Guy Holding a Cell Phone with Text saying, "Stay In Touch with Customers".

Businesses miss calls when they are busy – and calls turn into voicemails, which are often ignored…

Did you know that only 18% of Americans listen to voicemails, with only 24% answering calls from an unknown number? The same goes for emails, as most emails get lost in the storm of message filtering and junk mail folders. So, how are businesses getting important messages these days?

As someone with a mobile phone, you know better than anyone – because you use that mobile phone many times a day. Even a quick glance at your mobile phone, as the screen lights up, tells you a lot. You are much like every other American who checks their cell phone an average of 150 times a day. This is because people always have their mobile phones, which is the most convenient way to view and reply to messages.

Spam filters, unanswered calls, and ignored voicemails significantly impede human-to-human interactions and rob you of your ability to increase business. The HostMyCalls Business-Grade SMS System is designed to open the gates to the most effective communication channel. Our SMS users build stronger connections and long-lasting business by engaging in uninhibited dialogue with clients and potential customers.

To learn more about our SMS platform, visit hostmycalls.com where you can engage with real humans using our SMS chat initiation widget in the lower right corner of our web page. You can also request sales contact by texting ‘learnsms’ to (678) 916-1952.

Communication is Key! It’s time for your business to stop surviving and start thriving! Reach out to OTA with any questions today!

Hacker's lines of code on screen with headline: "Sharing Your Internet? Probably So!"

If you think sharing your internet with strangers is a bad idea, you are correct!  However, you may be doing just that without knowing it.

A popular internet service called “Broadband” is actually shared with many users and not just in your neighborhood – but with users miles away. Is there any other type of internet that is not shared? The answer is YES!  But only if you have a business circuit known as dedicated internet.

Carriers have proprietary names for business circuits such as DIA, DDE, and other confusing names. These carriers also hide shared services behind confusing words such as Uverse, Xfinity, and product codes with the designation of BB (Broadband) in the product code.

How can you find out if your internet service is shared? Well…all cable circuits are Broadband, and there are many fiber optic circuits that are low price and these are also all shared. In fact, any service that has a speed rating with two numbers for the speed, such as 100M X 20, are shared! Check your product!

You may have a VPN on your shared service – which does help…But that circuit is still shared and is easily hacked at points beyond your VPN, which ends at the carrier. The best protection begins with a dedicated circuit, but that alone is still not enough.

You may not think you need the additional security of a dedicated service and other safeguards such as custom firewalls designed for your usage, and you may not. But if you are a business that deals with customer information of any type: addresses, dates of birth, ages, or any personal information that could help a hacker steal their identity – then you definitely need to take every precaution to avoid being liable for identity theft of the people you do business with!

There are credible estimates that almost, if not all of the US population have already been hacked!

The best way to avoid being blamed, or even sued for this is to take all reasonable precautions to prevent it.  It is definitely a scary world we live in, so take precautions to carefully secure the information you are trusted with.  

 

Business man speaking on a cellphone for business.

Does Every Business Need An Actual Phone?

Every business needs and has some phone service. However, not every business needs phones. There are several ways to use phone service without a physical desk phone. Many companies use virtual phones, which are basically an app on a computer, tablet, or smartphone instead of a traditional physical business phone. There are several reasons for this – but saving money isn’t one. Today’s VoIP phones (almost all physical phones are now VoIP) are relatively inexpensive and either come with the service or can be rented for a few dollars per month. Also, supporting an app is very close to the cost of a phone; so why not use a phone?

People that are constantly on a phone, frequently prefer a headset – which can be attached to a phone or can be used with a computer with a phone app installed. For incoming calls, headset users never need to touch their phones because they can simply answer or end a call from that headset. The only time they would need to interface with the phone would be to make or transfer a call, which can be done from the app. In these cases, that user can eliminate a clunky piece of hardware and a few cables from their desk. The phone app can also be installed on several devices, so they always have access to their phone.

When the app is installed on a smartphone, it sets up a separate presence on that cell phone – allowing the user to answer business calls differently than private ones. When they make calls from the app, the calls appear in office call logs and output the office caller ID so calls made from the apps do not reveal the users’ cell numbers.

However, there are many people who want the experience that a physical phone provides, so that is an option that can be used along with an app. Calls can be moved easily from the app to a phone and back again without interrupting a call. What do you prefer? Reach out to Online Technology Associates today to discuss the best business phone options for your particular business…our consults are free of charge!

Complicated Highway OverPass System with text overlay: What's Complicated But Simple at the Same Time? The Future, My Friend!

What does the future hold for Telecom Services?

How can that be?  Well, as usual, there are many new products coming out – many more choices for you to choose from for your business or home – which makes choosing more complicated. Also, the providers are using new product names and company names, which makes our choosing more complicated! So, what’s the simple part you may ask?

Right now, there are many choices for businesses and several for most homes. The technology, performance, and cost can vary a lot! To make matters worse, it is quite difficult to tell what you are actually getting due to the providers intentionally using terms such as fiber, VoIP, secure, firewall in ways that can be very deceptive to the average consumer… For instance, cable providers use the term “fiber optic” to describe services that have little or no actual fiber in them, so you can’t distinguish “fiber service” from “cable service.” In the future, this will not be an issue since the major cable providers are working hard to convert the cable infrastructure to real fiber. So in the near future, say the next 10 years or so – there will be no cable service, so all wired services will be only fiber.

Let’s talk about Fiber service, the many types of fiber, and fiber providers…Which is the most reliable network: Shared or Dedicated? Broadband service, which is shared, is not going away, in fact, it is expanding rapidly. Government regulations are forcing the providers to share networks, which makes a lot more sense than tearing up the public infrastructure – AKA roads, sidewalks, and other utilities, multiple times so each fiber provider can have their own network installed. Providers are forced to share networks – so that makes it simpler. Also the new technology being used right now, these provider companies can use the same fiber trunks to provide different qualities of service at the same time… so much more simple!

Now we have 4G, 4G LTE, plus the many flavors of 5G… and 6G is already in the works. In the near future, these will all be consolidated into a single technology so all cellular devices will work on all cellular networks. Which is simpler, right? But we still have analog, cellular, digital, and VoIP phone traffic – these all require different equipment. We are already moving to an all VoIP or cellular infrastructure, so voice services will be simpler.

Technology has always been a double-edged sword. Out with the old and in with the new, means we have more functionality and more to learn! Reach out to Online Technology Associates to learn more, or just to chat about what’s available now and how to get your ducks in a row for what’s coming down the line.

Guy working remotely from a coffee shop

Many companies are now using both remote and office-based workers, known as the Hybrid Workforce, and are experiencing new challenges – Aside from lack of supervision and keeping employees on task, it is very common for technical issues to arise. Here are the most common issues and some suggestions for addressing them:

Poor Residential Internet – This is the big one since most residential Internet is not up to the task of handling business applications… Unfortunately, in most areas, there are few if any good choices. However, the common broadband cable or fiber services can be supplemented by using cellular (4G/5G) devices to connect business users only. This can be done through a number of companies that have cellular routers with ethernet ports.

In many cases, the internet is actually acceptable, but the WiFi supplied by your cable company is not. Since most homes have cables with low-voltage outlets, users use WiFi… And this is the first place to make improvements: make sure you have multiple WiFi networks, one for home business purposes, and another for everything – and everyone else!

Most cable and broadband providers equip their routers with one or more WiFi networks – BUT those networks are usually pretty weak. We advise you to turn that WiFi off, connect a separate WiFi router to the modem and place it in a place that is as close as you can get to the business users. If you have a multi-story or very large home, you may need multiple wireless access points (WAPs) to provide a good signal where you need it. If you are using VoIP phones, there are several that can connect over WiFi, so you do not need to place them near the modem or run cable.

YOU NEED SECURITY…who doesn’t – am I right? You would definitely benefit from a VPN router and firewall. There are online services, but it is much better to use a physical device on site to protect valuable information! This also can improve the integrity of the signal for data transmitted over the VPN.   It is always a very good idea to connect the VPN to your office system and not just send the important data over the broadband circuit directly to the internet as this allows you to utilize your office firewall as an additional safeguard. 

New Cell Tower with 5G capabilities.

5G signals are delivered on various platforms with VERY different results – Basically, 5G can be divided into three very different types:

Think of 5G as three different flashlights; the first flashlight has a broad beam but has limited strength and intensity (like a lantern). The second flashlight covers a smaller area (like a traditional flashlight) but is brighter and the third is more like a laser – very, very bright, but has a tiny coverage area…

The most popular 5G is a lower frequency (600-900MHz  range) which is similar to 4G cell service. It covers an area similar to 4G, with very broad coverage, but has limited strength and bandwidth. This is what is being offered by cell carriers now.

Then there is mid-range 5G which covers a smaller area, but with more bandwidth and is stronger.  It uses frequencies in the 30-250 MBPS, giving download speed higher than 4G cellular, but has coverage issues that make it impractical for the current cellular antenna network. This is well suited for fixed applications as opposed to mobile devices since it has a narrow coverage area.

Those big promises you hear about 5G are based on high band, or millimeter wave, using frequencies in the  24-54GHz range. This is more like a laser beam – very strong, has very high bandwidth, and covers a very small area. This high-frequency 5G is suited for very limited areas, often within a building that needs a local network (LAN) with a very high capacity in a small, well-defined space.

However, technology marches on! While 5G is being refined, 6G is on the way with frequencies in the sub-THz range – which is very, very high and very narrow (at least for now). The likely outcome is a network with multiple layers of frequencies for different purposes and types of users.

Want to know more about how this affects you and your options for connectivity? Reach out today for a chat: Online Technology Associates (770) 446-7199.

Many office workers connected online.

What exactly is the difference in Fiber Connectivity for Business? – There are several Categories and Types, with the cost and quality of services varying greatly! Therefore, no single carrier or product is right for every business.

Dedicated or Broadband?

You may be familiar with the term, “Broadband”, but do you know what it means?  If not, then you aren’t alone…the Carriers and even the Trade use this term for very different products. One thing to know is that each internet circuit is either Broadband or Dedicated. Here are the differences: 

First, Dedicated refers to a custom-built circuit that can be used to access the public internet:

  • These are custom-built circuits – similar to having a private entrance ramp or having your own lane custom-built for just one particular customer.
  • Dedicated Circuits are much higher in quality and price than broadband services because they get their own lane to internet access!
  • Dedicated Circuits are cleaner and MUCH more secure than broadband services.
  • These circuits are also synchronous – meaning that the upload speeds are the same – up and down, day and night regardless of what other users down the street or across town are doing.
  • Since Dedicated Circuits are also cleaner – they are much more efficient, meaning there is less static and trash on the circuit – this is the reason Dedicated Circuits do not need as much speed as you would with a broadband circuit.

Think of it this way; you are trying to move a certain amount of data, the Dedicated Circuit is like an empty truck, everything in it is your data, whereas the broadband circuit is like a truck that is already 60% or more full of trash, so you need a bigger truck, much bigger to move the same amount of data.

On the other hand, there are Broadband Circuits:

  • Broadband Circuits are usually, but not always asynchronous – meaning that the upload and download speeds are different. Your Downloads (data you receive) are much faster than the Uploads, (data you send out). These Broadband Circuits were initially developed for residential use – where most of the activity is at-home users downloading and not doing much uploading.
  • Broadband services are also shared circuits, meaning they are much less secure and the performance you get is highly affected by other users in your neighborhoods and across the network.
  • While Dedicated Circuits have an SLA, or Service Level Agreement, meaning that the carrier guarantees uptime, the industry standard is 99.999 % uptime and guaranteed quality measured in latency and dropped packets – The Broadband products carry a “Best Effort” policy, meaning that the carrier will do its best to maintain service and quality, but no guarantees!
  • Cable circuits are always Broadband Circuits, but FIBER can be either Broadband or Dedicated Circuits!

As you would expect, there is a large difference in pricing between the Dedicated and Broadband services – and neither is best for every business. Unfortunately, there are no requirements that a data circuit be designated as one or the other – which means that catchy product names, such as “Business” or “High Speed” do not tell the full story. It is advisable to purchase from an independent consultant who will tell you exactly what you are purchasing…and that’s exactly who we are.

Confusing? Yep, we get that and are here to help you make sense of what your business does and does not need. Reach out to Online Technology Associates today for a consultation on your business needs!