Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just What Is Optical Carrier (OC) Bandwidth??

Ever wonder just what the heck was an "OC48"? Not surprisingly many network engineers and IT managers aren't up to speed (no pun intended) on just what OC really means...and what all is available to enahnce their company's applications within this bandwidth category.

So....here's a quick run down to set you straight.

The OC (optical carrier...fiber optic based broadband network )hierarchy goes as follows, starting with a T3/DS3 electrical carrier and then on to an OC-1:

DS3 (Electrical) = 44.736mbits/sec = 28 T1s/DS1s

STS1 (Electrical) = (1) DS3 @ 44.736mbits/sec with SONET (Synchronous Optical NET) overhead = 51.840mbits/sec

OC-1 (Optical) = (1) STS1 on Optical facilities

OC-3 = (3) OC-1s = 155.52mbits/sec

OC-9 = (9) OC-1s (not commonly used) = 466.56mbits/sec

OC-12 = (12) OC-1s or (4) OC-3s = 622.08mbits/sec

OC-18 = (18) OC-1s (not commonly used) = 933.12mbits/sec

OC-24 = (24) OC-1s (not commonly used) = 1.244gbits/sec

OC-36 = (36) OC-1s (not commonly used) = 1.866gbits/sec

OC-48 = (48) OC-1s or (4) OC-12s or (16) OC-3s = 2.488gbits/sec

OC-192= (192) OC-1s or (4) OC-48s or (16) OC-12s or (64) OC-3s = 9.953gbits/sec

The reason for the stair-stepping of the OC Hierarchy is due to the fact that the next available level of multiplexing ('muxing") of lower-level circuits is usually 4: (4) OC-3s = (1) OC-12, and (4) OC-48s = (1) OC-192.

This muxing scheme is usually dictated by the equipment manufacturers and is pretty much an adopted standard in the Telecom industry - hence the lack of the lesser-common bandwidth aggregations like OC-9, OC-18, etc. The only exception is the OC-3, which was needed to allow the upper-level hierarchy to work.

Hope this tidbit of info helps the network design decisions for your business now....and in the future!

Tip....How To Easily Get A Rate Quote On T1, DS3, Or OC3 Bandwidth For Any City Anywhere In The United States....FREE

Here's the situation.

You have a major project to finish that requires reliable quality T1, DS3, or OC3 bandwidth at a reasonable cost. To do this you need rate quotes from multiple providers (preferably Tier 1).... and you need those quotes fast.

Could be for any bandwidth application....and any location anywhere in the United States. Maybe it's to light up a Biotech firm in LaJolla, California....or implement a voice/data network for a corporate headquarters in Boise, Idaho....or cover video conferencing and security requirements for a hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.....or install disaster recovery back ups for a shipping center in Akron, Ohio....or enable medical imaging enhancements for a Medical Center in Plano, Texas....or tie in all your locations in Oklahoma to a Supply Chain Managment system....or set up a community WiFi or WiMAX grid in Bristol, New Hampshire....or, well...whatever, anywhere.

You could pull out the old rolodex and start dialing....or spend days searching online for the few providers you know about....hoping they may have something in your area. For both you're at the mercy of the salesman on the other end who knows what he wants to charge you...and doesn't much care about anything else. He/she just wants the sale.

Or....you could use a simple online rate quote tool from FreedomFire Communications that'll do all the work for you. Including providing a technical advisor that'll do more indepth research, negotiate the best deal with the providers, and even do all the paperwork. All at NO cost to you.

This tool is powerful enough to cover voice, data, and integrated....fractional, full, and bonded....for T1, DS3, and OC3. By request they'll even do OC12, OC48, OC192, GigE, VPN, Point-to-Point, private line, DIDs, frame relay, and more.

Here's an example that illustrates just how easy it is:

1. Click on the link for the State the installation will be located.
2. The next page that opens [state page] will list all the counties in the State. Click on the appropriate County.
3. The next page that opens [county page] will be a list of all the cities in that County. Click on the appropriate City.
4. For the next page that opens [city page] fill in all the requested information to completely identify the location where the bandwidth is to be installed. Be sure to provide a valid email for the initial information to be immediately forwarded back to you....and a contact phone number to provide the additional research that'll be done free on your behalf. Tip...put as much detail as possible in the comments box to assist the technical advisor in the extra indepth research they'll conduct for you.

That's it.

Just sit back and let the system work for you.

Here's a sample for an install in Marrietta, Georgia:

1. Click on Georgia DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
2. Click on Cobb County DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
3. Click on Marietta DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
4. Completely and accurately fill in the requested information [2 step process]....click send...and wait for your results.

For your convenience....and to help you get started....below is a list of the links for each individual State.

Alabama DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Alaska DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Arkansas DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Arizona DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
California DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Colorado DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Connecticut DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Washington DC DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Delaware DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Florida DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Georgia DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Hawaii DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Iowa DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Idaho DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Illinois DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Indiana DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Kansas DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Kentucky DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Louisiana DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Massachusetts DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Maryland DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Maine DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Michigan DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Minnesota DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Missouri DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Mississippi DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Montana DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
North Carolina DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
North Dakota DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Nebraska DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
New Hampshire DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
New Jersey DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
New Mexico DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Nevada DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
New York DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Ohio DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Oklahoma DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Oregon DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Pennsylvania DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Rhode Island DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
South Carolina DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
South Dakota DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Tennessee DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Texas DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Utah DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Virginia DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Vermont DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Washington DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Wisconsin DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
West Virginia DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth
Wyoming DS3 & OC3 Bandwidth

Saturday, May 27, 2006

How To Choose A Cell Phone and Calling Plan That's Right for You

Over the life of your phone, the calling plan service will cost much more than the phone itself-especially if the phone is free. Thus, the best way to control your budget is to choose the most cost-effective calling plan from a carrier with good coverage in your area. Aggressive competition for subscribers among carriers (also known as service providers) has driven the monthly and per-minute costs of wireless calling dramatically downward and even made some of the latest phones, packed with cutting-edge features, unprecedented bargains. Subscribers' ability to keep their existing wireless phone number-and even their landline based numbers-when starting or transferring service to a new carrier has created more downward-pressure on comparative service plans through direct competition. As a result, every day more people are switching to exclusively wireless, giving up their landline based service altogether.

Calling Plan Basics

With the right calling plan, a wireless phone shouldn't cost much more than a landline service phone. But the sheer number of choices and complexity in rate plans can make simple comparison and selection a challenge for anyone.

Two key differences that make wireless calling plans more complex than typical landline service. First, wireless phone customers pay for service based on the number of minutes for both incoming and outgoing calls, unlike landline service which is typically unlimited in nature excepting long-distance fees. Second, by their very nature wireless phones are not tethered to land-line access, allowing a customer to send and receive calls or messages from a virtually infinite number of places.

As a direct result of these differences, a wireless calling plan bill is a very accurate tally of where a customer uses their phone, how long they talk, what time of day they talk, and what numbers they called or received calls from.

Components of a Cell Phone Bill

Estimating an average or maximum monthly usage in each of these categories will help narrow the field of calling plans to a more manageable selection of cost-effective choices.

* Talk Time (also known as Air Time) is the total amount phone use, typically measured in minutes, for both call placed and calls received. Most monthly calling plans include a specific allowance of talk time, frequently divided into peak and off-peak minutes, for a flat monthly fee. Any talk time used over this allowance will cost extra, usually at comparatively much higher per-minute rates.

* Peak Minutes (also know as Anytime or Whenever minutes) are talk time minutes used during the prime calling periods when the carrier networks are most active, typically between 6am and 9pm Monday through Friday. Because of this demand, Peak Minutes are expensive. Plans that include more Peak Minutes typically have higher monthly fees.

* Off-Peak Minutes (also known as Night and Weekend Minutes) are Talk Time minutes used outside of prime calling periods (typically at night and on weekends) when the carriers are least active. Off-Peak Minutes are the least expensive Talk Time minutes and are often included in generous quantities (frequently unlimited) even in many inexpensive plans. Customers who expect to use their phone frequently at night and on weekends should make sure to choose a plan with a generous allowance of Off-Peak minutes.

* Roaming refers to any wireless phone use outside of a customer's home calling area or carrier network coverage. Because most phones feature multiple network capabilities, Roaming agreements between carriers let customers use their phones over a much wider area than a carrier's network service coverage. However, customers typically pay significantly more than even Peak Minute rates for using this capability. Unless a calling plan specifically offers no Roaming charges, this Talk Time is usually the most expensive. International Roaming is possible with some wireless phones, and accordingly is even more expensive. Frequent travelers are best served with plans that feature no roaming charges.

* Long Distance charges may apply to calls that are placed to numbers outside your local area codes. Because Talk Time charges also apply, wireless Long distance calls can be more expensive than on a land-line phone. However, all carriers offer a selection of calling plans that include free Long Distance service where all domestic calls placed are billed at only the applicable Talk Time rates. For frequent long distance callers, these plans are often more cost effective than landline long distance service.

* Additional Talk Time (also known as Additional Minutes) is the amount of wireless phone use that exceeds your allowance of Peak- or Off-Peak Minutes or both. After Roaming charges, these Additional Talk Time minutes are the most common cause of unexpectedly high wireless phone bills.

* Mobile-to-Mobile Minutes (also known as In-Network Minutes) are minutes used for calling or receiving calls from another customer on your carrier's service network. When included in a calling plan, are not measured as Peak- or Off-Peak Minutes and are tallied in a third distinct category. When offered as an unlimited allowance on some carrier plans, Mobile-to-Mobile calling becomes especially valuable with friends and family who have service from the same carrier, effectively making any wireless-to-wireless call between them free.

* Data Services including multimedia messaging, downloads, wireless Web access and wireless modem capabilities are typically optional carrier plan services that are offered for an additional charge, either separately or bundled together as packages. Unlike voice service, Data Services come in many forms and are packaged and priced in many different ways from per-message charges for text messaging to bulk charges (per megabyte) for all data (non-voice connection service) sent or received by a wireless phone to unlimited data plans for a flat monthly fee. Carrier by carrier, most of these services require a separate subscription. In some carriers, the most popular Data Services are often featured in bundles or packages suited to typical wireless customer profiles, for example Instant Messaging or Wireless Calendar or Contact Book Synchronization. A customer planning to use their wireless phone for more than just talk can find some very significant savings in reviewing these optional services or packages carefully.

Types of Calling Plans

With few exceptions, most carrier calling plans fall into one of these categories:

Local Plans
The most geographically limited plans where a customer would pay extra for any wireless phone use outside of a relatively small local carrier network service area, typically a metropolitan area and the adjacent suburbs. Many local plans do not include long distance but will connect any long distance calls with a per-minute surcharge in addition to any applicable Talk Time minutes. While these plans carry the lowest basic monthly fees, frequent out-of-area travel use (Roaming) or long distance surcharges can make monthly bills skyrocket above the cost of comparable Regional or National plans. Local plans are most cost-effective when a customer doesn't venture too far from home or place frequent long distance calls.

Regional Plans
Regional Plans typically offer the most economical Talk Time per-minute rates over a much larger multi-state area or Region, for example the entire Northeastern or Southwestern U.S. Only calls placed or received while outside this area will incur additional Roaming surcharges. While not universal, more carriers are offering included long distance service in Regional plans. Customers who frequently call or travel to regional areas outside their carrier's Local service area will find the best value in Regional calling plans. Be sure to check local and regional carrier coverage maps carefully for calling area eligibility.

National Plans
National Plans carry somewhat higher per-minute rates, but they permit wireless phone use anywhere in the country with no extra charge for roaming and/or for long distance calls when on an approved network. These plans are best for wireless travelers or customers that are simply willing to pay a bit more for freedom from worry about where, when and to whom they are calling.

Shared Plans
Shared Plans give two or more wireless customers their own phone and separate phone numbers, while sharing a common allowance of minutes. These plans offer a lower cost per minute than separate wireless plans that add up to the same number of minutes. As a greater bonus, Shared Plans often reduce costs by addressing common multi-phone problems, for example some wireless users frequently exceed their allowance of minutes, while others don't or some wireless customers use primarily Peak Minutes while others use more Off-Peak Minutes. Best of all, Shared Plan usage is summarized on a single wireless bill. Cumulative call timers and call restriction capabilities on each phone as well as online network usage monitors can help Shared Plan customers avoid surprises in their monthly wireless bill.

Prepaid Plans
Prepaid (also known as Pay-As-You-Go) service is an option for customers who do not wish to process a credit application or expect to use their phone very infrequently or only for emergencies. Prepaid Service per-minute rates can be more expensive than monthly Local, Regional, National or Shared Plans and purchased minutes can expire after 90 to 120 days. On the plus side, Prepaid Service phones are usually inexpensive, and increasingly stylish and capable models are offered with standard calling features such as voicemail, call waiting, as well as optional Data Service features such as Messaging and Wireless Web similar to those sold with conventional calling plans.

Wireless Security

Today's wireless phones enable you to receive and send instant messages, check or send e-mails, and synchronize with your PC contacts, e-mail, calendars, and more. These features make the truly wireless lifestyle a reality; but they also make keeping your phone secure even more important. We recommend taking the following steps to make sure that the wealth of information stored on your wireless phone stays secure:

- Treat your phone like the valuable data vault that it is. Would you leave your personal directory, calendar, schedule, or credit information out in the open without being secured? The same rules should apply to your wireless phone.

- Lock your phone. Most phones have locking features that prevent strangers from accessing the phones functions or network services without knowing a user-defined code key.

- Delete sensitive e-mails, text messages, and IM conversations from your phone. Most phones with messaging capabilities allow you to limit what's stored in the phone's flash memory.

- Control access to your phone's short-range wireless features. Infrared and Bluetooth technology allow you to synchronize to other devices without cords or cables, but you shouldn't leave these features on when you aren't using them. Some phones also let you set passwords or code keys for accessing these functions either directly or remotely.

Cell Phone Basics

Each Carrier (also known as Service Provider) offers dozens of wireless phones ranging from inexpensive (often free after rebates with a new service agreement) to expensive multi-function Smart Phone devices that cost several hundred dollars. Choosing among them can be intimidating to anyone, especially without a basic understanding of the typical and sometimes more exclusive features that distinguish one model from the next. Deciding which are features most important will help you select the cell phone that best meets your needs.

* Size and Weight

Wireless phones are generally much smaller and lighter than their predecessors of just a few years ago, and they still come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Tiny phones that weigh less than three ounces contrast markedly with Smart Phones that make capable handheld organizers and tip the scales at nearly half a pound. Ultra-compact phones are the easiest to carry and slip comfortably into a shirt pocket or a evening clutch. However, some users prefer a phone with a more substantial feel to it, with a larger screen that is easier to read and keypad that is more comfortable to use. Think about how you'll use and carry your phone when considering the size and weight that's right for you.

* Design

Most modern phones are either bar shaped or feature a clamshell design that flips open to reveal an internal screen and keypad. Clamshell phones can be more compact without sacrificing display and keypad size, though there are several popular bar shaped phones that fit in the ultra-compact category. The clamshell designs protect the phone's display when not in use, and some feature an additional external display that can show Caller ID, phone information or network status. A few innovative designs fall outside these two categories with features such as sliding covers, QWERTY keyboards, or twist-open swivel type mechanisms. Outside of overall appearance and mechanical differences, there are very few functional advantages from one style to the next, and design selections are often based on personal preference.

* Network Technology
Your local service area may feature a wealth of available carrier options, and it may not. Each carrier uses a predominant technology for providing cellular service to its wireless customers. There are some technical differences between the two predominant technologies in use-CDMA (used by Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, Nextel, Alltel, CellularOne, and Western Wireless) and GSM (used by Cingular and T-Mobile and others including most of the carriers in Europe and Asia). However the general performance characteristics of both are comparable, and the only real significance is that these technologies are incompatible with each other. That means that as a customer you can't buy a phone from one carrier and subsequently use it on another carrier's network.

If the ability to use your phone overseas ( international roaming) is important to you, consider the GSM network carriers and a "world-band" phone that also works on the GSM frequencies used abroad. These carriers and phones allow you to make and receive calls while traveling in many countries in Europe and Asia, though usually at a much higher cost per minute talk time.

As a subset of the CDMA compatible choices, Nextel iDEN phones feature a widely-known and often indispensable push-to-talk option (walkie-talkie) feature. However, while most other CDMA compatible phones are at least capable of Roaming on other CDMA host carrier networks, Nextel iDEN phones only work within Nextel network service areas. If there is no Nextel network signal present, a Nextel iDEN phone will not work at all.

* Screen Size and Color
Larger screens that display sixty-five or even two-hundred sixty-two thousand colors are increasingly common, even on inexpensive cell phones. These bright, colorful displays can make it somewhat easier to read and navigate increasingly extensive feature phone menus, and they make a significant difference when using Data Services such as Instant Messaging, sharing Digital Photos or Wireless Web Browsing. However, phones with dual color displays are generally more expensive to purchase at the beginning and often have reduced talk time and standby capacity due to increased power consumption.

* Battery Life
With current battery technologies, even the most inexpensive phones deliver hours of talk time and multiple days of standby operation (phone power on to receive incoming calls). Even so, if a customer spends several hours each day talking on the phone, they would benefit from the longer life of an extended-capacity battery. Phone use, network conditions and a number of other conditions (even the weather) affect battery life and talk time duration. While most wireless phones approach the maximum battery life figures provided by manufacturers and carriers, these numbers should be only be used as comparative measures between different models. Typically separate figures are provided for talk time and standby operation. Customers who use their phones a lot should seek out a phone with a greater talk time capacity or purchase an extended-capacity battery if available. Wireless subscribers who are frequently away from their home or office for long stretches should consider a phone with a longer standby capacity or purchase an additional travel charger for their home or car charger for their automobile.

* Phone Book Capacity
Every modern wireless phone has the ability to store names and phone numbers at their fingertips in an electronic phone book. Basic models can store a few hundred names and numbers while phones geared toward business users provide more complete contact management with capacity for postal addresses, multiple phone numbers, email addresses and even photo IDs for as many as 500 contacts. For many GSM phones that feature SIM card operation, additional contacts can be stored on directly on the SIM card itself, ready for transport to new equipment if needed.

* Personalization Options
Today wireless phones are more than just communication tools; they are frequently fashion statements or expressions of personal style. Many wireless phones offer interchangeable covers, a selection of graphics or photos that can adorn the screen or a choice of customizable ringtones-samples of music or other sounds to replace the standard beeps, chirps or rings that tell you someone is calling. Many phones allow users to assign specific rings to individual callers whose names and numbers are stored in the phone's directory. While these feature do not improve the sound quality or reception of a wireless phone, they can be fun, inexpensive expressions of style and personal creativity.

* Text Messaging
The most common, non-phone function available on wireless phones is the ability to send and receive short text messages to and from other wireless phones. Sometimes called SMS ( Short Message Service), this capability can be handy for sending short, discreet messages to someone who's not free to take a phone call and is unable to access their email. Typing messages on a phone's numeric keypad can be time consuming, even with predictive text entry (software that helps type your messages by guessing what words you are trying to enter and completing them for you automatically). Through agreements among the carriers and limited to about 150 characters, SMS messages can be sent to any wireless phone user, regardless of which carrier they use. Several more advanced forms of messaging permit embedded or attached graphics, digital photos, music clips or other multi-media content. Known as EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) only work on specially equipped wireless phones and often only between compatible phones from the same carrier.

* Web Browser
Almost universally available in some form or another, Wireless Web Browsing allows a customer to view and navigate through Web pages specially formatted for viewing on small cell phone screens. Wireless Web users should note that while the browser software is typically included with a capable wireless phone, actual access to the Web requires and extra-cost subscription from the carrier.

* Digital Camera
The most popular feature on today's wireless phones is a integrated Digital Camera. While not all are suitable for framing, these small format photos can be reviewed on the phone's display or shared with friends and family via email, the Web or by sending them to similarly equipped phones. An increasing number of wireless phones are coming equipped with 1+ megapixel cameras with advanced photo editing features and a built-in flash. These advanced camera phones are capable of taking and storing images that will print respectably on 4x6 photo paper.

While they are certainly not substitutes for conventional digital or film-based cameras for capturing memorable moments, having a camera with you everywhere you go can be both useful and fun. It doesn't cost anything to snap and display photos on the phone's screen, but sending photos via email, MMS or Web-based photo-sharing services typically requires a subscription from the carrier and or a third-party service. Customers should note that , airtime used transmitting or transferring photos and other data may be charged against your allowance of talk time.

* Push-To-Talk Service (Direct Connect/Two-Way Radio)
Push-To-Talk Service allows subscribers to instantly connect with each other walkie-talkie style without dialing the 10-digit phone number. Carrier plans that offer this feature usually provide a separate allowance of minutes for the service in addition to the allowance of Talk Time minutes in the calling plan. Nextel is the most popular of the carriers to feature push-to-talk service, featuring DirectConnect(tm) capability on every one of their iDEN wireless phones. Verizon and Sprint also offer Push-To-Talk service, though only on select wireless phones in their catalogs. Currently, the Push-To-Talk features only work if both parties subscribe to the service on the same Carrier network.

* Additional Features

Speed Dialing or One-Touch Dialing - Allows users to designate a number of stored contacts for quick one- or two-button dialing of frequently called numbers.

Vibrating Alert - Allows user to set phone to vibrate instead of ring, providing a silent alert for incoming calls, especially appropriate for phone use in public places or meetings where ringing would be inappropriate.

Speakerphone - Permits hands free use of your phone during a call, especially useful when driving your car. Some speakerphone models will also respond to voice menu commands enabling users total hands-free operation of their wireless phone in everyday situations.

Voice Dialing - Enables user to speak a contact name or number in the phone's address book and prompt the phone to dial the number automatically without pressing buttons on the numeric keypad. Coupled with speakerphone capability, this is another feature that eases hands-free operation while driving.

Voice Recorder - Records and plays back short spoken notes or personal memos.
Games - Enable wireless phone to provide an entertaining diversion from airport layovers, tedious waiting in line or other boring situations.

Downloadable Ringtones and Graphics - Permits the user to add new ringtones, screen graphics and other data that didn't come built into a phone by connecting to a carrier or a third-party data service and "downloading" directly into the phone's memory. Some phones are limited to downloading ringtones and screen graphics, while others can add games and other software programs, including productivity tools and relatively sophisticated business applications.

Ring Tone Melody Composer - Software program built into some phones that enables custom composition of melodies that can be then be saved as user defined ringtones.
FM Radio or MP3 Player - Built-in radio tuner or digital music player for fans of portable music, talk radio or news broadcasts to listen to their favorite media through their wireless phone or in stereo with an external adapter or earbud headphones.

Instant Messenger - Popular user-to-user text chatting service that enables silent two-way conversations with another user or users using an Internet-connected computer or cell phone.

Personal Information Management (PIM) or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) Functions - Varied collections of simple organizational tools such as an alarm clock, calendar and to-do list to more sophisticated capabilities that mimic those of a full- handheld computer. Many inexpensive cell phones and mid-priced models include the basic organizer functions, and most can be synchronized with calendar and contact info maintained on a PC. More sophisticated wireless phone/PDA combinations with integrated microprocessors and advanced software capabilities typically cost several hundred dollars.

Infrared Connection - Permits a direct line-of-sight connection to another wireless phone, handheld or laptop computer. Primarily for exchanging and synchronizing phonebook or calendar data, an Infrared Connection can also be used in wireless multiplayer gaming. Particularly useful feature with PC-based contact management or calendar software that can keep the same data stored and updated on a wireless phone.

Bluetooth Connection - Local radio based direct wireless connection similar to Infrared, though with increased range and transfer speed and not requiring line-of-sight alignment. Allows links to other Bluetooth enabled devices including phones, headsets, laptops, printers and other devices. Also primarily for exchanging or synchronizing phonebook or calendar data, a Bluetooth Connection is also increasingly used in wireless multiplayer gaming.

Global Positioning System or GPS - Enables carrier to use signals from GPS satellites to pinpoint the geographic location of the device in the event of an emergency, or increasingly for user-defined location based services.


Now that you've gained all the knowledge necessary to make an educated choice on a cell phone and calling plan that's right for you....here's a website resource that will make that even easier. Inphonic provides a single location to search and compare all major providers of both cell phones and calling plans.......

Find A Cell Phone and Calling Plan

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Vonage Shares Fall 14%....I Warned Ya

Whoo hoo, whoo hoo hoo?

More like Boo Hoo Boo Hoo Hoo! LOL

Vonage shares dropped as much as fourteen percent as of mid-day on the first day of the company's IPO. Shares started the day at $17, and went down to around $15.23, up from a low of $14.49 (but were still dropping as I wrote this). One analyst told Reuters he believes the shares should have been priced at $10 or less. Vonage even admitted that theyhave been losing money and may never be a profitable company. The IPO did net the company $531 million.....but their reported pre-IPO debt (as of March 31) was reported as an accumulated deficit of $467.4 million! That means they've lost almost half a billion dollars on revenues of $430-450 million.

I about died when I read their own words [in their Prospectus] "we may not make any profits or gains in our current market due to marketing expenses, we believe in order to gain new subscribers to replace canceling ones, we must market heavily, and do not plan to reduce our expenses on this matter, we do plan to expand our campaigns". That was my red flag, and I laughed at everyone else who jumped on and bought stock in a sinking ship.

I know this company is not trying to raise the value of their public stock. They need the money (per their prospectus) to "market". Bad move right now to invest until they learn the hard way "it's not how much you advertise, it's all about how your customers are treated so you can retain your growth". Vonage has the worst ratings in customer service and tech support because of the outragous hold times at all times of day, and outsourcing of support. If they can keep the customer satisfied, their churn rate will drop, and less commercials will be needed.

I wouldn't hold out hope though. Vonage looks ripe for a takeover by one of the Baby Bells or maybe one of the Cablecos.....the buyer then folding the Vonage customers into their own existing VoIP customer stable. Makes sense.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Fundamentals Of OC3 Bandwidth...What It Does For Your Business

When searching for just the right bandwidth solution for critical business network applications a common choice is what's termed an OC3 circuit. An OC3 circuit works as a reliable fiber optic backbone for large networks with substantial voice/data/video traffic needs. For example......corporate headquarters phone lines (PBX and/or VoIP), company Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems, facility high security networks, Hospital medical imagery and diagnostic systems, data recovery and backup networks, video conferencing facilities, multi-media or virtual design centers, and ISP backbones.

OC3 is the abbreviated term for Optical Carrier level 3, and is used to specify the speed level of fiber optic networks over SONET. The speed itself is measured through SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) standards.

Specificly, the Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) includes a set of signal rate multiples for transmitting digital signals on optical fiber. OC stands for Optical Carrier and the number following specifies the speed of the fiber optic networks conforming to the SONET standard. The base rate OC1 is 51.84 Mbps. Therefore an OC3 circuit delivers 155 Mbps.

OC3 is optical carrier (fiber) connected by equipment capable of speeds up to 155.5 Mbps......and is designed to take, synchronize, and transport data and voice at that speed of 155 Mbps reliably. Due to their potential load delivery capacity.....OC3 applications are used most often by large enterprises with significant bandwidth requirements or as an ISP backbone. By definition.....an OC3 is the equivalent of 84 T1s or 3 DS3s/T3s. To put it in perspective....an OC3 circuit is capable of 2,000 simultaneous voice transmissions with each transmission carrying variable data types alongside the voice!

An important factor to consider is that OC3s can be burstable, which allows you to start small and increase your bandwidth as your needs grow. A Burstable OC3 is the ideal solution for businesses who seek ultra-fast connectivity for their Internet needs.....and don't require full OC3 load capacity just yet but may in the future. Options cover selection from 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140, or a full 155 Mbps of service.

Fiber Optics is a technology that uses glass (or plastic) threads (fibers) to transmit data. A fiber optic cable consists of a bundle of glass threads, each of which is capable of transmitting messages modulated onto light waves.

Fiber optics has several advantages over traditional metal communication lines. They have a much greater bandwidth than metal cables. This means they can carry more data. They are also less susceptible than metal cables to interference, and they are much thinner and lighter than metal wires. This enables the data to be transmitted digitally over fiber optics rather than resorting to analog transmission.

Additionally, OC-3 is most often made up of what is called a "SONET ring" to maintain it's reliability (redundancy) during its high speed transmissions.

A common method of back up used with SONET ring is called a "bi-directional ring topology." This bi-directional ring is a physical topology which deploys two sets of fiber strands.

The first strand for the connection is for sending and receiving. The second strand will reroute traffic from the original transmission in another direction should the first strand break or malfunction. Therefore bi-directional ring topology helps ensure constant reliability within an OC3 SONET based network.

So just what does an OC3 circuit do for your business?

With an OC3 bandwidth solution your network will deliver optimum speed and load for any large scale voice/data application requirement you have....with reliable and secure digital technology performance.

Friday, May 19, 2006

How Do You 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 or broker website 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 fact 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 to use online broker resource I recommend ShopForDSL. You'll get a side by side comparison with the details you're looking for...and can order on line for convenience if you choose.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Skype Free Call Offer "F-ing Brilliant" Vonage IPO-Killer?

Russell Shaw of ZDNet shared a rather astute observation on a possible link between the recent Sype "free call" offer and the impending Vonage IPO. Doesn't look like Skype's move is by coincidence.

Skype Free Call Offer "F-ing Brilliant" Vonage IPO-Killer?
Russell Shaw

Yes, F(Financially, wink wink)-ing brilliant, indeed.

Former hedge fund manager Andy Kessler thinks that Skype's introduction of free calling within the U.S. is an effort to "toy with the mouse" before you kill it.

And writing on GigaOm, Kessler thinks the mouse is Vonage.

"The buzz on the Street is that the Vonage IPO is on the rocks. They HAVE to raise money or they are in a world of hurt," Kessler writes. "Their investors don’t want to put another penny in and the company seems to still be bleeding cash, $75 million in the first quarter of 2006. Geez, Vonage is begging customers to buy 20% of the deal - not a great sign.

"What better way to do away with the Vonage IPO and raise their cost of capital then scare investors even more," adds Kessler.

To make his point, Kessler does the math.

"At Skypeout = zero, its infinite minutes. The value of what Vonage provides has just gone from $25 per month to somewhere close to $0, goose egg, nada," he writes. "Tough to get a return on equity with those kind of numbers.

"F-ing brilliant," adds Kessler, saying that he would like to shake the hands of the person that thought this out.

Well, it may not be eff brilliant, but it is smart.

Still, I have to wonder, what does Skype do at the end of the year, when this promo is supposed to cease? How can it dare to sunset this offer when even cheaper calling plans are sure to be in play?

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I've been saying for sometime that Vonage is built on an expensive marketing campaign with an annoying jingle....not a strong product, infrastructure, customer service, and management leadership which is where longevity would come from. The reality is that their bleeding money doesn't bode well for being around in their current form for long. If they survive at all they're likely to be gobbled up by some enterprising Telecom (hmmmm.....can you say SBC?).

In fact......it is being reported that Vonage shares will be offered to the public via their IPO at a projected $17 a share. But it appears Vonage does not believe the Value of these shares will increase in the short term. In fact,the opposite is projected to happen:

"As a new investor, you will experience immediate and substantial dilution," Vonage points out in their Prospectus. Geez....they say the actual value will actually turn out to be something like $2.78 per share!! That's a HUGE drop in value.

Now what idiot is going to invest in THAT!

Like I've been saying for a long time. Vonage sucks. For stability and staying power....go with Packet8.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Skype Makes Outbound Calling Free

Skype today turned the Internet telephony industry on its head by introducing free calling to traditional landline and mobile phones in the United States and Canada through its SkypeOut feature. The move comes just days after Microsoft introduced Windows Live Messenger beta with its calling service.

SkypeOut previously charged users per-minute fees for making calls to non-PC users -- a business model being adopted by a number of rivals, including Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft. Now, Skype users can call both fellow Skype users and standard phone numbers without being charged until at least December 31, 2006.

"Yes. It is really very, very free. There’s no prepayment, no minimum use, no subscription, no monthly fee, no nothing," Skype wrote on its Web site. "That is, until December 31, 2006. We’re not quite sure yet what we will do after that. Maybe we extend the free period, maybe not."

International calls will still be charged the standard SkypeOut rates, the company said, which it claims are the lowest in the industry. Skype is hoping the free service will help solidify its position its the market amidst growing competition from the major instant messaging providers and VOIP companies like Vonage.

“Millions of consumers around the world are flocking to Skype every month, and we believe free SkypeOut calling will rapidly accelerate Skype adoption in the US and Canada,” said Henry Gomez, General Manager of Skype North America.

Friday, May 12, 2006

International Programming Packages Available For Dish Network TV

My experience with satellite TV is usually catching a big game with friends down at the local sports bar. I have to admit I'm no expert on home installation and use. Just never saw the need.

I must say I'm pretty impressed though with what I found while doing some research for this article. Satellite TV has really grown up. Big time. It's not all sports and HBO anymore. In fact....one of the interesting things I found was the ability to get international programming with a ton of choices. Besides Spanish as you would expect....they even offer Armenian, Arabic, Farsi, Greek, African, French, Chinese, German, Israili, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, South Asian, Filipino/Tagalog, Urdu, and Ukranian. Geez....it's a regular United Nations.

Of course you'll still find the usual local networks, movie channels, sports, and HDTV packages. Plus there's always the special promotions with free rooms, installation, DVR, and HDTV receivers you hear about. All still good but nothing really new. But it's the programming that gets me. Really expanded. More of EVERYTHING.

So if you have any interest at all in satellite TV....Dish Network or Direct TV....I suggest you do a little surfing yourself and see what all the noise is about. Better yet....just start by visiting Satellite TV and having fun "looking around".

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Just What Is Metro Ethernet??

Metro Ethernet is a computer network based on the Ethernet standard covering a metropolitan area. It connects subscribers and businesses to a Wide Area Network, commonly the Internet. Large businesses can also use Metro Ethernet to connect branch offices to their Intranets.

Ethernet has been a well known technology for decades. It is said that an Ethernet interface is 10 times cheaper when compared to a SDH or PDH interface of the same bandwidth. Ethernet also supports high bandwidths with fine granularity, which is not available with traditional SDH connections. Therefore, bringing Ethernet in to the Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) introduces a lot of advantages to both the Service Provider and the Customer (corporate and residential).

A typical service provider Metro Ethernet network is a collection of Layer 2 or 3 switches or Routers connected throgh optical fiber. The topology could be a ring, hub-and-spoke (star), full mesh or partial mesh. The network will also have a hierarchy; core, distribution and access. The core in most cases is an existing IP/MPLS backbone.

Ethernet on the MAN can be used as pure Ethernet, Ethernet over SDH, Ethernet over MPLS or Ethernet over DWDM. Pure Ethernet based deployments are cheap but less reliable and scalable. SDH based deployments are useful when there is an existing SDH infrastructure already in place. MPLS based deployments are costly but highly reliable and scalable.

Basically there are 2 types of services, which could be delivered through Metro Ethernet:

* E-Line also known as Virtual Leased Line and Point-to-Point.

* E-LAN also known as Virtual Private LAN Services, Transparent LAN Services and MultiPoint-to-MultiPoint.

There are lot of vendors supplying equipment for Metro Ethernet deployments. They include Alcatel, Cisco Systems, Huawei, ZTE, C-COR, Nortel Networks, Foundry Networks and many more. For assistance in finding the right solution for your Metro Ethernet, SONET, or GigE applications we suggest the free consulative services of Business Ethernet.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Uniden UIP1868P Whole House VoIP Phone System With Packet8 Internet Phone Service

For anyone looking for a whole house broadband phone solution you're in luck. Packet8 offers a very cost effective package built around the Uniden UIP1868P VoIP system delivering total coverage of your entire house. The package includes a special rebate offer on the necessary equipment....and an unlimited calling plan covering all of the US and Canada.

The Uniden Whole House VoIP Phone System (UIP1868P)....including a 2-in-1 IP Phone with built-in Router....makes setting up and using Packet8 Internet Phone Service a snap – just plug the Ethernet cable from your broadband modem into the Uniden 1868 base station, configure the built-in router and you’re ready to go.

Sleek and attractive, the Whole House VoIP Phone looks good at home or in the office. Designed specifically for Packet8 Internet phone service subscribers, the UIP1868P eliminates the need for a separate router and broadband phone adapter. Fewer boxes means more space and less wires to contend with.

The Uniden UIP1868P is expandable to up to 10 cordless Uniden handsets, enabling subscribers to access their Packet8 service in every room of their home. Also, the built-in router is tuned to prioritize voice packets and manage available bandwidth better than standalone routers.

Packet8 subscribers receive unlimited residential calling in the U.S. and Canada for only $19.99 a month as well as unlimited calling from Packet8 phone to Packet8 phone worldwide. In addition to low international rates, Packet8 standard features include voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, 3-way calling and many others that traditional phone services charge extra for.

KEY FEATURES

- Built-in router allowing for prioritization of voice packets and bandwidth management

- Built-in broadband phone adapter eliminates need for extra equipment and wires

- Supports up to 10 Uniden digital 5.8GHz accessory handsets

- Base keypad and duplex speakerphone

- Handset speakerphone

- WAN/LAN Routing with built-in firewall

- 2-way radio communication

- 20 distinctive rings

- Programmable CID or memory locations

- Handset paging

- English/French/Spanish language support

- And many more

Note: Existing Packet8 subscribers who wish to upgrade to a Uniden Whole House VoIP Phone System can do so through their “Account Details” page after logging in.

* This instant rebate offer is good for new subscribers only. Purchase requires 1 year commitment to one of the following Packet8 service plans Freedom Unlimited, Freedom International, Freedom Global Unlimited and Business 2000. If the subscriber terminates Voice Service within twelve (12) months of the initial purchase of the Uniden Whole House VoIP Phone System, 8x8 shall charge a disconnection fee of ninety-nine dollars ($99). The Disconnection Fee shall be waived after subscriber completes twelve (12) months of consecutive service.

Friday, May 05, 2006

What's The Difference Between Frame Relay, Private Line, & A Point-To-Point T1?

How is "an expensive frame relay type service to the internet" different than a "less expensive plain T1 to the internet"....AND how are either of these different from a private line or point-to-point T1?

Here's my opinion......

Don't worry about the technology difference between frame relay and a plain T1....or either of these and a private line or point to point T1.

A frame T1 runs at just about the same speed as a point to point T1. Much more important to worry about is what's on the other end of the circuit. If the other end of the circuit is the internet backbone, and you have 1.5M throughput to the backbone, then that's a "dedicated" connection, the best grade of service you can get. If the other end of the circuit is to a carrier's serving office, or DSLAM, or aggregation point, then the 1.5M throughput is to their equipment, not to the internet backbone, and you have a "shared" connection. A shared connection means that your provider has arranged for a bulk internet connection from a larger carrier and it splits some out for you -- but rarely do they split out your bandwidth only for you.

For example a shared provider might buy a wholesale DS-3 from Global Crossing. A DS-3 is the equivalent of 28 T1 circuits. The shared ISP would try to have many customers sharing that T1 circuit, much more than 28 customers -- that's how they make money.

Same thing with phone systems -- you might have twenty extension phones in your office, but only 5 phone lines with the phone company. This recognizes that not all users need to use the phone at the same time.

In the internet world, shared ISPs are betting that not all customers need their full bandwidth at the same time. If a shared provider pays $6000 per month for a DS-3, and sells T1s for $300/month, they break even at 20 customers. ISPs will oversell their bandwidth because not all customers need their full bandwidth at all times. If you've been reading this message for the past 15 seconds, and your PC is doing nothing else, you haven't used your bandwidth for the past now 20 seconds.

Now.....if you need the internet circuit for email, and looking at web pages, and research, a shared T1 connection is fine. But if you're running time sensitive or bandwidth hogging applications like hosting a website at your location, or if you're running VOIP applications, or streaming audio or video, or controlling machinery remotely ... then a shared T1 connection will be a big PIA (pain in the *&!) at some point during the month when the other customers will be sucking up all the bandwidth leaving you with less than you are paying for.

So don't worry about the technology of the access circuit, worry about what's on the other end. If you can get away with a shared T1 connection, you'll save some loot. If you have critical applications, then your life will be filled with drama until you get a dedicated T1 connection.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How Does MSN Stack Up Against The Other DSL Providers In My Area?

How Does MSN Stack Up Against The Other DSL Providers In My Area?
Patrick Oborn

How does the largest software giant in the word increase revenue? That is the billion-dollar question facing planners at Microsoft. As the market leader in operating system software with a market share of 95%, it becomes difficult to generate revenue while almost every PC on this planet is already running some version of Windows. The answer? High-speed internet access (MSN DSL) and video games (XBOX).

Whether by luck or by plan, Microsoft was able to hold off on their plans to become an ISP until -after- the dot-com crash, allowing Microsoft to purchase network capacity for pennies on the dollar. Coupled with Mircosoft's unequalled ability to repeat sell to their customers, MSN DSL was quick to pick up it's first batch of customers.

Since the initial launch in 2002, MSN DSL has built out it's portal to rival that of AOL, complete with it's own version of Instant Messanger, Spam-Filtered Email, and Parental Controls. Leave it to Microsoft to dominate any computer-related field it sets in its sights.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Silver Motorola RAZR V3 Bluetooth Phone

I just ran across this special on a Silver Motorola RAZR V3 camera phone with Bluetooth from T-Mobile...and you can get it free too.

Here's the link: Silver Motorola RAZR V3 Bluetooth Phone

Here's the details........

Motorola RAZR V3 (Camera Phone)

Motorola’s super-hot RAZR v3 is as beautiful as it is advanced! Designed to be the thinnest flip phone ever, the RAZR v3 has a solid anodized aluminum shell packed full of the latest technology; quad-band GSM for use in 100 countries, long-range Bluetooth, MPEG4 video, 4x optical zoom digital camera and a large, beautiful 2.2” color display inside. An amazing phone to look at, and equally as amazing to use. This is one of the most desirable phones ever produced.

Highlights

Bluetooth Wireless Technology
VGA Camera With Self-Timer
Record Video Clips and Send Them to Friends
AOL Instant Messenger Built-in
Voice Activated Dialing
Beautiful Color Display
External Display For Caller ID, Battery Life and More
Yes, WAP 2.0 Browser Built-in

What's In The Box With The Phone

Additional Items Included - Battery, Wall Charger, User Guide, Ear Bud

Advanced Features

Digital Camera - VGA, 640 x 480 Pixels w/ Self-timer
Bluetooth Wireless Technology - Yes
Video Capture / Camcorder - Yes, Up to 15 Seconds
Data Capable / Use This Phone As A Modem - Yes, Using PhoneTools Software and USB Sold Separately
PC Synchronization - Yes, Using PhoneTools Software and USB Sold Separately

Messaging Features

Multimedia Messaging - Yes, Via MMS and EMS
Text Messaging (SMS) - Yes, 2-way Via SMS
Instant Messenger Built-in - Yes, AOL Pre-loaded

Personalization and Fun Features

Polyphonic Ringtones - Yes, With Hi-Fi Ringers
Ringer Profiles - Yes
Picture Caller ID - Yes
Multiple Languages - Yes
Games - Yes, Downloadable Titles
Customizable Graphics - Yes, With "Foto Fun" Editor
Customizable Themes - Yes

Core Features

Color Main Display - Yes, 176 x 220 Pixels, Over 65,000 Colors, TFT
External Display - Yes, 96 x 32 Monochrome Blue Backlight
Speakerphone - Yes
Voice-activated Dialing - Yes
Voice Memo - Yes
Alarm - Yes, Works Even When Phone Is Off
Calculator - Yes
Currency Converter - Yes
Calendar - Yes
Vibrate - Yes
Phonebook Capacity - 1000 Entries
Multiple Numbers Per Name - Yes, Up to 4 Per Entry

Battery Life

Battery Type - LiIon 820 mAh
Talk Time - Up To 225 Minutes
Standby Time - Up To 226 Hours

Technical Specifications

Application Platform - Java
High-Speed Data - EDGE (Enhanced GPRS)
Network Compatibility - GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900
Ringtone Types Supported - Custom Ringtones, MIDI
Predictive Text Entry - Yes, T9
Built-In Memory - 5 MB
Dimensions - 3.50 in x 1.93 in x 0.97 in
Weight - 4.23 oz

Compatibility Features

Device Supports Voice Plans - Yes
Available For Purchase Without Service Plan - Yes