Newsflash: Next Generation of Phone Networks Imminent

By Les Spielman, CEO & Founder of Hospitality Automation Consultants Ltd. | December 17, 2013

The next generation of phone networks is closer than you think. Our current PBX systems and room phones may be obsolete by Federal mandate sometime soon.

On November 21st the chairman of the FCC stated, “The United States Federal Communications Commission is ramping up efforts to transition the country's phone networks from their current time-division multiplexing, or TDM, technology to Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.” This action is most certainly the next step of the evolution of communications. 
 
Public Knowledge CEO Harold Feld stated further support of Wheeler’s IP transition initiative but added, “It's important that the FCC show that this transition is not just about AT&T or any other carrier. It impacts the lives and well-being of every American. Nobody should doubt that this is a complex process, but it's important that the FCC lead the transition and take a major role in coordinating its outcome." The committee currently expects the FCC by mid-January 2014 to draft an order concerning experimentation, data collection, and policy, legal and technical outlines for the IP transition agenda.
 
The implementation date has not been announced yet, but please be aware that this could be quick. Even if the FCC does not mandate the new network for another year or two, it most certainly will be appropriate for all properties to get ready for this change. There certainly will be money saving in this new network generation. The equipment and changes to your system will also certainly start to save you substantial amounts of revenue well before the new network requirement is rolled out.
 
This whole transition will have a serious impact on every business and home today that use either “POTS” lines or any type of telephone call PBX or KSU device.
 
So how does this decision affect my property?
The impact is tremendous on your property/properties. It ranges from changing your existing PBX, to your wiring infrastructure, to your room phones, to expanding your HSIA bandwidth and Wi-Fi coverage, to power back up electrical power. 
 
How do I know if my property will be affected?
To some extent, all properties will be affected, even many IP PBX systems. The main reason is quite simple. Unless your property has all SIP trunks, and no “copper” analog trunks, you will need to do some upgrading to your system. The amount of upgrading will depend upon the particular switch that you have. It can range from upgrading software and hardware (IP trunks) to changing out your main controller, to changing trunk cards. If your switch is over 7 years of age, you most certainly will be affected to a larger extent. It will also affect many TDM devices like fax machines, and elevator emergency phones.
 
Property infrastructure and current PBX switch evaluation.
By all means you should have an independent unbiased telecommunications consultant evaluate your property’s telephony, HSIA wiring and Wi-Fi infrastructure, in addition to your PBX. It would be advisable to have your PBX’s service personnel present. This is extremely important and will save you much time, grief and money in the future. While your current PBX vendor can do a good job for you, be careful that you are not “oversold,” or worse, “undersold” by not installing the proper equipment for the future.
 
In addition, some vendors are not certified or capable in Wi-Fi infrastructure and may have to bring in a third party vendor to assist them. Please understand that this switch over to an IP national network will also be the best timing to install more HSIA bandwidth along with the IP cable that will be necessary to drive your new infrastructure. Please remember, we have already entered the new world of IP several years ago with the advent of the guest bringing their own BYOD products. Pay for view and video on demand are virtually dead, and are no longer self-sustaining revenue generators. Today’s guest demands HSIA and IP. They want to watch, listen and use their own devices.
 
Choices, Costs and Hazards
If you have to change out your PBX or face huge costs in upgrading your PBX, now is the time to look at the new generation of alternatives. One of the alternatives that have made vast inroads is hosted services, also known as “Cloud based” or SaaS systems. There is practically no equipment, except for the actual telephones, at your premises. All of the hardware is based in the “Cloud.”
 
This is appealing to many end users as there are no upfront costs. Instead the end user pays a monthly fee. This moves your decision from CAPEX to a mandatory OPEX payment. With CAPEX systems, you will pay a one-time purchase/lease fee and have optional continuing annual maintenance fees. You own the system.  With an OPEX system, you will never own the system, and you will pay monthly fees forever. The system resides in the cloud and all updates and upgrades are taken care of by the vendor.
With cloud based solutions, both hosted and SaaS, there are many items that have to be addressed. Here are only a few. You will need to increase your HSIA bandwidth; you will need to increase the size of your local UPS system to run at least 8 to 12 hours. (Note: make sure that your administrative internet is totally separated from the guest system. You will need two HSIA accounts).
 
 
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Les Spielman is CEO & Founder of Hospitality Automation Consultants Ltd. (HACL), an independent consulting firm. HACL has affiliated offices in Sydney, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore. London and Shanghai. With more than 33 years of IT experience in the lodging & hospitality industry, he has provides assistance with automation tasks on a global personalized basis. Hospitality Automation Consultants Ltd. has successfully completed over 3,300 consulting projects throughout the world. His practice is global.

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