Jingle Bells Broadband Bust

One of the admitted hazards of any type of phone service is the fact that sooner or later you’re going to lose that service – whether it’s traditional service or VoIP. Perhaps someone accidentally dug up a cable, for instance, or maybe a tree branch fell on the wires or, as once happened to me, a careless technician closed the door on a curbside phone cabinet and accidentally pulled out the wires serving my home.

Most recently, with the first big snowstorm of the season falling outside my window, my broadband service went down and thus, of course, so did my VoIP phone service. Perhaps, I thought, it was the weather. At first broadband tech support said no, it was some sort of “programming error.” But it affected my neighbors’ service too, and after 47 minutes my broadband tech support finally said it really was a remote hardware problem, indeed possibly due to the weather.

The point, though, is that since I have Phone.com VoIP phone service I wasn’t struck speechless – okay, incoming phone call challenged – by the situation. That’s because of the ability to quickly and easily program features such as call forwarding using Phone.com’s web site. Actually I use what I would call conditional call forwarding. The way I have it set up, if somebody calls my home phone and I don’t answer, the call is automatically forwarded to my cell phone, and my home phone also rings again, simultaneously. Only after that does the call go to my voicemail service.

Moreover, if for any reason my VoIP adapter is off line – be it a snow-induced broadband outage, power outage, or perhaps I have the adapter in my luggage when travelling — the call automatically goes to my cell phone right away. And since I use Phone.com’s Virtual Office, I’m considering giving callers an option to forward the call to either my cell or my wife’s.

My advice to anyone using VoIP for either business phone service or for their home phone (or both, as I do) is simple – program your system now, before you lose service (in a pinch, you could of course use your smartphone afterwards to program Phone.com’s forwarding feature, but I don’t suggest that because you might not even be aware that you’ve lost broadband). As for those who might still be using traditional phone service all I can say is sorry, you probably can’t do it or, if you can, it costs extra.

By the way, my broadband finally came back on line after more than six hours. Amusingly, I got an automated call from the service provider saying it was working about twelve hours after that. Not so amusing was the fact that those of my neighbors who still use standard landline phone service lost that too, and for those hours they simply couldn’t get their calls unless they had an expensive extra cost forwarding plan.

Stuart Zipper is currently a contributing editor to Communications Technology, a high tech business journalism consultant and freelancer, and the past Senior Editor of TelecomWeb news break.