Monday, December 01, 2014

Cyber Monday is For Business Buyers Too

By: John Shepler

Cyber Monday is the new tradition for shopping online to get deals that you couldn’t in the rough and tumble of brick and mortar Black Friday sales. You’ll see numerous offers for special deals targeted at consumers today. But what about businesses? Is there such a thing as Cyber Monday for business?

How businesses can save money on Cyber Monday, tooThere should be. Business purchases are a huge part of the economy. What’s more, what businesses have to pay for products and services reflects in the price consumers have to pay. If your business can get a bargain on Cyber Monday, it’s a win all the way around.

Let’s have a look at some things that you might not think are ripe for savings, yet actually are. While prices for these services might not be specific to this particular day, there’s still a huge incentive for you to take a closer look. You’ll likely find savings that you didn’t know were available. Whatever you save will pay off for months and years into the future.

1. T1 Lines
Just about every company has leased a T1 line at some point in its growth. Many still do, and new T1 lines are being provisioned every day. Why has this decades old telecom service retained its popularity in the face of technological advancement?

It’s hard to beat a winner. T1 lines have a long history of reliability and versatility. You can use a T1 line as a point to point private line, dedicated Internet access, MPLS network connection, or as a T1 or ISDN PRI telephone trunk for your telephone system. They offer the same bandwidth in both directions and are inherently low in latency.

What T1 lines have that many other telecom services don’t have is near universal availability. They come in on ordinary twisted pair telephone cable that is available to just about every business building. The one gripe has been cost. Ten years ago, T1 lines were pricey. You had to swallow hard and sign the contract if you needed connectivity. Today, prices are a fraction of what they used to be and are attractive to even very small businesses.

If you are unhappy with “consumer grade” broadband or have a T1 contract that is a few years old or more, you should get an instant price quote for T1 line services now.

2. Ethernet over Copper
Ethernet over Copper, also called EoC, is the direct competitor to T1 lines. EoC is a newer technology and uses the same twisted pair copper wires that provision T1. It’s also symmetrical in bandwidth, highly reliable and low in latency, jitter and packet loss.

What Ethernet over Copper offers is higher bandwidth and… Ethernet! While your phone system may still be a traditional Key Telephone System or PBX using analog POTS lines or ISDN PRI, your computer network is almost certainly based on Ethernet. EoC lets you connect to other locations or the Internet while keeping your packets in the Ethernet protocol all the way. This opens the door to services like E-LAN that let you set up a bridged LAN that includes locations across town or nationwide.

Unlike T1 that has a fixed bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps no matter the distance, EoC technology trades off speed for distance. If you are close to the central office you can get very high speeds, perhaps 50 Mbps or more. Farther away, available line speed drops off as the line length increases. Even so, most business locations can get 3 Mbps up to 10 or 20 Mbps using Ethernet over Copper. Even better, the cost per Mbps is usually lower than what you pay for T1… perhaps half as much.

If you are running out of bandwidth on your T1 line or want to see if you can get the same or higher bandwidth at a better price, you’ll want to check out Ethernet over Copper bandwidth speeds and prices for your locations.

3. Metro Ethernet over Fiber
If Ethernet over Copper is a good idea, Ethernet over Fiber is a even better one. Fiber optic networks have multiplied in recent years, with tentacles reaching into nearly every city around the globe. The other revolution is the rise of independent private carriers to compete with the traditional telephone companies. This competitive environment has expanded service availability and reduced prices.

If you’ve had fiber optic services for years, chances are that you have one of the legacy SONET telco fiber lines. These include OC3 at 155 Mbps, OC12 at 622 Mbps and OC48 at 2.4 Mbps. SONET is highly reliable and low in latency, jitter and packet loss. It traditionally has suffered from lack of availability, few fixed bandwidth levels, and high prices per Mbps compared to what is available now.

Yes, SONET is still a good fiber service to have. Prices have come down dramatically over the years. But Ethernet over Fiber is an even better deal. Like EoC, EoF keeps your traffic in the Ethernet protocol for easy interfacing, and the ability to get LAN-type connectivity among multiple locations.

it’s also highly scalable. You can get just about any bandwidth level you want between 10 Mbps and 10 Gbps. In some major business centers, speeds as high as 100 Gbps are available to businesses as well as carriers. What’s more, you can generally get your service upgraded quickly with just a phone call to your provider. Quickly means anything from a few hours to a week or so. Compare that with weeks or months if you need a SONET upgrade.

If you need bandwidth of 10 Mbps or higher for your business (not residential) location, it is well worth your while to take a few minutes this Cyber Monday (or any other day) and check out the fiber optic bandwidth and pricing options available right now.

4. Hosted PBX
Everybody knows what a business telephone is. It’s that box with a handset and dial pad that sits on your desk and has its own wiring to the phone company or an in-house phone system. Business phones are essential for business. The traditional phone systems aren’t so essential anymore. In fact, you are likely missing out on both features and cost savings if you aren’t looking at the new cloud hosted VoIP or cloud PBX phone services. So, let’s take a Cyber Monday shopping trip.

There are numerous companies offering “hosted” phone services. These range of single line VoIP telephone services all the way up to call centers in the cloud. They’re all based on the idea that if telephones can connect to the computer network, then the switching equipment can be located anywhere. Today, the best deals are cloud service providers who operate massive data centers dedicated to IP telephony.

Don’t confuse enterprise VoIP services with the low-end Internet VoIP services. They may use similar technology, but the trick to consistently high voice quality is a dedicated network connection between you and the provider. This is known as a SIP trunk. The bandwidth of the trunk determines how many simultaneous calls it will support. You can have a few lines or thousands. Only the speed of the connection changes.

What Hosted PBX does is change the way you pay for your phone service. Instead of making a major capital investment in equipment and ongoing maintenance expenses, you pay per phone per month to a service firm. That firm bears the cost and responsibility of running a highly reliable and easily scalable phone system for your company. All you have in-house are the IP phones plugged into your computer network and a specialized router to prioritize the voice traffic.

Is your phone system too small or getting a little “creaky”? Before you go out and drop a bundle on a shiny new in-house equipment rack, see how competitive and feature-filled a Cloud Hosted PBX service can be.

Now you see how Cyber Monday can be as asset to businesses beyond what you sell to consumers on this single day of the year. Use Cyber Monday as an incentive to shop for your business as well as yourself and get deals that will pay off handsomely for years.

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

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter