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Five telecoms issues you must consider when moving offices.
If you're planning to move offices then it is essential you consider your telecoms options early in the process. Far too often they get left to the last minute. At best this can lead to added stress, or at worst long delays and increased costs.
Dave Millett of Equinox has created a useful telecoms checklist for anyone considering moving premises:
1. Don't leave it until it's too late
BT Openreach has a monopoly on all line installs regardless of who they are ordered through. This means there's a minimum wait of at around 10 working days, but it can vary from town to town. For example, in some areas of Surrey the leadtime is currently six weeks.
The average time for larger business needing ISDN lines is 6-8 weeks, and larger data connections, such as EFM, can take 40 working days, with some leased lines taking over 60 days.
2. Property search
Most companies want fast broadband, and it's relatively easy to find out what is available in terms of speed and providers. For example, a location that has fibre broadband will enable you to have very fast speeds without the need for expensive dedicated circuits.
However, there are plenty of places where there is a lack of availability. For example, one company moved into premises in September 2012 as the BT website said fibre would be available at the end of the month - they are still waiting.
3. Your existing numbers
Companies often underestimate the costs of changing phone numbers. How many people have your current brochures and business cards or websites and blogs that you don't control that have your current number on them. You can tell current customers and suppliers but how do you let potential customers know?
Check to see whether your new offices are on the same BT exchange. Crossing an exchange boundary can mean different telephone numbers and the loss of fibre broadband.
If you're moving to a different exchange there are ways around the potential problems, for example, moving numbers to virtual inbound - though this can be expensive and you bear the cost of incoming calls. Alternatively you could consider installing SIP instead of, or as well as, ISDN's, which means you can take your numbers anywhere. However in some parts of the country this can be very expensive, especially if you need to provide additional data connectivity.
4. Move the system or replace it?
Moving to cloud based (VOIP) solutions allow you to take a number anywhere. However, if you have recently invested in a phone system then your accountant might not be happy to write that cost off.
Ask yourself - how old is the existing phone system? Is there life or money left in it? What is the cost of removal and reinstallation?
If you are thinking of going to SIP check whether your existing 'phone system will support it. You may be able to reuse the handsets, which often account for a third of the cost.
If you are considering VOIP this link highlights the questions you should ask any potential supplier: http://www.equinoxcomms.co.uk/things-to-consider-before-choosing-a-voip-supplier/.
5. Watch out for serviced office charges
Before you decide on serviced offices check whether you have flexibility to bring in your own phone and data solution, if not at the beginning, then later on. Also can they add your existing numbers to their system? If they give you new numbers - will you be able to take them with you when you leave? Finally, what are the detailed charges? We often see mark ups of 200%.
It's essential to start planning early. All too often telecoms and data get left until last and yet they are often the factor that determines the earliest moving date. Leaving it too late means a lack of time to evaluate all the options and possibly ending up either in premises with no phones or, even worse, where the lack of broadband will have a long-term detrimental impact on the business.
Dave Millett is an independent telecoms adviser, and has over 35 years' experience in the Telecoms Industry. He has worked in European Director roles for several global companies. He now runs Equinox Communications, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm. He works with many companies, charities and other organizations, helping them achieve savings of up to 80%. He also regularly advises telecom suppliers on improving their products and propositions.
For more information: W: www.equinoxcomms.co.uk