Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Save Money! Increase Network Reliability! Recycle Old PCs!

Just about every small to midsize business has high speed internet and requires that connection to be fast, reliable and safe from the outside world. Chances are they've invested hundreds of dollars in a router/firewall appliance which came highly recommended from their IT vendor. Perhaps a Sonicwall, Cisco ASA or some other big name branded router.

Any size business get more bang for their buck by deploying a pfSense open source firewall platform on a old PC with two ethernet cards. Old PCs are piling up in almost every office we enter and pfSense will run fast and reliably on an old pc platform.

pfSense will provide the network with the following features and benefits:
  • Firewall
  • Router
  • VPN (site to site or road warrior) using IPSEC or OpenVPN
  • Content filtering, Virus Scanning, Anti Spam, Intusion Detection.
  • Traffic shaping, Qos for VoIP
  • Network monitoring and analysis tools (Graphs, reports and more)
  • Web based management and administration. Easy.
  • No annual fees for updates and maintenance
  • Recycle and re-purpose old PC
  • Runs on FreeBSD for high availability.
  • Supported by a global community of dedicated developers and professionals.
To get all of these features packaged into one unit may cost hundreds or even thousands not including annual support and maintenance (SmartNet). 

If you like you can even deploy pfSense on a dedicated appliance for maximum reliability and energy conservation. So the next time your IT guy suggests a new router, ask them about pfsense.org or call Telecom Global Services at 908 272 2008 for a free consultation and analysis.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Free Wifi is good customer service.

I am going to make the case that businesses should get in the habit of offering free wifi to their customers / guests or anyone entering their place of business.  Why? It's just good customer service.

Almost everyone has some sort of smart phone. Those users are stuck with an ever shrinking mobile data plan and an ever increasing bill. Giving them free, secure wireless for their smartphone is just as important as a water cooler, cable tv or a magazine.

We assist hotel owners with large complex wifi networks. Hotels give away wireless internet with a room rental as a bonus for guests. Good wifi service will keep that guest happy and most likely a repeat customer. Business owners need repeat customers and free wifi will help get those repeat customers.

Let's say you're an auto repair business with a waiting room. A customer could watch TV (most likely a boring cable news channel) or read an outdated, beat up magazine about hunting or fantasy football. With a smart phone and free wifi access, they can check and send email and browse the web. They can stay in touch family, customers and the news. While the customer's tire change is being done, they won't mind the wait. They're being productive.

Let's say you're a restaurant owner. While the meal is being prepared, the customer is on their wifi. Yes, they're being productive, if they choose. Maybe that customer will order dessert to prolong their stay. If the food is good, they come back.

What about a hair salon? daycare center? veterinary clinic? bar? supermarket? The applications for free wifi are endless. The benefits are clear.

What is the cost for the business owner? Not much. Most businesses already have high speed internet. A good quality, long range access point can be had for no more than $200. Add a router / firewall to segment the access point from the rest of the network (data security). If you want to be 100% secure, a separate DSL line can be had for about $40 per month. Yes $500 a year for a invaluable service to your customer.

So how are you taking care of your 'connected customer'?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cat5e vs Cat6

If you are lucky enough to plan a new office relocation, you probably are going to need to re-cable that office. You'll want to make sure every desk location has a connection for phone and computer.

I am here to tell you not to invest in Cat6 or Cat6a. Quality Cat5e cable and jacks  will be more than adequate for 99% of users in an office environment. In addition, properly installed Cat 5e cable will support Gigabit ethernet which is more than adequate for VoIP and a shared network connection between your phone and computer. We've done this configuration for many customers with 100% success.

Why would you need Cat6 or Cat6a? Perhaps you are a financial trading firm, engineering or architectual firm processing large amounts of data. That may warrant a higher quality cable. Or if you own the building or you plan to stay for many years, then it would make sense to invest in the higher quality cable for many years of reliable use.

Many customers lease their office space. Why invest up to 50% more in Cat6 or Cat6a cable when in a few years time you may leave that space altogether? You could be throwing thousands of dollars out the window. It would be wiser to invest that money in newer LAN equipment or new computers.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Why your Norstar phone system still has value.

In case you haven't heard, Nortel Networks has gone away for good. The company has been split up and sold off. The business telephone equipment division was acquired by Avaya, Inc., one of Nortel's biggest competitors.

Avaya has chosen to discontinue the Norstar telephone system effective October 2010. So almost a year later and thousands upon thousands of Norstar system are humming away, answering phone calls and working quite well. The Norstar has been great system for customers:
  • Feature rich
  • Easy to use
  • Phones are very reliable and very durable
  • Expandable
  • Upgradeable to the BCM product line (BCM also discontinued)
  • Automatic set relocation
  • Remote maintenance
  • Caller ID, CTI Integration still available!
There are hundreds of independent dealers across the country who have, and will continue to, make it their business to support Norstar customers. Spare parts are a plenty, the equipment is reliable and robust. If you want VoIP capability, you can migrate to VoIP trunks, but remember VoIP doesn't mean savings.

Take our advice:don't throw your Norstar away! The quality and reliability aren't to be found anywhere else on the market at the moment.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is hosted VoIP right for your business?

We sell telephone systems to small and medium sized business throughout New Jersey. Recently a potential new customer called to say their phone system wasn't working correctly. We quoted them a repair price of $1600 for their 7 year old Nortel BCM telephone system and we included a two year warranty on the equipment. They have 12 telephone sets and 5 outside lines.

The customer chose to scrap their system in favor of hosted VoIP. We weren't surprised they chose hosted voip but from a business perspective we were puzzled.

Here is what they paid with a 2 year contract:
  • $300.00 monthly service charge
  • $30 per month per telephone ($360)
  • So figure $660 per month for 24 months = $15,840.00
  • That price includes all of their US and North America long distance
So they get new phones but over spent by thousands. How?

They could easily switch to a cable phone service and repair their Nortel BCM:
  • 5 lines from a Cable company with high speed internet and unlimited long distance: $300 per month
  • That works out to be $7200
  • Plus the repair cost of $1600
  • Total 2 year cost: $8800!
So they over pay by: 15,840 - 8800 = $7040!!!!

Technically speaking, hosted VoIP is pretty cool and you don't have to worry about any equipment to maintain. But what are the drawbacks: 
  • You could have quality issues on your LAN 
  • The chance of an outage is not reduced compared to your own equipment or a cut cable on the street.
  • You may have to re-wire your office
  • Can you trust the cloud?