Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marketing Podcast Tips for Telecommunications Companies from Maria Pinochet


Normally BroadBand Nation is quite technical in nature which is necessary, but may I share some real insight into another side of successful telecommunications, business ethernet, dark fiber, business voip, and broadband business?

Hundreds of thousands of businesses in North America and in other countries provide some type of communications services such as telecommunications, IP communications, IP TV, mobile service, and unified communications. Even if the best infrastructure, website, customer portals and relationship management, and team are on board, out-dated forms of or lack of marketing can kill growth and brand. Such lack of planning often results in lack of sales and customer retention. Listen by clicking to stream or download (orange podcast button) and listen to our third in a series of audio podcasts with Maria Pinochet, founder and president of Kore Access. Her clients are involved in your industry and ours.

"The old way to get attention in the market is to say 'I'm number one and these are the reasons why'," says Ms. Pinochet. " ... instead of trying to get attention, put the spotlight on the customer ... study the patterns of what gets communicated virally, that's going to be one of the key components of viral communications."

Video testimonials are a great example of focusing on the customer and in turn, being recommended over and over on the web as a result. In them, I noted that we should not only ask for their experience with our companies, but also any problems they had, how they were resolved and of course, let them talk about their own business, services and expertise!

Allowing one's brand to be discussed in a worst case scenario can actually be a very successful counter intuitive marketing strategy. Both parties, the customer and the vendor are educating, solving problems and showing a true picture of real life business processes. Quite often this leads to new respect for the companies involved and eventual new sales.

Maria Pinochet (pronounced Pea No Shay) describes some of her clients and how she has helped them to grow more. Typically, they are successful offline as popular, empowering speakers and providers of highly effective services or quality products. They just have not taken advantage of the Internet at all or not very well. She truly understands how that a business and its management and ownership have to think outside of themselves and instead to empower their audience and market.

She says, "We (her clients like you and me) want our customers (their market, their users) to have a conversation about me, without me which is very difficult ..."

Kore Access taps into industry expertise throughout South America, North America and Europe. When a business has a website, suddenly, its potential market is not just those within easy travel distance. It can be worldwide. Even though local businesses do not realize it, they do get international traffic on their sites, people looking for their products and services!

Why not explore ways to capture that value? Ms. Pinochet notes that is worth the time to make sure that cultural divides are bridged where profitable for all involved in the potential of international expansion. Google analytics and Alexa analytics can assist businesses in knowing which countries and cities are visiting one's business presence online. The objective, of course, is adding sales via innovative, intuitive and as shocking as it seems ... counter intuitive marketing.

Regarding cultural differences and divide, when a business's core values are not aligned with those of the customers or even potential investors, the trust issue is like a door that "Open, Sesame!" will never open.

As Maria says, "It is not that one culture or another is wrong, but it is simply that we have different norms about what we would say and how we say it."

What an interesting and eye-opening experience she had in a Scandinavian culture while on a business trip. Maria Pinochet was told that she was confrontative and aggressive in nature ... there.  She was shocked.

Next, we discuss that most businesses still think of social networks as "the black box." In fact, a survey respondent about social networks for business use said that it cannot possibly be measured because it just seems so subjective, so why bother with it? Maria says that depending upon one's market, social networks and media have an important place in business to business scenarios. It's an important decision-making tool. An example would be the audio podcast between Maria Pinochet of Kore Access and Suzanne Bowen (entrepreneur and publicist) that this blog post is based on. Ms. Pinochet believes that podcasting, blogging and Linkedin are the three key areas where businesses seek information before purchasing.

Most businesses want the following:
1. See that everyone in their company uses their time wisely
2. Know their sales goals, best way to nurture leads, qualify them correctly, retain customers

"All of these have a direct link to a social media initiative, believe it or not," says Maria.

For example, sales people while talking with current and potential customers can share direct links to company blog posts, especially those with the most comments on them. Each social media whether a network, blog, podcast, video channel and such, give businesses the opportunity to use some KPI (key performance indicators) to discover what is effective in nurturing the sales pipeline.

To be truly competitive, Maria Pinochet says that businesses need to have a clear vision of how everything is fitting in their system to create the results that really matter for themselves, prospects and clients.

Get in touch with Kore Access and Maria Pinochet on Cut to the Kore blog, Linkedin, Twitter (where she is an expert in my opinion) and the company website. We welcome your comments on old vs. new styles of marketing, how social media mixes well with business, counter intuitive marketing, video testimonials, expanding one's market to larger geographical areas, and social networks as "black box."

Many thanks to Freedom Fire Business VoIP Solutions for enabling me Suzanne Bowen to share this audio podcast and blog post with great tips on B 2 B social media marketing in 2012 and forward.

Monday, July 30, 2012

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. WireFly 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

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Zayo Completes Acquisition Of AboveNet

We are excited to announce the completion of Zayo's acquisition of AboveNet. The combined company is now known as Zayo Group, and their 4.6 million miles of fiber and 10,000+ lit buildings are now in play.

To help you learn more about the potential opportunities for your business with Zayo, we're sharing the below links with more information on Zayo's network.

Lit building lists and markets served by Zayo ...

Markets Served

On-Net Building List

Dark Fiber Locations

To take advantage of all Zayo has to offer your business ... wherever you are ... simply request a free quote here:

High Capacity Broadband

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Friday, July 27, 2012

ACC Business... Plug Into The Power Of AT&T

Until recently, ACC Business' rock bottom pricing has only been available in AT&T regions, but now thanks to a new promo, non AT&T regions can now enjoy the same benefit.

Effective June 23rd, 2012 the EaMIS II Promotion being offered by ACC Business, has now even better pricing for ATT instate/in region opportunities. Start taking immediate advantage of these fabulous rates and stay ahead of the curve with ACC Business. As an example...10mg Ethernet used to be $1076 with router...NOW ITS $968!

To see what ACC Business can do for your network requirements simply request a free quote here ....

ACC Business Ethernet And More

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

IP Telephony (VoIP) Terms And Definitions

Here's a quick primer with the latest IP Telephony expressions, VoIP terms and definitions of this rapidly growing industry. For specific assistance with business VoIP applications go to Business VoIP Solution.

ACD: Average Call Duration.

AHT (Average Hold Time): The average length of time between the moment a caller finishes dialing and the moment the call is answered or terminated.

ANI (Automatic Number Identification): A telephone function which transmits the billing number of the incoming call (Caller ID, for example).

ANSI (American National Standards Institute): The American standardization body known for interface recommendations and standardization of programming languages. ANSI is a non-profit making, government-independent organization.

AS (Autonomous System): A group of networks under mutual administration that share the same routing methodology.

ASP (Application Service Provider): An independent, third party provider of software-based services delivered to customers across a wide area network (WAN).

ASR (Answer-Seizure Ratio) : The ratio of successfully connected calls to attempted calls (also called 'Call Completion Rate').

ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter): Used to connect a standard telephone to a high-speed modem to facilitate VoIP and/or fax calls over the Internet.

ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode): A technology for switched, connection-oriented transmission of voice, data and video. It makes high-speed dedicated connections possible between a theoretically unlimited number of network users and also to servers.

Asterisk: An open source that provides all the functionality of high-end business telephone systems. It is the world's most flexible and extensible telephone system, providing many features that are not yet available in even the most advanced proprietary systems. It is also the world's cheapest telephone system. The software is free and runs on inexpensive Linux servers.

Backbone: A high-speed network spanning the world from one major metropolitan area to another.

Bad Frame Interpolation: Interpolates lost/corrupted packets by using the previously received voice frames. It increases voice quality by making the voice transmission more robust.

Bandwidth: The maximum data carrying capacity of a transmission link. For networks, bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second (bps).

Billing Increment: A call duration measurement unit, usually expressed in seconds.

Broadband: A descriptive term for evolving digital technology that provides consumers a single switch facility offering integrated access to voice, high-speed data service, video demand services, and interactive delivery services.

CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act): A 1994 act that requires telecommunications services to provide wiretapping access. The act specifically excludes information services, so the question is whether VoIP is a telecommunications service, and thus covered by the act, or an information service, and thus exempted. VoIP providers are receiving pressure to comply with the act.

Call Deflection: Call Deflection allows a called endpoint to redirect the unanswered call to another endpoint.

Call Detail Record (CDR): Information regarding a single call collected from the switch and available as an automatically generated downloadable report for a requested time period. The report contains information on the number of calls, call duration, call origination and destination, and billed amount.

Circuit-Switched: Communication system that establishes a dedicated channel for each transmission. The copper-wire telephone system (POTS) uses circuit-switching, as do PBX systems. Dedicated channels mean strong reliability and low latency, but the downside is that only one type of communication can use the channel at any given time.

CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier): A telephone company that competes with the larger incumbent carriers (ILECs) through reselling the ILEC services and/or creating services that use the ILEC's infrastructure. The Regional Bells are ILECs; local phone companies are frequently CLECs.

Codec (Compression-Decompression): In VoIP it is a voice compression-decompression algorithm that defines the rate of speech compression, quality of decompressed speech and processing power requirements. The most popular codecs in VoIP are G.723.1 and G.729.

Compression: VoIP uses various compression ratios, the highest approximately 12:1. Compression varies according to available bandwidth.

Congestion: The situation in which the traffic present on the network exceeds available network bandwidth/capacity.

CSMA/CD (Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection): This is the access procedure to the Ethernet in which the participating stations physically monitor the traffic on the line. If no transmission is taking place at the time the particular station can transmit. If two stations attempt to transmit simultaneously this causes a collision that is detected by all participating stations. After a random time interval the stations that collided attempt to transmit again.

Dial-peer (Addressable Call Endpoint): A software structure that binds a dialed digit string to a voice port or IP address of the destination gateway. Several dial peers always exist on each router in the network, and at least two will be involved in making a call across the network, one on the originating end and one on the terminating end. In Voice over IP, there are two kinds of dial peers: POTS and VoIP. VoIP peers point to specific VoIP devices.

Dial-peer hunting: Process when the originating router tries to establish call on different dial peers if the originating router receives a user-busy invalid number or an unassigned-number disconnect cause code from a destination router.

DiffServ (Differentiated Services): A quality of service (QoS) protocol that prioritizes IP voice and data traffic to help preserve voice quality, even when network traffic is heavy.

DNIS (Dialed Number Identification Service): A telephone function which sends the dialed telephone number to the answering service.

DSP (Digital Signal Processors): All digital audio systems use DSP technology in order to differentiate between signal and noise. In telephone communication, too, much noise creates problems in maintaining connections, and in VoIP systems the DSP component provides features such as tone generation, echo cancellation, and buffering.

DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi Frequency): The type of audio signals generated when you press the buttons on a touch-tone telephone.

Dynamic Jitter Buffer: Collects voice packets, stores them, and shifts them to the voice processor in evenly spaced intervals to reduce any distortion in the sound.

E911 (Enhanced 911): Technology allowing 911 calls from cellular phones to be routed to the geographically correct emergency station (PSAP: Public Safety Answering Point). VoIP users currently have limited access to 911 services, and with some providers none, because VoIP is not geographically based.

FCC (Federal Communications Commission): The regulator of telephone and telecommunications services in the United States. It's not yet known the full extent to which the FCC will regulate VoIP communications. Part of the complication lies with determining the regulation of communications that begin or end on an FCC-regulated system, such as the standard telephone service.

Firewall: Security software or appliance that sits between the Internet and the individual PC or networked device. Firewalls can intercept traffic before it reaches network routers and switches, or between router/switch and PC, or both. Because the job of firewalls is to prevent access from specific packets over specific network ports, some must be specially configured to allow VoIP traffic to pass through.

FoIP (Fax over Internet Protocol): The fax counterpart to VoIP, available from some providers either free or at additional cost. FoIP is actually more reliable than VoIP because of its tolerance for poor latency.

H.323: The standard call protocol for voice and videoconferencing over LANs, WANs, and the Internet, allowing these activities on a real-time basis as opposed to a packet-switched network. Initially designed to allow multimedia to function over unreliable networks, it's the oldest and most established of the VoIP protocols. See also SIP and MGCP.

Latency: The time it takes for a packet to travel from its point of origin to its point of destination. In telephony, the lower the latency, the better the communication. Latency has always been an issue with telephone communication taking place over exceptionally long distances (the United States to Europe, for example). With VoIP, however, latency takes on a new form because of the splitting of the message into packets (see packet-switched) and network delay in general.

MGCP (Media Gateway Control Protocol): Another protocol competing with H.323 (see also SIP). MGCP handles the traffic between media gateways and their controllers. Especially useful in multimedia applications: the media gateway converts from various formats for the switched-circuit network, and the controller handles conversion for the packet-switched network. Designed to take the workload away from IP telephones themselves and thereby make IP phones less complex and expensive.

Packet-switched: Communication system that chops messages into small packets before sending them. All packets are addressed and coded so they can be recompiled at their destination. Each packet can follow its own path and therefore can work around problematic transmission segments. Packet switching is best when reaching a destination is the primary concern and latency is permissible, such as sending e-mail and loading Web pages.

PBX (Private Branch Exchange): A privately owned system for voice switching and other telephone related services. It routes calls from the public telephone system within an organization and allows direct internal calls.

PDD (Post Dial Delay): When a telecom switch is trying to establish the best possible route for the call.

POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service): Nothing more than a standard telephone line, the kind Ma Bell and then AT&T handled exclusively before the deregulation of the telephone industry. Upgrade your POTS to DSL, and you have broadband; add VoIP, and you have a system that uses POTS, the PSTN and the Internet in one seamless system.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network): The network of wires, signals, and switches that lets one telephone connect to another anywhere in the world. Some VoIP services provide a gateway from the Internet to the PSTN and vice versa.

RTP (Real Time Protocol): Also known as Real Time Transport Protocol. Controls the transmission of packets of data that demands low latency (such as audio and video). Supports real-time transmission over IP networks and streaming as one means of delivery.

QoS (Quality of Service): Refers to the quality of the voice call over a VoIP network. A major issue in VoIP communications, because the high quality of telephone calls has always been taken for granted. Latency, packet loss, network jitter, and many other factors contribute to QOS measurements, and numerous solutions have been offered by vendors of routers and other network components.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): Communication protocol that operates similarly to H.323 but is less complex and more Internet- and Web-friendly. Fully modular and designed from the ground up for functioning over IP networks, it can be tailored more easily than H.323 for Internet applications. SIP and H.323 can and do coexist.

SoftPhone: A software app that gives you the ability to make and receive calls over the Internet using your PC and a headset or a microphone and speakers. A softphone's interface can look like a traditional phone dial pad or more like an IM client.

Universal Service: The availability of affordable telecommunications technology for all Americans, part of the 1966 Telecommunications Act, and regulated by the FCC. Current discussions revolve around the applicability of VoIP to universal services and whether or not VoIP providers should be taxed accordingly.

Virtual Phone Number: A feature of VoIP that allows you to attach additional phone numbers with different area codes to your basic VoIP service. This feature allows people to phone you without incurring long-distance charges from the same or adjacent nontoll area codes. All outgoing calls, however, are billed as if coming from your main phone number. Virtual phone numbers typically each cost a few extra dollars per month.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): The technology behind Internet phones. VoIP works by digitizing voice signals and sending them as packets through the same networking channels as your data.

Voip Escrow was created to provide a safe and secure platform for buyers and sellers of "minutes" to conduct business. This specificly applies to a segment of the industry (primarily non-US) dealing in call origination and termination points for VoIP traffic servicing targeted customer populations (e.g. Midle East, Eastern Europe, SE Asia). The service acts as a middle-man who protects the buyer by assuring the buyer they receive minutes they have ordered, and protecting the seller by ensure the money is available to him/her for minutes they have provided.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Telecom Provider News For July...Fiber Networks, Data Centers, Small Business Bundles, & More

Here's the news from the Telecommunications industry for July 2012 ..... covering fiber networks, data centers, small business bundles, and more:

* Alpheus - says it is expanding both its workforce and its fiber network to take on the enterprise market.

* Level 3 - Level 3 Communications has unveiled a new, enterprise-grade data center in Omaha, Neb. The company says the data center offers enterprises and government agencies a state-of-the-art infrastructure designed to support the power, redundancy, cooling and security requirements of today's IT applications.

* Integra Telecom - said it now boasts 2,013 on-network fiber locations and 115 customer builds since January.

* AT&T - has added another arrow to its IPv6 quiver by incorporating Cisco's Carrier-Grade Services Engine for its Carrier Router System product suite.

* Verizon - has finally revealed the pricing for its new Quantum Fiber to the Premises speed tiers, including its 300 Mbps/65 tier, which directly challenges cable operator's 50 and 100 Mbps DOCSIS tiers.

* Windstream - unveiled its new Professional Bundle for small businesses, which includes business-class Internet and unlimited phone service; 24x7 computer repair and replacement of broken components; Internet security; online backup of critical business data; plus a custom-built website for the customer and one hour of monthly design services.

* XO Communications - plans to expand metropolitan capacity across its nationwide network, according to one of its suppliers.

To learn more about any of the services cited above AND take advantage of special limited pricing deals, simply request more information here ....

Fiber Networks And More

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Broadband Tutorial

Broadband networks offer much greater ‘bandwidth’ than the older narrowband technologies. By bandwidth we mean the bit-rate, or number of bits per second that can be transmitted. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has defined a broadband connection as any rate higher than the standard rate, T-1.

SPEEDS AND FEEDS.

Bit rates come in increments called Kilobits (thousands), Megabits (millions) and Gigabits (billions) of bits per second. The fastest modems connecting a PC to the Internet operate at 56 Kbps (Kilobits per second), while a typical fiber-optic cable carries 2.5 Gbps (Gigabits per second).

Here are some examples of typical narrowband rates:

* PC Modem = 56 Kbps
* Telephone call = 64 Kbps
* Basic ISDN line = 128 Kbps
* T-l Leased Line = 1.5 Mbps

Narrowband communications normally operate over copper wires or coaxial cables. Broadband transmission technologies were intended to leverage the vast bandwidth of fiber optics.

The Optical Carrier (OC) hierarchy, is used to describe broadband rates:

* OC-192 = 10 Gbps
* OC-3 = 155 Mbps
* OC-12 = 622 Mbps * OC-48 = 2.5 Gbps
* OC-1 = 52 Mbps

Recent advances in optical transmission technology, known as Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM), promise dramatic increases in the capacity of a fiber line. DWDM technology splits a beam of light into multiple colors, or wavelengths, each of which can operate at 10 Gbps. The technology is rapidly advancing, with the number of possible wavelengths exceeding 100 per fiber.

 For assistance finding optical carrier bandwidth solutions for your business go to: Optical Carrier Bandwidth

CIRCUITS AND PACKETS.

There are two fundamental types of networks, circuit, and packet.

The telephone network is circuit switched, while data networks, such as the Internet, are packet switched. When a telephone call is made, a live circuit is set up through the network, and a fixed amount of bandwidth, typically 64 Kbps, is reserved for the duration of the call.

Packet technology breaks data into small pieces, each containing an address. Sending a packet is much like mailing a letter; many envelopes of data enter the network at the same time, where they may travel over the same or different routes. Eventually, most of them arrive at the destination. Packets are more efficient than circuits, because a single line can carry multiple messages simultaneously. The problem is ‘real-time’ communications, like voice or video, often didn't work well on packet networks because there was no way to know when the packets will arrive or in what order. Packet technology is improving, however, and you should have noticed that packet switched networks are now supporting telephone calls, with an acceptable level of quality, at a fraction of the cost of a circuit switched call. This may be more familiar to you under the terms VoIP technology, IP Telephony, VoIP calling, or Broadband phone.

For help in finding a VoIP solution for your business go to: Business VoIP

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

What You Should Consider When Deciding A Business VoIP Solution

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

So VoIP buyers must select a VoIP platform that maximizes business benefits while minimizing potential technology ownership headaches. Adding to the difficulty in making a purchase decision is the broad range of vendor offerings on the market. In general, these offerings can be segmented into two categories: low-end VoIP gateways and highend router-based solutions.

Low-end gateways are tempting because of their low upfront cost. However, they lack many important capabilities that are essential for VoIP to work as required in real-world network environments and to fulfill the requirements of the business. Their poor survivability. lack of intelligent call routing functions and inadequate integration with existing enterprise communications resources limit their usefulness and can lead to problems in provisioning VoIP services as required.

High-end router-based products come with a larger price tag and, at first glance, offer more sophisticated VoIP functionality. Unfortunately, they often come with further price premiums in the form of PBX modification and add-on modules for support of H.323 and/or SIP. And, despite their price and apparent robustness, their capabilities may still come up short in many ways - forcing users to change their dialing habits, limiting the efficiency with which available bandwidth can be used, and exhibiting the same lack of survivability as their low-end counterparts.

PITFALLS ON THE LOW END

Low-end gateways can be very attractive to today's VoIP buyer. Most IT organizations are working with very tight budgets. And many do not have highly ambitious plans for their initial VoIP deployments. They simply want to piggyback voice calls on their data network's existing IP connections. So it's easy for them to be seduced into purchasing a simple, no-frills VoIP gateway to ostensibly limit costs and complexity. This is rarely a wise decision. Low-end gateways are rarely adequate for today's enterprise VoIP requirements. Even in cases where they may be able to meet an immediate, short-term need, they will not be able to support evolving technical and business requirements in the future. Specific common shortcomings in low-end gateways include:

* Poor interoperability with the PBX

Low-end gateways simply convert analog signals from a phone line to a stream of packets that can travel over an IP link. They are therefore unable to interoperate with or leverage the power of the corporate PBX. This can make installation in the existing enterprise communications environment problematic. Users may be required change their dialing habits - something most are disinclined to do. So any cost savings can quickly be consumed by installation and configuration work.

* Lack of enterprise-class capabilities

Low-end gateways are limited-use devices with little or no call routing capability. They are mainly intended for "second line" applications that supplement a separate regular phone line. Thus, they typically route all calls to a central point where the intelligence resides. As a result, they cannot support basic Vo I P functions such as network "hop off" or "hop on" that allow, for example, the transatlantic portion of a call from an office in the U.S. to a customer in France to be carried over a corporate WAN connection to an office in Paris before being passed to a local phone company - thereby eliminating international phone charges. Reliance on a central point-of-intelligence also leaves these gateways completely vulnerable to a failure of that central point.

* NAT headaches

Many organizations use network address translation (NAT) on their routers and/or firewalls as a security measure and as a way of increasing the number of IP addresses available for their internal use. But, because NAT masks internal addresses from the outside world, it can also make it difficult or impossible to set up point-to-point VoIP sessions with external users. Low-end gateways that lack an effective mechanism for automatically and securely traversing these NAT boundaries can therefore cause significant implementation headaches.

* No H.323 and/or SIP Survivability

H.323 and SIP protocols are becoming increasingly useful for interfacing with other network and other organizations - especially next-generation service providers that can deliver tremendous savings on long distance. Because they lack support for these protocols, low-end gateways force customers to purchase separate H.323 gatekeepers and/or SIP proxy servers. The cost of these additional devices nullifies whatever savings were realized in the original gateway purchase. Worse yet, reliance on these external devices leaves all the gateways on the network vulnerable to their single point-of-failure. If they lose contact with the central H.323 gatekeeper or SIP proxy server, phone service can be totally disrupted.

* Lack of support for 911 services and analog devices

While much of the world is going digital, telecom managers still have to support analog communications for local 911 emergency services, fax machines and other reasons. A low-end VoIP gateway cannot accommodate these analog requirements.

* Vulnerability to IP network congestion and/or failure

Low-end gateways do not protect the business against problems on the data network. If the IP network becomes congested or fails, the calls that it carries will lose quality or fail. That's because such gateways can't automatically re-route calls over alternative routes or over the PSTN itself. This risk is unacceptable in an enterprise environment.

* Inefficient utilization of network bandwidth

Because of their price-sensitivity, VoIP gateways typically lack or have only rudimentary compression/multiplexing capabilities. This makes them relatively inefficient and can cause them to lose call quality as call volume rises - or as other applications on the network begin to consume more of the bandwidth available on key network These are just a few of the technical pitfalls associated with low-end VoIP gateways. For IT organizations seeking to minimize technology headaches, ensure ongoing call quality, and maximize the business value of their investments in VoIP, these pitfalls clearly give pause. Prospective buyers can ill afford to purchase products that will have to be replaced in a year or six months. And they can't allow the business to be hindered by unnecessary limitations in its communications infrastructure.

PITFALLS ON THE HIGH END

In order to ensure that VoIP services are robust, reliable and secure, technology buyers may go to the opposite extreme - spending top dollar to acquire high-end router-based solutions from a big-name networking vendor. There is certainly some apparent safety in this approach, and such high-end solutions do boast capabilities well beyond those of low-cost, off-brand gateways. However, despite their expense and the cachet of their brand, these router-based solutions also fall short of the mark in many ways. As a result, VoIP buyers can wind up spending a lot of money and still not getting the functionality or even the reliability they require. Specific shortcomings of high-end router-based solutions include:

* Complex, disruptive implementation

Router-based VoIP solutions typically require the use of a separate line trunk on the PBX. This adds the significant cost of an additional line card. It also requires re-programming of the PBX so that VoIP calls are routed to that trunk. In addition, this approach can force users to dial one prefix for PSTN calls and another for VoIP. These solutions can thus cause significant headaches for technical staff and end-users.

* Limited failover capabilities

Because these high-end solutions are on a separate trunk, they do not have the PSTN connectivity necessary for effective failover. They can be equipped with a simple analog line for back-up purposes, but they are by and large unable to automatically switch to that line. So, in the event of problems on the IP network, all active calls will be dropped and will have to be manually re-dialed over the PSTN.

* No H.323 and/or SIP Survivability

High-end router solutions also share a basic shortcoming with low-end gateways: they require customers to purchase separate H.323 gatekeepers and/or SIP proxy servers. However, in the case of router-based solutions, these add-ons can be even more expensive. These shared add on devices also cause the same type of potential single point-of-failure in router-based architectures as occur with basic Vo I P g a t e w a y s .

* No multiplexing

Router vendors typically attempt to address the issue of bandwidth utilization with packet header compression alone. However, as use of VoIP expands and the other application traffic on the network continues to grow, compression alone will be insufficient to meet many organizations' needs. Multiplexing delivers far more efficient use of available bandwidth, yet router-based solutions don't provide it despite their cost and purported sophistication.

* Vendor lock-in

Many router vendors' VoIP solutions are closely tied to their overall data networking architectures. This may offer some limited benefits in terms of network management, but those benefits may be entirely contingent on using that single vendor's solutions across the enterprise. This lock-in strategy by the vendors limits IT's future choices and assures the vendor of an ongoing, across-the-board pricing premium. Higher costs do not always mean great functionality or superior adaptability to an organization's specific needs. VoIP buyers should therefore consider all of the implementation and ownership costs associated with router-based products - including difficult implementation, poor survivability, and additional user training and support - and then determine if those significantly greater lifecycle costs are truly buying any technical, operational or business advantages.

DON'T PANIC.....THERE IS A SIMPLE ANSWER

Before you throw up your hands in disgust and frustration....relax. All is not doom and gloom. You can find a business VoIP solution that will meet all your needs....and avoid all the potential pitfalls and minefields we've warned you about above. To do this the answer is simple. Make use of the free assistance provided by Business-VoIP-Solution.com to find you the right solution and the right provider to deliver that solution. Just tell them what you want (requirements, applications, etc.).....and they'll take it from there.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Telecom Training Calls

If you missed out on our exclusive trainings this month, you're in luck! Every training call has been recorded and loaded for your enjoment below.

Call Summary....:

* Future of the Cable Industry: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter discuss the differences between cable companies and the telcos, as well as the future of their MPLS capabilities, SIP, Cloud, and much more!

 * MPLS Forum and Debate: Listen to XO, Telnes, AireSpring MegaPath, and TelePacific discuss the differences and future of their MPLS networks.

* Alpheus Introduction: Alpheus' lead sales engineer introduces their new channel program through an extensive product and footprint overview.

* Hosted vs. Premise Based Phone Systems: Vocal IP reviews the differences between hosted and premise based phone systems helping you understand how to position yourself for Hosted PBX opportunities.

To take advantage of any of the services discussed in the calls above for your business, simply request a free quote here .... Telecom and IT Services

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Telecom Case Studies - Hosted PBX, Wireless Expense Management, Ethernet, And Data Center

In the month of April we had the privilege of hearing from four fantastic partners who agreed to share their secrets of success.

These case studies highlighted the unique hosted PBX capabilities of Vocal IP and Advantix's wireless expense management solution, a Comcast Ethernet installation, and a data center deal with Telx.

The following calls are now available online:

Advantix Solutions (wireless TEM)

Comcast (fiber solutions)

Telx (colo solutions)

 Vocal IP Networx (large retail opportunity)

To take advantage of any of the services mentioned above simply request a no cost quote here ....

Telecom and IT

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Monday, July 09, 2012

Who Is inContact?

inContact helps call centers around the globe create profitable customer experiences through its powerful portfolio of cloud-based call center call routing, self service and agent optimization solutions. The company’s services and solutions enable call centers to operate more efficiently, optimize the cost and quality of every customer interaction, create new pathways to profit and ensure ongoing customer-centric business improvement and growth.

What You Should Know About inContact

 inContact’s sophisticated cloud-based technology gives call centers many advantages not available with traditional premise-based systems. Aside from being far more cost effective, inContact allows call centers to create a differentiated and profitable customer experience.

inContact enables call centers to understand their customer preferences, touch points and channels; optimize the mix of self-service and agent-managed contacts; and deliver customer-centric business insights.

As a complement to the company’s call routing and agent optimization solutions, inContact has built inUnison, a powerful ecosystem of alliances with leading solution providers that are easy for customers to buy and implement. The inUnison is aligned by vertical and customer need and offers an intelligent workflow between the platform and applications.

The inContact platform includes an ACD with skills-based routing, IVR with speech recognition, CTI capabilities, reporting, WFM, eLearning, hiring and customer feedback measurement tools. Together, the inContact platform creates an integrated, all-in-one solution for operations seeking to support call centers, including those with a distributed workforce – either at-home or multi-site.






To take advantage of all inContact can do for your business simply request a no cost quote here ..... Cloud Based Services

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Comparing Business Ethernet And DS3 Bandwidth

When businesses are looking for the right bandwidth solution for critical business network applications, the popular options today are DS3 bandwidth and Business Class Ethernet. Either are a good choice as long as you understand what each can do for you. Do your homework, compare pros and cons as they relate to your network requirements, and choose wisely.

Outside of the cost difference between DS3 bandwidth and Business Ethernet (Ethernet tends to be cheaper or at least very competitive) , the speed varies a wide range from 45 mbps to 100 mbps to 1000 mbps (FastE to GigE). If you shop around you’ll likely discover that DS3 line costs have dropped dramatically in today’s market. Still, Ethernet pricing is attractive where it is available. Where it is not, build out costs may be prohibitive. In terms of reliability, they're similar because they're both dedicated bandwidth circuits.

The traditional high bandwidth network connection is a DS3 line, delivering up to 45 Mbps of connectivity. Today, most DS3 services are provisioned over fiber optic cables with a copper handoff at the demarcation point. In some cases, you can get DS3 brought in over coaxial copper or even wireless transport. There’s plenty of flexibility available currently to deliver DS3 capacity with little restriction from the transport mechanism.

For application, a DS3 circuit works as a reliable backbone for large networks with substantial voice/data/video traffic needs. For example, organizations that need high bandwidth such as headquarters phone lines (PBX and/or VoIP), company Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems, high traffic websites, Hospital medical imaging and diagnostic systems, data/disaster recovery and backup networks, video conferencing facilities, multi-media or virtual design centers, high security networks, and ISP backbones. Where DS3 is not quite enough capacity, opting for the “next up” OC3 circuit (fiber optic bandwidth transmission) is an option.

An alternative to DS3 is Carrier Ethernet, especially Metro Ethernet in larger cities. Ethernet services offer standardized speeds of 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps to match the common LAN (Local Area Network) speeds. But most Ethernet providers also offer other increments in 1, 5 or 10 Mbps steps. A 50 Mbps Ethernet service provides similar bandwidth to DS3.

So how do you choose one service over another?

If you need the channelization of traditional TDM services for telephony or other applications, DS3 already meets this standard. It is easily multiplexed and de-multiplexed to interface with T1 lines on the low end to SONET fiber optic services (e.g. OCx) on the high end. On the other hand, if your network interests are extending your LAN or an already converged voice and data network, Metro or Carrier Ethernet is the logical connection. Make sure to understand your existing network configuration to enable a smart decision here. Otherwise, you risk potential frustration and an “apples and oranges” scenario.

If you have any concern for interface issues don’t worry. You can opt for a Managed Router Service which will take care of any such issues. Most networking applications are now packet based and more easily interfaced to Ethernet WAN services than legacy Telecom standards. But since the interface circuitry is generally an off the shelf router module, it may not matter all that much. If you go with a managed router, the service provider will take care of providing the proper customer premises equipment and monitoring the line and interfaces for proper operation. No matter whether you choose DS3 or Ethernet. In some cases, you may also get the vendor to provide the router at no cost … whether on site or remote (managed). Be sure to ask if this accommodation may be extended to you. It won’t in every case, but it’s worth asking.

Don’t overlook availability of Fractional DS3 and Burstable DS3 either. Fractional DS3 services are available that offer less than 45 Mbps for a lower monthly lease cost. You can get fractional DS3 bandwidth at the speeds where T1 bonding becomes impractical (around 10 or 12 Mbps bandwidth depending on your intended application usage). You can also go the other direction with Burstable DS3. Which allows you to start at usually 45 mbps and increase your bandwidth as your needs grow. A Burstable DS3 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.

On the Ethernet side, with scalable Ethernet you can specify nearly any bandwidth from 1 Mbps up to 10 Gbps and often upgrade to higher levels with just a phone call to your service provider. The flexibility of bandwidth scaling offered with Ethernet is a major advantage to this transport option.

Be advised that an Ethernet connection is not available in every location. Normally this limitation is restricted to where the network providers have fiber already laid out in the neighborhood. You’ll most often find major cities or urban areas to be “lit” while more rural locales are not. Where Business Ethernet isn’t available, a DS3 or OC3 circuit is the best option for a company that needs more bandwidth to grow.

If you're fortunate and you're in an area where Ethernet connections are available, whether they're FastE or GigE, count your blessings and go for it. The cost can vary from depending on the bandwidth needed and local loop (distance from the tie in to the providers Point-Of-Presence or POP). The FastE cost and GigE cost are usually less than per megabit than a DS3 or OC3 … or at the minimum very competitive.

So which bandwidth option offers the best value? The fact is that DS3 and Ethernet bandwidths compare favorably. Which you choose for your particular application will most often be determined by which service offers the best pricing for your particular business location. Therein lies the foundation for your decision …. all else being equal. DS3 bandwidth is perfect for most applications. However, if a company is price sensitive and the solution is available Business Ethernet would be the recommended alternative.

For assistance finding the right dedicated bandwidth fit for your organization’s needs …. and to save you time, money, and aggravation … I strongly recommend using the free help available to you here:

DS3 Bandwidth And Business Ethernet

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Call Center Dilemma ... To Host Or Not To Host



To host or not to host; that is the question of many. Depending where they are in their equipment lifecycle, many CTOs and Call Center Directors are considering moving away from premise based equipment and moving to a hosted or "cloud based" call center platform. For example, let's say you are at a point where your premise based equipment needs to be replaced, and assuming you are using "best of breed" equipment, you may be looking at a capital expenditure of roughly a million dollars to replace your equipment. That figure doesn't even factor in service & maintenance agreements, licenses and traffic.

Providers of hosted solutions will say that hosted solutions are more versatile, scalable, redundant and cost significantly less. Providers of call center equipment will say that their solutions may have lower monthly recurring costs, are more customizable and offer more integrations with other applications. Is there a simple "rule of thumb" to figuring out which makes more sense for your call center?

Here's one, which while not absolute, is a good guideline. Most hosted call center platforms are a multitenant environment. That basically means the platform is shared amongst multiple clients. Providers of hosted call center solutions typically provide features that most call centers require. Let's use the 80/20 rule. Hosted call center platforms provide the features, functionality and integration options that approximately 80% of call centers will require. Likewise, when adding new features and enhancements, providers will typically only add ones that will benefit their platforms as a whole and that the majority of customers will find beneficial.

For instance - using an inbound call center for example - most will need an ACD with Skills Based Routing, a robust queue events engine (to control how calls are handled in the queue), scripting with a screen pop, custom audio/whisper audio, call recording, live call monitoring, real time telemetry, detailed reporting, etc. In addition, they may require data exchange or an integration with other standard, well known applications (CRM, Workforce Management, databases). A center like this could do quite well with a hosted provider. They should be able to get all the basic features and functionality they require with little to no Cap-Ex and can be up and running quickly. This system will be easier to manage than premise based equipment and the monthly costs should be quite reasonable. In addition, most providers are in multiple data centers, offer both TDM and VoIP, and offer more robust business continuity solutions than most call centers have with owning and managing premise based equipment.

While premise based equipment comes with a large Cap-Ex, is more difficult to manage than hosted solutions, requires a larger technical staff (which also increases overall cost), includes the headache of occasional forklift upgrades and will eventually need to be replaced, it does have certain advantages. Let's use the same inbound call center example as above except we'll say that the center needs to be able to have a custom graphical interface that shows each agent's cubicle; depending on the prefix of the caller's DID, the agent screen needs to be a different color, and calls need to be routed to agents based on the agent's nationality, hair color and favored brand of blue jeans. In this admittedly ridiculous and extreme example, premise based equipment would make more sense.

With premise based equipment, the sky is the limit when it comes to customization. Your only limit to your customization is your pocketbook because software developers that work for you or that you contract with will be writing the code to make your customizations possible. That said, with premise based equipment, nearly anything you can imagine you can build and it should be possible to integrate with nearly any application.

One more item of note is that there are some cases, based on security requirements, where a center absolutely has to use premise based equipment and keep it onsite within their secure facility. An example of this might be a security company or some government military organizations.

In closing, while premise based systems have value and there are obvious benefits to some organizations to own and manage equipment, for the majority of call centers, a hosted provider will meet their needs while providing a lower cost, easier to manage, more scalable, user friendly and redundant solution.

About the author:

Darren Prine is a writer for the call center industry and is the Director of Sales & Marketing for Connect First; a premier provider of cloud based call center solutions.


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For free assistance navigating the possibilities for your call center requirements .... simply request information here:

Call Center Solutions

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