What Superfast Broadband can do for your business

Laying down fibre

We’re hearing a great deal about superfast broadband these days, but what we’re hearing doesn’t always sound very relevant to business. Yes, your children may well enjoy the chance to download music quickly and easily, and to watch high-definition movies and TV replays on anything that happens to be connected to the internet, but neither of those is exactly a business priority!

However, it will be good for faster email, faster web searches, and better, more efficient connection with ‘cloud-based’ internet services. And that’s why BT is investing £2.5 bn in a programme to upgrade its exchanges all across the UK in the course of this year.

Even so, you’ll have to wait: it will take time to install fibre optic connections to the street cabinets on each upgraded exchange, leaving just a short length of conventional telephone line connecting your home or your business to a superfast service.

‘Fibre to the cabinet’, or FTTC, promises download speeds of 40 or 80 Megabits per second – right now you’ll be lucky to achieve 8 Megabits per second even on ADSL broadband.

To get more you currently need a leased line, giving speeds around 10 Mbit/s for an installation cost of more than £1,000, and a monthly rental over £800. But a typical 40 Mbit/s FTTC service will cost just £99 to connect, with a monthly rental of around £35!

Better yet, a single high-speed broadband line could carry up to 100 simultaneous phone calls – so if you used FTTC broadband and a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system instead of an ISDN line you could cut costs by up to 80%.

A smaller company could use a single line for both voice and data – and effectively eliminate telecom line costs entirely!

Use this Superfast Broadband checker site to get some idea of when high-speed broadband is coming to your [UK] area.

Exchange and cabinet upgrades are already starting, so contact us at Foxhall Solutions to discuss the implications for your business…

Is VoIP as reliable as analogue and ISDN?

VoIP telephone systems are capable of using analogue and ISDN lines just like other telephone systems. But – it’s when they use Internet that their cost savings and flexibility become apparent, with lower line and call costs, and their ability to support a phone located anywhere in the world, as a ‘local’ extension.

Internet connections have become more sophisticated and reliable, with Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) on some business grade services, matching those of ISDN phone lines. Even so – people are still cautious about putting telephone calls across the Internet …

There are a couple of basic rules that we follow; first – we make sure that the ISP supplying your Internet trunk lines, is the same company that’s providing your Broadband service. This is so that your calls don’t have to go into the server-farm at one Internet provider and then transit the web to find the telecom’s server at another. Following this rule ensures a nice clean connection between your phones and the carrier’s central switch system designed to onward connect you to local, national, international & mobile calls.

The second rule is to be careful about your choice of Internet / line provider. VoIP provides huge savings over ISDN or analogue lines – so it doesn’t make sense to choose your ISP partner purely on price. In general, business-to-business ISP’s are more expensive because they CAN provide some assurances that ‘when the kids get in from school’ their servers and bandwidth won’t be pushed to the limit! For example – working with an ISP that guarantees a 30% reserve on bandwidth – and provides automatic call fall-back to alternate land-line or mobile numbers is going to give you that warm & fuzzy feeling … Where an ISP you sign-up to out of a shopping trolley may not!

With the right service in place, you will experience VoIP connection that is pretty much as you’d get from an ISDN service – without the cost! However, that’s not the end of it! To provide additional security, we can use the analogue lines used to deliver broadband services into the business, as alternates in case of a broadband problem. We could even use mobile gateways to carry calls and by-pass land-lines completely.

VoIP systems are typically running on [non-proprietary] PC’s or servers, and therefore, even if the fault is due to failed computer hardware, it is possible to quickly and easily load the system application and a configuration back-up onto another PC and get service restored fast.

So – in a lot of cases, VoIP systems are actually becoming more reliable than ‘traditional’ land-line based systems – simply because there are so many safe-guards and alternates built into them.

See this post for an update regarding this subject

Foxhall announce a Soft-ware(wolf) release … iPup v5

Foxhall Solutions announce the Beta release of iPup version 5 [a.k.a. “Keltie”].

Engineers are currently finding some wet-where(?) and firm-where(?) bugs, and downloaded log-files are proving to be interesting – especially the non-scheduled ones. Acoustic trials are continuing with some issues arising around the control of output volume. Interaction with other soft- & firm-ware versions is still a bit unpredictable, especially where data input is concerned, and in regard to which hardware peripherals are applied to what version. I/O clashes due to hardware sharing, are short but decisive – and at this time voice-activated features are pretty much turned off. Interaction with the surrounding environment can be a bit destructive at times due to sharp edges – and design Engineers are checking spec’s to see who crossed the iPup with a Swiss-Army knife?
iPup v.5 will continue its beta trial for some time – but the product is expected to expand and its features to become refined in the coming months – with new features & tricks being added during the product lifecycle.

Making phone system upgrades easier with Yealink …

Out with the old! – and in with the new! … is the cry – But it’s often accompanied by groans from people who need to get to grips with something quite different and to change procedures they have been used to for many years. We often see users struggling with phone systems – just because they are different – even when the new systems are actually easier to use!

But, with careful planning and understanding your existing ways of working, a phone like the Yealink T26P [illustrated], can be set up so that it operates in the same sort of way that old key systems do … “Pick up the call on line 1” may have been yelled across the room in the past – so telling somebody how to do a call transfer, just sounds strange to them. The T26P can have its keys programmed to work in the same sort of way as the key system. You want to transfer a call? … Just press a key labelled ‘Line 1’ and tell your colleague to pick it up there. They will see a flashing Line 1 key, press it, and be connected to the caller. It happens in a completely different way than it did on your old system, but the process is so similar that the new system seems like an enhancement of the old.

So while lots of new and automated features guide the calls in the background, and lines & calls cost loads less – your staff don’t have to forget everything they ever knew about handling calls for your business.

Foxhall Solutions are pleased to offer Yealink product, as they have been recognised for their growth by Frost & Sullivan – after achieving a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 83% during 2009 to 2011. Call us at 01787 228 402 to discuss how a 3CX phone system can reduce your operating costs, and increase business flexibility.