Saturday, January 28, 2006

How To Determine Bandwidth For Remote Sensing Data Exchange

In essence, remote sensing data exchange is like accessing a digital library.

To be effective, a digital library should be an active digital library, meaning that users can process available data not just to retrieve a particular piece of information, but to infer new knowledge about the data at hand. A Remote Sensing Data Exchange system must emphasize not only retrieval of data to the client's "workstation", but also customized processing of the data.

Such processing tasks may include data mining, filtering and knowledge discovery in huge databases, compute-intensive image processing (such as principal component analysis, supervised classification, or pattern matching) and on demand computing sessions.

All of this means that the network design.....and meeting bandwidth requirements for that design....are critical to performance.

With that in mind...don't dump the whole mess on to your IT department and hope for the best. A smarter approach is to access the services of an independent Telecommunications Consultant to assist in the heavy research for bandwidth requirements and sourcing. This will multiply your assets brought to bear on the issues...without increasing your own time, effort, and cost. For this purpose I highly recommend the free consulting support availabe from DS3-Bandwidth.com.

Getting The Right Bandwidth For Your Videoconferencing Applications

Video conferencing actually encompasses a range of technologies used in a wide range of situations, often it is not just video and audio that is transmitted, but also data, allowing collaborative working though shared applications.

Video conferencing may be......

* One-to-one meetings, also known as point to point communications, usually involving full two-way audio and video.

* One-to-many involving full audio and video broadcast from the main site, where other sites may be able to send audio. For example in a lecture situation, students could ask questions.

* Many-to-many, known as multi-point communication, provides audio and video between more than two sites. With most multi-point systems only one site in a conference can be seen at time, with switching between sites either controlled manually or voice activated (i.e., the loudest site is on screen).

Physically, the most common scenarios of video conferencing are:

* desktop video conferencing - usually a small camera is located on top of the PC or workstation monitor. The actual video is usually displayed in a small window, and shared applications, such as a shared whiteboard are often used.

* studio-based systems - a studio is specially equipped for video conferencing. This will normally include one or more cameras, microphones, one or more large monitors, and possibly other equipment such as an overhead camera for document viewing. Usually used for more formal meetings

In practice a 'studio' may not be a dedicated room, but a standard seminar room with portable equipment that can be set up when required.

Bandwidth and Compression......

The bandwidth, or baud rate, is the amount of information which can be transmitted every second. The higher the bandwidth, the better quality the signal that can be transmitted. For a video conference audio and video signals must be transmitted in real time, i.e., a lot of information has to be sent every second, requiring a very high bandwidth. For example a 'true colour' image will need 24 bits (3 bytes) per pixel. A full screen image might be 640x480 pixels, over 7 million bits. For full motion video, the image is refreshed 25 times per second. This adds to over 184 million bits per second. It is not realistically possible to transmit this amount of information, and your PC certainly could not receive it at this rate. Therefore for digital video some form of compression is required. The type and degree of compression used varies from system to system. It is interesting to note that for most uses, we are more tolerant of poor video than poor audio, and so some systems concentrate on providing consistently good audio.

How To Get The Right Bandwidth To Meet Your Needs.......

Don't take a chance at guessing what bandwidth you'll need.....or in selecting the provider for that bandwidth. You may need a fractional, full, integrated, or bonded T1, DS3, or OC3 network depending on many factors. I strongly recommend you use the services of an independant Telecommunications Consultant to help you assess your needs and find the provider who best meets your requirements. For unbiased free advice....as well as real time rate quotes from multiple providers, indepth research, and negotiations with providers on your behalf....I recommend you use DS3-Bandwidth.com.

How To Easily Get Phone And Internet Service For Your Commercial Real Estate Projects

One of your most time consuming and costly needs for a commercial real estate venture...particularly involving a business or corporate development....is finding and implementing a phone and internet connectivity system for your client or tenant location(s).

The capability of this system and process goes well beyond simple T1 & DS3 applications. You can have a dedicated technical staff search and negotiate "best rate" for all of your dedicated voice/data requirements....saving you time, effort, and money. They'll do it all FOR you.

Whatever that application need is...voice/video communications (business office phones, call center, video security, video conferencing, etc.) and internet (work stations, conference rooms, multi-media, wireless connectivity, data network management, data security, disaster recovery, supply chain management, etc.).

Covers fractional and full T1, DS3, OC3 thru OC192.... voice, data, and integrated. Also includes frame relay, point-to-point, VPN, private line, co-located servers, business VoIP, and more.

Leverage their time and effort to maximize yours....at NO cost to you.

Simply enter your detailed requirements in our online portal for real time rate quotes in seconds:

Business Phone And Internet Solutions

[note: ensure information entered is accurate and complete.]

Or....call them toll free for personal service and to discuss your needs live:

1-866-436-7868 Ref ID# 1182

This is a value added service you can provide your clients...at no cost to you or them. Definitely a selling point to set your agency apart from other commercial real estate agents.

Given the highly competitive environment of commercial real estate..and the potential high return to the agent for a successful project...anything that raises your worth in the eye of your client(s) is a business enhancer. All the more if it doesn't cost you a penny.

They'll provide this free consulting service to your clients for you...and you get the credit.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Packet8 Broadband Phone Special....Free Your 1st Month And 50% Off The Next 3

Packet8 is having a promotion which will extend through the entire first quarter of 2006; i.e., January through March. This promo is the initial discount of $19.95 on each new order PLUS the next 3 months at half off.

This means months 2, 3 and 4 are discounted at 50% off of the regular monthly service fee. Instead of being billed $19.99 per month, you'll will be billed $9.99 plus any taxes and international charges.

.....PACKET8

For those who don't know....Packet8 is a broadband (VoIP) phone with a flat rate unlimited calling plan to all of USA and Canada for $19/month (called Freedom Unlimited). There's some international flat rate unlimited plans for Europe and Asia too if you need those.

Since it's a broadband phone you can take it with you when you travel....as long as you can access high speed internet wherever you are...with the same cost for your calls anywhere in the world as if you were still "home". With the current special that means unlimited calling "home" or anywhere in the US and Canada....no matter where you're calling from....free your 1st month and just $9.95/month for the next 3. Pretty cool.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Gigabit Ethernet Applications...Is It A Fit For Your Organization?

In general 10 Gigabit Ethernet links are deployed in parts of an enterprise or service provider network where large numbers of Gigabit Ethernet links are being aggregated. This most commonly occurs in the network core, but as gigabit-to-the desktop deployments continue to grow the need for 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks from the network edge will emerge. Following are some common uses or applications for 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Enterprise

As all enterprise applications converge on the common Ethernet backbone, the network must be able to gracefully support a new array of bandwidth hungry applications such as storage, backups and video. To effectively deal with this onslaught of bandwidth demand, forward-thinking network architects are designing enterprise networks with 10 Gigabit Ethernet to meet current and future needs.

Starting from the edge of the network, as gigabit-to-the-desktop deployments continue to grow, the need for 10 gigabit uplinks from a wiring closet switch to handle the performance demands of power users will emerge. Backbone links to entire floors or buildings may run over optical fibers at gigabit rates, while drops to desktop workstations may need to be no faster than 100 Mbps. Naturally, with this upsurge in bandwidth, demand 10 Gigabit Ethernet will be used as a high-speed interconnection between multiple buildings. These buildings could be in close proximity on a self-contained "campus", or could be many miles apart and be connected by dark fiber provided by a local service provider or municipality. Due to the limited distance of 10 Gigabit Ethernet on multimode fiber (MMF), singlemode
fiber (SMF) must be deployed or leased to support 10 gigabit building interconnects.

In an enterprise data center, 10 Gigabit Ethernet can be used in a variety of applications such as cluster computing, server attachment and storage interconnect.

High Performance Cluster Computing (HPCC)

Server clusters are a group of tens, hundreds or even thousands of relatively inexpensive (e.g. 1U Linux servers) computers (referred to as nodes) connected in parallel to cooperatively solve large, complex problems. Cluster computing has become a mainstream technological tool for research, financial modeling, digital image rendering and scientific applications. The connection between the various computers in the cluster is typically an Ethernet switch.

Gigabit Ethernet Servers and NAS

As servers and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are attached to the edge of the network at 10 gigabit speeds, the network core will have to scale proportionally by link aggregating multiple 10 Gigabit Ehternet links or eventually with 40 Gigabit Ethernet. Network archetecture must take into account meeting current Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet server connectivity needs and scale upwards as the need for greater bandwidth inevitably emerges.


Storage Interconnect (iSCSI)

Fibre Channel has been the protocol of choice for storage area networking, however, with the emergence of the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) iSCSI protocol, Fibre Channel’s dominance is being challenged by IP/Ethernet. Simply put, iSCSI is an IP-based storage networking standard that facilitates data transfers by carrying SCSI (a protocol commonly used for communication between storage devices and computers) commands over IP networks. As iSCSI continues to gain in popularity, 10 Gigabit Ethernet links are the logical choice to carry the enormous volumes of data that traverse large corporate networks.

Given the extreme complex nature of designing an appropriate Gigabit Ethernet network archetecture...it's strongly suggested that you not dump this whole animal on your IT staff. At a minimum make use of free technical consultation for the bandwidth sourcing requirements from DS3-Bandwidth.com.

....A Peak Into Future Business Applications....

This interesting article provides a peak at what the future (near) may bring business applications: "Trio To Combine Cellular & Wireless LAN".

Certainly makes business sense to me.

Hello Cleveland, The World's Most "Intelligent Community".....DANG!

I bet you thought Cleveland was only famous for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Lebron James (very young star pro basketball player for those hermits among you), and the Drew Carey show.

Not......

Cleveland can now add a very modern...and impressive kudo to their city history.

World's "Most Intelligent Community".

No small feat there buckos.

Russell Shaw of ZDNet has the scoop (below). You should be jealous....or at least ticked off enough to pressure your city leadership to get off their duffs and try something similar.

========

As Wayne and Garth said in "Wayne's World," "Hello, Cleveland!!"

No, not my idea of a joke. I'm serious. Credit a diligent community broadband effort for the assertion.

Serious as the Intelligent Community Forum, (ICF) an international think tank that concentrates on economic and job development in the broadband economy.

The ICF has named their top seven "intelligent communities." Not only was Cleveland listed as the "most intelligent," but it was the only U.S. metro on the list.

Credit broadband for the accolade. As the ICF explains:

Among the metropolitan area's assets, however, were strong government and nonprofit institutions, including Case Western Reserve University,Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College and Nortech. These organizations teamed with the city, the regional transit authority and other partners to form a nonprofit called OneCleveland.

Its mission: to deploy a community-based ultrabroadband network in the metropolitan area and to build a new knowledge economy on its foundation. The project was the brainchild of Lev Gonick,CIO at Case Western. The network was switched on in 2003 and today has a dozen institutional subscribers ranging from the city and the regional MetroHealth System to the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra.

Applications running on the network include high-definition videoconferencing connecting Cleveland Clinic doctors to city schools for the delivery of healthcare, best-in-class programs from the Cleveland Museum of Art delivered to branch libraries, and a pilot wireless project with Intel to enable city and county inspectors to file and exchange data on building permits in the field. In 2005, Intel named the greater Cleveland area as one of three Worldwide Digital Communities deploying wireless broadband applications to improve government and other services.

Sounds pretty "intelligent" to me - and broadband is making it happen.

===============

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Vonnage Sucks! Yea...I Said It!

Ok...now that I got that out in the open. LOL No real secret if you've followed any of the posts in this blog on broadband phones. I ... don't... like ... Vonnage.

Why?

Here's just 2 easy reasons...they've built their business on a massive marketing campaign not quality of their service...and they cost more than everybody else but act like they don't. Yea, snappy commercial jingle but "where's the beef"?

Plus...they're being very secretive about their real future. Don't be fooled by that supposed recent huge influx of investor capital and their impending IPO. Their real future (according to Russell Shaw of ZDNet.com) is to sell themselves off to one of the Telecom big players for a big score as soon as they're attractive enough. Now what do you think will happen THEN? Price goes up more...and quality goes down more.

Now, if you REALLY want to be smart about choosing a broadband phone service....do your homework. Here's a couple resources for getting educated on who has what...does what....and costs what...without the Wall Street advertising jingle junk:

1. Comparison Chart For Broadband Phone Services [Covers VoicePulse, Vonage, BroadVox, Packet8, CallVantage (AT&T), VoiceWing (Verizon), and VoiceGlo.]

2. Feedback Forum For VoIP Phone Users [includes consumer reviews, comments, news updated daily]

Keep this simple explanation of Broadband Phone in mind too....sets them apart from the Skype "stuff" (...don't even get me started on THEM):

Broadband phone services are the next generation of phone service. While they use Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology, they are closer to a plug-and-play solution than previous implementations of VoIP. All companies send their customers a device which you plug your touch-tone phone and your broadband Internet connection into -- that's it! You just pick up the phone, there's a dialtone, and you can start making calls. For the majority of subscribers, it literally takes less than five minutes to setup and most users agree that the quality of their new broadband phone is equal or better than their traditional phone.

Now who would I recommend.

Easy....Packet8....hands down.

Your Cell Phone Taxes Pay For The War....And It Could Get Worse

If you own a cell phone, each time you pay your bill, you're paying a three percent tax for the war effort. Sounds like a topic that could get political? It's not...because the war you're paying to support is the Spanish American War, which happened in 1898.

The three percent phone-line tax, originally intended to pay for the Spanish American War back in 1898, is still being collected by most wireless providers as the "federal excise tax". A Telco funded consumer advocacy organization called "MyWireless.org" is directing users to try and get this money back from the government (how about shelving those bogus wireless regulatory recovery fees too while we're playing concerned activist huh?).

"We're required to continue collecting that tax from our customers until the IRS tells us to stop doing that," a spokesman for Verizon Wireless told a local Ohio news station.

At one point the the IRS and Treasury Department were considering expanding the law so it also covered broadband and VoIP connections. Geez....watch out for THAT one!

A recent USA Today news article (“Cellphone rulings could mean billions in tax refunds”, December 13, 2005) explained that the IRS is continuing to collect a 3% Federal Excise Tax from wireless users, despite the fact that nine federal courts have ruled the tax unlawful. If you want to take a stand....tell Congress to repeal this outdated and excessive tax...write your Congressman!

For more information on how you can take some action to protect yourself from the tax expanding to broadband and VoIP...and support repeal of the tax on your cell phone...visit MyWireless.org.

More Proof VoIP Marketing Is Confusing Consumers...D'uh

I was going to share this ditty back when Russell Shaw of ZDNet.com wrote about it in December. Silly me, in the midst of Holiday revelry I forgot about it and just now found my notes again. So.....better late than never as the saying goes.

Per his usual self Russell is both wise and thought provoking in his no nonsense observations on this phenomenon. Therefore I've left it word for word for you to digest "with a little chianti". Afterall....who am I to mess with the Master. ;)

=====

More Proof VoIP Marketing Is Confusing Consumers
By Russell Shaw, enterprise computing journalist and author

All of this "VoIP marketing is confusing consumers. I have some just-released data to back this up.

According to VoIPAction's print of the top search terms in September's traffic on Yahoo! Search Services, The Top 10 searched-for keywords in Yahoo!'s September search traffic were:

1. VoIP 1,407,465
2. IP Telephony 558,847
3. Broadband Phone 306,048
4. Internet Phone 272,213
5. Voice Over IP 160,642
6. Internet Telephony 125,885
7. VoIP Phone 91,445
8. VoIP Solution 81,667
9. VoIP Service 80,766
10. Business VoIP 78,558

Do you see what I see? Internet phone technology doesn't go by one name the marketers can agree on. If it did, you wouldn't have the wild variety of searchers who are using related terms to look for more or less the same thing.

Other interesting facts emerge from this study.

"Skype" was the most searched-for VoIP company name in September's traffic on Yahoo! Search Services.

I'll list the top ten, and then I'll have a couple of comments.

Top Ten Yahoo! Search Services Searches By VoIP Companies

(September, 2005)

1. Skype: 197,435
2. Vonage 173,892
3. Avaya 27,439
4. Google Talk 20,220
5. Net2Phone 10,074
6. Speakeasy 8,523
7. Xo Communications 5,461
8. SunRocket 4,814
9. Packet8 4,030
10. DialPad 3,173

Four things jump out at me here:

* Although the published results do not mention if company-specific searches also included a search term (such as Vonage and VoIP), it appears from the statistical data this is the case. If this is indeed true, why are so many web searchers using a web search engine to look for specific information from specific providers - rather than simply entering ".com" after the name of the company they want and then just doing a site search? Could it be that internal site search on VoIP sites isn't up to snuff? (Hmm, I've already given myself an idea for a new post).

* Avaya, an enterprise VoIP brand, seems to have more search "juice" than some brands more readily associated with consumers.

* Interesting that so many searches for "Google Talk" were conducted over a search utility that competes with Google. So maybe web users are not as preoccupied with synergies as we bloggers and pundits are?

* Look at all the searches for Net2Phone. This is a company on people's minds- a company that as I have written, would be the perfect VoIP provider for Amazon, or maybe even as a click-to-call feature in NewsCorp.'s MySpace.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Real-Time T1 And DS3 Price Software

With software like GeoQuote, getting a T1 or DS3 price has never been easier. Finally you'll be able to use your time for real analysis rather than hunting down information. With the information in front of you you'll have the information you need to study out the right plan for you. Now you won't have to feel like you have to have a 2 hour conversation with the local phone company just to find out how much your service will cost. As GeoQuote is an information service that's exactly what you get....Information without the sales pitch.

GeoQuote is currently used by DS3-Bandwidth.com and several other licensees. Typically an agent will contact you after you have received your instant quote. Don't panic! These agents are not there to pressure you. Use them and their expertise to further investigate the services and carriers you see on your quote. We recommend the use of agents in any search for service and we also recommend using a broker to sign up for your service. Many people believe they can "beat the system" by contacting a broker to get pricing and other information as quickly as possible and will then go straight to the carrier believing they can get better service. This "end-run" process is actually a good way to cut yourself out of some of the biggest advantages of having a broker. Brokers don't mark up the price of services. They offer the same price you would get if you did go direct to the company.

The advantage of ordering through a broker is that you will get a second channel of customer service. If the company is not performing to expectation you will always be able to go back to your agent/broker who puts a significant volume through the carrier. An agent/broker is much more likely to get the companies attention and have your problem solved. In our opinion, GeoQuote real time pricing and an agent/broker is the only way to go!

So...if you're looking for a T1 or DS3 line and need quotes right NOW....then take advantage of the services at DS3-Bandwidth.com.

The Who's Who of SBC Yahoo DSL

So you want SBC Yahoo DSL but you're looking for a bit more information? Make sure you know the company to which people are referring when they try to answer your questions. SBC is actually a group of several companies and they have as many differences as do completely separate companies.

SBC traces its roots to the original Bell Company. It then broke off into the Southwestern Bell Company. Just a few years ago, SBC acquired Ameritech which offers service in the mid west. It also acquired Pacific Bell on the West coast and a few locations on the east. The behemoth of a company offers a service called SBC Yahoo DSL however the service is provided by the underlying companies which still operate much like separate companies.

Recently SBC Yahoo DSL was introduced which was simply a branding initiative. The underlying service is SBC DSL. When signing up for the service, your experience may be quite different depending on which region you are in. When reading message boards or consumer group's comments on SBC Yahoo DSL, just make sure you know which region the person is talking about and don't take their comments too seriously if they're not in your region. Once again, these divisions are as different as separate companies because not too long ago they were separate companies. Also remember when reading chat boards and consumer groups that DSL service is highly dependant on your distance from the phone company so complaint people have about bandwidth may not apply to you as they could be farther from the phone company than you and therefore have a weaker signal.

If you really want to find out what options you have in your area for DSL....SBC or otherwise....I suggest you use the free online search and compare tool ShopForDSL.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Packet8 Special On VoIP Phones....Take Advantage While You Can

Packet8 is currently running a special on their residential VoIP phone service plans. New subscribers will get their Freedom Unlimited plan for just $9.95 per month. That's 50% off their normal low price for unlimited monthly calls to the US and Canada. For anyone looking at a VoIP phone...and especially if you're considering Packet8...I strongly suggest you take advantage of these savings while the promotion lasts.

Comparing VoIP Providers For Small Business Solutions

It is no secret that communication is key to survival for small business. The advantage to small busineses of using a VoIP solution is that the market is very competitive. While there are relatively few companies from which to choose for normal phone service, many VoIP providers will gladly offer VoIP phone service at a very competitive rate and with unlimited long distance.

But....you need to do your homework first.

Phone service features indispensable to your business, such as voicemail, conferencing and call waiting, allow business to flow smoothly and efficiently. So....how do you decide if a VoIP solution is best for your business?

One of the first steps when analyzing your current service is to decide what features your business needs. Does it need multiple lines to accommodate the sales force? What about a toll free number for customer service? Make a list of all the features your office uses and think about others you might want to try.

The next step is to make an estimate of all intrastate (in- state), interstate (state-to-state) and international calls. An easy way to estimate these numbers is to view a recent phone bill. You might be surprised at how large or small your call volume actually is. If you rely heavily on fax machines, consider the number of incoming and outgoing faxes. As you review these numbers, remember to consult growth projections for the rest of the year.

Once you've done all this...you're ready to go comparison shopping.

Here's some resources to help you do that:

* VoIP Comparison Reviews

VoIPReview does a good job comparing feature sets from each of the providers. Its user reviews seem a bit skewed, but otherwise the site looks good.

* ZDNet Reviews

ZDNet usually has objective reviews. Read through its commentary on any of the providers you are considering.

* Broadband Reports

Broadband reports has a specific area for review by users...with a regularly updated scoring system. It's often skewed with a tad bit of emotion....and reviews are mostly residential. But it does give you an idea for business use.

* Google

I'm sure most of you already do this, but once you've figured out what you're looking for, perform a search on companies on Google to see what others have said about it.

If you're willing to do a bit more work, contact various providers and create your own comparison chart. You can begin your research by visiting voipreview.org. The site offers VoIP facts and reviews of various broadband phone service providers. Compare the business plans for different providers and research the various features offered with each plan. Also, make sure your current Internet connection can handle VoIP calls. The Web site testyourvoip.com will evaluate and score your Internet connection. You'll know if it makes sense to run your phone traffic over your broadband connection.

Here is a list and description of the top ten (supposedly) VoIP providers (includes home plans for telecommuter staff).

- Axvoice

Axvoice has many plans for you to sign up. Unlimited call to USA/Canada plan costs $ 18.99 per month. Unlimited international & USA/Canada plan costs $29.99. Axvoice also has business plan starting from $ 39.99 per month.

- INVIVNI

INVIVNI has three plans, Residentials, Small Office, and Business. The Residential plan costs $24.95 per month. The Small Office plan costs $32.95 per month, and the Business plan costs is negotiable.

- VCInetwork

VCInetwork has three plans, Unlimited Long Distance :Home, Unlimited Long Distance: Business and 500 minutes to USA/Canada and Europe. Unlimited Long Distance : Home plan costs $28.95 per month. Unlimited Long Distance : Business plan costs $49.95 per month and 500 minutes to USA/Canada and Europe plan costs $14.50 per month.

- Skype

Skype is famous for their slogan, “The Whole World can Talk for Free”. Skype is a free download and users can make free calls via, Skype to Skype. For a fee, you can advance your Skype to Skype Out and make calls to landline phones. Skype In will let your choose your area code and phone number. This way, friends and relatives can call you locally, if you select the same area code. Skype is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Pocket Pc operating systems. Not really a good business solution.

- Vonage

Probably the most well known VoIP providers, you may be surprised to discover that Vonage is also one of the more expensive providers. Vonage offers two plans, residential and small business. Residential users may choose between the Basic 500 plan and Unlimited. The Basic 500 plan offers 500 minutes of talk time for $14.99 a month. The Premium Unlimited residential plan costs $24.99 per month.

The Small Business Basic plan costs $39.99 per month and allows 1500 minutes. The Small Business Unlimited plan costs $49.99 a month and provides unlimited calls throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

- Dialpad

Dialpad and Yahoo have merged services. Currently, Dialpad offers three plans- Dialpad Monthly 300, Dialpad Monthly 500, and Dialpad USA. The cost for Dialpad Monthly 300 is $7.50 per month, Dialpad Monthly 500 costs $9.99 per month, and Dialpad USA costs $11.99 per month.

- Broadvox Direct

Broadvox Direct offers residential and small business services. Their residential services include the Residential Choice Plus plan for $9.95 per month. The Residential Choice Plus plan includes 100 outbound minutes and unlimited incoming minutes. Their Residential Unlimited Plan costs $29.95 a month and includes unlimited calling anywhere in the US and Canada. The SoHo Small Business Regional Plan costs $34.95 per month and includes 1500 monthly minutes in the US and in Canada. The SoHo Small Business Unlimited Plan costs $44.95 per month and includes unlimited calls in the US and Canada and also includes a free fax line and Yellow Page listing.

- Galaxy Voice

Galaxy Voice offers two plans, Residential and Business. Their residential plan costs $19.95 a month and includes unlimited calling, Voicemail, Caller Id, Call Waiting, Call Return, Three Way Calling, and Call Forwarding. Their business plan costs $39.95 per month and includes unlimited calling, Free Voice Mail, Free Call Transfer, Free Call Forwarding, Free Repeat Dialing, and Free Caller ID block.

- Voice Pulse

Voice Pulse has three plans, America Unlimited, Local Unlimited +200, and Business Unlimited. The America Unlimited plan costs $24.99 per month. The Local Unlimited +200 costs $14.99 per month, and the Business Unlimited costs $45.99 per month.

- VoIP American

VoIP American has three different plans. These are the VoIP American PBX plan, the VoIP American Voice plan and the VoIP American bVoice plan. The VoIP American PBX plan cost $19.99 a month for a private line and $44.99 a month for unlimited calling. The VoIP Voice Residential Basic plan costs $14.99 per month and the VoIP Voice Residential Unlimited plan costs $29.99 per month. The bVoice Business plan costs $34.99 per month.

- Packet 8

Packet 8 not only offers phone plans, but they also offer videophone plans. Their residential plans are the Freedom International and Freedom Unlimited. Both of these plans cost $19.99 per month. [note: currently they're running a special for $9.95 per month for your 1st 3 months.] The Videophone plan is the Freedom Unlimited and that too is $19.99 per month. Their business plans consists of three different plans. These are the Virtual Office service plans, the Virtual Attendant Service plans, and the Business Phone Service plans. The Virtual office phone plan costs $39.95 per month, the Virtual Attendant service plan costs $14.95 per month, and the Business Attendant service plan costs $34.95 per month.

- Sun Rocket

Sun Rocket offers their signature service for either $24.95 per month or $199.00 per year.

- Speakeasy

Speakeasy offers many different plans ranging from Home Office, Small Office I, Small Office II, and Small Business. Their Home Office plan costs 79.90 per month, the Small Office I plan costs $560.00 per month, the Small Office II plan costs 1,039 per month and the Small Business plan costs $2,349 per month.

Analyzing phone service is often a real headache. However, unreliable line quality, which results in poor customer service and huge monthly bills are even worse. In the end, doing your research will pay dividends for your business. Personally, I have no reservations recommending Packet8 for your business VoIP solution right now. However, go through the above steps first for your own peace of mind.....you'll likely reach the same conclusion.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Meeting Your Bandwidth Requirements For Supply Chain Management Applications

In today's business world it is critical for companies to deploy supply-chain management (SCM) systems to enhance efficiency across the product lifecycle by streamlining procurement, production, fulfillment, and distribution processes. Deploying an SCM solution that provides the intended return on investment requires that the applications, servers, and enterprise network infrastructure work together seamlessly. This is easier said than done and will necessitate a thorough evaluation of your bandwidth needs to meet the demand.

SCM solutions require integration of applications and data across multiple geographically dispersed supply chain partners, as well as internal integration with legacy systems. To ensure success, your organization must deploy robust, end-to-end dedicated bandwidth that delivers highly reliable and strictly monitored QoS (Quality of Service).

An SCM solution is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. Access to SCM applications and data must be guaranteed for all of your users, inside and outside the enterprise. Your company must provide sufficient bandwidth to support constant data flow between desktops and servers at the company headquarters, geographically dispersed suppliers and partners, manufacturers, distributors, customer service call centers, and for mobile users and teleworkers. Connections between servers and desktops must provide the necessary bandwidth to deliver resource-intensive services, real-time application data to all users, and enable integration of disparate data sources.

At your headquarters office, where corporate Web, application, and database servers reside and WAN links converge, availability and security are key. A redundant backbone switching architecture with Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to servers and access switches is often indicated, along with a modular, enterprise-class routing platform that supports advanced security features and WAN bandwidth management.

In order to ensure availability over time, a successful SCM solution should be built on an application design, server architecture, and network infrastructure that can grow easily as your business grows. This is called scalability. The solution must provide the ability to easily provision more WAN bandwidth to meet peak needs, to scale with fluctuating traffic between vendors and partners, and to adapt quickly as supply chain partners are added or replaced. To accomplish this, the solution should readily accommodate new server connections, partners, and locations. Network routers should provide enough capacity to easily and economically provision additional bandwidth as traffic increases, or to add new locations as the geographic reach of the supply chain expands.

Each location involved in your SCM infrastructure will require dedicated bandwidth to meet the functions conducted at that location. This likely will involve some combination of the following choices and is dependent on the complexity of the deployed SCM system and the size of your organization:

- DS3 bandwidth, also known as a T3, is the reliable, all-purpose, digital connection for extremely high-volume requirements. Operating at 45 Mbps (equivalent to 28 DS1 circuits, or 672 DS0 channels), DS3 can provide a cost-effective solution for smaller locations in the SCM network. With DS3, you can link your high-volume host computers for resource sharing and load balancing.

- OC3 bandwidth is a fiber optic line delivering 155 Mbps (equivalent to 3 DS3 circuits) designed for those who expect constant, high bandwidth requirements. For a mid to large size business implementing a SCM system....this will likely be your choice for infrastructure backbone (e.g. headquarters) bandwidth.

- Gigabit Ethernet is a version of Ethernet, which supports data transfer rates of 1 Gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second. Large scale deployment of SCM systems and larger organizations will likely consider this solution.

The process to determine and than find the appropriate bandwidth solution for your SCM application can be a daunting task. Use of an unbiased professional bandwidth broker will save your IT staff countless hours of effort and headaches while guiding them through the technology minefields towards the best choice for system reliability and cost. I strongly suggest you take advantage of their expertise.

How To Find The Right DS3 Bandwidth Provider

Telecommunications contracts can be much like a marriage and as we all know there are good and bad marriages. The fact is, when you enter into a telecommunications contract with a DS3 Bandwidth provider for reasonable amount of bandwidth or voice service you will have to enter into a long term contract.

Telecommunications contracts for T1 and DS'3s/T3's typically range from 1 years to 3 years. Anything longer than a 3 year contract is usually only seen in very large applicatons like OC3 and OC12 or complex frame relay connections with many nodes. While the term of the contract will not be a problem if you have the right provider, the contract could prove extrememly burdomsome with the wrong provider.

We suggest using a broker to walk you through your options and show you the providers and services available. A broker or independent agent can help reduce the time it takes you to shop around for a DS3 provider by asking you the questions once and searching through multiple providers to get the service that is right for you. The agent helps steer clear of the bias you will receive when speaking with one vendor as the agent will be paid no matter which service you choose. As the agent doesn't work with a specific provider like AT&T or Sprint, he or she will not push you in that direction if they are not right for you.

Remember that the DS3 Bandwidth provider you select will be your partner for quite some time so take caution in your decision. The worst part of being with a bad provider is the fact that it will affect your business. Dropped calls or an internet connection that goes down can be disastrous to a business. We found that the larger companies like AT&T and Sprint will release companies from long term contracts if it is shown that the voice or data DS3 service was faulty on a regular basis, however the release from such a contract will not help recoup the damages of the lost calls and e-mails from the poor service. When shopping for a DS3 provider we suggest using a broker and asking for referals from current customers to give you an indication of what you can expect. My recommendation for a reputable and professional broker is DS3-Bandwidth.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

WiMAX - Broadband Wireless Access Technology....The Nitty Gritty

WiMAX is a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMAX can be used for a number of applications, including "last mile" broadband connections, hotspots and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for business.

WiMAX technology involves microwaves for the transfer of data wirelessly. It can be used for high-speed, wireless networking at distances up to a few miles. The term WiMAX comes from 'Wireless (Wi) Microwave Access (MA).' WiMAX is very similar to Wi-Fi in that it uses the same core technology of wireless modulation developed way back in the '60's and '70's. It's called OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), for those that care about the technical terms.

The real benefit of WiMAX technology is that you can run signals very, very close to each other on wireless channels. You can have super narrow lanes, so you can put a lot of traffic over them and they don't disrupt each other.

With WiMAX, you're enabling the traffic lanes – or channels – to get smaller and narrower. This helps service providers seeking to offer wireless last-mile DSL or cable-type service because they can provide a narrower channel that uses less bandwidth and serve more users. You can take what used to be a fixed Wi-Fi lane and make a bunch more lanes and serve more people.

WiMAX will also be delivered over licensed spectrum. What that means is that you can turn up the output power and broadcast longer distances. So where Wi-Fi is something that is measured in hundreds of feet, usually WiMAX will have a very good value proposition and bandwidth up to several miles.

Also WiMAX is designed to be a carrier-grade technology, which requires a higher level of reliability and quality of service than are now available in typical Wi-Fi implementations.

Those fundamental differences make WiMAX more of a metropolitan area access technology versus hotspot.

There are areas of the world - especially in emerging markets and rural areas - where deploying wired broadband infrastructure is not cost effective. WiMAX is very cost effective technology to quickly deploy in the regions which otherwise would not have broadband access. So WiMAX helps spread broadband to more users more quickly than existing technologies.

Another benefit of WiMAX is the ability to get higher connection speeds farther away from the transmitter. Right now you can get a really high speed connection in Wi-Fi close to the transmitter. The other option is that you can get a pretty slow Internet connection using a cellular technology, which spans a greater distance. WiMAX fits between those two offerings. You'll get speeds similar to close-up Wi-Fi connections out to several miles away from the transmitter.

WiMAX will also be much easier to install, which makes it more cost-effective for service providers and hopefully some of those savings will accrue to users.

Today, Wi-Fi kind of lives by what we call the "five minute rule." If you live in a city, most likely you can walk five minutes and find a hotspot. Or if you're in your car in the suburbs or a village, you can usually drive within five minutes and find one of those. With WiMAX we're trying to offer that same type of service without having to drive or walk five minutes. Eventually, you can just open your notebook and get a connection, wherever you may be.

When WiMAX is fully developed, you'll no longer be limited to 300 feet within the Wi-Fi hotspot. And you won't have to drive around looking for a connection. Even though it's only five minutes, it's still five minutes, and that's just not as natural as getting a connection anywhere.

When people have a broadband connection they tend to use their computer more, they leave it on and they integrate it more into their lifestyle. WiMAX technology extends the range of broadband wireless access to more users in more geographies. This happens first with last mile connections where anyone wants them, and eventually in notebook mode for mobility.

The potential impact to internet connectivity and data management applications for communities and business is enormous with WiMAX. If you're interested in developing a WiMAX solution for your municipality or business...I suggest you contact the folks at Futura Technologies for advice and support for your project.

Verizon DSL Offerings

Most of us have been taught that by cutting out the middle man we can save money, but is that all you save? When it comes to internet access and phone service working with the Incumbents or Baby Bells is a mixed bag. Certainly there are competitive companies that can give you the same or better phone service than the Baby Bells which suffer from years of a monopolistic market but is it the same for internet service?

DSL service is actually quite different than phone service. Besides the obvious difference of one being data and one being voice, competitive carriers generally use their own equipment which is kept at the phone company's facilities. In this case, asking your phone company to make changes to your service is dependant on your phone company and depending on how smoothly they run their operations you could have a very pleasant experience. Internet service, however is different. Many baby bells resell their service which is then sold under a different name. You may be buying internet access and not realize that you're really buying Verizon DSL under another name.

In cases where companies purchase Verizon DSL and resell it under their own name, many of the advantages of changing carriers disappear. If the carrier does not own their equipment they will need to contact the provider to make any changes and as they are not the provider you have added another layer of complexity to any request you may have. Is it really worth the $5 or $10 you're saving by going with a competitor? Often times it's not. Think about cutting out the middle man when looking for internet service. If you know the company is simply reselling Verizon DSL, why not just go with the source?

T1 Access to the Web...What, How, and Why

The t1 line rates is a digital transmission service that can be used for carrying voice and/or data. A T1 connection is sometimes referred to as a "dedicated service" as the service is delivered to and from the customer premise from the CO (Central Office) without combining it with other traffic. 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.

T-1 provides high speed, point-to-point digital transmission line (up to 1.544 Mbps). This can be used as a single high-speed data channel or it can be split into 24 channels and allocated to either voice or data applications. It is widely deployed and readily available in most regions and although the service is not diminished by distance from the CO, the price is sensitive to distance. This is due to the rental of the loop from the LEC (Local Exchange Carrier). T1 is currently the most common way that large companies connect their LAN to the rest of the world.

Are you ready for T1 service? You may be ready if you have critcal services that need a reliable connection to the internet. If you run ASP services, host e-mail servers or web servers, have over 20 people accessing the internet or use video on demand you should consider T1 access. While it is more expensive that DSL, T1 access is made to support the above applications. Also remember that when you begin shopping for T1 service you should partner with someone who will act as your agent and represent your best interests. Consider using a broker or agent to help you with your search and cut through some of the industry lingo to help you get exactly what you need. Someone like DS3-Bandwidth.com.

City of Corpus Christi Selects Northrop Grumman for Broadband Wireless

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has been selected by the city of Corpus Christi, Texas to provide a city-wide broadband wireless infrastructure and an automated meter reading system that will streamline services for city workers and make their processes more efficient.

Just one question....how the heck did Northrup Grumman get into the Telecom fray...and why?? I mean...they're best known for being a Defense Contractor, building ships, and planes, and stuff.

Ohhh...wait a minute. I see the why. This deal is worth $23 million to Northrup Grumman coffers. I guess that's reason enough for the why. But still........

Anyway you can read more about the whole deal at Broadband Wireless Exchange.

NOW will Apple release a Wi-Fi iPod? A Reprise....

Dang that Russell Shaw. He must have a crystal ball in his back pocket or something. Russell has a knack for writing just what I'm thinking...before I do. Maybe he's just smarter than I am (don't comment on that LOL). Anyway .... good on ya Russ! Here's exactly what Russell has to say on the subject at ZDNet. Great stuff.

~~~~~~~

I'd bet that Apple is working on a Wi-Fi-enabled iPod. I mean, this has been talked about for close to two years.

What may finally push Apple into action is the arrival of two actual, real-world Wi-Fi enabled MP3 players on display here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I am actually on my way to see them after making this post.

Giant International's Tao brand and RCA Lyra MusicGremlin will basically operate the same way. If you have one of these gizmos, and are within range of a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you will be able to purchase the music that you want and download it to your player right then and there. No more waiting to get home and doing downloads over your PC.

I like the idea. The fact of a mobile device requiring a user to be stationary - such as being at home to sync- is counterintuitive. I mean, consuming music through a portable player is something usually done when you are in motion, right?

I do think both of these players will be hits. And of course I know that iPod has a huge lead, but they ignore WiFi-enabled music downloads at their peril.

The Lyra will use the MusicGremlin download service- which at present consists of around two million files encoded in the WMA (Windows Media Audio) format.

Passalong, which is Tao's music download service, currently has more than 1.6 million tracks, also in the WMA format.

Expect both of these Wi-Fi-enabled MP3 players to hit the store shelves and sites within a few months from now at most.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

VoIP Phones...A Little Background To Help Choose How You Use VoIP

VoIP phones are the phones used with Voice over Internet Protocol technology. VoIP is the technology used to transmit audio as data or Packets over the Internet to either a computer user or to a landline telephone. VoIP is increasing in popularity, as it is highly valued for its great quality, low cost, and incredible features. VoIP is gaining respect, as a viable solution for business needs as well. VoIP will allow long distance calls for either free or for just pennies compared to traditional phone services.

There are many different ways to use VoIP. For some services you will need a computer, a high-speed Internet connection, an Instant Messaging program, speakers, a microphone, a phone adapter for converting standard telephones into VoIP phones, or a VoIP phone.

When using VoIP services, you can simply use a microphone and speakers to communicate with your caller. You need a High Speed Internet connection to allow for your calls to be in real time, and you will also need a soundboard and computer that is up to date with VoIP technology.

You can also use VoIP technology by using Instant Messaging services that have voice options enabled. These include Yahoo Messenger with Voice, ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, MSN, and even Google has started their own VoIP messenger. To use these VoIP messengers you will need a microphone and speakers connected to your computer.

VoIP phone adapters are another means of communicating with VoIP. A VoIP phone adapter will connect between your standard telephones, and your Internet modem. Your phone adapter will come with installation and user instructions. Generally, you will need to power off your computer, then connect the adapter to your Internet modem and then plug your telephone into the adapter’s phone jack. Power everything back up and you should be good to use your phone. You will need to make sure that you have VoIP service previously installed.

You can also purchase a VoIP phone, specifically designed for use with your VoIP service. VoIP phones come in both corded and cordless forms. VoIP corded phones come with many features. You can purchase a desktop phone that includes speakerphone, Call Waiting, Hold, Speed Dial, Transfer, and programmable keys such as Menu, Dial, Volume, Transfer, Cancel, and Headset or Speaker mode.

You can also purchase a 2 line VoIP corded telephone. Some of the features that come with a phone like this include Three Way Conferencing, phone to phone, or phone to PC, or phone to gateway direct dial. These phones are perfect for small businesses or for use in the home office.

Another popular choice in VoIP phones is the cordless VoIP phone. These cordless VoIP phones are not the same as VoIP wireless or VoWi FI phones. VoIP phones are similar to cordless standard phones. They will work in your house, but not outside, apart from your basic VoIP service.

There is another option and that is called VoWiFi. VoWiFi stands for Voice over Wireless Fidelity. This is the use of VoIP over a wireless connection. A VoWiFi phone operates by using a wireless network’s access point. The advantages of using VoWiFi, is that you can easily pick up network signals or “hotspots” for free. However, VoWiFi will not work if it is out of a wireless range, and immediately you will be terminated from your call. If you have a wireless network that you are local to, you will find VoWiFi to be a great advantage and extremely cost effective.

Because of issues with network connectivity, there are Hybrid phones available. A hybrid is a cross between a cellular phone and VoWiFi. A Hybrid will place your call when you are in your cellular network range, and then, to prevent roaming charges, can pick up free VoWiFi by entering a hotspot. This is a great combination of two technologies and time will tell where the hybrid phone will evolve in the future.

One thing is certain; VoIP is an advancement in telecommunications that is here to stay. Whether you use your computer, and Internet Messaging program, a VoIP phone adapter, VoIP cordless or corded phones, VoWiFi or Hybrids the future points to VoIP as the telecommunication method of choice.

The Art of Pricing a T1 Line

While some people may enjoy a trip to the local shopping mall, shopping for telecommunication services like a T1 line has never been fun. If you happen to be looking for a dedicated voice line you may call the local phone company. Chances are you'll be passed around to three or four different people who can't handle your request for a T1 line. When you finally speak with someone who can answer your questions you'll go through a litany of questions that don't get to the point of your call which is, "How much do I have to pay".

A step up from a call to the local phone company is the use of a broker or agent. An independent agent can help reduce the number of phone calls by asking you the questions once and searching through multiple providers to get the service that is right for you. The agent helps steer clear of the bias you will receive when speaking with one vendor as the agent will be paid no matter which service you choose. If you happen to be searching for a dedicated voice T1, the agent will give you quotes for dedicated voice T1's for multiple service providers. Still, the agent has a shortcoming in that there is typically a delay between the time you have your conversation and the time you get your information. This can take a day or two.

Why not have the best of both worlds? An agent who carried no bias for one particular carrier AND immediate feedback! While this was not possible a few months ago, we have found a T1 line provider than can offer real-time quotes through its agents. A real time quote gives you information NOW. There is no waiting to find pricing. Simply enter your information and compare pricing immediately. Real time pricing will do for telecommunications shopping what Expedia and Travelocity did for travel. So why wait? If you're searching for a T1 line make sure you use a broker that can help you with your search in real time.

Here ya go...... ShopForT1

Friday, January 06, 2006

How Do I Find A DSL Provider?

In addition to limiting your search, a broker will also help you identify important facts about your new service. Remember to look at the extra charges like equipment and installation. Sometimes these charges are waived and sometimes they are not. Also be careful to note the commitment. Is it 1 year or two years that you're committing to? Many companies will offer bigger discounts but lock you in to a longer contract. Don't get caught! Make sure you know what you're getting into by going to a broker and comparing DSL Providers side by side.

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.

One last "gotcha" is the introductory price. DSL Providers may claim to give you service for $20 or $25 per month but it's likely an introductory price that lasts only a few months. If you're willing to sign on for the term, just make sure you know what you're paying when the introduction ends.

For an easy online tool to shop and compare multiple DSL providers at once...visit ShopForDSL.com.

Satellite Broadband on Wheels

"The SpeedRay 3000 by RaySat basically turns anything on wheels into an instant WiFi zone," reports Gizmodo. Mount the device on the roof of your car for an easy $7,000, and receive always on broadband (and digital television) anywhere you roll. Of course this was also shown at last year's CES, where it was said it would retail for $3,495. A little more detail can be found at the RaySat website.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Setting Up A Virtual Office With VoIP Technology Via Packet8

Lower Your Total Cost of Ownership with Virtual Office VoIP while Adding Flexibility for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

Packet8 Virtual Office is a Voice over IP (VoIP) hosted PBX service, small business phone system alternative that allows small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) anywhere in the world to employ an unlimited number of extension options and enjoy geographic independence and flexibility. Virtual Office extension options include an unlimited extension, a metered extension or a virtual extension.

With a feature-rich telephone and options that include a unique direct inbound dial (DID) telephone number for every extension for staff located in the same building or spread around the world, Packet8 Virtual Office lowers most SMBs total cost of ownership (TCO) for phone services.

Packet8 Virtual Office cuts the typical private branch exchange (PBX) system start up costs up to 90% through the delivery of a virtual PBX while reducing monthly phone bills by 50%. Packet8 Virtual Office service is designed with simple self-service tools for complete system and extension control. For organizations that require a full-service configuration and change contract, these features are included in Packet8 Virtual Office service for the same price.

In addition to enjoying benefits from the Virtual Office solution such as unlimited calls to the United States and Canada for a low, flat monthly fee, companies subscribing to Packet8 Virtual Office can eliminate the overhead cost associated with brick and mortar buildings with the use of this VoIP PBX system by operating out of different locations without losing any powerful PBX functionality or having to pay premium local and long distance charges for inter-office calling.

A few of the many impressive Virtual Office features are:

Unlimited Calling - using the Internet backbone for routing telephone calls substantially reduces phone bills
- to any telephone number in the United States and Canada (on unlimited extensions)
- extension-to-extension anywhere in the world
- from any telephone anywhere worldwide
- to and from any other Packet8 subscriber anywhere worldwide

Auto-Attendant - a powerful automated system that can replace the need for a receptionist
- available to callers 24-hours-a-day with multiple schedules and greeting
- transfers calls (dial by extension, name, company directory, or workgroup)
- if call is not answered or the line is busy, automatically will send the caller to defined destination
- customizable with pre-recorded prompts for several regularly used recordings such as sales, support, tech support, billing, account, etc.
- optional Virtual Attendant allows an existing Virtual Office subscriber to add a second auto-attendant while using the same Virtual Office unlimited or metered extensions.

Full Featured Conference Bridge - an audio conferencing system that provides a way to hold meetings involving participants at multiple sites
- saves travel time and expense for meetings
- use with Virtual Office extensions and outside callers
- up to 20 sites can participate
- administrator mode allows for making outbound calls and dropping parties
- unlimited conference calls can be scheduled and in session concurrently
- password protected for creation and admission
- automatic email and voice prompt confirmations of conference bridge reservation

Business-class Voicemail - a powerful tool when you cannot answer the phone
- up to 8 pre-recorded greeting options (full name, internal, external, after-hours, lunch, meeting, weekend, vacation)
- password protected
- voicemail to email
- listen to voicemails via attached email, through supplied phone or remotely
- one number access allowing follow me search
- dialing out of voicemail

Administrative Controls:
- Virtual Office includes an administration web portal for all PBX, auto-attendant, ring groups and complete extension control
- Extension Manager allowing users the ability to control all extension settings including busy, ring-no-answer, and Internet outage handling ring duration and forwarding destinations. Other settings in Extension Manager including forwarding rules, one number access, caller ID blocking, call waiting disable and other unique settings.
- Switchboard is a great live answer application that runs on a PC and works in conjunction with the Virtual Office phone to assist operators and secretaries in seeing extension status indicators and provide quick and accurate call answering and distribution controls.

Virtual Office Pricing and Options

Virtual Office provides a variety of extensions options, inbound calling options, and call handling applications. The base Virtual Office package requires three unlimited extensions and single extensions can be added thereafter. Virtual Attendant allows as few a one Virtual Extension to be used as a starter package.

Virtual Office prices per line range from:

- $9.95-$39.95 per extension, plus 3% FET.* + $1.50 Regulatory Recovery Fee per month.

With one time start up fees per line range from:
- $99 for the equipment (On Unlimited and Metered Extension Plans)
- $9.95- $39 per line for activation
- $1.99 per line for E911 Service Fee for US Residents
- $18.95 for shipping (Unlimited and Metered Extension Plans)

* A minimum of 3 unlimited extensions is required for Virtual Office start up

For More Information Go To: PACKET8

T1 Internet - Life in the Fast Lane

Ever used a t1 internet connection? Upgrading to this level of service is like going from an old used car to a new sports car. You'll feel the speed immediately! While both T1 and DSL connections claim to have a speed of 1.5Mbps, the former actually delivers it's claim. DSL and cable connections are severely oversubscribed and cannot always deliver the bandwidht they project expecially at peak hours. Ready to feel the difference? You may have already if your office has critical applications that use the web. If your office hosts e-mail, webservers or more than 20 people on internet access you most likely already have a dedicated T1 connection. If not, get one fast!!

A T1 internet connection is ideal because of it's reliability. Not only is it not oversubscribed, it also has low latency which mean fewer delays. Latency becomes critical in applications like video on demand, web conferencing, and gaming. While the latter may not seem so important, gamers require some of the best internet connections and are a good source for information on the top internet products available.

If you're ready to move into the fast lane or to put your office on a reliable connection that you should have anyway, get some advise from a broker that deals in T1 services. Brokers don't mark up the price of services. They offer the same price you would get if you did go direct to the company....or in some cases even less (see DS3-Bandwidth.com) The advantage of ordering through a broker is that you will get a second channel of customer service. If the company is not performing to expectation you will always be able to go back to your broker who puts a significant volume through the carrier. A broker is much more likely to get the companies attention and have your problem solved. In our opinion, a broker is the only way to go!