What are voice channels and how to scope them

What are voice channels?

We will try and keep this section as “un-salesy” and to the point as possible, but it is essential that you understand the difference between per-user and per-channel purchasing models for the SIP component of voice services like 3CX, Teams Calling, and Zoom Phone.

Let’s start with the two industry-standard pricing models for pricing voice service. These are:

  • Per-user pricing
  • Per-channel pricing

Lightwire runs with per-channel pricing, and this blog post will tell you why the per-channel approach results in a lower cost and a more scalable solution for your clients.

What's the difference between per user and per channel for voice?

The per user model assigns a channel (a virtual phone line) to each user, and charges increase in a linear fashion as each new user is added.

With the per channel model, users share voice channels. The standard voice channel “sharing” ratio is 4:1, meaning 4 users share 1 voice channel that can make or receive phone calls. Under the per channel voice model, you’re in control of how many channels you need, which allows you to be flexible and more easily scale up or down as your requirements change.

Per user vs per channel for voice
voice per channel vs per user

Why per channel for voice?

Most businesses have a high proportion of employees that need the ability to make and receive calls, however, most users don’t use their phone that often. 

Per user charges sound great until decision-makers realise that they are paying for calls their staff aren’t making.

That’s why Lightwire’s voice solutions are based on how many simultaneous calls your clients need to make.

Every concurrent call uses a channel, and users share channels. By sharing channels, all users can enjoy the voice solution more cost-effectively.

The per channel model is a simple concept that makes the uptake cost significantly lower, especially for corporate and enterprise clients.

How per channel voice stacks up

Whether you’re looking at a bundle plan or an unlimited option, the outcome is the same –
the cost per user is significantly lower on a per channel basis.

per user vs per channel voice comparison

But my world is per user voice!

Some MSPs have become so accustomed to per user models that they ask “how do I take your per channel model and adapt it to my business model?”.

The answer can be as simple as taking the unlimited plan and charging $25 per user (as an example) with a minimum number of users to meet your monthly service costs + ideal margin. In addition, our alerting via Illume (our customer portal – see video below) will let you know when you need to start thinking about scaling the number of channels.

Real time channel utilisation alerting

Working on a per channel basis means that you, as your client’s trusted advisor, need to be sure that the right number of channels have been allocated and that channel capacity can scale as required in line with business growth.

We have the tools to ensure you can plan and manage your client’s channel capacity effectively.

Our customer portal, “illume”, provides real time insights and alerts on channel utilisation. With this feature, you will be alerted when a client hits 75% and/or 100% channel utilisation.

voice channel utilisation

The graph shows 3 lines:

  • The red line which represents 100% utilisation
  • The orange line which represents 75% utilisation
  • The blue line shows the maximum number of concurrent calls over a 5-minute period

This information can be viewed both in a daily and monthly format.

Real time alerting

You will receive an email once per 24 hours period if/when 75% utilisation is hit and again when 100% is hit. We don’t want to spam you, so we have limited the number of times we will alert you about usage levels within 24 hours.

This functionality takes the guesswork out of managing your client’s channel capacity and means that they won’t be inadvertently turning away phone calls due to maxed out voice channels. It also means that your clients won’t be overspending on unused channels.

Rapid response

To make our reporting and alerting functions truly useful, we back them with the ability to rapidly increase your channel count if required. Your clients running 3CX can have their channel allocation increased within one business day, it’s that easy.

To wrap up...

Per channel billing with unlimited calling, backed by data driven insights, results in lower cost outcomes and greater profitability for you and your clients.

Check out our wholesale voice solutions.

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