Category Archives: General

Wearing Our Warm-and-Fuzzies on the Outside!

by Phone.com

 

You know those mornings when you just don’t want to get out of your PJs? Today, we didn’t have to!

We work hard at Phone.com to ensure our customers are taken care of, and we like to have a giggle or two while we’re doing it. Pajama Day began with a fresh bagel and a cup of OJ as each team member walked into the office. Being cozy in our PJs—especially for those wearing footie onesies—made our day all the more fun and brought the team together!

Phone.com PJ Day 2014

We believe that awesome customer service is an inside job! And if our team is feeling warm and fuzzy, our customers will no doubt feel the love!

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Maintaining Your Work/Life Balance with Phone.com’s Scheduling Feature

by Derrick Lewis

One of the most challenging aspects of this technological age is maintaining the healthy divide between your work and life hours. With a multitude of devices within reach at any given moment, it can be challenging to tune out of your business and relax.

Thankfully, with your phone service at Phone.com there’s an easy way to get some rest and relaxation after business hours with our scheduling feature. This feature has some great flexibility, including:

  • Set your schedule hours once and forget it. There’s no need to constantly manage your schedule hours. Set it once, apply it, and enjoy your after business hours silence.
  • Create exceptions for holidays and unexpected meetings. Don’t want to receive calls on all the major holidays? Set them once in your schedule settings. You can also set specific date ranges for unexpected meetings or extended lunches.
  • Configure daily custom schedules for flexible forwarding. If you have multiple employees needing to receive calls at specific times of the day, then you can create specific daily hour schedules for your call forwarding.

It’s time to get some hands on practice with a free 30-minute webinar where we’ll be teaching you how to take advantage of all these great features.

Join us for this great introductory course to business hours scheduling where we’ll show you how to set your schedule hours, activate your schedule in your call forwarding, and set exceptions for your holidays and company meetings.

How

Watch Recorded Webinars Now

Stevens Institute of Technology, A Hidden Tech Gem

by Ari Rabban


Logo for Stevens Institute of TechnologyLast Friday, I was privileged to spend the morning on a private tour of the Stevens Institute of Technology, hosted by the institute’s President Nariman Farvardin. With me were three CEOs of other New Jersey-based tech companies, all of us board members of the New Jersey Technology Council. Our goal? Learning how to increase cooperation between the corporate world and academia.

As a sponsor and supporter of the NJ Tech Meetup, which is hosted at Stevens, I am a frequent visitor to the institute. I know how beautiful the campus is and the amazing view it has of the New York City skyline. What I wasn’t aware of, is the institution’s rich history. Alumnae include Samuel Bush, patriarch of the Bush family, and Henry Gantt, inventor of the Gantt Chart, along with Eugene McDermott and Charles Stewart Mott, founders of Texas Instruments and General Motors respectively. I was also unaware of the pioneering research done at Stevens, its innovative approach to tech education, and how it prepares students for the emerging tech-oriented job market.

Visiting Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens has a student body of 2,900 undergrads, 3,200 in graduate programs, and a real-world focused curriculum that boasts partnerships with leading corporations from finance giants to Broadway entertainment.

As President Farvardin explained, after the 2008 financial crisis, higher education, especially at the undergrad level, began adjusting to meet market demands. I am no expert but can’t imagine many traditional universities teaching music the way they do it at Stevens — with a focus on technology that leads to many graduates landing jobs on Broadway and the like.

During our tour, we visited the Hanlon Financial Systems Labs for computational finance. The freshman class we observed were all computer-science, mechanical-engineering and chemical-engineering students, all gaining solid, real-world training. We also visited the amazing Cybersecurity Lab, a program that works closely with corporations and government to address the growing risks of cybercrime. Students work with companies to solve existing problems, and many students go on to intern and eventually land full-time jobs with the university’s corporate partners and supporters.

Now before I upset friends at CMU, my alma mater, I’m not saying Stevens is the only leading tech-focused university. But institutions like Stevens and Newark-based New Jersey Institute of Technology, where Phone.com is based, are prime examples of a shift to technology-oriented education. And if high-school graduates have the opportunity to get a tech-based college education in any of the engineering disciplines, and certainly in computer programing, I would highly recommend it!

Another lab we toured during our visit, was the Immersion Lab, another amazing example of how academic research can partner in a very practical way with the corporate world and government. The lab’s main conference room is more like a command center, with wall-sized interactive monitors. Yet their research is what’s key. The Immersion Lab partners with the State of New Jersey to evaluate the risk of another catastrophe like super storm Sandy, using visualization techniques and simulations.

Finally, since I am sharing lab stories, in my opinion the crown jewel of what we saw at Stevens was the Davidson Lab. Located in a World War II-era building, you will find a 350-foot-long concrete pool that is used to model and assess marine craft designs. From navy torpedoes to America’s Cup racing vessels, the Davidson Lab at Stevens is one of only a couple such labs in the United States. The pool allows scientists to simulate high-wave conditions, and it was certainly the highlight of my visit to see a simulation in action!

Davidson Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology

How Much Bandwidth Do I Need for VOIP?

by Joel Maloff

iStock_000005944404SmallAs businesses and home users set aside traditional analog phone services, replacing them with Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), one of the challenges becomes allocating the right amount of bandwidth to your Internet phone service.

How much of your current bandwidth is needed for high-quality voice calls? This is a question we are asked every day by our customers.

Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What is the actual data upload and download speed that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) delivers?
  • What other services and applications on your network consume a portion of that available bandwidth?
  • Are there Quality of Service (QoS) settings that you can tweak to optimize your network for VoIP?

Minimum and Recommended Bandwidth for VOIP Service

The bandwidth that our VOIP phone service requires depends on the number of concurrent calls you want to make. The table below shows the minimum bandwidth required to make calls from a Phone.com account, as well as recommended speeds for optimal performance.

Number of Concurrent Calls Minimum Required Bandwidth Recommended speed
1 100 Kbps Up and Down 3 MBps Up and Down
3 300 Kbps Up and Down 3 MBps Up and Down
5 500 Kbps Up and Down 5 MBps Up and Down
10 1 MBps Up and Down 5-10 MBps Up and Down

How Does VOIP Use My Bandwidth?

The answer is simple and complex. VoIP services use a variety of codecs to compress and decompress voice data, allowing it to travel over the Internet efficiently. Phone.com uses codecs that require approximately 100 kilobits per second (kbps) traveling up from your phone line and down to your phone line per second for each call. So if you have three people, all on calls at the same time, the minimum requirement is 300 kbps up and 300 kbps down.

In addition, since the Internet “pipe” into your home or business is being used for other functions too—web browsing, sending and receiving email, file transfers, web-based office services, point-of-sale systems, and so on—there are numerous candidates contending for bandwidth.

How to Determine Your Functional Bandwidth

It helps to know how much bandwidth you really have. However, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will probably only confirm what you signed up for, also known as the advertised “up to” value, as in “up to 50 Mbps” or “up to 150 Mbps.”

The best way to determine your bandwidth, is to run a throughput test using a site like www.speedtest.net. This will give you a snapshot of your current functional bandwidth, but it is important to note that this metric can vary depending on how much bandwidth all of the different applications you are using require at any given point in time. This test also provides variable results depending on the location used for testing.

Keep in mind that your upload speed is usually slower than your download speed, so you need to make sure that the lower number of the upload speed matches what you need. Since most service providers do not guarantee sustained bandwidth besides the up-to value, we recommend adding a 5x to 10x safety margin when estimating bandwidth.

Calculating the Bandwidth You Need

If you know that your ISP can sustain a certain speed, simply multiply the number of expected concurrent calls by 100 kbps. If you deal with an “up to” ISP, a good solution would be to add the safety margin mentioned above so that you can sustain the required bandwidth, even when your Internet service falters.

For example, 10 concurrent users would require 1 Mbps (10 X 100 kbps x safety margin), which means you would be smart to allow for 5 to 10 Mbps both up and down. Depending on the other services and applications using your Internet connection and on the capabilities of your router, 3 to 5 Mbps may be sufficient, or you may need to increase your bandwidth. This must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, as each organization is different.

Optimizing Your Quality of Service

High-quality voice calls are the norm today but consistent quality does require some effort. One way to evaluate your VoIP capacity is using the Phone.com VOIP test (works best on Safari and Firefox). This tool lets you evaluate your network performance by simulating one, three, five or ten concurrent calls from your office to the Phone.com system.

Also, some but not all routers have the ability to prioritize voice services so that the impact of other applications doesn’t degrade voice quality. To prevent audio issues caused by voice and data competing for the same bandwidth, make sure your network router’s Quality of Service (QoS) settings are set as follows, so that they prioritize the transmission of voice packets to your WAN connection (ISP).

  • UDP/5060 – Priority: High
  • UDP/6060 – Priority: High
  • UDP/16384 to 32768 – Priority: High

Finally, if your router has an Application Layer Gateway (ALG) function, that should be disabled. We also recommend disabling the Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) function—in some cases, the router cannot handle the high rate of inbound voice packets when the SPI feature is enabled. In all cases, though, check with your security expert before changing configuration settings.

We hope these guidelines help you determine how much bandwidth you need to support high-quality VOIP phone service. If you have specific questions, please leave them in the comments below or contact us directly!