Dr. Hain's Rants/Raves has helpful information about things
that Dr. Hain has discovered by trial and error.
Vonage -- The little telephone system that doesn't work.
Vonage is a "virtual PBX" subscription that one would think would be a good idea, but it just doesn't work for a busy medical office.
We had to "roll back" Vonage to our previous system (installed by Southwestern Bell), because Vonage didn't work. This cost us a lot of money, but it was better than living with Vonage.
The general idea of Vonage is good -- move the switching into the cloud, which makes it much easier to administer, and also less likely to break. Unfortunately it just doesn't work ....
The implementation is terrible. Problems include:
- "Park" function went away to be replaced by an awful situation where customers get put into some hold queue, and then staff get called back every few minutes. Drove everybody nuts.
- Voice quality is very erratic. A garbled up mess.
- Long delays -- transferring a call might take 20 seconds. This is a LONG TIME.
- Phones "grab" IP addresses and keep them for 3 days, filling up the local pool -- we have 25 phones, if they all grab 3 addresses, thats 75 IP addresses. There are only 255. We need the other local addresses for other stuff -- like printers.
- The "Free phones" that came with the contract, are very crude. Replacement phones are about $250 each -- they are prettier but just as dysfunctional as they have to deal with the PBX in the sky.
- This is a "cloud" PBX. That means that you are at the mercy of your internet connection. While our Internet is good (two very fast connections), it is not good enough to have a "PBX in the sky" run things. Cloud PBX's are not reliable because they depend on to many things -- you have to get to the cloud, and whatever program is running in the cloud, has to be very fast. It doesn't look as if Vonage is up to this.
- ABecause this is IP telephony, the voice quality depends on what is going on in the local network. There are no guarantees here. Somebody might be doing something else that needs a lot of data. Like printing. If you care about understanding your customers, don't pick IP telephony.
- The "Park" problem was tough -- this is just bad software. Try things out in a "real" environment with your most active staff. Perhaps there are more responsive companies than Vonage out there, but it is clear that somebody didn't think this through.
- Don't use Vonage for your telephone provider if you are a busy office.
- A telephone company is going to be better at supplying telephone service than most competitors.
- Don't use "cloud" PBX of any kind, if you have high reliability requirements, because it is nearly impossible to get high reliability out of a cloud anything.
Maybe asterisk is better (these days).
April 20, 2018
, Timothy C. Hain, M.D.
All rights reserved.