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Voice Services FAQs

  • General issues
  • Pricing issues
  • Features issues
  • Technical issues

General issues

Q. How can N3 Voice Services enhance the patient experience and improve waiting times?

A. N3 Voice Services enables NHS staff to communicate more effectively by providing common standards and future developments which will enable changes in working practice that can help to improve timescales for decision making and patient interactions. Any cost savings achieved could also be use to improve the patient experience.

Q. What is the main driver for implementing the initial range of services - cost savings or telephone features?

A. N3SP believes it has a compelling story for cost savings, e.g. by the introduction of free on-net calls and the fixed to mobile gateway tariffs. By providing these services we establish a standard for current and future voice services on a pan-NHS basis. As we move forward we aim to introduce additional services which will increase business efficiency and potentially new ways of working. Clearly telephony features are also important in the decision making process.

Q. Some of our NHS sites have very low call volumes. Is the cost of deploying your services justified?

A. We recognise that each NHS organisation needs to ensure that the decision to proceed for a site or group of sites is cost effective. If needed, N3SP can work with you to analyse the Return On Investment (ROI). The decision to deploy N3 Voice Services cannot be made on call volumes alone. Other major considerations include the reduction of existing Telco line rentals, LAN costs and engaging N3 to manage a dispersed estate over a large geographic area. N3 Voice Services can also be justified by the additional resilience provided in emergency or disaster, when other voice networks can fail.

Q. Are you targeting these services at specific staff groups?

A. N3 is engaging with local NHS organisations to qualify the needs and build a development roadmap to deliver benefits to all NHS staff. We are also engaging with clinicians and user groups to help shape the products and services to meet their business needs.

Q. If we are part of a COIN does this make deployment of N3 Voice Services more complicated?

A. No. COINs have different characteristics but our engagement process will identify the local needs and develop an appropriate Voice Services solution.

Q. What impact will 21CN have on N3 Voice Services?

A. The N3 design team have ongoing dialogue with the 21CN team within BT. We are developing services mindful of the proposed 21CN services. N3 Voice Services as an application should benefit from the underlying 21CN development and the new features it delivers.

Q. Is voice traffic on the network encrypted?

A. Not currently. N3 is reviewing the area of encryption with the the Health and Social Care Information Centre Technical Office. The impact on N3 Voice Services caused by any change of policy would need to be carefully considered before any decision was taken to make amendments to the product

Q. What happens to N3 Hosted Voice Services when the N3 catalogue service is unavailable?

A. Under failure of the primary circuit, N3 has a variety of resilience options depending upon site requirements and circuit type. CFUR (Call Forwarding Un Registered) is the most straightforward service, where upon a circuit failure all incoming calls are automatically diverted to a pre-arranged answering point, such as a mobile telephone or a standard telephone number. This service is a non cost option and can be arranged at a system level or even down to an individual extension number level. In addition, for certain larger capacity links, N3 Voice can provide a non cost option of hot standby between the primary and secondary N3 links in addition to the CFUR service outlined above. Finally there is a cost option known as Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST). This will provide basic call processing for local site and local PSTN calls under a primary circuit failure. Your N3 Voice specialist will be pleased to advise on all the options outlined above.

Q. Is N3SP aware of the necessary quality of voice recording for legal purposes?

A. Yes. If the service is introduced N3 will comply with all legal requirements.

Q. Will N3 be sharing in the financial risk to create these voice services?

A. N3 has invested in the platform infrastructure to enable these new VoIP services for the NHS. We will continue to invest in new services as we implement the development roadmap.

Q. Does N3SP provide a Disaster Recovery (DR) service where a Hosted Voice installation can be re-located to a different site within 24-48 hours?

A. In the event of a site failure N3SP will work with the customer on a reasonable endeavours basis to restore services at an agreed alternative location. For incoming calls through the Central PSTN Gateway an option is available for handsets that becomes un-registered (such as a site failure) whereby all calls are diverted to an alternative pre-defined telephone number.

Q. What solution would you recommend for existing private voice networks using Megastream circuits to interconnect PBXs?

A. Deploying a Local Gateway Service would enable all sites within the private voice network to onward link to N3 Voice Services. In some cases it may be possible to link individual PBXs directly by Local Gateway Services. These connections could then be used as inter-PBX links in place of the existing Megastreams allowing the original circuits to be ceased.

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Pricing issues

Q. Have prices been published for these services?

A. N3 has developed a template costing approach based on the current N3 Data catalogue service. We will work with you to understand your requirements and derive a cost for your solution.

Q. Do you have published tariffs for mobile calls?

A.  There are nationally agreed tariffs for fixed to mobile calls available to all NHS organisations. Currently there are two plans available with the key difference being the choice to commit to minimum spend levels or "pay as you go". The pricing information is on the CRM portal, under ‘N3 Catalogue, Voice Catalogue Services". Alternatively call our helpdesk on 0800 085 0503 option 3.

Q. We currently enjoy competitive rates from our existing supplier for local, national and mobile calls. Why should we migrate to N3 Voice Services?

A. As there are many technologies and tariffs in the marketplace each Trust must assess the benefits based on their own circumstances. We are happy to work with NHS organisations to determine the merits of migrating to N3 Voice Services.

Q. Are there plans to break out of the network in major cities so that we can pick up local call charges?

A. We will offer a centralised PSTN gateway with competitive tariffs. Local PSTN connections will continue to be owned by the trusts themselves. The blend between local and national tariffs is changing and we see no benefit in adopting this approach.

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Features issues

Q. Will N3 be refreshing handsets on the Hosted Voice Service?

A. The handsets provided are feature rich and firmware upgradeable therefore it is not considered economically viable