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Ruckus Wireless to be acquired by Brocade

Posted on Fri, Apr 22, 2016

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Ruckus announced its intention to be acquired by Brocade, a leader in networking solutions. The announcement is an important step forward in our goal to deliver best-in-class wired and wireless networking. Our combined companies will have the strategy, products, talent, and focus needed to deliver the solutions that customers and partners require to compete in the modern world of digital business.

We understand that, as you work to digitize your business, you need a network architecture that allows for greater business agility. This New IP architecture enables the network to become a platform for innovation for developing, delivering and securing applications.

Wireless is a critical access technology, and the combination of Brocade and Ruckus creates a new type of pure-play networking company, spanning from the data center to the wireless network edge. Ruckus’ wireless networking solutions will add a complementary and important product category to Brocade’s portfolio. Ruckus’ product strategy and roadmap will remain unchanged. At close of the acquisition, Ruckus will become the new wireless business unit of Brocade led by our former CEO, Selina Lo, who will report directly to Brocade’s CEO. We expect the acquisition to close in the third quarter of Brocade’s 2016 fiscal year, which ends on July 31, 2016.

The combination will allow Ruckus to leverage Brocade’s scale and expertise in sales, customer service and professional services. Brocade is not planning any near-term changes to the sales and support you have come to rely on. Ruckus solutions will continue to be sold and supported by Ruckus’s current sales teams, channel partners and customer support organization.

For more information:

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Topics: business continuity, wireless back up connectivity, storm contingencies, business back up plans

Happy Birthday Bell Telephone!

Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

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It is not too late to offer a 140 Year birthday wish to the Alexander Graham Bell telephone. 

On March 7, 1876 the patent was issued and on March 10, 1876 the historic first call was placed and the spoken message was heard beckoning Mr. Watson.  What is quiet fascinating is in 1874 Western Union President William Orton uttered very prescient words that the telephone will become “the nervous system of commerce.”  If we think for a moment how and why we communicate we would have to agree fully with the statement.  Given there may be a personal SMS text or two to your spouse and children! 

I am humbled and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the 140 year history and evolution of telecommunications.   Every day we get to help companies scale and grow their businesses through solutions we create for them around their unique needs and leverage an immense telecommunications infrastructure in doing so.

As I write this post I am watching a Connecticut public hearing online via streaming video regarding the raised bill 331 regarding high speed internet which started at 11am this morning and as of 3:45pm has no end in sight…

As the debate and discussion continues,  it serves as a clear present day example of the fact that our entire telecommunication systems have become the central nervous system of all commerce.

So as you raise a glass with me to thank Alexander Graham Bell tonight I ask you to think and share with me what you think telecommunications will look and feel like 140 years from now?  Will we even need devices to communicate with each other?  What do you think?

 

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Topics: business continuity, business VoIP, hosted voip cost, telecommunications services, bandwidth, new technology

What Does A Hosted Phone System Cost?

Posted on Fri, Mar 6, 2015

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One of the first questions we are asked by decision makers is: How much should a hosted phone system cost?

This is a difficult question to answer and we will try our best to explain some general guidelines.  Technology is in a state of constant change, making it very easy to get left in the dust of today’s business environment.  Hosted technologies, “cloud” based services, are the new standard for managing technology, phone systems are no exception.  

Let’s Make It Easy:

Phone systems, including Hosted Voice over Internet Protocol, (we’ll call it VoIP), are incredibly complicated and can easily confuse individuals from IT right up through the C-Level.  People are very busy and frankly don’t care to spend time learning the granular details of a phone system. 

The purchase of a phone system is analogous to the purchase of a vehicle.  With so many choices and features the price range can vary drastically.  A basic Ford SUV can start at $22k versus a basic BMW SUV can cost $55k to $100K depending upon the options and capabilities.  Considering the average person will trade-in or sell their car within the a few years of their purchase, why do so many elect to get a variety of options or upgrades?  Most people know from their experience the importance of getting what they want the first time so they have no regrets in the future.  According to the US Census the average American spends 25.5 minutes a day getting to work, that is a 112 hours a year in your car! Which makes them want the vehicle that will provide them with the comfort, reliability, ease of use and quality they require.

Many of these principles apply to the business shopping for a telephone system and service.  The average worker spends 5 hours a month on the telephone.  The average call center worker could spend 5 to 7 times that per month on the phone.  The top two priorities for companies that have customer contact centers?  Improving the customer experience and agent productivity.  Decreasing cost is third on the list.

What is a Hosted Phone system?

Basically all the software and hardware required to make a phone system work is hosted outside of your office, in the service provider’s internet cloud.  This includes the call control, call center application and voicemail system.  Essentially making your hardware needs very minimal, an IP Phone, Internet Router and PoE switch.  Since the service is accessible over the internet you can have phones most anywhere you have internet access.

What to ask yourself:

Many people focus on the initial cost or finding the least cost provider.  Decidedly, nobody should walk into a car dealership asking, “What does a blue one with 4 tires cost?”  Similar to asking, “What does a phone with dial tone cost?”

Decision makers’ answers to the following will begin to clarify a budget for Hosted VoIP:

  • How critical are phones to our business?
  • Will they be available in the event of a natural or other disaster?
  • What does our business need from our phones?
  • How will a hosted phone system improve the business continuity?
  • How many users (multiple locations included) do I have that need a phone?
  • How will softphones help with efficiency and productivity?
  • Will having voicemail come to your email inbox create efficiency?
  • How fast can the system scale up or down to meet the growth needs of the business?
  • How many conference rooms do we have?  Size? Do they need phones?
  • Will video calling play a role now or in the future for the business?
  • What type of functions do these users require? Example: Receptionist requires more features than a conference room phone.
  • How many people will be/are on the phone at the same time?
  • What is my call volume and how much is inbound vs. outbound calling?
  • Will there be a need for call center and reporting of agent productivity?
  • Is international calling business critical?
  • What is my current internet connectivity/bandwidth?
  • What is the age of my current network gear? Can it be reused?

Perhaps you are wondering about the questions regarding individual people.  Hosted VoIP is very different from a conventional phone system in that it doesn’t use any phone lines.  The phone calls are transformed into data and run over your business’ local area network (LAN) and internet connection.  Phone calls are the same as uploading and downloading information from the internet, but the phone data gets secure immediate priority.  This is to ensure perfect clarity and call continuity.  Lastly, answering the bandwidth question is critical.  If bandwidth is insufficient with web browsing it results in slow speeds, if it’s insufficient with Hosted VoIP, it can result in dropped calls.  By answering these questions without becoming a phone system aficionado, we can laser in on a budgeting strategy.

Your users and how they differ:

Each individual in an organization has a unique task to complete while their phone license types can be simply categorized.  Those with the highest usage and feature requirements cost the most, example being a Call Center Supervisor or Call Center Agent and the road warrior or the general office personnel.  Then, as functionality requirements lessen the software licensing prices moves down a sliding scale.  A lower functioning user on the opposing end of the spectrum could be a “Break Room” user.  This would cost much less as it’s essentially a phone with nothing but dial tone.

Brass Tacks:

Users: The licensing on the user types does vary quite dramatically from a high end call center user around $150/mo./user all the way down to $15/mo./user

Phones: Also known as “end-points”, vary just as much as user types.  From colored video touch screen desk phones, to no screen at all, and conference room phones that vary to cover different sized spaces.  The desktop phones we offer range from $150 to $625 with video capabilities and conference phones cover a gap between $500 and $1800.

Hardware: These are the techno-goodies that protect your security, translate what you’re saying, into data, send it over the internet, and deliver it safe and sound at the intended destination.  The typical solutions include an internet router that connects to the internet service and handles the security and quality of service at the location.  The other component is the local area network switch which connects the phone and computers in your office.  These switches include the ability to provide power to the phones and are referred to as “power over Ethernet” or PoE switches.  The overall cost of hardware is determined by the number of users on the phone and data system.  This cost can be expected from $75-$500 per individual.

Internet Connection: Back to the question concerning bandwidth and what is currently in place.  Existing phone lines go away as the voice is turned into data traffic and now travels over the internet.  We recommend Fiber Optic internet to all of our hosted clients along with a less expensive backup service to ensure a reliable and survivable service.  Internet prices are the most variable of all things here and are determined by a mix of users, business requirements, availability, carrier, and geographic location.  However, the majority of our clients have 2, sometimes 3 circuits ranging from $295/mo.-$3000/mo.

Making it Work:

When buying, receiving, and implementing a new product or service there are always different schools of thought that define the process.  The three we most commonly run into are as follows:

Fearless D.I.Y.: These are the individuals who feel they’ve gathered the facts about VoIP and can simply implement the system themselves.  They are also most commonly the “commodity shopper” looking for a best price as they feel their knowledge and time are better used than investing in a third party resource.  In this scenario, we provide the hardware, configure the software, and drop ship to a location where the individual who has taken the reins will perform their own installation, training, maintenance and management. 

The Middle Man: The middle man has some knowledge of VoIP but understands the benefit of a third party resource.  They know enough to understand what the system is capable of and their knowledge limitations.  Here, we provide the planning, hardware, installation and training in this environment to help the customer ensure maximum efficiency from their employees and investment.  The customer would manage their internet and connectivity.

Turn Key: This is the decision maker who wants the most reliable best fit solution; we excel in delivering to this profile.  From the beginning, we are involved in architecting a solution to meet the clients’ current needs and future goals.  We are considered a team member in this environment and build long-term personal business relationships.  Aside from everything already described, this approach also includes current bill auditing, technology reviews, providing internet connectivity, and a management plan of action to ensure a reliable and survivable network.  

Assess Your Situation

Topics: what is VoIP?, business continuity, business VoIP, call center, hosted voip cost, Hosted Phone System Cost

Why You Need A Hosted Contact Call Center

Posted on Sun, Dec 8, 2013

Hosted call centers are providing many benefits to businesses of all sizes, and the industry has continued to see significant growth and adoption. A recent study by Frost & Sullivan predicts that the industry will grow to $1.5 billion by 2015.

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The Benefits of a Virtual Call Center 

Businesses are becoming more global than ever, companies need to stay connected. And as technology continue to evolve, improved communication solutions become a necessity. Companies that need greater flexibility to stay connected can find everything they need with a hosted call center solution.

Customize

The solutions provided by a hosted call center work for everything from small businesses queuing calls for a receptionist to a wholesale call center fielding calls for multiple companies to specialized centers with mobile agents. Organizations with complex needs can customize a hosted contact center solution to make their business run more efficiently and better care for their customers needs.

Flexible

Hosted contact centers provide fiscally-responsible opportunities with features that drive results. Through a hosted contact center, businesses will see improved customer satisfaction, as agents are available to stay connected beyond the typical workplace. No longer limited to a desk phone, agents can field calls from home or on the go.

Improve Connectivity

Hosted contact centers also provide centralized administration for teams that work across the country. No longer confined to a single phone system, management and employees can engage each other worldwide.  Through a hosted contact center, administrators can easily monitor agent availability, active call queues and view detailed reports with browser-based applications. Get details on average speed of answer, length of call, calls per agent and more, all on the fly.

Affordable

The most important way a hosted contact center is going to improve business is with the cost savings. With the low cost of ownership available over traditional call centers, businesses can focus funds on expanding while utilizing professional services to handle all their call needs. Hosted contact center solutions provide businesses the opportunity to take advantage of the most professional and state-of-the-art web-based services available while protecting the most important thing to any growing business: the bottom line.

Topics: business continuity, call center, virtual workspace, connectivity, telecommunications services, call center technology, customer support, customer service, hosted call center, contact center

Nor’easter Knocking You Out – Keep Your Business Connected During the Storm

Posted on Fri, Feb 8, 2013

Back Up Telecommunication SystemsHindsight, as they say, is better than foresight. Simply meaning; it’s always easier to see things that have already happened, than to know what will happen. That is unless you have learned from past mistakes, or in this instance, past storms.  Your business shouldn’t have to be at the mercy of Mother Nature. It’s time to take a wireless stand!

Severe storms, such as this winter Nor’easter, have a bad habit of knocking out power to entire areas, effecting phone services, internet services, electricity and putting businesses down for the count. However, there are many precautions you can take to ensure your business has these services, even when your competitors don’t.

1. Have a backup plan – Sounds redundant right? Well it should, just like your internet service should have a redundancy solution. True redundancy requires two connections and two paths. You already have a high-speed line based internet service but now a storm has just knocked out power to your building. If you had a wireless connection it’s business as usually, except now, you’re the only business in town.

2. Stay In Contact – Business is about maintaining your client’s trust and your business can only do that if your employees are able to stay connected during these storms. Great businesses find ways around what seems impossible. If your customers know they can contact you and your employees, even during the worst Nor’easter, imagine how secure they will feel contacting you on a regular day. Consistency breeds trust. And trust builds sales. 

3. Embrace Technology – During last year's Sandy Super Storm, the only way some employees and businesses were able to keep in touch was through Facebook and Twitter. Do the companies you work with even respond to their social media sites? Technology is all around us, and it’s utility is only limited by our imaginations.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – The worst decision most people make is not asking for help when they actually need it. Whether it’s running out of gas and waiting out the storm in a freezing car or a business realizing they don’t have the tools needed to remain open during a major storm, the point is, both situations could have been avoided had some assistance been sought.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for help.

5. Finally, Be Prepared In Case Your Stuck At Work – Yes the dreaded, “Honey, I’m stuck at work for the next few hours or days.” Now you may not need all of these items, but as we have said before, hindsight is better than foresight. Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing. Make sure you have water and food for at least 3 days. Keep some flashlights around with a few packs of extra batteries. Perhaps a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) and last but not least, keep your cell phone and spare batteries charged up.

During this weekend take some time to think about your back up plan and business continuity plan for your company, if there is a need for some redundancy in your personal and business world. No one every regretted having a plan B. 

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Topics: business continuity, wireless back up connectivity, storm contingencies, business back up plans

Always Be Connected: The ABCs Of Business Continuity With Hosted VoIP

Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2013

The ABCs Of Business Continuity With Hosted VoIPIf the turbulence of our global weather patterns -- including, but certainly not limited to, Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy -- have taught us anything, it’s the importance of a business continuity strategy for your company.

What is business continuity? 

Business continuity is the ability of an organization to continue to function before, during and after a disaster. A business continuity plan is a broader approach to disaster recovery, the latter of which narrows the focus on computer systems rather than cumulative, end-to-end business capabilities.

Mother Nature does not think twice about the fiber and copper data lines that run on telephone poles and sustain your company’s communication and productivity. When high winds, nasty storms and even vehicle accidents knock down those lines, your connectivity -- your link to your clients and correspondence amongst your team -- is cut.

With the majority of businesses relying heavily on online presence, just a short time without connectivity jeopardizes thousands of future sales. Power outages slash more than just data communications and productivity levels -- they also slash your company’s reputation and put up a red flag of unreliability to your clients. 

The Proactive Plan 

A business continuity plan provides your business with a plan of action should your company face catastrophic meltdown -- whether from internal instability or external disaster.

1.    Prioritize

The first step in creating a business continuity plan for your company is to prioritize. Which functions should stay up-and-running when disaster strikes? If your answer revolves around your telecommunications services, you’re on the right track. Your telephone and wireless internet connections must be your main priority. 

Keeping the lines of communications open during internal or external catastrophe gives you the opportunity to explain the problems that your business is facing to your clients. If they’re made aware of what’s going on, their trust in you and patience with your situation will be preserved. If clients are kept in the dark, on the other hand, this trust and patience will surely deteriorate.

2.   Choose VoIP 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a data services method that allows both companies and individuals to communicate over the internet. 

When you run your telecommunications network through a business VoIP provider with fiber optics and ethernet services, you ensure that your lines of communication stay open at all times.

A hosted VoIP system enhances the survivability of your telecommunications. While traditional phone systems have one central processing unit, VoIP provides redundancy: alternative routes to your data in the event the main access point fails. This is made possible with cloud storage and automatic failover, or backup, capabilities. 

*SIP Service: When You’re Not Ready For Hosted VoIP*

Even if you choose not to upgrade to hosted VoIP -- in other words, deciding to maintain your own email servers and phone system with non-hosted, premise-based, VoIP -- your lines of communication are still preserved when disaster strikes.

At Universal Connectivity, we offer the option for voice line replacement, known as SIP Trunking services. This involves replacing your existing copper lines -- T1 or PRI circuits -- with ours, which run on the same platform as our hosted phone system. So in the event of catastrophic failure, like a power outage or phone system failure, we convert your lines into hosted phone seats within minutes to get you back up and running as soon as possible.

In addition, the UC system assesses your phone system every six seconds. If it proves to be unreachable, our system automatically re-routes your incoming calls to a number you’ve designated for this purpose. This is an invaluable capability in these days of high hurricanes and low power stability, with telephone companies struggling to fix the copper infrastructure in a timeframe conducive to your business operations.

Companies without solid business continuity plans are out of business within a year after a major disaster -- it’s a scary reality, but it’s the truth. Don’t let disaster strike your business without the proactive stability of a business continuity plan.

Click the button below to learn more about the benefits of linking with UC for your indestructible telecommunications services, crystal clear connectivity and productivity levels that escalate employee morale and ramp up revenue. 

Why Link With UC?

Topics: what is VoIP?, business continuity, business VoIP