Hypothetical Service Continuity Issue

Started by Zedd, July 24, 2013, 04:14:27 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


A friend asked me a question and I'm hoping the Obi110 is the solution.

The friend owns a hotel and uses Comcast Business internet and digital voice telephone (proprietary VoIP). On occasion the internet and/or voice will go offline. The Comcast telephone is the issue as this person uses the digital voice line to run the POS credit card machines. When the phones go offline this place loses the ability to run credit cards.

Assuming 1)Comcast line is plugged into the analog line port, 2)all outgoing calls are set to go through the analog line, 3)the Comcast telephone service were to to lose dial tone BUT, 4)keep electrical current. In other words the phone will not dial out but isn't a dead line.

In that scenario could the Obi110 be configured to failover to the VoIP line (presumably with google voice) for the outgoing call to ensure service continuity?

Comcast already has automatic call forwarding feature if the comcast telephone ATA is unreachable so the incoming calls wouldn't be an issue. They are also using a cradlepoint router with failover internet so internet connectivity isn't an issue either. Why they don't upgrade the POS credit card machines I don't understand but it is what it is.


I am pretty sure that the OBi boxes will not do that automatic fail-over. You could tell the caller to dial **2 before the rest of the numbers if the default line fails for some reason. You could make it so that a different prefix could be used to use the alternate line. For example, dial 9, get a second dialtone, and then dial the number. You would have to use a 1 prefix before dialing area codes to avoid an ambiguity in that case. That would require some strings to be modified to set up. The **2 is already built in.

I am sure you know that the GV is going to stop working if the internet connectivity goes down.

I don't know why the credit card box would not work through a VOIP line, unless Comcast were the provider of the credit card box. Comcast phone is VOIP.


This can be made to work in a limited way. Using a trunk group within the OBi110, failover from analogue line to voip can be made to work, but only if the analogue line loses its battery voltage. Some devices can make that happen in a service failed condition, I'm not sure about Comcast. If you know it's failed I guess you could just pull the line cord plug out!


Thinking about this strictly as a "business continuity" problem:

How often does their Comcast VoIP service go down, with their Comcast internet service still functional?  It doesn't seem like that would be very often.

Let's assume that this DOES happen.  Now, you want to use a different VoIP provider over the still-functional Comcast internet service.  What about Google Voice?  Well, as discussed in a different thread, Google, and their telco/VoIP partner(s) don't pay for premium VoIP routes, and don't seem to do a great job ensuring quality of service.  Given that, any sort of modem-like device (an actual old fashioned data modem, or a fax modem, or a POS terminal, or a Medtronic device, or a security alarm) is not likely to work reliably, if at all, over GV.  GV is not comparable to Comcast "Digital Voice" in quality or reliability.  By contrast, Comcast uses their own, private, managed IP network for as much of the call route as possible, so they can perform QoS, route prioritization, etc.  GV doesn't do this.

Now, instead of GV, you could try a pay-by-the minute SIP-VoIP provider, like voip.ms, who offers premium routes, but you won't know how well this works without trying it.

I think a better solution, from a "business continuity" standpoint would be to upgrade their POS to a modern, TCP/IP system (something that runs on a computer over the internet, or runs on a smartphone over WiFi or 3G/4G WAN, such as Square or whatever the Intuit Square-competitive offering is called), and/or to get a battery-powered POS terminal with a cellular data link (these are popular with vendors at outdoor events).


Thanks for the advice, I've found it helpful. Ultimately I think I'm going to recommend what Steve said, if they need more reliable POS credit card machines they should get one that can use cellular service. I think that would be the simpler and ultimately more reliable solution. I was hoping the Obi110 would be able to do the trick but I don't think there is any device (that would be cheaper than replacing the POS machine) that would fix this.

Why the phone stops working but the internet doesn't I don't know. Makes me wonder if it is Comcast related. Comcast Voice is a type of VoIP service, but as far as VoIP goes it is as reliable as it comes. :)  Think I'll still recommend the Obi to them but just as a second phone line (or if they want to make international calls while at work). 


Quote from: Zedd on July 25, 2013, 01:24:39 AM
f they need more reliable POS credit card machines they should get one that can use cellular service.

Correction to your thought... they should not get CC machines that use cellular service. They should get CC machines that use TCP/IP (i.e. internet) connections and have a POTS failover built-in.

Cellular credit card terminals are EXPENSIVE.  But IP enabled terminals are the default for almost all major credit card processing companies now.  They just need to call their credit card company and ask for an upgrade to an IP enabled terminal. In some cases, these are even free because it costs the credit card processor less money to process IP based transactions (since it doesn't have to maintain phone lines for lots of machines to dial in at once).

This way, they can process whether they are on the Comcast internet connection or on the Cradlepoint.  And you can get an IP terminal w/ a POTS backup port built in so that if the internet connection goes down, it will still process on a land line.

PS... for security purposes, the hotel REALLY should have 1 copper based land line somewhere. Whether it's connected to a fax, the CC machine, whatever, also have dumb phone connected to it labeled "For Emergency Use Only".  That way, in the event of a catastrophe or major emergency, even if the cell network is down or Comcast is down, they have a real POTS line to make a call out on.