Friday, December 30, 2005

Bandwidth Requirements For Video Conferencing

Most of today's companies are maximizing their travel budgets and communication requirements by making smart use of videoconferencing as an alternative to face-to-face meetings. With this decision to implement enterprise-level videoconferencing comes a requiremnt for bandwidth requirements which are reliable and cost effective.

Videoconferencing can leverage the existing public telephone network, a private IP network or the Internet. The target bandwidth for interactive video communications is in the 300K to 400K bit/sec per stream range. This includes audio and video as well as control signaling.

The H.323 protocol does not require that two or more endpoints in a session send the same data rate they receive. A low-powered endpoint may only be able to encode at a rate of 100K bit/sec, but, because decoding is less processor-intensive, it could decode a 300K bit/sec videostream.

Nevertheless, in videoconferencing, bandwidth is assumed to be symmetrical. In full-duplex networks such as ISDN, Ethernet, ATM and time division multiplexed networks, capacity is expressed as bandwidth in one direction, though equal bandwidth is available for traffic in the opposite direction.

You need to estimate the number of simultaneous sessions your network needs to support, and figure out if your network has bandwidth end-to-end.

A T-1 bandwidth circuit offers 1.5M bit/sec in each direction and would be ample bandwidth for two 512K bit/sec or three 384K bit/sec videoconferences, depending on the amount of simultaneous traffic on the network. Also, make sure that you have 10/100 switched Ethernet throughout the LAN segments where videoconferencing traffic is expected.

Multipoint conference bandwidth (with which three or more locations can see and hear one another) is calculated separately from point-to-point sessions. Multipoint can be conducted in either IP or ISDN environments, and some conferencing units will support both network types.

Multipoint conferencing products may be software-based or accelerated with special hardware, and their configuration can produce different bandwidth consumption patterns as well as different user experiences. For example, when an endpoint is used to host a multipoint conference, the maximum bandwidth for any single participant is the bandwidth allocated to that host divided by the number of locations participating. When you need to have more than four locations on a call at the same time, network-based products are recommended.

If you decide that your IP network can't handle the additional traffic associated with live video sessions in a merged or converged network deployment, your options are to rely on circuit switched networks or to deploy additional IP bandwidth capacity. To assist in determining and acquiring the exact bandwidth to meet your requirements...it's strongly recommended to make use of a free technical consulatation service such as is available via DS3-Bandwidth.com. An excellent guideline resource for video conferencing set-up and management is also available at "Video Conferencing Solutions".

Bandwidth Requirements For Medical Imaging Systems

Medical imaging systems are requiring higher bandwidth. With the emphasis on real-time performance and higher resolutions, the amount of data processing needed may soon reach staggering levels. Using input sensors to receive large amounts of information along with digital signal processors (DSPs) to turn that analog input into digital data, medical systems are leaning toward backplane-based chassis with high performance. Traditionally, many systems use standards-based architectures like CompactPCI bus or VMEbus. But with backplane performance hitting the limitations of standard architectures, medical industry system designers are looking to new switched-fabric technologies that offer high performance and high reliability at a reasonable cost.

Medical imaging systems—such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scanning, and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning—are the most in need of higher performance. The intrachassis traffic between the processor boards, communications boards, display, sensor device, and storage is vast. For real-time information and clearer, higher-resolution images, the data need to travel at high speeds without errors. Not only is the data rate important, but the processing must be reliable. With redundancy and inherent reliability, the system can be highly available, with up to 99.999% uptime.

In many medical applications, latency and throughput are important requirements. In an ultrasound system, latency is critical because the technician uses the real-time image to properly position the transducer. Latency is less critical in CT scan equipment, although it is still an important factor. Both systems require the performance to scale as processing elements are added to a system. If all of the processing boards are contending for a common bus, performance could actually degrade as the number of processing nodes increases.

Bus-based architectures are running out of bandwidth for today's medical imaging solutions. The migration to switched-fabric systems is the natural evolution path. It is important that a switched-fabric architecture already have all of the necessary hardware and software components. A switched-fabric system should also be compatible with PCI-based systems, so that much of a manufacturer's previous investment in the system can be preserved. Regardless....sufficient bandwidth for operating the total facility system (all applications) is critical. At a minimum the system load will require DS3 bandwidth or OC3....in larger medical facilities even an OC12 or OC48. To assist in determining exact requirements it's highly recommended to engage the services of an independent technical consulatnt such as DS3-Bandwidth.com.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Building a Wireless ISP Network

In the US, most of the people have one or more broadband access services to choose from - variations of DSL from multiple vendors and cable.

In the rural areas of the country, the selection is limited. Satellite is available to anyone, but between dial up and T1 there are no options for many residents. Satellite suffers from latency, making it unsuitable for VoIP and some other real time Internet services. Some applications that should not be sensitive to latency (email, Web forms) will perform poorly or fail due to the increased packet time.

The traditional carriers (RBOC) and resellers face a cost issue in bringing broadband service to outlying areas. Without a concentration of users the per user cost at published rates causes either a poor or negative margin. The way cost accounting is done in larger corporations makes the business case worse for a large carrier. Cost allocations between departments for such things as floor space, personnel, and backend support end up as added costs rather than leverage opportunities. Traditional wired service will not reach outlying residents unless mandated by law, and the trend is against this happening in the near future.

So the opportunity is open for a business offering Internet broadband access service to outlying residents.

Therein lies a tremendous opportunity.

Now....just how to you go about taking advantage of this opportunity, filling a need, and building a wireless ISP network?

For those considering such a venture I strongly recommend you jump over to a discussion forum at the Ryze.com business networking community devoted exclusively to this issue.

Be sure to pay attention to the following discussion topics AND contribute your own thoughts when/where you can.......

* Business Continuity Planning - This isn't the technical side of the business, the backup systems, redundant pathing, fail-over and restore, or alternate location stuff. Here you're looking at subjects such as Legal Structure, Personnel Insurance, Asset Insurance, and Process and Procedure.

* Revenue and Profit - Covers where nad how to create your income including installation, basic monthly service, custom access service, volume or corporate pricing, other services, business partnerships, usage based service, civic service, and tower leasing.

* Security Issues - There's much to consider in this arena. Don't overlook it.

* Bandwidth issues - The access line to your tower(s) is likely the critical factor to success. First off, it probably represents your single largest operational cost. Next, it determines the maximum quality of service you can provide.

Quotes you receive will probably be very different in terms of cost and performance guarantees, and should cover Performance Standards, Service Availability, Mean Time to Respond, Mean Time to Repair, Latency, Packet Loss, and Jitter. To help you search for the best match provider for your bandwidth requirements....I recommend utilizing the services of an independent broker by submitting a RFQ request to DS3-Bandwidth.com.

Friday, December 23, 2005

DSL Speed Tests

Ever wonder how fast your connection is? Are you really getting the 1.5Mbps that was promised to you? Me neither! The fact is, DSL is highly over subscribed. Oversubscription means that many people are pulling from the same resource. This results in slowdowns and it means you and I aren't getting the speed we signed up for. The best way to confirm this is through DSL Speed Test.

A DSL Speed Test is a great way to find out what kind of speed you're really getting. Is your connection really slow or is it just the fast that you're working with an old, slow, or over tasked computer? Simply find the DSL Speed Test by performing a search on Google and you'll quickly be on your way to finding out what you're really getting. You'll have to shut down your programs that are accessing the net and then perform the test which takes 30 seconds or so. It's very important to shut down programs accessing the net because these will impair the test and will cause your connection to appear slower than it actually is since some of it is being used.

When you find your speed is not what you signed up for you may want to try a few "tweaks". DSL Reports has free downloads of DSL Tweaks that will allow you to modify your settings and some of your software to be faster on the net. What the DSL Speed Test will likely tell you, however is that you're not getting the speed you signed up for and unfortunately there's not much you can do about it. You can certainly call your provider and let them know you're not pleased but the reduction in speed can be caused by your distance from the CO or bad wiring in the area.

Let Them Have DSL!

DSL has been hailed as a great solution for residential and some small business broadband needs. You may have heard this term from friends and neighbors when talking about their fast internet connection. It's true, DSL is much faster then a dial-up internet connection, but is it all it's cracked up to be?

With speeds of up to 140 times faster than dial up internet access it s definitely fast but the problem is you don't always get the advertised speed. Your DSL connection is highly dependant on your distance from the phone company. If you're over 5,000 feet your signal will begin to drop off and your connection will be degraded, i.e. slower speed. At about 15,000 feet from the phone company (3 miles) your signal will completely cut off.

The second problem with DSL is the fact that it's highly over subscribed. Oversubscription means that many people are pulling from the same resource. During the afternoon when people are at work there may be plenty of bandwidth to have, but in the evening when everyone is looking up the news, going through e-mail, or shopping online, access tends to be strained. Many people pulling from the same limited resource will find that there's only so much to go around. What does this mean to you? Slow speeds! It's interesting to note that DSL companies lampooned cable internet access as being shared by the neighborhood. Commercials displayed neighbors at each others throats for overusing the connection because it affected other's use. The irony of the commercials is that DSL users suffer from the same problem of common access. It's a great solution, but don't let them fool you….It's not perfect!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Don't Underestimate Your Disaster Recovery Network Bandwidth Needs

How well can your IT organization deal with an emergency? Sign up for a free TechRepublic Newsletter, and make sure you're prepared for the next catastrophe.

Now......here are some networking issues to consider when planning bandwidth needs for your primary facility and the recovery site.

Don't Underestimate Your Disaster Recovery Network Bandwidth Needs
Mike Talon
TechRepublic

While a great deal of attention is paid to servers and software during disaster recovery (DR) planning, DR planners often overlook the networking that will be used to carry their data and connect their users during both normal and DR operations. Most technology professionals realize that bandwidth is needed to create a DR plan, but there are two general areas that are often neglected when dealing with networking and DR planning.

Before disaster......

First, during normal business operations, you will need to properly size and configure bandwidth between your primary facility and your DR operations system, whatever and wherever that may be. Even if you are only doing tape backup, and intend to restore data after a disaster, you will still need to consider bandwidth for use in monitoring the DR center and pre-configuring VPN and other remote access.

If you are doing any form of replication or nightly data push to a DR facility, you will need to prepare for the extra data that will go across you existing pipes, or create new links to the DR center for the express use of the DR replication systems. Depending on what systems you are using in your primary facility, you will almost certainly need a great deal more bandwidth than would be used for normal operations of your business. Especially in the case of enterprise-level operations that require regular maintenance of their databases, you may find that you experience large spikes in replication traffic that will have to be sent to your DR site eventually.

While most tools for DR solutions that move data in real-time or near real-time allow for some form of buffering for traffic spikes, you will still need to be able to spool out the buffers at some point, or risk falling permanently behind your production systems in terms of live data. Hardware-based synchronous replication systems make sure that each data transaction is performed on the DR machine before it is applied to the production machine, so while there can be no traffic spikes in these types of systems, you will need to allocate a sufficiently large pipe to the system to avoid dramatically slowing down the production systems as they wait for each transaction to occur at the DR site and return.

After disaster.........

Secondly, post-disaster, you will also need to deal with networking issues. First and foremost, there is the issue of routing end users to the newly functioning data centers. If only the data systems at the production site are lost or unreachable, then you will need to dynamically move connectivity for those users still at that site to regain access to the newly brought online systems at the DR site. This could be as simple as redirecting connections via a VPN, but it may mean having additional data connections available to take over for failed lines.

In addition to concerns at the primary site, you will need to make arrangements for connectivity from alternate sites as well, in the case of a loss of all functions at your production facility. This generally comes down to allowing for VPN and other remote access from various facilities and locations for key members of your staff--which usually need to be put into place well ahead of the disaster.

While protection of the data and data systems is perhaps the most important aspect of DR planning, you must not forget the networking solutions that go hand-in-hand with these systems. Failure to protect the networks and plan for their proper use can easily result in perfectly functioning DR systems that no one can talk to at all.

When researching availability of sufficient bandwidth to meet your requirements....DS3 through OC192....it's suggested you use the free resources and services of FreedomFire Communications.

A Recipe For Video Conferencing Success?

For those who feel totally clueless about video conferencing, there's help, where else, on the Web. "The Video Conferencing Cookbook" (version 4.1) has a wealth of information for the novice video conferencing acolyte.

Produced by the Video Development Initiative, the 76-page "book" is a virtual primer on video conferencing. Topics covered include video conferencing uses, basic and add-on components, best practices, practical video conferencing steps, network requirements, advanced video conferencing functionality and management, and there's even a section on video conferencing etiquette.

There's also a section detailing the H.323 IP video conferencing specification with linked case studies and model applications. Separate appendices focus on the spec itself, listing five links for more detailed descriptions and explanations of the spec, as well as a sizable list of links to interesting Web sites on video conferencing.

The "Video Conferencing Cookbook" is quite an informative primer. Just remember when you read this that it makes more sense to have a broadband connection than an ISDN connection. It's cheaper. It's easier to deploy, and it's a logical extension of the large enterprise model. That means corporate IT guys will be looking for guaranteed bandwidth. Where to find that? Right here: Guaranteed Dedicated Bandwidth

Smart Business: How To Manage Bandwidth Requirements For Multi-Media Applications

In an enterprise environment, voice and video over IP (VoIP) significantly reduces long distance telephone charges by transferring all long-distance voice data over the Internet connection. It also provides a means for rich multimedia applications converging video, voice and data in a single session. Since VoIP shares the Internet connection with other forms of traffic, it must compete with other applications for network bandwidth. In order to make VoIP a viable business application for this scenario, the quality of VoIP should be equal to the traditional PSTN/ISDN voice and video services.

A typical corporate network environment carries a broad mix of data traffic with different bandwidth needs. Bursty data applications, such as email and the web, have variable and unpredictable bandwidth requirements while streaming real-time applications such as voice and video demand consistent bandwidth allocation and minimal delays. While a 250 millisecond delay in an email or a Web page will probably not be noticed, a similar delay in a VoIP phone conversation or video conference would make conversation uneasy and cause callers to talk over each other.

Streaming applications like VoIP and videoconferencing require performance guarantees to ensure that they do not suffer from bandwidth contention from less critical applications and Internet traffic (e.g., non-critical Web browsing, large FTP file transfers, and P2P uploading/downloading of digital music files). A policy based quality of service (QoS) solution can ensure that your voice and video applications receive the bandwidth they require.

So what's the solution??

First....ensure your network is optimized for sufficent bandwidth....with room for expansion when/if necessary. For businesses with frequent multimedia applications such as videoconferencing....a minimum of DS3 Bandwidth is necessary. Perhaps OC3 for large companies with extensive multimedia load pressures on their network.

Second....allocate your network resources based on business priorities. A commercially available monitoring device will help you monitor and manage network and application performance. This allows you to prioritize traffic traveling over your WAN/Internet connection and guarantee bandwidth for timing-critical, real-time applications like VoIP and videoconferencing. Through such a device specific voice, video and multimedia traffic flows can be identified and the following actions can be assigned: minimum and maximum bandwidth; priorities; guaranteed rate (CBR); fairness; and control over the number of sessions allowed through the network.

Take control of your Internet and WAN resources to optimize the performance of your business-critical applications, VoIP and video traffic. Ensure sufficient bandwidth in your network for near term and expansion needs....and implement a monitoring system to manage the daily operations and priorities.

That's simply smart business.

What is a T-3 Line / DS3 Technology?

T-3 is high-speed line, powered by DS3 Technology, capable of delivering 44.7 Mbps (44,700K) in both directions. For many years, the fastest, and unfortunately, the most expensive way to connect to the outside world was through a ds1 or T1 connection. DS stands for Digital Signal or Digital Service. Now more commonly used and not near as expensive as it used to be, DS3 or Data Service Level 3 is the connection of choice for many large companies and places that require a lot of bandwidth. DS3 technology is used for T3 lines and allows connections to the Internet to reach speeds of up to 44.736 megabits per second

A large company needs something more than a T1 line and could probably use a T-3 line powered by DS3 technology. The following table shows some of the common line designations:

DS0 - 64 kilobits per second
ISDN - Two DS0 lines plus signaling (16 kilobits per second), or 128 kilobits per second
T1 - 1.544 megabits per second (24 DS0 lines)
T3 - 43.232 megabits per second (28 T1s)
OC3 - 155 megabits per second (84 T1s)
OC12 - 622 megabits per second (4 OC3s)
OC48 - 2.5 gigabits per seconds (4 OC12s)
OC192 - 9.6 gigabits per second (4 OC48s)
T-3 lines are used mainly by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and large companies connecting to the Internet backbone and for the backbone itself.

A T3 connection is a point-to-point dedicated line that provides 672 64-Kbps voice or data channels or in other words 28 T1 lines. A T3 is used to transmit digital signals at 44.736 megabits per second and has enough bandwidth to transmit full-motion real-time video, and very large databases over a busy network. A T3 line would be installed as a major networking channel for a large corporation or university with high volume network traffic.

When you need more capacity, you often have to buy it in the next available increment, which may end up costing more than you want or can afford to spend. Worse yet, with current, "bursty" application requirements, the need for additional bandwidth can often be as temporary as it is critical. By providing flexible capacity, or "bandwidth on demand," service providers can help customers deal with variations in traffic, and with avoiding a high fixed monthly payment. True bandwidth-on-demand services should allow for a wide range in capacity.

Although anybody can purchase a burstable T3, this type of connection can be costly, even as costly as a full 45Mbps connections. Burstable lines can be found at their lowest cost at a colocation facility. At a colocation facility, or "colo", many users share a large OC3 or OC12 pipe. As a customer you will not have to pay for a the fixed cost of such a large pipe, but will have the benefit of being able to burst up to very high speeds if necessary. If you need the reliability of a large pipe fur busty traffic but don't have the capital consider a colo. If you have a steady volume and are consistent, you may consider keeping services in house and going with a T3 connection. Whether you're considering a colocation facility or a T3 to the door, make sure you use a reputable broker to help guide you through the providers and plans available. We recommend using DS3-Bandwidth.com

Saturday, December 17, 2005

....How To Start A WISP....

Are you interested in starting a Wireless Internet Service Provider organization (WISP)? Or are you an existing WISP with some questions on operation or maintenance?

Got a neat little resource for you. Just head over to Start-A-WISP and you'll find everything you need.

VOIP A Wake-Up Call For Global Phone Competition

(InfoWorld Daily) Low price is still the main driver for international VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol), according to research firm TeleGeography.

Broadband-based VOIP services to homes and businesses can include added features such as click-to-dial and a choice of area codes. Call quality on VOIP has also improved significantly, according to TeleGeography. However, the Washington, D.C., research company said new features and quality aren't the main motivations for international VOIP. Most international VOIP calls are made to countries in the developing world, using conventional phones, in order to bypass regulated termination charges for circuit-switched calls. VOIP is only used to transport calls from one traditional network to another, said Patrick Christian, an analyst at TeleGeography, a unit of PriMetrica Inc.

International VOIP traffic grew by 35 percent to 30.8 billion minutes in 2004, the latest year for which TeleGeography has issued a VOIP report. Though the growth rate has dipped from more than 100 percent per year in the early days of the technology, usage seems to be increasing: If trends continue from the first six months of 2005, the full year should see international VOIP use increase 38 percent, Christian said. The research company bases its statistics on figures from VOIP wholesalers. The figures don't include PC-to-PC traffic such as on Skype Technologies SA's peer-to-peer service, or calls over private networks.

The top three countries for VOIP growth in 2004 were Brazil, Nigeria and Bangladesh, according to a recent TeleGeography report, and those countries remained near the top in the first half of 2005, Christian said. Measured in calling minutes coming into each country, VOIP traffic is growing fastest in places where the telecommunications market has recently been deregulated, Christian said. Making calls over the Internet bypasses international termination charges, so the entry of competitive carriers that will handle incoming VOIP calls provides an alternative that can save callers more than 50 percent over traditional circuit-switched minutes. Following deregulation, prices tend to balance out from the pressure of VOIP competition, he said.

In Brazil, where the industry was deregulated beginning in 2002, inbound international VOIP minutes grew 112 percent in 2004, according to TeleGeography's recently released yearbook. Nigeria saw growth of 103 percent that year, and inbound minutes to Bangladesh grew 97 percent that year.

Much of Africa and the Middle East, where many countries still have state-owned telecommunications monopolies, are still ripe for VOIP growth, Christian said.

VOIP is growing faster than circuit-switched traffic, and in 2005 it will probably account for about 16 percent of all international voice minutes, Christian said. That's up from about 14 percent the previous year and 11 percent in 2003, he said.

In some countries it is even becoming the dominant mode of transport for international calls. About half of inbound international calling minutes to Mexico are VOIP -- more than 5 billion minutes in 2004, the company said. VOIP also makes up about half of inbound calls to Brazil, and in Bangladesh, its share is more than 60 percent, according to Christian.

Latin America was the top destination region for VOIP traffic, with more than one-third of all the world's international VOIP minutes in 2004, the company reported. Asia, especially South Asia, came in second place and the former Soviet bloc countries were third. Most Eastern European countries deregulated their telecommunications markets between 1999 and 2001, Christian said.

VoIP Telephony: Benefits for Businesses

Voice-over-Internet Protocol, or VoIP service, has been talked about for a number of years but is now being adopted by mainstream businesses in order to save money as well as deploy powerful new capabilities for end-users. Recent product launches by Baby Bells and long-distance carriers, as well as an onslaught of “network convergent” companies offering both voice and data services, are successfully penetrating a range of industry sectors. By now, it is likely you have heard the terms “VoIP” and “convergence” – possibly in the same sentence – in some high tech article or in a speech. But, why should this matter to your company? This paper will explore the benefits of VoIP technology to businesses as end-users, as well as steps for acquiring service.

Benefits of VoIP Telephony....

By combining voice calls over the same infrastructure that delivers Internet connectivity, businesses can save money. Most businesses have high-speed Internet connections, and most businesses also have separate phone lines.

Consolidating all this over one access pipe permits substantial cost savings for small and medium-size businesses – 20% or more per month. In addition, eliminating onsite phone equipment (key system or PBX) and consolidating wiring, also saves money.

Beyond cost savings, VoIP technology makes the most eye-catching features viable for both small and large businesses – transforming telecommunications in much the way Windows now supersedes DOS on your PC. For example, imagine arriving at the office and turning on your computer in order to read your emails – and listen to your telephone voice messages! With VoIP telephony features, you simply click on voice messages that have been delivered to your computer. You will listen to them (in the form of wave files), forward, delete and respond to them, all with simple mouse-clicks. Furthermore, you’ll toss out your old phone system “cheat sheet” – the one with all the asterisk-number combinations for saving, forwarding, replaying or deleting voice messages, and for invoking call transfer, 3-way calling, and so on – and you’ll just use point-and-click commands from an intuitive web interface on your computer.

You will also enable your business phone system to screen calls according to your personal priorities. And, calls will follow you whereever you choose – to your cell phone, to your home phone, to your home-office phone – again controlled by you through easy point-and-click commands. How about having your prospects and customers in Atlanta call a local Atlanta phone number that rings at your call center in Charlotte? These are just a few examples of what you can achieve with VoIP.

Steps for Establishing VoIP....

To achieve convergence, companies can purchase an on-premise Internet protocol enabled phone system (IP PBX). Or they can lease a hosted Internet protocol Centrex service (similar to traditional Centrex, but IP-enabled) through which telecom equipment is housed by the supplier and features are delivered remotely. Hosted telecom services are gaining in popularity – especially with small to medium businesses. The hosted solution requires less capital and expense commitment, can be implemented quickly, requires less in-house technical expertise and is very scalable with your business since you pay a ‘per seat’ fee. IP PBX solutions are popular with larger enterprises that can afford the capital and expense commitment and have in-house technical expertise.

In the past, businesses would seek phone services from local phone companies or more recently, from long distance companies. They would buy equipment from value-added resellers or PBX vendors, and they would purchase Internet services from Internet Service Providers (ISPs). With converged technology, businesses have options for choosing the best provider for voice telephony services. All the major Bell companies and all the major long distance companies have either announced VoIP services or have announced plans for VoIP services. Many smaller service providers are able to better serve businesses with customized solutions and a more personal touch. Internet Service Providers are a logical choice for expanding an existing business relationship, and new-breed providers are a welcome alternative to the larger players.

To determine whether an IP solution is right for your business, contemplate the following questions:

o Is your current phone system more than five years old? Most PBXs are fully depreciated after 5 years, creating a no-loss situation, and faster ROI to switch to VoIP telephony.

o Do you have separate bills for high-speed internet access, local phone lines, and long distance services? The consolidation of these services provides dramatic cost reductions, often in excess of 20% savings. NOTE: VoIP telephony is best suited for business that already have or need high-speed Internet access.

o Do you spend considerable money on changes to the configuration of your PBX? This is important for companies who have either increased or decreased in size, as each move, add or change (MAC) can cost companies money.

o Do you have telecommuters or a remote work-force? The futuristic productivity-enhancing features of VoIP technology can dramatically impact your remote work-forces’ behavior. Features such as ‘Find me’ or ‘Follow me’ will ring multiple locations until a person is found. Likewise, a telecommuter can plug in at home and receive calls as if in the office.

o Do you like to have the latest tools and functionality for office efficiency? Forward emails as wave files to anyone inside – or outside – your company, click to dial from your computer, and review call logs online. VoIP telephony provides all the features of existing PBXs plus numerous futuristic features that can increase efficiency and productivity.

These are just a few of the questions that will help you calculate hard savings as well as productivity benefits for your business by switching to VoIP telephony.

Items to Consider....

Many people still think there are quality concerns with VoIP technology. In reality, however, the technology has evolved dramatically in the last few years. Early VoIP applications were focused on large volumes of international long-distance minutes. Since these international routes delivered immense savings, they became very popular. With increased volumes, the international telecom marketplace gained first-hand experience engineering and designing VoIP networks to maximize call quality. Vendors also were able to test systems and evolve a more mature technology. Currently, standards bodies such as the International Telecommunications Union and the Internet Engineering Task Force are working together to define common equipment standards that will ensure interoperability. To ensure your company doesn’t experience quality concerns, confront service providers with questions about trouble-handling procedures and quality assurance procedures.

Issues have recently ironed out in the new VoIP world, including those related to “E911”. The FCC mandates that carriers have the ability to have your phone number mapped to your business or home address. Several solutions are currently being deployed. Most telephony service providers are providing a software-based solution to input the customers address and update as needed. Ensure you understand the process and procedures for smooth E911 handling.

Summary....

VoIP telephony is rapidly becoming a mainstream service, already in use by cost-savvy businesses in all sectors. Cost reduction is the driving force for this rapid adoption, with productivity-enhancing features as beneficial side-effects. Most businesses will find substantial savings by making the switch. The question of whether to switch to VoIP telephony solutions for most businesses is not if, but when.

John Knight Jr
VoiceConX

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Valuable Bandwidth Tools...Perfect Utilities To Help Manage Your Network

Here's a short list of a few bandwidth utilities/tools you really should put into your business tool box to help manage your network:

* Bandwidth Conversion Calculator - calculate, convert and compare bandwidth/bit rate/throughput for a wide variety of devices. Use it to calculate bottlenecks and convert between units. Convert throughput, network speed and data transfer rate.

* Bandwidth Chart - overview of standard data transfer rates (network, modem, hard disks). This is a list of standard or common bandwidths. Clicking on one will bring you to the Bandwidth calculator, which will translate the speed into Mbps, MB/s, GB/month, ...

* Filesize - calculate filesize from bandwidth and duration.

* Data Density - Volumetric storage density calculator. Calculate and convert data density units (GB/liter).

* Bandwidth Rate Quotes - Free service helps find the right bandwidth for your IT project, new network install, or network expansion. Covers T1, DS3, OC3, OC12, OC48, and OC192 networks.

Monday, December 12, 2005

BellSouth and Packet8 Partner On New Residential Service

Now this is smart.....VERY smart.

Bellsouth just announced it is jumping into the fray with other large local carriers to offer home VoIP services to their customers.....via a strategic alliance with Packet8, a provider of voice and video broadband phone services. For $20 a month, BellSouth subscribers can order the new service, which features voice mail, caller ID, unlimited free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, and cheaper overseas calls.

Seems BellSouth chose Packet8 after testing other VoIP providers....speaks pretty well of Packet8 I'd say. After this news broke Packet8's stock value shot up...and is still rising. This whole arrangement doesn't bode well for their competitors like Vonnage.

This is no small blip on the VoIP screen. An alliance like this between one of the Baby Bell's and Packet8 is likely causing convulsions in Vonnage headquarters. The writing is on the wall so to speak.

BellSouth has already rolled out the Packet8 service in Florida, and in coming weeks the company will begin to release it to the other areas it serves. To set up 8x8's service, a BellSouth subscriber must order the equipment needed that enables the service to work on whatever high-speed connection the user has. Under the agreement, BellSouth will handle marketing while 8x8 will oversee customer service, fulfillment and billing.

If you're a SBC customer...or reside in their territory...you can see what you could be getting (and order if you like) by visiting this link: Packet8

How To Find Bandwidth For Your Datacenter

One of the most important efforts in setting up or managing a datacenter is finding the bandwidth you need to run all your functions on. Whether it's setting up a new facility or exapansion of an existing datacenter...having sufficient bandwidth at a reasonable cost is crucial.

I just might have the solution to your dilemma.

The folks at DataCenter.com have a thread running in their discussion forum with a very cost effective and simple process for finding the bandwidth you need. Whatever it is.....DS3, OC3, OC12, OC48, or even OC192.....you're bound to get just what you need at a cost that'll make you smile.

Here's the link to check it out: Bandwidth For Your Datacenter

Internet Telephony Secrets

I just ran across this resource called Internet Telephony Secrets....and it's kind of peeked my interest. I'm curious in what anyone out there who has read and used the guide has to say about it.

If you'll overlook the marketing language on the website...there does seem to be something very intriguing there.

According to the author Gobala Krishnan, CEO of Liberty Straits Inc...." I saw the marketing power that VoIP and Internet telephony can bring to the small business or home based business owner. I knew that THIS is the missing link that when properly used, can turn any small business with a tiny marketing budget into a global marketing powerhouse."

Gobala then proceeds to lay out a step by step plan for businesses to follow ....applying Skype and other internet telephony applications....to achieve that statement.

Interesting.

I understand there's a follow-up book about to be released also with more on business VoIP applications. Yours truly is a contributing author by the way...at the invitation of Mr. Krishnan.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Frame Relay Multisite Survey

Frame Relay was developed to solve communication problems that other protocols could not: the increased need for higher speeds, an increased need for large bandwidth efficiency, particularly for clumping ("burst" traffic), an increase in intelligent network devices that lower protocol processing, and the need to connect LANs and WANs. Like X.25, Frame Relay is a packet-switched protocol. But the Frame-Relay process is streamlined. There are significant differences that make Frame Relay a faster, more efficient form of networking. A Frame-Relay network doesn't perform error detection, which results in a considerably smaller amount of overhead and faster processing than X.25. Frame Relay is also protocol independent-it accepts data from many different protocols. This data is encapsulated by the Frame-Relay equipment, not the network.

Today's LANs and computing equipment have the potential to run at much higher speeds and transfer very large quantities of data. With the diversity and complexity of today's networks, management can be a mammoth task if you don't have the proper tools. Each environment is a unique combination of equipment from different vendors. Frame Relay uses a packet-switching technology, similar to X.25, but is more efficient. As a result, it can make your networking quicker, simpler, and less costly.

Frame Relay sends information in packets called frames through a shared Frame-Relay network. Each frame contains all the information necessary to route it to the correct destination. So in effect, each endpoint can communicate with many destinations over one access link to the network. And instead of being allocated a fixed amount of bandwidth, Frame-Relay services offer a CIR (committed information rate) at which data is transmitted. But if traffic and your service agreement allow, data can burst above your committed rate. Since Frame Relay has a low overhead, it's a perfect fit for today's complex networks. You get several clear benefits: First, multiple logical connections can be sent over a single physical connection, reducing your internetworking costs. By reducing the amount of processing required, you get improved performance and response time. And because Frame Relay uses a simple link layer protocol, your equipment usually requires only software changes or simple hardware modifications, so you don't.

DSL or T1? Which is Best for You?

When is it time for a business to upgrade to a T1 line? There are several factors to consider when examining you current DSL connection and the possibility of replacing it. For many small businesses the biggest factor is reliability and the financial loss incurred in the event of lost connectivity. Many companies rely heavily on their high-speed internet to conduct their business with e-mail, video conference, and now for voice-over-internet telephony applications. An outage could take down all aspects of your business if you find yourself in the same situation.

In a practical sense, a T1 will deliver a bi-directional speed of 1.5 Mbps. A DSL line can deliver up to 3Mbps, but the speed is solely determined by your distance from the DSLAM (the telephone company's physical equipment box in your neighborhood). The maximum range of DSL is 18,000 feet, which is where the signal loss in the copper line is too great to transmit data reliably.

Another difference between a T1 and a DSL line is customer service. A T1 usually comes with a 99.999% update guarantee, which is accomplished by a 24/7 technical support department that monitors the entire network constantly. As soon as there is an outage the techs spring into action to begin diagnosing and rectifying the outage. With DSL service, you are very much on your own - leaving you with the responsibility to call customer service, wait your turn in the hold queue, and hopefully be connected with someone who can help you.

The last difference between a T1 and DSL line is price. DSL service usually runs between $19 and $79 per month, depending on the plan (residential vs. commercial, 512K vs. 3M, etc.) Just 5 years ago, the average price of a T1 line was $1000/month. Now T1 pricing is in the high $400's to low $700's per month, making it a much more attractive option to small businesses and even gamers. All things considered, a $500 T1 line can be considered as a 'productivity insurance' policy, ensuring your employees, your phone calls, and your email always keep working like they should.

Business VoIP Solution

For those needing information, resources, support, or rate quotes for a Business VoIP Solution you can easily go mad trying to find what you want. To make it a little easier I did a search on the major search engines and you can simply click on your choice: Google, Yahoo, or MSN.

DS3 Bandwidth

For those needing information, resources, support, or rate quotes for DS3 Bandwidth you can easily go mad trying to find what you want. To make it a little easier I did a search on the major search engines and you can simply click on your choice: Google, Yahoo, or MSN.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Secrets of Fractional T1

If a full T1 isn't in your budget, you need to consider a fractional t1 line. Why not get all the advantages of T1 even if you are not in a market for a full T1? For many people the biggest factor in their decision is reliability....and if reliability is critical to the applications you run over your connection you should seriously consider replacing your DSL connection with a fractional T1. DSL is a quick and cost effective method of acquiring high speed bandwidth however it is not intended to support commercial applications or large numbers of users as are T1 connections.

One drawback to fractional T1 service is the price. Even though you won't have a full T1 you will be paying quite a bit more than you did for your DSL connection. This is due to the structure of T1 pricing. A T1 connection is established by providing a "loop" or wire from the user’s premises to the CO where the service provider has equipment. Part of the cost of a T1 is the "loop charge" or the monthly rental fee for the wire that is rented from the local phone company. Once the connection reaches the CO it can access the carriers network and reach any destination. This loop is paid in full whether you use a fraction of the available bandwidth or the full 1.5Mbps and therefore your price for a 768Kbps fractional T1 connection will never be half the price of a 1.5mbps full T1 connection.

Although the price reduction is not what you might expect it to be, this may put a T1 in your budget and be a great way to get dedicated service into your building. Once you have fractional service upgrading to full service is easy. Fractional service typically comes in 256Kbps increments from 256Kbps all the way to a full T1 at 1.5Mbps. Find the service that's right for you, but if you are supporting critical services think reliability. Reliability becomes critical when customers or employees depend on your connection for immediate responses. If your customers use your connection to access your databases or your server or the internet then reliability of your connection is critical. If your employees depend on your connections because you host the e-mail server in house or host web servers or ASP type products, your connections is considered critical. A critical connection can be viewed much like a lifeline, without which your business would be negatively impacted.

DS3 Connection FAQ

A DS3 connection is a point-to-point dedicated line that provides 672 64-Kbps voice or data channels or in other words 28 T1 lines. A DS3 is used to transmit digital signals at 44.736 megabits per second and has enough bandwidth to transmit full-motion real-time video and very large databases over a busy network. A DS3 line would be installed as a major networking channel for a large corporation or university with high volume network traffic.

When you need more capacity, you often have to buy it in the next available increment, which may end up costing more than you want or can afford to spend. Worse yet, with current, "burst" application requirements, the need for additional bandwidth can often be as temporary as it is critical. By providing flexible capacity, or "bandwidth on demand," service providers can help customers deal with variations in traffic, and with avoiding a high fixed monthly payment. True bandwidth-on-demand services should allow for a wide range in capacity.

Although anybody can purchase a burstable DS3, this type of connection can be costly, even as costly as a full 45Mbps connection. Burstable lines can be found at their lowest cost at a collocation facility. At a collocation facility, or "colo", many users share a large OC3 or OC12 pipe. As a customer you will not have to pay for the fixed cost of such a large pipe, but will have the benefit of being able to burst up to very high speeds if necessary. If you need the reliability of a large pipe for busty traffic but don't have the capital consider a colo. If you have a steady volume and are consistent, you may consider keeping services in house and going with a DS3 connection. Whether you're considering a collocation facility or a DS3 to the door, make sure you use a broker to help guide you through the providers and plans available. We recommend the folks at DS3-Bandwidth.com for this.

How To Debug and Troubleshoot VOIP

It's bound to happen sometime. In the world of broadband communications NOTHING works perfectly 100% of the time...and VoIP is no exception. When the need arises for your business don't stress. Tools and techniques for finding and fixing VOIP problems are right at your finger tips. Courtesy of the VoIP Wiki.

How Much Bandwidth Does VOIP Use?

One of the integral questions when deciding on a VoIP system...especially for a business...is how much bandwidth does it use. Pretty important in your decision making process particularly for selecting just the right enterprise VoIP solution to meet your needs.

To determine VOIP bandwidth consumption VoIP-Info.org offers a nice liitle tutorial to guide you through the process.

....How To Easily Find & Compare The Best Cell Phone Plans In Your Area....

OK...let's get this straight. You have to talk to people everday. It's like breathing, death, and taxes...it's going to happen. That means in person and/or over the phone. Whether your need is for business, pleasure, emergency situations, or whatever...communication is integral to your lifestyle. In a mobile society and with mobility also so important to business...that definitely includes a cell phone.

But which cell phone? There's so many to pick from.

Here's where you need to do your homework. Find a cell phone just right for you....features, coverage, cost, and so on.

Got ya covered Erma!

This neat little tool will help you find *specials* in wireless systems through providers like Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Nextel, and Cingular. You can even find a Blackberry or cell phone accessories too. You can enjoy calling plans that fit your individual needs and find just the right price for your budget. Pretty darn handy I'd say:

CELL PHONES

Friday, December 02, 2005

VoIP Drawbacks

Although VoIP is a fantastic communication solution in many ways...there are some drawbacks that still need to be worked on.

Location and 911

It is an issue regarding pinpointing the geographic location of an IP address. In VoIP the call information is provided via an IP address. This is necessary in the case of emergency calls. Although some VoIP providers now do have call routing based from a specified address. And additionally, some have implemented a system known as E911, a more advanced version of the US emergency 911 system, which provides additional location data over VoIP to emergency responders, including street address and the floor inside a building.

Limitation

One challenge to maintaining call quality is bandwidth: high quality sound requires quite a bit of it. The technology to compress audio and to reconstruct it has been improved to the point where VoIP sound quality over a high-bandwidth connection is as good as or better than that of regular phones. But some networks that are fine for data are not up to the demands of VoIP.

Another limitation of the voice over internet protocol is the inability to use these lines for fax capabilities and a difficulty downloading electronic program that guides to personal video recorder products (such as TiVO). Since VoIP runs through a computer, it does not function independently, meaning that VoIP will not function during a power outage, whereas regular analog telephones do that. Many have made the argument that until VoIP is capable of offering 'all' services that PSTN can offer, that they will not be making the switch.

VoIP security issue

The legal and security issue is another drawback of the voice over internet protocol. Being the mater of information technology and cyber world what are the law exit are not sufficient to meet the legal and security issues.

VoIP Process

Unlike regular phone systems that get set up and basically forgotten, VoIP systems require more attention.

Like any software application, your VoIP server will require occasional upgrades and maintenance.

Network Dependency

Since regular phones get all the power they need through the phone line, they continue to work if there is a power outage. In contrast, most VoIP phones need to be plugged into a power source to work. By definition, VoIP phones are also network-dependent.

To businesses where phone service is absolutely critical, this can be a concern since computer networks can occasionally be brought down by a server crash or other problem. However a good IT staff can prevent most outages and react quickly when one occurs.

How To Set Up A Business VoIP System

To set up a business VoIP system, you need several components. A central device to manage the calls, the way a private branch exchange (PBX) or key system unit (KSU) does in traditional phone systems is one of them.

This can be a dedicated piece of hardware such as an IP PBX, a regular PBX that has been IP-enabled, or a server running specialized software. You will also need phones and a data network. In many cases, you may be able to use your existing digital phones and computer network, although you may need to upgrade some of your network hardware.

VoIP Benefit

The most prominent benefit of an IP PBX is for businesses with multiple locations. With the advantage of VoIP, all the offices on a LAN or WAN can get the profits of having a common office phone system. The profits are - extension dialing, seamless call transfers, and other features.

In addition to making it easier to communicate, this sharing of features can enhance collaboration as employees at different locations can truly feel like they are part of the same organization. Plus, if they are on the company network, the phone calls are free - even if your offices are located thousands of miles apart. It is an advantage in saving money expended on calling between two branches of the same office.

VoIP Conversations

Computer networks are designed to handle messy data: packets arrive out of order and some are even lost, but in most cases the data being sent can easily be reconstructed when it is needed. Voice conversations, though, are not as tolerant of these kinds of disturbances. Each packet of sound has to arrive in the correct order because they are being sent in real time - if packets are lost; the conversation sounds distorted, choppy, or falls off all together. This is why VoIP services that rely on the Internet to transmit calls can have uneven phone quality.

The selection of an enterprise VoIP solution is a major decision. Voice service is critical to the operation of the business, so no one wants to implement a technology that will compromise call quality or reliability in any way. On the other hand, the cost savings and value-added functionality available with VoIP makes it a compelling investment.

LANs & WANs

The VoIP phone system is beneficial for companies having multiple locations branches, telecommuters and remote sales offices. And the locations are connected with a company's Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN). In that case the companies are suitable for using a VoIP system.

You can share the full features of your phone system across all your locations. In addition, even if you have one office in one place and one in different place, VoIP allows calls between them via extension dialing, making it a zero cost call. For businesses with hefty monthly long distance charges due to calls between far off locations, is an attractive reason to upgrade.

VoIP Process

A VoIP phoning process requires a regular phone, an adapter, broadband Internet service, and a subscription to a VoIP service. When you place a call, it is sent over the Internet as data until it nears the recipient's destination.

Then the call is translated back into a more traditional format and completes the trip over standard phone lines. Also known as Internet telephony, this allows for extremely cheap long-distance and international calls.

VoIP Drawbacks

The main drawback of VoIP systems is the network requirements.

In VoIP telephony the greatest challenge is the bandwidth. It requires high bandwidth for clear messaging.

How Does VoIP Work?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. By using a VoIP phone and VoIP technology you can effectively use the internet to make phone calls. VoIP does this by placing the voice calls on network which encrypts the voice in data packets at one end and encrypts it in voice calls at the other end. In VoIP, encryption and decryption is from a analog signal (i.e. your voice call) into digital signal (data packets) and again into the analog signal.

You can make VOIP calls by a regular phone with VOIP adapter or even from your computer using a simple microphone. VoIP applications can generally be used with a simple microphone and computer speakers, but IP telephones or VoIP boxes can also be used, providing an experience identical to normal telephoning. Many VOIP manufacturers are designing phones which are specially meant to work with this technology, called SIP phone, and now extensively used by growing VoIP users.

In the past year, the quality and reliability of VoIP technology has improved to the point that vast numbers of users have abandoned their standard telephone contracts entirely, in favor of VoIP. Local as well as long distance calling is available for VoIP. Rates and plans can vary from one VoIP service provider to another VoIP service provider.

Advantages of using VOIP

Using VOIP you can effectively cut down your phone bills, since you just pay to your regular internet connection and small fees to your VOIP service provider. Setting up conference calls with VOIP is very easy.

You can even set up your own VoIP network and don't need any special equipment like PBX etc. You can call to any local telephone, mobile, long distance number or any international number through VoIP phones. More importantly, the person you are calling by using VoIP technology does not need any special equipment; just a regular telephone.

Many additional features like call forwarding, call tracing, reminders, caller ID are readily available in VoIP Phones. You can even assign a local telephone number to your VOIP phone set, and just need a fast internet connection to use your VOIP service anywhere in the world.

VoIP Dilemna

VoIP applications and services require data transfer in real time. During a call an interactive data voice exchange takes place. Unfortunately, TCP/IP is not best suited for this purpose. Sometimes you have to wait for few seconds, to hear other side answering. But with recent development we are streaming the flow of voice signals in a improved manner but still the quality is not that sharp with respect to PSTN lines.

SIP Phones

SIP Phones are the phones which are specifically designed to work as VOIP phones. SIP phone can be considered as a network endpoint routing voice via its IP address. This allows a DID (direct inward dialing) number to move with a user. With SIP phones you can use advanced features like voice mail to email etc.

FCC and VoIP

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates VOIP Services in the USA. They are in charge to create and promote regulations for VOIP services to benefit the consumers. In November, 2004 FCC ruled that individual States do not have the jurisdiction to impose taxes on VoIP services, which made VOIP services even more cheaper.