Category Archives: Telecommunications

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Keep your Business Telephone

business phone In today’s wireless world, mobile phones are playing an ever-increasing role in employees’ professional and personal lives. So much so that some small and medium-sized businesses have given thought to ditching the business phone system in favor of going mobile-only.

But what these organizations will find is that the business phone system is still a critical element of any good company and that the mobile-only approach is not necessarily good for business.

Why do we say this? Because whether or not your business phone system’s greeting is an automated or live attendant, it’s the first thing customers come into contact with when calling your company. You want to ensure that callers have a professional first impression of your organization and can get in touch with or leave a voicemail for the person they’re seeking.

Anything less, such as ending up in someone’s personal voicemail, is unimpressive to callers looking to do business with you and could result in the loss of a potential customer. Not to mention that you can’t share any voicemails left on personal cell phones with others throughout your organization.

This is all aside from the capabilities that any business phone system is able to provide, such as pre-arranged holiday and inclement weather settings, call reporting and advanced unified communications options, like “Find Me Follow Me”.

Whether or not you know it, your business phone system provides you with a well-organized, professional image and necessary capabilities that a mobile-only approach can’t replicate.

Even if your company is a small operation, you still want outside contacts to be able to get in touch with your sales, marketing, operations, service and other departments. (Although two or three of these listed departments might technically be the same person.)

Regardless of the type of phone system you chose, one thing is for sure: the business phone system is still a critical component of any company’s professional operations. So it’s essential that your business has a voice system and knows how to operate it.

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An Innovative Way to Save on Voice Technologies

When you use Google services, you trust us with your information. This Privacy Policy is meant to help you understand what data we collect, why we collect it, and what we do with it. This is important; we hope you will take time to read it carefully. And remember, you can find controls to manage your information and protect your privacy and security at My Account.
There are many different ways you can use our services – to search for and share information, to communicate with other people or to create new content. When you share information with us, for example by creating a Google Account, we can make those services even better – to show you more relevant search results and ads, to help you connect with people or to make sharing with others quicker and easier. As you use our services, we want you to be clear how we’re using information and the ways in which you can protect your privacy.
Our Privacy Policy may change from time to time. We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent. We will post any privacy policy changes on this page and, if the changes are significant, we will provide a more prominent notice (including, for certain services, email notification of privacy policy changes). We will also keep prior versions of this Privacy Policy in an archive for your review.
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Maximizing your 2016 Technology Budget

Is your 2016 budget already set or are you still having fun planning it? We didn’t think so. Everyone we talk to right now is looking for creative ways to “do more with less” but is having a difficult time making that happen.

Here are just a few proven strategies which can help you make the most of the dollars in your 2016 technology budget.

1. Don’t purchase technology – Nope… that’s not a typo, we meant it. The value of technology is in it’s use, not it’s ownership. The hardware itself is a poor capital investment because it loses nearly all of its value before you sell or dispose of it. By investing your working capital into depreciating assets, you eliminate the potential for that money to generate positive cash flow back into your business.

Two options to consider that don’t require the purchase of much equipment are managed services and Hosted VoIP (Hosted PBX).

  • Managed Systems – With a managed service model for phone systems and IT solutions, providers offer all the equipment, software and technical expertise needed for a company to reap the benefits of the system’s functionality without the costs, risks, and headaches of owning the equipment. There are many flavors of managed programs, but the best ones include some level of maintenance, remote access services, fixed pricing for commonly added items (i.e. wireless headsets), end-user training, discounts on future relocations and more. This allows companies to select the technology they need when they need it, eliminate financial risk and cost uncertainties, and get technical expertise and support from a team of specialists with extensive expertise deploying and maintaining the technology to a wide range of businesses.
  • Hosted VoIP (Hosted PBX) – With Hosted VoIP (Hosted PBX), the phone system server resides in the provider’s data center instead of your office, and voice and data traffic is routed over the public switched telephone network, or PSTN, to the hosted system. Since the infrastructure itself is offsite, Hosted systems offer Web-based access for configuration and routing, enabling you to define how you want calls to flow, view call detail records and billing information, listen to and delete voice mail, and more. It also allows you to seamlessly scale your phone system as your business grows and is a cost-effective way for smaller businesses to get rich VoIP functionality.

2. Determine which subscription-based communications services are costing you more than they’re worth – On the other hand, there are certain communications technologies that can cost you more to subscribe to than own. We often find that companies pay thousands of dollars per month for basic communications services they could affordably own and easily manage.

For example, if the bulk of your conferencing needs are internal, having your own web and audio conferencing system instead of subscribing to a service could provide significant cost savings. Since most outsourced solutions charge hefty monthly per-user plus per-minute usage fees, in-house solutions can often pay for themselves in as little as 6-12 months. In fact, by financing the solution, companies can even generate positive cash flow while putting an end to long-term costs. In addition, in-house solutions can easily be tailored to your specifications, thereby providing a high degree of flexibility not available with outsourced providers.

3. Proactively contact your carrier services providers at least 4 months before your contracts expire – In this case, what you don’t know can hurt you. If you don’t give the 60-90 days’ notice most providers require to renew, cancel, or change your service, you could:

  • End up stuck in a month-to-month contract with prices up to double of what you pay now
  • Get locked into another long-term agreement that doesn’t address your needs – with hefty early cancellation fees
  • Miss out on new voice and data technology that could save your company money & enhance efficiency

By leveraging decades of industry expertise and master agent status with over 50 leading carriers, Teleco South Florida can help you understand the solutions that best fit your business and make the most of your budget.

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Smart Devices?

BYOD – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Between the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 that was released in August, the iPhone 5 that hit stores in September, and the Microsoft Surface tablet that’s set to be released in late October, tablets, smartphones and other personal devices are saturating the marketplace these days.

While we enjoy playing with the latest and greatest technology, we also realize that this abundance of “personal gadgetry” is changing the way the workplace functions. Employees are increasingly utilizing their own personal devices, whether it’s a tablet, smartphone or even laptop, for work purposes. And business IT has to keep up.

As this Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) phenomenon becomes more and more integrated into the work world, it’s apparent that there are a number of benefits that come with employees using their own devices. However, it’s also clear that there are some major challenges.

In an effort to cut through the hype of BYOD, let’s take a minute to run through The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of personal gadgetry in the workplace —

The Good: Cost Savings, Employee Satisfaction & More

Companies that embrace BYOD programs and formulate a policy around it tend to see significant cost savings since workers pay for most, if not all, of the data and hardware costs associated with their devices.

Why are BYOD workers on board with fronting these costs? Two surprisingly simple reasons it seems — First, people who have multiple personal devices are already paying for them. They would be paying for them even if they weren’t using them at work.

Second, getting to use personal devices at work is seen as a privilege and a bonus. According to Pros and Cons of Bringing Your Own Device to Work, “Users have the laptops and smartphones they have for a reason — those are the devices they prefer, and they like them so much they invested their hard-earned money in them. Of course they’d rather use the devices they love rather than being stuck with laptops and mobile devices that are selected and issued by the IT department.”

Another benefit: Personal devices tend to be more up-to-date with the latest features and upgrades when compared to company-issued devices. Upgrades to a personal tablet, smartphone or laptop only have to be approved and implemented by the owner of the device, whereas company-issued IT has to follow time-consuming processes and procedures simply to upgrade old software to the next iteration.

Not only are these personal devices cheaper and more likely to be up-to-date, but they’re also more likely have the ability to become an extension of an employee’s work phone. The telecom industry is moving so rapidly these days that almost device has the ability to become an extension of your work number. This is made possible through a variety of SIP applications that can work with multiple platforms, including VoxNet UCC and the Mitel Communications Director.

By not having to purchase or maintain physical endpoints, companies can realize even greater cost savings and flexibility as BYOD extends into their telecom budget and resources.

The Bad – Murky Waters without Formal Policy

Though the benefits can be significant for companies that embrace BYOD policies, such practices can also bring up tough questions when it comes to outlying issues.

For instance, say an employee takes a smartphone that doubles for business and personal use on an international work trip. Who pays for its usage during that time period since the reason the phone incurs international costs is work-related? Or, what happens when an employee is let go but still has company data on a personal laptop, tablet and/or smartphone?

In addition, compliance mandates, such as HIPAA, SOX or GLBA, require that rules related to information security still be followed even if a company’s data is on a laptop owned by an employee. So how do businesses that need to adhere to regulations enable themselves to utilize BYOD and still remain compliant?

One way to combat some of the data storage issues and tough compliance mandates is to direct employees to use a secure, company-managed Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN can provide a company with a truly secure connection between locations since the traffic is fully encrypted from end-to-end over the Wide Area Network.

Whatever secure interface a company uses, it should also invest in a BYOD policy if it’s going to let employees use their own devices for work purposes. That means written and agreed upon rules and procedures for employees to follow.

The Ugly – Serious Security Challenges

By letting employees access private, company information on their personal tablets, smartphones and laptops, businesses are enabling their secure data to accessed, viewed and managed on devices that are essentially out of their hands – literally and figuratively.

BYOD gadgets are the property of your employees, who will search and click on what they want when they want and will add apps to their devices as they please. Who knows what kind of security software is on each employee’s personal device, or if there even is any at all. Simply put, this creates a multitude of walking, talking threats to your security.

In addition, tablets and smartphones are relatively easy to lose. If an employee is working with company data on a tablet and loses that tablet, consider both the tablet and data in someone else’s, possibly malicious, hands.

Though business IT cannot retain complete control of employees’ personal devices, it can control access and management of company files and information by utilizing password protection, investing in a virtual private network, as mentioned above, and looking into Hosted Token Authentication, among other things.

Hosted Token Authentication is a relatively simple but good layer of additional protection for companies with BYOD in place. For instance, with ETA’s Hosted Token-Based Authentication system, remote users must enter a unique PIN code they choose, a One-Time Password (OTP) they generate using a keychain-sized token device, and their standard Windows credentials to login to your network. Not surprisingly, this enhanced, layered protection doesn’t just make good business sense — It’s sometimes required by regulations such as HIPAA, PCI and SOX.

Along with these protective measures, it’s also important that business IT create a policy employees must abide by when it comes to BYOD. This is no easy task, especially since there is no real standard to follow in terms of creating and implementing a BYOD security policy. Businesses have historically provided employees with company-issued devices that come with an acceptable use policy and are protected by company-issued and company-managed security software.

To take on the task of creating a BYOD policy, it’s important to understand how your entire network – voice, carrier and data – works together to stay secure and run at optimum efficiency.

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Evolution of Virtualized Voice

Virtualization has come a long way since its inception. In fact, it’s evolved so much that we’re now able to virtualize telephony hardware in addition to computing infrastructure. In this post, we’ll take a moment to look back at this evolution of virtualization and see how voice became part of the equation.

The concept of virtualization first emerged back in the early 1960’s and was pioneered by International Business Machines (IBM). This early version of virtualization focused on partitioning mainframe computers into separate virtual machines so the entirety of the expensive mainframe could be used more effectively.

Though groundbreaking and instrumental in the development of today’s server virtualization, the adoption of mainframe virtualization slowed significantly when x86 servers and desktop deployments became industry standard protocol for organizations in the 1980s and 1990s. The x86 platform was less expensive and beneficial for many but was not designed for virtualization the way mainframes were, leading virtualization to take a backseat during the rise of the x86 server.

Eventually, the growth in x86 server and desktop deployments led to new IT challenges, including low hardware utilization, increasing physical infrastructure and IT management costs, and insufficient failover and disaster protection.

In response to these issues and market need, VMware® (today’s market leader in virtualization) and a handful of other companies introduced the server virtualization platform in the late 1990s. This was a big step forward for IT in that it allowed organizations to condense their computing infrastructure and maximize computer performance by allowing two or more virtual machines to co-exist on one server.

It transformed what was previously strictly a “one server, one application” structure, into a “one server, multiple applications” model. In other words, you could maintain both a Microsoft Windows virtual machine and a Mac OS X virtual machine on one piece of hardware.

Now that modern server virtualization has been around for over a decade, its minor nuances and quirks have largely been fine-tuned and perfected by VMware, hardworking service providers and a sizable user community.

However, there was one area where virtualization did not work for quite some time: real-time applications. The ability to virtualize hardware could not apply to real-time applications, such as voice systems, due to operational time delay. A 4-second delay in delivery might not impact an email message, but such latency would compromise the effectiveness of phone and teleconference usage.

That’s where Mitel® and VMware® came in.

Together, Mitel® and VMware®, broke this latency barrier between real-time and non-real time business applications, enabling Mitel’s unified communication applications to operate on VMware’s virtualized platform and delivering the only fully-integrated, natively-run virtualized voice solution.

This means that today, not only can you virtualize your computing infrastructure, but your telephony hardware can be condensed right along with it, streamlining your communications network so you can maximize IT resources, improve energy efficiency and increase savings.

Like server virtualization, virtualized voice is now a well-established solution used by businesses everywhere and supported by a large base of expert providers in addition to a deep, knowledgeable user community.

If you’d like to know more about virtualized voice, don’t hesitate to use our experts’ recognized knowledge to your advantage. We can dive into the technical components of the evolution of virtualized voice and can help answer any questions you may have.