T1 Lines – Why Your Business May Need One

While you may know what a T1 or T3 line is, not every business owner knows what the everyday uses are for this technology. In this article we will discuss real-world issues within different industries that a T1/T3/OC-3 line is effective for the everyday business. Hopefully this will help you better understand the practical uses for these lines and help you make a better informed decision on your future data/voice line leasing.

Point of Sale Transactions

In the retail, restaurant, and hospitality environment amongst others, the point of sale transaction is considered probably the most vital moment between customer and business. It signals the success of a sale, the precise point where a business moves forward with profitable revenue. It is during this moment in time, a reliable method of transacting that sale is an absolute necessity.

Even more importantly is how these point of sale transactions are made these days. Debit, credit, and payroll cards make up the majority of the sales and all require a method to transmit the financial data to complete the transaction.

A T1 or T3 line is important for POS due not only to the capability to have multiple ports for simultaneous sales registers, but due to the reliability. Reliability is crucial and these lines, when properly leased from the proper Tier One carriers, typically offer 99.9% up-time. DSL lines, some advertised cheap shady lines, or oversold burstable lines (sometimes even sold as T1).

Take note, some smaller mom and pop establishments have been known to use dial-up still. You most definitely will recall if you were transacting at such an establishment had you ever been forced to wait 5 minutes to complete your purchase. T1, T3, and OC-3 lines run many times faster and are far more reliable, period.

Office and Retail Communications

Other than point of sale transactions, many times these same businesses will also require Internet access for desktop computers as well as voice communications for phones lines. Due to the “integrated” option with these lines, a business can have their checkout stand, office computer, and phone lines all run from the same line.

In other case scenarios, a business may be a call center or a business that has more than one office or cubicle. In these everyday scenarios the lines will be used for either 24 phone lines via a T1, or a variable split for Internet and business phones. Larger businesses and enterprises will more than likely deploy a T3, OC-3, but can end up needing even more phone lines and/or bandwidth depending on employee size. In large capacity cases solutions may include OC-12, OC-48, and OC-192 circuits.

Banks and Government

Lately, a newer business telecommunications product has come into play called MPLS, an improved alternative to VPN. While many businesses wanting private data transfers in between their branches utilize MPLS, this is not the case for highly sensitive information that banks, financial institutions, or government agencies.

Point to point T1 lines become necessary for absolute network security. What makes this the most secure connection is that the line or lines are physically run from location A to location B. MPLS is a cloud based solution that has high security, but in some certain instances, it is the need for the highest secure Extranet that is of the most importance. Information to pass through these lines can be client’s social security numbers, customer account numbers, or even military war plans to government officials. Other common terms for a point-to-point can be PTP, P2P, or what is called a dedicated line. These kind of lines can be extremely expensive, but to the institutions and agencies involved, are worth every penny.

While we did not cover every use for a T1 line, this should give you a better idea as to how a T1 line can come into play for your business. Other uses gaining popularity or are already there would be server hosting, videoconferencing, business VoIP, public Wi-Fi access (coffee shops, airports, etc.), streaming security cameras, and more.

Hosted VoIP – Changing the Business Communications Landscape

Every day, companies all across America are trying to accomplish the same thing to improve their businesses. Whether you’re a typical “Mom and Pop” SMB, a mid-size business with 250 employees or a Fortune 100 enterprise, you all share the same four basic goals. 1) Reduce costs. 2) Increase revenue. 3) Become more flexible to changing market conditions and 4) Reduce any risk of disruptions to your business model. In a nutshell, every business wants a better way to accomplish their “Business Continuity” strategies.

So, how are these various businesses accomplishing these lofty goals? One of the quickest and easiest ways to tackle all four items at once is to understand that technology has again changed the way we do business… for the better, and now is the time to embrace the change.

Businesses of today (and tomorrow) are changing how they communicate with one another. Gone the way of the dinosaur are the old, expensive models of communicating. For those of us who are willing to show our age, you can think back to the days of expensive long distance. Remember when you would ask to use someone’s home or business phone and the person paying the bill would always ask the same question, “Are you calling long distance?” Thankfully, with the breakup of Ma-Bell in the ’90’s, competition drove the costs down to a manageable $0.03 per minute from the norm of the era, where it was about $0.40 per minute.

Transition came again with the advent of the internet, and then email, and again with conference calling and mobile services. Each new technology certainly experienced its own bumps in the road, and each took time for the masses to adopt them, but ultimately, each new step brought us closer to the four goals noted above. Reduced cost, increased revenue, market flexibility and reduced risk of downtime.

Today, technology has blessed us with yet another advancement. Over the last decade or so, we have seen the advent of Cloud and Hosted technologies. What began as a slow paced crawl has sped up to an Usain Bolt paced sprint in technological advancements, thanks to cloud computing. As is the norm, it always takes a few years for the masses to understand and in turn, adopt these new technologies, but once it happens there is no turning back. That’s where we are today and thankfully, for businesses looking to ramp up their technology or capitalize on the very impressive catalog of feature sets (now standard in most offerings), your business continuity goals are finally within reach.

If you haven’t already begun the transition of replacing your old dilapidated PRI based phone system, then you are doing your business a huge disservice, and that is a delicately phrased understatement. Sure, you see your old phone system as an asset, something you own, that is tangible and yours, but if you think about it beyond the obvious, what has your phone system done for you lately? I’m sure it rings and can place a call for you, but what if you could have your extension ring at any location you are visiting for the day, or even ring simultaneously with your mobile device? Never missing a prospective customer’s call will drastically help you increase your revenue. Or, consider the amount of time it takes you each month to understand and rectify your paper billing. Are your rates all billing correctly for each type of call you place? Doubtful, but imagine having an online portal tracking each and every call, to and from (down to the extension level), so you not only know where your clients are calling from and who they are speaking to, but also ensuring that each outbound call is actually included, FREE of charge, with the system? That’s both cost reduction and flexibility.

Did you ever have to close during inclement weather? Your competitor who already uses Hosted VoIP services didn’t, because when they awoke to find 6 feet of snow on the ground, they simply opened up their smart phone, logged into the portal and with one click of a button, re-routed all of their calls to their predesignated emergency overrides, in real time! Guess what, they never lost a dollar in existing revenue and better yet, they even gained your lost revenue, because they were open for business while your company was closed for business.

The most common misconception when considering a Hosted VoIP PBX is the price. Most fear that such an advanced Unified Communications system (and that’s what it really is; this ‘aint your Granddaddy’s phone system) is priced the way the old phone systems were, with a huge capital outlay, strapping your business for cash until you got some sort of ROI. That is patently incorrect. Todays Hosted VoIP PBX’s cost little to nothing in upfront costs, and are simply charged monthly just like your phone bill of old.

Included in the monthly costs are your brand new phone system and handsets, all of the usage (domestic calls are usually FREE or UNLIMITED), dozens of features and voice mail options, auto attendants, software upgrades, break fix, installation, training, intuitive administration and user portals (to manage the service, pay your bill, chat, monitor extensions and even view trouble tickets in real time!) and a variety of other bells and whistles. Best of all, these systems, typically priced by the number of handsets ordered, are usually within 15% of your total current spend!

So, the next time that you have a staff or budget meeting and you are trying to determine how to hit your four main goals (again) – Increasing Revenue, Decreasing Costs, Becoming More Flexible and Reducing Downtime Risk – I would recommend that you take a good hard look at Hosted VoIP PBX as an option. The only downside is that you haven’t done it sooner.

About the author:

Jeff Keane, 38, is an expert in business telecommunications services, with over 15 years of industry experience. Jeff is frequently the highest producing sales rep in his company and over the course of his career has helped thousands of clients save millions of dollars annually by implementing his recommendations for various voice, data, VoIP, IT and Cloud services. Jeff lives in Southern New Jersey with his wife Brandy, 36, and two children, Ryan Christopher, 14, and Emma Grace, 10. Jeff is an avid sports fan and also enjoys a variety of music, art, food and technologies.

Calculating Your Business Telecom Expenses

In the current economic climate, it has become absolutely vital that expenditure in all areas be addressed to ensure a smooth, consistent and ultimately profitable business operation.

Costs continue to rise in all areas even though the world recession continues to bite. The price of crude oil means logistical expenses are at an all time high while the cost of raw products, outside services and employee wages continue to have a dramatic effect on company outgoings.

One area that needs constant supervision is the accountability of business telecommunications. It is vital that costs are correctly calculated and usage is efficiently monitored.

Costs themselves are essentially easy to calculate. There is always going to be the need to make outgoing calls to customers, suppliers, outside service providers and associated companies. These costs will be coupled with the staff you employ and you will need to rent a sufficient amount of telephone lines to cater for the demands of your business.

Additional costs can be added for logistical reasons, such as mobile phone services to stay in contact with employees who are not confined to a particular site or office. Calculations in this area will include incoming calls as well as outgoing.

For a small business that operates in a home office scenario, it is incredibly important to monitor all usage and separate calls from those that are made for social or domestic purposes. Keeping stringent accounts, no matter what size your business is, will help in monitoring, calculating and reducing costs.

Maintaining control over telephone expense is accentuated by the fact that certain areas of business telecommunications are tax deduct able.

Costs can be controlled by selecting a package from your telephone service provider that offers a competitive price on a combination of factors including line rental, call costs, Internet accessibility and mobile phone facilities.

The advent of the Internet also means that using e-mails instead of a telephone makes for an effective cost cutting exercise. There’s also the benefit of using free services such as Skype which allow you to make calls for free.

Ensuring that all company mobile phones are on the same network will also save significant sums, especially as network-to-network calls for business purposes are often free of charge.

It’s also important that business lines are used solely for that purpose and employees shouldn’t be using company facilities for personal use unless agreed beforehand.

With a vigilant nature, comprehensive budget and some sensible shopping there’s significant amounts of money to be saved for any business that’s prepared to work a little harder to cut back on unnecessary expenditure.