Category Archives: Internet Lines

Why a Disaster Recovery Plan is Vital to your Business Phone System

disaster recoveryNot all business phone system hardware issues are necessarily due to crashes. Oftentimes natural disasters are the culprit. Furthermore, fires, floods, and other natural disasters can not only bring down your equipment, but it can render your business premises inaccessible. It is important that you have a disaster recovery plan in place to help your business recuperate all the faster.

Business Continuity

Business continuity refers to the plans and techniques meant to ensure that your business’s vital functions remain operational in the event of a disaster. There are three fundamentals of business continuity.

  • Resilience: Most of the companies achieve this by engineering the critical business functions and supporting infrastructure in a way that limits their risk of catastrophic failure.
  • Recovery: In the event of failure, companies make specific arrangements to recover or restore business functions.
  • Contingency: In the event of resilience and recovery failures, these refer to last-resort plans.
Cloud Calling

VoIP business phone systems have one large benefit over PBX systems in terms of disaster recovery in that they are cloud based. As opposed to housing your data on-site, cloud based systems have data centers around the globe. In the event of a disaster, VoIP services reroute traffic to servers thousands of miles away.

Business Phone System Disaster Recovery: Planning and Prevention

One of the most important tips of any disaster recovery plan is to work in conjunction with your IT administrator or your phone system administrator. This is especially true if your are still using an on-premises system as opposed to the cloud.

Hopefully your business will not be the victim of a natural disaster. However, it always pays to be prepared. If you have any questions regarding disaster recovery or business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Three Ways to Improve your VoIP Call Quality

VoIP Call QualityMany businesses hesitate to switch to VoIP due to concerns over call quality. Will your customer service lines suffer due to the change? The hesitant businesses often recall the past when Internet connections were sluggish and wonder if their own Internet connection is up to the task. That is a fair concern, even if present day VoIP has improved a great deal. Here are a few ways that you can make sure your VoIP call quality is up to your business’s demands.

Use New Headsets

VoIP call quality depends, in large part, on your microphone and earphones. Many people make their calls on headsets but use outdated equipment. These people run the risk of dampening their VoIP call quality. If you try better quality headsets, you—and the people you’re calling—will hear the difference. Headsets with short, insulated cords tend to have better results with VoIP.

Eliminate Jitters

VoIP—as stated—works via the Internet. More specifically however, it works by delivering the voice information in small packets. If you want that information to make sense to the end user, they need to be spaced evenly and delivered consistently. There are a few types of network issues that can disrupt this information delivery. Depending on the severity of the VoIP call quality jitters, there are numerous solutions. If the problem isn’t that bad, try swapping Ethernet cables with Cat 6 cables. Cat 6 delivers information to the source a lot quicker than Ethernet, and thus reduces the odds of it scrambling. If your jitter problem is severe, you can install a jitter buffer.

Lower Bandwidth Use

Sometimes VoIP users simply have an overloaded bandwidth. If your VoIP call quality is suffering as a result, there are a few solutions. You should stop downloads when using VoIP and eliminate simultaneous calls. However, the best solution is simply to spend a little bit on increased bandwidth usage. It depends entirely on how many calls you receive on any given day.

If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

The 5 Most Important Aspects of VoIP Business Phone System Preparation

VoIP Business Phone System preparationVoice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has innumerable benefits, but there are a few accompanying challenges. The good news is that these challenges aren’t difficult to overcome if you prepare accordingly. We’ve listed the six most important aspects of VoIP Business Phone System preparation below.

Calls

The first thing you should determine is what kind of calls you need to make. There are a couple of different ways to make a VoIP call; from a desk phone, from a computer, or from your smartphone. Prior to making any networking decisions, you need to figure out how you are going to make calls.

Cables

Another important VoIP Business Phone System preparation is to get the correct Ethernet cables. Cat 6 cables are one of the better choices, but they may prove too costly for smaller businesses. Cat 5e cables are a more budget friendly option, and should work fine for most businesses. However, potential VoIP users should avoid older Cat 3 cables, as their capacity and compatibility is not a good fit for VoIP.

Power Supply

Next, you need to ensure that you have the appropriate power supply. Power over Ethernet (PoE) cables are the best option; they allow devices not plugged into an AC source the ability to draw power from your internet.

Router

Like many things on this list, you need to determine if your router is able to handle the new traffic from VoIP. If your router doesn’t have Packet Per Second (PPS) capability, you should upgrade it. PPS capability provides traffic shaping and allows you to prioritize voice and video data on your network.

Firewalls

Software-defined firewalls are vital to VoIP Business Phone System preparation. Software-defined firewalls are designed to filter internal data traffic and packets as opposed to only data traffic.

These tips should aide you in making the proper decisions regarding your new VoIP system. If you have any questions regarding VoIP or business phone systems in general, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Tips For Protecting Your Employees From Cyber Security Attacks

cyber security attacksCurrently, cyber criminals are abundant on the Internet. They have a plethora of methods in which to penetrate your system. If you are not careful, they will attack your system. This means that you will have to educate your employees on the risks of cybercrime, as well as the methods used. Below are some tips for protecting your employees from cyber security attacks.

Educate Your Employees on the Warning Signs

There are typically red flags concerning cyber security attacks. Unfortunately, these signs aren’t always obvious. Foreign items on your computer, extremely slow Internet, and suspicious email activity are all indicators of security attacks. The general rule of thumb when it comes to cybercrime is that it is better safe than sorry.

Test Your Employees

Always test your staff on cyber security attacks. This doesn’t have to be formal testing, but oral quizzes or interactive games can be beneficial for ensuring that they—and your company—won’t become victims. The more you cover this material with your employees, the better prepared they will be when they inevitably face a hacker.

Require Your Employees to Attend Trainings

When permissible, you should mandate that your employees attend cyber security trainings. This should include your IT team, even if they are already versed in cybercrime. Technology changes from day to day, and cybercrime is no different. There is always something new to learn concerning cyber security attacks.

Unfortunately, hackers are developing new techniques every day. If you don’t have continuing conversations with your staff, you will likely run into problems. You should also dedicate time to cybercrime in staff meetings or online trainings. The alternative could cost you a lot of time and money.

If you have any questions on cyber security, or other Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

How to Handle an Obsolete Business Phone System

obsolete business phone systemIt happens to the best of phone systems. At first, your business phone system simply requires more repairs and updates than it used to. Soon, the maintenance fees pile up and you have a difficult time finding technicians and general support for your system. One day, your provider announces the End of Life for your system; you now have an obsolete business phone system.  

What now?

What End of Life Means

The first thing you should know about having an obsolete business phone system is that it won’t be available after the end of sale date. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to purchase new or replacement parts after this date. This is problematic for businesses who wish to expand or require repairs on their system.

Your obsolete business phone system also won’t be able to receive updates. You shouldn’t underestimate how important those updates are; without them, your system will be vulnerable to security threats.

At the end of the day, if you experience issues with your phone system, there won’t be anyone to call. Your only option if you stick with your obsolete business phone system is to search out technicians who have experience in older technology. That can get expensive very fast.

How to Handle End of Life

Therefore, one of the best things you can do if you have an aging phone system is to get a technology assessment. A technology assessment will determine if there is a better way for your business to meet its communication needs. Cloud communications are a fantastic option if they have reliable internet, and companies who switch to the cloud often experience consolidated costs and expanded features.

Even if the cloud isn’t for you, you must begin researching alternatives as soon as possible if you have an obsolete business phone system. If you are proactive, you can make the switch to newer technology without any disruption in your workflow.

If you have any questions on aging Business Phone Systems, or other Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

5 Benefits of Cloud Communications

cloud communicationsThe cloud is often mentioned in conjunction with business phone systems. However, what is it exactly? Simply put, the cloud is a network of servers that hosted by a third party. They can are anywhere over the Internet. When you place a call utilizing cloud communications, you are accessing the Internet to place your call as opposed to a traditional landline.

Modern communications indicate that cloud communications are only going to get more prevalent. Many businesses are switching to the cloud because it offers a host of benefits that you can’t find via traditional landlines. We’ve listed some of the biggest benefits below.

No installation fees

As soon as your company makes the switch, you will begin saving money. Cloud communications are in an off-site server, and thus, installation of equipment and hardware isn’t necessary.

Scalability

Cloud communications facilitate growth for small businesses. Companies who are expanding (or scaling down, for that matter) don’t need to change any hardware to add or remove extensions. The changes are all done through the internet. This also helps reduce costs—and headaches—when your company decides to expand.

No downtime losses

One of the best benefits of cloud communications is continuity. Local weather and power outages don’t affect your cloud communications. In any event, redundancy should safeguard against other causes of downtime.

Disaster recovery

As we’ve mentioned, data is stored off-site. Thus, disaster recovery is simple. If you have any issues with the physical desk phone or hardware, you shouldn’t lose any data.

Productivity 

Cloud Communications are also simpler to use. It is a more streamlined system for your employees and permits them to focus on their work instead of their phone.

If you have any questions regarding the cloud, or business phone systems in general, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

VoIP and SIP: What’s the Difference?

VoIP and SIPVoIP and SIP are often confused for the same thing, but they are actually different. VoIP defines the kind of phone call (over Internet), and SIP refers to the method used to enable VoIP calls between different devices. Let me explain. 

Defining VoIP

Voice Over Internet Protocol is a rather broad term that discerns Internet calls from landline calls. VoIP operates over the Internet by digitally transmitting the voice signal to another telephone. VoIP usually operates with a mobile or browser-based application via an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP).  

Defining SIP

One of the communications protocols used to transmit VoIP calls is SIP.  Phone calls always have two endpoints, and simply put, SIP defines the messages and governs essential elements of the phone call. SIP can also enable video conferencing, media distribution, and instant messaging.

The Workings of VoIP and SIP

Simply put, SIP is the protocol and VIP is the conduit. But how do they work?

VoIP condenses audio by way a codec into data packets. After that, it compresses them across an IP network, where it de-compresses them into audio at the other end of the connection. Dedicated desktop VoIP phones, softphone applications, and mobile devices (i.e. cell phones) are typical examples of VoIP endpoints.

In the IP protocol, the IP packets move through the Internet via nodes (devices and routers discovered on the way from source to destination).

IP telephony differs from traditional telephony in the sense that in traditional telephony the line or circuit between source and destination is always dedicated and reserved (also known as circuit switching). In other words, traditional telephony tends to be more expensive because of the overhead.

If you have any questions on VoIP and SIP, or other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Why Every Company Should Consider Structured Cabling

structured cablingBusinesses often need to take stock of their communications needs, and this includes cabling. The most frequent times for assessment are when a company relocates or experiences consistent technical problems. It’s always best to examine the infrastructure first, because the wiring is the building block of your business phone system. A lot of businesses choose to a mainly wireless system, because they are attempting to keep costs low. However, this option sometimes leads to limited bandwidth, slow connectivity, and limited upgrade options. Structured cabling is a better choice for other businesses.

Structured cabling links the entire business phone system into a streamlined service for all your devices. It can require a onetime investment in hardware and installation, but the advantages typically outweigh the upfront cost.

Advantages of Structured Cabling:
  • Increased Bandwidth – permits faster connectivity to numerous devices
  • Centralized Control – allows quick assessments of issues and adjustments to the network
  • Organized Infrastructure – allows easier handling of all voice, data, and video needs of the business
  • Scalable Network –adapts to growing needs and easy addition of new devices
  • Aesthetic Appearance – streamlined wires to avoid cluttered and unsafe wiring

If structured cabling is right for your business, you then must assess the correct time to make the switch. One of the few drawbacks to structured cabling is the lengthy installation time. A business needs to carefully plan the best time to undergo the installation.

Best Times to Install a Cabling System:
  • When you are planning on relocating
  • If you have time for a little downtime in connectivity
  • When you have a short break on the work calendar (holidays or scheduled shut-downs)
  • If your current system needs repairs or replacements
  • When you are experiencing problems with your current system
  • If you are planning for growth in number of employees, number of devices, or size of facility

The infrastructure needs of businesses are always evolving. Some businesses are better off with a wireless solution, whereas some businesses benefit more from structured cabling. In either event, businesses should plan accordingly to determine which option best benefits them. If you have any questions regarding what solution would best help you, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Are You Unhappy with Your Hosted PBX Provider?

Hosted PBXThe Virtual PBX (also known as Hosted PBX or Cloud PBX) has been a great benefit to companies. However, the product is only as good as the provider; if you’re experiencing problems with your Hosted PBX, it may be time to switch providers as opposed to ditching the service altogether. If you’re experiencing any one of the following, it may be time for a change.

 

Too Expensive:

While it is never a great idea to go for the cheapest price, it is undeniable that a lot of businesses are paying way too much for their Virtual PBX. For those businesses, it may not have begun that way; they may have started out at a reasonable rate, but their provider gradually raised their rates over time. Other businesses may have experienced a rate hike after their first contract ended. Either way, doing a VoIP comparison is probably a good idea if you feel like you are paying too much for your Hosted PBX.

Poor Customer Service:

If your provider isn’t offering superior and timely support, it might be a good idea to switch providers. A lot of businesses justifiably switch due to the customer representatives being rude and not knowledgeable. Sometimes this can simply be due to the provider’s sales outmatching the rate they are growing their customer support team, but either way, the customer is in their rights to make a change if they aren’t happy with the customer service.

Lack of Local Support: 

Cloud business phone systems have been a leap forward in telecommunications, but that doesn’t preclude the need for an engineer having to visit the site from time to time. If you have a local provider, this typically isn’t a problem; having a non-local provider, however, means that geography can sometimes impede them in getting an engineer out to your company in a timely fashion.

The Good News: Changing VoIP Providers isn’t Hard!

Before Hosted PBX, businesses had to spend a lot of money on their business phone system. To justify the expenditure, they had to hang on to the system for a while—which meant that switching providers due to poor service was unheard of.

With cloud business phone systems, making a change is simple. Nearly all businesses use an industry standard SIP phone, so changing providers doesn’t mean that you must change your phones too. Furthermore, cloud PBX hardware is in a data center, so you don’t have any expensive on-site equipment to replace either. Switching is as simple as your new provider programming the phones to recognize the new VoIP system.

If you are interested in Hosted PBX or have any other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Why You Shouldn’t Forget About VoIP Security

VoIP SecurityEver since VoIP was developed, it has been an enormous aid to businesses everywhere. It has allowed businesses the freedom to communicate in ways that weren’t previously imagined. However, you shouldn’t forget about VoIP security. While VoIP has a plethora of benefits, it is also vulnerable to fraudulent activity, security breaches, and DDoS Attacks. Fortunately, you can achieve VoIP security if you enact some preventative steps.

Fraudulent Activity

Regrettably, any business that uses VoIP can become a fraud victim. Sometimes, they won’t even realize that there has been fraud occurring until they receive their phone bill. When you choose a VoIP provider, you have to ensure that they offer fraud detection and protection. You can also prevent fraud by placing authentication systems on your business phone system. One example of this are personal passcodes.

DDoS Attacks

A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is an attempt to overload a network with requests. DDoS attacks don’t penetrate your system, but busy signals do render it unusable. The best way to avoid a DDoS attack is by working with your VoIP provider to make sure detection and deployment methods are in place. Also, be sure that your team is knowledgeable about DDoS attacks so that if it happens to your business, they will know what they are dealing with.

Consider Carefully

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling as though your company isn’t large enough to break into. Unfortunately, attackers will find reasons to target any system, and attacks can happen anywhere or anytime. VoIP has certainly been a major asset in providing more connectivity to users, but it does come with risks. The best way to stay safe—and get some peace of mind—is to put your security in place. 

If you have any questions regarding VoIP security, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Twitter.