5 Benefits Hosted VoIP Will Bring To Your Small Business

Small Business employs over half of the private sector employees in America, and has generated over 64% of the new jobs created in the last 15 years. SMBs pay 44 percent of the US payroll, and hire over 40% of high tech workers. (Source pdf). Small businesses really do drive the American economy, and they do a great deal of communicating with their customers, partners and employees while conducting their business. As a recent FCC Blogband post pointed out, “supporting these businesses with cutting edge connectivity and technology tools is not just a good idea; it is a vital national purpose.” With that in mind, I’d like to point out 5 benefits that small businesses can gain from implementing a Hosted VoIP service with a partner that owns and operates a nationwide QoS enabled MPLS network.

  1. Low Startup Costs– SMBs are always looking to operate more efficiently, and keeping costs down is always a good place to start. Hosted VoIP services certainly fit the bill here, with low start up costs, since there is no PBX equipment to purchase.
  2. Ongoing Monthly Savings– The cost of a combined voice and data communications facility will keep those costs low over time, too, as you realize the benefits of Internet telephony, which also include the lowered costs of making moves, adds and changes.
  3. Advanced Features– With Hosted VoIP, your business can take advantage of included advanced features such as call forwarding, call waiting, voicemail and 3 way calling, to name just a few.
  4. Call Quality– With Quality of Service, your VoIP calls are always crystal clear, and are always delivered securely and prioritized over data traffic. High fidelity communications are also an option through the use of HD Voice wideband codes and equipment.
  5. Business Focus – Because Hosted VoIP is a turnkey solution, you will be able to able to focus on running your business, not on running a communications infrastructure. And knowing that your partner is focused on delivering solutions only to business will give you peace of mind.

So whether your small business is at a single location, or has multiple locations (pdf) spread across town or across the country, you should really explore the option of making the move to Hosted VoIP. You can save money, and stay focused on delivering the goods and services your customers have come to rely on, while knowing that we are here 24/7/365 making sure you stay securely connected to your customers, partners and employees. It’s easy to get started, and you’ll enjoy the predictability of getting one consistent invoice for voice and data services from a single provider

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “Protecting Your Mobile Workforce from Sheep (Firesheep, that is)”

10 Topics for 2010

With the end of the year coming up fast, it seems like it is a good time to take a look at what 2010 has in store for us. Several trends in business connectivity have developed over the last year, and will continue to further evolve in 2010. Here is a list of 10 topics you should take into consideration as you do your planning for next year.

SIP Trunking – VoIP really exploded this year, due both to the increased functionality and the cost savings it offered to so many companies. In 2010, combining SIP trunking with MPLS and security is going to really take off.

Managed Security – Everyone knows that security is vital in today’s business climate. In fact, in many instances it is mandated. More SMBs and small enterprises, who don’t necessarily have dedicated IT staff, will be outsourcing this function to a partner whose 24/7/365 NOCs will monitor and ensure that communications integrity is maintained.

Extended Workforce – Several events over the last year, including the H1N1 flu pandemic and various disasters, highlighted the need for the workforce to be able to access corporate communications from their home offices. Telecommuting will see large scale adoption in 2010. Make sure you work with a partner who can reach your team wherever they are, and with DSL, Cable, Satellite and Wireless options.

Enterprise Social Networking – Facebook and Twitter exploded in 2009, and the communication capabilities they offer will invade the workplace in 2010. Look for various offerings in both internal and cross-company social networking in 2010, and make sure your network has the security and connectivity necessary to meed the demands of these applications.

Cloud Computing – We’ve been hearing about this one for a while, but I expect 2010 will be the year many companies move to adopt this technology. With Google and Microsoft both prepared with web applications, and with many companies having broadband connectivity in place, it seems like this is the year this might all come together.

Business Ethernet – Ethernet has always been a simple, high speed bandwidth option used for the LAN. In 2010, we will see large scale adoption of Business Ethernet for the WAN by SMBs and Enterprises due to the new economics that allow you to leverage these large pipes for a low cost.

Enterprise Video – Telepresence, Video Conferencing, Video Surveillance and Video Training will all see a major push in the next year, as businesses leverage these technologies to save costs, increase revenues and keep their workforces up to speed. It is vital that your network partner be ready with QoS enabled across many bandwidth options so you that you can be sure the video gets through loud and clear.

Extended Enterprise – People now work wherever they happen to be. In 2010, we will see more adoption by Enterprises of systems and policies that allow people to access anyone, from any location, on any device, at any time. Managed SSL VPNs will enable businesses to realize such a goal, while lowering costs and ensuring the security of sensitive data at all times.

Wireless Data – The application of wireless technologies to business communications will continue to grow. For years now, businesses have leveraged wireless voice applications to great success. In 2010, we will continue to see more deployment of data applications across wireless networks, both 3G and 4G. Wireless data technologies can enable rapid provisioning of communications to a store, offer an excellent option for backing up wireline communications, and can be used by your mobile workforce to access corporate data on devices such as Netbooks.

Payment Card Security – Securing credit card transactions will be the focus of a great deal of activity in 2010. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) will continue to evolve (PDF), and changes in areas like wireless networking will need to be implemented in 2010. All levels of merchants should be working with a PCI DSS Validate Service Provider (PDF) payment card extranet partner to make sure they are ready for the changes in the coming year.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “10 Topics for 2010.”

Top 5 Quick SIP Trunk Facts

People have been asking me ‘What is a SIP Trunk, and why do I want one?’ lately, I imagine as a result of all the positive press SIP Trunks have received lately. In response, I’ve put together this quick list of 5 facts on SIP Trunks that will hopefully help as you consider your connectivity options

1. What is a SIP Trunk, anyway?

A Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunk is a service that connects a company’s PBX to the existing public switched telephone network (PSTN) via the Internet by making use of the SIP standard.

2. Why would I want to use a SIP Trunk rather than an Analog or PRI based service?

There are several advantages to using SIP Trunks instead of traditional analog circuits or PRIs, but the most obvious one is cost. You will save on both local and long distance calling when using SIP Trunks vs more old fashioned telephony services. In addition, you can buy just the amount of service you need, while most analog and PRI services make you buy service and phone numbers in blocks larger then you may require. Many SIP Trunk offerings will also allow you to use the same bandwidth for Internet connectivity for your business.

3. There is a lot of talk these days about ‘Hosted VOIP’. Why would a business choose a SIP trunk over such a service?

This question really comes down to whether you want a telephony service that is physically located at your business, or whether you want to completely outsource your telephony needs. Many businesses want the security and reliability of a premise based PBX, as it allows for greater control. SIP Trunks are perfect for these customers, offering them a technicaly sound solution and cost savings at the same time.

4. Wait a minute, did you say a SIP Trunk will also get me Internet access?

A SIP Trunk uses IP to deliver phone calls to the PSTN. Depending upon the volume of calls placed, any excess bandwidth not being utilized for VoIP can be used to access the Internet. By moving to a product like DUET from a traditional PRI, you may find that not only do you save money on your phone bill, but on your Internet access bill as well.

5. What hardware do I need to make use of SIP Trunks?

You will need to have a PBX that is capable of connecting to a SIP Trunk. There are many of these on the market, from custom turn-key solutions, to open source solutions that many businesses implement themselves. When you work with your SIP provider, they will be able to tell you if your current PBX is compatible with this money-saving service.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “Top 5 Quick SIP Trunk Facts.”

Top 5 Reasons To Implement VoIP

VoIP solutions offer compelling ways to reduce costs and increase the effectiveness of communications in your business. Here are 5 quick thoughts on why implementing VoIP at your business today is not only a good idea, but one that will increase productivity and revenue.

  1. Lower Costs – A VoIP solution will allow you to integrate your companies Internet access and Voice needs onto a single access circuit. Also, the costs of VoIP phone calls are lower than old fashioned Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), with unlimited local and domestic long distance included.
  2. Increase Productivity – VoIP solutions allow your staff to be better connected. There are several features available in VoIP offerings, such as call forwarding and call waiting, that increase employee productivity and collaboration.
  3. Improve Customer Satisfaction – By implementing additional methods of communicating with your customers and getting closer to them, you will improve Customer Satisfaction. And by getting closer to your partners and suppliers, you will be better able to meet customer needs. Go ahead and make that call! The cost is covered by your flat rate plan.
  4. Flexibility – Managing old fashioned communications systems is time consuming and expensive. These old systems are not nearly as flexible as a VoIP solution, which offers the ability to bring on additional services and increased capacity with relative ease, all while getting the benefit of a larger feature set and lower costs. So whether you need a PRI service to plug into your existing digital PBX, or a SIP service to connect to your existing IP-PBX, VoIP services are flexible and powerful enough to exceed your needs.
  5. Mobility – VoIP solutions offer great options for mobile professionals. Need to take your local contact number with you when you travel to Europe or Asia? No problem, and you’ll get great international calling rates. Need to have your phone calls forwarded to your mobile phone while at your kid’s baseball game? No problem. Also, VoIP gives you the ability to have employees work and take phone calls on their primary contact line from anywhere they have an Internet connection, including at home and on the road.

You should really move to VoIP today, and find out what so many business owners already know: that there are tools out that will allow you to lower costs, increase productivity, and spend more time focusing on your business, and less trying to decipher why the charges on that old fashioned phone bill are so high.

Just make sure you choose a VoIP partner with the experience and ability to do things right.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “Top 5 Reasons To Implement VoIP.”