Case Study – iHeartMedia

Making calls with NocTel since May 2015 – Every voice among millions heard clearly

With the advent of broadband Internet available nearly everywhere coupled with hardware advances culminating in affordable mobile devices that put a display, microphone, and audio output into the hands and pockets of an overwhelming number of people the world over; mass media rapidly adapted to reach new groups of individuals and retain individuals moving away from print media and AM/FM radio.

For iHeartMedia’s radio audience of over 245 million across 850 stations, the expectations have never changed: deliver quality programming, pleasant experiences for call in segments and feedback, and high quality audio.

iHeartMedia’s Situation

As a brand reaching millions across the nation over the air, the issue of listener call in voice quality was one aspect of station programming little could be done about. Before the advent of HD voice on mobile devices available today, call ins to radio stations and the phones used to interface with callers were both operating on narrowband, which were often times prone to being difficult for listeners to hear. Fixed handsets used by businesses are largely still using narrowband audio due to the service being provided by a Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) or Primary Rate Interface (PRI) through their current providers, which cannot accommodate HD voice on the caller’s end. Due to the nature of how voice calls are set up between the participating points, the lowest common supported rate is used. In today’s landscape, a listener calling in on a smartphone supporting HD voice will likely sound similar to calling in at least a decade ago since the radio station’s handset is incapable of HD voice. For some of iHeartMedia’s radio stations in the Los Angeles, CA and Portland, OR areas, the problem of caller quality on air was a strong benefit to consider in regard to transitioning to VoIP service.

Related to listener call in voice quality on air, it was also important to be able to clearly listen to feedback from listeners left via phone calls. With subpar voice quality in listener feedback comments, it becomes difficult to be certain of the messages left for the stations and programs. Beyond the radio call in feedback and on air quality pain points, iHeartMedia necessitated that emergency and on air technical difficulty communications could be delivered to the on call staff guaranteeing swift response to incidents.

NocTel’s Solution for iHeartMedia

Initially, iHeartMedia in Los Angeles was in consideration of NocTel for interactive voice response (IVR) quality improvement through VoIP service. For this solution, listener feedback calls are received by NocTel, which supports HD voice, and then sent to the specified iHeartMedia recipients. The listener feedback could be retrieved either via voicemail or accessed through email at the recipient’s convenience allowing the receipt of feedback to occur on practically any device with an Internet connection.  This solution model allowed iHeartMedia in Los Angeles to solve their issue with poor voice quality feedback from listeners without needing to further complicate or replace their existing communication system. For emergency response situations, iHeartMedia staff would dial a single number that in turn routes through NocTel and dials out to all technical emergency response staff. By providing the solution extraneous of their existing system, NocTel’s deployment was able to be rolled out swiftly. For iHeartMedia in Portland, NocTel provided VoIP service for office lines and on air caller lines for several stations. After consideration of options, NocTel and iHeartMedia Portland determined provisioning of SIP trunks to the existing phone system in an on-premise solution would be most effective in terms of deployment and maintenance simplicity.

iHeartMedia’s Results and Experience

Though not providing full service for iHeartMedia in Los Angeles and Portland, iHeartMedia has reported excellent results and satisfaction with its solution for each location. In Los Angeles, Vice President of Information Technology Clint Sago comments, “The results, pricing and turnaround time were outstanding to the point I don’t think there is a better option. The level of satisfaction I had with this solution led me to investigate NocTel’s other offerings as well.” After deployment and use of NocTel’s solution, feedback was received providing insight to features and improvements that could further enhance customer satisfaction. With Clint’s feedback in regard to features that weren’t easily located or absent, NocTel quickly evaluated the value added by those features and implemented a number in short order.

The results, pricing and turnaround time were outstanding to the point I don’t think there is a better option. The level of satisfaction I had with this solution led me to investigate NocTel’s other offerings as well.Clint Sago, Vice President of Internet Technology, iHeartMedia Los Angeles Region

While iHeartMedia Los Angeles and Portland’s primary requirements were focused on quality, both locations found the price for services, ease of use and maintenance, and the time cost savings were unexpected but greatly welcomed. In particular, Clint Sago notes the ease of interfacing with NocTel for assistance and receptiveness stating, “I have saved a ton of time and money by not having traditional POTS [Plain Old Telephone System] lines, not dealing with a Telco conglomerate, and not having to correct issues with our old IVR system. Quality of the product is improved, my budget is improved and my time spent on the old method went away. It was all a major step in the right direction for us.”

Summary of Service Benefits with NocTel

While full service is not provided for iHeartMedia between its Los Angeles and Portland locations, the following benefits have been enjoyed through NocTel’s service solution:

  • Vast improvement of caller interactive voice responsive (IVR) made to recipients
  • Voicemail via email of IVRs allow for receipt of listener feedback from beyond the phone or office
  • Adoption of SIP  trunk service to on-premise system introduced cost-efficiency and simplification of maintenance
  • Use of SIP trunks and support of HD Voice for on air caller lines of stations improve voice fidelity for listeners

While NocTel does provide full service to customers, we’re more than happy to work with you on a focused solution that consistently proves to be valuable.

NocTel Communications is a hosted VoIP provider dedicated to solving the many communication problems that organizations face today. As a leader in pricing and feature flexibility, NocTel's goal is to help organizations do much more for less. Whether your organization is small or a globally distributed enterprise, NocTel is ready to work side-by-side with you to develop your hosted VoIP solution.