Author Archives: iSupportU Admin

What is the Difference Between a T1 and Comcast Coax? How to Find the Right Internet Connection for Your Business

Internet is internet, right? Not at all. We are presented so many options as businesses from Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), but it’s hard to figure out which solution is the best fit for my business.

Take the time to understand and weigh Internet connection options and services to keep business activities focused and on-task, for the long term. Let’s have a look at a couple of popular Internet service options that will keep your company up and running.

T1 LineT1 Cable

The T-carrier system was introduced in the 1960s by the telephone service company, the Bell System, and was the first to support digital voice transmission. The T1 line, part of the T-carrier system, was the original. T1 lines are used today by ISP’s to support businesses that need reliable and low latency online connection.

A T1 line for a business simply means that the phone company has installed a fiber optic line (sometimes it is copper) into the office that is connected directly to the phone company’s central office, then to an ISP. These lines are dedicated and not shared by other users, making them very reliable. T1 lines can be used to transmit 24 digitized voice channels (when connected to an office phone system) or carry 1.544 million bits per second (Mbps) of data (when plugged into the office network router).

Some companies require more than one T1 line. If this is the case, T1 lines are bonded, and the connection speed is increased by 1.544Mbps for each line added. One T1 line is a good fit for small companies with very low Internet needs.

While T1 lines provide excellent reliability, they are typically the most expensive option for Internet connectivity. Pricing depends on the distance from the phone company central office. Monthly costs vary by provider and, as the T1 line also connects to a web server, the fee includes both phone company charges and the fee the ISP charges.

For companies that can’t afford to have an unreliable Internet connection, a T1 line offers Internet access that is “always on”. While the service may be costlier, it can quickly pay for itself in a matter of time. Productivity increases can also be realized due to the uptime of the services.

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is available that guarantees bandwidth, performance uptime and reliability, latency, and service time to repair should the service go down.

Comcast Business CoaxCoaxCable

Leveraging the existing residential cable TV network, Comcast business-class cable services were introduced in 2006 and initially targeted at small business owners. Comcast business uses the current broadband cable network to deliver Internet access.

This type of broadband cable for businesses requires a cable modem, which can either be leased or purchased depending on the agreement with Comcast. Because the Internet service uses an existing network of cables, the bandwidth is shared among all subscribers. A high number of users could cause connections to be slower as all users are being accommodated by the same system.

A coax cable connection through a provider like Comcast or Time Warner will easily be ten times faster than a T1 line. The best way to understand this is to imagine a very fat, leaky pipe. For things like streaming video or moving large files over the internet, Comcast excels because with TCP/IP, there is an accuracy check that goes with the data. For services such as VOIP, high ‘noise’ or packet loss can cause call quality issues over the line. Phone calls do not require high bandwidth, but they do require low latency.

Service levels are also a consideration when evaluating Comcast business options. Generally speaking, there is no SLA for cable business services simply because the system is shared with other subscribers. Therefore, there is some risk, as a company receives no guarantee of performance or time to repair should there be issues or disruptions.

Because companies are dealing with the community cable company, which is also servicing residence subscribers, there may be some frustration in support needs. This can be a critical issue for businesses that must rely on Internet access and online performance every day, hour, and minute.

Generally speaking, the cost is typically lower than for a T1 line because the equipment, cables, installation, and overall costs are usually relatively inexpensive. The cost depends, however, on service area and the amount of work required for install.

When evaluating the best Internet service for your business, consider which is the dominant business issue for your company: losing Internet connection would be costly to your business or budgets are tight, and Internet speeds or connections aren’t a concern to your company. Identifying the priority may help you determine the best route. Ideally, a business would have a T1 and a Coax connection run into a firewall for failover redundancy. This allows the phone traffic to go over the T1 and the data traffic to run over the Coax. The firewall acts as the ‘traffic cop’ to manage this. If one of the services goes out, the device will switch over to the failover.

We help Boulder and Denver companies, every day, determine the best Internet connection option and service that is right for them to grow. If you need advice on the best for your business, contact us!

How to Determine if a Small Business VoIP is Right for You

Gone are the days when you had just a few TV channels to choose from, maybe a couple of types of coffee, and one telephone option. While these new options aim to enhance, it can sometimes make for daunting decisions.

For your business, deciding on the right telephone service is important. A good business phone system can improve communication and efficiency, reduce call-processing time, and enhance customer service and relationship building. There are two options available to you: a traditional phone system or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

VoIP is a phone system that transmits voice communications and multimedia over the Internet. Options to use a VoIP system include self-hosting the system at your business or the easier route of using an off site, hosted service.

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But how do you know if VoIP is a good option for you? Let’s have a look at the aspects, and advantages, VoIP has to offer:

Simplicity: Reduce the Number of Cables and Hardware

Traditional phone services for your business required physical switches and phone lines. Usually in a closet somewhere, the phone hardware has to be maintained and serviced by a technical support person if things go wrong.

With VoIP, the phone system is the actual phone switch and all the cables. Because the voice data is transmitted over the Internet (like web data and email), the VoIP system replaces the majority of physical hardware required in operating the service.

User-friendly Features for Everyone in the Office

Can you transfer a call quickly to ensure you’re responsive to the customer? Do you know your password to access an important voicemail? Is it easy to switch calls to your mobile phone while you’re out of the office? VoIP technology is web and mobile phone based and offers easy-to-use interfaces and websites for quick access to features. No more cutting a caller off when you’re working to connect them with the right person!

While you will want to have an administrator trained to use the more sophisticated options available, most employees will be able to easily – and quickly – utilize VoIP features to enhance customer support effortlessly.

Remote Service in Times of Need

Because VoIP service providers are web based, any troubleshooting needed is quickly accessible and done remotely. This eliminates time when your phone service is down and you need to wait for a repair technician. Also, the setup of a VoIP system for a small business is usually quick and easy, often just plugging in a cable into your VoIP phone.

Knowing Your Budget and Potential Cost Savings

Even without the additional features and increased service provided, most small businesses consider VoIP to save money. Invariably, your business is already set up with Internet service and your team already uses the Internet to run your operation. VoIP can leverage the network, bandwidth, and wireless devices you have already invested in by just plugging into this existing system.

While the advantages for your business to switch to VoIP seem obvious, there are a few additional things to consider.

  • The level of quality offered from VoIP can vary depending on the service provider, your Internet connection, and your hardware.
  • Internet connection can be an issue for an in-house VoIP service if you have a poor Internet provider or broadband connection. If the Internet connection goes down, your phone lines go down as well. For cloud-hosted VoIP systems with backup numbers set to cell phones, the customer will not notice any difference when calling in.
  • Likewise, if the power goes out, your phone will also not work as it relies on your business modem, router, and other hardware, which are all plugged in!
  • Security issues can be a concern, just like security should be a concern for all things online.

If you’re interested in exploring whether VoIP is a good fit for your business, or you are looking for a plan to make the transition, contact us! We can help you get the phone system your business needs while you go out and choose the coffee that’s best for you.

How iSupportU Became a B Corp & Why It Matters (Really)

Since we started, iSupportU has evolved from providing basic computer repair services to individuals, to delivering full IT support and services to people and companies. Our approach has always been to focus on de-mystifying the information technology issues people face and operate in an environmentally aware and sustainable way. But, deep down, we knew there was even more that our business could do. And there was.

b corpiSupportU is proud to have become a Certified B Corporation, or B Corp. We are committed to being a for-profit business that is dedicated to social and environmental issues. Sure, the words “social” and “environmental” are how you may have heard many companies describe themselves. For us, it was critical that these words not only express who we already are, but we also wanted to invest and commit to making these traits formal aspects of our organization.

B Corp certification is granted by B Lab, a U.S.-based nonprofit that serves a global movement working to transition companies from being the best in the world to being the best for the world. The vision is grand, but the belief is practical.

By encouraging organizations voluntarily to examine their role in a larger community, businesses have the opportunity to ensure their operations align with their beliefs. iSupportU started with this premise from its inception, so we were delighted to discover that there was a certifiable process that both acknowledges our approach and gives us a way to integrate this officially into our organization.

The process of B Corp certification was rigorous and took many months to achieve. iSupportU was evaluated on a range of operational aspects from energy efficiency to environmental performance to social and legal accountability. Following a phone interview with company leadership, we submitted documentation supporting our efforts and policies. We took the opportunity also to reevaluate and adjust our operating principles to ensure our commitment was evident.

The areas we have been evaluated on, and the commitment our organization has shown, are important to our company. To be certified that we meet the highest standards demonstrates to our many partners that they can rely on the best quality service delivered with the maximum commitment to positive social and environmental impact.

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What does B Corp certification mean for our customers, employees, vendors, and stakeholders? We believe it means a lot. Not unlike companies that receive a USDA Organization certification for milk or buildings that achieve a U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification, certified B Corp companies show commitment and provide assurance to everyone that works with us that we are committed to something above and beyond profits. We are proud to be part of about 1,600 companies from 42 countries around the world that make up the growing B Corp certification network.

But it’s not over. Because the process for certification is strenuous and must be regularly certified (B Lab doesn’t expect any organization ever to achieve the highest score), we are continually striving to look for ways and areas in which to improve. We seek opportunities to raise our social and environmental performance as well as increase our transparency and accountability. When it comes to reaching a high level of standard of practice, there’s always more to do, and we embrace this.

From the outset, we were committed to providing exceptional IT service and support, but we also knew we could offer more and be a better company. iSupportU sought to be an organization that could achieve continuous business, environmental, and social improvement. B Corp certification provides not an end to reaching this goal, but a roadmap to reach a destination. And that really matters.

How to Choose the Right IT Service Provider

Selecting the right IT service is essential to business success, as it streamlines operations considerably. IT service management is defined as applying technical and business expertise to help organizations create, manage, optimize, and access relevant information and business processes. These services are usually outsourced, hence the issue of finding the right provider for your business needs.

So what does it take to choose the right IT service provider?

First: Knowing What to Look For

ball-862119_1280The first step in selecting any service provider for your business, whether it be an IT services company or any other provider, is to know what you’re looking for. Such criteria of course include verifiable competence, experience and track record, reliability and punctuality, and adherence to industry standard rates (i.e. won’t surprise you with outrageous invoices). You want a provider with talent, training, and experience to take care of your business needs, especially when it comes to IT!

Some of the most important areas to consider when selecting an IT services company include: IT certifications and experience, payment terms, IT product repair capabilities, and availability/bandwidth. Following are some important questions to ask when choosing the best IT company.

Certifications and Experience

When it comes to IT certifications, there are any number of different products, services, and training levels an IT professional can be certified in. Generally, the more, the better. But at the very least, some of the key certifications that contain industry standard best practices would be: Project Management Professional (PMP), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCSP), CompTIA A+, and Certified Systems Information Auditor (CSIA). It would also serve to know how long the IT provider has been in business, get a list of companies they’ve worked with, and receive any references to organizations with similar equipment and needs to your own.

Flexibility and Payment

If you’re satisfied with the IT company’s level of expertise, the next step is to determine the company’s flexibility and what you’re going to get for what you’re paying. Does the IT provider offer block hour arrangements that provide a certain amount of work per month for a fixed price? Will the provider fix something that’s broken for an hourly rate? How about service agreements that detail exactly what the provider will do for you every month in terms of maintenance and repairs?

The goal is to find a provider who offers clear terms of service and billing, and aligns with your own business’ values and financial capacity.

Requesting Service and Product Repairs

Fixing broken equipment is one of the IT provider’s hallmark services, so it’s very important to go over what your potential provider’s repair services entail. Are you required to call the provider? Send them emails? Is there an online client portal that allows you to request help as needed?. Additionally, do they have a general time frame with regards to repair turnaround, and does that vary based on the type of repair? If so, what are the standard repair timelines per product or service? Do they specialize in particular repairs, whether it be hardware, software, cloud services, etc., or are they generally proficient across the board? It’s also recommended that you ask how the provider handles service requests internally to give you a much better idea of how it operates and the most efficient method of communicating a service request.

An Ounce Of Prevention

Repairs aren’t the only IT provider cornerstone—preventative measures are just as important. Remote monitoring and access are two trending services IT providers offer, with some providing monitoring by the hour or even minute. This means the provider is instantly notified of an issue and will rectify the issue before it becomes a major problem. It’s therefore important to determine if the provider you’re considering offers these services, and if remote monitoring software is compatible with your system. It’s also important to inquire as to whether the provider has the bandwidth to service your company properly, and how fully utilized the provider’s team is…or is not.

Additional Tips

Finding the right IT provider also means inquiring about how quickly they can dispatch help, especially in the event of an IT emergency. Making sure an IT service provider can meet your company’s needs at the right price and within the right timeframe is key.