Beginners Guide To Wholesale Voice

Picking the right voice solution and plan for your customer

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams, 3CX Unified Communications, or SIP Trunking are all great products, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing which one is the best fit for your customers is going to come down to cost, functionality, reliability and ultimately how it aligns with your other service offerings as a wholesaler.

To help simplify this for you our beginners guide is going to take a look for each at the key features, support available, SLA’s and restoration times, effort and what you should be asking your customers.

But as a general guide or essential rule set to work from:

  • Do you require a single interface and login for Calling, chat, email and other functionality? If you answered yes, then Teams Direct Routing is going to be the clear winner here.
  • Are SLA and Restoration Targets a priority for you? If they are then Lightwire Hosted 3CX offering is going to be the winner.
  • Are you looking to sweat your existing PBX or your current voice offering and just looking to a Trunk provider? You guessed it, Lightwire SIP Trunking is the one for you.

SIP Trunking

What is it? SIP Trunking allow your own or customers PBX to make calls out to the world and replace the old ISDN lines with an IP Based Solution.  With SIP Trunking the deployment, support and maintenance of the PBX are in your hands, and features will vary depending on what you have chosen as the underlying PBX. As an example, you might have a 3CX instance that you’re self-hosting or be running on-premises Panasonic PBX.

If you’re using our SIP Trunks for 3CX on-premises or self-hosted, then you’ll be pleased to know that our Trunks have been certified and selected a preferred choice in Australia and New Zealand for use.

Basically, that means they are plug and play for use with 3CX.

What is Sip Trunking?

Features: Your PBX controls the features for the customer, but our SIP trunks have the following features

  • Provider Type: Register Based
  • SI Mode: Yes – Automata
  • Clip No Screening Support: Yes
  • Anonymous Calling: Yes
  • SIP TLS Support: No
  • IPV6 Ready: No
  • DTMF Support (RFC2833): Yes
  • 302 Diversion Support: No

SLA: Supported and backed by Lightwire:

Service Availability Objectives

Item

Performance Objectives

Service Availability Target:

99.9999% Measured Annually.

Service Availability Window:

24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Service Installation Target:

30 Business Days

Scheduled Outages:

Not included in the monthly service availability target.

More information: https://lightwirebusiness.com/sip-channels/

Key questions to ask your customers:

  • How many channels/simultaneous calls do you need to support
  • How many minutes are they currently doing
  • What numbers do they have

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

The newest voice offering in our line-up, ready for those looking for a complete modern business.

The pricing follows our SIP Product, and we have even carried over our per-channel model (which is a bit unique in the Teams space).

Essentially the SIP Trunks terminate on our redundant Session Border Controllers (SBCs) which you can connect your customers Office 365 Tenancy and configure for calling.

We don’t get involved in the setup and very much leave this to you as a third-party phone system.  

Teams Calling

Features: I won’t reinvent the wheel here: check out our Teams page for numerous articles and webinars on functionality to and understand the Microsoft Licensing requirements.

SLA: The SIP Trunking component and SBC’s are backed by Lightwire’s usual SLA’s for Voice, but the major component to make this work (Direct Routing) inside of Office 365 are subject to Microsoft’s Direct Routing SLA’s.

Those currently leave something to be desired when compared to our 3CX SLA, so if your customer is SLA conscious, it may be best to look a different solution here.

Key things to be asking and checking for Teams Direct Routing are:

  • Do you have the skills in house to set up it up and maintain it
  • What Office 365 Licencing are your customers currently using as this will have a bearing on the cost structure,
  • Do they have any physical phones – these will need to be replaced in most cases (if not moving to app only)
  • What features they currently use on the phone system – ensuring you can replicate them in Teams.

Hosted 3CX Unified Communications

If you’re looking for a hand’s off, full function, completely SLA backed, managed voice solution then go no further than our Lightwire Hosted 3CX Unified Communications Offering.

Leave the build and maintenance in our hands and as we tackle all the hard stuff with our team of 3CX Advanced Certified Engineers. We enable our partners to do the essential management such as call flow and user/extension creation etc. but can also do this on your behalf if needed.

The service runs out of AWS Sydney, a 3CX approved hosting provider so the underlying infrastructure is rock solid and our implementation allows of quick failover and restoration.

Features: We run with Pro Licences. However, upgrades to Enterprise are available on request (POA). You can check all the features via the button below.

SLA: Our SLA covers the SIP Trunks, the hosting, voice core and 3CX instance.

Service Availability Objectives

Item

Performance Objectives

Service Availability Target:

99.9999% Measured Annually.

Service Availability Window:

24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Service Installation Target:

30 Business Days

Scheduled Outages:

Not included in the monthly service availability target.

Pricing up the right plan

For all our voice services you will have the option of “Calling Bundles” or “Unlimited Calling”, then you are going to need to decide on how many simultaneous calls or channels you are going to require, any additional services (such as toll-free numbers) and finally term.

A bit like this:

Voice Service + Calling Plan + Channels + Additional Services + Term = Monthly Price

For example: 3CX + Unlimited Calling + 8 Channels + 2x NZ toll free + 36 Month = $668 + GST (RRP)

But first, what is the difference between “Calling Bundles” and “Unlimited Calling” and how can you determine which is right for my customer?

All our Calling Bundles come with a generous allocation of phone numbers and minutes included which can be supplemented with more mobile minutes to allow for cost-effective growth in call volumes.

For example, our 3CX 16 Channel Bundle comes with 25000 Outbound Local minutes 10000 Outbound NZ/AU National minutes 1500 Outbound NZ/AU Mobile minutes.

Pro tip: Local minutes aren’t a thing in Australia, so ignore them for Australian services. Otherwise, plans and rates are the same in both countries.  

Unlimited Calling is going to give you budgetary certainty with unlimited fixed and mobile calls to NZ and Australia, including calls to 1300 numbers in Australia. 

What’s the caveat on Unlimited Calling? Our standard pricing isn’t intended for use with outbound call centres, but that’s not to say you can’t have unlimited if you are working with a call centre. Get in touch, and we can see how we can package something up here for you.

Is there some sweet formula for working out what’s more cost-effective? Absolutely, but let us just work together on getting the right pricing and analysis done for your customer – if in doubt, go unlimited.

How do I know what my customer has or needs?

The number 1 questions we get is how do I know how many numbers and how much billing do they do so I can quote the customer correctly?

We recommend analysing their current invoice and breaking down their plan(s). Unfortunately, voice invoices are historically painful to analysis so if you need any assistance with this, then we’re more than happy to help and can give you advice or questions to go back to the customer with.

Working out how many channels you need

There is no one size fits all approach here as it comes down to a decision between risk, overhead and cost. But first, what is a channel, and why is it important?

Channels are a representation of the number of simultaneous calls you can make and receive at any single point in time.

You may already know that your customer has X number of channels and that’s a great place to work from. But, if you don’t, then simply add the total numbers of voice users together and divide by three. This will give you a good base to begin with. If you want a fair amount of overhead, divide the total by two instead of three.

What to ask your customer:

  • Find out how comfortable they are with different contention ratios.
  • Find out the total number of users on the phone system.
  • Find out how many calling queues and IVR’s they have.
 

Remember the more uses you have, the more channels you’ll likely use. To help with this, we introduced voice channel utilisation graphs in illume so you know exactly how many simultaneous calls you’re making and get a proactive alert.  

3CX Call volume and channel utilisation graph inside illume | Lightwire Business

You’ll be able to see call volumes, channel utilisation, and many more within illume. Check out the overview via the button below

Pro tip:  Depending on your PBX and with 3CX, the act of transferring a call or having a call sitting in a wait queue will consume a simultaneous call channel licence. Just keep that in mind when sizing up.

What about numbers?

You can bring existing New Zealand and Australian numbers with you by porting them across to Lightwire, or get new numbers; the choice is yours.

All plans come with an included amount of DDI (Direct Dial-In) numbers for example 5 are included in out SIP 5 Channel Bundle, but you can add additional individual DDI numbers on or get a 100 Block of numbers.

Likewise, we can port your existing toll numbers or supply new ones.

Porting takes approximately 10 Days in New Zealand and 20 Days in Australia.

Pro tip:  the more numbers you have, the more complex a port is and may increase lead time to port the numbers.

How do I on charge and bill my customer?

Wholesale Rebilling for Voice Services has always been a challenge. We were excited to announce recently new feature for voice billing into our customer portal, Illume that allows you to see and set your own voice rates based on call types and/or destination prefixes.

We’re confident that this feature will make voice billing easier and more profitable for you going forward. Check out the detailed wholesale rebilling feature blog post here

Pro tip:  monthly services are billed in advance, additional VoIP usage and variable call charges are billed in arrears.

Update – Datagate integration support is now available. Simplify your wholesale billing, learn more about the Datagate integration here.

How do we prevent fraud?

We implement credit limits for all voice services with each customer and alert when accounts are getting close to hitting the limit so you can advise if the limit is being reached for legitimate calls or not and adjust that limit with us.

We also block outbound high-risk countries by default and have an option for you to allow them if you have legitimate calls that need to go to those countries.

Trails

Need to do a proof of concept for your customers or upskill for a Direct Routing implementation – We offer a two week free trial for all our voice services.  Just get in touch to get started.

Pro tip: SIP and Teams Direct Routing trials can be converted into production, saving you from setting them up again.

Questions?

Your account manager will be able to help you through any voice proposal you’re working on and if you have any questions, get in touch.

P.S. Drop us a line if there is anything you would like to know about in more detail. We’re happy to create an article and/or video on it. 

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