As a cloud-based phone system service provider, network reliability is a critical element that is constantly being reviewed, tested and improved. Still, the truth is that both data and voice traffic ultimately go onto other carrier networks and we, the service provider, have minimal influence over that segment. We know that the large carrier networks out there are good in terms of reliability, but they are far from infallible.
Here are a few of the ways that things can go seriously wrong:
Large carrier networks are designed to be highly reliable, but they are by design not completely reliable. If one looks at any of the fiber networks across the United States, it is clear that they are designed to provide redundant paths in the event that any one path becomes blocked or cut (typically from a backhoe at a construction site). The problem in this solution is that most redundant paths do not have enough bandwidth to handle the load from the “cut” path on top of whatever they were already carrying.
The reason for this is cost.
It costs too much to have a fully redundant set of paths that can handle “peak” traffic loads. Consequently, all of the traffic on the backup path can be affected with slower performance. This will likely not hurt the data traffic too much, but it certainly will break the voice traffic severely.
So the redundant solution acts just as poorly as no solution – your phone calls fail.
This is more dramatic when a major path in the network fails, which thankfully is not frequent, but fiber cuts occur across these networks on a daily basis. Sooner or later they will affect all of us.
Of course a wide breath of problems stem from simple human error. This could be a provisioning error, a mishandled circuit, a poorly implemented design or even the design itself being faulty. We’ve seen a circuit be provisioned at a tenth of what it was supposed to be by accident. The results were immediate and significant, and this sort of mistake happens more than one can imagine.
Circuits have been canceled because they were mislabeled in the field versus what was on someone’s spreadsheet. This is quite common where there is a hand off between carriers. My favorite example of a poor implementation is where the backup circuits were on the same physical path as the primaries. One backhoe swipe took them both out! Certainly, no one thought that one through.
A classic deign mistake is driving voice traffic over a data network thinking that as long as the paths are large enough there can be no quality of service issues. Without some effort at giving voice packets priority, one can always visit scenarios where the voice traffic is compromised and of course these situations sooner or later come up.
What Can Businesses Do?
Core network reliability for the most part is good, maybe even great; but this isn’t enough for businesses to operate. They need help for the eventual problems that will come along and this is what we at Vaspian focus on when we act as our customer’s proxy when working with major carriers.
We actively stay on top of carrier problems, which minimally keeps us more aware and often helps to get the problems fixed sooner that what a single customer could ever expect. There are no silver bullets, but having a reliable and knowledgeable partner like Vaspian is a great advantage for a customer.
To learn more about our services, visit us online or call our Buffalo, New York office at 1-855-827-7426.