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T1 PRI Phone Lines For Call Centers
PRI or Primary Rate Interface T1 lines offer cost savings and advanced features to improve call center performance.

By: John Shepler

If you own a call center or are thinking about it, you'll likely be interested in digital telephone service. Individual analog phone lines are only a good solution if you have a handful of seats and don't need to integrate your phone service with a computer system containing customer records. Once you reach a dozen lines, moving from analog to T1 digital carrier service is almost certainly a cost savings. If you elect to go with a VoIP telephone system, you'll need reliable broadband service for even fewer lines.

T1 Lines For Call Centers
First let's consider call centers with traditional PBX phone systems and, say, 10 to 12 lines. Your PBX equipment has or can get a digital interface that brings all your phone lines in on a single T1 carrier. Now, you have a choice of how you want your T1 line configured. The original legacy configuration is called channelized T1 and offers 24 independent phone lines per T1 line. These lines can be set up for local and/or long distance service and as incoming only, outgoing only or both. What you don't get are any of the advanced features such as Caller ID or ANI (Automatic Number Identification). That's because the 24 channels of the T1 line are completely consumed in carrying the voice conversations.

How PRI Works
A more sophisticated T1 line configuration is called T1 PRI or Primary Rate Interface. This term comes from ISDN or Integrated Services Digital Network) technology. A PRI line is also channelized into individual telephone lines, but carries 23 simultaneous calls rather than 24. What happened to the other channel? It's been assigned to be a data channel to serve the 23 bearer or voice channels. All the dialing information is passed through the data channel rather than as touch-tones over the voice channels. That helps make call set up and tear down faster. You'll experience that as phone calls going through faster. On the receiving end, the data channel accepts Caller ID or ANI information. This can be fed to display units to show who's calling, or fed to a CTI (Computer Telephone Integration) system so that customer information will pop up on an agent's screen based on the number of the incoming call.

You are not limited to a single T1 or PRI line. Many larger systems can double, triple, quadruple and so on the capacity of the phone system. A single PRI data channel can service two PRI lines, freeing up one extra channel for voice. In practice, if you are going to have multiple PRI lines, you'll probably want at least two data channels for redundancy.

T1 Lines for VoIP
What about VoIP and softswitches? VoIP or Voice over IP networks actually convert phone conversations to digital data within the telephone instruments. Your phone wiring then becomes a standard Ethernet LAN which can serve both telephones and computers. They all look the same to the network. For transmission of data beyond your facility you'll use an unchannelized T1 line. That's a T1 that is configured to look line one big data pipe with 1.5 Mbps bandwidth. It's also called a data T1 line because the information is carried as IP data packets. Data T1 lines can be combined in a process called bonding to multiply the bandwidth of the network from 2 to 6 times or more.
SIP trunks are now the standard for VoIP trunking and are available with both copper and fiber optic provisioning.

Discover Your Bandwidth Upgrade Options Now
You are likely paying too much money and getting too little bandwidth on your old T1 line contract. Get a competitive quote for upgrade service now, including high bandwidth solutions such as SD-WAN and Managed SDN Software Defined Networking, DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Broadband, Carrier Ethernet and MPLS network services from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, with 100 Gbps available in some areas. Find out in seconds what network services and pricing are available now for your commercial business building anywhere in the U.S. Simply use this handy form...


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