RCN Hosted Voice Review

Enabled us to combine three separate operating companies into one phone system

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our entire operation. We've got three separate operating companies and we're all combined together into one phone system. Our plan was to get a system that could allow for call recording and playback.

How has it helped my organization?

We've been able to combine three separate operating companies into one phone system. They are related companies in terms of what they do. Before, what we had was a landline system and we all had our own phone numbers. If somebody called in for one of the operating companies that we were not part of, we would have to just say, "Okay, I'm sorry I can't help you out. Here's a phone number to call." Now, we can just transfer that person directly to whatever line they need to get to. That's been very important for us.

Regarding packet loss, and as far as reliability goes, it's been very good for us. We've got everything flowing through our server, and that includes the other operating companies. Everybody is flowing through one server to the internet, back and forth, and we're very happy.

What is most valuable?

We use call recording. It's important to us because there's information that's passed from the customer to us. We sell ready-mixed concrete. It's very important that we get the right information and if there's ever a dispute, we've got that recorded phone call to know if we've done something incorrectly or if the customer ordered incorrectly. That has been very helpful to us.

We also use the recorded calls for training purposes. We spend a fair amount of time going through the phone calls with our dispatchers to improve their phone etiquette as well as how they take in orders, etc.

The thing I like best about them is that they have a local office that has been very responsive. As soon as we have a problem, somebody comes out here.

What needs improvement?

Because we are supposed to administer the phone system on our own, they gave us some training in the beginning. But if it's something you don't use a lot, you forget. It's a little bit more complex than just picking something up one day and knowing how to use it. If they had better ongoing-training options, for example, if they put something out on YouTube where you could just go and look for individual things that you need by looking at a video, that would be very helpful. Something that says, "Here's how you change people's extensions," or "Here's how you do this, here's how you do that."

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good. The system is up and running something like 97 percent of the time. We've had a couple of outages here and there, but nothing spectacular. A couple of the issues were caused internally, because of our setup.

We have a very unusual setup in that we actually have land and a building that are alongside railroad tracks and the rail company refuses to allow providers to do hard cabling in. We had to come up with a solution where we're doing a wireless connection from a building that we own which is two blocks away. Signals are shooting between antennas and then down into a cable system. Those two antennas had been up and running for quite a while, but at one point they both went down. We lost everything for a couple of days. 

What we realized is that we need a backup system. So we're using the DSL as a failsafe mechanism. If RCN goes down, we will switch back to the Verizon DSL, but we've not had to use that at all.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been very good. They're here within an hour if we have an issue. It's very helpful that it is US-based and within local markets.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had a very old phone system and we were looking to upgrade. The phone system that we had just wouldn't be able to handle the technology. We were looking for certain features.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. We had an old phone line and we also had DSL. They came in and we were able to switch everything over without any problems at all. They did it over about two days. They installed phones in all the companies. At the time, we had a fourth company, which has since closed its doors. So we had four entities running without a problem. They came through and set up each phone separately and then individually walked us through how to use the phone.

They shipped the phones in and, on the first day, they did the installations of the individual phones. Then, on the second day, they came back and did training.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's very affordable. We're very happy with the pricing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There was a local company here that offered phone systems while continuing to use Verizon, but we found Verizon to be very difficult to work with. Maybe it's the sheer size of Verizon, but things just don't seem to work very well.

What other advice do I have?

Because it is a voice over IP, you want to look at what your backup strategy is. If anything does happen to the system, and you can't get back up quickly, do you have another way to go about it?

We had a third-party IT group that had worked with RCN before. We talked to them about it, as they had it installed in their office, and they gave us the pros and cons and helped us to get ready for it.

We have about 25 users altogether. They are our dispatchers here in the office, our office administration people, and our management people. Our salespeople use it and there is a person at the front window who takes in trucks and gets them loaded. She uses the phone quite a bit. We're pretty much at capacity in terms of the people who would use the phone lines, and we use them constantly throughout the day.

We don't require any staff for deployment and maintenance of the phone system. We don't have anybody dedicated to the phone system. The automatic upgrades have been invisible to us. I haven't seen or heard anything regarding them.

If a colleague said that a cloud solution isn't safe, I would say that my experience has been that we haven't had any issues. I've worked with other cloud-based software before and haven't had a problem. As long as you've got a server, people can hack you no matter what, but I don't think a cloud is any less safe.

I give it a nine out of ten. We have had little things happen. I give it a nine not knowing why those things happened. It could also be our particular server with the strange setup that we've got. We've had some dropped calls and we've had some funny things that happened to the line, but again, we don't know if it is RCN or if it's our server.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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