Telecom For Dummies®

 

by Stephen P. Olejniczak

 

 

 

About the Author

Stephen Olejniczak (pronounced ole-en-ee-check) is the Director of Operations for ATI Communications, and has over ten years of telecom experience under his belt. His initial job in telecom was provisioning data services, eventually taking a position as the customer service manager for a small long-distance company, and finally as its manager of dedicated provisioning.

Stephen did not start out in life as a techie, only falling prey to the glamour and easy money after failing to find a career that enabled him to use his Bachelors degree in Cultural Anthropology. He currently lives in the quaint hamlet of Laguna Beach, California, with his wife, Kayley, and a collection of fountain pens.

 

Dedication

This book is dedicated to the entire telecom industry. From the CEOs of large carriers to everyone that supplies, sells, or uses phone service (I guess that is everyone in the world), I give you this tome of information. The primary group in the industry to whom I dedicate this book are those new employees who have just entered the wild world of telecom. The learning curve in telecom is vertical for at least the first six months, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t let anyone talk down to you, because we all started out knowing nothing.

 

Author’s Acknowledgments

The greatest motivation and support for this book came from my beautiful wife, Kayley. I am glad that it is complete and we can now travel again.

This book would not be completed if it weren’t for the guidance of my Wiley editor, Nicole Haims, who took through the entire process. I must also acknowledge the great work put forward by my technical editor, Frank Piotrowski, who validated everything I wrote, down to the molecular level. Additional props to Kezia Endsley for copyediting assistance. I also received invaluable input from Brady Kirby, of Atlas VoIP Communications, as well as my friends, Chris Lynch and Carl, who kept me on track and running in the data sections. These are only a handful of the brilliant people I have spoken with over the years, from whom I have extracted valuable information that was quickly used to mentor my employees and customers.

Finally, I must give thanks to every customer, salesperson, and coworker who asked me the same questions over and over (and over) again. I wasn’t praising you after we chatted at 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday because you wanted to know the country code for Sierra Leone, but now I realize you have given me the depth and breadth of information necessary to write this book.

 

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at www.dummies.com/register/.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Nicole Haims

Copy Editor: Kezia Endsley

Acquisitions Editor: Melody Layne

Technical Editor: Frank Piotrowski

Editorial Manager: Jodi Jensen

Media Development Manager: Laura VanWinkle

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Foxworth

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (www.the5thwave.com)

Composition

Project Coordinator: Adrienne Martinez

Layout and Graphics: Carl Byers, Andrea Dahl, Lynsey Osborn

Proofreaders: Leeann Harney, Joe Niesen, Jessica Kramer, TECHBOOKS Production Services

Indexer: TECHBOOKS Production Services

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services

Contents

Title

Introduction

About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You Don’t Have to Read

Icons Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Where to Go from Here

Part I : The ABCs of Telecom Service

Chapter 1: A Buyer’s Scoop on Telecom

Assessing Your Telecom Services As They Are Now

Identifying Your Carriers

Knowing Why Your Company Needs Telecom

Introducing Dedicated Long-Distance Circuits

Finding People to Help You Make the Right Choices

Planning for Growth

Troubleshooting All Things Telecom

Chapter 2: Making (And Living with) Telecom Decisions

Analyzing How Many Phone Lines You Need

Locating Your Phone System: What’s in Your Closet?

Putting a Name with a Face: Identifying Your System

Getting the Least You Need to Know about Your Phone System

Deciding whether to Get Dedicated or Stay Switched

Understanding and Preventing Fraud

Negotiating the Best Telecom Deal

Chapter 3: Getting Around the Telecom Neighborhood

Identifying Your Telecom Neighborhood

Understanding Your Call Types

Blocking International Calls

Part II : Reviewing Telecom Products and Prices

Chapter 4: Understanding Dedicated Service Requirements

Understanding the Language of Dedicated Service

Understanding Your Responsibilities When You Get a Dedicated Circuit

Taking Responsibility for the Inside Wiring

Chapter 5: Meeting Toll-Free Service, the Red-Headed Stepchild of Telecom

Taking a Peak at Toll-Free Service Basics

Accepting Financial Responsibility for Wrong Numbers

Coming to Terms with the Toll-Free Life Cycle

Evaluating Your Business’s Toll-Free Needs

Identifying Your Carrier’s Available Toll-Free Services

Realizing the Cost of Enhanced Toll-Free Services

Chapter 6: Getting the Non-Accountant’s Guide to Your Phone Bill

Relying on Your Contract

Reviewing the Summary Pages

Negotiating the Best Makeup for Your Per-Minute Cost

Receiving Your Invoice Your Way

Knowing about Billing Issues

Handling Your Billing Disputes

Part III : Ordering and Setting Up Telecom Service

Chapter 7: Ordering Regular Phone Lines and New Long-Distance Service

Ordering a Phone Line

Changing Your Long-Distance Carrier if You Have Regular Phone Lines

Casual Dialing

Moving Your Phone Number

Understanding the Porting Process

Chapter 8: Ordering Dedicated Service

Ordering the Circuit’s Configuration

Evaluating Out-of-Band Signaling

Understanding Local Loop Pricing

Evaluating Your Local Loop Choices

Speeding Up Order Processing?

Ordering a Carrier-Provided Loop Circuit

Ordering a Customer-Provided Loop Circuit

Ordering a Circuit Without a Local Loop

Preparing for the Installation

Chapter 9: Ordering Toll-Free Service

Reserving New Toll-Free Numbers

Migrating a Toll-Free Number

Handling Toll-Free Rejection

NASCing (Migration by Other Means)

Ordering Switched Toll-Free Numbers

Ordering Dedicated Toll-Free Numbers

Using a Hot Cut to Activate Your Dedicated Toll-Free Numbers

Resolving Activation Issues on Migrated Toll-Free Numbers

Resolving Common Dedicated Toll-Free Migration Scenarios

Chapter 10: Activating Your Dedicated Circuit and Toll-Free Numbers

Requesting a Hot Cut or Parallel Cut

Inviting the Right People to the Installation

Preparing for the Installation

Writing an Installation Journal

Installing the Circuit

Identifying Installation Problems

Troubleshooting Continuity Issues

Part IV : Taking Care of Your Telecom System

Chapter 11: Maintaining Your Telecom Services

Understanding Troubleshooting Basics

Getting the Most from Your Carrier’s Troubleshooting Department

Managing Your Trouble Tickets

Troubleshooting International Calls

Resolving International Fax Issues

Chapter 12: Troubleshooting Switched Network Issues

Doing Background Work Before You Begin Troubleshooting

Starting the Troubleshooting Process

Getting Switched Toll-Free Troubleshooting Basics

Troubleshooting Toll-Free Issues from Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii

Troubleshooting International Toll-Free Issues

Chapter 13: Troubleshooting Your Dedicated Circuits

Identifying the Level of Your Problem

Categorizing the Nature of Your Problem

Opening a Trouble Ticket for Your Dedicated Circuit

Managing Your Dedicated Trouble Ticket

Getting the Basics of Dedicated Outbound Troubleshooting

Following a Dedicated Troubleshooting Shortcut

Validating the Circuit You Are Testing

The Basics of Dedicated Toll-Free Troubleshooting

Handling Dedicated Toll-Free Quality Issues

Part V : What’s Hot (Or Just Geeky) in the Telecom World

Chapter 14: Transferring Data, Not Just Voice Content

Understanding Your Data Transfer Requirements

Transmitting Data the Old-Fashioned Way

Processing Constant Transmissions between Locations

Understanding a Frame Relay Network

New and Improved Transmission for Multiple Locations

Chapter 15: Riding the Internet Wave: VoIP

Understanding VoIP Basics

Understanding IP Protocols for VoIP

Ordering VoIP Service

Hearing VoIP Quality Issues

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 16: Ten Acronyms and What They Really Mean

Getting to Know Your LEC

Understanding ANIs

Getting Firm with an FOC

NASCing Your Numbers

Getting an RFO

Getting Your Hands on a CSU

Making Sure You Get a CFA

Being a Part of the PFM

Getting Your CICs

Chapter 17: Ten Troublesome Telecom Traits to Avoid

Finger-Pointing Your Way into a Corner

Expecting a Credit After an Outage

Ignoring the Facts: Fraud Is Not Free

Not Accepting Admitting Defeat When an Order Turns into a Project

Having Expectations That Go Beyond Reality

Expecting Mother Theresa

Not Paying Attention to Smaller Companies

Forgetting to Do the Math

Falling for the Standard Interval Shield

Demanding to Sue or Take Legal Action

Chapter 18: Ten Places to Go for Hints and Help

Calling Your Long-Distance Carrier

Smooth Talking with Your Telecom Salesperson

Talking to Your Hardware Vendor

Visiting the Local Calling Guide Industry Web Site

Using the Magic 8 Ball

Going to Manufacturer Web Sites

Searching the Internet

Using Your Escalation List

Taking Your Questions to Another Hardware Vendor

Starting Over

Appendix: Making a Loopback Plug

Making a Male Loopback Plug

Making a Female Loopback Plug

Introduction

Welcome to Telecom For Dummies, a book for people who work in telecom (99 percent of whom come into the industry through no fault of their own). You’re probably a very smart person, and so your boss decided to give you the responsibility of handling that expensive communication network that keeps the company in business. Don’t worry! This book can help you work through almost any question you have about telecom. In the end, you will be very comfortable with your new environment and you will continue to impress others as the wonder kid they always believed you to be.

This book contains everything you need to know to order, maintain, and troubleshoot basic phone service. It covers the nuts and bolts of how phone systems work, why they work, and why it sometimes takes so long for them to work. When you have questions, simply track down the chapter and subsection that covers the issue in question, and after a little reading, you will be able to talk to any technician with confidence.

About This Book

This book was not intended for bedtime reading from cover to cover. It is a very helpful reference for telecom products, applications, and troubleshooting. The first few parts cover finding a phone service that best suits your business needs. Another part provides the ins and outs of ordering what you need. If you already have a phone system set up, move to the part that covers what you need to know to troubleshoot the circuits and systems you’ve installed.

Every chapter has been written with you, not an MIT technician, in mind. The information is easy to understand and digest, even if you have absolutely no prior telecom knowledge. If additional information might be helpful, I refer you to another chapter for more information.

Telecom For Dummies is applicable to almost all phone service in North America, including Canada, many of the Caribbean countries and Guam. The regulations and infrastructure for telecom vary between most countries, and although some aspects may be applicable in Europe and Asia, the steps for ordering and testing systems vary.

Conventions Used in This Book

We’ve used a few conventions in this book to make it easier for you to spot special information. Here are those conventions:

bullet New terms are identified by using italic and followed by a short definition.

bullet Web site addresses (URLs) are designated by using a monospace font.

bullet If I tell you to dial a number or type a specific command, the command appears in boldface.

What You Don’t Have to Read

You don’t have to read anything that doesn’t apply to your needs. If you don’t have a phone system, or dedicated circuits, or place any international calls, for example, you can ignore the sections that cover them. The book contains enough great information that you won’t hurt my feelings by jumping from chapter to chapter (or even from section to section).

Icons Used in This Book

Telecom For Dummies includes icons that point out special information. Here are the icons I use and what they mean:

Tip

This icon makes you feel like a real telecom pro. It highlights special tricks and shortcuts that make understanding and maneuvering within the vast telecom world even easier. Don’t skip this information!

Remember

This icon reminds you of important information that can be far too easy to forget and which can cause a lot of frustration when you do forget.

Warning(bomb)

Be careful when you see this icon. It points out an area where you’ll want to be extra cautious so that you don’t cause yourself problems. It also tells you how to avoid the problems.

TechnicalStuff

Technical Stuff is information for folks who want to know all the geeky details.

Foolish Assumptions

I assume that you have seen a phone, dialed a phone, and have had a conversation on a phone before. In addition to that, your job is somehow linked to buying, selling, using, or supporting some kind of telecommunications service. I assume the following about your everyday contact with telecom tools and systems (perhaps you don’t fit in every one of these scenarios, but you recognize yourself in at least a few of them):

bullet You have to make decisions on buying or upgrading phone services.

bullet You have had problems ordering phone service in the past and want to know some tips on how to keep moving forward without unnecessary delays.

bullet You have an inventory of toll-free numbers that you must manage.

bullet You want to find the most efficient way to speak to your carriers and hardware vendors so they understand your needs and expectations.

bullet You would like to have the power to troubleshoot issues, such as failed calls and quality issues, without relying on someone else for answers.

How This Book Is Organized

Telecom For Dummies has six parts. Each part is self-contained, but all the content is somewhat interconnected. That way you’ll see the most useful information without a lot of boring repetition.

Part I: The ABCs of Telecom Services

This part explains the landscape of telecom, the key players, and how they work together. I describe the differences in responsibilities between local, long-distance, and wireless carriers. I also include information that introduces the basic telecom features and options.

Part II: Reviewing Telecom Products and Prices

Not every telecom product is right for every customer. Part II reviews the most common telecom products so that you can evaluate which of them are right for your business. This part covers a wide range of services, and helps you analyze whether you should jump from regular (switched) phone service to dedicated phone service. It also gives you the lay of the toll-free land and helps you maneuver through your phone bill, looking for areas that are costing you more money than they should. Stop the bleeding in this part, and figure out which of your potential telecom investments will give you the best return.

Part III: Ordering and Setting Up Telecom Service

The second most painful aspect of telecom is ordering new service (see Part IV for the most painful aspect of telecom). This part guides you through the ordering process for all services, from regular (switched) phone lines to dedicated circuits, to toll-free service. Because dedicated and toll-free services are complicated, I include a chapter in this part that goes the extra mile, showing you how to activate these services after you order them. All along the way, I tell you about potential pitfalls so that you can successfully avoid them.

Part IV: Taking Care of Your Telecom System

The most painful aspect of telecom is troubleshooting problems. The issue afflicting your system may be huge or microscopic, but you still need to fix it. Part IV covers troubleshooting switched phone lines, dedicated phone lines, and toll-free service in a step-by-step manner that enables you to make quick work of almost any problem. By following the rules I set out for you in this part, you can systematically identify problems and keep your technicians from going on a wild goose chase.

Part V: What’s Hot (Or Just Geeky) in the Telecom World

The chapters in Part V cover the world of telecom — beyond voice phone calls. I cover the basics of data transfer technologies, and the hottest buzzword in telecom right now, VoIP. Part V won’t show you how to write the code to transfer the data, but it does give you an overview of the newest and greatest technology, gives you some hints on pricing, and tells you about the hardware required to create a data-transfer interface with your carrier.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Part VI covers industry buzzwords, personality disorders, and where to go for help. How’s that for a mélange? When you use common acronyms casually when speaking to your carrier reps and technicians, they know that you’re not clueless about telecom. The section on telecom traits provides behavior to look out for and hints on how to avoid it. Finally, the last chapter lists resources to tap into when you are at your wit’s end.

At the end of the Part of Tens is an appendix I tacked on to show you how to make male and female loopback plugs. These little gadgets are simple and small, but they are invaluable to troubleshooting phone systems.

Where to Go from Here

The best place to start on this book is the Table of Contents or Index if you want to key in on information about a specific topic. Not sure whether you have a dedicated circuit or what your local carrier’s responsibilities are? Chapter 1 can help you get your bearings.

Depending on the specific aspect of telecom you need to research, you may want to jump to Chapter 6 to find out about what’s going on with your phone bill, or if you’re experiencing a major malfunction right now, skip to Chapter 13 to figure out how to troubleshoot your dedicated circuit. This is your buffet of telecom goodies; check out the entire offering and dive into the sections you think are tasty.

Part I

The ABCs of Telecom Service

In this part . . .

You get an overview of the key players in telecom, as well as an introduction to the structures that allow these players to work together. This part also offers you guidelines to identify the phone system you are currently using, to help you determine whether your business is a good candidate for dedicated phone service, and to help you identify the hazards of telephone fraud. This part wraps up with an overview of how calls are classified and explains why your international call to Canada doesn’t require you to dial 011.