Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a must for today’s businesses. Compared to the old analog phone system, VoIP is a more effective communication tool. Aside from making voice calls, you can also do conference calls, send instant messaging, queue calls, have music on hold, and record calls with VoIP. But now there’s a new technology called Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE). How different are the two from each other, and is VoLTE poised to take over VoIP?
To know the difference between VoIP and VoLTE, let’s first examine the older of the two technologies.
Unlike analog telephones that use phone cables, VoIP uses the internet to transmit voice calls. VoIP calls can be made using laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, tablets, and even old handsets fitted with appropriate converters.
VoIP also supports a range of call features such as voice messaging, call forwarding, SMS text messaging, fax transmission, voicemail, and a host of other services. For businesses, VoIP is a convenient one-stop solution for all their communication needs that will not cost them an arm and a leg.
However, VoIP was introduced at a time when the world was still using 2G and 3G networks for mobile devices. The years since then saw major improvements in network connectivity. The arrival of 4G or Long-Term Evolution (LTE) meant faster and better connectivity.
Unlike VoIP, VoLTE uses 4G LTE network to transmit voice calls. And there’s a difference to how VoLTE transmits voice calls. To illustrate, here’s a very simplified analogy:
VoIP is a steam train data carrier chugging along on a steel-and-wood railway that’s your 2G/3G internet connection. The train is loaded with various data: voice, email and text, photo, video, music, and many more.
VoLTE is a Japanese Maglev bullet train data carrier that uses magnetic forces to levitate (thus “maglev”) the train a few inches off the electromagnetic track that’s your 4G internet connection. With zero friction, the train moves at astonishing speeds. What’s more, VoLTE does not pack all data into one train. Instead, each kind of data has a dedicated train all to itself — voice calls on one train, email on another, video packets on another, and so forth. This means faster transmission and better quality voice calls and video chats.
However, don’t think that VoLTE is merely a pumped-up version of VoIP. Instead, think of VoLTE as building on the gains of VoIP technology.
VoLTE is a recent standard for wireless, high-speed communication; in fact, as of this writing, VoLTE is available for mobile devices only. The following enumerates how VoLTE is different from VoIP, and why it’s an improvement over the latter.
VoIP uses a web-based network such as 3G or Wi-Fi to transmit voice data. On the other hand, VoLTE uses 4G LTE network to transmit voice data. 4G LTE has a broader bandwidth and faster speeds, which means...
VoLTE first gained prominence because of its superior voice calls. Its high-definition (HD) audio quality is excellent, with lags, drops, jitters and disturbances mostly eliminated. However, there is a catch: caller and receiver must both be using VoLTE phones and transmitting in an area with 4G LTE to experience HD calls.
In the case of some smartphones, it’s not possible to make a call while browsing the web. You need to drop one in order to perform the other. With VoLTE, you can talk and run data apps concurrently.
Both VoIP and VoLTE send voice data packets over the internet along with other data usage transmissions. But while VoIP sends packets on a first come, first served basis, VoLTE prioritizes voice data.
Voice calls used to be charged per minute, but with VoLTE, voice calls are the same as any data transmission. Plus, because it’s difficult to figure out how much data you use for a voice call than it is to count the number of minutes in a call, then the days of voice-minutes billings are numbered.
With VoLTE, phones need not switch between 2G, 3G, and 4G networks during calls. This extends the battery life, so users need not recharge often.
For now, not all smartphone brands and models support VoLTE technology. And there are still places in the United States where LTE is unavailable. But experts believe that this will rapidly change soon.
Want to learn more about VoLTE and how it can boost your business’s productivity? Call our IT experts today.
Publish Date: June 1, 2020
With the COVID-19 lockdowns forcing most economic sectors to slow down, cloud technology can help your business survive and remain competitive. More specifically, you can cut costs and increase operational efficiency using the cloud.
The need to stay at home and practice social distancing have changed the way many businesses operate. With their employees unable to come to the office, organizations are forced to function with a remote team whose members are often miles away from each other.
This is where cloud technology helps. When you migrate your data to the cloud, your files are stored in a centralized server that can be accessed via the internet. So as long as a user has an internet-connected device (like a smartphone or laptop) and has the right login credentials, they can access these files from any location.
The cloud also allows multiple users to work on a single file at the same time. Any change to the file is seen in real-time, which makes it feel like team members are collaborating in the same room.
Moreover, with cloud-based communication tools like Slack, your team can communicate with each other through chat, voice calls, and video conferencing. By incorporating these technologies into your processes, your organization can function efficiently while following social distancing protocols.
Suddenly adopting a remote work setup after years of strictly on-site operations can take a lot of getting used to. One of the most difficult parts of transitioning is making sure you and your staff have the right hardware and software to perform work-related tasks.
Instead of buying hardware with company funds and issuing these machines to your staff, you can have them use their personal laptop computers and mobile devices instead. With this tactic, however, you’re not sure if your employees’ devices have the appropriate specifications to handle their workload.
If you use special software, you may also have to buy and install them on your staff’s personal devices. In short, whether you issue computers or adopt a bring your own device approach, you’re bound to spend a lot of money to facilitate remote work.
But with cloud computing, you won’t need to buy new hardware. You can host your applications on the cloud, enabling a user to run them through a web browser even if they are not installed in his or her device. And because hosted applications use the cloud provider’s resources, they don’t strain user’s devices and can be used even with older or lower-end computers.
Furthermore, hosting applications on the cloud eliminates the need to install programs in each of your staff’s devices. This is particularly helpful if the software you use has a limit on the number of devices it can be installed on. This way, you save money by not having to invest in newer devices for your staff and wasting time locally downloading the software.
The short answer is yes. Thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns, the ability to work remotely has now become essential to a business’s survival. And the cloud easily facilitates a remote work environment.
See for yourself how the cloud lets you continue doing business even in the middle of a pandemic. Contact us today to get started!
Publish Date: May 27, 2020
Most businesses today have made the switch from the traditional landline telephone system to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system. This is because VoIP offers more benefits including cost reduction, mobility, and scalability. But just like any device that’s connected to the internet, VoIP phones can be targeted by hackers who want to steal valuable information. Here are some of the ways to tell if your VoIP system is being hacked.
Being redirected to other — often potentially malicious — sites while performing an internet search is a telltale sign that your VoIP system is being hacked. Hackers may also install browser extensions and toolbars without your knowledge.
To keep your VoIP system safe from cybercriminals, always log out and when not in use.
If you notice a consistent pattern of calls being made or coming from an unknown location or unfamiliar numbers, it's usually an indication that your VoIP system may be under attack. Ask for a detailed copy of your call logs from your service provider so you can identify calling patterns that will allow you to pinpoint any irregularities.
When you or your employees see pop-up messages that say your system is infected and needs to be scanned while your VoIP system is on, do not click on those messages. They may be a sign that a hacker has already infiltrated your system. It's best to have your system administrator or managed IT services provider (MSP) shut down the network so they can identify the source of the pop-up and scan your system for any malware.
Webcams and microphones make VoIP phones better than traditional landlines, but cybercriminals can use these features to illegally enter your network. Hackers can use your VoIP's webcams and microphones to spy on your business, record conversations, and collect private information. If you notice your VoIP phone’s webcam and microphone behaving strangely, report it immediately to an IT specialist or your MSP to see if your VoIP system is being breached by a cybercriminal.
One benefit of having a VoIP system is a more affordable monthly bill compared to a landline service. So if you see a sudden spike in your monthly bill, it’s probably an indication that your VoIP system has been hacked. When cybercriminals infiltrate your VoIP network, they can make unauthorized calls to premium numbers without your knowledge.
To keep your VoIP network safe from cybercriminals, invest in good VoIP security solutions and educate your employees on cybersecurity best practices. For more ways on how you can protect your VoIP system, contact us today.
Publish Date: April 22, 2020
Microsoft’s software offerings are filled with features that allow and even augment enterprise work from home (WFH) setups without sacrificing security. Here are some updates about the company’s applications, as well as other common third-party applications in the Windows and Office ecosystems, which will ensure data security when you’re working remotely.
Before the pandemic broke out, companies across the United States had already been on the lookout for remote work possibilities, because of the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the cloud. Back then, the technology was used to take advantage of market and location opportunities, but with entire cities going on lockdown to stem the transmission velocity of the coronavirus, enterprises across the continent have turned to digital solutions for their respective workforces to remain productive at home.
Microsoft’s Windows and Office 365 engineers have geared both sets of software to be user-friendly across different platforms — and by extension, many Windows-ready third-party applications enjoy the same benefit. For many organizations, especially small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), this means no need to switch to a more remote-friendly system. But because of the suddenness of the transition, there are questions whether Windows, Office, and other supported software have ample security features in place.
Microsoft announced in mid-March that Windows 10 version 1709 (Fall Creators Update) will remain supported for six more months, in anticipation of the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tech giant also stated that vital updates will continue for version 1709 through its regular channels, namely Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and the Microsoft Update Catalog.
Through the service coverage extension, Windows 10 version 1709 can still be managed through all supported versions of Microsoft Configuration Manager. This will allow users to retain existing management workflows until October 30, 2020.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections are necessities for work from home setups, but this has left many IT managers worried about security risks. Experts have suggested deploying a trial version of Windows Server 2016 or 2019 as a workaround. This server software has remote desktop services that are bundled with remote desktop gateway (RDG) and RDWeb technologies, ensuring encrypted remote access.
Microsoft has also published optimization instructions for Office 365 users to properly implement VPN split tunneling for their remote work setups. Routing Office 365 applications — such as Teams, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online — through a split VPN tunnel ensures that the most critical, high-volume Office 365 traffic is quickly patched through to the company server, and not left at risk of loss that stems from the common customer-performance and network capacity issues many enterprise-level clients report.
Remote performance depends largely on home internet performance, so that matter boils down to the reliability and speed of your employees' internet providers' services. Your staff can take steps to limit their bandwidth loads, such as by not using video streaming services while working, cutting down the recording quality of home security cameras from HD to standard definition, and allowing office IT to remotely optimize the personal devices your employees intend to use for remote work.
Lastly, consulting with your IT partner will surely put you in a better position to cope with the demands of remote work. Managed IT services providers (MSPs) like us are regular remote access practitioners. We handle remote services on a daily basis and provide you with valuable insights on how to keep your business running smoothly through these trying times. Contact us today to learn more.
Publish Date: April 20, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed businesses to adopt remote work setups. But with the sudden move, employees are finding out that they don’t have adequate resources to work from home, specifically due to poor or limited internet access. So that you don’t encounter the same issue, find out how much internet bandwidth you need to work from home.
Bandwidth refers to the maximum data transfer rate possible in a network or internet connection. It indicates the amount of data that can be sent over a connection in a given amount of time, and is usually expressed in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second (Bps).
Imagine two computers with the same internet speed at 100 megabit per second (Mbps): the first computer only has a 50 Mbps bandwidth, while the second one has 100 Mbps. If they were to download the same 500 Megabit (Mb) file, the first computer would be able to do it in 10 seconds, while the second one could do it in just five.
This is because the first computer’s bandwidth is capped at 50 Mbps — even if the internet was fast, the limit of transfer would still be low. Therefore, the higher the bandwidth, the more data can be sent over a connection, contributing to faster uploads and downloads, and overall better internet experience.
The answer to this question isn’t clear cut. The biggest considerations are the type of work that you do and the apps that you use. If your job mostly consists of sending emails, editing and writing on Google Docs, and communicating on Slack, then you can do your job with ease even with a low bandwidth. On the other hand, if you frequently attend meetings through video calls, then you’d definitely need a plan with higher bandwidth.
Once you have a clear picture of how much data you send and receive on an average work day, you can start looking for plans that can support your needs. And while you definitely don’t need to conduct virtual meetings in 4K quality, you also won’t want your clients and colleagues to appear pixelated during a meeting. Neither would you want a session that gets choppy or cut off mid-conversation.
Here are the minimum requirements for the most common video chat apps used by remote workers today:
For 1:1 video calling:
For group video calling:
HD video quality
Standard definition (SD) video quality
Teams requires the same upload and download internet bandwidth for the following scenarios:
If you’re worried about your internet bandwidth, you can opt for audio calls instead of video calls. This considerably helps lower the information you need to upload and download. For more tips and solutions on how you can work from home without a hitch, call us. We’d be happy to help.
Publish Date: April 17, 2020
Flexible work setups have often been the subject of debate — employees want the option to work away from the office at least some of the time, but many businesses value well-founded methods and processes. Will the world’s largest work from home experiment change that?
A pandemic is one of the most socially, economically, and politically disruptive events that could ever happen. Infections and fatalities constantly increase, business operations are shut down, and scientists race against time to find a cure.
Companies lucky enough to remain operational still face a significant challenge: maintaining business continuity. For most, the simplest way to achieve this is by moving their business resources online and adopting an effective remote work strategy.
With resilience and careful decision-making — as well as the right tools and processes — you might just find your employees more productive, less stressed out by work, and expressive as ever.
Remote work offers several benefits for both employees and employers. In addition to saving time and eradicating commute-related stress, remote work can improve employee productivity. A number of studies reveal that the freedom to create a comfortable environment and schedule encourages employees to perform at their best.
At the same time, employers benefit from reduced overhead expenses while also having access to a wider pool of applicants. Because workplace flexibility is among the top considerations of many young job seekers, remote work arrangements would be right up their alley.
Employers can also hire outside of reasonable commuting distance, as employees won’t have to report to the office as frequently, if not at all. What’s more, mandatory daily attendance is going out of fashion — more businesses are now prioritizing performance over hours clocked in. Many prefer focusing on the quality of outputs rather than just keeping people in the office from 9 to 5.
Businesses reap great rewards for recognizing performance instead of just presence. This approach makes for more engaged, efficient, and satisfied employees, consequently creating a healthy and progressive company culture.
Many businesses believe that a traditional office setup helps bring about better relationships and collaborations. However, data actually points out that interpersonal behavior and communication — not solely proximity — are the key drivers of trust and teamwork.
Traditional work arrangements also make it easier for managers to look after their employees — it’s easy to see who is and isn’t at their workstation during office hours. However, mandating work hours and location makes sense only for time-sensitive and location-dependent jobs like retail, manual labor, and healthcare, where employees need to be physically present.
Meanwhile, for knowledge workers whose jobs involve non-routine problem solving, an office cube isn’t always the most conducive environment for devising solutions and innovations. Sometimes, the best and most unique ideas come from exposure to the surroundings, people, and events outside the confines of an office.
Being forced to adopt a work from home policy in the face of a global crisis isn’t an ideal circumstance to test the waters. Full-time remote work doesn’t and won’t work for all businesses. But this shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing projects and sustaining productivity and efficiency. Leverage your resources to help you weather the storm and emerge stronger than before.
Though we have yet to see if remote work is here to stay, it’s currently a nonnegotiable aspect of the corporate setup, and we should learn how to make the most out of it.
Having a strong strategy in place and the right tools and equipment are crucial to ensure effective communication, collaboration, and management. Our experts can help you configure the perfect remote working setup for your business. Call us today.
Publish Date: April 15, 2020
Encouraging staff to work from home is extremely vital in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. By minimizing social interactions and contact risks, you can reduce the spread of the virus. But be warned. Transitioning from a fully managed business environment to a home office can leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks and online scams. Here’s what you and your staff must do to mitigate the cybersecurity risks.
When everyone is working remotely, user accounts must be properly secured. One way to achieve this is by setting at least 12-character long passwords with numbers and special characters mixed in to make them more difficult to guess. More importantly, these passwords must be unique to each account, to minimize the damage if hackers do manage to compromise one set of credentials. If you find it difficult to generate and remember login details for all your accounts, consider password managers like LastPass, Dashlane, and Keeper.
To further strengthen your accounts, however, you’ll also need to enable multifactor authentication (MFA). This adds another layer of identity verification — like fingerprint scans or one-time activation codes generated by SMS — to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to hijack your accounts.
VPNs are primarily known for circumventing geographic restrictions on location-specific websites and streaming services, but they’re also a crucial tool for remote workers. A reliable VPN creates secure connections between devices and networks by encrypting internet traffic. This hides web activity from prying eyes, protecting your employees’ online privacy, and mitigating the risk of hackers stealing company information.
Although installing software updates can be a major nuisance, they cover critical weaknesses and protect your systems from the latest threats. Most apps now offer an automatic update feature so you don’t have to manually patch your software.
Another option for your business is patch management software. These track patches on employee devices and distribute the most recent updates on a company-wide scale.
Make sure to enable firewalls in your operating systems and hardware. These provide a strong layer of protection between your device and the internet, preventing malicious programs and other network threats from reaching your device. Your managed IT services provider (MSP) may also provide third-party firewalls in case your computers don’t have any built in by default.
In addition to firewalls, you’ll also want to implement antivirus software to detect and remove any malicious programs that do manage to find their way onto your device. Just remember to constantly update the software so it can effectively detect the newest malware.
Home Wi-Fi routers are not as thoroughly secured as their business counterparts so take extra precautions to safeguard them. For starters, change your router password as soon as possible because hackers can easily break into them once they know the router model. You should also install the latest firmware updates to eliminate any security vulnerabilities.
Finally, check whether your router has Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) encryption settings to secure inbound and outbound traffic. If your router doesn’t have this setting, you’re overdue for an upgrade.
Important files must be backed up regularly in the cloud and your external hard drive. This way, you’ll always have a copy of your files in case of a major data loss incident like ransomware or a power outage.
The biggest threat remote workers face is online scams. Phishing emails may entice you with free coronavirus test kits in exchange for personal information. Some cybercriminals may even masquerade as legitimate companies, CEOs, or friends to trick you into clicking on dangerous links and attachments.
To avoid these threats, you must be critical of everything you see online. Look for any suspicious links and attachments, grammatical errors in the email body, and misspelled email addresses. Plus, never give out sensitive information to an unsolicited email, text message, or phone call.
Working from home poses many cybersecurity challenges for businesses, but you don’t have to address them alone. If you need guidance with setting up firewalls, avoiding scams, and even enabling MFA, we can provide the IT support you need in this difficult time. Call us now.
Publish Date: April 10, 2020
Remote work is on the rise like never before as companies are pressured to sustain operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. But even before massive business disruptions, remote working has been a growing trend. Many have been enjoying work-from-home setups with the help of the right tools. This article is a list of our favorites.
For both employers and employees, a remote working arrangement has attractive benefits. Organizations can tap into a potentially larger labor pool, hiring from just about anywhere and finding highly skilled talent at lower rates.
Fifty percent of remote workers reported increased job satisfaction and had 13.5 percent more calls completed. Being spared the stress of a daily commute and having a better work-life balance are factors to their happiness, and therefore, better productivity.
In the face of natural calamities, outages, and the ongoing pandemic, a distributed workforce becomes a necessary business continuity measure — a means to protect employees and keep productivity up, even as normal facilities remain unavailable.
But all of this was only possible because we have the technologies to support remote work. Barriers to remote working have been brought down by the advancement of remote working tools. With a plethora of software to choose from, we’ve selected the ones that help your remote teams thrive.
Accessing your work computer while on the go or out of the office was once unheard of. Remote desktop apps have made it possible, allowing users to work remotely on a computer through another device and from any location.
Our picks: TeamViewer and Splashtop
Team Viewer has capabilities such as screen sharing, file transfer, wake-on-LAN, and clipboard transfer. Free for personal use, the app is easy to set up and is available for multiple operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Android. Meanwhile, Splashtop has similar capabilities but with the added benefit of “low-latency” transfers or the transfer of a high volume of data and messages with minimal delay.
Every successful organization needs to communicate. When communication breaks down, productivity and engagement suffer. Given the lack of face-to-face contact, regular, real-time communication is arguably more critical for remote teams and their managers. The following apps make it possible, seamless, and simple.
Our picks: Slack, Mattermost, RocketChat, Microsoft Teams, and Join.me
Deemed the alternative to email, Slack is the leader of the pack, with its robust API that allows integration with countless applications. Its basic functionality enables remote workers to direct message (DM) or create “collaboration hubs” around departments, projects, or any topic. Mattermost and Rocket Chat are open source tools that recreate many of Slack’s capabilities.
Microsoft Teams and Join.me are well-known video chat and conferencing apps. However, as a full collaboration and communication suite, Teams offers more for Windows users. It allows VoIP, direct and group messages, and integration with all the Office 365 apps. Not only is Join.me a free video-conferencing app, but it also allows participants to use a cool brainstorming feature called “whiteboarding” for real-time interaction on a shared document.
When you’re managing a team of dozens located in different parts of the globe, things can start to fall apart quickly. Time differences and distance can create significant complexity if you lack the right tools. These two apps can help you overcome the challenges and streamline project organization and collaboration.
Our picks: Basecamp and Trello
Basecamp is a web-based management tool for planning and collaboration on projects. There’s no installation needed, just your regular web browser to access its powerful core functions that include task management, messaging, collaboration, file sharing, scheduling, quick search, and reporting.
Trello’s overall shining feature is its simplicity. The web-based tool’s approach to project management is built around one concept: the bulletin board. Users can create boards that represent projects and each board can be populated with cards assigned to specific members and customized with deadlines, comments, and attachments.
With the current global crisis, remote working tools have become even more crucial to sustaining productivity, accomplishing projects, and solidifying distributed teams. It’s important your organization chooses ones that are well-suited to budget, infrastructure, and goals. Our experts can help make a proper assessment and configure the perfect remote working setup. Talk to us today.
Publish Date: April 6, 2020
In this time of uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, communication is more important than ever. Organizations in all sectors are struggling to stay connected with their remote workforces, as well as clients and partners who need assistance. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony offers the perfect solution. Aside from ensuring good communication, VoIP has a raft of other benefits to offer your organization in this difficult time. Read on to learn all about them.
VoIP telephony ensures effective communication and business continuity in times of crisis.
VoIP is an indispensable tool for organizations that have rolled out work-from-home setups. Through VoIP platforms like Skype, remote workers can jump on calls and join meetings from anywhere, at any time. Employees stay connected as long as they have an internet-connected device — they don’t even need any additional hardware. Managers can also easily check in with their teams through direct calls, voice notes, and instant messaging.
VoIP solutions also promote collaboration among distributed workforces so workflows stay efficient. When collaborating on productivity solutions such as Office 365, third-party VoIP integrations allow your employees to send files back and forth and provide immediate feedback with ease.
VoIP is especially useful in essential services like healthcare; doctors can hold remote consultations with patients who are housebound because of the pandemic. Healthcare providers can even make and take audio or video calls on VoIP phones or other devices, provided it’s done over a safe, HIPAA-compliant network.
The pandemic has tensions running high, and customers want instant feedback to their queries now more than ever. The auto-attendant feature of VoIP solutions ensures that customers are directed to the person best suited to assist them, even those working remotely. Auto-attendants can also be programmed to give status updates to callers in emergency or disaster situations, making them an invaluable tool for conveying important messages to your clients.
You can also set up calls so that voicemails are delivered to your smartphone, ensuring you get messages and return calls regardless of your location.
Businesses everywhere are already feeling the financial crunch of the pandemic. Many companies have temporarily ceased operations, and experts predict that this trend will continue in the months ahead. The International Monetary Fund has declared that the global economy is now in a recession. As such, you may be looking for ways to save money and keep your business afloat.
Switching to a hosted VoIP infrastructure is one of the best ways to cut back on expenses. The upfront costs are minimal as the service is delivered over an existing data network. Plus, VoIP is completely flexible, allowing you to scale up or down the number of lines or features depending on your needs. You pay a single, flat monthly fee only for what you use, making budgeting a breeze. The cost savings from VoIP can be reallocated toward more essential resources.
Need help choosing and setting up a VoIP solution that meets your organization’s needs? Give our experts a call today.
Publish Date: April 1, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads to more nations worldwide, millions of businesses turn to the internet as their employees are forced to work from home. Is the World Wide Web ready for the sudden increase in demand for cloud-based services?
Even before the pandemic, many companies were already turning to online productivity and collaboration tools for their business. While projections on how long this pandemic will force people to stay in their homes vary, it is certain that for the next month or so, cloud usage will continue to rise. This has many people worried that the internet is not ready for this sudden increase in activity.
The internet’s performance depends on many things, including network infrastructure, how things are wired up, and points of presence.
Since the pandemic is global, all areas are affected, even those with a strong infrastructure backbone. But how they are affected varies.
This work-from-home situation looks like it will last longer than just a couple of weeks. If you need help to set up your business for remote working, talk to our experts today.
Publish Date: March 27, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting individuals and businesses worldwide. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the private and public sectors are exerting great efforts to cope with present and future challenges. This includes leveraging technology resources. Here are some of the ways the pandemic will impact technology use.
Increased reliance on communications technology
The need for remote interactions and stronger communications technology will inevitably increase. Businesses are expected to immediately adopt things like 5G technology to enhance communication speeds and performance.
Meanwhile, specific industries like healthcare will adopt technologies that optimize current processes. This includes using telehealth platforms that will let healthcare providers diagnose and issue prescriptions remotely. To do that, they need 5G-powered systems that will efficiently facilitate consultations.
Many companies have already shifted to remote work setups. Business leaders now and in the foreseeable future will use more platforms that efficiently facilitate collaboration with colleagues, business partners, and customers. Tools that will let them achieve this include teleconferencing solutions like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others.
Digital ways to network
Now that many businesses of all sizes have shifted to remote work, it follows that events, conferences, and a variety of gatherings worldwide such as tech conferences have been canceled. This is to curb the fast spread of the coronavirus.
Certain organizations will forgo in-person networking events and business meetings and will explore online avenues to maintain business opportunities. Again, this could mean turning to telecommunications tech that offers reliable connectivity and fast speeds.
A boost in cashless transactions
Paying in cash is quickly becoming a thing of the past due to recommendations of healthcare authorities like the World Health Organization (WHO). This is to limit the spread of the virus that can spread through cash. More than ever, businesses must explore ways to implement measures that restrict cash payments, if not eliminate them altogether.
In other words, contactless payments will now be the norm in many countries around the world. This certainly applies to small businesses, too. Because of the pandemic, businesses across industries are expected to quickly adopt mobile payments and other forms of electronic payments.
Growth in eCommerce
As the general public drastically limits time spent outdoors, brick-and-mortar stores experience less and less foot traffic. Businesses that have adapted to new ways of product and service delivery would find themselves increasingly maximizing online purchase options for their customers.
However, the logistics involved in delivering goods and services could prove overwhelming for many businesses. For instance, they may have to adjust order fulfillment models to align with shifting demands. That could mean increasing the workforce in charge of eCommerce operations. Therefore, those that are able to boost their online shopping operations must take steps to enhance their online selling capabilities to meet unpredictable surges in demand.
In a time of crisis, businesses must explore the many ways technology can help sustain operations; whether it be in terms of maintaining communications, delivering goods and services, and gearing up for a drastically changed future.
Call our IT experts today and let us know how you want your tech resources to aid you in these tough times.
Publish Date: March 25, 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing employees to work from home, you and your staff can take advantage of Microsoft Teams to stay productive. Microsoft recently enhanced this already powerful tool’s capabilities, making it easier for more people to take advantage of its advanced features.
Microsoft Teams combines workplace chat, video conferencing, and file storage and collaboration. It also has extensions that integrate with third-party apps, even those not made by Microsoft. As a unified communication and collaboration platform, Teams is like combining Slack, Google Drive, and Zoom into a single app.
If you have an Office 365 license, then you can readily access Microsoft Teams. But that’s not the only way to access and take advantage of the platform.
Individual users can use their work or school email address to sign up through this link. You will automatically receive a license valid until January 2021. This license lets you take advantage of chat, screen sharing and recording, video meetings with up to 250 participants, and Live Events for up to 10,000 participants.
If you have a Gmail or Outlook email address, you can sign up for the freemium version by clicking on this link. This version supports chat as well as group and one-on-one audio or video calling. It also gives you 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage.
The previous freemium version used to have various limits on users, but Microsoft opted to lift these restrictions on March 10. Another notable change is the inclusion of meetings requests, which Microsoft has committed to include in the freemium version in the future.
Microsoft also offers assistance to IT professionals looking to roll out Teams for their company. Microsoft offers a free Office 365 E1 for six months. All you have to do is to contact your Microsoft partner or sales representative.
If you work in the education sector , Microsoft recommends getting Office 365 A1, a free version specially created for educational institutions. This version is available for students, teachers, and administrative staff.
The sudden increase in remote workers is sure to put a lot of pressure on many platforms, but Microsoft Teams is more than prepared to handle the load. In particular, it is designed to anticipate problems on three core aspects:
To address problems in these aspects, Microsoft implements what is called an Active/Active Design. This means that the system uses multiple instances in response to user request or input. These instances run in different datacenters, which means that an event that affects one cannot affect the others. This enables the system to isolate problems and resolve them without affecting performance.
Microsoft Teams offers a great opportunity for companies to remain productive in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to get started or understand how you can take full advantage of its functionalities, just give us a call.
Publish Date: March 23, 2020
More and more business owners are becoming aware of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and its features and advantages over conventional landlines. As technology progresses, the options available for VoIP also increase. Read on and find out which service is best for your particular business.
There’s a VoIP service perfect for every business setup. Do you rarely leave your house and office, or are you usually on the move? If you’re a business owner, what’s the size of your company, and what factors matter most to you? Let’s take a look at some of the VoIP services available on the market to help you make a better decision regarding your means of telephony.
For this type of VoIP, you use an adapter to connect your landline phone to a Wi-Fi modem to make and receive calls over the internet. Depending on the plan you choose, you’ll be billed each month for either unlimited services or for minutes you actually use. Examples of this include VoIP.com and Lingo.
This involves purchasing a VoIP device from a service provider and plugging it into your existing phone set so that you can make free calls within the United States. This means not having to pay a monthly bill, and you need no other devices besides your old landline telephone. Solutions like MagicJack and Ooma are great examples of device-based VoIP services that allow you to maximize the technology you already have.
This is the most common type of VoIP, and many of us already use it on a daily basis. You either access a web-based application, or install its software on your computer. Then you use your computer’s audio input and output device to talk and listen. A well-known example of this is Skype.
Like software-based VoIP services, mobile VoIP is also an application. However, it is installed on mobile phones instead of computers, thus enabling you to make and receive calls no matter where you are as long as you have a good internet connection. Three of the most familiar mobile VoIP services are Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts.
VoIP for business can either be on-premises or cloud-based. Both provide much more cost-effective communication solutions than traditional landlines, and they also offer a variety of useful features for businesses. These include video and audio conferencing, screen sharing, interactive voice response, automated attendants, call queues, and call reports. Not only are these features scalable, but you’ll also get complete technical support when you sign up for them.
For on-premises VoIP systems, businesses need to purchase all the equipment and house them in their property. This alone requires huge capital expenses. And on top of it, businesses also have to pay fees for system maintenance, repair, and upgrade on a regular basis. The upside is you’ll have total control over your hardware.
On the other hand, when you choose cloud-based VoIP systems, you outsource the phone system to your VoIP provider. This means there’s no need to purchase hardware or invest in maintaining the systems; your provider will take care of everything for a fixed monthly fee. You can also add or remove users easily. The downside is that you’re not in total control of the hardware, and you need to rely on your provider’s expertise to ensure system reliability and security.
Want more detailed information about VoIP to help you choose the most suitable VoIP provider? Talk to our professionals today. They have extensive knowledge about this efficient, low-cost communication technology and can explain everything to you in plain English!
Publish Date: March 13, 2020
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly common across numerous industries, reshaping the way organizations conduct business. In the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) market, in particular, AI’s proactive and predictive automation processes can significantly increase precision, accuracy, and efficiency. How so? Read on to find out.
Contact center operations
Highly automated VoIP technology enables businesses to manage their call centers easily and reduce the need for human intervention.
For example, AI-integrated VoIP systems can determine a caller’s personality, mood, and queries, so calls are routed to the agent best equipped to handle them. This makes call center operations more seamless and cost-efficient, because this reduces the need for a help desk operator to answer calls just to redirect them.
Interactive voice response (IVR) systems
An IVR system is designed to automatically respond to customer queries, which is extremely helpful for high call volumes.
AI enhances this feature by working in the background as AI assistants gathering all relevant customer data such as personal information and recent transactions to resolve a query. For more nuanced queries, the AI “worker” sends this information to the business representative, who will be much better able to serve the customer.
Web conferencing has improved over the years with internet speeds and telecom technology constantly developing. AI advances it even further with real-time language translation and speech recognition technology, which greatly benefits businesses with multiple geographic locations and whose stakeholders come from diverse backgrounds.
AI-enabled web conferencing can even provide intelligent prompts and relevant data to guide your conversations and ensure a fruitful meeting.
Chatbots are useful programs that receive instructions via textual or auditory means to perform automated tasks.
Like IVR systems, bots are used by businesses to automate customer interactions. AI-powered chatbots go beyond regular bot duties by performing more complex tasks like setting up meetings, inviting attendees, managing schedules, and much more.
With AI-powered systems promising improvements in contact center operations, customers’ IVR experiences, web conferencing, and scheduling, businesses are understandably eager to adopt them. There’s so much more that VoIP systems can do for your business, and we’ve got the expertise to handle all your VoIP-related concerns. Just call us today.
Publish Date: March 2, 2020
Scammers have found a way to exploit vulnerabilities in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) via a scam called vishing. This scam works much like any phishing attack: a scammer purports to be a legitimate entity and asks the potential victim to provide sensitive information. Learn how vishers operate.
More cybercriminals are launching vishing scams because it’s easy for them to hide their tracks and the risk of getting detected is minimal.
Using a fake number, scammers can contact your employees, pretend to be a representative of a bank or government agency, ask for sensitive information — such as salary information, account numbers, and company intellectual property — and get away with it. Scammers can also manipulate local numbers to emulate multinational banks, which they will then use for various VoIP scams.
It isn’t difficult to configure a VoIP system, which makes it easy to make fraudulent phone calls or messages. Scammers only need to know the basics of a VoIP setup.
VoIP hardware such as IP-PBXs, IP phones, and routers are also inexpensive and quite easy to access. Hackers can conveniently connect these equipment to PCs to record phone calls and steal information from conversations.
Additionally, fake numbers are difficult to track because they can be ditched at any time. And with advanced voice-changing software widely available nowadays, a vishing scam is much easier to pull off.
In some vishing scams, attackers don’t even have to terminate a number to cover their tracks. Instead, they can trick users into thinking that they’re talking to a legitimate Microsoft technical support staff, a PayPal representative, or a fraud investigator simply by tampering with the caller ID.
Traditional phones are still used for phishing scams, but they don’t compare to the efficiency that VoIP affords, which allows attackers to target victims all over the globe at a fraction of the cost. Cybercriminals resort to VoIP scamming because the price per call is much lower. Vishing scammers are sneaky and resourceful, and they will exhaust all possible means to attack your systems for profit — and that includes your VoIP channels.
To protect against VoIP-based scams, set stringent policies on information sharing and impose strict security processes for all business communications. Informed and aware employees are key to making sure that scammers are held at bay. Protect your company against all types of scams by getting in touch with our experts today.
Publish Date: February 21, 2020