Posts Tagged ‘Voip Phone System’
How can you use the latest FTTC fast broadband?
The latest fast broadband provides speeds of upto 40Mb download and 10Mb upload. These speeds could drastically change the way that businesses work and how home users interact with the internet.
A fast broadband connection, using FTTC, is cost effective at little more than most people pay for standard ADSL.
What services can I now use with FTTC Fast Broadband?
Once you have the new super fast broadband in place a host of new applications become real options for businesses. The applications below are just a few examples of what you can do with a fast broadband connection. The new FTTC Fast Broadband connections could also change the way that we work, being able to work from anywhere being a real option.
Fast Broadband and Online Backup
The massive increase in upload speeds means that services like Online Backup become a real option for Small Business. Previously the upload speed of a typical ADSL line was around 0.5Mb, so the increases to either 2Mb or 10Mb with an FTTC services, like BT Infinity, mean that for a lot of businesses online backup services will be upto 20 times quicker. Even at 4 times quicker, with the 2Mb upload throughput, Online backup is now a serious option for a lot of businesss.
Fast Broadband and Cloud Services
Cloud Services for applications like document management now become a real option for Small Businesses. The increase in upload speed makes scanning and storing documents in the cloud, with cloud services like Microsoft Office 365 (Formerly BPOS). The massive increase in download speeds also means that documents can be stored in the cloud and accessed only when required, rather than keeping a copy in the office.
Fast Broadband and Hosted VoIP
Small and medium size businesses have been able to run hosted VoIP over a dedicated ADSL line, supporting around 5 concurrent calls on a typical ADSL line. The advent of the additional bandwidth means that you can run significantly more concurrent VoIP users over a FTTC fast internet link. This expansion of users helps to keep the costs down as larger organisations no longer need multiple lines to support a larger VoIP community.
Using SamKnows for FTTC Availability Checking
To check if you are in a fast internet area take a look at our blog post, fast internet availability, and you can see when your area is due to be upgraded. You can also use the SamKnows service to see what connection speed you can expect from your new Fast Broadband connection.
The SamKnows website provides ADSL and Broadband availability checking http://www.samknows.com/broadband/broadband_checker
Once you enter, either, your phone number or your post code into the Broadband checker at SamKnows then you will be presented with a summary screen, like the one on the left.
The summary shows which options are actually available in your area. This summary will show all of the available connectivity types including FTTC, ADSL and SDSL from BT, along with the options from the independent ISP’s.
If you then click on the connectivity type, e.g. BT FTTC on the left hand side you will be shown the details of the speeds you can expect at your home or office. You will see both the minimum and maximum speeds that you can expect to receive from your fast broadband connection.
In this case you can see that we anticipate a minimum download speed of 28.4 Mbps and a minimum upload speed of 6.2Mbps. The upload speed is approximately 10 times what we currently achieve with an ADSL line.
If you are interested in getting the fastest internet connection for your home or business then talk to us at SystemAssure and we will will help you upgrade to FTTC Fast Broadband.
What are Managed IT Services?
Managed IT Services allow business to concentrate on their core business activities and forget about the hassle of looking after their computer systems. The service provided will vary depending on the Managed Service Provider and the client requirements. However regardless of the actual service provided the goal remains the same.
Provide cost effective IT Services to business owners, so that they can spend their valuable time running their business rather than working on computer systems.
Most business outsource an element of their business services, where they have a specialist requirement but do not need to employ full time experts. Typically this includes services like:-
- Human Resources
- Marketing Lead Generation
IT is a Business Service, like any of the services above.
When Businesses need Managed IT Services
Most businesses go through the different phases of development where they use services differently.
- Start-up – Do everything themselves to keep costs down
- Initial Growth – Business Owners don’t have enough hours in the day
- Consolidation – Focused on making sure the business delivers the right services to the right customers
- Expansion & Acquisition – How to grow the business and increase profitability
The time when businesses will typically engage a Managed IT Services Company is during the Growth phase, when they realise that they no longer have the time to do everything and need to start delegating some functions of the business. At this point they don’t need full time IT people, but they will typically need more expertise than they have themselves. If the Managed IT Services Company does a good job for their client and demonstrate the value of Managed IT Services they will also be able to help in the subsequent phases of the business.
What do Managed IT Services Provide?
Most Managed IT Services companies will list the features of their service. i.e. The things that they do
- Patch Management
- Fault Resolution
- VoIP Telephony
Most Business Owners don’t think in terms of the features that Managed IT Services companies provide, they will however know they things that their business needs in order to survive and grow.
- Data Security – We need access to every document and email we have ever created, sent or received; even if the building burns down.
- Our computers must always work, regardless of what happens or where they are
- Fault Resolution – If something does go wrong, we need it fixed as soon as possible – preferably without interrupting the working day
- HelpDesk – If we don’t know how to do something we want someone to provide some advice and guidance
- VoIP Telephony – How can I let employees work from home, without:-
- Loosing touch with the office
- Costing the company a lot of money
- It being difficult for clients to contact them
As a Small Business Owner they also need to keep an eye on budgets and cash flow, so ideally want all of the above for a fixed monthly fee regardless of how many times the HeldDesk is called or how many times files need to be restored.
Next Steps for Small Business Owners into Managed IT Services
If your business has reached the point where you need some help with computers and Managed IT Services can help your business to grow then you need to contact a Managed IT Services Company to discuss how they can help your business.
If you are in the UK and like the sound of Managed IT Services for your Owner Managed Business then contact SystemAssure and see how we can help. Either click on the SystemAssure link to go to our website or click on the Call-Me-Now button below and enter your, UK, phone number and we will call you right back.
Click on the Call-Me-Now Icon, on the left, and enter your, UK, phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. At the same time you will hear the quality and flexibility of a hosted VoIP phone system. Call-Me-Now is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.
Go ahead and find out more about Managed IT Services, today.
Top 5 questions asked by Businesses considering VoIP
VoIP (Voice Over IP) benefits businesses the moment it is put to use. VoIP has been widely available for many years now, typically it has been used within large companies. Now, using Hosted VoIP, the benefits that large enterprises have experienced are available to Small Businesses at an affordable price.
To demonstrate the benefits of VoIP we have listed the top 5 business questions that are asked by Small and Medium size companies when they are looking at a VoIP Phone System.
To learn about our recommended Hosted VoIP Phone solution go to the SystemAssure VoIP pages and you will find out more about Hosted VoIP.
Q. Is the quality of VoIP as good as traditional phone calls?
A. In almost all cases you wont be able to tell whether its a VoIP Phone System or a traditional phone system. In fact, VoIP calls can sound better than a call made using a traditional phone system. That’s because VoIP can take advantage of the superior audio quality supported by high-bandwidth data networks rather than low-grade “twisted pair” copper wiring. To test this for yourself why not call us on +44 (0)1489-897760 and hear the quality of a business grade VoIP phone system.
Q. Will I lose any of the features of my current phone system?
A. Probably not. In fact, there’s a good chance that a hosted VoIP system will offer features your existing system doesn’t have. Popular VoIP services include auto-attendant (voice driven call routing), call forwarding, voice mail, Web based interface, distinctive rings, Music on Hold, Outlook Integration, Click-to-Dial on web applications and Call-Me-Now. In most systems these facilities are user configurable and are available for little or no additional charge.
Q. Is VoIP cost effective as a Small Business Phone System ?
A. A hosted VoIP Phone system is very cost effective, scaling from a single phone and line, up to hundreds of phones without the need to buy an expensive PBX. You don’t need to work out in advance how much your business is going to expand by and by an appropriate PBX, your hosted VoIP provider has already made this investment for you. Hosted VoIP is cost effective for a start-up business, starting at only £8.00 a month and will grow with you as your company expands without the need for expensive upgrade investment. You can have hunt groups that ring in multiple locations, to ensure that your calls are always answered. So not only is Hosted VoIP cost effective for a Small Business it is the ideal solution for any start-up, or new, business.
Q. Will my business save money by switching to VoIP?
A. VoIP helps companies save money in several ways, including eliminating the major investment of buying and maintaining an on-site PBX. Businesses can also expect to save on the cost of local and international calls, various calling features and internal network deployment and maintenance. All calls between your remote offices are free, as are calls to and from Home Workers. Also all calls from Home Workers will be billed against your company Phone Number, so it simplifies the management of expenses.
Q. Can I move my existing phone number to a VoIP Phone System?
A. The short answer is, yes you can. The process of moving a phone number from a traditional Telephony Provider like BT, to a VoIP provider, is known as Porting. This is a simple process and typically takes around 10 days. During this time you can continue to use your existing phone system or set-up a divert so that all calls are delivered to the VoIP phone system. This keeps the whole process simple and painless for all parties and your customers wont be inconvenienced.
You now have the answers to the Top 5 Questions asked by businesses considering VoIP phone systems.
What is the next step in getting a VoIP phone system?
The next step in using a Hosted VoIP phone system is to call +44 (0)1489-897760 and discuss your telephony requirements or go to the SystemAssure VoIP pages.
Call Me Now
Click on the Call Me Icon, on the left, and enter your phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. At the same time you will hear the quality and flexibility of a hosted VoIP phone system. Call Me is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.
So call us today and let your business benefit from VoIP.
Do we really need Business Continuity for Small Businesses? The snow and general bad weather, at the beginning of the year in the UK, meant that many people were unable to get into work for a while. Did you loose business as a result of the weather because you weren’t able to get the phones answered, you weren’t able to deal with email or were unable to get into the office for a while?
Whilst, for the UK at least, the weather conditions were unusual there are several other problems that can cause similar problems for your business. Most people think of the major disasters, like flood or fire but what about a power cut or your ADSL line being down.
There is no reason why you should loose business as with the technology available today you can have access to email, your phone system and even your PC in the office from almost anywhere that has Internet connectivity. So how can we provide Business Continuity for Small Businesses?
What does a Small Business Continuity Solution need to provide?
How does a Business Continuity solution work and what are the minimum services that it needs to provide? Think about the way that you do business on a day to day basis, do you recieve a lot of phone calls, is most of your customer communication via email?
Make sure that your primary ways of doing business are covered, typically the immediate concern is managing existing customers and prospects – i.e. Can we continue to ‘Do Business’ ?
So for 90% of Small Companies that is:-
- Send and receive email
- Answering the Phones
- Generate Invoices
Below are some of the methods that you can use to make sure that you have a business which can survive a disaster and have a viable Business Continuity plan in place.
email access methods
If you have a laptop, or webmail access, you have probably been able to keep up with your business email, even if you haven’t been able to get into the office. One of the big advantages of email systems is that, typically, you can get access to them from anywhere that you can get an Internet connection. That is certainly true of things like Hotmail, Googlemail or Exchange Online, where all you need is a web browser.
Most companies that use Microsoft Exchange, or Small Business Server (SBS), will also provide webmail access through Outlook Web Access (OWA). OWA allows you to send email and read your company email from any web browser, you can also look at your calendar etc, just as though you were using Outlook in the office. If you don’t have access to any form of company webmail then its worth talking with your IT department to see if they will set provide you access to OWA.
If you have a Blackberry, iPhone or Windows Mobile device (SmartPhones) then you can probably get access to your company email on that. In most cases it is a relatively simple task to configure SmartPhones to work via your Exchange Server and to send and receive your company email.
Don’t forget that if you send email via OWA or your SmartPhone and its going via your Exchange server then you will have a copy saved in your sent mail items and, if your signatures are applied on the server, then your email will get all of the correct footers, branding etc. that it would have if you sent if from your desktop machine in the office.
Hosted Exchange is now a scalable, cost effective solution especially for Small Businesses. Microsoft have entered the hosted market and offer Exchange Online, either on its own or as part of its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).
In the UK you can get Microsoft BPOS for £6.71 a month, per user or just Exchange Online for £3.36 a month, per user. There is a minimum number of 5 users.
BPOS is a great way of providing a low cost, scalable, robust, enterprise grade, Business Continuity solution for small businesses.
Business Continuity and Phone Systems
If you use a hosted VoIP phone system, then you can easily make and receive calls from anywhere that you have an Internet connection. These calls will appear to come from the office number and will get billed to the office rather than your home phone number. So in the bad weather you can work from home and appear to be in the office. Even if the power is out in your office using a hosted VoIP solution means that your calls will still get delivered, as all of the redirection is carried out in the hosted PBX. If you have a softphone on your PC then the calls don’t even need to get redirected they just get delivered to your softphone.
If you don’t have Internet connectivity then its simple enough to make a phone call and get your calls re-directed to your mobile phone or home phone. There is no need not to be able to receive the office phone calls even if no-one can get into the office to answer the phone.
You can even use the Hosted VoIP solution to make sure that all of your calls still appear to originate from the office number, even if you are using your mobile to make the calls. What happens in practice is that our Hosted PBX calls your mobile, then dials the number you want to talk to – as soon as they answer the calls are connected. Its really simple to configure, in just 2 mouse clicks and is included in your base cost.
Call Me Now
Click on the Call Me Icon, on the left, and enter your phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. Call Me is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.
So we can provide Business Continuity for your phone system, from anywhere with Internet access.
As part of a Business Continuity plan we to need to consider what you would do if the office was destroyed. If you have gone done the route of Hosted Email and VoIP then you will probably be able to continue to ‘do business’, but what about all of your company records, customer details, contracts etc? How are you going to be able to access that information if the office no longer exists?
You should have off-site copies of your computer backups, after all there is no point in keeping your backup copy next to the server. At a minimum the daily backups should be held off site in a secure location. That could mean taking the daily tape home and keeping it safe, or using of of the many Online Backup services.
An Online Backup, or Hosted Backup, service will continually take copies of your data and ship it to a secure data center. Depending on the service you subscribe to this could be a continuous backup, or scheduled on a daily basis.
Most of the services allow for a local copy of the data and the off site copy. The local copy allows you to quickly restore files in the event someone accidentally deletes a file. The off-site, or hosted copies, are for disaster recovery / Business Continuity in case the office gets destroyed.
If you use Microsoft BPOS, Google Apps, or any of the other hosted services then your data is held in a secure data center. It will actually be held in multiple geo located data centers, so your data is secure. In this case you can continue to work and not need to worry about your data. You also have access to your applications from anywhere in addition to having a copy of your data.
One thing about Hosted Service and Online backup services, make sure that you select a vendor who will host your data in your country, or legislative area. The reason for this is that not all countries have the same approach to Data Security and Data Protection, so you want your data where it is covered by the same data protection laws as your business.
Remote PC Access
You can also use systems like LogMeIn, GoToMyPC or the functionality built into Remote Management Systems like SystemAssure that will let you access your office PC from a web browser. Typically this type of application will let you print on your local, home, printer and also copy files and documents between your office PC and your home PC. If you are a BPOS user you wouldn’t even need access to your Office PC, as all of you data will be stored within the SharePoint Online section of BPOS.
So whatever the weather, if its snow, floods or even if you want to sunbath in the back garden rather than go into the office there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do everything that you can do from the office. You can either do this will a combination of different applications that you put together yourself or let SystemAssure take the strain and do the work for you.
Business Continuity For Small Businesses
Yes it is entirely possible to provide your small business with a cost effective Business Continuity solution. By doing this properly you also increase the scalability of your business and also remove the need to ‘step’ investments in hardware as your business grows.
Planning Business Continuity for Small Businesses from day one can dramatically reduce your need for capital investment and also give you flexibility in work practices.
Need Assistance with Business Continuity planning?
If you would like assistance in designing and implementing a Business Continuity plan for your small business then please contact me through the SystemAssure Website.
Some of the terminology used in VoIP telephony can be a bit confusing, below I attempt to explain some of the VoIP terminology and phrases that you may come across when people are talking about Voice Over IP.
Not all of the terminology below is exclusive to VoIP telephony, some of the VoIP terminology that I discuss is equally as relevant when talking about traditional analogue phone systems.
VoIP Terminology Explained
VoIP – Voice over IP. Used to describe a phone system which used the Internet as its underlying transport. Probably the most widely known VoIP system is Skype.
Analogue Phone Line – The normal BT phone system that we use in our house, so called because it uses analogue rather than digital technology.
POTS – Plain Old Telephone System. See analogue Phone Line above.
PBX – Private Branch Exchange. The term traditionally used for a internal company phone system. This is the control element which allows you to make and transfer calls and typically included facilities like; Voice Mail, Music on Hold, Conference Calls etc.
PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network. The term traditionally used for the Telephone System.
PCM – Pulse Code Modulation. The process of digitising an analog signal (human speech).
RTP – Real-time Transfer Protocol. The protocol used by a VoIP system to transmit the the packets over an IP network. RTP is a send and forget streaming protocol.
MOH – Music On Hold. Typically annoying music or announcements which get played when you are waiting for the person you want to speak to.
Auto Attendant – An Auto Attendant, sometimes also called a Virtual Receptionist, is a simple announcement and menu system to handle call routing. It would normally be something like:
Thank you for calling AKCSL, a leading provider of Systems Management Solutions. For Sales Press 1, for Technical Support Press 2, for all other enquiries Press 3.
The auto attendant messages can either be recorded or can use Text-to-Speech to read out your message. Typically people use Text-to-Speech whilst they are sorting out their menu structure and then record a professional version once they are satisfied with the final structure and message.
Cloud Based – Used to describe a service which is hosted in the Internet, rather than you having a physical device. i.e.
Cloud Based Computing where you use the processing power of an Internet based Server rather than a system in your office.
Cloud Based Storage where your data is stored somewhere in the Internet. The Microsoft SkyDrive is a good example of Cloud Based Storage.
Cloud Based PBX, like the Voiplicity solution we sell, where you use the facilities of a hosted telephone exchange to create a ‘virtual’ PBX for all of your users. i.e. You do not have a physical phone exchange in your building but you still have the full features of an Office phone system,without the cost.
Hunt Group – Where a caller dials a single number and a group of phones ring, the call is then answered by the first person to pick up the phone. i.e. Ring all the phones in the support department or Sales department and any free agent can pick up the call.
CLI – Call Line Identification. This is where the phone number of the person calling you is displayed on your phone. If you use a CRM system it is possible through CTI to automatically pull up the CRM record for the calling number.
CTI – Computer Telephony Integration. CTI allows your phone system to interact with your computer applications, so you can do things like:-
- Dial direct from Outlook
- Highlight phone numbers on websites and then Click to Dial
- Open CRM Records when customers call your office
DDI – Direct Dial In. The name given for the facility where a customer can directly call your desk phone, rather than calling the office number.
Click to Dial – The name given for the facility where you can highlight a phone number within a web page, or web application like CRM, Accounts etc, and then automatically dial the number.
Call Me Now – The name given for having a button, or link, on your website. When the customer clicks on the link they will be asked to enter their phone number. Once they click on OK their phone will be dialed by your phone system, at the same time as your phone is dialed. The customer gets to talk directly to you, at no charge to themselves, when they are ready to buy or ask for further information.
Call Parking – a feature that allows you to put a call on hold at one telephone set and then pick the call up and continue the conversation from any other telephone set.
Soft phone – A softphone is an application which runs on a computer that allows you to make and receive calls, using a VoIP phone system. Typically used with a headset to help improve the call quality. Skype is an example of a Softphone application.
IP Phone – Sometimes called a VoIP phone, this is a phone which connects to a standard data network, rather than the BT phone socket.
SIP – SIP Stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is one of the protocols that can be used during the setup phase of a VoIP phone call.
VoIP Terminology for Call Quality
Silence Suppression – Silence suppression is a well-known bandwidth optimisation technique employed by VoIP devices, where packets are only sent if the speaker is actually speaking . This can reduce the total bandwidth required by more than 50%, since most conversations are only one-way at any given time, so the listener need not send any packets while the other party is speaking.
QoS – Quality of Service provides priority including dedicated bandwidth, controlled jitter and latency (required by some real-time and interactive traffic), and improved loss characteristics. It also ensures that providing priority for one or more flows does not make other flows fail.
Jitter – Variability in the rate at which the sent packets are received. i.e. some packets may get delayed on the network so there is a delay before they are received and recombined to recreate the original call. Jitter shows up as a ‘choppy’ call with people sounding a bit like a Dalek.
Latency – Latency is the time difference between when a packet is sent and when it reaches its destination. All networks experience latency, however for a VoIP network you do not want a high latency (more than 150ms)
MOS – Mean Opinion Score. MOS is a number between 0 and 5 and is a measure of the quality of the call. A MOS of 3.6 is acceptable, a MOS of 4 or above is excellent. A MOS of anything below 3.2 will be of noticeably poor quality.
R Factor – R factor is another way of expressing call quality. R Factor is a calculated value, between 0 and 100, and the maximum achievable R Factor for a given Codec will always be below 100.
VoIP Terminology for Call Security
Listed below is some of the VoIP Terminology which relates to the call security of VoIP phone calls.
SRTP – Secure Real-Time Transfer Protocol. SRTP is ideal for protecting VoIP traffic because it has a minimal effect on call quality. For each call you make, a unique encryption key is created, which makes eavesdropping almost impossible. This attribute alone makes SRTP a good choice for day-to-day calls, as well as highly confidential conversations.
TLS – Transport Layer Security. TLS is a way of encrypting VoIP calls. TLS encrypts VoIP data traveling between two applications. The aim of TLS is to keep unauthorised parties from interfering with or listening to calls, and is almost impossible to manipulate externally.
Can I Run VoIP on my Network?
To Test if your network is suitable for running VoIP you should run a set of network tests, follow the links to Speed Tests and Ping Tests in other posts on Computer Spot in order to find out if your network is suitable for VoIP. For businesses other than a sole trader we recommend that you have a separate ADSL line to run your VoIP Phone System.
Books about VoIP & VoIP Terminology
If you are interested in finding out more about VoIP and VoIP Terminology then take a look at some of the books available on Amazon.
Who should I use for my VoIP for Business supplier?
Call Me Now
Click on the Call Me Icon, on the left, and enter your phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. Call Me is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.
More VoIP Terminology
If there is additional VoIP Terminology that you want explaining then let us know and we will add it to our list of VoIP Terminology.
Why should I carry out an Internet Quality Test?
In addition to the Internet Speed Tests you also need to run an Internet Quality Test to check the Quality of your ADSL, Broadband, Internet connection. ADSL, Broadband Quality is particularly relevant if you are using your Internet connection for VoIP or Video streaming. If you are planning on running a VoIP phone System, like the one that we provide as part of SystemAssure, then you need to make sure that you have a high quality Internet connection
If you think about the Speed Test as how fast your car can go, then the Ping Test is the equivalent of ‘Is the car misfiring’. i.e. It can still go fast but its not as efficient as it should be and you are not getting the most out of what you have paid for.
The overall Quality of an Internet connection includes:-
- Network Latency
- Packet Loss
- Jitter – Relevant if you are using a VoIP Phone
How to carry out an Internet Quality Test
The same people who provide the best Internet Speed Tests also provide a similar Internet Quality Test.
This best provider of a free Internet Quality Test is www.pingtest.net.
Once you have completed the tests you will get a summary of the results, similar to the results to the left.
In the summary you can see a MOS value assigned to the ADSL line. MOS is a measure of VoIP call quality that is achievable over the line. MOS is rated between 0 and 5. A MOS value of 3.6, or above is good.
If you are planning to use VoIP we recommend that, for an average office, that you have separate ADSL lines for VoIP and Data.
Results of your Internet Quality Test
The results of your Internet Quality Test are displayed in summary mode, on the left hand side of the graphic, along with an overall rating. You can see that in the case our our test ADSL line it gets classified as a Grade A line, with the individual results being displayed for:-
- Packet Loss – 0%
- Ping Latency – 18 milliseconds
- Jitter – 4 milliseconds
If you are experiencing Packet Loss then you should talk to your ISP, who will help to uncover the cause and get the problem rectified.
If you want to find out more about the ADSL Internet Connections that we provide complete the Contact SystemAssure form. The Internet connectivity that we provide is high quality, business grade, broadband as can be seen from the results above.
Internet Quality Test and Small Business Phone Systems
VoIP is a cost effective solution for a Small Business and makes for the best Small Business Phone system available. If you are thinking of using VoIP as your Small Business Phone System, make sure that you test the throughput and quality of your ADSL line with this simple Internet Quality Test.