Category: Uncategorized

Tech Stat: The Internet is Everywhere… or Not!

Given the ubiquity of high-speed internet access in the United States, it’s easy to assume that everyone enjoys the same convenience. Not so much. In 2012, the number of internet users increased by 8.8% to 2.4 billion.

With seven billion people in the world, we’re talking about a penetration rate of just 34%. And here’s the real shock…The country with the fastest-growing internet population is… Iran. Last year, the number of users there surged by 205%.

At the other end of the scale, India is the most under-served country, with only 11% of its population using the internet. The takeaway: Bringing the web to those billions of people without it should provide ample growth for telecoms and wireless carriers for years.

Pokemon Go…how about Pokemon Stop?

This downloadable game has overtaken the top spot for all apps in a mere week…ah….but with a price. Upon deeper investigation there is malware embedded into its code with a remote control access tool that allows hackers to have full control over the device.

Not to mention all the information the app is collecting your email address, IP address, the web page you were using before logging into Pokémon Go, your username, and your location. And if you use your Google account for sign-in and use an iOS device, unless you specifically revoke it, Niantic, the company that created the app, has access to your entire Google account.

THIS IS A SERIOUS TOPIC. Security is going way beyond a firewall and some Anti-Virus. Companies like Effortless who provide some malware/ransomware cybersecurity product and MetTel who offer free Mobile Device Management for their wireless products is just a start. Having a good security roadmap for businesses is inevitable. Look for more security products in the MicroCorp portfolio to help protect your customers.

Co-opetition – Your New Specialist

team-FieldsMicroCorp CEO/COO, Karin Fields, on Industry Evolution and our Team Alliance Program.

About two years ago one of our top partners, Tom, called me needing some advice.  As many in our industry, Tom started as a Direct Rep for a carrier.  After the umpteenth lay-off he decided to take a package and start his own agency.  He was very lucky and had great relationships with some large customers that he could lean on to help get his fledgling business going.   Within a few years he was making better money than he ever expected, was valued by his long list of customers and loved what he was doing.

Being the “outsource telecom expert” for his customer was a role Tom took very seriously.  He was constantly learning about new products and services, attended trainings and voraciously read books and articles to keep up his knowledge.  But in the last few years Tom started realizing that his customers were asking him more questions about things he didn’t have a lot of knowledge.  They would ask him about back up and storage or data centers.  He knew a little about those products but they needed solutions.  Even with all the reading and classes he took, Tom couldn’t keep up.  They need more of a specialist.  Something he was not.  And that is what led him to call me.  How could he continue to be the “valued” resource to his clients?

Well two years ago my answer was a lot different than if he asked me today.  Today I give advice about becoming a specialist – either vertically within a specific industry or horizontally by product line. That specialty can serve a partner’s customers, give them status as a thought leader and make them sought after as a specialist by a competitor. Who could have predicted that the competition would one day become the strategy for customer retention.

I am pleased to say that today my solution for Tom is MicroCorp’s Team Alliance Program – or TAP.   We will pair Tom with other MicroCorp partners who are specialists in any area his customers have need.  And for Tom’s specialty – we’ll market his expertise like crazy so he can be brought in as a specialist to someone else’s lead. Moreover, MicroCorp oversees the rules of engagement so customer relationships are protected and all parties are paid.

As we say at MicroCorp, #BetterWhenTogether.

Time to Evaluate Your Client’s Voice and Data Solution?

Engineering Best Practice 101

Recommendation #1: Maintain a Hardware Inventory

If you don’t have a hardware inventory record for your client, it’s a great place to start. It’s always a good idea to keep and maintain a list of the hardware used for your client’s technology components. A complete list includes the following information for both voice and data equipment:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Software Level/Firmware Level
  • General Function
    • Server / Firewall / Router / Switch / PBX / Etc.
  • Warranty Term
  • Warranty Expiration Date
    • End of Support Date
    • End of Life Date

Tip: Remember to include routers, switches, servers, PBXs, Wireless Access Points, and essentially any other device that has an IP address – be aware of devices approaching or past end of support or end of life.

Recommendation #2: Maintain a WAN Services Inventory

It’s also a good idea to keep and maintain a WAN services inventory for each location in your client’s network. The inventory should include the following information:

  • Circuit Provider
  • Circuit Type
    • T1 / Ethernet / Cable Modem / Etc.
  • Circuit Bandwidth
  • Circuit Function
    • MPLS / Internet / Point-to-Point / Voice (PRI/SIP/Analog) / Etc.
  • For each Carrier
    • Contract Signing Date
    • Contract Term
      • (12 month / 24 month / 36 month* / 60 month)

Tip: * Most WAN and telecom circuit contracts are 36-month terms. Most carriers provide contracts with shorter terms (i.e., 24 or even 12 months), but expect to pay a premium – ~20% or more for each yearly reduction in term.

Recommendation #3: Review Your Voice and Data Solution Every 12 Months

Voice and data networks are a large portion of monthly operating expenses; regular evaluation is critical to ensure optimal performance and pricing. The engineers at iTransit recommend yearly review of your technology solution.

Pricing pressures from competing providers (e.g., cable companies) significantly reduced the price of MPLS WAN circuits over the past few years. Technology advances at a lightning pace, and solutions put in place a few short years ago quickly become outdated.

Tip: If it’s been a year or longer since you reviewed your business communication solution, odds are you are overdue for a review…

 Engineering Best Practice / Conclusion

Create sound hardware and WAN service inventories to better manage your current business communication solution. These inventories are a critical component to developing technology improvements – you need to know what you have got to work with before you start to solve problems

 Don’t Go It Alone!

Data volume is growing exponentially, IT budgets are shrinking, and IT staff is focused on other priority projects. iTransit has seasoned WAN and telecom engineers that will guide you throughout the process of designing the voice and data solution that meets your client’s requirements. There are a lot of choices and we can ensure you get the right technology for your client’s unique voice and data needs…