Seattle Line Answers Frequently Asked Questions

 


Click A Category Button for Questions About:

 

 

 

 

Telephone Bills

 

 

 

Private Telephone Network (PTN)

 

 

 

Long Distance

 

 

800 Numbers

 

 

Basic Analog Lines

 

 

Digital Lines

 

 

Telephone Systems

 

 

T1 Service

 

 

Internet & Broadband

 

 

DSL

 

 

Seattle Line Communications

 

 

 


Telephone Bills

What exactly is an audit of our telecommunication bills?

It is an intensive review of all your telecommunication charges, features and options to determine if and where reductions can be made. On average we find savings in 80% of the situations we review.

What are all those taxes and service charges on my telephone bills?
Tyranny is the short answer. However, most of them are valid charges, common to all carriers. Some, however, are negotiable, and we have clients that have had a few of them mysteriously disappear. This is one of the fruits of the audit.

Does Seattle Line Communications need Original telephone bills, or are photocopies okay?
Photocopies are just fine. In particular, we would want a complete rendition (every page) of the most recent month, but only the cover pages of the previous two months. That allows us to calculate an average usage figure over three months. For example, if this were June, then we would request all of May's telephone records, but just the Call Summary pages from March and April.

 

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Private Telephone Network (PTN)

What is a Private Telephone Network (PTN)?
Pretty much what it sounds like. When you join the Seattle Line Communications' PTN we allocate a portion of the data bandwidth for your company’s telephone calls—hence the phrase "Private Telephone Network."  In order to transmit your calls through the PTN, they are first converted to data packets, and then reconfigured into voice calls once they reach the called destination.

How long does it take to implement a PTN with Seattle Line Communications?
The short answer is Not Long. However, let's be realistic and say something more believable like "2 or 3 weeks." We can move pretty fast, so the implementation will be according to how fast you wish to proceed. Are you in a hurry?

Will Seattle Line Communications' PTN work with any telephone system?
Yes. As a prelude to the system re-configuration we will contact your current telephone vendor to determine how best to proceed. Most systems can be easily programmed.

 

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Long Distance

If we have a current Long Distance Agreement (LDA) in place, can we still switch?
Yes. Most LDAs are "usage based," that is, the carrier agrees to provide long distance service at a specified rate (say, 5 per minute) for however many minutes you consume. But suppose you stopped consuming their minutes? Suppose, instead, that you began to "consume" minutes with a different carrier? In that case the LDA with the original carrier becomes meaningless.

A switch is also possible if your current LDA is not usage based, but determined by a fixed period of time. In this case, though, the procedure is a bit more delicate, and it would be best for a Seattle Line Communications consultant to review your current agreement.

What are Seattle Line Communications' "per minute" charges for long distance calls?
Seattle Line Communications does not charge on a "per minute" basis. All the others do; we don't. However, if you must have an answer, here it is: Seattle Line Communications' per minute charge is 25% LESS than whatever you are currently paying.

Does Seattle Line Communications handle international long distance calls?
We do, provided that the international country is Canada (or Alaska if you think they are far enough away). If you have a specific country in mind—say Brazil—give us a call and we'll see what can be done. Remember, anything is possible.

 

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800 Numbers

Can my existing 800 number be switched to Seattle Line Communications' PTN?

Yes. And you will save money in the process.

How can I get a specific 800 number?
Only with considerable difficulty. Your current carrier will conduct a perfunctory search, but they only have a small number of numbers reserved for their distribution. To conduct a thorough search you will need to enlist the services of a "800 broker," a company that can search the entire 800 number database. Seattle Line Communications is an 800 broker.

What can be done if the 800 number I want is already taken?
All 800 numbers are committed in one way or another. Some are "orphans" under the responsibility of a carrier. Some are in use, and likely to remain so. Some, although technically "taken," can be relieved from their current owner under the right circumstances. It's a dicey game, to be sure, but Seattle Line Communications knows how to roll the dice. If we can't get it, it can't be gotten.

Are 877 and 866 (and so on) numbers the same as 800 numbers?

Operationally they are the same. The extra prefixes (877, 866 and so on) were added when the 800-range of numbers was exhausted. Although all 8xx numbers provide the same functionality, 800 numbers retain a degree of prestige over their 877 and 866 cousins.

Can I get an 8xx number with extra digits, that is, more than the usual seven?
Technically no, because 8xx numbers are unique only to the first seven digits. However, some companies advertise longer numbers simply to create a clever spelling effect, like SHOP-HERE, which would be 8xx-746-7437-“3”. They would contract for the correct 8xx number (8xx-746-7437), and then add the extra number in their advertising material.

Can we get a US 800 number even if our Head Office is in Canada?

Yes.

 

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Basic Analog Lines

What is a Wild line?
A Wild Line is an analog connection (copper & number) that routes directly to a specific device, such as a fax machine.

What is an Access Line?

First of all, an Access Line is a misnomer because there is no line, that is, a string of copper that runs out to your premise. It really should be called an Access Number, which, in fact, resides only in a Telco's switching office. Once there, though, software programming can create a lot of interesting scenarios—fax mail, voice mail and call deflections to name just a few. Access Lines typically go for between $5 and $15 per month, depending on how exotic you decide to make them behave.

What is a Flat Business Line?
This is a connection (copper & number) that services a business (not a residence). If it operates in isolation, it is a Wild Line. If it operates in tandem with other lines, it is a member of a Hunt Group.

What is a Hunt Group?
This is a group of numbers that share the load of incoming calls to a company. If the first number is busy, the next incoming call is automatically routed to the next number in the Hunt Group. And so on. The first number in the Hunt Group (the one listed in the telephone book) is often called the Billing Number, or the Pilot Number.

What is Call Forwarding, and is it necessary?

Call Forwarding allows one to enter a sequence of numbers into a phone and thus route all subsequent calls to another number—like to a cell phone when an Account Executive has left the office. NOTE: Since modern telephone systems incorporate Call Forwarding into their feature set, this is a monthly rental charge that you can remove from your telephone bills.

 

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Digital Lines

Are digital lines better than analog lines? What's the difference anyway?
Yes. The big advantage of a digital line is its ability to carry DID (Direct Inward Dial) routing instructions, unlike analog lines. Some digital lines can also carry information about who is calling you. And just to complicate the subject, fax machines and modems, digital devices for sure, are usually powered by analog lines. Confused? Call us and we'll help you sort out the mess.

Are digital lines (or channels) more expensive than analog lines?

It depends. If sourced separately (see above) they definitely are. However, if sourced as a group (as channels inside a T1) then the opposite may be true. A modest evaluation would really be required to make a proper judgment.

Do digital lines require special telephone system components?

Yes, and sometimes they can be expensive.

 

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Telephone Systems

Can you recommend a brand of telephone system? Which is the best?
We could, but we shouldn't. What we will do, though, is suggest some brand options with their Plus and Minus attributes. Equally important, but often overlooked, is the nature of the telephone dealer you are considering. Some operate out of a garage, while others have offices and warehouses. This stuff matters.

What are the risks of getting a Used telephone system? Are they Warranted?
It depends on the brand/model offered and the telephone dealer. There are a zillion possible scenarios here. We can provide some advice if necessary.

Can we get a voicemail service without buying a telephone system?
Yes. Numerous carriers provide voicemail service as an optional extra. The messages are stored on their equipment for your retrieval. You may be advised of the presence of a message by a "stutter tone" when you pick up the receiver to place a call. You can then dial your mailbox number and enter your access code to listen to your messages. NOTE: That stutter tone can play havoc with a modem if you are using a dialup Internet connection on the same line.  Some providers—instead of using a stutter tone—will send you an email announcing the presence of a message.  This introduces the delicious subject of Unified Messaging, a feature that is growing in popularity.

If we get a new telephone system, is there any value in the one we are removing?
Generally, not much. However, the vendor of your new telephone system "can be induced" to provide some measure of compensation. Hey, what's the harm in asking?

 

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T1 Service

When is it economical to switch from a group of basic analog lines to a T1 service?
When the aggregate cost of all the analog lines exceeds the collected cost of a T1. Since the prices of analog lines and T1s vary from region to region, one can not know precisely when it is more economical to switch from analog lines to a T1. However, if you have more than 12 analog lines, then you should begin pricing out possible T1 plans. NOTE: a "Basic" T1 can probably be attached to your current telephone system without modification. However, a "PRI" T1 will require a special component addition to your telephone system.

Does a T1 service require an expensive telephone system?
Sometimes. The variations to this scenario are far too numerous to capture in a one-paragraph answer. It would be better to have a Seattle Line Communications consultant review your situation.

Can a T1 be either "voice only" or "data only"?

Yes, and they usually are. When engaged the Voice T1 connects to your telephone system while the Data T1 connects to your computer network. Sometimes these connections can be converged, but that would take us into the murky world of converged Voice-and-Data-something beyond the scope of this answer.

What is an Integrated T1?

This is a new product (not available from every carrier) that converges Voice-Channels and Data-Channels through a single T1. The 24 channels are allocated according to the client's respective Voice and Data volume requirements—say 8 to Voice and 16 to Data for example. This can be a very economical method to kill two birds with one stone.

What are DIDs? Can we get them? Are they necessary?

DID stands for Direct Inward Dial. These are telephone numbers which, when given to clients, allows them to dial straight through to your desk, bypassing the receptionist. You will see them on business cards as "My Direct Number is . . . ". You can get them (a block of 20 usually goes for $3.50 per month) from your carrier IF you have a T1 installed.

 

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Internet & Broadband

What is an ISP? Do I need one?
An ISP (Internet Service Provider) connects you to the Internet. Some providers—like AOL & MSN—also produce glitzy web sites with exotic click-to-choose choices, which you pay extra for. However, if you've discovered Hotmail and know how to Bookmark a site, why pay extra?

What is a Co-location Website?
Some companies do not want the hassle of maintaining the computers necessary to manage their own website. It can be expensive, what with security issues and keeping qualified IT staff available. Those companies choose instead to have their website Hosted at another location under the supervision of a company that will maintain and manage it for them. Their website is thus "co-located." Seattle Line Communications has its website co-located at another sight. We have a client in Snohomish that has their website hosted in Florida. Another client in Seattle has theirs hosted in California. It's neat.

 

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DSL


What are the differences between the various DSL plans?
DSL plans are like flowers—they come in a variety of colors and sizes. Most commonly, though, they are priced according to speed. Thus, a 384k DSL costs more than a 256k DSL. They also have different Upload (slow) and Download (fast) speeds because people don't usually care how fast an email is sent, but they would like to see a website downloaded quickly.

How do I know if we have the right one for our company?

There is no "right" DSL; it is largely a judgment call. Furthermore, the DSL speed is only a contributing factor to the network's overall performance as computer settings, firewalls, virus protection software, and the actual equipment also play a role. Rule of Thumb: If you think that your DSL is a bit more expensive than it should be, then it probably is.

Can I route telephone calls through a DSL?

Yes. Telephone equipment vendors, not carriers, offer this feature. In fact a carrier would have no idea what was going through the DSL because everything is converted into data packets prior to transmission. To them it all looks the same.

What is VoIP (Voice over IP)? Would I need special telephones?
VoIP is the transmission of voice messages through digital lines. Computers, of course, have been doing this for years. Now telephone systems can too. That's the good news. The bad news is that this is an emerging technology, rather expensive, a bit fickle, and could radically change in the coming years. Approach with care.

 

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Seattle Line Communications


Are your support personnel in Seattle, or off in a distant city somewhere?

We are located on Mercer Island.

What territory does Seattle Line Communications service?
North America and Hawaii.

 

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Copyright 2011 Seattle Line Communications, Inc.
Seattle Line Communications, Inc.
2448 76th Ave SE, Suite 200, Mercer Island, WA 98040
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