Category Archives: Broadband

Businesses Bandwidth and the Need for Speed

It may be tempting to believe that information comes out of thin air, but the infrastructure of internet communication is not magic. Rather, data runs on physical lines and through network devices that can only carry a finite amount of traffic. Given that business functions are increasingly turning over to web applications, customers are using the internet as the primary point of contact with a business, and phone lines are increasingly being replaced with voice over IP (VoIP) systems, a company cannot neglect its bandwidth needs.
It is not uncommon to hear the results of dropped packets due to bandwidth constraints when using web applications such as Skype. Audio calls, video conferencing, media streaming, employees running media from third-party sites, and other bandwidth intensive uses compete with traffic needed by applications that handle primary business functions. There are some general guidelines for how much bandwidth a business may need:
• 2 megabytes per second will cover medium to low-definition video chat, social media, limited voice calls, and most inter-office text communication such as IM and email.
• 5 megabytes per second will cover all of the above plus high definition video and medium file transfers.
• 10 megabytes per second will enable large file transfers and most of the other intensive, high-tech needs of a modern business.
A business should consider high-speed internet and its network capabilities with as much thought as its business plan, its recruiting/talent retention, and its sales/marketing efforts. In order to ensure that your bandwidth capabilities are up to par with the strategic vision of your company, contact your trusted service provider.

Exciting Trends in IP Business Communications for 2013

The Emerging Mobile Majority
The rapid adoption of mobile devices in the workplace continues to enhance productivity and efficiency. A recent report by Forrester observes, “A full 66 percent of employees now use two or more devices for work every day including desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.”

Integrating Public and Private Clouds
The emerging mobile workplace requires an ability to switch between public and private clouds, and to do so both securely and seamlessly. Companies will be challenged to enthusiastically and competently embrace change and support cloud-based applications.

In 2013, in excess of 60 percent of companies will have instituted cloud computing to some degree, according to a recent Gartner report.

Security Initiatives
The need for cloud-based security is no longer just good business, it is essential. The need to protect proprietary data is self-evident. So is the need to keep customer information secure as well.

Also, legal mandates are as substantial as ever. Current initiatives include health care clouds to address privacy requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The public sector is looking to cloud-based solutions to maintain compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act. Finally, the payment card industry’s rapid emergence in mobile device-based transactions creates a host of new security needs in the cloud.

IP Traffic Growth — 29% per year
The pervasiveness of mobile devices and cloud-based computing will be driving forces in 2013 and beyond. The Cisco Visual Networking Index projects annual compound growth in IP traffic of a dramatic 29 percent through 2016. Consumers and employees alike will increasingly expect smart and secure networks to enhance their productivity and their lives.

About Us
InfoStructure is one of a new generation of IP business communications providers that is creatively harnessing the internet’s power and potential. In 18 years, we have grown from an Oregon-based ISP provider to a company with a fully redundant IP network that enables an array of IP voice and data services, including business VoIP. For information on how we can assist in the growth of your enterprise, contact us today.

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.

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.

Big Change in USF

The FCC is pondering a decision that could affect millions of consumers and businesses in rural America. That decision could be positive or negative, depending upon what your priorities are – the phone or the Internet.

A backward glance in time reveals that the telephone, in its earliest stage, was considered to be a novelty. Years later, it became a luxury for those who could afford it and had access to phone lines strung in more populated areas of the US. When the telephone’s value and subsequent need became recognized, Uncle Sam intervened to make sure that phones and phone lines were accessible to American citizens.

However, the problem for decades in providing phone service in low population areas has been the cost of expanding the phone networks to reach everyone, with profitability simply unattainable for the rural phone companies. To solve this problem, in 1996 the FCC created the Universal Service Fund (USF), which mandated that all US phone companies contribute to USF in order to subsidize those rural areas without phone service. This also helped to level the playing field among phone companies competing for the new nationwide telecom opportunities. Since then, hundreds of rural phone companies, along with their consumer and business customers, have benefited. Last year alone, over $8 billion in USF was spent on rural phone projects.

Internet broadband has experienced a similar progression, evolving from novelty to luxury to necessity. While Internet broadband is available today to the vast majority of Americans in populated areas, it’s still nonexistent in thousands of small towns. ISP’s have encountered the same financial hurdles in building their broadband networks as the phone companies experienced, where return on investment is elusive due to the limited subscriber opportunity. Consequently, an estimated 20 million Americans are still without access to Internet broadband.

So Uncle Sam, once again, is on the verge of taking a giant step to support rural areas. The FCC is now considering passing landmark legislation that will redirect those same USF funds to support the construction of data networks in rural areas. The assumption is that the need for rural phone line subsidies has been fulfilled, and now resources need to be directed to providing high speed Internet access.

In addition, the new legislation, if passed, would have more stringent regulation going forward, because the USF, from day one, has been loosely managed and, in many cases, abused, with virtually no boundaries on project costs. One widely publicized example is in the state of Washington where the phone lines of less than two dozen residents in one rural community have been subsidized to the tune of $20,000 per year from the USF.

However, this potentially huge shift in policy (and money) has many rural areas very concerned, as the very phone funds which have supported them for years may now be redirected. According to the New York Times, “The reallocation of money — and the promise it will be spent more carefully — unsettles many small and medium-size firms in rural areas that rely on the flow of subsidies. The proposed rules would also change the interconnection fees paid to companies, another concern to the rural telecommunications companies that count on the fees for a big chunk of revenue.” (NYT, “New Rules for Technology,” Feb. 23, 2011).

This proposed legislation in USF seems to be needed and therefore justifiable. Also, it’s supported by some of the largest telecom carriers in the US. But it will need to be scrutinized and both sides of the coin weighed accordingly. We don’t want it to rob Peter to pay Paul.

The Weak Link

Sophisticated IP cloud app’s work only as good as the network supporting them. The greater the reliability on cloud services, the more attention your network connection should receive.

Hosted VoIP is an excellent example. By hosted VoIP, we’re referring to an IP-cloud phone service where PBX functionality resides on an application server maintained by your service provider and is usually sold on a per-user-seat basis. Typically, with hosted phone applications, your provider also bundles the network call paths over which VoIP is carried. With the refinement of VoIP core-network technology over the past decade by the likes of Cisco, Argent, BroadSoft and Sonus,  the quality of VoIP has increased substantially. For that matter, the core of major IP networks, wherein transport, signaling and hosted functions  are provided, now operates at  levels of performance  comparable to traditional TDM networks. So why is VoIP still perceived to be inferior to traditional TDM services?

One major issue with hosted VoIP is often in the local network transport   – the Internet broadband connection –  and it’s usually the easiest part of the problem to solve. The problem may be as simple as insufficient bandwidth on your connection. With voice and data converged over the same facility, it stands to reason that your bandwidth, once used just for Internet data transport, must be increased to accommodate your hosted voice traffic. Yet, even if the bandwidth is sized correctly, there will be occasion when prioritizing voice packets will be necessary when they compete with your data packets for the same broadband pipe. A split second delay in a data download is usually more tolerable (and less noticed) than a disconnected phone call, which could occur with hosted VoIP with the exact same packet delay. Packet prioritization is usually accomplished by your LAN router.

In addition to pipe size and packet priority, the type of Internet broadband that you use will also affect your hosted VoIP quality. DSL, for example, is the most popular type of high speed Internet used by small businesses. DSL, however, is supported by a contention-based network. That means your packets, prioritized and sent successfully from you LAN over your DSL connection, still have to “contend” for transport onto the Internet once they reach the other side of the local DSL facility. If the DSL aggregation point (DSLAM) is experiencing a high load of your provider’s traffic, your packets will be delayed, and your hosted VoIP call degraded. It’s often that simple.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Your network connection may be it!

The Digital Divide – A Social Problem

While Internet broadband has become a necessity for both businesses and consumers alike, for thousands of rural communities throughout the US, it’s either nonexistent or available at unaffordable rates. Government stimulus funding is helping…but not enough.

The popular media tag for the gap in broadband availability, generally between rural America and its cities, is “the digital divide.” While this divide may not be widening, it is deepening due to the proliferation of web applications in “life line” areas, such as online education, banking and investing, employment search and job application placement, phone communications via VoIP, e-commerce, and health care, all of which have transformed Internet broadband into a social necessity. And every day that goes by, rural communities are feeling the void.

The problem creating the digital divide of today is the same as ten years ago: low population density makes it economically difficult for service providers to justify building broadband networks into rural areas; the supply/demand equation is simply out of whack. And with capital being tight, the risks are too great, even with a long term optimistic model.

In response to these factors, a compelling argument can be made for federal subsidization of rural broadband, with the same economic basis as the on-going federal subsidy of rural phone lines. However, Ray Baum of the Oregon Public Utilities Commission  recently suggested that such a subsidy will not likely happen any time soon.  At the 2010 Oregon Connections Telecommunications Conference held on October 21 and 22, he reminded attendees that all government subsidies are being scrutinized and a phone-line-like subsidy for broadband would be unlikely. Later in the conference, Thomas Brown of the FCC mentioned that a recommendation has recently been made to transition universal service funds to support rural broadband, but nothing was mentioned in terms of its probability or timing.

At the same conference, a panel of telecom leaders seemed to agree that the digital divide is a “social problem” and must be addressed as such. In other words, the federal government alone will not provide the solution. The key lies largely in rural community leadership. Someone needs to take ownership and accountability within each rural community and make broadband a goal with high priority. Collaboration with telecom carriers, economic development groups, local “anchor tenants” and town residents will help to create a win/win model that mitigates the risk in broadband network investment. The panel also warned that the worst thing a rural municipality could do is place its own interests before its residents in an attempt to profit from a broadband network with the objective of a “trickle-down” effect – a model which has failed among several small and large municipalities around the country.