ITCS Blog

FAQs about the VoIP Phone System

With the Phaseout of ISDN Systems imminent, the technology that we are using to communicate is changing.  Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the future of business telephony.

ITCS’s dedicated account managers have been working hard to speak to both new and existing customers about future-proofing their phone systems and answering any questions they may have about VoIP (voice over internet protocol). A common hesitation with business owners, is that after years of doing things the same way, your team may be hesitant to embrace a switch a new VoIP communications system. Both you and your staff may have concerns about the new technology, and what the change will mean for you all on a daily basis.

We have put together a few of the most commonly asked questions about VoIP systems, and have answered them as clearly as possible to reassure you and your staff that the transition is well worth it.

1. What is the difference between VoIP and a traditional phone line?

The biggest difference between VoIP and traditional calling is the phone lines that are used. Traditional lines use an analog signal, and VoIP uses a digital signal. Do you remember the big Digital TV Switchover in 2012? The ISDN Phaseout is a similar concept; these legacy systems are out of date, as are the associated maintenance and running costs.

A digital signal is more efficient than analogue, and costs less money. Anyone who has used a program like Skype has used VoIP to communicate.

2. But my phone system works just fine, why do I need to change it?

VoIP technology can provide businesses with the best platform for continued future development, on a modern and flexible infrastructure. VoIP brings with it a multitude of benefits such as more mobility, cost savings, and better call quality.

3. What sort of features do VoIP systems bring to the business?

The range of features available on a VoIP phone are one of the main reasons that businesses upgrade to the system. VoIP systems include dynamic call handling, pre-recorded messages and seamless transfers at the touch of a button. The systems completely erase the barrier between phone systems and internet browsers.  Engage in video calls with any compatible device, incorporate other communication services like instant messaging, teleconferencing, receive voicemail and faxes via email, and much more.

4. Do I have to know and be re-trained in complicated software just to make a phone call?

Although feature rich and completely modern, VoIP telephones function much the same way as an old fashioned handset. You can configure the phone with the same key presses to pick up, and transfer calls. ITCS will provide you and your team with full support so that you’re confident with your new system. We provide training, number porting, provisioning and assistance. This will give you complete peace of mind.

5. What equipment is required to use VoIP?

Besides the cost savings, setting up and maintaining a VoIP system is a much simpler job than with traditional telephone systems. This is because there is so little on site equipment compared to traditional ISDN networks. Only pay for the users you need.

6. Is VoIP an expensive investment?

The expense of VoIP systems is a very common myth. In fact, with VoIP you’ll save money. Enjoy lower international calling rates, free calling features, as well as lower monthly service costs. The feature-rich element of VoIP systems means that you can get rid of single use devices and enjoy voice, video, fax, voicemail and more in one device.

7. I’ve heard that VoIP sound quality is really unreliable. Is that true?

A persistent myth surrounding VoIP is that because it relies on internet connections, the voice quality will suffer. This myth has really stuck around from the very early days of VoIP, when networks were slower and less sophisticated. Broadband has come on a long way, but as with many things in business and in life, you get what you pay for.

In other words, the better your business broadband connection, the higher quality your VoIP telephone system is going to be.

Current internet and 4G connections represent a huge leap in technological progress, but for anyone considering VoIP, it’s a case of ensuring you have the bandwidth to support your network.

8. Is VoIP secure?

We all know that hacking and cybercrime is regularly making headlines in modern business. But, as long as your internal network is secure, then your phone network will be too. As long as you have a good Disaster Recovery System in place and you are using a trusted IT Support Provider, the risk of falling victim to hacking or cyber-crime is minimal. ITCS ensure that security is a priority when we look at your system in readiness for VoIP.

9. I don’t run a large business – is VoIP right for me?

You don’t have to be a large corporation to benefit from VoIP. It is a truly versatile communications solution. SMEs and startups can benefit because it’s so easy to set-up and use, and you can add new phones as your business grows. Plus you can benefit from various business features that come with the system, adding to the professionalism of your company.

Are you ready to discover more about upgrading your business phone system to a VoIP solution? Do you have more questions? The ITCS team are always happy to help. Call us today on 08456 444 200, or email: info@itcs.co.uk. You can also fill out a contact form.

WebFAQs about the VoIP Phone System

Managing Director Takes on World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain in aid of LATCH

Standing at 5,895 metres high – Kilimanjaro remains one of the world’s great challenges. Brian Stokes will be taking on the gruelling charity trek this April in aid of LATCH. On April 5th 2019 he will push himself to the extreme, with a core team of 11 people, to raise money for LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity.

Who Are LATCH?

LATCH  is currently supporting an amazingly brave little girl from Maesteg, Amira Barry. Amira was diagnosed with Leukaemia last year, and is currently receiving support from LATCH. The fantastic help and support provided by LATCH has driven Brian and ITCS to raise money to help the charity continue its excellent work.

The Kilimanjaro trek is set to take 7 days, where on average 44% of people fail, mainly due to altitude sickness. This is no mean feat, and a real challenge.

“The idea is to raise awareness around this vital support for Amira’s family,” says Brian, “LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity needs to raise, on average, £800,000 a year to cover the costs of supporting families like Amira’s. So, we wanted to test ourselves to the limit, and see what we are capable of, whilst raising money for a really worthy cause.”

The trip has been entirely self-funded by each individual, so donations are well received and go entirely towards the charity, not paying for any part of the expedition. The training has been well underway for many months, along with numerous trips to the doctors for a huge list of jabs. The malaria tablets and altitude pills are all ready to go – now they need as much support and encouragement as possible.

You can donate to Brian’s cause by visiting his JustGiving page – every donation, no matter how large or small, is gratefully received.

WebManaging Director Takes on World’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain in aid of LATCH

ISDN Phaseout 2020: Threat Or Opportunity?

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It is common knowledge amongst telecommunications experts that ISDN is a dying technology, and is planning an ISDN phaseout beginning next year.

BT will begin with a cease in supply in 2020. They intend on moving to a full migration by 2025, permanently switching off ISDN networks. The BT ISDN switch off could affect many businesses – especially if you’re unaware of the phaseout, and are looking to invest in or upgrade your current business telephone system.

ISDN’s days are numbered. Is your business ready?

What is ISDN?

ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) is a telecommunications technology that enables the transmission of digital data over standard phone lines. Known as the original high-speed internet service, it can be used for voice calls as well as data transfers. It sparked high-speed internet development between service providers in the 1990’s and revolutionised internet use.

ISDN is a communications network that relies heavily on physical infrastructure; specifically, copper wiring. It came to prominence because it provided the opportunity to transmit voice and data over the same lines. However, because of its reliance on physical infrastructure to manage calls and additional functionality via a PBX (or multiple), this takes up space within business premises and requires resources to administer and maintain them. Similarly, it is hard to add and remove new lines to an ISDN network because it requires the physical addition and removal.

Why the ISDN phaseout is important for my business:

The BT ISDN phaseout marks the next evolution of telecommunications technology. Despite being continually updated, ISDN phone lines are still cost far too much to maintain and run. Although the BT ISDN end of life of 2025 has not been set in stone, businesses will be unable to buy systems that use ISDN after 2020. If you currently have a traditional ISDN/PSTN based system, now is a great time to look into alternatives – and what many businesses don’t realise is just how beneficial the new systems are.

Hosted Telephony – what is it?

There are two future-ready solutions storming the market right now; the one we will focus on is Hosted Telephony.

Hosted telephony is a complete business phone system, delivered over the internet and provided by a host and/or telephony company.

ISDN phaseout VOIP ITCS

IP Technology:

IP (internet protocol) technology is incredible advantageous for business, and many are beginning to realise the endless benefits. When it comes to facilitating communications, organisations are able to use IP technology build a single infrastructure that supports both their voice and data communications needs.

After the ISDN phaseout, all phone lines will be superseded by IP technology, which is vastly superior to what we have used in the past.

What is VoIP? We’ll tell you: 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a telecommunications technology that allows users to make calls using the internet, rather than using traditional systems. VoIP works by converting sound into digital voice communication, and then transferring it through Internet broadband. Using a VoIP system has several benefits for many businesses:

1. It’s Cost Effective

Most importantly, the cost of using a VoIP telephone is much cheaper than using a conventional phone. Making long distance phone calls are also cheaper when using a VoIP provider. There’s no need for masses of on-site equipment either; only pay for as many users as you need.

2. Easy setup & maintenance

Besides the cost savings, setting up and maintaining a VoIP system is a much simpler job than with traditional telephone systems.

This is because there is so little on site equipment compared to traditional ISDN networks.

3. Greater Control

Furthermore, take complete control of your phone system with an extensive range of call handling and management features. These are all operated through an easy-to-use web interface. Ideal for home workers or multiple sites.

4. Freedom & Portability

VoIP technology is completely adaptable and flexible. This means you can easily add and remove users as you need. More importantly, physical location doesn’t matter either. Regardless of where you are, if you have Internet access, there should not be any problems in terms of costs and connections. In addition, VoIP systems are accessible via email or while you are travelling. Simply take your headset or IP phone, and you can contact staff or clients with a low cost call.

5. Provide better customer service to your clients

Enhance the service you can provide to your customers at all times. VoIP systems include dynamic call handling, pre-recorded messages and seamless transfers at the touch of a button.

6. Reliable and Secure

We provide full support including: training, number porting, provisioning and assistance. This will give you complete peace of mind.

Summing Up:

As you can see, the great BT ISDN switch off is as much an opportunity as it is a problem. The one thing we know for certain is that BT ISDN end of life is around the corner. Make sure you’re prepared for it. Make the ISDN Phaseout an opportunity for your business to cut costs and thrive.

Ready to find out what the advantages of VoIP for your company are? To discuss your particular requirements, or to discover more about the systems we offer, contact us by filling out our enquiry form or call us on 08456 444 200 for advice today. You can also email info@itcs.co.uk.

                                       

WebISDN Phaseout 2020: Threat Or Opportunity?

7 Time-Saving Outlook Tricks to Get you to Work Smarter

Outlook is renowned for being one of the best email providers for business: the platform helps millions of people manage their email correspondence every day. The snag? It assumes you already know how to organise your office correspondence for optimal productivity. But what if you don’t?

We all know that time is invaluable, especially when it comes to running a business. Improve your Microsoft Outlook productivity and you’ll find yourself working more efficiently. Whether you want to be an Outlook expert or just save time, you’ll appreciate the 7 time-saving Outlook tips in this tutorial.

Web7 Time-Saving Outlook Tricks to Get you to Work Smarter

Keyboard Hacks – 10 Shortcuts to Help You Work Faster on Windows 10

Although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to memorise every single keyboard shortcut, they really can make you much faster whilst you work on a PC. Learning and using keyboard hacks that are most important to you is a great way to enhance your Windows 10 experience.

Compared to reaching for the mouse or navigating a menu, a single keyboard shortcut shaves a moment off your task. This might not seem like much, but add up all those saved moments over a week or a month, and you’re gaining a substantial chunk of time. That’s why it’s important to know as many shortcuts as possible for your operating system. Try a keyboard hack a few times, and you’ll find out just how useful it can be.

You could even bookmark this page, and use it as a Go-To Tool whilst you learn!

WebKeyboard Hacks – 10 Shortcuts to Help You Work Faster on Windows 10

ITCS Team Stranded in Storm Callum – but still get project completed on time for ATV company

Dalton’s ATVs is one of the largest authorised dealers of new and quality used Honda, Yamaha and Can-Am ATV’s along with Polaris UTV & ATV, in the whole of the UK. John Dalton owns and runs the family business that is Dalton’s ATVs whilst also managing his own family farm. When Camilleri Construction asked for ITCS’s co operation with this project, little did they know that they’d end up battling some of the worst flooding that Wales has seen in 30 years…

WebITCS Team Stranded in Storm Callum – but still get project completed on time for ATV company

4 Key Security Threats that Businesses Need to Prepare for in 2019

From high profile data breaches of companies like Facebook and British Airways, to mounting evidence surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 US election, it is safe to say that 2018 was a landmark year in terms of security vulnerabilities and emboldened cyber-criminals. So, with 2019 set to bring more technology advancements, what can you do to protect yourself, and what should your priorities be as a business?

The Information Security Forum – also known as the ISF – is a trustworthy source that senior security professionals and board members turn to for guidance on information security and risk management. They have identified 4 key security threats that businesses will be faced with this year – as well as tips for risk management. You can read the full report here.

Key threats for 2019 include:

1. Increased Sophistication of Cyber Crime

In 2017, high-profile incidents, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack, made file-encrypting malware internet enemy number one. 2018 actually saw a decrease in the number of Ransomware attacks, as many businesses invested in backup solutions that eased the impact of a ransomware attack – or even investing in high quality Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) systems – which basically eliminate the risk altogether.  However, there are still many high-profile ransomware attacks happening, which is why this threat remains at the top of our list as a threat to business in 2019.

How to Prepare:

John Zorabedian, author of Sophos NakedSecurity Blog – suggests that preventing ransomware attacks can be as simple as getting the basics of cyber security right. Back up your files regularly,  train and retrain employees in your business (we can help with that if you need). Use a password manager and never reuse passwords. Keep up to date with operating system patches and app or software updates. Change the default administrator passwords on things like home routers, modems, and network-attached storage servers.

2.Legislation Falling Behind 

ClickDimensions-GDPRBoth regional and national legislators are struggling to keep pace with the fast-paced developments in Cyber-security. They are set to fall even further behind in 2019, with most current legislation in place being years behind the technological curve. At the same time, as businesses cry out for more regulation, sweeping changes get made with tight deadlines that don’t allow adequate time for organisations to attain compliance. The ISF identifies how national regulations will also provide a hindrance: “legislation by its nature is government and regulator driven, resulting in a move towards national regulation at a time when cross border collaboration is needed. Organisations will struggle to keep abreast of such developments which may also impact business models which many have taken for granted”.

What Can I do?

Unfortunately, this one is mostly down to government and regulation. Without doubt, there remains much to be done and it requires the collaboration between governments, private initiatives, the academic sector, and of course, users.

3. Smart Devices will Challenge Data Integrity

Picture+for+ArticleAs the world enters a new era of technology, businesses are implementing smart devices enthusiastically in an effort to impact their business. This is a huge positive; however, many users won’t realise that these devices are often insecure by design, and therefore offer many opportunities for attackers. These types of attacks are on the rise; in 2018, SophosLabs saw significant growth in the volume of attacks targeting IoT devices. One of the reasons for this is that it’s challenging to detect a device is affected until something goes horribly wrong.

There will also be an increasing lack of transparency – vague terms and conditions will allow organisations to use personal data in ways customers did not intend. This will prove problematic for business, as it’ll become less clear to pinpoint what information is leaving their networks or what is being secretly captured and transmitted by devices such as smartphones or conference phones. To add insult to injury, when breaches occur, organisations will be held liable by regulators and customers for inadequate data protection.

The Fix:

Again, the main advice for preventing these types of attacks is to focus on mastering the basics. Make sure all devices are kept updated, and continually updating passwords. A new device that’s being introduced as a replacement for old devices makes it increasingly easy to forget about every connected device on your network. But old devices may carry old security protocols, forgotten passwords, and a whole host of other threats to your networks.

Each device is a potential weak point that has to be secured. So, if there are old access points that you no longer use, you’ll want to thoroughly disconnect them from the network – even going as far as doing a factory reset on the gadget.

4. Supply Chain Assurance Myths

Supply chains are a vital component of any B2B or B2C organisation. They are integral to the smooth running of a business, with valuable – and often sensitive – business information being shared with trusted suppliers. It’s important to remember that when this information is shared, direct control over your data is lost. This year, many organisations will realise that gaining traditional reassurance of their supply chain security is a lost cause. Businesses that continue to focus on assuring supply chain security with approaches such as self-certified audit and assurance, may preserve the illusion of security in the short term, but will inevitably discover that the security foundations they believed to be in place were lacking. Even the smallest supplier, or the slightest supply chain disruption, can have serious impacts on your business. Brand management and brand reputation are subject to the successful security of your supply chain; both are constantly at stake.

What to do:

Refocus on managing key data and understanding where and how it has been shared across multiple channels and boundaries, irrespective of supply chain provider. The best method is to implement a supply chain information risk assurance process, which is focused on information shared with upstream suppliers. This can be done by using supply chain maps to follow the information. Such an upstream information-sharing assessment tracks what is being shared with the suppliers’ suppliers and beyond. The results draw attention to significant concentrations of information, triggering the implementation of additional controls on your suppliers and can mitigate risks.

In Summary:

The unfortunate reality of today’s complex digital marketplace is that it is impossible to prevent every security compromise beforehand, and that no matter how much you prepare, there are still risks. However, being proactive now also means you, and your business will be better able to react rapidly and intelligently when something does happen.

For more information, guidance, and support on making sure your infrastructure is as secure as possible, get in touch with one of our engineers.

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Web4 Key Security Threats that Businesses Need to Prepare for in 2019

Windows 7 End of Life Support is nearing: January 14 2020

Only 6 Weeks until Microsoft ends the life of some of its most popular products.

These products include: Office 2010, Windows 7, and selected business server software.

What does that mean for your business?

1. You’ll lag behind your competitors:

There are no patches or updates for old software, leaving businesses
still using it lagging behind competitors.

2. Old software like Windows 7 costs more to run:

Old software costs more to run. Companies that upgrade to smarter,
faster, more secure operating systems, such as Windows 10, and migrate to the cloud, save a fortune over time with drastically reduced capital costs.

3. You will be vulnerable with Windows 7:

Hackers love end of life software, because it’s far easier to exploit.
The combination of no more security updates and lots of unpatched
holes makes it a prime target for cyber criminals.

4. Windows 7 will not be GDPR compliant:

Organisations that fail to protect their customers’ data are not compliant with GDPR. One of the main criteria of the new regulation is that
you have to use up-to-date, secure software, so if yours is falling short
all the hard work you did last year will have been for nothing.

What if I don’t upgrade or replace my machines by January 14th, 2020?

Imagine using a product that a company doesn’t want to take responsibility for anymore. You’ll be using the product at your own risk. This means that Microsoft will not take responsibility for loss of data due to security breaches on Windows 7.

What shall I do?

At ITCS, we have already upgraded many of our customers to the replacement Windows 10 platform.

If you haven’t upgraded yet, it’s best to seek the help of an IT professional. This is a good way to ensure that everything is upgraded correctly and that all firewalls and antivirus are in place and working optimally. Depending on what type of hardware and software you’re using, you may need to take specific steps to make sure everything is fully compatible.

To meet with a member of our team or discuss your needs, please contact the ITCS support desk on 08456 400200 or email support@itcs.co.uk and we will be happy to help.

WebWindows 7 End of Life Support is nearing: January 14 2020

ITCS Celebrates Latest Awards Win for IT Support Team

The ITCS team have another reason to celebrate as we have been named Best Business IT Support Company 2018 in the 2018 Welsh Enterprise Awards.

It’s greatly appreciated by the support teams who work at our highly-regarded Head Office and 24 hour support centre in Bridgend, and of course our Midlands regional office and nationwide network of engineers.

We now provide IT Support, Business Telecoms, Web Design, PPC and SEO to businesses throughout the UK.

The awards, hosted by SME-News, analyse every aspect of entrants’ performance over the past 12 months, considering factors like commitment to innovation, working practices and how they compare to their industry competitors.  The results will be formally announced in October 2018, but winners have been notified early.

Managing Director, Brian Stokes, said he was delighted to receive the award:

“I’d like to thank the awards organisers for recognizing the outstanding efforts of our IT support team. Every team member is committed to delivering excellent customer service and this award reflects the hard work and effort they put into exceeding customer expectations.  I’m delighted to receive this award on their behalf, and would like to personally thank the customers who took time to support our nomination.”   

WebITCS Celebrates Latest Awards Win for IT Support Team