What price loyalty or a guarantee
Skype suffers worldwide outage for a full day, users of the free app threaten to leave in droves! What price loyalty eh?
Just because something is free, it should still work and nothing is more frustrating than a free and useful product suddenly becoming unavailable. People become resentful and bitter toward the products owners.
Apparently, the business version was unaffected which leads one to imagine that their view is that the free product didn't matter? Cynical yes and probably incorrect but that's the world view.
We recently had to compare product availability for a business continuity plan for a telephone system.
The very best quoted service level agreement on the market is from a leading British Telecom provider. However, their claim of 99.9% availability is only guaranteed if you use their equipment and their broadband! Strangely, our humble Module IT VOIP is currently at 99.975% and we will use any broadband and equipment. To put this in perspective, 99.9% equals about a working day per annum. 99.975% is about 2 hours.
What does this really mean to my business?
Well, you should be cynical about sales claims and work out what the real impact might be but then look at the cost difference between the systems. The one guaranteeing 99.9% costs over 100 times more than the one currently performing better but of course we cannot guarantee that! ;)
UK sales of traditional telephone switchboards (PBX) have fallen behind Internet based (SIP) systems. The decline according to industry analysts, is greater in the UK and Europe indicating that we are leading the change from traditional telephony.
So what does this mean for business in the Forest of Dean? Put simply, if a spiky haired telephone salesman tries to sell you a switchboard, ask him why it isn't a hosted (SIP) system?
We're lucky here in that we are seeing massive improvements in internet speeds throughout Gloucestershire and particularly in the Forest. This means that its getting easier and cheaper to adopt a really sophisticated telephone switchboard.
This means we can all benefit from multiple lines, professional call handling, telephone number portability. I have a great example of a Forest based business wanting to do work in Cheltenham and Gloucester. For less than £10 per month they can have 01452 and 01242 telephone numbers ringing their Forest based business.
An Architects practice in Lydney has numbers in London and Bristol, when a call comes in from those numbers their Lydney switchboard can see which area immediately and answer accordingly.
So why not join the growing number of Forest businesses and Charities making the move to internet telephony by talking to us or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
SMEs and Broadband
Are you capitalising on broadband connectivity?
It has been revealed in a study by Go ON UK ad Booz & Co that an additional £1.8b can be generated by incorporating digital capabilities, but in a report by The Broadband Stakeholder Group there are many smaller firms who are failing to capitalise on this.
The report has come up with a list of recommendations which could be used to better inform policy makers in SMEs on the benefits of using the internet and better internet connectivity.
So far £1.7b has been invested in the broadband infrastructure and SMEs need to take advantage of this and boost their own productivity.
High Roaming Charges
How many people turn off their mobile devices when travelling abroad to save on the high roaming charges? I know of someone who actually ended up with a bill for £900 after using his iPhone whilst abroad and continuing to download the same data etc that he downloaded at home – his comment was “never again”. Once, on a trip to the USA, I purchased a US SIM card to use to call the UK as it was cheaper than using my UK one.
The European Commission carried out a survey of 28,000 people from across the European Union and along with other data showed that 47% of the people surveyed refused to use their mobile devices whilst travelling abroad. It was discovered that up to 37% of British residents turn off their mobile devices when outside of the UK.
As a result Neelie Knoes, European Commission Vice President stated “it shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges”. As a result these high charges end up with no winners and the mobile companies losing out on revenue and businesses losing out on business and profits. More particularly these charges are having a damaging effect on UK businesses that operate outside of the UK and whose personnel frequently travel abroad.
Since February 2013 the EU has been in discussions with the mobile network providers to force them to cut roaming charges with the EU.
There may be some light at the end of this tunnel as the EU has announced that it is hoped that roaming charges will be reduced or dropped by October of this year.
£30b Loss To The Economy
The report by Smarter Working Britain which was the result of a joint study carried out by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) and )02 has discovered that the public sector and some of the Country’s biggest businesses lose out on £30b of economic growth due to lack of connectivity.
These organisations state that their staff are unable to access instant messaging facilities, apps and other services which are available or are required to enable them to work productively outside of the office environment and effectively make better use of an employee’s time and productivity by being able to access information during meetings and whilst working from home or out and about on business. The lack of such connectivity increases the travelling time of such employees because they have to attend the office when it would be more beneficial to work away from the office. The study argued that just saving 121 employees travelling time equates to £127 hours per year. Do you or an employee of yours have to go into the office because you are unable to access certain data at home or you have to download it prior to a meeting because you know that there will be insufficient connectivity at the meeting or you are at a meeting and try to download some important data and are unable to do so? How much does this cost you in time and travelling costs, let alone frustration?
Fibre To the Home (FTTH)
Hyperoptic gigabit broadband has been available in London since 2011 and this service has now become available in three more cities, namely, Reading, Cardiff and Bristol together these four cities are labelled “hypercities”. This allows the residents of these areas to have access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.
Hyperoptic is continuing its expansion across London whilst simultaneously looking to rollout the service in other cities.
The company’s plans are to have the service available in over 35000 homes in 150 of London’s major developments and the aim is that by 2018 to have half a million of the capital’s households covered. One area to benefit is the former Olympic Athletes’ Village in Stratford.
Praise has come from Karin Ahl of FTTH Council Europe on the steps being taken in the UK to improve broadband. However, the downside is that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has stated that the Government’s Digital Communications Infrastructures Strategy will be a key player in Britain’s installation of the necessary infrastructure between 2025 and 2030. It predicts that the UK will remain on the world’s leading digital nations!
Apparently the EU member governments have a responsibility to introduce “future-proof broadband plans” and at national level. According to Miss Ahl “In this context it is key for the British Government to take a leading role to have a clear vision and develop a long term strategy for future-proof broadband deployment”.
All of this leads to a “wide range of benefits” with businesses and key public sector services. Hopefully all of this will also help home workers and small businesses that are being run from home.
5G – The Next Generation
How would you like to be able to download a full HD movie instantly to you mobile device? According to scientists in South Korea experimenting with 5G this could become a possibility because they are saying that 5G is 1000 times faster than 4G.
Whilst most UK users are in awe of what can be delivered by 4G it is interesting to know that development is being done on the next generation. The South Korean Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MEST) development is being carried out on a 5G network. £900m is being invested into the project with a projected launch in 2020.
Last year Samsung carried out 5G tests and these have shown that it is possible to achieve 1Gbps mobile signal.
The intention is to be able to have Ultra-HD streaming and hologram transmission.
This may sound optimistic but scientists in Germany have experimenting with 100Gbps Wi-Fi which could be utilised to patch holes in the infrastructure. The previous field test speed record was 40Gbps which copied a Blu-ray disc in two seconds.
The demonstration took place at Karisruhe Institute of Technology where the scientists sent data over a distance of 20m, however, they think that the range could exceed 1km.
The idea behind the technology is that it could be used in areas where it is impracticable to lay fibre optic cables i.e. over nature reserves, motorways and rivers. Also the scientists believe that the application could be useful in rural areas where it is uneconomical to lay fibre optic cables.
The development of this technology is progressing apace with the scientists at KIT Institute of Phontronics and Quantum Electronics considering that similar radio links offering up to 1Tbps “appear to be feasible” provided that Wi-Fi systems can simultaneously transmit multiple data systems.
This technology leads me to ask the question – “how long will it be before fibre optic cables are out of date”.
Universal Broadband Delivery – Mobile Companies Role
According to Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, mobile companies have a key role in the delivery of universal broadband and that the Government is aware that the industry’s technology can help meet goals to deliver access. The Government has to ensure a good regulatory environment and that the improvement of connectivity should not be left to the private sector alone.
According to Ofcom citizens in the UK should be guaranteed minimum broadband speeds of 8Mbps. However, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK is working towards minimum speeds of 2Mbps – but this is considered too low. The difference in speeds leaves a “big gap” in usage.
There is some question as to what universal connectivity means. Ed Richards, CEO of Ofcom was quoted “It seems to be the case if you have less than 8Mbps you just use networks less, so there is a really interesting question about what, in the longer term, we mean by universal connectivity”. According to Ofcom to enjoy a basic internet experience 8-10Mbps is required – What is meant by “basic internet experience”? Is it personal use down loading films etc. or business use and down loading documents and files needed to run a business?
It would appear that the figure of 2Mbps is now an inaccurate figure of the speed required.
100,000 Welsh Properties Get Superfast Broadband
In the early part of January, this year, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced that the Superfast Cymru project had exceeded the number of properties able to use the service had exceeded 100,000.
The aim is to make the service available to 96% of Welsh businesses and homes by the end of next year – resulting in over 690,000 premises having access. However, at present it is mainly properties in North Wales that are benefiting from the service.
The scheme is backed by funding of £57m from the UK Government with a commitment of £220m from BT for various projects.
Maria Miller, Culture Secretary has been quoted as saying that it was excellent that so many Welsh businesses and homes are already gaining real social and commercial advantages as a result of the nationwide rollout.
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