Exploring the Difference Between Cable and Fiber Internet

In today’s world, you can’t get far without a solid internet connection. The internet connects us to information, socialization, business operations, and more. Businesses across the country are discovering the benefits of SD-WAN services, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), and fast internet.

There are many ways faster internet enhances business operations, including higher productivity levels, robust security, and efficient cloud access. There are two primary types of internet: cable and fiber. Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities of cable internet vs. fiber internet and narrow down which type is best for your business.

What Is Cable Internet?

Cable internet is also referred to as broadband internet. Cable internet is quite literally delivered using cables. The same copper coaxial cables that provide cable television also deliver cable internet. A coax cable can supply internet and television connections at the same time. The wires are comprised of:

  • A copper core
  • An insulating sheath
  • Copper and aluminum shields
  • A plastic outer layer

Typically, a cable internet modem delivers internet, but neighborhoods and areas connect each network. Connections from different households, offices, or businesses converge together, often on a utility pole on the street, and they share bandwidth.

How Fast Is Cable Internet?

Cable network speed can usually accommodate large downloads. However, since the network is connected and shared by neighborhoods, slow speeds often occur during high usage times. If your business is located in a highly populated area, you may experience dramatic slowdowns during peak business hours when you need to be productive.

Cable download speeds range from 10 to 500 megabits per second (Mbps). The upload speed range is 5 to 50 Mbps. You select your preferred speed when you sign up for cable internet. The higher the speed, the more money you pay. Even still, the speed you pay for isn’t guaranteed. Many cable service providers have data caps, and if you go over the data limit, you may need to pay additional fees.

Cable Network Availability

Cable networks are available just about everywhere across the country. If you live in an area where you can access a television network, you can also access cable internet. Cable internet is available in all 50 states and has 89% coverage across the United States. Cable internet availability is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Cable Reliability

For the most part, cable internet for business is very reliable. However, electricity outages can affect cable connection. Cable internet is not as reliable in areas with frequent electricity outages and cable interruptions. Backup internet sources may be needed during power outages. Even still, cable internet is more reliable than other internet sources such as digital subscriber lines (DSL) or satellites.

What Is Fiber Optic Internet?

Now that you have an understanding of cable internet, let’s explore the offerings of fiber internet. While cable internet uses copper cables, fiber internet uses fiber optic cables to deliver internet to homes and businesses. Fiber optic cables are comprised of optical fibers, which are incredibly thin strands of glass or plastic.

Fiber utilizes LED or laser pulses to transfer internet data over long distances. Fiber cables carry more bandwidth than copper cables, which makes fiber internet a popular choice. Fiber internet technology is newer, so it is not as widely used as cable internet.

How Fast Is Fiber Internet?

Fiber internet is the fastest internet available today. Fiber cables can transfer large amounts of data without delays in processing. Additionally, fiber optic internet does not have bandwidth caps, so you can use as much as you need.

Fiber internet does not share networks, so peak-time lags are not an issue as with cable internet. High-speed business fiber internet help improves productivity and customer satisfaction. Fiber speeds for uploading and downloading are no less than 250 to 1,000 Mbps, which is significantly faster than traditional broadband internet.

Fiber Network Availability

Fiber internet is still in an expansion stage, so connections are not as easily accessible as cable internet. However, as fiber internet gains popularity, it is becoming more available. Fiber optic internet would be more difficult for rural businesses to obtain, but it is more accessible in metropolitan areas.

Fiber Reliability

Fiber internet is incredibly reliable. Electricity disruptions do not affect fiber network availability, so internet connections continue if the electricity goes down. This reliability is because fiber optic cables are made of glass, and they do not conduct electricity.

It is incredibly rare for a fiber network to get interrupted. This consistent network reliability makes a considerable difference in productivity for businesses when they need it most.

The Best Choice for Businesses

Fiber internet is the most efficient choice for businesses in metropolitan areas with access to fiber. Fiber internet boasts the fastest speeds, large bandwidth capacities, and network reliability unimpacted by power outages. Companies with high productivity demands will find that fiber internet best suits their needs.

For rural companies or businesses with less demanding needs, cable internet is suitable. If businesses don’t have many content needs, mission-critical internet applications, or on-location servers, cable internet can adequately meet their needs while saving a little bit of money.

Are You Ready to Upgrade Your Internet?

Even though cable and fiber internet have many similarities, they also have differences that distinguish them from each other. Gone are the days of satellite and dial-up internet connections. At a minimum, businesses need cable internet to operate. However, the best way to improve speed, productivity, and reliability is by installing fiber internet.

Are you curious to know if fiber internet is right for your business? Integrated Communications can help. We will perform a free telecommunications and networking audit for your business. Don’t wait any longer to determine how your business can improve user experience, save money, and increase productivity; instead, contact us today!

Data Security Pro Working at a Computer

4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From SD-WAN

In today’s business landscape, companies need to adapt to the latest technology or risk losing valuable sales to their competition. From high-speed fiber-based internet to Contact Centers as a Service (CCaaS), businesses across the United States are improving their performance with modern, efficient services.

Another valuable service for businesses is a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN services optimize software and applications necessary for business operations because traditional WANs no longer hold up to today’s connectivity needs. Still on the fence about switching your business over to SD-WAN? Let’s dive into SD-WAN and its four significant benefits.

What Is SD-WAN?

Business SD-WAN solutions are essential for optimizing online traffic. SD-WAN services move traffic away from slow, hardware-based storage solutions on traditional wide area networks (WANs) to the preferred method of storage: the cloud. “The cloud” refers to servers that are accessed over the internet rather than computer hard drives. Software and databases can run through the cloud, which frees up storage space, and ultimately allows processes to run smoother and faster.

Why Don’t Traditional WAN Systems Work Anymore?

Original WAN systems work by hosting servers at a data center and connecting additional users to the original server. An example of this is a traditional internet router you may have in your home. Older WAN systems were not designed to accommodate modern cloud traffic.

Therefore, WAN systems often experience backhauls because they can’t meet today’s traffic and data demands. These backhauls lead to delays, lost productivity, and poor user experience.

As businesses continue to adopt software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) on multiple clouds, companies need to switch to SD-WAN to provide high-quality user experiences.

If businesses keep their traditional WAN services, they will experience an incompatible traffic explosion when they mix cloud-based services and hard-drive-based services. This traffic incompatibility results in:

  • Poor user experience
  • Decreased employee productivity
  • Rising WAN expenses
  • Increased security threats
  • Unpredictable application performance

That’s where SD-WAN comes in. Since SD-WAN systems are optimized for the cloud, businesses no longer have to deal with frustrating backhauls and poor application performances. SD-WAN allows enterprises to securely connect users to applications by utilizing any combination of transport services, including:

  • Long-Term Evolution (LTE)
  • Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)
  • Broadband internet

4 Major SD-WAN Benefits for Business

SD-WAN benefits are plentiful, so it’s easy to understand why so many businesses are making the switch. SD-WAN is the answer to all of the issues and difficulties businesses experience when they try to mix cloud services and traditional WAN.

SD-WAN services can be set up quickly, and your business will immediately see the benefits roll in. SD-WAN offers a multitude of advantages for businesses, but the four significant benefits that attract business owners are:

1. Increased Security

When businesses mix traditional data centers and cloud operations, they experience security concerns. The two different systems are not compatible, so data becomes vulnerable when traffic moves across systems. As more and more software and data exist on the cloud, protecting traffic for business-critical operations is vital.

One of the best perks of SD-WAN is that it comes with built-in security. Integrated security features help prevent things such as:

  • Lost data
  • Downtime
  • Legal liabilities
  • Regulatory violations

Customers and clients can rest at ease knowing their private information is secure in the cloud with SD-WAN services. Integrated threat protection features are enforced at the right time and place, so businesses can catch security breaches before they happen.

2. Improved Performance

SD-WAN simplifies the management of networking services for small businesses. Simplifying operations from a central portal results in ease of performance. SD-WAN can even be configured to prioritize critical traffic and real-time services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Traffic for high-demand applications gets routed through the fastest connection. Prioritizing the most critical traffic allows SD-WAN networks to reduce standard performance issues such as lagging and jittering.

With SD-WAN, fast networks are highly available and predictable, so businesses can rely on consistent performance when it matters most.

3. Lower Costs

One of the main reasons businesses switch to SD-WAN is because of how cost-effective it is. Since SD-WAN services utilize technology that you already have, such as ethernet or WiFi, your business doesn’t need to spend money on complicated new equipment or IT services.

Essentially, SD-WAN helps you get the highest performance out of the connectivity you already have, so there is no need to pay for extreme IT involvement or new overhead costs. SD-WAN solutions only use the circuits they need to get the job done.

SD-WAN leverages low-cost local internet access, reduces unnecessary traffic, and provides direct cloud access. The automated management feature on SD-WAN systems removes the need for network engineers to make system changes and reduces the effort needed to maintain a network. All of these modern functions reduce usage and labor costs.

4. Optimized Cloud Experience

Businesses and the general public are utilizing cloud storage more and more each day. The average person who used to store digital photos and documents on computer hard drives now can easily access them through cloud applications such as:

  • Google Photos
  • Dropbox
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Google Drive
  • Apple iCloud
  • And more

SD-WAN is continually being revamped to provide optimized connectivity over the cloud. SD-WAN is appealing because it dramatically simplifies cloud connectivity compared to traditional WAN services. It can automate simple tasks and organize complex tasks in the most efficient way.

Gone are the days of needing to be connected to a centralized data center. With SD-WAN for business, employees can access cloud applications remotely to be productive from any location.

Optimize Your Business With SD-WAN Today

As you can tell, there are numerous reasons why businesses across the country are switching from traditional WAN services to SD-WAN. Don’t let your competition get ahead. Instead, take advantage of cost-effective SD-WAN services that will increase your security and performance.

At Integrated Communications, we partner with the most trusted SD-WAN providers in North America. Are you ready to make the switch? Contact us today to set up a free telecommunications audit. We will assess your company’s performance and help you determine the best path forward for your business network.

Man with Headset using VoIP

Why Small Business Owners Should Switch to VoIP

Does your small business utilize landlines? Do you have more employees working remotely than ever before? Whatever stage your small business is in – you could benefit significantly from Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP. VoIP gives small businesses the freedom to answer calls wherever they are, using the internet. VoIP is the perfect solution for small businesses looking to grow their operations with increased flexibility and easy scalability.

There are numerous VoIP benefits for small businesses and companies of any size. Utilizing VoIP gives businesses the ability to stay connected wherever they are. If you move offices, you won’t have to worry about transferring landlines. Setting up new lines is simple, making it easy for your phone services to grow with your business.

Once you learn more about VoIP, it will be obvious why it’s such a good choice for small businesses. Here are just a few more reasons why you should consider switching your small business to VoIP:

  • Increased mobility and flexibility for employees.
  • Improved connectivity during web and audio conferencing.
  • Easy to scale when your business grows.
  • Straightforward integrations with Microsoft Teams, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and other programs.
  • Text and SMS capabilities.
  • Worldwide coverage possible.
  • Improved reliability and responsiveness from traditional landlines.
  • Low cost and unique features.

What is VoIP?

If you’ve never heard of VoIP, you might be wondering how it works. The concept is simple: voice data is digitized and sent over the internet. VoIP, or hosted phones, enable small businesses to make and receive calls over the internet, using various devices. Whether your company operates using laptops, tablets, smartphones, or a combination of devices, you will be able to stay connected with business VoIP.

The only thing your small business needs to use VoIP is an internet connection. Hosted phones use bandwidth only when needed, unlike traditional phones that use circuit switching. VoIP allows small businesses to send voice, video, and data over the internet. It offers a very affordable phone option that can keep your employees connected and mobile.

Why Make the Switch to VoIP?

Small business VoIP solutions are second to none. There are so many reasons to consider switching your business phones from traditional landlines to hosted phones. Listed below are a handful of VoIP benefits your company will enjoy when you make the transition.

Mobility and Flexibility

VoIP for small business offers mobility and flexibility that you can’t find with traditional landlines. Do your employees travel often? Are people working across different devices, whether at home or in the office? These are all reasons to make the switch to hosted phones. With VoIP, your employees can make and receive calls wherever they are – as long as there is an internet connection.

Staying connected has never been easier, with emerging technologies and the rise of remote working. Giving your employees the ability to be mobile and flexible thanks to VoIP will lead to increased productivity. As technology improves, so should your phone lines. Employees will be able to use a variety of devices with VoIP, from tablets to laptops to mobile phones.

Easy Integrations

Does your team utilize CRM, Outlook, or Microsoft Teams? Then you’re in luck. VoIP can easily integrate with these programs and more so that your team stays as productive as ever.

Improved Connectivity

Business VoIP offers improved connectivity during web and audio conferencing. More small businesses than ever before are utilizing video calls to stay connected and productive, especially if employees are working from home. When you have VoIP, you don’t have to worry about spotty connections during these important work calls.

Grows With You

It can be an absolute headache to add lines with traditional landlines. Often your service provider will have to come out to your office or workspace and add the lines manually. This is such a hassle for businesses that need to get employees up and running right away.

One of the best small business VoIP benefits is the scalability hosted phones offer. It takes no time at all to set up a new line when you have a team member join. Whoever has access to the admin portal can add their line. It’s so straightforward and simple! Plus, you won’t have to buy a new hardwire or get stuck arranging your office to coordinate with phone plug-ins. If you ever move offices, your hosted phones can easily move with you.

Amazing Features

Small businesses won’t believe how many amazing features they will have access to with hosted phones. From text and SMS capabilities to worldwide coverage, it’s easy to see why so many small businesses are making the switch to VoIP.

Here are a few of the features you can enjoy with VoIP for small business:

  • Mobile management
  • One-line sharing on multiple phones/devices
  • Ring groups
  • Videoconferencing
  • Voicemail to Email or Text
  • Automated attendant
  • Caller ID and call blocking, forwarding, waiting, and transferring
  • Conference calling
  • Contact Center/Call Center
  • Fax to Email
  • Hold music
  • Web-based system administration

Reliability

Traditional phones are not always reliable, especially after a storm or other event that causes power outages. It is often hard to contact your provider and get a clear answer about when your phones will return. With hosted phones, you don’t have to worry about that. All you need is a reliable internet connection to stay available.

Low Cost

Last but not least, cost always matters when it comes to small business budgeting. Choosing VoIP means lower costs than traditional phone lines. Most small businesses already have a reliable internet connection. Installing a hosted phone system doesn’t take much more, and adding lines is inexpensive. VoIP is a great deal for small businesses because it offers a low-cost option for phone and video calls.

Choosing VoIP for Your Small Business

Small business VoIP solutions offer companies a flexible hosted phone plan that can grow with your business. There are great VoIP benefits for small business operations, like easy integrations that boost employee productivity and features like hold music and an automated attendant. You won’t regret making the switch to VoIP.

People Working at a Call Center

The History of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

As technology advances, the business world adapts to it. Things like video calling, content management systems, and fast fiber optic internet enhance business operations. Contact centers are another valuable modern service that improves the efficiency of your business.

Even though communication styles and mediums have changed over the years, reliable communication has always been essential for businesses. Today, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is the most efficient way to communicate effectively with customers. Let’s take a look at what CCaaS is and how it came to be.

What is Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)?

Contact Center as a Service is a cloud-based contact center. CCaaS programs were invented to function in the cloud, and they operate as an all-in-one service for customer interactions. They can route calls, track customer details, and allow customers to communicate through a variety of mediums, such as:

  • Live chat rooms
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Phone calls

The automated nature of CCaaS simplifies operations because it does not require expensive on-site software. Companies only have to purchase the technology they need, which saves a lot of money due to:

  • Reduced IT staffing
  • Streamlined billing
  • Reduced employee downtime
  • Lower operational costs
  • No upfront investments

CCaaS is the most efficient way for contact centers to grow and scale as their operational needs change. Contact Centers as a Service easily allow businesses to add or subtract customer service agents depending on customer demands. Customers lose patience and interest when navigating long on-hold times and confusing routes to problem resolution. CCaaS software tracks customer wait times and high call-volume periods, which enables your business to adjust accordingly and provide a better customer support experience.

CCaaS is also ideal for employees because the software synthesizes all critical information onto a single screen. As a result, representatives have quick desktop access to all the tools they need, saving time and frustration for both parties.

Data is essential for business growth, and CCaaS can quickly gather customer data. Recording data such as abandoned calls, questionable language from agents, and caller queues helps businesses make ongoing improvements for customer and representative interactions.

The Origin: Call Centers

Before we had CCaaS, we had call centers. Call centers originated in the 1950s, and they were often referred to as “phone rooms.” Telephone operators answered inbound calls. Call centers existed for:

  • Customer service
  • Placing orders
  • Calling the “operator” for phone call assistance
  • Telemarketing

In the 1960s, technology continued to advance. For example, automatic call distributor (ACD) technology became popular to manage high volumes of calls. ACD technology developed an algorithm that automatically assigned agents different calls instead of relying on a human operator.

Shortly after, toll-free customer service numbers were introduced. You may remember calling in to vote for a contestant on a television show using a toll-free number. Technology developed further in the 1970s when customers could use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to tell the business why they were calling based on voice recognition commands.

Once the internet took off in the 1990s, e-commerce companies needed a reliable way for non-local customers to contact them, inquire about products, and place orders. Call centers were the widespread solution for internet-based companies. Additionally, telemarketing was at an all-time high.

In 1991, customer backlash to telemarketing prompted Congress to pass the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA restricted telemarketing calls by setting a limit on when calls could be made. In addition, solicitors were required to honor the National Do Not Call Registry, and companies were no longer allowed to use pre-recorded messages for sales calls.

Eventually, many companies in the early 2000s realized that it was cheaper to outsource customer service calls outside of the United States. As a result, businesses outsourced their calls to call center companies overseas, which often caused frustration for customers and employees alike.

With internet improvements and the addition of social media, the call center landscape needed to adapt. Many younger customers wanted alternative ways to contact customer service representatives, while many older generations wished to keep the option of a traditional phone call. Eventually, Contact Center as a Service was born.

Adapting to CCaaS

As customer demands for internet-based service options increased, call centers had to adapt. In the 2000s, companies realized that there was an opportunity to create call center software and host it in the cloud. This change allowed representatives to access call center software from any internet browser, not just their specific computer in a call center.

While original CCaaS providers found success, there were still bugs and issues to fix. The original software was built during a transitional time of technology. Most codebases were still produced for on-site systems, not the cloud. The downtime was often significant, and the effort to make basic improvements would require long development cycles.

As technology and coding improved, CCaaS systems began to get built natively in the cloud. This improvement removed the time-consuming and confusing process of attempting to integrate two differently designed systems. As a result, CCaaS systems can now operate at a rapid pace with fewer errors and downtime.

Where We Are Now

Today, Contact Centers as a Service are the standard way for businesses to communicate with customers effectively. CCaaS benefits are endless, offering faster speeds, simpler processing, lower costs, and multiple avenues for customers to reach out.

Integrated Communications is honored to bring high-quality customer service to your company by partnering with the following contact center groups:

  • Five9
  • Evolve IP
  • inContact
  • RingCentral
  • TalkDesk
  • DialPad
  • Genesys
  • Sharpen
  • Aspect
  • Vonage
  • CallTower

CCaaS Continues to Adapt

Improvements are constantly being made to existing CCaaS software. If we have learned one thing from the history of call centers, it is to continually change and shift to meet customers’ needs. Thankfully, modern CCaaS software has the capacity to adapt easily.

If your business needs a new or updated CCaaS system, contact us at Integrated Communications. We are here to help you save money and enhance productivity.

Woman Working on a Laptop

5 Ways Faster Internet Can Enhance Your Business

Businesses of all sizes in every industry rely on fast internet access to be competitive. The speed of a business’s internet directly affects its success. As technology improves, internet speeds get faster and more reliable.

Traditional cable or DSL internet providers offer speeds between 10 and 30 Mbps (megabits per second.) However, businesses that operate with fiber-based internet experience speeds up to 1000 Mbps. Fast internet for business is essential for ensuring the satisfaction of customers and employees alike.

Keep reading to learn 5 ways faster internet improves your business.

1. Access to High-Speed Internet Reduces Costs

Don’t let the initial startup costs of high-speed internet deter you from signing up for it. The initial costs often pay for themselves through the added efficiency and productivity that your business will experience.

Other direct savings options are available with fast internet for business. High-speed internet offers a telephone service called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). This gives companies the option to have a telephone voice service connected to their high-speed internet. Depending on the number of employees and extensions your business has, you could save thousands of dollars by connecting a VOIP service to your internet.

VOIP allows your business to make calls through a handset, headset, laptop, tablet, and an app. All your business needs is a connection to high-speed internet to utilize this service. The best part of this telephone service is that caller IDs will register your business name and number.

2. Faster Internet Allows for More Productivity

Businesses majorly lose out on productivity levels if employees are waiting on a slow internet connection to load their work. Most employees in many types of businesses are incredibly reliant on internet access to successfully perform their job.

High-speed internet not only cuts down on the time that employees wait for applications and software to load, but it also supports multi-tasking across multiple applications at once. Delayed internet speeds affect research capabilities, customer service, emails, and in-house communications. All of these areas add up and cause your business to lose valuable time and money.

High-speed internet for business allows employees to operate efficiently between tasks and projects. Employees can complete tasks faster without dealing with the frustrations of a slow internet connection.

Traditional DSL internet easily gets interrupted with:

  • Poor weather conditions
  • Physical breakdowns
  • Electrical interference

These circumstances are far less likely to interfere with high-speed internet.

Reliable connection keeps your customers productive, too. If your business’s website loads slowly or even crashes, customers will be quick to take their business elsewhere. Maintain a loyal customer base with a reliable and fast internet connection.

3. High-Speed Internet Has Better Security

High-speed internet is better equipped against hacking and security breaches compared to traditional internet services. Security breaches present considerable risks and damages to businesses. Recovering from illegal access is always an expensive process.

Preventing security breaches before they happen is the safest and most affordable way to handle the cybersecurity of your business. You don’t want to risk losing valuable information about your business, or about your customers. Customers will not be happy with you if their personal information gets leaked in a data breach.

To further protect valuable data, many businesses backup their data offsite. As the amount of data increases, so does the need for reliable internet service. Slow internet connections interfere with data backups, often leaving some attempts unsuccessful.

Fiber optic internet can accommodate large data transfers. These smooth and quick transfers put your employees, customers, and owners at ease.

High-speed internet also protects your business with:

  • Security systems viewable from anywhere
  • Clear HD imaging
  • Protection against cybercrime
  • Adding phones, tablets, and other devices to your security system

4. Effectively Collaborate Remotely

High-speed internet allows your employees to work remotely with ease. You can extend your talent pool to the entire country if you can effectively operate remotely.

Remote workers depend on quality internet connections in order to successfully collaborate with other remote and in-house team members. Running a successful remote operation also allows you to save money on overhead costs.

Even if your employees only work remotely while traveling, high-speed internet allows them to share files, print necessary documents, and collaborate on company platforms as if they were physically in the office.

Isn’t it frustrating when a video meeting crashes or glitches? Slow internet gets even slower when multiple employees are working at the same time, not to mention an entire team. High-speed internet supports multiple employees each working on multiple devices during the day.

You can count on your video meetings to run smoothly with fiber optic internet. This is guaranteed to make your employees happy because the only thing worse than meetings is meetings that last way longer than they need to.

5. Faster Speeds Improve Cloud Access

The constant need to upload, download, and store items in a business setting is supported by cloud access and remote data storage. Things like software-as-a-service (SaaS), content management systems (CMS), and customer relationship management (CRM) programs rely on the cloud.

Slow internet speeds negatively affect the performance of these programs and applications. If customers on the other end of CRM programs experience a lag in processing data, they will lose their confidence in your business.

Almost all new software programs are designed to rely on fast cloud access. If your business has traditional slow internet, it will directly affect how these programs perform. High-speed internet is essential for utilizing new software that is designed to help your business find more success.

Take Your Business to the Next Level With Faster Internet

Fast internet for business is what takes your profits from good to great. Save money, collaborate productively, and keep your data safe with high-speed fiber optic internet. Faster internet is a valuable investment that pays for itself with the benefits it offers.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level and improve the lives of your employees and customers? Integrated Communications is here to help. Reach out to us to get started today!

Business VoIP setup with Laptop and Headset

5 Ways Your Company Will Benefit From Business VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol, commonly referred to as VoIP, is a technology method that delivers voice communications over the internet. Business VoIP systems are essentially the modern form of a business phone. Instead of being tied to a landline, businesses can use the internet to send voice, video, and data communications. There are VoIP advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part companies can enjoy many VoIP benefits like flexibility, low cost, and mobility. Business VoIP is the future, especially with so many employees working remotely. No matter what size business you run, VoIP can help you stay modern and connected. Here are a few of the benefits of using business VoIP:

  • Allows employees to work from anywhere, with the use of smartphones.
  • Lower cost than traditional landlines.
  • Easily scalable for when your business grows.
  • Flexible phone option that won’t tie you down.
  • More features than conventional phones.

 

How Does VoIP Work?

The VoIP definition is: communication that works by digitizing voice data and sending it over the internet. This means that you can make and receive business calls over the internet, using various devices such as headsets, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The only thing you need for business VoIP, or hosted phones, is an internet connection. Instead of using circuit switching like traditional phones, hosted phones utilize packet switching, which is much more efficient. It uses bandwidth only when needed.

Business VoIP Benefits

You might be wondering, what are the VoIP advantages and disadvantages? Believe it or not, there’s more than one benefit to using business VoIP. If your company hasn’t switched to it already, you might want to reconsider. Using business VoIP gives your business freedom and flexibility. Your employees will be able to take calls from wherever they are, with whatever devices are available to them. Business VoIP also comes at a lower cost than traditional landlines and is easy to scale up if you hire new employees and your company expands. If you think your business would appreciate this mobility and its low price, then you should consider switching to business VoIP with a trusted VoIP provider. Here are five of the best VoIP benefits to consider when making this critical choice.

Mobility

With the world of technology expanding and the popularity of remote working on the rise, businesses have to find ways to adjust. Using VoIP phone services is just one way to do that. Employees can work from anywhere and still receive calls with the use of VoIP. Working from anywhere is essential, especially if your employees travel or often have meetings outside the office. With VoIP, everyone will stay connected over their business lines, making it easy to be mobile.

Cost

Using hosted phones is significantly cheaper than traditional landlines. Because of the way VoIP operates, you really just need to have a strong internet connection. By providing business VoIP to your employees, you will save a considerable amount of money in your budget, which can then be allocated elsewhere. Think about how much money you’ve spent installing landline phones and rewiring cables, plus adding additional lines whenever you have a new employee. Those days of costly services are gone, thanks to affordable hosted phone plans. Choosing business VoIP will give you mobility and flexibility, not to mention a good portion of your phone budget back.

Scalability

When your business grows, your technology and phone capabilities have to grow too. Adding additional business VoIP lines is straightforward and easy, making this growth transition that much easier for companies. Instead of having to call your landline provider, buy a new hardwire, and reserve time for installing new lines in the office, you can just add lines through your admin portal. Whenever you hire new employees, giving them a phone line is simple with VoIP. Scalability is one of the many benefits of using business VoIP. Moving offices? That’s no problem either when you have hosted phones you can use anywhere, as long as there’s an internet connection.

Flexibility

Office workers used to be tied to their desks all day because of landline phones and technology that wasn’t flexible. Now, technology has made huge strides so that people can work from wherever they want. Business VoIP operates in the same way. You can stay mobile and flexible, opting to work from wherever suits you best, without giving up your phone lines. Stay connected and remain flexible with business phone hosting. If you and your employees are always on the go, VoIP is the best choice for reliable phone services that are as flexible as your company.

Features

The final fantastic benefit of business VoIP is all the features that don’t always come with a landline phone. The VoIP definition communicates clearly how voice data is simply sent over the internet. These hosted phones can actually do so much more than traditional phones, including integrations with other work productivity systems and voicemail to email. With business VoIP, your phone system will help employees to be their most productive. If your company needs full functionality out of your phone system, then hosted phones are the way to go. Here are several of the features you can enjoy with business VoIP:

  •  Automated attendant
  • Caller ID
  • Call blocking, forwarding, waiting, and transferring
  • Conference calling
  • Contact Center/Call Center
  • Integrations with Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Salesforce, and others
  • Fax to Email
  • Find Me/Follow Me
  • Hold music
  • Mobile management
  • One-line sharing on multiple phones/devices
  • Ring groups
  • Videoconferencing
  • Voicemail to Email
  • Voicemail to Text
  • Web-based system administration

Choosing Business VoIP

When you choose a VoIP system, you will be investing in your company to grow into the future. Of course, there are VoIP advantages and disadvantages, but we think the pros outweigh any cons. Hosted phones allow for maximum flexibility and scalability while remaining the most affordable choice for business phones. VoIP technology is constantly evolving, and since it is cloud-based, you will always have access to the latest version without any significant changes to your system. Thanks to hosted phones, all you need is a strong internet connection to be able to carry conversations and receive work voicemails from wherever you are, on whatever device is available to you. The benefits of business VoIP are plenty, and it’s one of the best investments you can make for your growing business today.

Move Over, Phones—Microsoft Teams Lifts Your Virtual Voice

Employee talking on phoneUsing Microsoft Teams for voice has been getting a lot of buzz lately. You may have heard of Microsoft Teams, but many are still discovering its full breadth of capabilities, from its call functions to collaboration tools for managing virtual teams. Companies can use Teams to effectively eliminate the need for a separate phone system. 

The team at Integrated Communications strives to bring its customers the latest technologies available and finds Microsoft Teams to be a remote work solution ahead of its class. With businesses operating in the midst of a global crisis, teams are working remotely now more than ever. By taking advantage of Teams’ call features, businesses are better optimized to meet and sustain the communication needs that come with the transition to remote work. 

The platform’s tools can work wonders to boost your team’s management, collaboration, and communication capacity. While Teams is a chat-based workspace—bringing individual collaborators together to communicate and share ideas—its lesser-known voice features help meet the broader communications needs of your business. Microsoft Teams voice solutions allow businesses to:

  • Use a network completely optimized for voice
  • Leverage preferred rates
  • Choose the plans that work best for you
  • Tap into the security of the Microsoft Cloud through direct routing
  • Boost the capabilities of other apps you use to communicate, like Skype
  • Feel the total support of a client services team to guide you through implementation, adoption, and training

Microsoft Teams can be helpful when working with people from various departments or projects. Multiple team members can take charge of meetings, structuring the team so that it’s highly efficient. 

Get Started with Teams’ Call Features

Microsoft Teams has become an indispensable tool for businesses worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic. A great appeal lies in its integration with Microsoft Office 365 and product tools like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. All the product tools can be accessed in one place, making it a seamless, all-in-one suite for your business.

  • If you already have a Microsoft Office 365 license, consider taking advantage of Microsoft Teams, the platform giant’s virtual meeting product. An all-in-one set of products available at no extra cost for existing Microsoft Office 365 licensed users, Microsoft Teams fully integrates with various other services outside its own products including SharePoint, Yammer, and Exchange.
  • If you don’t have a license, try it on for size. Microsoft also offers a free version of Microsoft Teams that requires only an email address for simple sign up and download. If you don’t have an Office 365 license, the free version still offers unlimited chat messages and search, video and audio calls, and file and screen sharing.

Integrated Communications is your one-stop-shop for direction and assistance, with a history of serving telecommunication needs of businesses with both hosted phone systems and WAN connections. Our partnerships give us deep insight into the range of possibilities, and your best options, for hosted phone systems and integrations. 

Regardless of what type of work your business does, contact the Integrated Communications team to get started with Microsoft Teams to keep your people connected and productive while they’re working from home.

Making Online Communication More Efficient with WebRTC

shutterstock_344629034smAs time has passed, business communications have become much more simplified. Voice and video conferencing have recently developed to the point where separate applications aren’t even required, allowing users to communicate instantly right through their browser.

Web Real-Time Communication, or WebRTC, is a potentially revolutionary online communication technology. As its name implies, it is intended to allow people to communicate instantly through a web browser rather than requiring the installation of extensions, plugins, or outside applications. Because of this, WebRTC could make business communications much more efficient for those with certain device or browser limitations. There are a number of benefits that WebRTC offers for businesses.

Increased Focus on the User

What might be the biggest benefit of WebRTC is its user-friendliness. WebRTC eliminates the limitations of applications, plugins, and extensions, and gives users the ability to communicate with each other more easily and universally, with a single solution that offers voice, video and chat capabilities.

Improved Customer Interaction

Another advantage of WebRTC is its ability to enhance customer engagement. Customers don’t have to download other programs or pay for communication services when they can simply use whatever browser they want to contact a tech support employee or other staff. Instant messaging, voice calls, and video calls are all located in a central hub.

Screen sharing is another capability that makes customer service even easier, as customers can share what they’re seeing and vice versa. Adding this technology to an online store can also be extremely helpful when customers want additional information about a product or service, enabling them to communicate with staff on the same platform as the store itself.

Complete Versatility

“Contact me” buttons and other types of calls to action can connect WebRTC with many different aspects of communication. Businesses can successfully implement it on nearly every facet of their company’s online presence, putting them in even closer contact with consumers.

Lowered Costs and Saved Time

The ability to place all methods of online communication on a single platform means that paying for multiple programs is no longer necessary. Companies only have to pay for a single solution, and it can also be a core part of a Software as a Service (SaaS) application. Ultimately, businesses will save time and money when their communication methods are located in one place.

More Opportunities for the Telecom Industry

WebRTC can also be a huge asset for the telecom industry. Telecom companies can develop a new business model to replace models for other, more traditional telecommunications applications, thus helping them transition into the new era of cloud technology.

WebRTC is beneficial in these and other ways as it continues to develop, making business communications more efficient and less expensive.

Why SMBs are Turning to UCaaS

shutterstock_183268340smThe hosted unified communications (UC), or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), market continues to expand as the technology develops. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are those most likely adopt this service. The desire to use UCaaS is logical for SMBs because of their need for mobility, as they often employ sales teams and other employees who spend a lot of time in the field.

 

At the same time, SMBs typically have smaller IT teams that may struggle to meet the technological needs of the company. In order to meet these demands, hosted cloud services are ideal. There are several benefits smaller enterprises experience when switching to UCaaS.

Increased Productivity and Technological Capabilities

One of the main advantages of UCaaS is the ability for SMBs to operate much like their larger, corporate competitors by using state-of-the-art technology that allows employees to easily connect with coworkers, customers, and business partners. UCaaS allows remote employees to conduct business as if they were operating out of a local office. Rather than waiting for email responses, instant messaging capabilities allow for real-time questions and updates. Many companies don’t even make phone calls anymore unless they absolutely have to, since UCaaS provides efficient communication methods that replace voice communications.

For businesses that do rely on voice communications, UC can include features such as “Find Me/Follow Me” that put calls through to multiple people until someone available can answer. A hosted UC solution can also transcribe voicemail messages and provide links to audio for employees’ convenience.

Streamlined Administration and Deployment

Another benefit of a hosted UC solution is increased efficiency of administration and deployment. If a company’s internal network is capable, businesses can make a full transition to hosted UC within weeks of implementation. Employees can download necessary apps on pre-programmed mobile devices, giving workforces all of the tools they need to run operations smoothly. Employees and employers can use a web portal to centralize administration operations, with custom profiles that make it easy for each person to use.

Improved Finances

Hosted UC offers customers a simple, reasonable monthly OpEx charge and eliminates the costs of integrating the new Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunks, private branch exchange (PBX), and Session Border Controllers (SBCs) that are normally required. There’s no need for third party video conferencing or other solutions, because they’re included with UCaaS. A/V collaboration is also included in the final price, along with regular and long distance calling.

Improved Coworker and Customer Collaboration

Online collaboration is another element that’s simplified with UCaaS. People can communicate with each other from any location. If someone is traveling for a business meeting miles away from the office and needs more information from a certain department, he or she can simply use a private audio or video conferencing solution to bring the other, more knowledgeable colleague into the meeting instantly.

These are just several of the many benefits that make switching to UCaaS an invaluable decision for any business.

What Businesses Can Expect with Voice over Mobile Broadband

shutterstock_258863234Technology is advancing at a steady rate, constantly changing the way businesses and individuals communicate in today’s marketplace. Formerly, switching from a legacy network to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lowered the costs and reduced the delays associated with long-distance calling, which enabled greater global outreach.

Currently, the need for faster connections and more bandwidth has spurred the increased adoption of Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) networks. However, the next big change in business communication will involve Voice over Mobile Broadband (VoMBB), and knowing what to expect can help companies make the transition.

​VoMBB Basics

VoMBB is essentially the process of connecting cellular calls over mobile broadband networks like LTE and WiFi. As more businesses continue to deploy cost-saving flexibility through remote work stations and an enlarged mobile workforce, broadband requirements have increased.

However, since massive, commercialized LTE networks are widespread, VoMBB will utilize that availability to escalate the speed and quality of voice and data transmissions, offering enhanced services for a variety of organizations.

Security Concerns

Maintaining data protection is always a top priority. Although utilizing a public network to transmit voice data involves heightened risks, security concerns will be addressed as they were for VoIP. Encryption and authentication support provided by Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and H.323 protocols will offer businesses the cost benefits of VoMBB with familiar methods of protection.

Over-the-Top Apps

To combat the lag time created by over-the-top (OTT) apps like Skype, VoMBB providers will need to develop relationships with OTT app developers. This change will also provide an opportunity for businesses. Mobile carriers will be able to structure voice and data transmission costs according to specific usages, which will provide businesses with enhanced regulation metrics. By monitoring this type of data transfer, improved efficiency and cost controls can be enacted.

Cloud Options

In addition to the internal controls that companies can develop by using VoMBB, providers will be able to utilize cloud resources for immediate activation. With voice over WiFi, providers are able to offer the VoLTE infrastructure required now, and then support high-speed packet access later. This lowers costs and delivers the mobility needed by today’s businesses.

As mobile workplaces expand and the number of users who need instant remote access to business information grows, changes in the way voice data is transmitted will continue to evolve. VoMBB will offer faster connections and greater bandwidth agility through the cloud, allowing providers to lower the costs and improve service capabilities. Businesses will reap the benefits of heightened capacity and mobilized solutions that enlarge profits and support growth.