Monday, February 28, 2005

Selling Telecom Services

The Digest has a nice practical explanation of the in's & out's of selling Telecom services. This can be a rewarding independent business venture for any entrepreneur who applies the tips & ideas presented. There may not be the detail some are looking for....but it's a good start to setting a foundation to work from.

BTW, the emphasis is on selling as a Master Agent or reseller. None of that MLM stuff.

Now...since the article may not be as indepth as some would like. If there are any Master Agents/resellers out there....please chime in. Sharing your real life insights as comment replies here would likely add immense value to my visitors and gain you some visibility.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Basics On T1 Line Solutions For Small Business

T1 Lines have been the primary source of mission critical bandwidth for companies of all sizes for nearly 20 years. With so much history, a basic understanding of the T1 line should be common knowledge among business owners who are looking for reliable bandwidth for Internet access, data communications, or multiple telephone lines. However, it was not until the late 1990s that the market for T1 lines became very competitive and prices began falling to more reasonable levels, causing the demand to rise sharply among small and medium sized businesses. Even today most small business owners and managers still do not know how a standard T1 line works or what it is capable of providing.

Each section of below includes a description a T1 line solution and an example of what problems you could solve for your business with the solution described. There are 7 basic types of T1's explained, which include Full T1, Fractional, Voice (standard), PRI, Integrated Voice and Data, Voice Over IP(hosted), and Point-to-Point T1's.

Full T1 Line:

"Full T1 Line" is a term typically used to describe a circuit that provides 1.5 megabits per second of high speed Internet access, which is the most common type of T1. A Full T1 can also be used to carry telephone lines and/or VoIP calls, both of which are covered within the "Voice”, “PRI" and Voice Over IP sections here. Nearly all office-based and modern retail businesses require some type of Internet access in order to perform their daily operations, and many have mission critical Internet needs that allow them to continue business operations at all. There are many choices to fulfill this need for Internet access, including Dial-up connections, ISDN, DSL, Cable, Wireless applications, a T1 Line, or something larger like a DS3 or OC-3 (far less common due to high cost). A T1 Line consists of 24 channels that transmit data at 64Kbps each, therefore giving a Full T1 Line the capacity to transmit 1.54Mbps of data synchronously (upstream and downstream). Using today's standard email applications and common Internet searching, this amount of bandwidth could support anywhere from 1 to approximately 75 users depending on their needs, preferences, and the company's budget. Most commonly Full T1 Lines are used in offices with 5 to 50 employees. A T1 circuit provides the most reliable bandwidth available when leased from a high quality T1 Provider, which is why businesses are willing to pay more for a T1 than for other services like DSL or Cable. In some applications, a T1 can save money for a company who uses a less reliable bandwidth connection. Since multiple services can be combined on a single T1, cost efficient solutions are often available if you know what service to ask for (see "Integrated T1" below) and which providers offer those services in your area.

Internet T1 pricing starts at approximately $100 per month, but can cost more than $1000 per month if the location of the installation requires a long loop to connect to the network of your local phone company to the network of the T1 provider. This is usually only the case in very small towns or rural areas where facilities are less dense. Most metropolitan areas have many choices of T1 providers, at least one of which will usually be closer and cheaper than the rest. Pricing will fluctuate dramatically depending on the Provider and the location of your business, which is why it is sometimes safer and easier to use an experienced Telecom Consultant to guide you in finding the best solution. For example some companies that do not require much bandwidth or have a small budget might need to opt for a Fractional T1 Line.

Fractional T1 Line:

A Fractional T1 line typically describes an Internet circuit that uses a "piece" or a "fraction" of a Full T1. Fractional T1's are also used for telephone lines or even integrated T1’s, but less often then for Internet access. A Fractional T1 can be sold in nearly any fraction of a 24 channel, 1.54Mbps circuit. For example, out of the 24 channels in a Full T1 line, 12 channels might be used in a Fractional T1 to provide a 768k connection, which is half of 1.54Mbps. Other Fractional sizes include 1.1Mbps, 512k, 384k, 256, 128k, and even 64k, although the smaller sizes are very uncommon. As T1 Providers have become more competitive, prices on Full T1s have come down so much that Fractional T1s have become less cost effective. For example, a Fractional T1 of 768k carries only half of the bandwidth of a Full T1, but usually saves only 5% to 15% of the price of a Full T1. This doesn't make much sense in applications where only 1 or 2 T1 lines are needed, unless the budget is extremely tight. However, this can add up to significant savings when using hundreds of T1's across a large company's multi-location VPN or frame relay network.

Voice T1:

Voice and PRI T1 lines are extremely common among businesses and call centers with multiple telephone lines and large call volumes. They are far less expensive and more efficient than installing dozens of POTS (plain old telephone service) lines. Each of the 24 channels on a T1 line is versatile, allowing it to be used for either bandwidth or for a single telephone line. So, a pure Voice T1 line will have 24 telephone lines with reliable service, good reception, good long distance rates (depending on the carrier), and a wide selection of calling features. Voice T1 lines use digital or analog transmission, so it is an excellent choice in situations where a company's equipment does not allow for the use of a PRI line, which is always digital.

PRI T1:

A PRI (Primary Rate Interface) line is somewhat different and more popular than a standard Voice T1 because it is true "digital trunking", which allows for even more advanced calling features. A PRI line provides 23 telephone lines per T1, because the 24th channel is used to carry useful data for signaling and other features like special caller ID information called ANI (Automatic Number Identification). Since the transmission is digital, the quality of a telephone connection over a PRI line is unsurpassed, providing crystal clear reception that is noticeable to the user. The use of DID (Direct Inward Dial) numbers, and calling features like hunting and rolling, allow you to use 23 digital telephone lines to provide service to potentially 30 to 40 employees, depending on how often they will need to use their phone. Instead of guessing on the number of DID's to put on a PRI line, it's important to figure out the maximum number of simultaneous calls that could be placed at any given time. Having too few telephone lines causes costs more in a loss of productivity than it would cost to simply add more phone lines to keep your employees busy. This is why it is important to figure out the proper balance of telephone lines vs. DID numbers. The cost of a PRI is also typically lower than other forms of telephone service (except Voice Over IP in some applications), with actual pricing depending on the Provider of the service and your business location. Between the features, price, and quality of a PRI, it is the primary choice for businesses large enough to take advantage of it's multiline functionality and benefits.

Integrated T1 Line:

An Integrated T1 Line is one of the most popular T1 solutions for small businesses because it provides local telephone service, long distance, and bandwidth all on a single connection and a single bill. The consolidation of these services with one company is more convenient and more cost effective than purchasing them from separate providers. Just as a Fractional T1 line only turns on a portion of a T1 Line for Internet access, special equipment allows some of the T1 channels to be allocated for telephone lines, while others are used for data transmission and Internet access. For example, a Full Integrated T1 line could be divided in half using special equipment, providing 12 high quality telephone lines and using the other 12 channels for 768k of bandwidth. Fractional Integrated T1 lines are also available, but most companies have minimum levels such as 4 phone lines and 512k of Internet access, which only uses 12 channels combined. Many offers even include "blocks" of free long distance, usually based on the number of telephone lines being installed. A typical offer might include 6 phone lines(6 channels), 512k (8 channels), and 600 minutes of free LD each month (100 per telephone line). This entire circuit could have a total cost as low as $400 to $500 per month, which is a tremendous "all inclusive" bargain for small businesses. This is a perfect total solution for literally thousands, if not millions, of small companies across the nation. One thing to keep in mind is that not all providers can offer Integrated T1 Lines, so the ones that do typically focus a great deal of their sales efforts on this service.

Voice Over IP (VoIP):

Voice Over IP is considered to be the “next big thing” in the telecommunications industry. It has already begun the powerful growth that has been expected for many years by experts and early adopters. Although VoIP services can and will be used across all types of high bandwidth connections, the business class services are primarily being offered on T1 lines. This is extremely important in the world of bandwidth and telecommunications, because it again validates the T1 line as the most cost efficient delivery method of the most reliable bandwidth. In other words, a company cannot afford to trust a volatile Internet connection like DSL or Cable to carry VOIP because they risk losing 100% of their communication capabilities.

Voice over IP is revolutionizing telecommunications because it is cheaper for the user and the infrastructure requirements are better for the providers. Rather than requiring a telephone line and all of the switching on the back end to complete a call, VoIP uses equipment to break down a telephone call into packets of data, then sends those packets across the internet to be decoded where the receiver answers the call. This dramatically reduces the bandwidth that is necessary to complete a call because it eliminates “dead” times when no one is speaking into the receiver. Since the calls also bypass the normal telephone switching network, they also escape FCC charges (for now). Every major Provider and most small providers are starting to offer residential and business class VoIP services. If you're in the market for a business VoIP solution try the free consulting services of Business-VoIP-Solution.com.

Point to Point T1:

Point to point T1 lines do not provide T1 Internet access or telephone lines, but act as a “transport” for either or both. A point to point T1, often referred to as a "P2P", provides a very secure and reliable connection, usually from a corporate office to any number of satellite offices. Although a P2P does not actually "provide" Internet access or phone lines, corporations use P2P T1s to share these services. For example, a company’s home office in Los Angeles might have hundreds of telephone lines and huge Internet access pipes installed at one location to get the best available rates. This company can use a P2P T1 to transmit any combination of telephone lines, Internet access, and data between offices to share software systems, and provide in-office dialing from locations across the country! The variables are endless because there are no restrictions on how a point to point T1 can be used, assuming you have the right equipment and a source at one end of the P2P. This can be a great way to save money, because a satellite or branch office might have to pay huge prices to have telephone and bandwidth services installed directly, whereas the home office can get better rates because of bulk buying and location. Although it can sometimes be used to save money, a P2P network is usually not very cost efficient compared to other options. Frame Relay and VPN (Virtual Private Network) are other options to consider depending on a company's needs and business applications. The primary advantage of a P2P line is that it is truly private, making it top choice for those demanding a circuit with a dedicated connection to only their business, therefore offering the highest security available.

There is no question that the same type of T1 Line that was being used back in 1984 by the US Government and world leading technology companies like IBM is still the best source of reliable bandwidth for all sizes of companies today. Despite the competition of newer technologies, price reductions on T1’s plus the fact that these circuits are so trustworthy have allowed the number of T1 Lines being used in the United States to continue to grow at a rate of 15% per year, even in recent years. Since there are so many uses for the T1 Line, including the explosion of new technologies like VoIP, these circuits are poised to remain a key ingredient to the success of businesses who rely on Internet, Telecommunications, and Data Connectivity for years to come.

World Renowned VoIP Thought Leader Jeff Pulver Predicts....

First...my apologies. I couldn't find a link to the article that would work here. So I cut & pasted the whole thing. Sorry to those this annoys but it couldn't be helped. But you can go to Jeff's website and find a PDF version plus more on his "Recent News And Articles" page.

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Pulver Predicts Burnout of Some VoIP Start-Ups, Major Carrier VoIP Announcements, FCC and Regulatory Actions, the Growth of Wireless Vs. Wireline, and More

MELVILLE, N.Y., Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- VoIP pioneer Jeff Pulver, who is responsible for creating the industry standard Voice on the Net (VON) events and is known as the "voice" of IP Communications, has announced a number of predictions for what will happen to the VoIP industry in the year ahead. His predictions for 2005 are:

1) VoIP in the USA will cross the "early-adopter chasm."

2) Broadband penetration will begin to snowball in the US, but not at a pace fast enough to raise America's mediocre global standing in broadband penetration.

3) We will see the restart of VoIP IPOs, and we will also see some VoIP startups burning-out due to lack of marketing funds and customer base ... and vision.

4) Still more major carrier VoIP announcements, as well as significant product announcements from major non-carriers (including software and Internet giants).

5) New battle lines and tangling alliances will form between and among carriers, vendors, and application providers and debate will grow over the continuing role for unaffiliated, non-carrier VoIP providers.

6)
(a) The FCC will not establish an IP-Communications Bureau.
(b) The FCC will release an Order in the IP-Enabled Services Proceeding, setting forth a broad, hands-off approach for VoIP.

7) Governments around the world will look harder at VoIP regulation, and service providers will respond by stepping up their efforts to deploy industry-based solutions for many of the social issues confronting the industry (e.g., emergency response, lawful intercept).

8)The pace of Wireless replacement of Wireline will increase.

9) ENUM (Electronic Numbering) will continue to happen around the world ... and the US will continue to lag.

10) Open Source communications will continue to gain momentum, the effects of which will be felt in the next 12-18 months.

11) IM and incidental communications and applications (such as "presence") will continue to grow unregulated.

12) Universal Service will move to a connections-based system.

13) Access rates and inter-carrier compensation will trend down (although the long-anticipated unified intercarrier comp reform will not be seen in '05.)

14) Sides will be drawn further as Congressional debate grows over the likely rewrite of the Communications Act. We will find out who our friends are and who has just been paying us lip-service.

15) 2005 might be the year of Bluetooth. 2005 will see the emergence of the first dual, or multi-mode, phones capable of switching from WiFi to mobile wireless (and perhaps to landline).

"We are in the midst of a VoIP communications revolution," said Jeff Pulver, chairman of Pulver.com Enterprises. "The buzz surrounding the international VoIP industry continues to grow, and it's important for everyone to understand and take advantage of the changes taking place. IP Communications is 'disruptive' communications in the most positive sense, and it will dramatically enhance the ways in which we communicate."

Pulver publishes a blog that offers unique insight into the state of the IP Communications industry. This blog, which is updated daily (and sometimes more often than that) addresses all-things-VoIP, from the technical (i.e., service and product innovations, extensions of concept) to the political (Governmental concerns, hearings and rulings, any and all issues-based subject matter). The Jeff Pulver Blog can be easily accessed at http://pulverblog.pulver.com/ , and reader comments are welcome (and typically result in a speedy reply!). About Jeff Pulver Jeff Pulver is one of the true pioneers of the Internet telephony/VoIP industry with more than a decade of hands-on experience in IP Communications and innovation. He is the publisher of The Pulver Report and VON magazine, and creator of the industry standard Voice on the Net (VON) conferences, where all sectors of the IP Communications industry come together to discuss, debate, and advance the industry. Additionally, Mr. Pulver is the founder of a number of IP Communications companies. Mr. Pulver has testified before the FCC, the United States Congress, and numerous agencies that have a growing interest in IP Communications. Named by BusinessWeek as one of their 2003 "Gurus of Technology," Mr. Pulver is committed to the future of IP Communications and is featured often in the media as a true expert in his field.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Cheap Bandwidth....Major Pipe Costs Plunging

Wired News claims that the fiber glut hasn't gone anywhere, only 11% of fiber linking major cities in the US and Europe has been lit, and the cost of bandwidth on long-distance routes has fallen by more than 90 percent in 4 years.

DSLreports.com reported that the average price companies pay for STM-1 (155 Mbps) connectivity fell by 55% in US cities (49% in Europe) over the past 12 months.

Read both these articles and the discussion they generated at DataCenterTalk.Com. Add your 2 cents if you feel brave. ;)

Securing Your Public Wireless Experience

Before you just assume that everything you do at a convenient Wireless hotspot is safe, there are some things you should know. Read the article "Securing Your Public Wireless Experience" posted at BroadBandReports.Com and the resulting discussion. You definitely need to know how to protect yourself....or risk some rather messy consequences.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

DS3 Service in the Los Angeles Market

Searching for a DS1 in Los Angeles? Bandwidth has never been cheaper and Los Angeles is no exception to this. Many telecom companies built out their infrastructure in Metro cities and with the crash that has taken place since 1999 many of these companies have seen the usage of their pipes decrease significantly. The infrastructure that was laid is a fixed cost that companies are eager to recover. The result of the reduced number of businesses in the market seeking service and the drop in pricing has created a buyers market.

In a buyers market remember that you can push and probably get concessions from the carrier but also remember that all carriers are not created equally. Many carriers may appear to offer a bargain price but you may be several hops from the internet and have a problem with latency. You may also be using a small carrier that hasn't actually checked the capacity of the CO before you sign your contract and can't even deliver the service they promised. The only way you'll discover this is when you start using your connection and find that at peak traffic times your connection is bogged down at a level below that which was guaranteed.

I suggest when dealing with a larger pipe you consider the larger Tier1 providers. You can still get a great price even though it's not as low as some of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies. You'll also have the peace of mind knowing that you have an SLA and the company will deliver what you believe you will get. If you're in the market of a DS3, communications are vital to your company. Make sure you get both a reliable product and the price you're looking for. If you need help finding such a service, consider speaking with broker who is knowledgable of the providers available in your area. You'll find a reputable easy to use free broker service at
DS3-Bandwidth.Com