-page like interface where you can configure the options and particulars about your VoIP system. Since your portal is online, you can change your system from anywhere you have internet access. So if your business loses power and you’re on the road, or working from home, you’ll be fully capable of modifying your VoIP system with minimal downtime.

The biggest take-away should be when the power goes out, you can still keep your business up and running. Unlike traditional telecom systems, VoIP phone systems allow businesses to stay up and running, even when the lights go out.

To learn more about VoIP systems and how you can keep in touch with your customers during a power outage, contact us online, shoot our vice-president an e-mail directly at vin@tele-datasolutions.com, or give him a call on his direct line at 908-378-1218.

By Bill Braunschweiger
VoIP Engineer, Tele-Data Solutions
When I’m not helping my TDS customers keep their systems up and running at 110 percent, I like to stay active. I really enjoy playing hockey and experiencing the great outdoors while mountain biking. I have a wonderful family, I’ve been married for two years, I have a great six-year-old son named Nathan, and I have a wheaten terrier.