USF and Flat-Rate Pricing Plan (Part 1)

Federal legislation played a huge role in the formation of the country’s telecom industry. Today, new bills and acts passed by the U.S. Government continue to shape the present and future of our field. One of the biggest acts to pass over the last couple of decades was the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This act represented the first major overhaul of the U.S. telecom field in over 60 years. It basically set the shape of the modern communications industry. This was the first act to take the internet into consideration. Yet even though the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was prescient in some ways it failed to predict one of the biggest changes in the telecom market. Over the last 15 years, flat-rate calling plans spread all over the U.S. Nowhere is this oversight more apparent than the formation of the Universal Service Fund (USF).

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From SIP Handsets to Totally Mobile?

I talked to a friend recently who was full of excitement over the news from his employer that the sales team (of which he belongs) was going to receive new smartphones. His excitement was easy to understand: the entire 50 person sales team was getting brand new iPhones that were going to replace their SIP handsets and older PBX desk phones. Considering the cost of smartphones and voice quality concerns, you understand my curiosity about what would drive the company to do such a thing. Given all the changes in the mobile market and where the future of telephony seems to be headed, I tried to follow the company logic.

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Guide to Calculating TCO of Your Phone System

Understanding Total Cost of Ownership of a PBX System

Cost is a major factor that drives virtually every decision a business owner makes. Not only is it important to look at the up-front costs of something, the total cost of ownership comes into play, too. For some companies, it might be worthwhile to lay out more capital in the short-term, if it parlays into long-term savings. For others, they might not use a product or service long enough to justify the initial set up costs. This is true of a hosted phone system, just like it is for anything else.

How Can You Best Implement PBX Automation?

PBX Phone System AutoAttendant Offers Many Options

Introducing automation to your organization’s phone system will either be one of the wisest decisions you’ve ever made, or a potential debacle, depending on how well you implement the following best practices.

Get Everyone Involved

Even though it’s tempting to program auto attendant, routing tree and the flow of your callcenter without soliciting input from the rest of your organization, doing so can potentially alienate your employees and prevent you from reaping the benefits of their unique perspectives and insights. No one understands your customer’s desires and the inner workings of your current phone system better than your ground-level employees, and without their input you will never create the best possible organizational system for your organization’s new telephony experience.

Gather information and opinions from your organization’s decision makers, from your sales & marketing staff, and from those employees who actually man your phone lines day-in and day-out. It’s also wise to consult your telephony solutions supplier too, as those professionals understand the nuts-and-bolts of what has worked, and what hasn’t, for many of their past clients.

How you automate your phone systems needs to reflect the big picture of your organization, it’s branding and its core message, but it’s also a practical technological system your employees will utilize every day- so make sure they have a say regarding how it works.

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Hosted PBX Unwrapped: The Challenges of Automatic Voice Recognition

As computer use becomes ubiquitous, it is increasingly desirable to communicate with them in the same way that we communicate with one another: using human speech. Voice or Speech Recognition technology aims to do just this. Personally, I fell in love with the concept of voice recognition ever since I first saw “Star Trek, The New Generation” series. Unfortunately, my first attempt at making a productive use of speech recognition in Microsoft Windows 3.1 was rather disappointing.

Today our ability to use voice recognition is limited to issuing system commands to speed up familiar functions. So what prevents us from talking to our personal computers and phone systems (those are quickly converging into one) ? What you may not realize is that speech recognition is a rather complicated and resource intensive task. 

Humans easily and efficiently relay information via speech despite many complications, including background noise, slips related to spontaneous speech (stammers, filled pauses, false starts, etc.) and the inherent variability of human speech.

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Cloud-based VoIP vs. Dedicated Hosted PBX Service

Cloud Computing and Virtualization has received a lot of attention lately, largely due to a huge marketing push initiated by a number of big corporations hoping that peddling shared computing infrastructure solutions is the “next big thing.” If these advertising messages are to be believed, Cloud Computing and Virtualization provide increased reliability, reduced expenses and an unprecedented level of convenience for most I.T. applications.

Call me a technological heretic but I believe that virtualized cloud infrastructure guarantees neither of those things while taking away a lot of control over how your resources are allocated.

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Is Efficient Technical Support a Good Thing ?

When it comes to choosing a business voice service provider, one of the most important factors to consider is quality of customer service and technical support they deliver. Most customers, be they commercial or residential, consider customer support a core value of a technology business.

This perception, however, is frequently overlooked by technology juggernauts which focus on technical support efficiency, often overestimating the benefit of customers self-service. Accustomed to thinking about customer care in terms of technological solution, they choose the most “cost-effective” operating models by pushing (or rather shoving) primary customer contact to the web and making each successive step a part of hierarchy designed with the same intent. To them it’s all about numbers: by outsourcing technical support major telecom carriers and regional CLECs save millions of dollars, cut call handling times aiming at handling more calls with less technical support personnel.

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Integrating Hosted PBX and Cloud Desktop Services Into Move Strategy

Business relocation and expansion decisions are among the most important ones company executives have to face. The rapid advances in information and communications technology over the past few years have dictated a change in the attitude towards working practices, employment patterns and, subsequently business relocation.

When moving a business, small or large, IT relocation strategy matters. Many businesses can not afford to be off their computers for more than a couple of hours. The process of relocation involves the difficult task of packing and a risky affair of moving. The IT department is often called upon to coordinate an internal department move, help relocate a remote office, or be involved in an entire company move. But IT and communications relocation are far more than just disconnecting, packaging and moving equipment. Among most common reasons of business moving disasters are: poor planning, lack of understanding of all of the essential IT components and services that are required and inability to develop a realistic and practical timeline. Many times a decision to move is dictated by availability of space, contract obligations and a desire to minimize the time of operation in multiple locations during the transition.

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Delivering VoIP over Mobile Wireless

Both VoIP and mobile wireless broadband are relatively new technologies. With the invention of 3G wireless data network – an opportunity to make free or near free calls from your VoIP phone had become more of a reality than a concept. The war between operators of cellular networks and VoIP providers has ended in an amicable truce with the carriers finally realizing that the bulk of their revenues will be coming from data usage and shifting to the usage-based billing model for their data plans. VoIP Hosted PBX users have been jumping on the bandwagon by making calls over Wi-Fi or the carrier’s wireless data connections on all kinds of smart phone platforms.

VoIP service providers, while reluctant to even mention 3G mobile data network as a somewhat reliable means of enterprise VoIP communications, nevertheless are coming to accept the fact that businesses begin to realize the advantages of readily available mobile networks in order to benefit from truly geo independent voice service. There is even a new term for it: Vo3G which stands for Voice over 3G.

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