Tag Archives: Internet phone

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.

Demystifying SIP


The telecom industry has a tendency to shoot itself in the foot. It seems that every time a revolutionary idea emerges, it’s given a technoid sort of name that confuses the general public. SIP is no different.

Everyone knows what an apple is. Not everyone knows that the apple belongs to the subfamily Maloideae of the family Rosaceae. Why? Because no one cares…there’s no practical reason or value in knowing. And besides, who remembers this scientific jargon?

Likewise, everyone knows what a phone call is. Most everyone now knows what the Internet is. Very few people know what SIP is. The fact is the telecom industry, once again, labeled a revolutionary Internet communications capability – SIP – an acronym (no shortage in the industry on these) that describes its technical function, not unlike T-1, MPLS, DTMF, SMDS…the list goes on forever. And once again, the telecom industry has managed to intimidate and confuse the very people who need what it has to offer!

So let’s demystify this SIP thing once and for all. SIP stands for session initiation protocol (bare with me…it gets easier), a signaling protocol used for controlling multimedia over the Internet. More recently it has become associated mostly with the protocol for Internet phone calling that we know as VoIP. SIP enables VoIP calls to be made by most new business phone systems that are connected to the Internet with a high speed facility – DSL, fiber optics, wireless, etc.  A “SIP trunk” refers to the call path from a business phone system over a broadband connection and through the Internet – an alternative way of providing phone calling rather than the standard landline. If a phone system is not SIP-enabled, phone calling is still made possible by placing a protocol converter between the phone system and the Internet connection.

One more thing – why use SIP? There a few major reasons:

  • Cost reduction – The savings over traditional phone lines can be huge!
  • Scalability – Easy to implement, program and use.
  • Universality – It speaks the language of the global Internet.
  • Receptivity – The future of communications will be SIP-driven.

SIP – It’s that simple…well, almost. There are more technical aspects to SIP, but these are the basics. But the fact remains – the concept should have been given a different, more creative name by the telecom industry that everyone understands. Telecom should probably emulate the creativity of, let’s say, the computer industry. After all,  everyone knows what an apple is, thanks to Steve Jobs.