99.99% Uptime – What Does it Really Mean?

If you work with a telecom provider you trust, you’ve probably heard them make promises about 99.999% uptime. It’s a bold claim that certainly drives sales. And, most of the time, telecom companies genuinely care about their customers their telecom experience.

But how realistic is that claim? The answer to this is, unfortunately, not very.

In terms of the average phone-dependent company, 99.999% uptime equates to about five minutes of total down time annually. If such a service existed, everyone would be using it.

Why Do Companies Make Claims Like This?

But if next-to-no downtime doesn’t exist, why do telecom providers claim that they can provide it?

Think about the times your current or former telecom provider failed and you experienced interruption in your phone service. You’ve likely experienced at least an hour’s worth of downtime over the past year. This costs your company money, time, and often customers.

And telecom companies don’t make the five nines claim out of maliciousness.

Often, those who claim five nines do offer good service. Their offers of high uptime come with incentives – like a money-back guarantee when your downtime exceeds what they promised. However, they’re quick to place the blame on anything but themselves. For example, they might blame outages on poor cell phone reception or environmental factors whenever possible.

So, in many ways, that 99.999% availability guarantee reflects the amount of uptime they can reasonably claim if they blame downtime on other factors. Most clients have no proof that the provider is at fault, and so this claim goes relatively unchallenged.

But the true uptime number is much lower than 99.999%. Studies suggest that uptime is as low as 98%. Even 99.9% availability allows for almost nine hours of downtime per year. 99% is almost four days of downtime!

That downtime can significantly impact your relationships with customers—or the trust that clients place in you. Low uptime can cost quite a bit in the long run.

Are Five Nines or Regular Downtime More Common?

In an ideal world, 99.999% uptime would be the telecom standard. It would allow customers and businesses to stay connected and prevent business casualties. We don’t live in an ideal world, though. A handful of businesses might experience perfect uptime occasionally. But the reality for most will be downtime.

Luckily, there are ways to work around downtime.

How to Deal with Probable Downtime

Downtime is most often caused by issues with networks, but other causes exists. Some things you can do to increase the likelihood of 99.999% uptime include:

  • Audit your phone system and usage to identify if any elements of your telecom infrastructure is having the biggest issues. Treat those issues accordingly.
  • Make sure all the equipment is fully functioning and up to date, including vital equipment like network routers. Even keeping up with system updates can make a difference between a couple of minutes’ worth of downtime and a couple of hours’ worth of downtime.
  • Monitor your environment and see that your employee’s workstations are sound-optimized. Although this is more related to call quality, it will help your customers differentiate between network issues and issues with your company.
  • Speak with representatives from different telecom companies to ensure you are getting the best service based on your company’s needs. If your current network provider isn’t providing you with that service, upgrade – even if it means potentially losing the 99.999% uptime you were promised by your current provider.
  • Upgrade your equipment and opt for scalabilit Additionally, do research into the best equipment for your company before upgrading. You’ll want to ensure that you don’t spend extra money on a technology that might be obsolete years from now.

Final Thoughts

The truth of the matter is that 99.999% uptime is usually an empty promise. Those last couple nines of availability are usually achieved by blaming outages on other factors.

That’s not to say that you won’t experience five nines of availability – you certainly might! But 99.999% availability actually means very little in the grand scheme of things. It’s an SLA claim that they may not even intend to strictly uphold.

And that’s not to say that they’re being malicious. It’s just very difficult to prove when an outage is due to environmental factors or if the provider is at fault. Your best move is to follow the steps above to reduce the chance that environmental factors interrupt service. Then, to get a really good idea of what your actually uptime is, you’ll need Voice Application Performance Management software.

Want to learn more about uptime and optimizing your company’s call quality? Follow our blog.