VoIP – What is this Business Phone System?

Is your traditional phone system a risk to your business?

It’s time to finally see a new way of looking at your business communications.

Your old phone system has served you well all these years to make and receive calls, but is it limiting your ability to do more with lower costs and help your business? Are you able to use applications that can help manage your business more effectively?

Does it provide flexibility and increase productivity?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology makes communication over the Internet not only very cost effective, but allows you to finally see and hear what is going on when a customer calls your company.

Increased Functionality and Productivity

VoIP phone service for business does more than increase savings by lowering costs. It allows small businesses to use enterprise features, such as:

  • Call recording functionality – Record calls for quality and training
  • Listen and monitor calls live – Great for training new employees and customer satisfaction
  • Voice mail to email – Listen to your voicemail on your computer or smartphone
  • Call reporting – Monitor employee performance on the phone
  • E-fax services – Send and receive faxes using your email
  • Conference Bridge – Easily setup conference calls
  • And much more

All of these features help you understand and manage your business communications more effectively.

(VoIP) telephone systems provide many competitive advantages for Southern California (i.e., Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, Upland, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties) small businesses—but not every VoIP system is alike. When making the switch to business VoIP phone service, one of the most important decisions you will make is whether to go with hosted VoIP or a regular, on-premises VoIP system. Let’s explore the differences between these systems and discuss some of the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.

Hosted VoIP

With hosted VoIP business phones, you get all the features, functionality, and flexibility of an on-premises system, but instead of housing the hardware, you pay a monthly fee to access business VoIP phone service via your Internet connection, and the servers and other equipment are housed off-site by your provider. The advantages of hosted business VoIP phone service include a lower up-front cost, plus the fact that the provider handles all maintenance, repair, upkeep, and upgrades of the equipment at their own expense, and if something goes wrong, they are responsible to fix it. Additionally, hosted business VoIP phone systems can easily scale up or down to accommodate the changing needs of your business.

Which VoIP System Is Right for You?

Choosing between regular and hosted business VoIP phone service, will depend on such factors as the size of your company and your ability to handle your own IT. If you have the space and budget to maintain the equipment, or if you simply want more long-term control over the configuration, an on-premises VoIP phone system might be a good option for you. For smaller businesses with lower overhead who want business VoIP phone service functionality without having to maintain the equipment, hosted VoIP phone service may be the best solution, NetServ can help you make the transition to business VoIP phone service and start helping your business grow. We have helped many businesses take advantage of using a VoIP phone system and lower costs with increased functionality.

Whichever you choose, NetServ can help your business with a VoIP system tailored to serve your needs. To learn more, call 1-877-NetServ (638-7378).

Microchip Shortage Affecting Orange County Businesses

If you want to know just how much we have come to rely on electronics for our existence, just look at the current microchip shortage and how many industries have been affected. Computers, mobile devices, cars, and “smart” appliances are just a few of the many examples of how microchips have become integrated into the things we use every day. The global shortage of microchips is not just affecting big companies like Apple and Samsung Electronics. It’s having an impact on small businesses, schools, hospitals, and other organizations around the world—including many Orange County small businesses. And unfortunately, it could last for years to come.  

How the Microchip Shortage Began 

Like so many other complications in our world, the microchip shortage began with the COVID-19 pandemic. China is the largest producer of these tiny semiconductors, and when COVID caused widespread illness and shutdowns, the microchip plants were forced to halt production—not just in China but in other places. Even when they began to ramp up production again, the factories couldn’t get the parts to make their chips, and then the ports from which the microchips are shipped around the world were also forced to close. The combination of low supply and a disrupted supply chain has caused a “perfect storm,” of sorts, the effects of which we’re still feeling today. 

How the Shortage Is Affecting Us 

You’ve probably noticed in recent months that an increasing number of items you’ve been shopping for are out of stock—including computers, mobile devices, cars, washer/dryers, “smart” toasters, and even components for VoIP phone service. (Basically, anything that uses a microchip.) Older items may still be in stock, but those supplies are dwindling, too.  

The second thing you might have noticed is higher prices—because both the chips themselves and the parts that go into them have increased in price due to scarcity. The auto industry has been the hardest hit because automakers have to order chips well in advance to put in their vehicles, causing long wait times for new vehicle arrivals and skyrocketing prices for used cars. But Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties (just to name a few) business owners can also expect more scarcity and higher prices with the computers and hardware that go into their IT and VoIP calling systems. 

When Will It End? 

It depends on who you ask. Most authorities agree that the shortage (and its effects on consumers) could last at least until the first half of 2022, but some experts believe things won’t get back to normal until at least 2023. Until then, the only options consumers have is to be willing to wait longer and pay more for these products—or put off purchasing until supplies are replenished and prices go down. 

At NetServ, we’re committed to weathering this shortage with our customers and offering the best VoIP phone service for business at the most affordable rates possible. Call 1-877-NetServ to learn more. 

What Is Network Jitter, and What Can You Do About It?

Have you ever been on a phone call using your VoIP phone service and had the voice on the other line become garbled and impossible to hear? Or have you been on a video chat and watched people on the screen “freeze” or the audio or video become fuzzy? These are symptoms of an Internet malady known as “network jitter,” a common and frequently frustrating problem for Orange County small business owners and other businesses across the world. Fortunately, there are solutions to combat it. Let’s talk a bit about network jitter—what it is, what causes it, and most importantly, what you can do to fix it. 

Network Jitter Explained 

To understand network jitter, we need to understand a little about how the Internet handles information. All of the information that we send to each other is broken up into what are called packets. These packets travel from one computer to another through cables in a network (or across wireless networks)—millions of them at any given time. When you’re on a VoIP call or video chat, you’re basically looking at/listening to millions of packets of data that have been broken down and reassembled. 

But router and data connection are subject to some form of network latency that affects the reliability of any data that travels through it. As a result, sometimes these packets get delayed or reordered along the way, so they don’t all arrive at their destination at the same time. This creates what we call “network jitter,” which comes across to us as garbled, stuttering audio, glitchy video, missed words, frozen images, etc. 

Common Causes of Network Jitter  

Now that we understand what network jitter is, let’s look at a few of the common ways it happens: 

  • Network congestion and overuse. If too many employees are accessing the Internet at once–or if you’re on a shared network at a busy time of day–your bandwidth may be insufficient for the amount of Internet traffic. Just like too many cars on a highway, your network can be congested with too many data packets to be processed at once. This frequently leads to jitter. 
  • No prioritization of VoIP packets. Your network has features that prioritize audio packets over other types of data. If this feature isn’t active, your VoIP may be jittery.
  • Uneven routing. Data packets travel between points along a network path. If some of the hardware on the path (i.e., routers, cables) is old or outdated, data packets can be slowed or even dropped as they try to keep up.
  • Weak wireless signal. If you’re using wi-fi and the coverage is weak, it can easily affect the integrity of the audio/video data you’re receiving, causing jitter.

Troubleshooting Network Jitter 

Now that you know what network jitter is and how it can happen, here are a few troubleshooting tips that may help make your VoIP use more consistent. 

  • Upgrade your hardware. Make sure you’re using up-to-date equipment and that all firmware is updated.  
  • Set your network settings to prioritize VoIP packets. This setting prioritizes audio and video streaming and can do a lot to clear up network jitter. 
  • Increase your VoIP bandwidth. “Widen the highways,” so to speak, to give your network the capacity to handle more Internet traffic at once. 
  • Boost your wi-fi signal. If there’s just too much interference for wi-fi to be consistent, try using VoIP over a wired connection instead. 

NetServ can help your Orange County business make the most of VoIP services, including helpful tips and updates to avoid network jitter. Call 1-877-NetServ to learn more. 

How Enterprise Companies Use VoIP Service Differently than Your Small Business

These days, more and more businesses are seeing the advantage of switching out their traditional phone systems for Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems. In fact, nearly one-third of all companies now use VoIP phone service for business. While the majority of these are small businesses, the fact is that VoIP is a great tool for businesses of any size. As more enterprise companies discover VoIP, they’re figuring out how to use it more efficiently and profitably than their small-business counterparts. Let’s talk about what your larger competitors are doing with VoIP that you probably aren’t—and what you can do to become more competitive. 

Large Businesses Make the Most of VoIP Features 

Perhaps the most important way enterprise companies use VoIP better is that they utilize many features that you probably do not. Features like call forwarding, call park, auto-attendant, call screening, on-hold music, queue callback, and many other VoIP features are affordable and easy to use once you learn them. Chances are your larger competitors are making the most of these services, making themselves more productive and profitable. 

Large Businesses Integrate VoIP with Other Applications 

Another huge benefit of VoIP systems is how well they integrate with other applications. Your larger competition has most likely integrated their VoIP with their CRM and other applications, allowing them to take and process calls without ever leaving their CRM interface. They probably have also utilized a Unified Communications system which allows them to combine their phone, videoconferencing, and messaging seamlessly–all of which saves time and money and helps boost revenues. 

Large Companies Have a Full-Time IT Staff 

Whether they’re using cloud computing services or on-site servers, large enterprise companies take their IT networks seriously, including their VoIP service. Many of them keep a full-time IT staff on hand to maintain, troubleshoot, and scale their network as they grow. This should come as no surprise to smaller businesses who can’t necessarily afford full-time IT, but the end result is that large companies experience very little downtime–and therefore can be more present for their customers. 

How You Can Use VoIP to Be More Competitive 

If you feel overwhelmed and demoralized by the advantages we’ve described above, take heart. Even if your business is small, you can use VoIP in many of the same ways as your larger counterparts to give yourself a more competitive edge. Here’s how: 

  • Utilize more features. Even VoIP systems for small businesses offer extensive features at an affordable price, and these systems are easily scalable. Start learning and taking advantage of these features, and you’ll be able to function with the same level of professionality as your larger competitors. 
  • Integrate VoIP with your other business systems. You can develop an elegant integration between VoIP and CRM, accounting programs like QuickBooks, email platforms like Gmail, and more. Integrations are easy to create–especially with cloud computing services that don’t require any programming skills at all. 
  • Hire a managed IT service. You can’t afford a full-time IT staff, but the fact is you don’t need one to be competitive. A managed IT service can be your own 24-7 help desk, monitoring, troubleshooting, and maintaining your network in the background at very affordable rates. 

If you’re an Orange County small business looking for ways to utilize business VoIP to become more competitive, NetServ can help. To learn more about our VoIP service for business and managed IT services, call 1-877-NetServ today. 

Top Mobile/Telecom News Stories of the 2020s So Far (Part 2)

Telecommunications technologies are a moving target—always evolving, expanding, improving. Even the numerous “black swan” events we’ve seen since the new decade began have done relatively little to harm market growth or the development of newer, faster devices and systems that can help Orange County business owners. Let’s continue our look at some of the most important headlines from the past couple of years concerning telecom, VoIP, and mobile technologies.

Wi-fi 6 Quietly Moves to the Forefront

Amid all of the upheaval and global crises of the past couple of years, you might have missed the fact that a newer, faster wi-fi protocol has quietly been infiltrating the market. Wi-fi 6, as it is called, is replacing the older standards of 802.11n and 802.11ac that have been in use for several years. Wi-fi 6 also marks the dawn of a new naming system for wi-fi standards (using the old system, it would be named 802.11ax) in hopes that the public will be able to understand better what version they’re using.

Wi-fi 6 is not only faster, but it also performs better in times of higher congestion, so users have fewer slowdowns. It was first introduced in 2019, and compatible devices began hitting the market starting in 2020. If you’ve bought a new smartphone, computer, tablet, or router in the past two years, chances are you’re already using wi-fi 6 without realizing it.

Are We Headed for 6G Networks?

Much of America is just now getting acquainted with 5G broadband cellular networks, with 5G phones just now starting to become more mainstream. So why are we already talking about 6G when most of us don’t even have 5G yet? (That’s technology for you.)

It’s true. While we probably won’t see it for years, reports say that 6G technology is already in the research stage. As much as 5G users report an increase in speed and reliability with their cellular networks, early estimates say that 6G will operate at about 100 times the speed of 5G. Don’t get too excited, though. If it indeed comes to market, experts believe we won’t see 6G introduced until around 2030.

If you’re looking for the best Los Angeles VoIP service for your growing business, look no further. NetServ can help you get hooked up with reliable business VoIP phone service and other network solutions perfectly tailored to your needs. Call 1-877-NetServ to learn more.

Top Mobile/Telecom News Stories of the 2020s So Far (Part 1)

Despite the crises of recent years (and in some cases, because of them) communications technologies continue to develop at an amazing rate. Orange County business owners would do well to keep up with current trends in mobile, VoIP, and other telecom technologies—not only to see how current events might affect them, but also to stay informed about new tools that might make their businesses run more efficiently. It’s still early in the decade, but let’s take a look at some of the most important news stories so far relating to telecom and mobile technologies.

Pandemic, Supply Chain Woes Affecting Product Availability

Even as more of us are relying on VoIP and mobile devices than ever before, supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic may make some devices harder to get for a while—and more expensive when we do get them. Since the pandemic began in 2020, a combination of manufacturing slowdowns and trade disputes have resulted in shortages of microprocessors and graphics chips that many new devices require to operate. This has been causing delays and shortages in everything from smartphones and tablets to new and used cars. Even in cases where manufacturing has picked up, global shipping disruptions have caused huge backlogs in the major ports that receive these parts, sometimes causing cargo to sit in the harbor or on the docks for months before it can be processed. Experts believe this trend may last well into 2021 and even next year, so if you’re looking to buy new devices over the next year—be prepared to wait.

VoIP Market Forecasts Adjusted for Major Growth Following the Pandemic

It’s no secret that within the telecommunications sector, a silver lining of the pandemic was a huge spike in demand for business VoIP systems and other tools for remote communication and workflow. Market analysts have since adjusted their forecasts for the VoIP market with COVID-19 as a factor. The result: Watch for continued massive growth of this market—by at least 10 percent per year—through 2024 and beyond. For you as a small business owner in Orange County, this growth means competition, and competition means bargaining power. So watch for more features to be available for less money in the years to come.

Whatever your telecommunications needs, NetServ has the expertise and resources to set up your Orange County business with the best VoIP service suited to your needs. Call 1-877-NetServ to learn more.

All You Need to Know About Security for VoIP Small Business Phone Systems (Part 2)

The question of VoIP phone service security is a natural concern for Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Inland Empire County small business owners considering using VoIP. However, just as with your IT network, there are practical steps you can take to make sure your VoIP business phone system is secure. Having already discussed the various possible security risks with VoIP (e.g., cyberattacks, toll fraud, viruses, etc.), let’s talk about ways to bolster your own VoIP security.

Use VoIP Encryption

The first and most important safeguard to have in place is to run VoIP on an encrypted system that resists hacking. Most VoIP business phone providers now provide encryption automatically, but ask them to be sure. (Additional safety tip: If you’re using VoIP on wi-fi, make sure your wi-fi is encrypted as well.)

Don’t Use VoIP on Shared Wi-Fi

Shared wi-fi systems (e.g., coffee shops and other public places) often have inconsistent security features, especially if they’re not password-protected. If you have to make VoIP calls on shared wi-fi, run it through a VPN (virtual personal network) for added security.

Enable Network Address Translation (NAT) on Your Router

Most internet routers have a NAT feature that creates a separate, private IP address for your VoIP system, one that is only visible from inside the network itself so it’s hidden from potential hackers. (They can’t hack an IP address they can’t see.)

Run Updates Regularly

When developers release updates for your software and system, these updates typically include security updates against the latest detected viruses, malware, etc. Always make sure to run these updates across your entire system, including your VoIP phone system, to maintain high VoIP security.

Educate Your Team on Security Protocols

The biggest cybersecurity risk is human error, not your system itself. Make sure your team knows the basic best practices of internet and VoIP security, including using strong passwords, how to detect phishing/vishing scams and suspicious callers, running antivirus programs, etc.

Along with cybersecurity, VoIP security should always be a priority for Orange County small business owners. However, by being vigilant and proactive, you can use your VoIP system with confidence knowing your system and information are safe. For more information on VoIP security best practices and the latest safeguards available, call 1-877-NetServ today.

All You Need to Know About Security for Small Business VoIP Phone Systems (Part 1)

Among small business owners thinking about switching to VoIP phone service, one of the most common concerns for small business VoIP, is VoIP security. The concerns are both understandable and valid. With all the news we hear about security breaches on computer networks—from cyberattacks to hacking to phishing—it begs the question: wouldn’t a phone system that uses the internet be susceptible to the same kinds of attacks?

Let’s start with the good news: VoIP systems in general are quite secure nowadays. Most VoIP providers have already put the necessary safeguards in place to make sure your phone system, your network, and your personal data are all kept safe. That said, it’s important to remain diligent with your own VoIP security—the same as you should with your IT systems in general. Let’s begin our discussion by exploring some of the most common VoIP security issues faced by small businesses today, then talk about the steps you can take to keep your phone network safe.

Common VoIP Security Threats

Just as hackers are constantly inventing new ways to exploit computer systems, they’re also interested in finding and exploiting the vulnerabilities of VoIP business phone systems. And as with many computer breaches, some of the VoIP vulnerabilities actually depend on the user’s response to the threat, rather than the system itself. (For example, using easy-to-guess passwords or falling prey to a phishing scheme.) Let’s talk about some threats to look out for.

  • DoS (Denial of Service) attacks. In the same way that networks can be shut down by an overwhelming amount of incoming requests, a VoIP phone service for business system, may be overloaded in the same way, causing dropped calls, reduced call quality, and a disruption of phone service.
  • Toll fraud. Hackers sometimes break into VoIP business phone systems and use the service to make international calls that may generate a toll for use. (Getting an exorbitantly large phone bill is a dead giveaway for this kind of attack.)
  • War dialing. Just as with toll fraud, hackers can break into a VoIP system and use it to dial thousands of random numbers looking for interesting connections. (You may experience the other side of this tactic when you answer random spam calls with no one on the other line. If you dial the number back (you shouldn’t), you might find a person on the other end who has no idea their phone number was used to make the call.)
  • Call interception. Hackers may occasionally listen in on your calls, sometimes to mine sensitive information they can then use against you.
  • “Vishing.” This is basically the same as “phishing,” except it’s via phone rather than email. Someone calls you from a seemingly trusted Caller ID, alerts you of a “problem” and tries to get you to divulge sensitive information over the phone.
  • Viruses and malware. VoIP business phone systems can be susceptible to viruses just as other software systems can, which can result in anything from malfunctions to data mining to a complete shutdown of service.

These security risks aside, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Inland Empire small business owners can rest assured knowing that NetServ business VoIP phone services has abundant security features in place to prevent these and other VoIP security threats. Call 1-877-NetServ to learn more.

The History and Future of VoIP (Part 1)

Whenever we adopt new technology into our lives or businesses, it sometimes helps to create context. In other words, when we understand how and why the technology evolved, we have a better idea of how we can use it to our advantage. For Orange County business owners, switching to VoIP might seem like little more than finding a cheaper way to have phone service. But when you know where VoIP came from and where it is going, you might begin to see numerous ways you can use the technology to make your business more competitive. Let’s take a quick look at how VoIP technology developed and where many experts believe it is going in the next few years.

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