Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Yes, You ARE Overpaying For Your Phone and Data Lines

By: John Shepler

With the economic future highly in question, every business needs to take a long, hard look at what it takes to survive. With future income uncertain and likely reduced, a good place to focus is on reducing expenses. Telecom lines, including data, telephone and Internet, can be a major monthly bill. It’s highly likely that right now you are paying more, perhaps much more, than you could be for the same quality of service.

Save on your telecom costs now.Who’s Gouging Me?
Probably no one is cheating you or even taking advantage of your business. If you like, blame it on the gremlins. You know, those sneaky little critters that make everything break at the worst possible time. They also know how to bleed your budget without you ever knowing.

First, Get Rid of the Waste
You are paying for stuff you don’t need. I suspect you are paying for stuff that you don’t even use. How can that be? Anyone who has ever cleaned house has discovered all sorts of unopened christmas presents, products still in their original packaging, and food way past its safe date. The same is true in business. Things get bought. Some never get used. Others are used awhile, then the situation changes and they are set aside… just in case. Just in case never comes back again.

The worst offenders are subscriptions and contracts you pay for monthly but don’t get any value from. Right now, pull the bills for the last few months related to computing and telecom services. Services are especially sneaky at bleeding your budget because they are often out of sight and out of mind. You don’t trip over them like you do a big piece of equipment.

Now, grab a cup of coffee and go to a quiet space with your bills and some highlighters. You have to walk through these from top to bottom and question everything. Are there lines installed that aren’t being used anymore? Are there cell phone numbers that stopped being used when people left long ago? What about special fax machine lines, alarm connections, direct lines to buildings you got rid of? More DID numbers than you can possible use today? Toll Free numbers you don’t even advertise? Highlight them all. They’ve got to go.

Save a Bundle on What You DO Need
Now that you’ve made arrangements to delete all that extra costly clutter that adds no value, you’re left with the essentials. Of course you need phone lines and broadband service. You may need a direct connection to a cloud service provider or another office. You may well want managed security instead of having to keep someone on staff to fend off cybercriminals. Don’t cut so far to the bone that you hurt your ability to do business. Just get a better deal.

There’s a little secret about telecom services that escapes notice most of the time. Business lines, especially the dedicated ones like T1, DS3, SONET and Carrier Ethernet, are sold on contract. Usually you commit for at least a year, but probably take a 3 year contract for better pricing. Nothing wrong with that. It’s what happens at contract expiration that matters.

You might be tempted to simply renew the same contract at the same price, figuring you are lucky to avoid price inflation. Wrong. This industry is highly competitive and technology is advancing constantly. That translates into lower prices, not higher. For the same money you should get more bandwidth. Otherwise you should get a lower price for the next 3 years at the same bandwidth.

When New is Cheaper
Upgrading your technology could actually save rather than cost. Still nursing an old PBX system that needs maintenance and has pricy replacement parts? Have a look at
VoIP cloud service providers and let them manage the switching gear. All you need is phones and a SIP trunk to the cloud. You also gain new features that old analog desk phones can’t support.

Fiber optic bandwidth connections used to cost an arm and couple of legs. Not anymore. If you are in a built-up, not rural, area there is probably lots of fiber in the ground and overhead. Even the cable companies are leasing out extra fiber capacity. You might find that an upgrade in bandwidth could cost less than you pay for copper service now.

Running your own servers used to be the only way to go. Not anymore. In fact, it’s hard not to save money by pulling the plug and getting your infrastructure in the cloud. This is especially true if you need special high capacity lines to handle customer traffic. That bandwidth is likely cheaper at the remote data center and you’ll only need a lower bandwidth connection to manage the cloud services from your location.

Well, what do you think? Is there opportunity for cost saving in your business? Give these ideas at least a good look before you decide you are doing as well as you can. That includes getting a new current set of competitive quotes on all your line services, telephone, wireless and cloud services to see what might be available that you don’t know about.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Yes, You can Still Get a T1 Line

By: John Shepler

When the Internet was just beginning to take off and business was starting to migrate to the Web, the connectivity of choice was the T1 line. T1 is no longer king, as business cable broadband and fiber have eclipsed it with much higher bandwidth capability and much lower prices per Mbps. Even so, there are places and applications where T1 is exactly the right fit. The only question is: “Can you still find a T1 line?”.

Find T1 Lines for Telephone or InternetWhy Would You Want To?
T1 is a technical standard introduced by the Bell system in 1962. That’s right, the telephone company. This gives you a hint for where T1 is well entrenched. It is phone systems for small and medium sized businesses. The original implementation of T1 phone lines replaced 24 twisted pair copper analog phone lines with two pair running a digital protocol. A later scheme called ISDN PRI uses the same T1 line to carry 23 phone line conversations plus switching data and caller ID.

When the long distance carriers went to T1 and its higher bandwidth T3 cousin to replace the old analog carrier systems, one thing you immediately noticed was the disappearance of noise and crosstalk. In addition to using fewer circuits, digital technology gave us higher quality conversations.

Where do you find T1 lines for phones? Any business with multiple outside lines is a candidate. The more lines, the easier it is to justify the cost of a T1 or ISDN digital line. Typically six to twelve lines make more sense on digital than analog connections. Many key telephone and PBX (Private Branch Exchange) in-house phone systems support T1 directly or can easily be interfaced.

Rock Solid Performance and Reliability
T1 lines are dedicated point to point connections. It’s a pair of wires or a couple pair that go from your location to a telco equipment office. You may get your service directly from the incumbent local telephone company or from a competitive provider that leases the lines and terminal equipment from the telco.

T1 and ISDN PRI divide the line bandwidth into channels. That’s 24 channels for T1 and 23 for ISDN. The leftover bandwidth is used by ISDN for switching, ringing and Caller ID. Whatever channels are not in use at the moment simply idle and wait to carry a phone call. Unlike typical broadband services, there is no sharing of T1 bandwidth with other businesses or consumers. The bandwidth is dedicated to your usage. It’s also symmetrical by nature. In other words the bandwidth is the same in both directions.

Another important characteristic of T1 lines is that they are synchronized at both ends using PCM or pulse code modulation to convert between analog and digital. This compares with packets used in IP networks, which do not have the timing synchronization as they do not use channels. Why does this matter? T1 lines have minimal latency. It’s just the delay through the equipment and the distance between locations. You don’t get the variable latency of Internet routing or jumbled up packets that cause dropouts and distortion in VoIP calls. This clarity and reliability of performance makes for clean reliable phone calls and also makes T1 lines great for credit card verification.

T1 Broadband…It’s a Thing
The idea of a 1.5 Mbps line called broadband is pretty much laughable these days… unless you can’t get even that. That’s right. Rural broadband is the vast wasteland of our time. There are so many locations in the boonies that get nothing. No cell phone service and certainly no cable or fiber. What they can get is T1 lines. Why? Because they are already wired for Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). T1 was designed to run on ordinary phone cables with regeneration equipment every mile so so.

So, if you have a rural business, you can probably hook up with a T1 line or two. Have one for your phones. Another as a “last mile” connection to the Internet. You won’t be downloading 4K movies in any reasonable amount of time, but you probably aren’t doing that anyway. T1 can support your inventory management and other business software. If you need more bandwidth you can bond another T1 for 3 Mbps and more to get up to 10 or 12 Mbps. That much bandwidth won’t come cheap and isn’t available everywhere, but… if you gotta have it.

A Faster Alternative
Technology advancements have resulted in newer protocols than the sixty-something year old T1 standard. One called Ethernet over Copper uses the same multiple twisted pair cable as T1 but runs much faster. The tradeoff is distance from the equipment office. If you are within a mile or two, you may get 10 or 20 Mbps. Way out yonder, EoC probably won’t work, but T1 will. Ethernet over Copper is worth look at if you are just outside the city limits but not served by fiber or cable. Pricing is pretty attractive and you might get all the bandwidth you need.

Are other connections too unstable for your phone system or are you having trouble getting any connectivity? There are numerous carriers still supporting T1 and related technologies. Get a quote on a venerable T1 line and see if it meets your needs.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Tips To Reduce Your Telecom Costs

By: John Shepler

Business is open. Business is closed. Business is open again. Most businesses are suffering from whiplash as they navigate the Covid-19 crisis. When times were good, growth was king. Now survival is key and a major element of business survival is cost control. Here are some things you can do immediately to curb expenditures while still being operational.

Save on your network and telecom costs right now!Are You Paying For Things You Aren’t Using?
it seems obvious that nobody would pay for something they don’t use, yet both consumers and businesses are guilty of just that.

Get your phone bill and some pens and highlighters. Now go through it line by line. Consider yourself an old time prospector looking for gold. That gold is in the form of expenses that don’t provide value.

Are you currently using every line that comes into your business? How about lines to buildings that were offices and are now storage? Fax lines not connected to fax machines anymore? Old burglar alarm lines or extension phones? Old data lines that aren’t being fed by anything anymore?

What about mobile phones? Each phone should be currently used by an employee. Are there leftovers from departed employees that haven’t been reassigned? What about features that nobody is using?

Every line, every feature, every device should be assigned and preferably be in-use. Now, get on the phone with your carrier and delete everything not being used.

The same goes for equipment rentals. If you are not using it, send it back and stop the bleeding. When things pick up, reacquire the resources you need then.

While you were doing your survey, I’ll bet you found a bunch of equipment squirreled here and there. Routers, switches, PCs, phones, adaptors, and even boxes full of software. Have someone who is not otherwise engaged look into selling this stuff on e-bay. True, some has little value and should be just recycled. Sell anything that is worth the time and shipping cost to unload. This could turn into a cash cow and justify an ongoing job assignment.

Pay Less For The Same Value
I feel pretty safe in saying that you are paying more than you have to for your telecom lines. That’s because deregulation and new competition have driven down the cost of bandwidth year over year. You may be finishing a 3 year contract or be paying month to month on an expired contract. There’s high value-added in figuring out how many lines of what performance you need and getting a new competitive price quote .

T1 lines are still popular, but they cost a fraction of what they did a decade ago. Same lines, much lower prices. The fiber optic services from DS3 (45 Mbps) and OCx to 10 Gbps and more are largely being replaced with Carrier Ethernet. It’s more compatible with today’s equipment, bandwidth is scalable, and costs are much, much lower. Fiber is king these days, but there is also Ethernet over Copper and wireless services. MPLS networks are a better deal than multiple point to point lines. SD-WAN is replacing MPLS for even greater savings.

How do you sort all of this out? You need to work with a good master agency like Telarus that has relationships with dozens and dozens of suppliers. A knowledgeable agent will get you multiple quotes and help you decide on the best options for your situation.

Don’t Invest, Pay As You Go
You’ve heard that the cloud is taking over everything. Well, there’s a good reason for that. We’re past the time when every company needs to maintain telecom rooms and server rooms. All of that goes bye-bye to the cloud, which is nothing more than one giant data center with full time staff to maintain everything. You concentrate on your business and they take care of the constantly changing infrastructure. Cloud centers can also provide cybersecurity and stay on top of evolving threats? Do you really want to be saddled with that?

Moving to the cloud does two things for you. It avoids capital expense (capex) and allows you to pay as you go (opex). Paying as you go these days can be really helpful because you can scale both up and down rapidly as business goes on a rollercoaster.

Don’t forget to consider bandwidth that can also be easily scaled both up and down. If you get a fiber optic service with a GigE or 10GigE port, you can run any bandwidth level you like and pay for just that. Some services even let you upgrade and downgrade online instantly. It’s a far cry from the old days of nailed-up telco circuits.

Are you busy adjusting to the new normal and concerned that you may not be able to afford your ongoing business costs? Don’t let networking and telecom drag you down. Get competitive quotes and expert advice now and reduce your costs ASAP.

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Friday, April 17, 2020

Business Grade 4G LTE Broadband for Work at Home

By: John Shepler

All of a sudden, everybody is working from home… or at least trying to. One of the big challenges is trying to get enough high speed, low latency bandwidth into a remote business or home office instantly. The more isolated your location, the tougher it gets. Well, thanks to the wide coverage of 4G LTE cellular broadband and high performance modem/routers, you can get the bandwidth you need fast, at low cost and with no long term commitment. Does that sound interesting?

Get business grade wireless broadband now.The Secret is Wireless
Forget having wires or, worse, fiber run to your location. That’s not going to happen fast and it might cost you a small fortune in construction fees plus a multi-year commitment. For a situation that may only last a few months to a year, it’s tough to take on a contract like that. Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Wireless broadband is now just about everywhere with any population at all. Can you get a decent cell phone signal? Then you are pretty much assured of having broadband Internet access. The cellular phone system started out as a replacement for voice-grade landlines, but has morphed into a broadband Internet service that also supports phone calls. The current widely deployed iteration is 4G LTE. Signals are strong and bandwidth is similar to many cable services. All you really need is a way to connect.

Instant Desktop Broadband
Here’s a little secret that I use to backup my own cable broadband. Your iPhone will act as a personal hotspot. Just turn that feature on, select that network name on your desktop WiFi and enter the password the phone gives you. Voila! Your desktop computer in on the Internet. No wires needed.

This works great for short term outages, but if you are going to use this service day after day, there is always the nasty issue of data limits. You may have 20 GB on your wireless plan, but typical monthly use is more like 250 GB. Your cellular plan won’t cut it for the long term. You need something designed for business.

Business Grade Wireless
Instead of a cell phone, you need something that looks more like a WiFi router but with 4G LTE driving it instead of DSL or Cable. These are made by companies like CradlePoint with service from business broadband providers like For2Fi.

A single box has a 4G LTE modem with antennas and a WiFi signal router. Some models include firewalls, Ethernet ports, and even Power over Ethernet (PoE). Unlike a cell phone, you can add an external antenna to boost the signal in areas with weak coverage.

Enterprise Grade Service
Would unlimited usage (subject to 300 GB acceptable use policy) at 20 to 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload with low latency and low packet loss work for you?

You will be able to do the usual web browsing and email, but also video conferencing, file collaboration, teams and unified communications as a service (UCaaS).

But what does this cost? It’s about what you’d pay for business grade cable broadband and likely less than a 1.5 Mbps T1 line (sometimes the only other solution in rural areas). That’s with no contract. You just pay as long as you use the service.

For businesses that are really on a budget, there is also a basic plan with 1, 5, and 10 GB plans at a bargain rate. If you go over the limit, you pay a fee per GB used.

Are you faced with having to suddenly support a scattered workforce with no time to install the usual connections and in locations that might not even support high speed wireline or fiber installations? Get up and running in days, not months with a flexible enterprise grade wireless broadband solution. Use the handy online form or call toll free 888-848-8749 now.

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



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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

You Are Definitely Going to Need More Bandwidth

By: John Shepler

All of a sudden, business as usual isn’t. Forget the norms of office life. They’re gone. Nobody comes in and sits at their desk anymore. The cubicles are empty. The parking lot is empty. Row after row of desktop computers and phones are… off.

Get business products with this theme from our Zazzle store.So, Where Is Everybody?
To be fair, a skeleton crew is in the building. Most everyone else is at home. It’s been a mad scramble to connect remotely by home computer, iPad & smartphone via cable and cellular broadband. Bandwidth usage has soared 30% or more. Video conferencing has come into its own using those built-in microphones and cameras over Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, RingCentral, GoToMeeting, Webex and the like.

Not as Temporary as You Think
You probably think this traumatic upset of normal business practice is a transient thing. Just a few weeks of toughing it out and everything will go back to normal. That’s almost certainly wishful thinking. This pandemic has peaked or is peaking in areas that were hit hard and hit early. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. The horror of infection rates, deaths and failing medical systems will abate in one area after another. But, the disaster will soon pop up in areas that weren’t hit early and haven’t seriously locked down until recently. Think of a rolling disaster, from city to city and even into less populous areas. Just when you think it is all over, it is expected that there will be a re-infection in the Fall and sickness will spread again.

Eventually, there will be effective therapeutics and then vaccines. Those are likely months and possibly a year or more away. Until then, you might not be living in a constant horror movie, but it certainly won’t be business as usual. You might as well dig-in and figure how to run a successful business without large numbers of people rubbing shoulders in one big workspace or cozying up to customers at your place or theirs.

The New Virtual Business Requirements
You are going to need to master distributed processes, secure communications, and remote everything. You’ll need VPNs for security, private and public cloud services to host the software that defines your organization, and lots and lots of bandwidth to tie it all together. “Touchless” will be the new, new thing that everybody wants. That means technology substituting for hands-on.

What types of bandwidth do you need? Certainly, sketchy home broadband won’t do. Your remote employees may not even be eligible to connect to the high performance business grade private lines that commonly link offices, but they will need sufficient reliable bandwidth for both video conferencing with colleagues, management and customers. Bandwidth and latency need to be good enough that the home computer runs like the office computer. Cable broadband may do a decent job but remote areas present a challenge. In some cases, an SD-WAN solution aggregating cable, T1, WISP, 4G and 5G cellular and perhaps even satellite may be a good composition solution.

Especially Demanding Applications
Medical offices, labs, and hospital campuses need really high performance bandwidth. That includes Gigabit Ethernet and 10 GigE fiber, dark fiber and MPLS networks for interconnecting far-flung facilities or collaborating companies. Fortunately these connections are readily available in populated areas, although more of a challenge in rural locations.

Your IT Bandwidth Requirements
Reconsider your own IT Department connectivity needs. They've changed. You'll want your connection to public, private and hybrid cloud services to be high performance, dedicated bandwidth links. This will give you much faster, more responsive and stable connections than the Internet can provide. You'll want the closest to "LAN" quality performance from any of your business locations. This can be achieved with dedicated point to point fiber optic lines, Metro Ethernet services and MPLS Networks that span wide geographical areas, including worldwide service.

After The Disaster
Someday this will all be over, but things might not go back to the way they were. Companies may be amazed at how productive employees are in home offices, even with kids and pets under foot and no supervisor breathing down their neck. Fact is, a lot of socializing went on in those cubicle farms and the office computers hosted a lot of personal web use and email. Letting many, maybe most employees work from home reduces their need for commuting and, perhaps, child care. It reduces your need for real estate and facilities. Managing performance by goal oriented results may finally replace monitoring physical presence as the business norm.

Expect that you will have a lot more remote work and that core teams may be housed in much smaller facilities or even rented meeting spaces. Video conferencing may replace a lot of business travel that was once thought essential. The same level of productivity might, surprisingly, be achieved at considerably lower cost overall with more flexibility. Additional help could be quickly brought on without the delays and expense of relocation.

Now, What do YOU Need?
Has the shock of recent upsets found you scrambling for IT resources, especially bandwidth, secure communications, video conferencing and hosted telephone solutions? We can help you right now. Call toll free 888-848-8749 or tell us what you need to support your business.

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



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