IP Telephony Keeps Businesses Afloat

Cheltenham based TTL is an independent supplier of telecoms services, and has risen to all of the many challenges set by its customers over the last decade. However, when the floods hit the UK back in the ‘summer’, the company had its own set of challenges when its offices were closed as water supplies were cut off and power supplies were under threat. A disaster plan was needed; one that could be implemented in minutes. Stuart Davis, Director of TTL, explains how new telecoms solutions saved the day.

“As a service provider we have a large number of businesses relying on us to maintain the continuity of their communications on a daily basis. We pride ourselves on always meeting those needs, whatever challenges we’re presented with. However, when the floods came in the summer, we not only had to look to our customers’ services, but we also had to find a way to keep our own business up and running.

We had been working with Gamma Telecom for a year to introduce an IP Telephony solution – FeaturePlus – to our customers. Having received the training and setup support from Gamma, we had ordered a number of FeaturePlus handsets for demonstration purposes, to help sell the benefits to our customers. We liked the product because it offers a feature-rich and cost effective solution for our SME customers who have home workers, personnel requiring flexible working arrangements or smaller offices. However, as the rain continued to fall, we very quickly realised the product’s strong potential as a straightforward and affordable business continuity asset; FeaturePlus could enable a proactive rather than reactive approach to business, despite difficult circumstances.

For both TTL and our customers in the effected region, the main challenge was uncertainty. Following the heavy rains and subsequent flooding, we were advised that the mains water supply to Cheltenham would be disconnected, due to the flooding of the water treatment works at Tewkesbury. What we didn’t know was at exactly which point in time this would happen, so we needed to ensure we were ready to implement any solution at literally a minutes’ notice. Similarly, there was a very real threat to the power supply, with flood waters becoming dangerously high at the Walham electricity substation in Gloucester. Again, timings and actualities could not be predicted.

Once the mains water ceased, we ran our office on a skeleton staff, with the majority of staff working remotely, via VPN access and through the use of mobile devices, (mirrored pop3 accounts were created for all staff, in case of power failure to our server) key personnel were also issued with FeaturePlus handsets. The system was set up and ready to go in a matter of minutes. It was primarily a case of applying the necessary diverts to our own phone system and the product’s unique feature set allowed us to view subsequent activity. This meant that if we did lose power, whilst we would have been unable to use the handsets themselves, the product’s software system and failover option meant calls would be diverted to mobiles, ensuring our customers could still reach us and we could remain in touch with them.

The FeaturePlus solution provided us with a reliable option that could cover all eventualities and possibilities, protecting and maintaining vitally important communication and business continuity. Based on our own experiences, we have since recommended the system to our own customers as an easy to set up, flexible and affordable option (in fact the winning combination of this technology and staff commitment ensured our customers continued to receive the high levels of service they are used to throughout this period). One unexpected silver lining to the flooding was that our own staff have now seen first hand the true business benefits offered by FeaturePlus, enabling them to sell the solution more easily into our own base.