Saturday, March 30, 2013

FreedomFire Communications.....Real Choices For Voice, Data, And Internet Services

At first glance, choosing a telecommunications service may seem like an afterthought to businesses and consumers alike. Typically, this decision is made by simply using the same service of the previous office or home occupants. Does it make sense to risk all channels of communication on what worked for a previous home or office? Michael Lemm and FreedomFire Communications are matching customers with ideal telecommunications packages, all for free!

Personal History

Michael Lemm proudly served in the United States Navy prior to starting his company. His military experience and being able to travel the world exposed him to the global demand for Telecom and IT technology services. This also afforded him the opportunity of professional networking amongst individuals and businesses around the world. One particular relationship led to mutually exploring opportunities for putting the experience and knowledge gained to good use. This resulted in a friendship and partnership that's covered 10 years and is still going strong.

Company History

In 1998, while still on active duty, Michael started FreedomFire Communications. Due to the demands of the military, he was only able to work on his business part-time. The first few years, he described, were a “learning and gradual growth experience.” But today, they are doing business all around the world. For example FreedomFire Communications has done business throughout the United States from coast to coast, Australia, Hong Kong, and even Africa.

Services They Provide

FreedomFire Communications offers diversity, variety, and cost efficiency for voice, data, and internet services.

* From choices of "Best Rate" phone service, cellular phones, calling cards, high speed internet, bundled phone/internet/TV, international (GSM) mobile phones, and SIM cards. Re-direct toll free 800 service, web hosting, website development, audio/video conferencing, broadband phone (VoIP phone), video-surveillance security systems, satellite TV, and computer hardware/software. See FreedomFire Communications

* Business VoIP, IP PBX, and complete dedicated voice/data network support for - T1, bonded T1, fractional/full DS3, OC3, OC12, OC48, OC192, MPLS, GigE, Ethernet from 5mb to multi-GB, point-to-point, and MUCH more. See DS3 Bandwidth

In other words, through their affiliation as agents for about 30 top tier and first tier telecom carriers (voice/data networks), plus their affiliation with over 3000 VAR partners, and their association with 100s of specialty Telecom and IT providers, FreedomFire can offer the customer virtually anything in terms of circuits, products, solutions, hardware and software relating to telecom. There is no other Master Agency on the planet with such diverse offerings. Additionally, they offer a $500 Low Price Guarantee on any of the voice/data circuits (sic T1, DS3, OCx) from any of the carriers they represent.

Bottom line, they can provide telecommunications circuits for anyone, anwhere on the planet.

Their Customers

Everyone, residential and business, is a potential customer for FreedomFire Communications. Michael has worked with consumers, small businesses and large businesses. Residential and small businesses are more likely to benefit from the product/service portfolio on FreedomFire Communications. While medium to large businesses are more likely to benefit from the voice/data network solutions offered through DS3 Bandwidth.

For the business customer, they do not "sell" but offer education and consulting at no charge. They take the time to understand what the business customer wants to accomplish and what problems they are trying to solve in terms of their telecom requirements. Then they EDUCATE the customer via their many years of telecom experience to suggest and recommend products and services that will meet those needs, both today and as the business grows.

Since they represent almost 30 first tier and top tier carriers for telecom, they are totally unbiased in their recommendations and focus on the most cost-effective solution for the customer.

Why is FreedomFire Communications Successful?

Their business success primarily stems from being based on offering choices. In contrast to their competitors who often present just one option, most every service/product type they offer lists a number of potential vendors to choose from for the best match. They also offer a wide variety of products/services tailored to the needs of their customers. For example our cell phone section shows all types (including smart phones), all plans (including family plans), all providers, and even accessories and ringtones.

In addition, they employ cutting edge technology to show comparisons of providers, rates/plans, etc. by specific location on our websites. "Best rate calculators" are available for most every product/service (see landline phone or VoIP phones on as examples). The real time quote capability available thru OC3 Bandwidth is patented too. No other competitor does real time bandwidth quotes.

Through their global networking connections, FreedomFire Communications is able to stay intimately in tune with vendor deals and specials that others do not know about. Their vendor relationships provide this inside knowledge and ability to offer savings others cannot. Often, as in the case of voice/data networks, this means the inside sales staff of the provider themselves. These central relationships ensure they stay abreast of what is new in the Telecom industry and what is most in demand by their potential market. This enables them the opportunity of constant innovation by adding or deleting products/services as the industry advances.

Most importantly, is customer service. For network solutions (e.g. bonded T1, MPLS) they do not stop when the ink is dry but stay on top of it throughout the life of the contract. Based on the volume of business with their carriers, they have a direct line into senior management. Allowing them to make things happen for the customer and ensure things do not fall through the cracks. They keep in contact with their customers to monitor how things are going, to be around when their business is growing, and to keep them updated as they are nearing contract expiration. It’s all about customer service.

Customers Should Know...

Essentially, Michael Lemm operates as a Master Agent with associations and relationships with a number of providers/vendors in the Telecommunication industry. This allows him to function in an unbiased manner and always search for, find, and offer what best suits the client, not what makes him the most commission. This approach creates trust and credibility with customer and provider/vendor alike.

They put themselves in the position of being a partner with the customer so that the most cost-effective options can be suggested, quoted, and even explain why something is most cost effective. Most customers appreciate this perspective instead of just trying to be sold to.

They don’t just “sell” products and services, but feel very strongly about “giving.” So they also publish two blogs sharing resources, tips, insights and news they feel their customers could benefit from. One focused on the Broadband Nation – and the other on Small Business Resources .

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wireless No Substitute For Wireline

....Smartphones Are a Supplement, Not Replacement for Fixed Line.

As I've been noting more than a little bit, we're at an interesting precipice in the broadband sector where AT&T and Verizon are starting to give up on upgrading tens of millions of DSL customers, instead letting them simply flee to cable. That not only creates a much stronger cable monopoly in an already uncompetitive broadband market, but it raises rates for tens of millions of DSL customers, who suddenly face the high(er) prices and steep overages we've gotten used to with LTE.

It's important to note that not all current DSL users will also be able to get LTE signal either, meaning they'll either have to turn to the nation's historically awful broadband satellite service, or they'll suddenly be faced with broadband disconnection -- at a time we're supposed to be closing these coverage gaps.

While AT&T and Verizon insist that LTE will be just as good as fixed line broadband, a new study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reiterates that wireless is simply no substitute for fixed line service. The study found that 7% of Americans are "smartphone only" (wireless only, no home broadband) but 83% of smartphone owners have broadband at home. Wireless is a supplement to fixed line access, not a replacement.

"The debate about whether wireless is a substitute for wireline broadband is misplaced," argues the report. "Mobile wireless is a game changer not because it might supplant wireline, but because it profoundly shapes how people view the Internet’s benefits."

Despite this being a study based on FCC data, the FCC remains oblivious to the impact AT&T and Verizon's decisions to hang up on landline are going to have, or the new and cozy marketing relationships being fostered between cable and phone providers. We're looking at a future where many of the country's residents that need inexpensive broadband the most are about to be shoved toward LTE service with $15 per gigabyte overage charges

Read more here...

Wireless vs Wireline

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

ISP Meters Aren't Accurate

....And Many ISPs Simply Don't Care.

It has been about half a decade now that many have been pointing out that most of the meters used by ISPs to track and bill consumers for usage aren't accurate. Customers of Canadian cable operator Cogeco have long complained the company's meter is inaccurate when users can load it at all, and every so often the meter simply goes mad -- like last Spring when the meter was horribly confused by leap year.

For years users have noted in great detail how AT&T's DSL and U-Verse meters aren't accurate, and when pressed for details on how usage is tracked, AT&T has insisted their meter information is proprietary. Similarly, many pointed out how Suddenlink's usage meters were also inaccurate, with users being billed even when they had no power.

Only after a Broadband reports story did Suddenlink suspend their efforts to impose overage fees until they could correct the problem (they haven't yet). This kind of stuff has been going on for half a decade, without a passing glance from either regulators or the tech press. Even consumer advocates, usually on the front lines of these fights, haven't really zeroed in on the problem of unreliable meters.

With that important background understood, Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOM posted an interesting piece that talks to Peter Sevcik, president of NetForecast, a firm hired by ISPs to track their usage meter accuracy. His findings? Most ISP meters are completely inaccurate and worse -- the ISPs aren't particularly concerned about it, likely because they know regulators are totally asleep on the issue.

According to Sevcik, his firm was hired by seven ISPs to test their meters as those ISPs inch slowly toward caps and overage fees. Only two ISPs passed the test for meter accuracy and only one has publicized NetForecast's findings (Comcast). Sevcik isn't naming the five ISPs with inaccurate meters, but he notes that it's a significant problem. Because many of the meters often under-report usage, Sevcik says ISPs wind up not caring:

Also disturbing is the attitude that Sevcik has encountered at some clients with malfunctioning meters. “There’s a general sense by some people, ‘Eh, we under report so we give them a free pass, so why worry about that?’” Sevcik says. “I think one does need to worry because it ruins the overall veracity of the meter. It derails trust in the meter."

Time Warner Cable is a client, but it's unclear if they were certified -- and if so if it was before or after they faced massive user outrage over their attempt to impose metered billing in 2009. Cox is also a customer and has confirmed their meter was tested and certified as accurate.

Note that these are the ISPs that went to NetForecast to verify if their meters work properly. Many ISPs (as we see with AT&T, Cogeco and Suddenlink) aren't NetForecast clients and may or may not have bothered to even try to get outside verification of meter accuracy. The industry in a few days will insist this story isn't important because only X% of meters are live, but Cogceo, Suddenlink, Bell, Rogers and AT&T users plagued with issues likely have plenty to say about that.

It is important again to note that during the last five years as ISPs have rushed face first toward caps and overages without ensuring meter accuracy -- that the FCC has made not a single public comment on the issue of any kind. Perhaps the FCC felt that the previous five years of complaints have been too anecdotal in nature, but now you have a professional tasked with testing meter accuracy on the record stating that ISP meters aren't working.

You'd like to think that could finally get the FCC's attention.

As we've noted, the cable industry recently admitted that caps and overages aren't really about congestion. As any incumbent ISP earnings report shows they're also not about financial necessity, with carriers making very healthy profits with flat rate billing. The shift is solely about jacking up the price of already-expensive broadband on consumers and protecting TV revenues. It's price gouging made possible by too little competition.

The FCC has made it clear they don't really care about competition, high prices, price gouging, or the fact that caps can be used anti-competitively. Their broadband maps don't track price, and their policies never tackle competition. Perhaps at the very least they can pay attention to meter accuracy? ISPs want to bill like utilities without being regulated like them and regulators continue to be in a coma. That's a recipe for disaster.

Read more here....

ISP Meters

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Industry Think Tank Pretends U.S. Broadband Secretly Awesome

When you're indisputably mediocre in nearly every broadband ranking due to limited competition and regulatory capture, what's a monopoly and/or duopoly broadband market to do? For much of the last decade the U.S. broadband industry's answer to that question is to shell out millions to fauxcademics, astroturfers, paid think tankers and assorted hired flacks to argue that United States broadband is secretly awesome and you just didn't know it.

The tactic is far more successful than it should be, thanks to a press that often fails to correctly illustrate corporate financial ties to these groups and individuals.

Industry-funded (predominately AT&T) Information Technology & Innovation Foundation this week polluted the discourse well further with a 76 page report (pdf) effectively arguing that anyone who notices U.S. broadband is highly uncompetitive and over-priced is hallucinating.

In what appears to be an attempted PR broadside against the positive attention Susan Crawford is getting for pointing out our broadband problems, the ITIF study contradicts the numerous studies showing U.S. broadband is painfully average.

The study proudly proclaims the country "enjoys robust intermodal competition between cable and DSL fiber-based facilities," and that we're just saturated with fiber to the home connections. In reality of course U.S. competition is stagnant, things are about to get less competitive as AT&T and Verizon dump unwanted DSL users in cable's lap, and the only serious incumbent FTTH expansion (FiOS) is totally frozen.

There's an ocean of delicious, nonsensical, and reality-bending claims in the ITIF report, which Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar does a wonderful job debunking point by point. The whole thing is worth a read, but one high point of the story is this quote by Public Knowledge's Harold Feld:

"The ITIF report turns our national broadband policy into a self-esteem exercise, on par with one of those contests where everyone wins an award,” Harold Feld, of Public Knowledge, in an e-mail to Ars. “'Hooray! We tried real hard and we're not so bad after all.' But this isn't summer camp. This is our digital future. If we want a world-class broadband infrastructure, we need to stop coming up with explanations for why things aren't really so bad after all and start dealing with the real problems right in front of our eyes."

Granted the entire purpose of folks like the ITIF is to convince regulators, the press and public that there is no problems that need fixing. A mammoth swath of the nation on $70 3 Mbps DSL lines, stuck on satellite broadband, or wedged in between two apathetic duopoly players -- respectfully disagree.

Read more here...

The Truth

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

NY Times Highlights Some Broadband Stimulus Shenanigans

While investing some money into broadband infrastructure (especially given the amount we spend on war) is not a bad idea, implementation in many states has been problematic. West Virginia has probably been the poster child for corruption and incompetence when it comes to broadband stimulus funds, the state (with Verizon's help) spending millions on over-power, unused routers and expensive consultants who apparently don't actually do anything. That State's currently facing a significant investigation.

The NY Times recent article misses West Virginia's problems, but takes a look at some other examples of funds being spent stupidly, noting that around $594 million (or 14%) of all the stimulus funds are on hold due to dubious practices and spending. A few examples:

In Illinois, for example, a $12 million broadband grant was sanctioned when a subcontractor was caught routing fiber optic cable through neighborhoods where its project engineers lived. A $39 million grant in Arizona was suspended over questionable expenditures on travel, transactions that appeared to involve conflicts of interest and other unbudgeted activities.

Broadband grants in Alabama and Louisiana, totaling $140 million, were terminated over undocumented expenditures and failure to adhere to construction plans and schedules. Four other grants, worth $42 million, returned the money before even getting off the ground.

Granted you might actually think that a 14% fraud and incompetence rate is actually pretty good for a U.S. government with a history of fraud and abuse of these kinds of funds. The Times also fails to provide a little context, like the fact we've been throwing hundreds of billions at giant telecom operators for thirty years without so much as even trying to track where the funds went.

Regardless of what you think of the broadband stimulus, the fact that the majority of the funds appear to actually be going to real projects is a huge step up for Uncle Sam.

Read more here....

Broadband Stimulus

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

AT&T Cons Kentucky Into Hanging Up On Its DSL Users

Verizon and AT&T want to get out of maintaining or upgrading the tens of millions of users they currently have on aging DSL -- so they can focus on higher profit wireless services. Literally hanging up on these users creates a multitude of problems nobody is discussing, like the fact that many users are fleeing to cable creating a stronger cable monopoly, many of those DSL users will be forced to pay much more money for heavily capped LTE service, and many more won't be able to get LTE service at all when DSL lines are cut, creating connectivity gaps at a time we profess to be interested in eliminating them.

To make this shift possible both AT&T and Verizon have to go state by state convincing lawmakers to gut all of the regulations governing phone companies, especially any requiring they maintain aging and heavily subsidized networks they refuse to upgrade. State lawmakers have been easily duped for years by a quick handshake and some AT&T cash, and this effort appears to be no exception.

Kentucky is the latest to buckle to AT&T cash, the state passing a sweeping deregulation bill AT&T is busy promising them that "modernizing telecom regulation" will revolutionize broadband in the state:

State law requires phone companies to provide basic land-line service as the "carriers of last resort" for households throughout their territories. It also requires the Kentucky Public Service Commission to investigate and resolve consumer complaints. Patrick Turner, an AT&T attorney from South Carolina, said earlier this week that the company was planning to spend $14 billion across the nation to upgrade its Internet service. AT&T would not want to leave its land-line customers because the company wants to increase its Internet service to them, he said.

That last sentence is an outright lie. AT&T's recent promise of broadband expansion is largely a show, designed specifically to get these kinds of bills passed. There is no fixed line broadband expansion planned for Kentucky, and LTE isn't going to be available to all of these users. If it is, it's going to be significantly more expensive than DSL. The bill promises to keep users connected if they live in rural areas with fewer than 5,000 lines, but you can be absolutely assured that the model legislation written by AT&T these bills are based on gives AT&T's plenty of loopholes to work with.

Kentucky is ranked 46 by broadband speed according to FCC data, and with a deregulated AT&T soon hanging up on unwanted DSL and POTS users en masse, that's not changing anytime soon. Anybody telling you that deregulation of AT&T results in benefits for anyone other than AT&T is selling you a line of historically inaccurate nonsense.

Update: Meanwhile, FCC shows AT&T is actually among the worst ISPs when it comes to delivering advertised speeds.

Read more here....

AT&T Lobbyists Hard at Work Gutting Regulations

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Susan Crawford Is Pissing Off All the Right People

Benjamin N. Cardozo School Professor Susan Crawford's new book Captive Audience has been pissing off all the right people in DC and at major carriers the last few weeks by highlighting the industry's lack of competition. Crawford's making the book promotion rounds, and as a result she has spent the last few weeks being attacked by the usual suspects, paid by carriers to spin yarns, blow smoke and maintain the status quo (Scott Cleland, Steve Largent, Brett Swanson, Richard Bennett to name just a few).

I recommend the book whole heartedly; the majority of it will be well-tread ground for regular followers of the broadband industry over the last decade. Namely, a few large companies have lobbied the U.S. government to create geographic monopolies and crush competition, resulting in indisputably mediocre (or worse) broadband across all measurable metrics: availability, speed, price, and coverage.

Government regulators from both parties have been complicit in these problems, and nobody wants to fix it because there's too much money being made by gouging the American consumer. As a cherry on top an ocean of paid fauxcademics, astroturfers, lobbyists, hired flacks and consultants (see above) are paid millions annually to try and convince the press and public that nothing is wrong using bogus science and bullhorns.

Crawford's cage rattling the last month has resulted in a grass roots effort to try and nominate her for FCC boss, and her complaints about the U.S. broadband market are making a lot of people usually bored by telecom policy take notice. That nomination will likely never happen (our current FCC can't be bothered to acknowledge competitive issues exist, much less bring in someone to do something about it), but she's worth listening to all the same, and the exposure she's bringing to the sector's problems is invaluable.

A new interview with Bill Moyers is embedded below. It's worth watching and begins in earnest around 2:07.

Read more here ...

Susan Crawford

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Telecom Industry News

Here's the current news for January and February from the telecommunications industry....covering BYOD management solutions, Metro-E, IT care, SIP trunking, hosted PBX, and much more.

* Advantix will be adding international rate reduction and BYOD management solutions.

* Cbeyond is expanding their Metro E footprint in all 14 of their markets.

* EarthLink launched their new TechCare solution, enabling IT care solutions and support for clients.

* MegaPath now offers enterprise SIP trunking

* Nitel launched their new hosted PBX and SIP products N-Tellivoice

* Telnes will be launching several new products including 100MB Fiber, Integrated Access, SIP Trunking, and much more.

* Zayo - announced that it has built its own national 100G network from which it will offer wavelength services in a number of major markets in the United States.

* Cbeyond - introduced new cloud-based PBX service available for U.S.-based business customers.

* tw telecom - announced wide availability of its newest national Ethernet service solution. E-Access is designed to provide Business Ethernet reach across the United States to thousands of enterprise customers and buildings through a single Ethernet connection scalable to 10 Gigabytes.

* Integra - introduced E-LAN Ethernet services that target medium and large-sized multi-site customers that want multipoint-to-multipoint Layer 2 VPN services.

* Alpheus - purchased Net Star Telecommunications. The deal enables Alpheus to immediately expand its customer base in Texas, something it has been doing through a mix of both organic and inorganic growth activities to build network facilities into more locations.

* Broadview Networks - achieved a major milestone this week, surpassing 100,000 OfficeSuite stations deployed nationwide.

To take advantage of any of the services discussed above simply request more information and a free quote HERE.....

Network Solutions

Labels: , , , ,