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.

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

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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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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Connectivity for Telemedicine and Remote Work

By: John Shepler

The sudden onset of the Coronavirus pandemic is accelerating a couple of trends that were already in progress. One is telemedicine. The other is remote work. Both have a common critical path, which is broadband Internet bandwidth. Let’s look at what’s available to get connected.

Network Service OptionsConnecting the User
Most remote workers and patients accessing telemedicine will be connecting at home, perhaps using a desktop PC or Mac, or on the move through their smartphones, laptops and tablets. The most popular option at home is cable broadband, with bandwidths of 30 to 100 Mbps. Remotely, the most popular options are public WiFi and 4G & 5G cellular broadband.

The individual user who is an employee or patient seldom has the budget for business grade connections such as private lines, fiber optic bandwidth or point to point microwave. Their connection is to the Internet through whatever last mile connection they can afford. That’s almost always a cable or cellular connection which is shared bandwidth and asymmetric, with download speed perhaps 10x upload speed.

These connections generally work fine for remote log-in, video chat and website access. They’re pretty reliable and budget friendly.

Special Cases
Certain medical equipment doesn’t work well over home Internet. The patient may need a classic analog landline (yes, even today) or built-in proprietary wireless access.

A business needing higher performance than consumer broadband offers may have to pay the cost of a dedicated leased line. This might be a T1 line, Ethernet over Copper, or Fiber to the Premises, if available. Dedicated Internet Access generally offers a performance improvement over shared consumer broadband first-mile connections. You also have the option of setting up a dedicated private line, although higher bandwidths are often not available to consumers.

If broadcast quality live video is required, you may need to set up a small remote studio near your talent. A Metro Ethernet private line will support the quality you need to avoid the distorted audio and video glitches common with consumer Internet video chat services.

Business Bandwidth Options

If you are the provider rather than the user, your connectivity needs are likely more demanding. As the company or medical organization you will probably be supporting more than one simultaneous employee or patient. That could be dozens, hundreds or even thousands of users connecting into your central system, which might be cloud-based.

There are two types of connectivity you’ll want to consider. First is connection to those outside users, mostly likely through Internet broadband. Second is connections within your own organization. Your internal connectivity will be by Local Area Network and either Metropolitan or Wide Area Networking to include more than one business location. You may also want a dedicated high bandwidth cloud connection to make your cloud applications perform as if they were hosted in a local data center.

You’ll need enough Internet bandwidth to support the maximum number of simultaneous users that will commonly be connected, plus some surge ability to support additional users when things get busy. A dedicated broadband Internet connection using scalable Ethernet over Fiber bandwidth can handle heavy demands. Gigabit and 10 Gig E services are readily available.

Within the organization, you may wish to stay off the Internet both for higher performance and better security. Point to Point dedicated private lines can be nearly transparent to your network. If multiple locations are involved scattered over a wide geographical area, an MPLS network can save cost while still preserving high performance and excellent security.

The performance of the last-mile Internet connection can also be improved by using an SD-WAN connection. SD-WAN or Software Defined Wide Area Network combines several types of Internet connections, including wired, fiber optic and wireless. The SD-WAN software constantly monitors the various connections and chooses the most appropriate for each packet. This helps ensure that more demanding applications have priority over activities that can be run in the background.

Is your company planning or already engaged in remote work or telemedicine? If so, we can help you find the right type of connectivity at the best price.

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

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Gigabit Internet Near Your Business

By: John Shepler

No doubt about it, you need more broadband speed to conduct business than you ever have. Most businesses have an online presence now. The few that don’t still need the Internet for business processes and to offer WiFi hotspots for their customers. If yesterday’s connection solutions seem to have slowed to a crawl, you clearly need an upgrade. Gigabit Internet broadband could be exactly what you need now and for the foreseeable future.

Gigabit Internet broadband service near you. Find it now!Is Gigabit Internet Really Right for Me?
What you really need is invisible connectivity. No matter what you are doing, the speed of the line shouldn’t be getting in your way. In fact, you should completely forget about how you get to the Internet. It should just be there.

You probably need more speed than you think. Over the last 20 years, the “Internet” has evolved from email and some very simple HTML brochure-type websites to fully functional online operations. Many of your customers never set foot in your place of business anymore. They do everything online. It’s second nature. Their phone is really a web browser that is always in their pocket. Their desktop computer has relatively little boxed software anymore. Most everything is done online and in real time. Your phone system? Probably VoIP technology these days and more likely, integrated with a video conferencing system for unified communications.

How about your business processes? Do you keep manual books? How about customer or patient records? Your customer relationship management systems are all software based and most likely cloud based. In fact, fewer and fewer companies host their own data centers anymore. It’s all about the cloud and what isn’t cloud related is all about connecting to the outside world, especially customers and suppliers.

Making your connection invisible to you and your employees involves certain technical characteristics. The line must run fast enough. That’s speed or bandwidth. It also must respond quickly. That’s latency as much as speed. Long latency in the system means sluggish response. It must also be accurate and efficient in the sense that it doesn’t lose bits. That integrity is essential in the case of voice and video streams. Dropped bits garble conversations and make video distorted and even jerky. A high quality Gigabit Internet connection can go a long way to making all of this fairly easy to accomplish.

Your Gigabit Internet Connection
Is Gigabit Internet near you? Most likely, yes. Perhaps you checked around a few years ago and found nothing available. It’s highly likely that situation has changed. The demand for higher and higher speeds, especially 4G and 5G wireless broadband speeds, has resulted in a building boom for fiber optic and microwave circuits. In addition, new technology modems have enabled cable broadband systems to be able to deliver Gigabit speeds over their existing fiber and coaxial copper infrastructure.

Even if you don’t think you really need Gigabit speeds right now, you should seriously consider having that capability. You’ll need them sooner than you think. What you want is a DOCSIS 3.1 modem or a Gigabit Ethernet port to deliver your Internet connection. That way you can start out with, say 100 Mbps business broadband, and upgrade to as much as 1,000 Mbps, a Gigabit, later.

Know Your Broadband Types
You should know that there are two basic types of Internet broadband services. They are called dedicated and shared. Dedicated Internet Access has the highest prices, but is the most solid, reliable connection you can get. The "dedicated" name means the bandwidth is 100% dedicated to your use only. Whatever you don't use remains available when you need it. A dedicated connection also tends to be symmetrical, with upload and download speeds identical.

Shared connections, like what you get with cable broadband and 4G and 5G wireless, are far less costly, but are shared among multiple users. You many notice this as fluctuating line speed throughout the day. Shared connections also tend to be asymmetrical with download speeds about ten times upload speeds. Whether either of these characteristics matter depend on how you are using the service.

What Internet connection is best for your business? Find out now what Gigabit Internet broadband services are available near you.

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

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