All Posts by Kevin Jordan

Five Reasons to Switch to an IP Phone System

IP Phone SystemIf your business is still using an analog phone system, it’s time to consider moving into the 21st century with a cloud-based IP phone system. You might be asking yourself why you’d make the switch—your analog system has worked for years! If it’s not broken, why fix it? What can an IP phone system offer that you don’t already have with your current system?  Well, there are a number of advantages to upgrading your phones, and we’ve listed five of them below.

#1: Your costs will decrease if you switch to an IP phone system

We know you’re amazed — surely the new-fangled, fancy system will cost more than your old reliable analog system! Nope. As a matter of fact, switching to a IP phone system will cut your costs significantly, anywhere from 40 percent to 90 percent!

There are less up-front costs for equipment, in part due to the fact that you don’t need a switch for your phones in your IT room like you would with an analog or PBX phone system.

Additionally, your month-to-month costs are predictable. There are no more roller coaster phone bills, because an IP phone system has a fixed per-user cost structure. Your long distance and your local voice usage will be the same every month.  Finally, updates to the technology can be applied with free software upgrades vs expensive hardware upgrades.

How does that sound? We assume that you’re not interested in paying more money than necessary, so we bet it sounds pretty great.

#2: It’s easy to use

Sure, it’s capable of a number of pretty complicated processes, but it’s actually quite simple to use, and, more shockingly, simple to install.

When you switch to an IP phone system, it’s going to feel a whole lot like using your analog phone; you’ll still probably have a handset and you’ll talk into it. You can still check your voicemail, but you will now have new and interesting features such as your call activity history, the ability to track or alter your billing accounts at any time.

As for setup, the combination of your high-speed internet with your IP phone infrastructure means that you won’t have to do a tremendous amount of work to get your new system up and running. All of your devices, whether they’re the old school desktop phones or a sleek new mobile model, will now be connected to the cloud, saving you time and money in maintenance.

#3: You’ll have all the bells and whistles

You might not THINK you need anything other than voicemail, but that’s just because you haven’t explored all of the options that will be available when you switch to an IP phone system. And there are plenty of options. With IP phone service, you can enjoy features like call recording, auto attendants, call routing, call forwarding, a dial-by-name directory, hold music, and more.

Also, most IP phone systems can integrate with your smartphone or tablet using a mobile app, making it even easier to access from anywhere.

You’re probably wondering how much extra all of these awesome features will run you— good news! They’re typically included at no additional charge! Get ready to choose your hold music!

#4: Your old analog system is on life support

And the bad news is that there aren’t many technicians left who are willing to make house calls to help it limp along a little while longer. Ten years in phone system years is like a century in real time; it’s probable that your system’s parts aren’t being made any more, and the manufacturer probably isn’t willing to renew your expired service contract. Now is an excellent time to contact someone to discuss how an IP phone system can revolutionize the way you do business. (We here at Streamline Telecom would love to chat about your options.)

#5: You want to make it easier to telecommute

Face it— telecommuting is the wave of the future, and an IP phone system makes it much easier for your team to work collaboratively. If you force your employees to be tied to an outdated analog system, and therefore tied to the office, you’re essentially hamstringing them. Studies show that employees who telecommute are more productive than their office-bound counterparts; not only are they more effective, but they are more content, meaning that turnover becomes less of an issue. Yes, you’ll have to learn a new system, but it’s worth it to keep your team happy and busy.

Have we convinced you that it’s in your company’s best interest to switch to an IP phone system? We’d love to answer your questions. Contact us, and we can discuss more of the ways that an IP phone system will improve your productivity as well as that all-important bottom line.

Structured Cabling Challenges Posed by a Presidential Debate

Presidential SealAs the 2016 presidential election wound down, the presidential and vice presidential candidates squared off in a series of televised debates at various sites around the country.  Record numbers of Americans tuned in to watch the debates, either on TV or via live streaming online.  While viewers saw some pretty dramatic moments in the debates, what they didn’t see is the countless hours of work done by structured cabling contractors to prepare the debate sites for the big events.  Here are some unique challenges that contractors working at these events needed to overcome.

Event venues not purpose-built for multimedia events

The first challenge a data cabling contractor helping to prepare a location for a presidential or vice-presidential debate would face is that in many cases, the venues are not necessarily chosen because of their suitability for such events.

For example, the venue chosen for the 2016 vice presidential debate was actually the basketball stadium at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.  The “media center” for that debate, where hundreds of journalists from around the world set up camp during the event, was actually the student rec center (which was closed down for an entire semester to accommodate the event).

Needless to say, neither one of these buildings would be the first choice from the perspective of a data cabling contractor.  To say the least, it means that the contractor will have to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions.

Building temporary infrastructure from scratch

Contractors working to prepare an event site for a debate will basically need to create the type of infrastructure normally found in the offices of a large corporation from scratch—and then tear it all down after the event.  In order to prepare for the 2008 presidential debate at Belmont University, for example, the structured cabling contractor had to do the following:

  • Install 740 workstations with voice and data cabling and over 300 video outlets
  • Set up 750 single line telephones
  • Install 400,000 feet of fiber optic, cat 5e, and coaxial cable
  • Create circuit extensions to the satellite trucks and media platforms of all the major TV networks

Of course, everything had to work perfectly as a live television audience of 63.2 million people tuned in to the debate—so, no pressure.

Dealing with many different parties with competing demands

Any data cabling contactor will tell you that it’s hard enough meeting the demands of one client.  A contractor preparing an event venue for a presidential debate will need to please many stakeholders, including government agencies, media outlets, and of course the presidential campaigns themselves.  These stakeholders will each have their own agendas and lists of demands, which in some cases will likely be mutually exclusive.

In addition to all of the challenges mentioned above, the contractors preparing the debate sites will have limited time to plan, and will likely have to make many last-minute adjustments to plans as events unfold.

One has to wonder–for the structured cabling contractors involved, is the privilege of helping to put on a historical event worth the work, frustration, stress, and pressure?  Only they can answer that question, but one thing is for sure: they’ll know they were successful if, after the presidential debates are over, nobody is talking about them.