7 common technical problems when installing a new phone system

The days and hours leading up to the installation of a new phone system can often be the most precarious. This is the time when seemingly small technical issues can become full-blown disasters, if they have not been considered during the planning stage. 

We caught up with some of our phone system engineers to get some inside knowledge about just what these last minute nightmare issues often are. These guys have been in the telecoms industry for many years and they’ve seen it all!

Our clients benefit from their experience as we “plan out” as many common problems as possible. Now you can learn from them too and minimise any problems when installing a new phone system!

1. Lack of network ports

Best practice dictates that engineers conduct a site survey before carrying out any installation work. From this initial inspection you should be able to take stock of all the available network ports.

However, it’s not uncommon to find that some of these previously “available” ports have subsequently become unavailable come installation day.

These moves and changes can’t always be predicted. But, with a little planning, they can be avoided in 99% of cases. We recommend to our clients that any ports that are required are earmarked. It needs to be explained to necessary parties that ports shouldn’t be moved or changed prior to installation.

2. Faulty network ports and cable routing mismatches

Both faulty network ports and patch ports that don’t match their patch panel counterpart can delay installations. The engineer will have to perform a trial and error task in order to identify the correct location of a particular port number; matching it back the comms room, tagging it and starting back again. Not what you want an experienced phone system engineer doing on install day!

These issues often occur when refurbishment is taking place or a site’s wall, floor, and patch panels are newly installed.

The worst part is, engineers tend to find out about these issues on the day of the install. We recommend that all network ports and new patch panels are tested and covered off in a survey.

3. Electrical issues

Electrical power problems can be extremely detrimental to data-communications networks. Power outages, faulty plug sockets, UPS issues; all of these can make installing any phone system a nightmare. If there is no power going into the Comms. Room, it’s quite simple; an install cannot take place.

In such cases, PAT testing is essential. A power problem that damages your network switches can affect both voice and data, leaving your phones inoperable and your PC’s with no internet access. In this instance, the installation will be the least of your concerns.

Similarly, a power surge to your voicemail server that controls all call centre traffic can have a serious effect on a business.

4. Building works and asbestos (Health and safety)

This could be literally when a critical cable is cut (it’s actually rather common when builders are around)! Somebody cuts through a wall and in doing so they cut through the local network infrastructure, causing an untold amount of chaos to the IT department, and any phone system installation.

No access to parts of the building due to asbestos can also create long delays and sometimes even halt an installation if the relevant health and safety processes can’t be swiftly followed.

It’s quite common when conducting a phone system installation that building works are nearing completion. It can be a massive disruption to the installation if engineers are unable to gain access to the Comms Room or the basement where lines may terminate.

The resolution is simple to this one – separate any building work that limit access to the Comms Room from the installation dates; conducting any necessary health and safety surveys ahead of time.

5. Internet access

The latest phone systems normally incorporate IP technology. This means that having access to the internet is essential. SIP based/Hosted/Hybrid systems require a consistent connection.

When businesses have their telecom services split between different service providers and internet access issues occur, a lot of an engineer’s (and the client’s) time can get used up simply waiting in the middle. They are stuck between the two providers as each question, test and fix their respective service.

6. Lines failures

A phone system can be meticulously prepared and tested beforehand, but the true test is on-site. If there are issues on the local network (BT, Virgin etc.), this can cause extreme delays to an installation.

Poor weather can affect lines (especially Analogue) causing them to become intermittent and drop connection – not great when you are testing a newly installed system. An engineer is then in the scenario of “is it the system or the line?”. Flooding and damp are usually the main culprits. The solution to these issues is to ensure that the right insulation is in place to minimise this problem.

7. Site access

Perhaps the most common and frustrating issue occurs when the main contact isn’t on site and their colleagues have little information on, or indeed the authority to begin the installation. A number of different factors can cause this to happen. This is sometimes unavoidable, such as family or business emergencies, but it can delay installations by hours and in the worst case days.

It is always a good idea to have more than one site contact who is up to date and briefed on the installation to prevent this situation occurring.

Conclusion

Well there you go – live and direct from our engineers, the 7 most common technical problems when managing a phone installation. This insider knowledge and experience can mean the difference between a well delivered project or a nightmare stress-fest.

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