What is Structured Cabling?

what is structured cablingYou may have heard the phrase “structured cabling” before, especially within the telecommunications world. This phrase is used in several different situations, including telephone system installation, the internet and network connectivity, and even computer data management.  As a structured cabling contractor, this term gets right to the heart of what Streamline Telecom does for our clients.

So what exactly is structured cabling, and why is it so important?

What Structured Cabling is Not

To understand what structured cabling is, we must first understand what it is not. When most people think of cabling and connectivity, they’re often thinking of a direct Point A to Point B connection. For example, this would be like connecting a cable internet cord directly from the wall and into a modem.

In large connected offices, buildings, or a collection of wired condominiums, Point A to Point B connections, or “point to point” connections, are rarely functional. Larger needs demand bigger solutions, and that’s where structured cabling comes in.

What is Structured Cabling

Unlike point to point connectivity, structured cabling functions as an infrastructure with separate important components that work together to form one complete and, of course, structured system.

Structured cabling begins with one central originating point which provides necessary connectivity. From there, other units are connected in a chain-like fashion, one after another after another. Any changes, moves, or additions to the infrastructure can be done at the point of origination versus having to change each receiving unit one by one.

Additionally, the point of original connectivity may have several different connection paths to connect to, such as a building-wide telephone system. But the key to structured cabling is having a base in which all changes and maintenance will be done while maintaining a steady connection to all necessary points.

Importance and Benefits of Structured Cabling

While point to point cabling may seem like the easiest and most efficient route when it comes to cable management systems, this is rarely the case. As mentioned above, the ability to control all connections within a heavily connected building or office via one central point is highly important.

Having one central operation area versus several offers many benefits, including quick and efficient changes and maintenance as well as less downtime in these connections. With fewer steps comes less potential for human error, and with fewer human mistakes comes far less downtime or data loss.

Additionally, structured cable management comes with a high level of flexibility that point to point cabling simply doesn’t allow. With a structured infrastructure, growth and the need for additional cabling can easily be accommodated in one place and with less hassle, compared to point to point in which both areas at either end will need to be accessed during any changes.

The last benefit of structured cabling is one that may seem trivial: aesthetics. With a structured system, cables can be easily organized stored away, allowing for easier access and a cleaner overall look. Because of this, the life of cables and hardware will be also preserved due to the operations being done out of a single point.

Is Structured Cabling Right for Your Needs?

If your cable management system is messy and unorganized, creates more problems than it solves, or is often the cause of service downtime, structured cabling would be perfect for your needs.

While the switch from point to point connectivity to a structured cabling infrastructure may sound daunting, we at Streamline Telecom make it easier and more efficient than ever. If you’re ready to take control of your cabling system and reap all the benefits of working with a structured cabling contractor, contact us today and we’ll help you get started.

Common Types of Security Cameras

Common Types of Security CamerasInstalling a new security camera or camera system may seem like an easy decision. After all, security cameras can improve safety, cut down on crime, and prove invaluable should an unfortunate incident take place.

While the decision to install security measures really is an easy one, selecting the right camera or monitoring system, however, is where the real challenge lies. With so many companies, options, and styles to choose from, it can be overwhelming to determine which best suits your needs.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the most common types of security cameras that we usually recommend as part of our security camera installation service, and explain what they’re best used for in order to help make your decision that much easier.

Box Style Cameras

Our first option is one that pops into most people’s minds when they think “security camera.” The box-style camera is the most commonly used camera for security. These cameras function as any other recording camera will, and they allow a great deal of flexibility in terms of lens customization options. They’re not exactly beautiful, so box style cameras are best suited for outdoor areas, or indoor areas if aesthetics are unimportant.

Dome Security Cameras

Another popular choice is the dome-style camera. These cameras also function as a typical recording camera, but their appeal lies in their discreet shape and size. They can also be used indoors or outdoors, as they’re capable of handling poor weather with ease. Alternatively, dome security cameras are also available in extremely durable casings that are vandalism-resistant.

Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras

Pan, Tilt, and Zoom, or PTZ, cameras are a high-tech favorite for those who seek more control over their security cameras. With the capability for remote operating, these cameras can be changed for a closer viewing scope and adjusted to cover several angles or pan over an area. They can be controlled with a physical joystick or even via remote software and they are able to integrate with technologies like computer systems or smart phones.

Bullet Style Cameras

Meet the box-style camera’s sleek cousin, the bullet security camera. These cameras are far more aesthetically pleasing and also very discreet, particularly when compared to traditional box-style models. These cameras can even be outfitted with IR illuminators, making them viable choices for low-light indoor or outdoor areas.

Day and Night Security Cameras

Similar to the bullet camera, day/night security cameras also rely on infrared features to function well in low-light areas. Unlike the bullet variety, however, these day/night cameras auto-adjust their infrared illuminators to function at high quality during both day and night, eliminating the need for multiple types of camera in a single area.

Thermal Cameras

Thermal cameras are the most unique type of security camera. A viable solution for rough environments, these cameras record the heat patterns of people or animals and can be paired with regular cameras for added security. Though it may sound odd to choose a camera which captures heat patterns, these cameras are invaluable during storms or in dusty, hazy, smoky, or foggy conditions in which regular cameras would be rendered useless.

Selecting the proper security camera can help improve your area’s safety, security, and give you peace of mind, or even evidence, should an unfortunate event occur. While choosing the perfect security camera for your needs may not always be easy, we hope this guide to the most common types of security cameras has proven useful and helped to remove the headache from this difficult decision.

At Streamline Telecom, we pride ourselves on our professional security camera installation service and and are always here help. Our experienced professionals will add security to your area by installing four cameras, four hundred cameras, or anything in between. Contact us today and let’s get started!

Why Combining Cloud-Based Phone Systems with On-Premises Systems Is a Bad Idea

cloud-based phone systemsIf you’re comfortable with onsite communication systems in your workplace, switching over completely to cloud-based phone systems might seem risky, and maybe even a little daunting. Choosing a “hybrid” method to ease into a cloud-based phone system might seem like a good idea to start, but you might be signing yourself up for even more headaches than if you were to make a full migration from the beginning.

We’ve rounded up five misconceptions about combining the two systems in your office to help give you some peace of mind about making the jump to the cloud.

1. You Won’t See the Benefits of Either System by Trying to Maintain Both

While you may feel like you’re getting more out of your initial investment by trying the hybrid approach, you’ll spend most of your time trying to keep up with maintenance and updates rather than taking advantage of the positive features of either system.

Not convinced? Keeping your on-premises system will require you to:

  • Maintain multiple non-integrated systems (since your cloud system won’t integrate with your on-premises system)
  • Regularly update hardware and software, which can be costly
  • Manage complex licensing
  • Pay ongoing maintenance and consulting fees
  • Source outdated hardware parts

2. Maintaining Two Systems Will Ultimately Cost You More

Operating two completely different systems in your office will definitely be reflected in your monthly budget. You can reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) by simplifying your setup to a single system (and one single bill). Choosing to go with a full cloud migration instead of trying to maintain both will simplify the management and troubleshooting of your phone system while also allowing you to integrate several business apps into one communication service.

In fact, one study showed a 3-year cloud-based system saved up to 39% in TCO compared to a 3-year on-premises upgrade.

3. Sticking With What You Know Isn’t Always Better

Your familiarity with your on-premises system isn’t reason enough to keep it around as you introduce a VOIP phone system to your office. In fact, moving everything to the cloud will greatly simplify your IT, rather than trying to synchronize an outdated onsite system with the cloud.

According to an infographic produced by 8×8, a leading provider of global cloud-based communications, a cloud-based system can simplify your IT with:

  • One system supporting multiple locations and workers
  • Integration of multiple communication features in one solution
  • Centralized administration with one management interface
  • Simple scalability as business needs change
  • Streamlined single billing that includes telephony, unified communications, and contact center costs
  • Automatic upgrades to the latest technology and features

4. Outdated On-Premises Systems Can Be Far Riskier Than Moving Everything to Cloud-based Phone Systems

Many who cling to their on-premises systems claim they do so for security reasons. People are skeptical of allowing sensitive information to live in the cloud rather than in their own offices where they feel they have more control over its safety. However, this simply isn’t the case. According to Jeff Blackey, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Broadview Networks, users are best protected with a 100% cloud-based system.

“On-premise solutions are installed locally, on a company’s own computers, phones, and servers, and are subject to local disasters, local thefts and local hacks in a typically insecure environment,” Blackey said. “Meanwhile, cloud-based systems are hosted on the vendor’s servers, accessible through an encrypted web browser leaving nothing on-site to be vulnerable to hacking, theft or even damage. By having your system hosted in the cloud, you get carrier-grade security out of the box,” he added.

5. A Full Migration to Cloud-based phone systems Doesn’t Require Any Expertise on Your Part

If your main concern about transitioning to a cloud-based system is a lack of knowledge on the subject, you can rest easy. You don’t need to understand how to operate or maintain a cloud-based communications system because your cloud service provider will handle all of that for you.

Streamline Telecom can help you make the switch from an on-premises system to cloud-based phone systems. Reach out today for more information or a quote!

 

Security Camera and Video Surveillance Trends for 2017

security camera installationWith ever-changing and advancing technology, there are many new security camera and video surveillance trends in 2017. The market is expected to reach $42.81 billion by 2019, according to a report from Transparency Market Research.

The study names increased security and safety concerns, and the need to monitor activities to detect intrusion, theft, and traffic surveillance as some reasons for this global growth. Current trends aim to meet the needs of this rising market, such as the major shift to IP-based systems, which produce video feeds with much higher resolution and video quality than that of analog.

What other video surveillance trends can the industry expect to see in 2017? We’ve outlined a few below.

Top Video Surveillance Trends

Software Developments  – According to industry experts, software developments will most likely lead the way in video surveillance trends in 2017. Jon Cropley, Principal Analyst of Video Surveillance at IHS Markit, believes the focus on software will extend beyond 2017. “Whether it be deep learning for video analytics or advances in video management, there seems to be a recognition that improvements in video surveillance system functionality will be driven by software,” he said in a roundtable discussion.

Expansion of the Multi-Sensor and Multi-Directional Cameras – This trend is the reason the industry is seeing an emergence of new vendors and product lines with new configurations. Primarily dominated by one vendor, this expansion will introduce new manufacturers to the market segment to deal with the increased demand for more product options.

A Shift From “Enterprise-Class” to Private Use – While video surveillance has traditionally been used most in commercial settings, the past few years have seen a continuous commoditization of the offerings, according to Ron Grinfeld, Global Vertical Marketing Manager at FLIR Security. Especially in the case of IP camera systems, more and more products are showing up in lower-tier markets, now widely offered for homes and private use. As mentioned above, this is a major drive in the addition of more vendors in the market, and why the leading vendors are now forced to expand their product offerings. This includes the multi-sensor and multi-directional cameras, security drones and robots, and smart wearable cameras.

Addressing Cybersecurity Threats to IP Systems

The major shift to IP systems has seen a dramatic increase in cybersecurity threats and attacks. Industry experts have always expressed concern over the dangers posed by unsecured camera systems, but these fears were realized in the fall of 2016 when separate cybersecurity incidents made headlines.

Better user education is a proactive approach to tighter cybersecurity that industry experts hope to see in 2017 and beyond. Video surveillance vendors will be expected to provide best practice guides, reference architectures, and certifications. Awareness and accountability are often the first steps to better security, and Francis Lachance, Director of the Video and Appliance Product Group, Genetec, hopes to see more of it in 2017. “We will need to inform customers on what is insecure, teach them how to avoid pitfalls and how to protect themselves, and show them how to better manage the risk of deploying non-secure security devices and systems.”

In addition to consumer education, managed services and a shift toward cloud computing are expected to see a rise in demand. According to SecurityCamExpert, “by utilizing managed services and the cloud, businesses can manage their cyber security risk by employing companies whose sole purpose is to maintain data security.” This will also allow consumers more network-based solutions.

Ensure Your Security

Is your surveillance system up-to-date and secure? Streamline Telecom experts can answer any questions you may have about your current camera system, or even provide security camera installation services. Contact us today for your greater New York City metro area security needs!

Best Places to Install Security Cameras in a Business

security camerasSecurity cameras are an important part of a business’s security plan. They’re known to deter theft by employees as well as customers, curb time-wasting behaviors, and can help identify suspects in the case of burglary. However, the placement of these cameras is key. If you have the camera pointed at the wrong place, why have the camera at all? Here are some of the best places to install security cameras for your business.

Exits and Entrances

Prominently featuring security cameras at the building’s entrances and exits will not just allow you to track who’s inside your building and how long they stay. The cameras can get a good look at anyone coming in and out and could act as a deterrent to anyone considering committing a crime. If you want to get a clear picture of a person’s face, it’s wise to place the camera near an item that will catch the eye, such as a TV monitor or prominent sign. When they turn to see the object, the camera will capture a full picture.

Points of Sale

Wherever there are cash registers, there should be cameras, of course. This will not only discourage customers from stealing but also employees. When you mount cameras at these spots, be sure that they’re pointed at the place where the customer would stand, and that the camera’s no more than seven feet high. If the camera is placed higher, you’ll get nothing more than an excellent view of the top of the customer’s head, which isn’t terribly helpful in identifying suspects.

Reception

In most businesses, the reception area is highly trafficked, so it should be covered by a security camera. You can do it subtly, if that’s your preference, as modern technology makes cameras so small they can easily be blended into your décor.

A security camera could be hidden in frames, smoke detectors, sprinkler heads, clocks, or anywhere else. However, keep in mind that there could be potential legal issues related to concealed cameras, so it might be wise to consult your state’s laws prior to utilizing such a camera.

Exterior

Of course, the average business’s assets aren’t kept outside of the building, but in many cases, crime starts outside. Not only would external security cameras protect the cars in the parking lot, but they would also keep tabs on employees when receiving shipments at loading docks. The cameras could record license plate numbers, assist law enforcement in the recovery of stolen goods, and provide employees who are burning the midnight oil with a sense of security as they enter the darkened parking lot.

Warehouses

Your warehouse is home to a great deal of valuable inventory and it can be a hotspot for theft, internal and external. How can you protect it? A security camera can be your eyes and ears when you’re not available to be on site. Mount them inside and outside to stop crime in its tracks. To get the best possible recording, keep your warehouse brightly lit at all times. If you can’t see the culprits, the camera’s presence is in vain.

Secluded Spots

While it might seem strange to put security cameras in places that are rarely visited, these spots are the places where crime is planned. One of the primary places that criminals use to put stolen goods is the dumpster— the employee will throw away the merchandise, and retrieve it later, or send an accomplice to retrieve it. This kind of activity will be curtailed if security cameras are present.

Installing security cameras will keep your business and your employees safe from harm. If you need assistance determining which cameras would best suit your needs, or if you need help installing them, contact us today for more information.

 

 

 

Four Flaws in Access Control Systems

access control systemsSecurity is foremost on the minds of many, and there are many new products that are meant to make your facility safer than ever through smart technology. Streamline Telecom offers a wide variety of products created specifically to help you lock down your home or business. However, even the most advanced security system can be circumvented with a not-so-cutting-edge methodology. Let’s explore some of the flaws in access control systems and how to avoid them.

Flaw #1— Door Propping or Levering

Say, for example, that a delivery driver is dropping off a shipment of supplies. He’s going to be making multiple trips with his hands full, so he props the door open to avoid having to dig out his key card or enter the code time after time. While he steps into his truck to grab some more boxes, an intruder slips in the door.  Additionally, doors can be easily levered open with a tool as simple as a screwdriver. A determined criminal could easily gain access into your building without bringing attention to himself. One way that technology could assist with this issue is to invest in an access control system that could detect open doors and notify security personnel, who would then investigate and shut the door or deter the criminal.

Flaw #2— Tailgating

An employee comes back to the office after lunch, and they open the side entrance door. As they walk through, someone approaches behind them. Their natural courtesy kicks in, and they hold the door for this person and the person enters the building without entering a key code or swiping a card. Unwittingly, the employee has allowed an unauthorized person to enter the building, exposing everyone within to risk. How can this behavior be curbed? Training is key. Conduct an intensive training session for every credentialed employee, ensuring that they understand the importance of security. Another option is to introduce a technique to restrict entry into the building to one person at a time, such as a turnstile or mantrap. Should more than one person attempt to enter, an alarm will sound, bringing security to investigate.

Flaw #3— Lost or Stolen Keys and Access Cards

Unfortunately, lost or stolen keys are unavoidable; humans make mistakes, and crimes happen. Sometimes, people loan their keys or access cards to friends and fail to get them back, or the keys are simply misplaced or stolen, never to be found again. When people are accustomed to tailgating to get in, they might not notice that they’re missing their key or card for days. However, it’s vital that you’re alerted as soon as the resident or employee realizes that the key or card is missing. If your access control system has the capability to electronically track keys or cards, this could be a tremendous money-saving option. Otherwise, you’d need to pay to have locks on a number of doors re-cored, which can really add up over time. With access cards, if you make them double as photo identification, it’s less likely that they would be loaned out, and employees would potentially remember to bring them more frequently.

Flaw #4— Hacking

When your system becomes more high-tech, it becomes exposed to the risk of hacking. Some organizations might think that simply because they remotely control their location via phone or computer, their data is protected; unfortunately, this is not the case. A determined thief could install malware into the device, getting instant access to a location without needing to make any direct contact. How can you protect your access control system? Encryption is a must. It will help to ensure that any user has the appropriate authentication and verification, and it will help to limit the inappropriate access to a location.

When your business or residence is subjected to unauthorized access, it can result in serious danger. The best way to combat this is to carefully consider which access control system will best reduce your risk. Streamline Telecom can help you choose the system that would be most suitable for your particular needs; contact us today to learn more!

Three Ways Cloud-Based Phone Systems Can Make Your Business More Professional

cloud based phone systemsAny small business knows it’s true – competition in the marketplace can be fierce. While it may drive you crazy sometimes and take you out of your comfort zone, it helps you stay sharp and forces you to seek out new technologies for better products and services.

One of those new technologies that could augment your business is a cloud based phone system. As a small business owner, installing such a communication system can enhance your professional image to customers. Its myriad of features and flexibilities can enable a business with only a few employees to operate like the big guys and seem larger and more professional to clients.

After all, when it comes to defining professionalism…It’s NOT the job you do; It’s HOW you do the job!

Cloud based phone systems, also called VoIP, uses the internet to make phone calls. Subscribers connect to it for a monthly fee. Cost-savings on local and long distance calls can be up to 90% and hosted platforms don’t require you to purchase expensive hardware that needs maintenance and installation.

Streamline Telecom can help you set up a new VoIP phone system, or help you transition from an analog system. The company we partner with to provide this service is 8X8, one of the most trusted cloud-based communications companies in the world. Their service is used by more than 47,000 businesses in over 40 countries across six continents.

A Cloud-based system from 8X8 offers many features. We’ve highlighted three of these below:

Ring Groups

Rings groups smoothly distribute incoming calls within various departments. You can have all phones in a group ring at once, or set up a “round robin” approach where the extensions in the group ring in a specific order until the call is answered. Nine ring groups are included with your Virtual Office account, but more can be added.

For example, if you are a small business with four employees, you can set up your ring group so all their phones ring at the same time. That way, whoever pick up first takes the call. Or, you can set it up to ring them in a certain order so they each get a turn answering incoming calls.

No more worrying about incoming calls being dropped by customers frustrated that their call was not answered right away. Ring groups can have any number assigned to it, such as a toll-free number. Calls can even be answered by Auto-Attendant or another extension.

Three ring patterns are available. Cyclic (rollover) allows for equal distribution of calls. Cyclic Repetitive allows for distribution among extensions based on a pre-set pattern. Simultaneous Ring ensures all extensions will ring on an incoming call, with the first person available answering the call.

Auto Attendant

Perfect for a small business that wants to appear larger, Auto Attendant answers the phone automatically for you. Instead of a receptionist, customers hear a message identifying your company and prompting them to select the department they desire by pressing or saying a number associated with that department.

Calls are routed quickly and efficiently to the right department. If your business has limited hours of operation, you can program Auto Attendant with different menus for business hours versus after-hours. You can record your own greetings, or use 8X8’s selection of professionally recorded greetings to enhance your image. Customers will be impressed by the professionalism of Auto Attendant.

Extension Dialing

Who doesn’t appreciate the ability to bypass a company’s VRU by directly dialing someone? Big companies offer this service, so why shouldn’t smaller ones? With 8X8 cloud-based service, this feature is available through our 4-digit model. It’s also available in 3-digit or 5-digit extension dialing.

Whether your business has 5 employees or 100, they all get their own direct phone number. Internal calling between employees only requires dialing those few digits. Transfers can be made quickly and you have the ability to tell the person at that extension about the call before completing the transfer.

If you have employees working in different locations, that’s no problem! Transfers are quick and seamless since they are only an extension away. Customers won’t even realize they are talking to someone at another location.

If all this sounds great, give us a call. Learn how YOUR business can add a touch of professionalism through installing an IP phone in New York.

Two High Profile Crimes Solved with Help from Security Camera Footage

Park your car. Walk into a store. Ride the subway. During all of these activities, it’s very likely that you are being recorded on security camera footage. In the western world, closed-circuit television or CCTV is used in the vast majority of public places to help prevent crime.

And since 9/11, security cameras seem to have sprouted on every building, parking garage, and traffic light. While some people have voiced concerns about civil liberties being compromised, it’s hard to argue with the statistics; crime dips as cameras roll.

Cities and businesses across the country are installing security cameras in public locations in an effort to deter crime. It’s estimated that a staggering 30 million security cameras are currently in use in the US alone. Chicago has about 10,000.  Here in New York City, 6,000 cameras gaze down on the city. While their primary purpose is to catch a video record of potential perpetrators, their very presence does seem to deter people from committing crimes.

Local and national news have covered multiple cases where criminals were apprehended as a direct result of surveillance cameras. Two recent high-profile crimes that occurred and were subsequently solved as a direct result of video surveillance involve the Boston Marathon bombing and the abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither of Philadelphia, PA.

Security Camera Footage and the Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Marathon bombing perpetrators were identified and the lone survivor captured within a matter of hours following the bombing.

How was this accomplished,” you ask?

The answer? The video footage obtained from the vast network of surveillance cameras keeping watch over downtown Boston played a pivotal part in nabbing the perpetrators.

While police urged the public to send in what they had recorded that day on their smartphones and cameras, it was the footage from the security camera mounted on the Lord & Taylor department store pointed onto Boylston Street that proved most valuable in identifying and apprehending the suspects.

The Abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither

The abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither occurred at night on a Philadelphia sidewalk.

Surveillance cameras in the Germantown section of the city captured the crime as an unidentified person grabbed 22-year-old Carlesha Freeland-Gaither and forced her into an old Ford Taurus car. The security camera footage of the abduction was released to the public in hopes that someone would recognize the car and come forward.

Amazingly, 300 hundred miles away, police in Virginia saw the video. They happened to be searching at that same time for a violent offender named Delvin Barnes, who was wanted in the abduction and assault on a local teenage girl.

Because of the similarities in the cases, local police showed the video to Barnes’ father, who identified the Taurus as his son’s. Barnes was ultimately located and apprehended. Freeland-Gaither, injured but alive, was found and returned to her family.

As you can see from the above examples, you never know when security camera footage from a key location might make the difference in solving a crime.  When you choose to make an investment in improving the security of your own business by installing cameras, you’re also contributing to increased public safety.

Our highly-trained technicians have years of experience installing security surveillance systems throughout the city. Rest assured, the cameras we install represent the highest quality equipment in the industry. With brands like Pelco, Axis, Bosch, Acti, Everfocus, Digital Watchdog, and Arecont, you can sleep peacefully knowing your property and employees are securely monitored against possible criminal acts.

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.