Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving From Telexplainer

Happy Thanksgiving from Telexplainer

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday with those you love.



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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Connecting Offices Between the US and Mexico

By: John Shepler

Many companies do business in both the United States and Mexico. There are numerous carriers that serve the US market and others that serve the Mexican market. But what do you do when you need the same service level in both countries?

International private lines and MPLS connections between the US and MexicoInternational Connections
Companies that do business internationally need telecom services that cross national borders. Fortunately, there are a number of carriers that offer international line services. These include connections between US cities and those in Mexico.

What type of connections? Today you have options for voice, data and video services. You can connect just two locations or create a large virtual LAN that includes all of your business locations in North America and beyond.

International Private Lines
The Bell Labs developed T-Carrier system is a standard used throughout North America. That includes the US, Canada and Mexico.

T-Carrier includes T1 (DS1) that runs at 1.5 Mbps and T3 (DS3) at 45 Mbps. In-between those standard levels additional bandwidths can be created by bonding T1 lines together. Two T1 lines give you 3 Mbps, three lines offers 4.5 Mbps and so on. The maximum bandwidth available by T1 line bonding is 10 to 12 Mbps. Above that, you generally run out of copper pairs available to be pressed into service or the bonded service become cost prohibitive.

T3 lines can be rate limited to bridge that gap between 10 Mbps and 45 Mbps. The line itself runs at full speed, but you only pay for the bandwidth that is actually enabled. The cost savings may or may not be attractive for fractional T3 service, depending on your needs.

It’s important to note that T1 and T3 lines are dedicated private circuits that are always available or “nailed up.” You don’t need to dial into them and they are reserved for your exclusive use. Since you are the only customer on the line, the only network congestion possible is due to your own demands on the circuit.

Fiber Optic International Lines
Fiber optic lines were originally developed using SONET (Synchronous Optical NETwork) standards deliberately chosen to be compatible with the T-Carrier system. The entry level service is OC3 which runs at 155 Mbps. It is designed to easily transport 3 T3 line services. In fact, T3 is most often carried for most of the transmission distance by OC-3 fiber service and then provisioned by coaxial copper cable at the customer demarcation point.

SONET is still the core transmission technology of most wide area networks. OC-3 is just the starting point. Other commonly available services include OC-12 at 622 Mbps, OC-48 at 2.5 Gbps, OC-192 at 10 Gbps and OC-768 at 40 Gbps.

Like T-Carrier, SONET services are dedicated private lines. You don’t shared the bandwidth with anyone. It is completely reserved for your use and sits idle when there is no traffic.

Ethernet International Services
Telephone traffic was dominant on international telecom circuits for a century. That has changed dramatically to where voice is now the minor traffic and data is dominant. On some networks, video is not the big bandwidth user, followed by large data transfers and then voice traffic.

This change in the nature of telecommunications traffic has spurred a change in the transmission technology. Nearly all local area networks have adopted the Ethernet standard. It’s logical that metro and wide area networks do the same.

The equivalent to T-Carrier or SONET is EPL or Ethernet Private Line. The beauty of Ethernet is that you plug the network line into your headquarters LAN at one end and your branch office LAN at the other. It’s Ethernet all the way. Because of this, you can bridge two LANs so that they perform as one large local network.

Carrier Ethernet, as it is called, offers another service called Ethernet LAN service. This is a meshed network that can connect 3 or more locations as one LAN. It’s perfect for companies with operations in multiple locations.

MPLS Networks
For international connections, like US and Mexico, MPLS networks often offer the best value. MPLS is a private “cloud” network with nationwide and international nodes. You can get the same point to point connections offered by dedicated private lines, only on MPLS they are called virtual private lines and virtual private LAN. The virtual designation comes from the cloud structure of the network. You are sharing the network with other traffic rather than having a circuit all to yourself. The MPLS network operator sets up your virtual paths and guarantees bandwidth, latency, jitter and packet loss.

In the end, you have the sense of private line performance, but a much more affordable rate with the shared network infrastructure.

MPLS networks can carry voice and data traffic simultaneously with class of service provisions to prevent data from overwhelming voice. VoMPLS or Voice over MPLS is VoIP carried on MPLS networks. It provides your telephone service among multiple business locations.

Do you have a need to interconnect offices between the US and Mexico? If so, check out the options available with International private lines and MPLS networks.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.



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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Unexpected Ways Businesses Can Use Smartphones to Drive Profit

A Telexplainer guest post written by Kirill Storch

No matter the product, service or industry, mission or corporate philosophy, nearly every business is bottom line-driven. And, there is no shortage of ingenuity as to how companies try to glean more profit out of existing processes. Every so often, a new technology emerges that radically changes the productivity landscape and industry’s related profitability potential in kind. Some notable advancements, of course, have included the assembly line, telephone, fax machine and the Internet. Today, there is a ubiquitous technology poised to revolutionize how business is done: the smartphone… but NOT for the reason you may think.

Improving profitibality with smarter mobility“While everyone concedes this versatile and portable device has forever changed social culture and that businesses already leverage smartphones for communication, companies are only now understanding the power of intra-company smartphone APPs as a mission-critical Mobile Process Improvement (MPI) asset that can actually drive productivity, enhance competitiveness and maximize revenue,” notes profit-focused internet marketing strategist, Kirill Storch, CEO of Electric Web.

MPI is a burgeoning trend forecasted to have much upside potential. Research* revealed that MPI spending in the U.S. will grow 100% by 2015. By 2016, an additional 45 million employees in the U.S. are forecasted to use smartphones, priming them for MPI integration. By 2017 the MPI market in the U.S. is projected to reach a staggering $4 billion, fueled by cloud services and demand for connected anywhere-anytime enterprises.** However, despite what is clear and abundant opportunity, studies also show that only approximately 10% of all U.S. firms have invested in MPI and that, by 2016, just over 30% of all U.S. firms will have made the investment. That said, there are some U.S. companies and organizations that are currently investing in MPI, including UPS, Amazon and the U.S. Army, which have already collectively saved upwards of $15 billion per year.So what exactly can a business do to save money with smartphone APPs? Here Storch cites five surprising ways businesses are leveraging MPI to promote profitability:

1. Field Employee Management
Over 45% of all businesses in the U.S. utilize some kind of remote employee—someone who is not at a specific work site at all hours of the day. In fact, 24% of all businesses are primarily field-based, from insurance claims adjustors to inspectors, gardeners, builders, consultants, sales agents, and many others. One primary problem with field employees is limited accountability since their whereabouts cannot be monitored at all times. Tardiness, time theft, and a general lack of information as to where employees are is an enormous and debilitating business issue, compounded by the fact that employees must frequently and proactively call in to get needed information from a home base to facilitate their field effort. Today, forward-thinking companies are tying their field forces together into a huge mobile grid that is supported by the employee’s own smartphones. These APPs can be programmed to only allow field workers to clock in when they are at the actual job site, reducing time theft. This MPI APP allows employees to quickly access home office data on the go and, if an employee is sick while afield, they don’t have to wait until the next day to call the home office as their app automatically summons a replacement the second they request a sick day. The total savings are immense.

2. Eliminating Inefficiencies
Companies seeking a paperless business or requiring speedy document access have been quick to adopt smartphones for high-speed scanning. Documents are scanned and deposited into online repositories for easy retrieval by voice or text powered search engines. In addition, having every bit of paper an employee could need inside of their smartphone empowers and enables professionals of all sorts, saving time, boosting efficiency and efficacy and saving the environment in the process. Altogether, the above-reference MPI-based smartphone applications have save the companies in question multiple billions of dollars, hugely impacting bottom lines. That same revenue potential exists for nearly every kind of business. Whether that be updating outdated processes or utilizing mobile technology to enhance modern systems, a custom-designed smartphone APP could very well provide a simple solution that has an enormous impact on the business—and possibly the industry at large. With MPI, “building a better mousetrap” is only limited by imagination and inclination.

3. Inspection Improvement
Using smartphone image-recognition, many companies in charge of inspecting sites or security companies in charge of visual documentation can use smartphones to inspect automatically. If something seems out of place, the photo recognition software is taught, or programmed, to report it. For example, a security company in Boston found that too much of its resources were being wasted “busting” teenagers and troublemakers who were just skateboarding in front of one of their buildings. These people posed no real harm to the company, so they built an APP that allowed the camera to differentiate between harmless intruders and malicious ones, saving the company the need to react with extreme force to relatively benign situations—in this case a single guard needing to respond rather than the whole cavalry. Over the course of 3 years, the company saved over $20 million.

4. Inventory Management
Companies with inventory can now QR codes directly onto the boxes on their shelves and track inventory on employee smartphones. With MPI, employees can simply walk down the warehouse aisles and scan items. The related APP directly links to an inventory management system, resulting in faster inventory count, employee theft prevention, and improved analytics. The back end dashboard allows management to see exactly how much inventory is left and automatically compare it to predicted inventory, in real time, improving visibility into the process. Back-orders can also be created automatically as soon as an inventory count runs low, saving time and human labor. And, best of all, it is impossible to have miscounts, whether they are based on human error or a thieving employee trying to cover their tracks!

5. Becoming Leaner
Companies are leveraging the power of mobile APPs for automation, allowing them to focus employee attentions elsewhere. For example, many companies with an assembly line still use employees to inspect the process and check off moving parts with a clip-board and a pen! Jobs like this can be “leaned” with smartphone APPs. QR codes can be printed directly onto each piece of assembly, and a small hand-held smartphone can automatically scan each piece, syncing to a visual interface that managers can observe remotely. This process enhancement has already allowed entire divisions of human labor to be refocused to other projects, creating tremendous cost savings.

Kirill Storch, CEO of Electric WebProfit-focused internet marketing strategist, Kirill Storch, is CEO of Electric Web—a field leader in mobile APP and Web site development, programming, and online revenue generation through e-Commerce, social media and marketing communications initiatives. He may be reached online at www.ElectricWebMarketing.com.


Sources:
* Forrester’s Forrsights Business Decision-Makers Survey-2013
** Global Industry Analysts





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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

High Speed Business Internet

By: John Shepler

Broadband for business has many more options available than residential broadband. Conventional wisdom is that businesses pay dearly for their high speed Internet. It’s true that some telecom options are more costly, even much more costly than consumer services… for good reasons. But other options are priced in the same ballpark as residential broadband and perfect for certain applications. Let’s take a look at the range of high speed business Internet services available for your location and how to choose.

high speed business Internet options for business.Business Cable Broadband
At the low end of the price spectrum is cable based broadband Internet. Technically, this is known as DOCSIS 3.0 or D3. Yes, it is delivered on the same coaxial cable that brings in Cable TV. That’s an advantage for certain businesses, like bars and doctor’s waiting rooms. You can get a bundle of broadband and TV, or a “triple play” of broadband, TV and telephone on one line.

Pricing is very attractive because of the huge number of subscribers on the cable. That is also a limitation. You and dozens or hundreds of other users are sharing a pool of bandwidth. When the provider says you get “up to” a certain bandwidth, that is the maximum you’ll see. When lots of other subscribers are online and downloading video or other large files, the line speed for everyone slows down accordingly.

Another reason prices are so low is that cable broadband is not regulated the same way as legacy telecom services. It is considered an “information service” with delivery on a “best effort” basis. Telecom services have SLAs (Service Level Agreements) that spell out performance characteristics and time to response and repair outages.

How do you know if business cable broadband is right for you? For small businesses, especially those who can take advantage of the bundled options, cable is budget friendly. If you have experience with cable broadband at home and are satisfied with the performance and reliability, you’ll likely be happy with the business version as well.

Wireless Broadband
Sometimes you don’t want or need wires at all. 3G and even 4G cellular broadband is available for most business locations. Without the wires, you can be mobile with your smartphone, tablet or laptop computer. A high performance fixed transceiver works great for “pop up” stores or construction sites that only need temporary service.

The limitations of wireless broadband tends to be the limited bandwidth available. Even if you have all the speed you need for your applications, you have a monthly download quota of 5 GB, 10 GB or some number. For things like credit card verification, email and occasional Web access, this may not be a problem. It isn’t a good match for many employees, considerable video downloads or software updates.

Satellite is a fixed wireless service separate from cell towers. It works anywhere you can mount a small dish and have a clear view of the southern sky. Like cellular broadband, satellite is bandwidth limited and not suitable for heavy use. It also suffers from high latency, or time delay, that make it difficult to use for real time applications like VoIP and video conferencing.

T1 lines
T1 is the classic broadband line for businesses. It offers rock solid bandwidth that is equal in both the upload and download directions. Shared bandwidth services, like cable and wireless, offer much higher download that upload speeds. T1 is dedicated to your use and not shared with other companies. It offers low latency and high reliability.

The main limitation of T1 is the bandwidth. It’s 1.5 Mbps. That used to be plenty and still is for smaller applications. You can increase this from 3 to 12 Mbps by adding more T1 lines. This is called “bonded T1.” Each line has a certain cost, so it can get pricey fast.

T1 and bonded T1 offer the professional grade performance you need for nearly everything you want to do, including cloud services and secure point to point connections. It’s also available just about anywhere you can get a conventional telephone line.

DS3 or T3
The legacy upgrade path from T1 is called T3, also known as DS3 (not to be confused with cable D3). Bandwidth increases from 1.5 Mbps to 45 Mbps. That is generally enough for most small to medium size businesses. Like T1, DS3 is highly reliable with low latency, jitter and packet loss. It can be set up as a direct point to point line service as well as Internet access.

The two limitations of DS3 are the relatively high cost compared with other options and availability. The DS3 connection is a pair of coaxial copper cables, but fiber optic lines carry the signal most of the way. That means that fiber needs to be nearby for DS3 to be an option.

Ethernet over Copper
Ethernet over Copper or EoC is a direct competitor to T1. EoC uses the same twisted pair copper wires employed by T1. Multiple pairs are bonded to increase bandwidth. What EoC offers is a direct Ethernet connection to your network plus bandwidth options from 3 to 20 Mbps, even up to 50 or 100 Mbps in some locations.

Ethernet over Copper is widely available and the cost per Mbps tends to be much lower than T1 or DS3. The limitation is that you need to be located near the telco office to get the higher bandwidths. Unlike T1, EoC bandwidth rapidly decreases with distance. However, when available, Ethernet over Copper is an excellent choice for business broadband.

Ethernet over Fiber
Like EoC, EoF or Ethernet over Fiber gives you a high performance broadband service at an excellent price. As you might guess, moving from copper to fiber makes higher bandwidths available. Ethernet over Fiber bandwidth options start at 10 Mbps and go up to 100 Mbps, 1000 Mbps and 10 Gbps. In some locations you can now get 100 Gbps bandwidth if you need this service level.

Fiber has the advantage of being “future proof.” Once installed, chances are that you’ll never need further line construction. Ethernet (as opposed to legacy SONET fiber) is highly scalable. That means you can start off paying for the bandwidth you need today and then upgrade to higher levels with a simple phone call to your provider. Usually no equipment changes will be needed and you can get the increase immediately or within a short time frame compared to upgrading other services.

What broadband option is best for your business? It comes down to cost vs performance along with availability. Get the complete picture on the options for your location with competitive quotes for high speed business Internet services.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.



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Friday, October 31, 2014

Business Phone Line Options

By: John Shepler

One thing every business, large or small, needs is at least one telephone line. Phone lines may seem pretty mundane, but you may have more options than you think. Are you sure that you have the right phone line for your business?

You have multiple options for business phone lines.Plain Old Telephone Service
The historical phone line that we’re all familiar with is the analog phone line, also called POTS for Plain Old Telephone Service. It’s that vanilla.

POTS lines are as simple as they come. They consist of a single twisted copper pair that runs from a standard RJ-11 phone jack on your wall all the way back to the telephone company central office. The phone conversation is carried by a varying current in the wires.

What you may not realize is that POTS is a self-contained phone system. Phones were traditionally made of passive electrical components. They got their power right off the phone line… and still can. The value of this is that even if the electrical power goes off at your location, you still have phone service.

What’s happened lately, however, is that even single line phones have gone electronic and require AC power supplies and/or batteries to power the circuitry. This is especially true of cordless phone systems with multiple handsets. You can still get dial tone during a power outage, but you need to have a backup battery supply to operate the phone, not the line.

Multiple LInes
You are not stuck with just a single POTS line. You can have as many as you want. Mind you, there is no economy of scale. There is a fixed price for each line whether you have one phone per line or share the outside lines using a Key Telephone System or PBX.

Wireless as an Option
Can you get rid of the telephone line completely? That’s what cellular phone service is all about. No more “landline”. Everything is done with cell towers instead of wires. Wireless can work just fine for independent professionals who are always out of the office anyway. With a data plan you can have both Internet and voice telephony on the same device. You can enhance your mobile setup with an incoming toll free number, fax transmission and reception, and international dial-around calling. Shared plans can support a small office as well as a single user. Operations larger than that will still need wired landlines.

Moving up to Trunks
A telephone trunk is multiple phone lines coming in on a single cable. There used to be analog trunks, but that technology has all gone digital. The most popular trunks are T1, ISDN PRI and SIP.

T1 lines were devised as replacements for multiple analog POTS lines. Instead of separate wires, T1 lines are multiplexed to divvy up the available bandwidth into 24 independent channels. Each channel can be thought of as a separate phone line.

What if you already have a dozen phones and want to replace all those separate phone lines with a single T1 line? Chances are that you’ll get the same or better service at a lower monthly cost. A box called a “channel bank” handles the conversion between T1 channels and analog lines. Just plug your phones in like you always have.

T1 vs ISDN PRI
ISDN PRI or Primary Rate Interface is a variation on the T1 line. It uses the same channelization scheme, but dedicates one channel to dialing and switching for all the others. That means you have a maximum of 23 outside lines available on a PRI trunk. The tradeoff is that your phone calls will switch faster on ISDN PRI. That’s important for call centers and others who need highly efficient telephone operations.

Most PBX systems now have the interface circuitry for T1 and ISDN PRI already built-in. You simply plug in the trunk line and the system handles all of the necessary conversions.

SIP Trunks
Many, many companies are considering switching to VoIP technology or have already made the move. SIP trunks are the natural complement to VoIP phone systems. Their advantage is that they use the same protocol, SIP, as the phone themselves. Remember that VoIP or SIP phones connect directly to an Ethernet LAN, usually shared with computers, printers and other network devices. The SIP trunk extends the network so that it also connects to the VoIP service provider.

Like T1 and ISDN PRI, SIP trunks support multiple simultaneous telephone conversations. The difference is that these conversations consist of packet streams all combined on one line instead of breaking the line into separate channels.

Another advantage of SIP trunks is that they can carry Internet traffic as well as phone calls. After all, everything is in packet format. What’s important is that the trunk be setup to prioritize telephone traffic over data traffic to ensure voice quality. This is called Class of Service or Quality of Service.

What phone line is best for your business? One way to find out quickly is to get multiple competitive quotes for everything from POTS through SIP Trunking as business phone line options.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.



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