Category Archives: Blog

Is EOC a Good Fit for You?

You know what they always say – time is money. Well, the reason they always say that is because it’s true. When your time is your most valuable asset, you don’t want to waste any of it waiting on inadequate connection speeds or dealing with interrupted service. If you need fast, reliable internet service at affordable prices, Ethernet over copper (EOC) might be the best business internet solution for you.
If your business is growing to the point that you’ve outgrown traditional DSL, then Ethernet over copper is an affordable way to take things to the next level. EOC can offer higher bandwidth that is easily scalable and extremely reliable. Depending upon your business location, it offers bandwidth speeds up to 45 Mbps, while remaining less expensive than a T-1.
EOC uses the existing copper telephone wires already in place, so the installation time tends to be relatively quick. Ethernet over copper combines that infrastructure already in place with new technology to bring greater reliability to your internet service. EOC uses multiple wire pairs, so if one pair goes offline, others can be accessed.
Is EOC the right choice for your business? If you need more bandwidth and faster network speeds, along with disaster recovery solutions and redundancy to protect your information assets, take a close look at EOC. Deployed on the best EOC technology available, InfoStream EOC is designed for businesses like yours.
Gain the bandwidth you need to save your business time and money. Contact us for information on pricing and availability in your area.

SIP Trunking: What Is It and How Does It Support My Business

Cutting costs and increasing productivity is the mantra of most businesses today. Taking advantage of new telecom technologies is a prime way to increase communication and collaboration inside and outside the organization. To take full advantage of your business telephone services consider utilizing SIP Trunking.

In traditional telephony a physical circuit is need to connect the telephone system (PBX) to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). If you have various locations connected to your PBX, you are probably paying for a T1-PRI (Primary Rate Interface) to each, or if your capacity is larger than 23 channels you may have to purchase additional PRI circuits. With SIP trunking you eliminate the need for the physical circuit and receive telephone service over the data network instead; voice simply becomes another service running on your data network. The SIP trunk can carry voice, data and video all at the same time.

There is more to the cost efficiency of SIP trunking. As mentioned above, PRI is sold in increments of 23 but with managed SIP trunks you only pay for the lines or bandwidth that you need and add additional capacity when necessary. SIP trunking can also include all of your local and long distance telephone usage allowing you to predict and control your monthly communication expenses better than ever before.

An added benefit and one that can be crucial, is the disaster recovery capability of SIP Trunking. When utilizing direct trunk overflow you have the ability to transfer inbound calls to an alternate location (phone number). This can be invaluable if for any reason connectivity to the PSTN from a location is lost. This will allow you to continue communicating with your clients and employees until the situation is resolved.

At InfoStructure we know what it takes to leverage the most out of your business communication investment. With our InfoSIP trunking solution you have the flexibility of our national plan or local plan with free installation for either. Check out our FAQ page then contact us for a complete quote or help in determining what solution works best for your objectives.

High Speed Internet is a Win-Win For Consumers and Retailers

There’s no doubt that access to high speed internet has changed the way we do just about everything. From streaming movies and games to working from home, the internet continues to change the way we work and play.

Now with the holiday season upon us, many will turn to shopping online rather than venturing into the maddening crowds of brick and mortar shops. And why not? Today’s breakthroughs in high speed internet enable consumers to shop smarter and faster than ever before.

In fact, according to a report from the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), consumer savings from online shopping increased from 12.2% to 13.5% annually. This was attributed to consumers having high speed internet access.

It’s no surprise that high speed internet access allows smart shoppers to save money. Through the internet, shoppers can do fast and easy price comparisons among competing stores, have access to greater inventory, and realize savings on car expenses since they never have to leave home.

Founding IIA co-chairman, Bruce Mehlman believes that “transitioning to next-generation networks is crucial for all Americans to be able to make the Internet part of their financial strategy.”

The average American family can save substantially on entertainment, travel, as well as services such as bill paying through using the internet. Many have come to realize this as Cyber Monday 2012 saw a big jump in online purchases over last year. According to a report in Internet Retailer.com, IBM reported online sales up 30.3% over last year.
Don’t be left behind without high speed internet.

Contact us for information on how our high speed internet solutions can get you and your business on the information highway quickly and easily.

What is SIP?

Our telecom industry just loves acronyms, which roll off our tongues in steady streams as though a different language is being spoken. Take “SIP” for example. SIP has been around for over a decade, but the term is still an enigma among small business managers, despite the fact that SIP and other modes of business VoIP are approaching mass market adoption. Perhaps the main cause of the confusion is the fact that SIP is often given other names within the industry or maybe because it’s represented in unintelligible “techie” terms. Hopefully we can briefly clarify the meaning and application of SIP and answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is the signaling format of Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VoIP). SIP and VoIP are terms that are often used interchangeably, even though VoIP technically has a much broader application. SIP is a proven method for using an Internet connection for the purpose of voice transmission. The virtual paths over which SIP calls travel are most commonly called “SIP trunks” and “call paths.” They’re also less formally referred to as “VoIP phone lines” or just “Internet phone lines.” In the final analysis, they are economical alternatives to office phone lines and no more complicated to use than POTS…oh, that’s another telecom acronym that stands for “plain old telephone service.”

You don’t need to have an IP phone system to install SIP. If you do have an IP PBX with a VoIP-ready interface, you’re ready to go. If not, you can keep your existing phone system and still use SIP, in which case, you would need a network device that converts the phone signal to IP. These network devices vary in price, depending upon the number of required trunks, QOS and network security, but they are usually much less expensive than the typical PRI cards and other premise equipment used with a traditional PBX. If you’re in the market for a new IP phone system, you can purchase one from Cisco, Avaya or Shoretel, or you might alternatively choose a “hosted” VoIP PBX solution like our InfoTalk Pro, which is offered as a managed service.

With InfoStructure’s SIP, you don’t need to obtain new phone numbers when converting from a non-VoIP application. Your existing phone numbers can be “ported” by most SIP carriers. You can also order new numbers local to your area or “virtual numbers” – phone numbers with area codes and exchanges outside of your local area, whatever works best for your business. In addition, you receive one free phone number (DID) per SIP trunk. If you require more numbers, they’re available at only $1.00 each per month. Also included are caller ID with name, call hunt groups, and call detail reports via web portal.

A commonly asked question is regarding the size and type of Internet connection needed to accommodate SIP. A reliable Internet broadband connection is a prerequisite for any VoIP service, regardless of whether it’s DSL, wireless, Ethernet over copper, or fiber optics. The amount of bandwidth is definitely a consideration, and it depends upon your unique business needs for both voice and data. The bandwidth per SIP trunk varies with the type of compression used in the SIP carrier network, but as a rule of thumb with our SIP, you can conservatively estimate 80 Kbs per call, including overhead. So eight concurrent calls, for example, will use up to 640 Kbs of bandwidth.

The time that it takes to install SIP depends mainly upon what is needed to fulfill your specific requirements. A simple installation can take only a couple of days after your order is placed. A larger, more complex installation requiring multiple locations and network equipment installations could take up to two weeks or longer.

We hope this helps to remove some of the mystery surrounding SIP! For information on SIP pricing, check out our SIP product, InfoTalk Plus, available in special rate plans with both unlimited and metered usage. If you have any questions, please call us. Our Oregon call center is open 7 X 24 every day of the year with friendly and knowledgeable service reps waiting to take your calls and answer your questions.

Top 10 Predictions for 2012

2012 It’s a new year and exciting opportunities abound for all of us. Despite some ominous claims to the contrary, we envision 2012 to be lots of sunshine and blue sky! Yes, there will be the on-going challenges of a less-than-stellar economy and the typical jitters of a presidential election year, but overall, we see our cup as half full, and it’s with a cautiously positive outlook that we make our top 10 predictions for 2012.

  1. By year end, Amazon will be a major force in the smart phone industry.
  2. The New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers will play in the 2012 Superbowl, and the 49ers will win.
  3. After a long retreat, gold and silver prices will soar to new highs.
  4. Facebook will have one billion users by year end.
  5. Gigabit wireless (802.11ac) will begin to replace Ethernet.
  6. The debt crisis of Europe will slow down the economic recovery of the US.
  7. In the laptop world, Intel’s Ultrabook will exceed Apple’s MacBook Air in popularity and sales.
  8. Mobile applications will continue to surge.
  9. Apple will release the iPhone 5 and despite a sluggish economy and a saturating smart phone market, the new iPhone will have enough new features to make it exceed all expectations in sales.
  10. InfoStructure will be setting new highs in business VoIP growth in consecutive quarters throughout the year.

WE AT INFOSTRUCTURE WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Season of Gratitude

During this magical time of year, we have the opportunity to reflect upon all that is good and count the many blessings with which we’ve been bestowed. It’s a time for an opening of the heart and being grateful for the gift of life exactly as it has been given to us. Through that opening, we exit this year and enter the next one renewed.

We at InfoStructure would like to express our deepest gratitude to our customers, fellow employees, and partners, and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

Webinars Made Easy

WebinarAdvancements in technology often come with a price, including a long learning curve in user adoption. Such is not the case with InfoConnect – a new web conferencing platform designed for quick set-up and ease of use, and it’s loaded with the most advanced features!

Smart mobile phones with full browsers and built-in cameras, social networks, IPTV, video compression, webcam innovation, and high speed Internet networks have all contributed to a new world of visual web communication, serving both business and consumer interests. It’s no surprise then that visual web applications continue to outperform traditional modes of communication, like voice and print, especially for collaborative, group purposes.

Web conferencing is part of this trend. The audio conference bridge of yesteryear is being outpaced by webinar technology which, not many years ago, required an IT employee to operate. But things have changed. With the latest webinar platform advancements, like those of InfoConnect, just about anyone can easily set-up and conduct a webinar like a pro! And with the economies of scale created in hosted webinar solutions, prices have remained very affordable.

Whether you need to address your sales team in weekly meetings or launch a new product with your customers, InfoConnect web conferencing can handle both your basic and sophisticated requirements. Below is the InfoConnect toolkit that will make your webinars a success:

  • Video – launch up to 12 webcams instantly
  • Adobe Flash platform – no downloads required to operate
  • Record live meetings
  • Conduct PowerPoint presentations with annotation tools
  • Desktop screen sharing with remote control
  • Share files between users
  • Whiteboard presentations
  • Play streaming video or audio clips
  • Chat and other feedback tools
  • Personalize meeting with images, logos and contact information

For pricing information on InfoConnect, call us now at 800-419-4804. 

High Definition (HD) Voice

While iPhone app’s are stealing telecom headlines, another revolution is stirring in an ancient phenomenon – human voice. With the new VoIP codecs, significant telephony improvements in audio are being made, and hearing is believing!

With the rapid transition of traditional phone service to VoIP, enabled by the tremendous flexibility of IP technology, new applications are emerging to create a richer user experience. IDC research shows that “the end user experience in current implementations of VoIP can be improved in a manner that is simple yet clearly demonstrates the value and superiority of IP-based communications.” (IDC: “Can You Hear What I Mean? Polycom Delivers HD Voice”, Stofa, 2006). With most of the hype surrounding mobile data applications, texting and social networking, voice is still regarded as the most important communications vehicle for conducting mission critical business, as well as the first choice in addressing the most important personal matters.

Decades ago, FM radio trumped the clarity, depth and range of sound transmitted by AM radio. Its “higher fidelity” was the result, in part, of its greater bandwidth component. A similar evolution in voice quality is being made in VoIP communications. Phone line quality, standardized by the old Bell Telephone system, which was measured in Hertz (Hz), was designed for voice in a low frequency band at around 3,000 Hz or 3 KHz. This “narrow band” frequency remained the standard for more than half a century. While voice quality saw some improvements in the 80’s and 90’s with digital switching and the deployment of fiber optics in carrier networks, the difference in quality was slight, and it was mainly in voice amplification and ambient noise reduction.

Today, a “wide band” IP technology is emerging, which is known as high definition (HD) voice. With HD voice, a carrier network device called a codec samples the sound stream 8,000 times per second and more than doubles the width of the sound spectrum reproduced – up to 7KHz, which adds significant depth and range to the audio – a much broader difference over standard phone line voice than just loudness, like FM is to AM. Phone line audio becomes as clear as face-to-face conversation.

You can hear the difference through a simulation on our HD voice web page and separately clicking on both buttons for “Standard Voice” and “Polycom HD Voice.” In order for you to achieve this level of quality in your office phone communications, you must have VoIP service with an HD voice application built into the carrier network, like our InfoTalk Pro product (most VoIP providers still don’t offer HD voice). In addition, you will need HD-enabled IP phones, like the Polycom SoundPoint series. These phones, we believe, are the best in business VoIP technology and are affordably priced. And the best news is HD voice is available through InfoStructure at no extra cost.

Virtual Office

Virtual OfficeFor the sake of convenience, cutting costs, or accomplishing out-of-office tasks, many employees today work from remote locations, including their homes, airports, coffee shops, other offices or just about anywhere their work takes them where they can stay connected. The challenge of these “virtual offices” is having a level of communication that is as accessible, flexible and productive as that of an office environment with in-house systems optimized for business communications. An answer to this challenge has been emerging for a decade and is just beginning to reach critical mass – hosted VoIP.

Hosted VoIP has many names, like hosted PBX, IP telephony, managed VoIP, and others that all point to the same thing – unified voice and data applications that are accessible through the Internet. Because these applications are “hosted” (I.e. they reside on a carrier’s servers), and not maintained at a particular business office, they can be accessed from anywhere on the planet…sort of like mobile phone ap’s but without all the downloading and with greater business efficiency than a mobile phone. These applications range from advanced PBX features to local and long distance calling, web conferencing, speech-to-text messaging, video, point-and-click calling, Internet faxing and much more.

The versatility of hosted VoIP platforms enables carriers to integrate new ap’s without you having to purchase additional systems, hardware or software. And because the platforms are scalable, you can add, delete and modify phone extensions or calling features on the fly. Your office phone number follows you around, whether you use an IP phone or soft client (a phone function manipulated from your PC screen, along with a headset). In other words, all of your outbound calls carry your name and/or office number, providing continuity in identification, and your inbound calls are received on the same number. And through a web interface, you have the ability to manage all of your communications. In fact, you have all of the exact same communication features that you would enjoy from your office on the same platform; nothing is sacrificed in your virtual office. You just can’t accomplish these things with a typical phone system… a virtual phone system is a must!

Above all, hosted VoIP is an economical alternative. When you consider the huge capital cost, maintenance costs, and peripheral equipment expenses required with in-office phone systems, along with monthly phone line and long distance costs, hosted VoIP will usually save your business a bundle. Most providers offer hosted VoIP as a managed service billed monthly.

For more information on hosted VoIP, visit our web page on InfoTalk Pro – an innovative hosted VoIP solution from InfoStructure.

When Disaster Strikes

Disater RecoveryIt’s unlikely but possible that your business may experience a disaster that disables all of your communications for more than just a couple of hours. Cable cuts, power outages, building fires, flooding, tornadoes and earthquakes are realities of life that can and will take place. Is your business prepared for any of these?

A 2009 study by Business Research Institute revealed that of all the recovery points necessary in the event of a disaster (data loss, employee management, notifications, etc.), 65% of the businesses surveyed said telecommunications was the weakest link. The fact is that an outage in telephone communications lasting several hours, or even days, can cost a communications-intensive business substantially in lost revenue, good will, and credibility with its customers. An extreme example of this was the 911 event in NYC, which disabled communications in hundreds of businesses for several days, resulting in extensive financial damages. Fortunately, terrorist events don’t happen frequently in the US, but what about a simple cable cut that takes eight hours to be located and repaired or a power outage that requires a failed transformer to be completely replaced or a building fire that damages or destroys your phone system, which are much more common occurrences?

While most businesses recognize the exposure in not having a disaster recovery plan, they also realize that there’s a cost in having one, and it’s not usually low-budget. Implementing redundant, fail-over phone functionality with traditional TDM phone system, as well as maintaining alternate transport facilities, can be an expensive proposition. Many believe that not spending dollars on implementing a plan is worth the risk…until a disaster strikes. It’s like going without health insurance to save on expenses, which works for as long you are not seriously sick or injured.

However, with the the latest IP technology, an excellent solution for disaster recovery now exists without your having to invest in redundant systems or diverse network facilities. Business class “hosted” VoIP, by which phone functions are housed on a carrier’s servers, is a viable solution by the very fact that your phone functions are maintained remotely – not at your office location. This means that in the event of a disaster at your office building, at the minimum, your inbound calls will roll over to voice mail and not be lost as they otherwise would be on a traditional phone system; you can leave your office and with Internet access make outbound calls on an IP phone with the exact same features that you enjoy from your office and receive your office calls at the same number as well; and you can still access and reconfigure your call management functions through the web. Because these disaster recovery features are inherent with a hosted service, which will also reduce your standard phone expenses, they are well worth considering.

InfoStructure has recently introduced a new hosted VoIP solution for business – InfoTalk Pro, an effective alternative for disaster recovery. InfoTalk Pro is a powerful PBX replacement alternative with a rich array of PBX features, a unique browser interface for quick and easy call management, and desktop integration of PC and IP phone, making it scalable, user friendly, economical and manageable. For more information, please visit our InfoTalk Pro web page.