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Not only is it irritating when you cannot make a connection with a service provider, but it is also detrimental to the service provider’s business.  We rely heavily on the Internet for all communication today, so it is no wonder businesses develop redundancy plans to prevent Internet outages. Despite efforts to keep the Internet up and running, sometimes businesses experience network outages. The following are the DIY tips to troubleshoot your network connection and get your VoIP system up and running.

Check Power Connections

The system was working just fine the night before, but in the morning, nothing.  Many times, the simplest assumption is the correct explanation for an outage and the night cleaning crew may have accidentally unplugged a cable or connection.  Before you start making any grand efforts to troubleshoot your network outages, make sure all your routers, modems, and phones are plugged into the correct sockets.  Just like that one holiday light that knocks out your entire string, a stray power cord can knock the whole system offline.

Check Your Internet Connection

Your VoIP system runs on the Internet.  If your VoIP phones have gone down, there is a pretty strong chance that your Internet connection is also down.  Before calling your Internet Service Provider, you can test the broadband connection by attempting to load a Web page in your Internet browser. 

When you check a Web page, don’t use a cached page.  If your test URL doesn’t load, check your Wi-Fi connection by plugging your device or computer directly into the modem.  Most manufacturers and ISPs will suggest you disconnect the modem and router power and connection for ten seconds before making any connection changes. 

Your Internet connection is most likely down if you cannot connect after making the hardwire connection.  It is possible your Internet is misconfigured or that there is an issue with IP routing.  Many times, an experienced IT professional can run internal IP tests on the network to determine potential causes of network outages unrelated to the ISP; this includes pinging the network, tracing the route, and checking the IP configurations. However, if the outage is related to the ISP, you will need to call your service provider.

Because time down can quickly have a negative impact on your business, you should develop a redundancy plan that utilizes a backup connection.  This secondary connection will support your business functions in the unfortunate event your Internet connection goes down due to your service provider.   

Check Your Routers

Firmware Changes

If you determine your Internet is working and you are not experiencing bandwidth issues the next step is to review the routers in the office.  Start by examining any recent firmware updates.  Many times, upgrading a router’s firmware can reset critical network features.  Your firmware should always be supported by your ISP and VoIP phones, but sometimes, firmware updates can disable VoIP traffic.  

Firewall Changes

Firewalls are designed to protect your system from malicious attacks, but many times, a firewall may prevent VoIP traffic, especially if the firewall is not SIP-aware.  Some firewalls are not sufficient to handle VoIP traffic and are, therefore, disabled.  Unfortunately, a disabled firewall means you are not protecting your network from malicious attacks.  Instead, you have a firewall configuration that allows VoIP traffic while checking your network secure.  You may have to evaluate your security protocols and upgrade your firewall to an SIP-aware device or move to a session border controller.

Equipment Failure

If your firmware and security protocols appear in working order, it is possible your equipment is malfunctioning.  Hardware will deteriorate over time, and sometimes the only solution is to replace your network hardware.

Check Your VoIP Phone

If you’ve determined your Internet connection and routers are working without any issues, you may be experiencing a VoIP phone misconfiguration or equipment failure.  You should first check to make your phone is plugged into a power source.  If it is, your phone may have malfunctioned.  You should check the connection by plugging alternative phones into your power and connection.

Just like routers, updating the firmware of your VoIP phone can cause a malfunction.  All your VoIP phones should be registered and monitored after making any firmware updates.    

Check for Network Alerts

If all else seems right, your VoIP service provider may be to blame.  You can check the network status of the VoIP provider and see if any outages or issues have been reported.  If your business relies on VoIP communication to run smoothly, their business is VoIP.  A VoIP network outage on the service provider’s end is extremely detrimental to the service provider, and they should do everything in their power to minimize the occurrence and work double time to get the networks back up and running.

Your Internet connection and VoIP system are the life blood of communication for your business.  It is always a good practice to develop emergency plans and have protocols in place to prevent any changes from affecting your communication systems.  However, it is equally important to have a first-class VoIP provider.  Choosing the right service provider to handle your VoIP network can mean the difference between having an excellent reputation or a failing one.