Who’s Stealing Your Bandwidth?

Prime Telecommunications, Inc., a leading provider in unified communications, announced today that the company is educating its customers on the recent expansion of bandwidth monitoring and management solutions. Essentially, bandwidth monitoring is the practice and policy of tracking the utilization of company bandwidth between all employees, software applications and desktops. The growth of bandwidth management solutions in recent years is due primarily to growth of company provided and personal devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) connected to an organization’s network.

According to Vic Levinson, President of Prime Telecommunications, “Any company that provides cloud-devices, software or applications that run over a data network, need to ensure that bandwidth is being consumed properly.” This notion reflects the current state of most solutions, which are simply being strained to the point where many business owners notice that the devices, applications and software underperform. In essence, it’s like siphoning out all of the gas from a car, and then blaming the car for running on fumes. The problem lies with poor policy making and a lack of guidelines for employees on how to properly utilize the Internet at a place of business.

“On many occasions, we’ve found that up to 40% of a company’s employees are choking bandwidth and making it harder for other people to do their work,” Levinson added. “We conduct quarterly reviews with our customers where we assess the performance of all of the technology that we provide. It gives our clients a global perspective on their network and what its performance is and how it can be better. Our overarching goal is to make sure that our customers’ businesses are performing at more productive levels and this is how we quantify productivity. This is why we lead these meetings with device performance audits. With bandwidth being the central resource upon which nearly every technology relies, we have to make sure that this is being consumed in accordance with best practices before any other steps are taken.”

In addition, to the underperformance of the network and the drain on productivity this can cause, many business owners appreciate technology audits, like the one provided by Prime Telecommunications, because they uncover how much time employees are spending on various sites that have nothing to do with their job. This gives tremendous insight on the productivity, or lack thereof, with certain employees. One of the quickest ways to immediately boost customer profitability is to restrict the bandwidth of employees to sites to those that are exclusively productive in nature, as opposed to entertainment-based sites.

“In some cases, employees simply don’t know that their bandwidth consumption is slowing the rest of the team down. New parents can put their children in day care and want to stream the video from time to time to see how their child is doing throughout the day. Inherently there’s nothing wrong with this, if done on occasion. However, when a parent leaves one of these streaming videos up while they begin working on other things, the rest of the team will notice the lag time that slows down their own desktop. The network is simply a shared resource that needs some guidelines in place, especially in the new employee handbook. With a comprehensive bandwidth consumption policy in place, business owners can rest assured that their software, hardware and online tools will all function at optimal levels.”

Telecom Cost Savings are Within Reach


Calls are cheap, right? With long distance rates in the sub two-cent range, many telecom managers are not concerned with lowering the telecom bill. But cost savings can be achieved because the call is just one piece of the puzzle.

Employee Cost Savings

Employees are the most expensive part of your business. A mid-level employee may cost $45 per hour loaded with benefits. If that employee is on the phone for an hour unnecessarily, that is lost money. Cut out that wasted hour, and productivity and cost-savings are added back to the bottom-line. When call log reports are distributed, the visibility and accountability of staff phone activity means employees make fewer – and shorter – personal and other unnecessary calls.  This lowers costs, in some cases as much as 30 percent.

Toll-Free Numbers

One of the smartest marketing moves the phone company ever did was naming these calls “toll-free.” Nothing in life is free, and there certainly is no such thing as a toll-free call. Someone pays somewhere. In the case of a “toll-free” call, the person or organization being called pays. It should have been called “automatic collect” because in essence, a caller is calling someone who has already agreed to pick up the charges.

Typically businesses have these toll-free numbers for customers and prospective customers to reach them. Better decisions can be made when a sales manager or marketing department can use reports to show:

• Where those calls are coming from (city/state)?
• Who is calling you on those numbers?
• Who is answering those calls?

Stop Fraud

telecom cost savings

Many employees think these “toll-free” calls are really free and give this number to family and friends. VXTracker can deliver a report to show who is receiving calls on these lines. Is it someone in customer service? Perfect. Is it someone who is not customer facing? There’s loss that should be stopped.

Reduce Directory Assistance Costs

Directory assistance calls can be as much as $2.50 per call and are often hidden in the phone bill. VXTracker call accounting reports show a summary of these costs, and identifies who is using this service. Are these numbers they could look up on an internet phone directory? Spot the worst offenders easily with a compliance report for telecom cost savings.

Optimize Phone System Configuration

Cost savings can be realized by capturing live call data. It allows managers to:

•    Verify the correct routing of calls.
•    Monitor and report on VoIP bandwidth usage.
•    Confirm if all trunks are operating properly.
•    Show if you have too many trunks.
•    Identify unused extensions.
•    Lower Usage Costs.

VXSuite helps businesses realize telecom cost savings. Set a plan to reduce this misuse of company resources and lower costs.

What do you do to achieve telecom cost savings?

Hang-Up on Your Traditional Telephone System: 3 Advantages of VoIP

Along with adopting cloud services, many businesses are taking advantage of progressive technological developments to further save money and allocate resources elsewhere. By implementing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), businesses are enabling vocal communication over the Internet, and reaping the many benefits of the system.

In essence, VoIP—colloquially referred to as Internet telephony—is a series of transmission capabilities that facilitate communication over the Internet. The technology converts voice vibrations to compressed digital signals, and then transfers them into regular telephone signals—thus, playing the part of a conventional telephone.

But enough with the tech talk. Here are three quick tips that illustrate why VoIP services will make you want to hang-up on your traditional telephone system.

Costs Savings

The most obvious—and arguably most attractive—feature of VoIP is the money you will be saving from the get-go. For starters, moving away from public telephone networks makes long-distance calling affordable. VoIP also reduces the cost of equipment, manpower, lines, and maintenance. Despite the initial setup costs, businesses save immensely by managing only one network and not having to bear the financial burdens of a telephony system. Gone are the days of needing a team to manage your data network and your voice network.

Flexibility & Mobility               

Sure, VoIP increases savings by lowering your businesses initial communication costs. However, it does so much more. Internet telephony enables users to access software programs—think common features such as email, fax, and remote conferencing—over the Internet. In short, users can utilize voice services while accessing other applications simultaneously.

And what’s even better? VoIP users can use their adapters anywhere that Internet is offered, including their mobile phones. This is mobility, people—and a feature that is proving to be extremely relevant in a workforce that has become more mobile and remote.


VoIP requires very little technical knowledge. In fact, the installation process is simple compared to traditional telephones. With VoIP systems, businesses are no longer required to use separate cabling (which also greatly reduces clutter and fire hazards associated with electrical wires!). Once installed, VoIP systems are easy to maintain—after all, the transfer of voice to digital signals requires no specialized hardware. Finally, VoIP is scalable, meaning that it’s simple to add extra components with very little hassle.

Sound enticing? These are only a few of the benefits of switching to VoIP services. Much like transferring to the cloud, making the switch to Internet telephony is a no-brainer. For more information, contact us today. old phone

Security Alert: Scammers are holding your phones hostage for ransom

I recently read an article in the Chicago Tribune that was actually reprinted from the  LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-phone-hacking-20130719,0,5710787.story). It described a nightmare similar to what some of our clients have gone through at different times over the past year.

Here is the scenario: all of a sudden (literally) all of their phone lines are taken over by a caller who is posing as a debt collection agency trying to collect on a delinquent account for an “employee”. In none of the cases was the named employee a current employee of my clients. All of the phone lines (in some cases they were SIP trunks, in other cases plain ordinary telephone lines and in two cases they were PRI running over a T1’s for a total of 46 channels) were taken over so that no calls could be received or made. The caller wanted to collect $500 or more dollars immediately. The business could pay- and then they would release the lines. In other cases, IP sets were “spoofed” and the hackers made hundreds of dollars in fraudlent calls that were billed to clients.

Can you imagine how frustrating that is? My clients were enraged. The local police were called – and were not able to do anything about the situation. The FBI Cyber Crimes unit was called – but they could do nothing about it. In each of the cases, other legitimate business numbers were faked (a.k.a “spoofed”) as the calling party.

In each of the cases,  we had to involve the carrier. Out of all of the carriers, SNET reacted the fastest. CBeyond was the most responsive with follow up. With SNET  in about 5 minutes, the nuisance calls were blocked and service was restored. In the other cases, the denial of service took over for a couple of hours. Denial of service attacks ( when hackers install programs on unprotected computers and overwhelm targeted servers) are common in the IP world. It’s a type of attack that is getting more common in the voice world as more companies adopt IP telephony (such as SIP trunks and converged circuits).

There are a few ways to protect yourself.

  1. First and foremost, either install your own Session Border Controller or make sure that your provider has an enterprise level session border controller installed on your circuits.
  2. Make sure that you know how to escalate your case through your carrier.
  3. Ensure that you have their emergency numbers on your cell phone and that you know your account information.
  4. Make sure that you have multiple authorized representatives on the account who can open and escalate trouble tickets.
  5. Know your vendors!  Emergency phone numbers, contact names and emails.
  6. If you are running your own IP equipment, make sure that it is in Stealth DMZ,  behind a firewall, that default passwords were changed and no one (even the most VIP) uses easy passwords.

In addition, the only way that this will be acted on is through involving law enforcement. The FBI Cyber Crimes unit should be notified and the incident should be reported. Helping them will give them necessary information in catching culprits. If you are an IT professional, join INFRAGARD which is a strategic partnership between the Bureau and IT professionals.


Strategic technology to deliver optimal customer service

Today’s customer requires instantaneous resolutions on the communications channel they prefer, but most businesses aren’t able to fully meet these demands.

Forrester examines the technology updates needed to empower agents and managers to deliver quality customer experiences, every time, regardless of the channel.

To learn the four key solutions that efficient and empowered agents need, download Forrester’s The Strategic Role of Customer Experience Technologies.

Case study: Launching 4,000 video conferencing accounts in 5 weeks

Today’s slate of personal video conferencing systems –when deployed to a critical mass of employees – have overcome the limitations andbad reputation of the past and have significant benefits beyond travel savings:

  • Improved team building
  • Better integration of resources
  • Faster decision making 
  •  Richer interaction

 To demonstrate the capability of video in the modernworkplace, Avaya implemented the SCOPIA desktop to 4,000 users worldwide,including the management team and field sales and marketing teams.

 In the new white paper (sponsored by Avaya) “The Viabilityof Large-Scale Personal Video Conferencing Deployments,” Wainhouse Researchtook a look at the results after two months, analyzing the early conclusionsand benefits after more than 35,000 meetings with 85,000 attendees were held.

Among the conclusions:

    • “Click-to-connect” conferencingsolutions can enable sales to connect with customers and prospects with aricher, more productive interaction experience.

  • Product development and marketingteams reported that having everyone video-enabled made the teams more cohesiveand improved overall working relationships.
  • Global logistics and supply chainmanagement teams used video to reduce on-site supplier meetings and to makein-person increasingly more productive since relationships can be establishedbeforehand.

To read Wainhouse Research’s recommendations andlessons learned when implementing person video into the enterprise, downloadthe free white paper here: http://bit.ly/VAqloa  

Key Trends Redefining Unified Communications

Defining Unified Communications (UC) has always been a bit of a moving target. And that’s made many people wonder if they really need it.

In the beginning, UC often meant things like being able to see your voicemail and e-mail together on a PC.  Or having software you could put on your PC to control your phone and directory. The operative initials were as much PC as UC.

Now Unified Communications is being redefined. Mobile devices are a big part of what’s bringing about the change. Collaboration technologies are part of it. And so are improvements in the underlying communications infrastructure—IP, SIP, 4G and more.

Here is a quick guide to where UC is now and why these changes are making UC a smart choice for almost any business. Also, to see a good example of UC in action, take two minutes to watch this solutions video located on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw_mwruTPVk&list=PL61568CCB0826DEE2&index=32&feature=plpp_video

IP and SIP: The “unified” part of UC has always been primarily about getting your phone and computer to work together using the Internet-based IP and SIP protocols. This made it possible to have your PC and your phone on one network. But the bigger benefit was that a phone call itself was now able to be handled as a digital file (i.e., like an e-mail.) Just as you can easily have one e-mail go to multiple addresses, you can have calls go to multiple devices and numbers: business phone, mobile and home phone. Just as you can have dozens of people on an e-mail chain, you can have dozens of people on a conference call—without having to use a conferencing service. Just as you can easily manage different e-mail accounts, you can have multiple incoming lines for different segments of your business—a key way to create a better customer experience.  The benefits are substantial. That’s why sales of IP-based business systems grow in the double digits every year and are a driving force behind the UC revolution.

UC Apps: Everyone loves their mobile phone, in part thanks to all of the mobile apps that are now available. You can use your mobile to check the weather, do your banking, find a movie, etc. Now you can also get a UC app. Avaya has one (see it in action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq3duSQFU5o) It lets you tightly integrate you mobile phone and your office system: Manage your office directory. Set up conference calls. Make a call directly from a text. Getting the right app to marry your mobile phone to your office communications system is a major step forward for UC.

Collaboration: This is one of the hottest buzz words in business today. In fact, the terms “unified communications” and “mobile collaboration” are often used interchangeably. They are both all about bringing the right people together with the right information in the right context. “Presence” is a big part of this.  Having presence capabilities let you see at a glance who in your organization is available and how to reach them quickly.

Video: Today, anyone with an Internet-enabled device, a webcam and free software can make a video call to almost anyone else in the world. It’s estimated that more than a third of Skype-to-Skype calls now include video, with peaks as high as 50 percent during the holidays. This rapid spread of video calls in the personal, consumer market is driving the growth of video in business. Also, the SIP standard provides capabilities that simplify how video integrates and connects, opening the way to regular use of video with the same ease as voice and messaging communications. Businesses are also discovering that the smart use of video conferencing can give you new levels of flexibility in partnering, assembling teams and competing for top, full-time talent. For all of these reasons, video is becoming a larger part of the UC equation. We also have a service called iMeet on our website- that makes business class video conferences easy and extremely affordable.

We  have  a wide range of resources on our website www.primetelecommunications.com  that look at all aspects of UC—where it is today, and where’s it’s going.

Adding the Human Touch to Mobile Engagement

A power shift is taking place in the dynamics of customer engagement. And it impacts every company—large and small.

The shift began well over a decade ago with the Internet. This made it possible for customers to go online 24/7 to do research, browse solutions and make buying decisions.  Now the mobile revolution is taking this powershift to a new level.  As Forrester researchers Ted Schadler and John C. McCarthy note in their recent report, Mobile Is The New Face of Engagement; ‘by 2016, more than a billion people will be using mobile devices to engage with brands, information, and each other.”

Using these mobile apps, people can act “in the moment” to check a status, find an expert, receive an alert, make a purchase, answer a question, share an opinion, send a message, etc. This shifts more power from institutions to individuals. It takes the revolution that was started by the PC and the Web, bringing it to an entirely new level.

But this powershift isn’t all one-way. Companies can also take advantage of the powershift to differentiate themselves and maintain the connection with their customer base that is critical to long-term success. In fact, it’s a business imperative for companies doing business on those terms to find  ways to add the human touch to mobile engagement.

Avaya has provided a fascinating analysis of this in a whitepaper that focuses on how this dynamic is playing itself out right now in the insurance industry. (To see the full whitepaper, go to http://www.avaya.com/uk/resource/assets/whitepapers/SVC7067%20Claims%20Processing%20WP.pdf

According to the consulting firm Accenture, nearly half of all insurance policies today are renewed or bought online rather than through agents. As a result, many consumers only interact with their insurance provider when they need to file a claim. When that moment comes, consumers want the convenience of a mobile app, but research shows they also value “concern” from their insurer. They want timeliness, courtesy, promptness and knowledge, but they also want the understanding, empathy and willingness to listen that only another human being can offer.

For insurance companies, this means that personalizing the new mobile interaction channels (e.g. smartphones and tablet PCs) will be imperative. Click-to-call, click-to-chat, co-browsing, one-touch video and other techniques can merge aspects of online self-service with personal live interaction, capitalizing on the best of both worlds.

In words that apply to many industries, the Avaya whitepaper notes that “Today, when alternative insurance options are at every consumer’s fingertips, brand loyalty is of utmost importance… responsiveness and personal interaction at each step of the claims process and at each touch point with policyholders can capture an important opportunity to solidify brand loyalty and, as a consequence, grow their business.”

To read the full whitepaper, go to http://www.avaya.com/uk/resource/assets/whitepapers/SVC7067%20Claims%20Processing%20WP.pdf

Using Mobile Tools to Drive Innovation

Mobile communications and collaboration tools are an inevitable part of the business world. But increasingly, the goal is not just to keep people in touch. It’s to drive more innovation in business processes and customer service:

  • Sales teams getting access to customer history, product inventory, pricing, and logistics information — while in their customer’s office — when they are closing a sale.
  • Insurers using mobile solutions to exchange digital pictures and insurance coverage documents to accelerate claims settlements.
  • Companies providing their customers with mobile apps to streamline access to support information and reduce the load on customer service agents.

To get a snapshot of the state-of-the-art in mobile implementations,  the technology consulting firm Forrester recently conducted a survey of more than 100 top IT and business decision makers. (To see the full report, go to http://www.avaya.com/usa/resource/assets/whitepapers/BCL%20-%20Mobile%20Collaboration%20-%20Mobile%20Solutions%20Connect%20Information%20Workers%20-%20Mar%202012.pdf)

Some of the findings were:

Few organizations have fully deployed mobile technologies across the board, but the majority are at least evaluating and piloting mobile technologies or rolling them out in limited production.

While phone calls and e-mail are still the top mobile applications, access to calendars, the corporate directory access and IM/presence are increasingly what’s driving mobile strategy.

More than one-third of businesses report implementing, or plans to implement, mobile applications for network and systems management, sales force, help desk, or emergency and critical response applications.

According to Forrester, counting on mobility to drive innovation won’t come without effort.  It counsels firms to turn to early adopters—executives, sales team, and field forces—to  be evangelists for the rest of the firm. And back up your strategies with training and communications support. “Assuming that users will flock to new mobile solutions and mandating adoption are tactics that won’t work,” Forrester notes.  “A clear communication of the benefits and advantages of mobile solutions is needed.”

2 Winning Options for Small and Midsize Businesses

Whether your business that has a handful of servers or hundreds of server racks, until fairly recently they were all managed the same way: server by server, one application to one server.

Virtualization has changed all of that. With virtualization, you can allocate applications across servers. You can more easily balance workloads across hardware and better adapt to peak usage and maintenance schedules. In the event of a hardware failure, applications can be quickly migrated to another server in the environment and resume operation. You don’t need redundant hardware—overall savings on hardware and management can be significant, which is why virtualization has been a dominant trend in IT for the last several years.

But there has been one major holdout in the virtualization game: communications. You might have virtualized your other applications, but you kept your communications separate and apart.

That’s because, initially at least, virtualization software—solutions like VMWare’s vSphere and Citrix’s XenServer—could not adequately support real-time communications. They could handle non-real time applications (e.g., voicemail ) but for real time services like call control, conferencing and call center applications the quality was simply not there.

Now that’s changed. Enhancements to virtualization hypervisors have opened the door to fully virtualized unified communications platforms. This is a big deal, particularly for midsize companies.  In the past, midsize companies were forced to choose between single-server communications solutions designed for small companies or much larger, multi-server solutions designed for enterprises—in effect, having to under-buy or over-buy.

Now, through virtualization, the midsize company has a way to move into advanced communications and collaboration, without being forced to over-buy. Midsize companies can buy virtualized modules of unified communications services deployed in turnkey appliances with separate partitions for each service. They can select only the services that they need, and if their needs change, new modules can be activated on the appliance without additional hardware costs.

The Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise (ME) is typical of the new unified communications solutions that take advantage of virtualization. It provides a centralized, enterprise-wide architecture for up  to 2400 users (up to 250 remote locations) with common management for all kinds of collaboration—mobile, voice, video, instant messaging and presence—and support for extended applications such as  Avaya Aura® Contact Center, Avaya Aura® Conferencing and AvayaLive™ Engage.

The complete base system is one server. Even with additional application servers for advanced applications, virtualization is a key reason why Avaya Aura ME is up to 16% less expensive per user compared to competitors (based on Avaya internal testing–measured at 400 users).

Faster and less costly than installing everything separately, the solution uses the Avaya System Platform application to simplify the installation and maintenance procedures. System Platform runs multiple Avaya Aura applications on a modified Citrix Xen hypervisor on a Linux platform.

Set-up is streamlined through the use of pre-defined templates (e.g., enter IP addresses once for all solutions) simplifying desktop management and speeding deployment. Overall, streamlined administration can result in 75% less time required for system maintenance.  Virtualization also means significantly less power and cooling required compared to traditional deployments.

Virtualization is not for everyone. That’s why Avaya also offers a non-virtualized solution: Avaya IP Office. On a single server platform, IP Office can grow from serving a handful of users to up to 1000 users at up to 32 locations. It’s designed to be easy-to-administer and deliver desktop communications capabilities right to a smartphone or tablet, including integrated e-mail and voice mail, instant messaging, presence and conferencing. You can meet the needs of individual users in your company by adding targeted software applications designed for office workers, mobile workers, home/teleworkers, customer service agents and more.

So, if you are ready to take the plunge with virtualization, there has never been a better time with a solution like Avaya Aura ME. If you are still more comfortable with a single-server solution that is simple to manage and offers easy growth to up to 1,000 users, Avaya IP Office can fit the bill.  Read “Getting Mobile Collaboration Right: A Guide for Midsize Enterprise” at http://www.avaya.com/usa/solution/mobile-collaboration for more information on these 2 winning options. Be sure to check out our website: at www.primetelecommunications.com !