Choosing The Right IP Phone

With the ubiquitous use of smartphones, one would think that phones are dead. Not really. IP Phone is used quite extensively by businesses. It is estimated that over 90% of office communication is through IP Phone.

With 100’s of IP Phones available on the market, how do you choose the one that is right for you? The confusing options from multiple vendors with attractive feature sets, voice quality and price points only increase the complexity of making a decision. Let us take a look at some of the broad factors that need to be considered in the decision to choose an IP Phone.

Do We Need IP Phones At All

There is no denying that the use of mobile phones in enterprise is soaring. At the same time, Nemertes Research has found that businesses still prefer tethered phones. The obvious first reason is call quality. Mobile phone signals are not always strong inside office buildings and office campuses.  We have a tendency to raise our own voice when we cannot hear the other party in a call properly. This may lead to a negative impression for a customer.

Expense is also a strong point.  The costs of supporting mobile devices are going up. If you want to use an executive’s mobile phone as an extension, you will have to bear his data connection costs. At the same time, VoIP and SIP enables executives to log into their work number from anywhere as well as make and receive calls. There is a major benefit to having roaming extensions.

Within the office, IP Phones deliver consistency, reliability and high voice quality that are hard to beat.

Match IP Phone Features to Service

IP Phones are available today from under $40 to $500 and above. It is important to look at the VoIP service’s features and price points before choosing an IP Phone. It does not make much sense to have to subscribe to more VoIP features that are not used just because your IP Phone can use those features. You may also need to integrate the IP Phones with your own internal applications as well as CRM platforms. Though it may make sense to spend a little more for future-proofing, it is not cost effective to go overboard.

Your decision to go with an on-premise VoIP or a cloud based/ hosted system will also have a bearing on the purchase decision of IP Phones.

Stick To Your Budget

All businesses work on a budget. When buying IP Phones, stick to the budget that has been decided. Some IP Phone features may be attractive, but that does not mean you should break your budget. When making a budget, look at all options and features, and decide what you need. Once that is done, stick to those features and budget.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs. Please visit our VoIP Phone Systems page to get more details on our business phone capabilities.

Call 337-205-9364 for all your business phone system, data cabling and communication needs.

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Lower Costs With IP Video Conferencing

Gone are the days when business executives need to travel half way around the world to attend a 4 hour business meeting. Then take a return flight just to turn-around and go back to their respective locations. This not only kills time and energy of those concerned. It also cost companies a lot of money.

Thanks to the development of IP video conferencing, that scenario has undergone a sea change. Now people can attend a real-time meeting from anywhere in the world. They can continue their discussion as long as their patience permits and the business requires them to, without having to travel. This has had a multi-pronged effect on modern business, especially as far as cost reduction is concerned.

Reduce Travel Costs

Previously, companies would spend a significant amount of money to fly their executives to various meeting venues around the world. Though the advantage of face-to-face interaction between a company and its customers, partners, colleagues and/or other stakeholders can never be replaced, IP video conferencing has brought the closest replica of the ‘real’ thing. Today participants can actually ‘see’ each other in real-time. Hence, it is ‘almost’ the same as the ‘real thing’, yet the cost of transportation virtually disappears.

The introduction of the IP video conferencing has drastically curbed travel expenditures.

Increased Productivity

In the present market, it is not at all unusual to have branch or satellite offices across a country and even across the world. This depends upon the size and the stature of the business. Most of these branches communicate with each other via phone calls, email, or instant messages. The lack of ‘physical’ or face-to-face interaction can result in misunderstanding and/or lost communication.

Here is where the value added features of the IP video conferencing system come into play. They are so impeccably conceptualized that there is hardly any scope of miscommunication. Also, in order to avoid any such misunderstanding, participants must remain extra alert which in turn helps increase productivity amongst the team.

Thus, in one way or another, IP video conferencing technology creates opportunities of cost reduction, better communication and better productivity at the end of the day.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs.

Three Steps to Ensure IP-PBX Security

Businesses are fast adopting IP-PBX systems to strengthen their communications as well as make them more efficient. The deployment phase of IP-PBX is extremely critical and great care should be taken in terms of the security of the system. Cyberattacks are on the rise and with every passing day the hackers are resorting to more complex and smarter ways of breaching system security. You need to take the right steps to ensure that your organization is leveraging the power of this extremely efficient communications system.

Here is a list of 3 critical steps to ensure IP-PBX security:

1. Deploy Security Software

Probably the most basic step when deploying an IP-PBX system is to install security software—anti-virus, firewall and anti-malware should be implemented. Once these have been installed, it is important to continue updating them from time to time so that hackers are not able to break the old code (which they can do). The companies that manufacture security software keep updating their products and release them for their users to provide better protection. The intrusion detection system keeps a vigil on the network and the moment it detects suspicious activities, access for the non-trusted user is immediately restricted. Thus, protection of the IP-PBX phone system is a process that keeps running in the background while you are busy making and receiving calls. In order to combat the security and hacking threats, your network needs to have the appropriate software shield.

2. Set Tough Passwords

The majority of IP-PBX severs can be configured from a web interface and will require a password to gain access. Thus, if you use a weak password, it can provide just the right opening a hacker is looking for. Your system will be extremely vulnerable when there is a security gap in the form of a weak password. You will need to set a strong password and keep changing it from time to time so that it becomes extremely tough for the hacker to break. It is better to use a combination of numbers, letters, special characters etc. – these types of combinations are more complex and are not as easily breakable.

3. Watch System Usage

It is extremely important that you keep monitoring the system for usage in order to detect any unusual or suspicious activities. You should monitor network activity on a regular basis and collect information about network users, applications and even the peak time usage. There are a several monitoring tools available, which can provide you graphical data on usage.

There are several other methods to protect your IP-PBX system, but the above three are the most critical, which would go a long way in making optimum use of this advanced communication system.

Universal ComOne will consult with your company to determine the appropriate security measures needed, as well as monitor your system usage periodically. It is our goal to ensure seamless communications for you and your users at all times.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs.

Call 337-205-9364 for all your communication needs.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Business IP-PBX Phone System

Businesses are fast dumping their old PBX systems and are switching to the powerful IP-PBX system. The IP-PBX system facilitates the routing of calls over a dedicated IP network and the calls are transmitted in the form of data packets. This technology not only encapsulates the latest communication features but also facilitates robustness and scalability. Another great feature of IP-PBX system is that it can be easily connected with the PSTN lines with the help of the optional gateway. Thus, you will be able to upgrade your enterprise communication system to the most advanced data and voice network without making any changes to your existing infrastructure or operations.

Enterprises don’t need to disrupt their current external communication infrastructure and operations. With an IP-PBX deployed, an enterprise can even keep its regular telephone numbers. This way, the IP-PBX switches local calls over the data network inside the enterprise and allows all users to share the same external phone lines.

Constituents of an IP-PBX

The primary constituents of an IP PBX system are one or multiple SIP phones, a VOIP gateway (for connecting to the PSTN Lines) and an IP-PBX server. Just like a proxy server, IP-PBX server also functions in a similar manner. The SIP clients are either the desk phones or the soft phones that connect to the IP PBX server and request it to complete a call. The IP-PBX server maintains a directory of the users/phones along with their corresponding SIP addresses, which helps it connect the internal calls directly. In the event of an external call, it is routed via the VoIP service provider or VoIP gateway.

Here is a list of 3 compelling reasons why you need a business PBX phone system:

Easier to install, configure and manage

The IP-PBX system is nothing but an application that can easily leverage the processing power of a PC along with the user interface and the Windows features. Installation of an IP-PBX is extremely easy and people from the IT team of a company would need only a day to get the system up and running. However, if you are working with the legacy systems, you will need specialized technicians who are trained for the installation purpose only. Managing the IP-PBX system too is extremely hassle-free because it comes with an easy to use web-based GUI. You will be able to configure and maintain the system from the web GUI (Graphical User Interface). Thus fine tuning your IP-PBX system is super easy when you manage it from an easy-to-use interface.

Eliminate complex wiring and save money

By implementing the IP telephone system, you will be able to eliminate the complex wiring. This latest network based PBX system facilitates the connection of IP Phones directly to the computer port. Even the soft phones can be used without any kind of wiring. This not only frees up office space but also saves a lot of money that you would have spent on buying expensive telephone system and hardware.

Great scalability

It has been often observed that the proprietary systems fail to grow with the business and find it extremely difficult to cope with the growth. Addition of greater number of extensions or phones lines often needs more hardware equipment, which again is expensive. However, IP-PBX offers great scalability as it can grow with your business without any new investments. You can increase the number of phone lines or extensions with ease.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs.

Call 337-205-9364 for all your communication needs.

The Severity of PBX Hacking – How to Protect Yourself

Modern day businesses believe in maintaining the latest communication systems for their enterprise communications. Not only does it help to maintain a seamless communication both within the company as well as outside, it also enhances the prospects of beating the cut-throat competition in the market. The latest communication systems like VoIP and cloud telephony are known to provide a huge boost to the productivity of an organization and at the same time enhance the profit figures.

Of late there has been a lot of talk about cloud telephony or VoIP and how they are better than on-premise IP-PBX systems. PBX systems have been around for more than three decades. The technology used has moved from analog to digital, but the basic idea remains the same. It has always been the safest bet for companies that wanted to have complete control over their enterprise communication. However, recently it has been revealed that PBX has accounted for huge loses as they were wrongfully used by miscreants or hackers. The affected organizations had to pay up $4.4 million in extra telephone bills in the year 2013 as their PBX systems were hacked.

Now, this is a serious crime and looking at the colossal figures, one can only wonder why no one is taking note of it and formulating strategies to secure their PBX systems. Companies are busy with managing their business and not every organization has a dedicated IT team to take care of the security needs of their communication system. In such a scenario, businesses often end up paying hefty phone bills even when they have not made expensive calls.

How do companies get a handle on their vulnerable communication systems and stop hackers?

Prior to learning about the ways to stop hackers, we need to first understand what PBX hacking is all about.

PBX hacking is an illegal practice whereby an unauthorized individual can access the system by using means that include the voicemail, maintenance port of the PBX system and the direct inward system access or DISA feature of PBX systems. Hackers can even impersonate an employee of an organization and gain access to the system.

Some of the common methods used by hackers is using the auto-diallers for scanning a system that has modems and even infiltrating the system when passwords are left unchanged by users. It is very important that every user changes their passwords at regular intervals. It is also recommended that users create complex passwords by using alphanumeric combinations. It has often been observed that owners and users keep their default passwords unchanged – this can make your PBX system a sitting duck for hackers.

Some useful tips that can help you to keep PBX fraud at bay:

  • Monitor the calls made from your phone system and try to find out about the calls made after office hours. The majority of hackers prefer to hack and make calls after business hours as it helps them to operate without any worries.
  • If the official mailbox of the system is left unused then you should get it blocked or deleted. Even the unallocated mailboxes can be used by the hackers, so change the default pins.
  • Unused services should either be restricted or completely stopped as those can serve as easy entry points for hackers.
  • Calls made to international numbers should have restricted access.
  • You should ensure that all the default passwords for the system are changed after acquiring a system.
  • Keep a tab on the calls that are made from the PBX system of your office.
  • The physical location of your system should be secured.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs.

Call 337-205-9364 for all your communication needs.

Small Business Communication Systems

The domain of small business communication systems is rapidly expanding because it is no longer limited to the traditional PSTN phones or PBX systems. It would be wrong to say that modern businesses have stopped using the PBX systems – there are many that still use digital PBX systems. Several organizations are switching to advanced, more cost effective small business communication systems that facilitate voice and video calls, data sharing, web conferencing, wireless and several other applications that run on one Internet Protocol or IP network.

The latest small business communication systems come loaded with amazing telephony features which you can leverage the power of the new technology to propel the growth of your business. In this article, we are going to look at the benefits of an IP (or VoIP) small business telephone system.

One interface for multiple applications:

Any of the latest small business communication systems that run on your secure network will facilitate the access to other applications. This might include voicemail, video conferencing, softphone and database queries, all of which have a common interface.

Collaboration on a real-time basis:

The latest small business communication systems facilitate real-time collaboration among your employees. This communication solution is not only cost effective but also much more powerful than the traditional phone system. Communication among your employees can be carried out easily, and you or your employees can communicate with suppliers, business partners, vendors or customers using voice, video, data and mobility applications.

Features that you need today and in the future:

The small business communications that are available in the market can meet not only the current business communication needs of your business but also any other future requirements. These business phone systems can grow and adapt to your changing business communication needs. The latest small business system can be loaded with features that you will need like intercom, paging, presence technology and automated attendant. Presence is one feature that helps you to determine which employees are available within the company for quick communication via web conference, phone call, video conference, IM chat and any other interaction. The phone system can also be integrated with several other useful business applications, which are used on a regular basis like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and calendar. Thus, you will be able to provide your employees with easy to use tools that take care of all their modern communication needs. Integration of useful business applications like CRM will help your customer support representatives with real-time data pertaining to the customers.

There are several reasons why a business should migrate to the latest small business communication system. Some of the most prominent reasons are:

Set monthly budget for communication – It is better to know beforehand the monthly expenses for using your business telephone system. This will help you to keep your budget and expenses in check and there are no chances of overspending.

No extra overhead for IT staff – Small businesses cannot afford to spend their money on maintaining a full-time IT team. The latest small business communication systems do not need any kind of complex management, so you can do with very few technical staff on-hand.

There are several other reasons for migrating to the latest small business communication systems, but it is the cost savings that drive the demand for such systems. Contact us for more information on the small business communication system that best meets your needs.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs.

Call 337-205-9364 for all your communication needs.

Toshiba Releases UCedge!

One of the hindrances of using a business phone system is the wide variety of end devices you may need to use. For example, you will use an IP or Digital phone to make a call. At the same time, if you want to access a data file, you may need to use a computer. But what if all these can be combined to a single end device, and at the same time, give you mobility and flexibility? That is exactly what UCedge does.

Designed to work with VIPedge, IPEdge, and Strata CIX, UCedge has an application that you can download and install on your Windows or Mac laptop, any tablet and your Apple or Android smartphone. Once the application is installed, UCedge can federate multiple networks and give you access to all the features on the server.

For more details on the product release, click here.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs.

Call 337-205-9364 for all your communication needs.


The Pros and Cons of Hosted PBX system

Pros and Cons of Hosted PBX System

In case you are not able to come to a concrete decision about switching to a hosted PBX system, then its pros and cons might help to clear the fog and help you to choose the best phone system for your office. In this article, we delve deeper into the advantages and disadvantages that a cloud-based or hosted PBX system offers.

  • Cost – This is probably the most debated feature of every communication system, and a hosted PBX has to be measured in terms of its cost as well. The acquisition cost of a hosted PBX system is definitely lower than an on-premise system. However, when it comes to the long-term operational costs, it is a little bit speculative. But, hosted business phones should definitely cost less. Factors like equipment redundancy come into play because we are never sure how fast new technologies will make the equipment obsolete.

      Pros: Very low set up costs make it easier for small organizations to subscribe for these services. The maintenance costs are also       lower and more predictable. Businesses can expect to cut down their operational costs by a large margin.

      Cons: The running and subscription costs are dependent on the providers, and they may charge high fees.

  • Scalability Both the on-premise and hosted PBX systems offer scalability and flexibility; however, the costs associated with an expansion are definitely lower when it comes to hosted PBX systems. You get the chance to expand the number of telephone lines as you need. The risks associated with scaling up the communication system are also eliminated when you have a hosted PBX system.

      Pros – It is the provider who will take care of all the risks and expansion-related workload. You will not have to worry about the             complexities involved in scaling up your communication system.

      Cons – At times the provider might not be able to make the changes quickly and this may lead to unwanted delays.

  • Control – This is something that varies with the IT policy of every company. There are companies that want to retain control and are not willing to give away the control of their communication systems to others. On the other hand, there are companies that are more than happy to let others take care of their business phone system and just enjoy the services. If you want to have a higher control over your system, then you will have to bear the cost of maintenance and other costs related to the internalizing the system. If you are willing to let your service provider take care of the hardware and seek to reduce your operation costs, the hosted PBX system might be just the right choice for you.

      Pros: By giving up the control, you will be able to get a better understanding of the performance of your system and concentrate         more on your core business processes.

      Cons: It is your service provider who has absolute liberty of running your system, and you will never be able to micro-manage the       operations.

  • Options and Features – if you own your phone system and have full control of it, then you will be able to add any number of features and options—at a cost. On the other hand, your service provider offers the same features and options to all their customers, so they can spread the cost across their customer base. This eventually brings down the amount you will spend for accessing every new feature or option.

      Pros – You have access to all the features you might need. The cost associated with each feature is determined up front before         activation. A cost-benefit analysis can be done to help you determine whether to pay for the specific features.

      Cons – Features are often included in different packages, which might not suit your needs exact business needs.

About Universal ComOne

Universal ComOne offers award winning business telephone systems that are right for any business. We can design a solution to fit your needs.

Call 337-205-9364 for all your communication needs.