Category Archives: General

net-neutrality

The Net Neutrality Debate, or Is It a Net Neutrality Debacle?

by Ari Rabban

I wrote about the FCC’s Net Neutrality proposal a few months ago and the debate is heating up again.

Perhaps comedian John Oliver explained it best back in June: At issue is the creation of a two-tier system, or rather an HOV lane for those services that can pay more — players like Netflix, who recently signed service agreements with the largest cable provider Comcast.

Some time back, the FCC asked the public to comment on Net Neutrality and now those comments are being published. A report summarizes more than a million of the comments received, the gist of the feedback indicating that less than one percent of those commenting oppose Net Neutrality.

Is this surprising? No—of course the average person favors Net Neutrality because it means equality, paying less and getting better service. The bottom line, though, is that we are still in a messy situation and, sadly, I can only anticipate that further lobbying will win the day for the big players. The term Net Neutrality can be confusing, even though there is nothing unclear or neutral about implementing a fast lane.

I agree that broadband providers building out multi-billion-dollar networks only to see large customers like Netflix or Google or Facebook reap the rewards at no cost is a problem. Just as big of an issue, though, would be those same providers—ATT, Verizon, Comcast and the other big cable companies who connect most US homes to the Internet—selling their own content to consumers in competition with smaller services that have to use their networks to reach our homes.

Treating Broadband as a Utility … Read On!

It is my opinion that broadband should be viewed as a utility and delivered as a utility. Consumers should be able to select and pay for the level of broadband they want, choosing the content and add-on services they want too, even if that content is provided by a smaller competitor of, say, Netflix that can’t afford the fast-lane rate. Content from a smaller provider should be available to consumers at the same speed as Netflix content, and not at a higher price either.

Furthermore, broadband providers should not have the ability to slow the delivery of another service, be it movie streaming or telephony, just because it competes with their own service. In our case, Phone.com may use broadband to deliver phone service, and having Comcast or AT&T block or slow our delivery because they too offer phone service should not be allowed.

Keeping It Commercial!

Google is trying to roll out its own broadband network so that it won’t need to rely on Verizon or AT&T. The Internet giant has started offering broadband in Austin, Texas, for example. Perhaps Microsoft has the power to do this too, but no one else comes close. Even Apple relies on either residential broadband or 3G/4G networks to support their devices.

Small service providers have no choice but to rely on large broadband providers, which is why I believe broadband should be delivered as a commercial utility, as opposed to a public one. I live in New Jersey, and after Hurricane Sandy I can tell you that no one here needs a reminder of the quality of public utilities. The Internet must evolve to meet the challenges of scale technology and scale that lie before us, so we need whoever provides broadband to be continually upgrading their networks.

To be fair, if a particular service (and again, Netflix is often the example given) appropriates much of the bandwidth and slows the delivery speed of other services on the network, is that a desired result of Net Neutrality? Is it fair to Verizon? Verizon’s Fiber Optic Service (FiOS) customers will complain that service is slow and Verizon’s billions will be going to benefit Netflix while others (including Verizon) will suffer.

Bringing It All Together

If providers were to offer broadband as a commercial utility in a just and equitable way, they would charge consumers the appropriate price for the level of broadband service they choose. They could also put measures in place to regulate general Internet traffic speed, based on need, without allowing larger players to sideline competitors. As regulated commercial broadband utility suppliers, they would also not favor their own content in the market at the expense of other content and service providers.

I don’t see Verizon (and AT&T and Comcast) offering services like phone service, TV and their own Internet services, while at the same time controlling the broadband that other competitive content providers need in order to reach the consumer. That for me is the Bell System breakup of the 21st Century. Before the Bell breakup, we had one big AT&T controlling all phone services nationwide and also, through Bell Labs and its product arm, controlling all the switches and other phone network infrastructure that was needed to provide service. This monopoly broke up in several phases over 20 years and it began when competitive phone companies started popping up.

So to summarize, the US needs a different kind of broadband-provider model—one that offers multiple, competing sources (fiber optic, coax and wireless broadband, for example), provided by companies prepared to focus on developing infrastructure NOT on providing content over those networks. And the markets are sure to figure out the right pricing model that, with the help of positive regulation, will prevent incumbents’ advantage and foster innovation.

home-phone

Why You Should Use VoIP for Your Home Office Phone

by Derrick Arteus

If you are running your business from your home office on a land line, now is a great time to consider switching to a VoIP solution. VoIP offers many excellent benefits for a business owner that a land line simply can’t compete with, including:

  • Exceptional call quality. Enjoy crystal clear, high-definition audio quality with a VoIP phone. A land line will never be able to match the clarity that a VoIP phone can offer.
  • More features. Does your land line include menus, dynamic call forwarding, schedules, and the handful of other features that VoIP offers? These features are necessary to run a successful business these days.
  • Less Expensive. Phone.com offers competitive pricing as compared to a land line, with flexible minute options scalable for all businesses. Compared with all the features you get with a VoIP service, the price vs. benefits far exceeds that of a land line service.

If your interest is piqued, come learn how to set up a home office phone with Phone.com.

How Can I Learn More?

Join us for a free 30 minute webinar on how to set up a home office phone with Phone.com.

We’ll teach you how to order one of our telephone adapters, connect it to your network, and start making some calls!

When

Thursday, September 11 10:30am – 11:00am.

How

Register Now

conference-calls

3 Tips For Hosting an Awesome Conference Call

by Derrick Arteus

Your next conference call doesn’t need to end up like this:

With a little planning and preparation, you can ensure that your next conference call is awesome, informative, and runs smoothly. Here’s 3 tips to make your next meeting the best one yet:

  • Practice beforehand. If this is your first time using your conferencing software, then spend some time before the actual meeting learning how everything works. Each service has unique methods for muting/un-muting callers, or ending the call.
  • Have a backup plan. Technology has its moments of random oddities. Ensure that everyone on the call has a copy of the presentation slides, agenda, and an alternate call in number.
  • Have attendees mute themselves. Nothing ruins a presentation more than the background noise of someone listening in on your call in what sounds like an airport. Let everyone know how they can mute and un-mute themselves when they want to talk.

Now that you have some great tips to get you started, why not use Phone.com for all of your conferencing needs? Every Phone.com account provides a free conferencing bridge with unlimited monthly minutes.

How Can I Learn More?

Join us for a free 30 minute webinar where we’ll teach you how to start hosting conference calls with your Phone.com account. 

What

  • Learn how to access your free Conference Bridge Number and PIN.
  • Learn how to record your conference call with a dedicated Phone.com number.
  • Learn how to set up an international or toll-free number to make your conference calls local for callers.

When

Thursday September 4 10:30AM – 11:00AM PST.

How

Register Now

Five Reasons Phone.com and Remote Work Go Hand In Hand

by Jeremy Watkin

work-from-anywhereIn the book Remote, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37signals, present a compelling argument for allowing employees to work from home.  At the core of the discussion is giving your employees the flexibility to work wherever they feel is best.

That could be home or a cabin in the mountains, or possibly at one coffee shop in the morning and another in the evening. Does it really matter where they work as long as they are completing their work with flying colors and effectively communicating with the team?

If you are currently considering allowing your employees to work remotely, here are five reasons Phone.com just makes sense for you and your business.

1. Flexible Call Routing - You can route calls to a device, our Communicator soft phone, or your cell phone or landline number.  You can literally route your callers anywhere you might be working and change it on the fly through our easy-to-use control panel.

2. No More Expensive Devices - While you can still get a fantastic, HD desk phone from Phone.com, you no longer have to be tethered to that phone like a ball and chain.  Phone.com Communicator can be installed on your laptop so you can speak with callers anywhere you have an Internet connection.

3. Useful Mobile Apps - Our mobile apps for iPhone and Android let you access your voicemail, view your call logs, and send and receive SMS anywhere.

4. Easy Extension Dial - Everyone on our system is simply an extension away from one another. Where Paul traditionally might pick up the phone and call Lucy in the next room at extension 522, now Paul, located in California can dial Lucy, located in Florida simply by dialing 522.

5. Enhance Your Professional Image - You’re probably thinking that your company’s image will suffer as a result of this.  Wrong!  With customizable menus and greetings, your brand will be enhanced, not sacrificed—regardless of where your employees work.

The beauty of working remotely with Phone.com is that you gain an amazing phone system at a fraction of the cost, and you gain an excited, engaged team that has the flexibility to work anywhere they darn well please!  I have merely scratched the surface of the benefits.  You’ll have to give Phone.com a try and read Remote to learn about the rest!

faxessms

3 Reasons Why You Should Replace Your Fax Machine Today

by Derrick Arteus

Traditional faxing is soon to become an obsolete obstruction in your home office setup. Those big, bulky devices are being replaced with cloud-based solutions like the one that Phone.com offers, which allows you to send faxes directly from your computer or smartphone. 

Here’s 3 great reasons to start sending and receiving digital faxes today with Phone.com:

  • You can send a fax wherever you have your computer or smartphone. Faxes can be sent digitally directly from your Phone.com account, or you can send them from our iPhone app.
  • Be notified of your received faxes via email. No more sitting around the fax machine waiting for a fax to arrive. Be notified right when you get your digital fax through email.
  • Reduce your paper clutter. You can save copies of your faxes as PDFs on your computer and reduce all of that paper clutter in your office.

Ready to toss that fax machine and get started with digital faxing? Before doing so, Phone.com CTO Alon Cohen recommends that “if your VoIP vendor does not support T.38 protocols on their analog telephone lines, or you fax internationally, then keep using a landline for faxing.”

Alon did go on to recognize that Phone.com currently utilizes the T.38 protocol for virtual faxing as well as on the Grandstream HT702 Analog Telephone Adapter. This dramatically improves the reliability of faxes in transmission from a digital to an analog signal.

How Can I Learn More?

Join us for a free 30 minutes webinar as we learn how to send and receive faxes on your Phone.com account. In addition, we’ll also be covering how to send and receive text messages.

What

  • Learn how to configure your Phone.com number to receive faxes and text messages.
  • Learn how to send text messages and faxes directly from your account.
  • Learn how to set up email notifications for your received faxes and text messages and how to check your inbox.

When

Thursday, August 28 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM PST.

How

Register Now