As a prospective buyer of BT Cloud Voice, our review will put you in the most informed position possible. We'll explain the latest 2020 advances, licence types, hardware options and exactly how to achieve the best possible discounts. There are essentially three routes into BT for placing your order, with advantages and disadvantages to each of them, read on to learn more.
How to buy BT Cloud Voice with the best possible costs?
The most popular route (and perhaps typical route) is to start your buying journey via the BT Cloud Voice online pricing page. Before you head over; the pricing generated is based on a standard cost base which does not achieve any available discounts (special offers aside). We've listed some offers on our product page for between 10 and 100 licences.
There are some clear benefits to using the online portal in respect of speed but readers should be mindful that Cloud Voice needs to be correctly aligned to your requirements and, as said above, discounts will not be applied.
If you prefer to speak with a BT agent, you’ll be put through to your BT LB (Local Business) contact where your mileage may vary from the perspective of product expertise depending on the agent and their knowledge. BT Local Businesses operate as a franchise covering specific areas across the UK.
And finally BT Authorised Partners which are independent businesses with access in much the same way as Local Business. The only difference is our coverage is UK/NI rather than a specific region; our customers are based across the country. To validate our approach and status with BT, we’re listed here on the BT.com website, scroll down to The Network Union.
With all of the above, BT own the contract, provide support and billing. Whether you engage via BT.com, Local Business or an Authorised Partner, the service is BT end to end provisioned, invoiced and supported by BT Business.
In terms of achieving the best possible costs, we work with a BT employed sales specialist to look at each individual requirement from the perspective of licence quantity and type, calling packages and hardware. As standard, as of writing this article, we’re able to offer reduced licence costs with free handsets.
In order to further incentivise your engagement with the Partner Channel, there is a further 10% discount on the overall TCV (Total Contract Value). With all Broadband and BTNet leased line services, we are offering additional reductions as a bundle. Some off the shelf example discounted costs are included within this blog post.
What changes are occurring in 2019?
Perhaps one of the most profound changes is the ‘Over the Top’ update which allows customers without BT Broadband or BT Ethernet leased line connectivity to purchase BT Cloud Voice using 3rd party Internet connections. While the majority of Cloud customers will invariably end up using Internet outside of the office, the actual main business premises is typically connected using BT services including Copper Broadband, FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet), FTTP (Fibre to the Premises), GEA (Generic Ethernet Access), EFM (Ethernet First Mile) or BTNet leased line circuits.
The benefit of an end to end solution surrounds support. If an issue occurs, BT are able to troubleshoot your BT connection together with the Cloud Voice service to avoid an inability to determine exactly where a problem is situated. With this said, there are customers currently in contract with another provider where early cancelation/change to BT is not cost effective.
Lastly, as of writing this article, Cloud Voice will be receiving an update to meet the demands of call centre functionality. The web based call analytics package provides real-time and historic reporting and trend analysis on all aspects of calls made. The detailed information can be projected onto a wallboard or large screen.
The second 2019 addition is BT Cloud Voice over MPLS allowing BT customers with private WAN to use hosted telephony. One great aspect is the ability to mix traffic between Internet and MPLS as required with specific traffic rules. BT currently support MPLS customers via SIP trunking, the introduction of hosted offers customers more flexibility.
We’ll continue to update this article throughout 2019 as further updates occur.
How to compare and understand licence capabilities?
BT Cloud Voice is offered via three licence types - Basic licence, Connect licence and the Collaborate licence.
Add on features:
- Receptionist console - used to manage incoming calls via a specific feature set including directory lookup and line status monitoring. One great feature is the ability to drag a callers number and drop it onto the employees name for call transfer. Receptionist console can be operated from wherever an Internet connection is available, i.e. any site.
- Hot desking - logon to a phone with user credentials to route all calls to your temporary place of work. CRM click to dial - when one of your customer calls, CRM integration will identify the contact together with click to dial with outbound calling.
- Busy lamp - monitor your colleagues line status before transferring a call.
- Call recording - decide on which calls or record ALL calls.
- Call centre ACD - distribute incoming calls to users from a central phone number. Call Centre works similarly to Hunt Groups but slightly different in that your calls are queued with messaging to let the customer know the status together with agents status.
What are the latest costs for Cloud Voice handsets and hardware?
Polycom VVX 301 - 6 programmable line keys with 3.2" backlit LCD display £106.00
Polycom VVX 411 - 12 programmable line keys with 3.5" colour LCD display £154.00
Polycom VVX 601 - 12 programmable line keys with 4.5" touch screen display £213.50
BT T41S Handset - programmable keys. HD sound quality. Loudspeaker with ports for a headset and PC. £106.00
BT T46S Handset - support for Gigabit connectivity, 4.5" TFT colour display, 27 programmable keys. HD sound quality. Loudspeaker with ports for a headset and PC. £154.00
BT T48S Handset - support for Gigabit connectivity, 7" TFT colour display, 29 programmable keys. HD sound quality. Loudspeaker with ports for a headset and PC. £213.50
Polycom Conference Phone - 12-foot microphone pickup with LED backlight display. £589.00
Cloud Voice ATA - Enables customers to use an analogue device on the BT cloud voice service.
Yealink W60 DECT Solution (W60B base station and W56H handset) - the base station can be used with up to four handsets. £100 and £75 per additional handset.
Yealink W52 DECT Solution (W52 base station and handset) - This cordless handset works with an IP connected base station. It can support up to five handsets.
Yealink CP920 conference phone - This conference phone is great for businesses that have regular group calls with colleagues and clients working elsewhere. £500.
Polycom IP 5000 conference phone - With a speaker range of approx 7ft this advanced IP conference phone is perfect for small conference rooms.£300 with £50 PSU charge.
Polycom IP 6000 Soundstation conference phone - With a speaker range of approx 12ft this advanced IP conference phone is perfect for midsize conference rooms. £589 with £50 PSU charge.
BT ATA - This gives customers the option of using an analogue device. £55.
LAN and Cabling
With the addition of handsets, your business will need to consider the LAN environment. BT recommend a minimum base of cat5e cabling, the most basic checks include ensuring there are enough free ports and there is sufficient capacity. All LAN switches should also support power over Ethernet. All BT Managed Routers are configured with QoS, prioritisation of voice enabled.
The latest BTNet routers are based on Cisco Meraki edge routers with Broadband supported by BT's own Business Hub 5. With the Business Hub, BT can enable the inbuilt Firewall functionality to secure your connection. For those of you considering BTNet (or currently using a BTNet leased line), the Cisco Meraki is available with security module. Our experience with data networking ensures we have the ability to assist if required. Some ports will need to be enabled to allow calls to flow through; these are all outlined within the welcome pack.
What are the current BT Cloud Voice calling package costs?
The current costs for calls are outlined below. Where sharer minutes are applied, the calling plan is essentially 'shared' across all users regardless of whether individual users use more or less than others. If your licence quantity is low or you believe there is a requirement, Cloud Voice is also offered with an unlimited calling plan.
UK Call Sharer plans (monthly minutes)
- BT Cloud Voice UK Unlimited £7 per user.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 500 minutes £11.25.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 1,000 minutes £22.50.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 2,500 minutes £56.25.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 5,000 minutes £112.50.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 10,000 minutes £225.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 20,000 minutes £400.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 40,000 minutes £775.
- BT Cloud Voice UK Sharer Plan 60,000 minutes £1,100.
International Call Sharer plans (monthly minutes)
- BT Cloud Voice International Sharer Plan 100 minutes £2.25.
- BT Cloud Voice International Sharer Plan 200 minutes £4.50.
- BT Cloud Voice International Sharer Plan 500 minutes £.11.25.
- BT Cloud Voice International Sharer Plan 1,000 minutes £22.50.
- BT Cloud Voice International Sharer Plan 2,000 minutes £45.
- BT Cloud Voice International Sharer Plan 5,000 minutes £110.
- BT Cloud Voice International Sharer Plan 10,000 minutes £215.
How much bandwidth is required to make a Cloud Voice call and what potential problems occur?
The biggest inhibitor for successful end to end calls is bandwidth and latency issues.
Each concurrent voice call over IP will require 100k per user, the rate at which bandwidth is consumed is dictated by a feature called the CODEC. Good voice quality is achieved typically when the G711 CODEC is used.
While this may be getting too deep into the weeds, the way to think about this is by using simple maths. If your current Broadband is supporting 2Mbps upstream (for example), your connectivity would potentially support 20 concurrent calls.
Of course, this would only apply to a broadband which is not being used for any other applications, i.e. Internet browsing. As Broadband circuits are often shared, BT configures QoS (Quality of Service) to prioritise your traffic outbound to avoid congestion issues. Even with QoS, we recommend considering how much utilisation your Broadband circuit is being subjected to as this will dictate whether a standalone circuit is required.
With BTNet circuits, the bandwidth is much more plentiful and symmetrical (the same upstream and downstream speeds). There is also more flexibility within the feature set.
What is BT Cloud Voice and how does IP telephony work vs ISDN services?
When business procures services such as IP telephony, the frustration associated with poor quality voice and video performance is not only bad for productivity but often impacts a business’s bottom line. These newer technology services are classed as virtual - in this respect; you are no longer managing and maintaining the aforementioned hardware.
This approach means features are continuously added and updated with new patches and enhancements deployed automatically - A major benefit of hosted telephony and one of the drivers behind Cloud technology purchases. The overall value proposition surrounds flexibility vs. your precise needs, some businesses require various licence types to fit the specific requirements of their users. For example, selected users will work from an office location, others will work out in the field or from home and require access via tablet or mobile.
The BT IP voice platform replaces on-site PBX hardware by moving the intelligence to the cloud (the BT network).
How to use BT Cloud Voice and what will your business require?
Essentially, a BT Internet connection, a call plan (typically unlimited to UK landlines/mobile) and compatible IP phone handset or the services are available via a client application. A component of the sales process involves checking the predicted performance of your access. This test is undoubtedly important when using BT Broadband as an access method. Current BT products are as follows:
- BT Infinity Premium: 76Mbps / 19Mbps
- BT Infinity Unlimited: 38Mbps / 9.5Mbps
- BT Business Broadband: 17Mbps / 0.9Mbps
- BT FTTP: 330Mbps / 30Mbps BT GEA
- (Generic Ethernet Access) and EFM (Ethernet First Mile)
- BTNet Internet Ethernet Leased Line: 100Mbps / 1Gbps with tiers, e.g. 100Mbps tiered at 10Mbps