Sirus Blog

Category Archives: Broadband

BT Openreach Explained

Posted on July 13, 2016 by

Openreach looks after the fibres, wires and cables that connect the country. So when you make calls, browse the web, download music, stream movies, catch up with TV on demand, indulge in a bit of online retail therapy or video call the in-laws – it’s most likely on Openreach’s network.

They don’t sell phone, broadband or TV services. Instead, they work on behalf of over 500 service providers (such as Sky, TalkTalk, BT and Daisy) to maintain the local access network that connects 18 million homes and businesses to 5,500 local telephone exchanges using 120 million kilometres of cables. Their team of over 25,000 engineers complete about 170,000 jobs each week, providing new services and keeping the network running.

Building for the future

Of course, it’s not just about maintaining the current network; they’re also investing £3 billion to upgrade it – and they’ve rolled out superfast fibre broadband to more than 22 million homes and businesses in the UK already.

Why do Openreach vans have a BT logo?

Openreach is part of BT Group, but they operate independently. Why? Well, the UK’s local access network was historically owned and maintained by BT. To make sure that all service providers had equal access to the network as the market opened up, BT and the regulator, Ofcom, came to an agreement to separate the company’s network engineering division from the rest of BT and to create Openreach.

So now, Openreach provides the same products, support and levels of service to all service providers, including BT. For us, BT is treated exactly the same as our other service provider customers.


Top 5 Mistakes When Buying a Phone System

Posted on June 27, 2016 by

Buying a phone system is a big purchase for any business. It can potentially cost thousands of pounds and is not a decision that should be made without thorough research. Choosing the right provider is key, but with thousands of options available to business owners it can be difficult to know which company is the right fit for your business. It can be easy to make mistakes when purchasing a phone system. Here we discuss the five most common mistakes when buying a phone system and what you should do to avoid them.

 

 

Mistake 1: Not considering all options

Too often people limit their options by saying, “I’ll only buy a VoIP system.” or “PBX has always worked well for us before, we’ll get another one.” There are a variety of different systems out there with an ever increasing number of capabilities. It’s not simply a choice between VoIP or PBX. There are hybrid IP systems that take the best functionality of VoIP and traditional PBX. The best way to approach buying a phone system is to list everything that you want to achieve from the solution and then invite businesses in to see if they can meet the criteria with their solution. Don’t get caught up in the broad type of system, focus on the features that you require.

Mistake 2: Not getting a phone system that is compatible with other software

Advances in communications technology over the past couple of years mean that phone systems have developed to a point where many are now unified communications platforms that go far beyond just being a phone system. CRM integration, Outlook and Lync integration, screen popping, intelligent call statistics, remote working capabilities along with mobile, tablet and PC applications are just a few of the capabilities of modern phone systems. Don’t buy a phone system that is simply just a phone system. There is so much more available to businesses today that should be utilised to get you ahead of competitors.

Mistake 3: Not doing your research on the company you’re buying from

Like in most industries you get companies who promise you the world and deliver nothing. We regularly take on new clients who have had bad experiences with their previous clients. Choosing the wrong provider can mean loss of business and hit companies where it hurts, on the bottom line. It’s vital you choose the right company to provide your communications. A company that will help you to increase profit, not a company that will have a negative impact on your business. Make sure you research the company you intend to buy from thoroughly before buying from them. Check their website and look at testimonials and case studies. Get a feel for how they operate. Be fully confident that the company can provide everything you need and can help your business to flourish.

Mistake 4: Not buying a phone system that is easily scalable

When buying a phone system it’s important to not only consider your current requirements, but also think about future growth. Does the system you are considering buying allow you to easily add new users? Ideally you want a ‘plug and play’ system that will allow you to add handsets yourself. If you pay an engineer every time you want to configure a new handset you are adding unnecessary cost to your business. Is there a cost effective solution in place if you decide to open a new office? Purchasing a system that can act a centralised platform for multiple locations can save your business a fortune by not having to install a phone system in every office.

Mistake 5: Not taking advantage of new line technology

Purchasing a system that is compatible with SIP trunk technology could save your company hundreds and even thousands of pounds. SIP is cost effective alternative to ISDN and analogue lines. SIP connects your PBX to your analogue ports through a dedicated voice broadband. At around £5 per month SIP trunks are considerably cheaper than analogue and ISDN. SIP trunks will also enable you to access cheaper call costs that are typically 75% lower than using an analogue line. Perfect for businesses who use a large number of minutes over the course of a month.

If you would like help on making the right decision please call a member of the team on 0333 222 1133


The Truth about the cloud

Posted on February 22, 2016 by

We’ve compiled the most common misconceptions surrounding cloud based phone systems and revealed the truth behind them.

When it comes to upgrading or investing in new systems, businesses are extremely hesitant. Many don’t want to change – and don’t see the point – if a system is working for them then why change it? But it is called an upgrade for a reason, and most businesses sticking to legacy systems that do the job ‘well’ are missing out on solutions that can do the job better.

The myth Vs the truth

Voice quality isn’t as good

With the correct connectivity service, cloud based phone systems can in fact deliver considerably higher quality than a traditional copper line. As it is so heavily reliant on your connectivity solution, this is where the main bulk of security and quality issues may lie. With our cloud based phone system, we will provide a full audit of your network. For quality assurances, many hosted phone users in fact report that voices sound more natural and less “tinny” than on a digital service.

It is less secure

Whilst a virtual phone system can reduce costs, it does place greater performance and security demands on your network. If your existing network has security vulnerabilities, these have the potential to be exploited once the service is deployed.

Areas of concern include gateway security, firewall configuration, patching procedures, periodic syslog review, and wireless security. It is of optimal importance for you to be sure your security house is in order prior to implementation. Following any of the streamlining of the vulnerabilities in your network, with a cloud-based phone service, your company can actually enjoy much more secure conversations.

Placing your phone system in the Cloud may even be the most secure option for today’s businesses, according to the Enterprise Director of Security at Google. Whilst using the cloud is met with even more hesitancy than using hybrid voice solutions, Fran Feigenbaum was recently quoted: ‘the cloud is more secure than what most organisations are currently using.’

We would recommend any business upgrading to the cloud to –

  • Perform a security audit ahead of the implementation
  • Make sure your firewall is VoIP aware. If not, you should upgrade it ahead of time – we have many firewall options to help secure your voice traffic
  • Arrange a back-up plan – without a backup, you would not be able to restore telephony in the event of a disaster.

It’s expensive

One of the biggest misunderstandings of cloud technology is that it is expensive, but finding the right solution for your business can reduce costs and deliver a real return on investment. Instead of paying for numerous separate products for your business that do not sit in sync, e.g. having your phone system installed by one company and your ADSL provided by another, you combine all these communications services into one monthly cost – and you only pay for what you use.

A cloud-based PBX service is actually very cost-effective, with no hardware on site and an easy, straight forward installation – you are cutting costs right from implementation.

It’s too complicated

If you are still relying on your traditional PBX, then believe it or not but the phone system currently taking up space on your office wall is actually more complicated than today’s voice services, which are extremely easy to understand.

Switching from a traditional office phone system to a hosted solution will take away all the confusing switches, lines, cards and hardware taking up space on your premises. The system is easy to install, use and support without having to be an IT genius – but not many IT managers would like you to know that. (Mainly because with a cloud based phone system, you might not even need many IT resources at all).

We can’t afford the time to start changing all of our systems and processes

Many businesses feel reluctant to upgrade their telephony infrastructure as their experience with legacy system installation often meant days – sometimes weeks – out of service and lost man hours. However, with a cloud based phone system, the solution can be installed almost instantly without any disruption to your business.

As it is a software solution – the installation time is much quicker and of more benefit to your business. (It’s cheaper too) Staff do not need much training on the solution either due to our intuitive interface that is easy to navigate and use.

Furthermore, working with a cloud provider such as Sirus, we take care of your solution installation and post-sales support, giving you little to worry about.

It’s not reliable

No system has 100% uptime, and neither does the cloud. Given the scale, however, cloud computing services are typically designed to provide high redundancy and availability. When looking at it logistically, the cloud enables a higher level of reliability at a fraction of the cost, and whilst it might not have 100% uptime, we can promise at least 99.999%. Studies by Microsoft and others have also confirmed that when businesses shift to the cloud, they see improved service availability.

To find out more about finding the right communications package for your business, contact Sirus to discuss how we can help on 0333 222 1133.


How to Overcome Broadband Issues

Posted on January 13, 2016 by

Talk of the internet ‘running slow’ or ‘going down’ is often heard, but what does this actually mean and why does it happen…?

Here are 3 of the most common terms heard when suffering with broadband:

Downtime

This is complete loss of an internet connection. You will not be able to load webpages, or send /receive emails.

Jitter

When data packets received arrive at different times, or in the wrong order. It takes time to get it back in order so could cause delays/buffering. You may notice frozen images or out of time sound when streaming videos or with VoIP there may be a short break in sound.

High Latency

Latency is a measure of the speed of your connection. Low latency means information can be processed quickly, whilst high latency means there are delays. Emails may take time to send, webpages will be slow to load or you may see ‘connection timed out’ error messages.

What causes these problems…..

Inadequate Bandwidth

This is when the amount of data you are trying to process is more than the internet connection can handle. For example if you are trying to download multiple large files at the same time as streaming video, you would be using far more bandwidth than simply browsing an individual webpage. Similarly, if you have too many people/devices trying to use the internet at the same time this will decrease the amount of bandwidth available to process each device’s information.

Contention Ratio

Unless you have a Direct Internet Connection (DIA) your broadband connection will share the internet infrastructure with others. This means that when lot’s of other people/businesses (externally) are using the internet at the same time as you, you may encounter problems. A contention ratio of 50:1 means that up to 50 broadband users are sharing the same bandwidth.

Peak Times

The internet is a global resource that increasingly we cannot live without. Every day more and more devices are trying to access the internet across the world, both at work and at home. Busy times in the UK tend to be 4pm through to 11pm. This is because for most of us, this is our downtime (pardon the pun) or our leisure time – which is becoming more and more reliant on the internet. We are all attempting to surf the net and stream videos at the same time. Not only this, those across the pond in the US are starting their working day.

Location

Whilst those in big towns & cities often benefit from the latest infrastructure, it can be a different matter for those in more remote areas as it is more expensive to upgrade to areas further away. Even with the same infrastructure in place, data that has to travel further takes longer to reach it’s destination.

What to check when experiencing downtime:

Check Wires

  • Is everything is connected?
  • Are there any loose wires?
  • Is everything is in the right socket?
  • If you have a spare ethernet cable, try replacing this

Check Devices

  • Are other devices connected to internet? If so it could be a device issue, so try restarting the device.

Check Telephone Line / Microfilter

  • If you can’t make calls on the line it may be a line fault or a problem with your microfilter – the small box that both the Ethernet/DSL cable and telephone wire plug into, so that you can plug both into the tel socket on the wall. Try taking out the microflter and plugging the telephone wire directly into the wall.
  • If you can now make calls, replace your microfilter and test again.
  • If you still cannot make calls, contact service provider to run a line test.

Check Router

  • Turn the router OFF
  • Disconnect all cables and leave for 20 mins before plugging back in and switching on the power.

When suffering high jitter or latency issues:

Consider timing

Think about when you complete bandwidth hungry activities. Are you able to download those large files overnight (or at a time when you are not already maxing out your bandwidth)?

Monitor your usage

Log into your router’s network management tool (usually web-based but many now offer an App to do this) to establish which devices are being greedy!

Consider a router upgrade

There are many routers available to meet specific needs. Check out whether one with additional features to yours could help resolve any issues you have been experiencing. For example, we offer both a ‘High Speed’ or ‘Superior’ router that come with many more benefits than the standard, but these aren’t necessary for everyone.

Consider your broadband connection

Is your current service sufficient to cope with your requirements? Do you want to consider upgrading to fibre (to achieve greater speed) or direct internet access (DIA) to avoid contended bandwidth (sharing).

Don’t wait until your broadband starts experiencing these problems before you do something about it! Contact us today on 0333 222 1133 to discuss the best options available.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
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