What Happens To VoIP When The Internet Is Down?

We’ve all heard the stories about unreliable VoIP can be. The biggest question that most businesses have is, ‘what happens to a VoIP telephone system when the internet is down?’

What happens to VoIP when the internet is down? VoIP telephone systems rely on the internet. When the internet is down, a VoIP system won’t function. Most systems have built-in fall-back facilities that mean you don’t miss any calls even when the internet is down.

We already know that VoIP relies on your data connection, so any outage would cause disruption. However, modern day VoIP telephone systems have built-in features that ensure you still receive calls no matter what. Read on to find out what VoIP failover is, how it works, and other measures you can use to keep your system working when there’s an internet outage.

Can I Still Receive VoIP Calls When The Internet Is Down?

For many businesses, the ability to receive calls is more important than the ability to make calls. For example, call centers generally receive a lot more calls than they make. If receiving calls is paramount to your business’s operations, it’s critical to make sure you can still accept calls from customers even during an internet outage. So that brings us onto a question requiring a definitive answer: can I still receive VoIP calls when the internet is down?

The answer to this question is almost always the same. Yes, you can continue to receive VoIP calls when experiencing an internet outage as long as you have a VoIP system with failover facilities.

Fortunately, VoIP telephone systems without built-in failover facilities are rare. Most providers have built facilities into their systems that mean you can circumvent the effect of an internet outage and continue to receive calls.

What Is A VoIP Failover Facility When The Internet Is Down?

A failover facility is a feature built into a VoIP telephone system. A failover facility is used to ensure you don’t miss a call in the event of an outage.

Imagine a scenario where you experience an internet outage. This will cause your VoIP telephone system to stop working as usual. Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the world thanks to failover features.

The term ‘failover facility’ covers numerous possible features. For example, a failover facility with one provider might be a simple redirect that diverts your calls elsewhere. With another provider, a failover facility might be a backup ISDN line or second internet connection.

Now we’ve a rough idea of what a failover facility actually is, let’s have a look at how failovers actually work.

How Does A VoIP Failover Facility Work When The Internet Is Down?

The way that a VoIP failover facility work really depends on the type of failover that is built into your system. There are several types of VoIP failover, such as:

  • Resilience Routing
  • Backup Data Connection
  • Softphone Backup

Of course, these are just some of the failover facilities that VoIP providers use. I’ll explain how each of these facilities work and how they protect your business.

How Resilience Routing Works

Resilience routing is the most common failover facility built into VoIP telephone systems. The concept is fairly simple: if your internet connection drops and calls cannot reach your endpoint devices, calls can be diverted to another location.

Using the Call Forwarding feature, you can divert all the calls to a certain number to one or numerous numbers.

For example, a customer phones your office but you are currently experiencing an outage. In some cases, the call will automatically divert to a predetermined number or group of numbers. In other cases, the divert will be manual and you will have to phone your provider or use the management portal to change the call destination.

Calls can be diverted to any fixed number. For example, you can divert calls to your mobile devices or another office. Calls can even be diverted to your home phone if that’s what you wanted. The people calling your number won’t know the difference, so it’ll be business as usual.

The downside to using resilience routing is that, for a lot of businesses, it’s not ideal to point all their calls at another device. It means that you might end with a lot of employees sat around unable to do an awful lot. For some businesses, resilience routing should be the last solution. As I’ll explain next, installing a backup data connection might make a lot more sense.

How A Backup Data Connection Works

One way that businesses can increase the resilience of their VoIP telephone system is by installing a backup connection. This connection can be from the same ISP, but usually, it will be from a different ISP to the one providing your main connection.

Let’s say someone accidentally chops through the wire of your main internet connection. Because your VoIP system relies on this connection, your phones suddenly stop working. Your system can be set up so that your phones automatically start running on the second connection if the first connection is suffering an outage.

A backup data connection is a good investment if your business simply cannot go without the phones. A backup data connection should also be accompanied by other failover facilities, such as resilience routing.

The downside of installing a second internet connection that you’re solely using as a backup is obviously increased costs. You’re going to be paying for an internet connection that you aren’t even using. That’s why more businesses will simply rely on a feature such as resilience routing instead. However, simply switching over to another internet connection is seamless when compared with diverting your calls elsewhere. It means that your employees in the office can continue to work as usual. Depending on the number of calls that you receive, it may make a lot of sense to have a backup internet service provider.

How A Softphone Backup Works

A softphone is an application that has all the functionality of a PBX. Through a softphone application, you can make and receive calls using your office telephone system no matter where you are. Softphones are available on mobile phones, laptops, and a flurry of other internet-enabled devices with microphones and speakers.

A softphone installed on a mobile phone.

The vast majority of business VoIP providers will have a softphone application that can be installed on mobile phones and laptops, among other devices. Depending on your provider and the package that you choose, using a softphone may or may not incur an extra charge. Some providers bundle their softphone solution in with their licences, so you might already be paying for a softphone that you aren’t using.

In some deployments, a softphone application will be installed on business mobile phones. If there is an outage on the office connection, devices with the softphone installed can continue to make and receive calls using a 4G connection.

Softphones are also very useful for working remotely. Even when you aren’t in the office, you will have the full functionality of your office telephone system on your device with the softphone installed. If your main office data connection experiences an outage, your remote workers will still be able to make and receive calls providing they have a connection.

VoIP Won’t Work Without The Internet – But There Are Ways To Keep Your System Working

To conclude this blog post, VoIP doesn’t work without the internet. However, it is possible to make your system resilient and still retain its full functionality in the situation of a data connection outage. Whether you simply divert all your calls to other locations, or you install softphones on your devices, concerns about internet outages are not a reason to avoid VoIP.

Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell has been the Operations manager at telecoms and MSP Optionbox for more than 4 years. He has played a crucial role in the company, from marketing to helpdesk, and ensures that the IT requirements of over 300 clients are continuously met. With his innate passion for technology and troubleshooting and a particular interest in Apple products, Jack now delivers the most comprehensive tech guides to make your life easier. You can connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

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