Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What is POTS - Business Telephone Services

Dear Metro:

I see on your site that you offer a selection of business telephone services - but I have never heard of POTS. Is this something new? What is it? What are the advantages/disadvantages for a small business?

Meryl S. Charlotte, NC

Dear Meryl,

Thank you for checking out the CNSG website Voice Services page. We offer POTS, ISDN / PRI, Integrated T-1 / PRI, VOIP Dynamic T-1, VOIP PRI, Hosted IP-PBX, SIP Trunking, and Conference Calling.

...and to be honest, "POTS" is the least exciting of them! POTS stands for Plain Old Telephone Service - and is just that, the basic home and small business service that you are already familiar with. For many very small businesses, this kind of telephone service is all that they really need.

However, as technology has grown and our needs expand, things like VoIP do allow us the greater flexibility and opportunities to do business in a new way.

If you are interested in any of our telephone services from POTS to Conference Calling - please give us a call at 1.866.738.1662, or contact us through our website.

Thanks for your question and have a great day!

Converged Network Services Group

Monday, December 29, 2008

Data Hosting Options

Dear Metro -

I would like have my business intranet hosted with a reputable company. What are the different types of data hosting available?

Phil, NC

Dear Phil,

Depending on the size and function of the data that you need hosted you have several options.

In the traditional web-hosting situation, a website (or web-based application) is hosted with a hosting company. Usually the hosting company would house several of client-sites on one server, since one would not utilize all the available space.

For bigger companies a dedicated server becomes a viable option. This not only allows for more data to be hosted, but the added security of not having to share the server space with other clients. A dedicated server, however, is more costly, than a shared server environment.

In both of these options, the server(s) would reside in the hosting company's data center--away from the client's facilities.

Another option is managed services, where the servers would exist at the business' location and a managed serviced company would come in and take care or upgrades and maintenance. This is an option for the business owner who likes having the servers on-site, but does not want, or is unable to afford the full-time staff necessary to manage the data and IT needs of a company.

The last of the most popular choices is co-location. This is where a business would choose to have their server(s) housed in another company's data facility. These can be managed or not, and can be a good option for many businesses, especially where this is available.

Data hosting options really need to be customized to your business' specific needs. If you would like to talk to us at Converged Network Services Group, please give us a call at 1.866.738.1662.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Hosted PBX service vs. Managed PBX vs. SIP Trunking

For small business users, hosted (also known as "Hosted PBX" or "Virtual PBX") or managed VoIP services are a cost effective way to utilize the myriad of advantages business VoIP offers. These options enable the smaller to mid-size business to keep their operating expenses down, while putting more money back into their growing business.

Since there are many VoIP choices for business owners, we have provided you the information you will need to make an informed decision regarding your business telephone system.

Hosted PBX
A Hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone service offers businesses all the benefits of utilizing VoIP without the large initial investment needed to purchase your own network equipment.

In a Hosted PBX agreement, the equipment resides with the provider. The service provider of the hosted PBX is onsite or on call at all times and can quickly resolve any service problems remotely. Hosted services also enable a business to take advantage of redundancy and backup procedures that would be costly to maintain on premise.

With Hosted PBX, the purchase and lease of phones is only necessary on an as-needed basis. Your system can grow with the business, by just adding phones. The Hosted PBX service provider takes care of the needed system updates and enhancements automatically. The biggest advantage to small business owners is that the Hosted PBX service providers offer support as needed, so the extra staff is not required to support your service.

Managed PBX
Managed PBX Service agreements enable you to outsource the management of your PBX system, in your own facility. Managed PBX service providers charge a monthly fee and you are given a fully managed system solution, with the benefits of having total in-house control.

Managed PBX services also allow you to combine the maintenance of your voice and data solutions, and the service problems are handled remotely—even off hours. If a technician is required to come to your location, the issue should be resolved completely.

In addition to receiving statistics and reports necessary for your business, another benefit of Managed PBX services is the typical per-line charge, making this a good choice for small businesses. Managed service providers normally assign a specific service specialist to your account. This representative is responsible to oversee your account and make sure your system is properly maintained and serviced.

SIP Trunking
SIP Trunking is a single conduit pipeline for multimedia elements (voice, video and data). SIP Trunking eliminates the need for traditional voice circuits by utilizing IP connections and either a private network or the public Internet for infrastructure.

SIP trunks can support videoconferencing and unified messaging--high quality and high-end multimedia services. SIP Trunks are used in conjunction with an IP-PBX. SIP Trunks have the benefit of cost savings of SIP along with the increased reliability. This is a smart and cost effective solution to customers and allows the flexibility of using multiple service providers. Also, SIP Trunking allows for easy to scale-up as the company grows.

If you are interested in any of the above services, call Converged Network Services Group at 1.866.738.1662.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Conference Calling Services

Dear Metro:

My company has grown and is looking for a new vendor to handle our conference calls. We have two additional offices and we need to be assured that meetings go smoothly - both internally, but with our clients. What kind of conference call services do you offer?

Meredith K. Charlotte, NC

Dear Meredith,

Congratulations on your new locations. It is common for businesses going through a growth phase to be concerned with infastructure and communication. Bravo to you for taking this matter seriously.

We have offer three types conference call services for you to choose from including: 1) Reservationless, 2) Operator Assisted, and 3) Event Services

Reservationless Conference Calls, (known as Reservationless-Plus) gives you on-demand conferencing. This provides you the flexibility to initiate a conference call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No reservation or operator assistance is required. You will be given a permanent number to dial-in and enter a conference code to set up the call. This is ideal for ongoing conference call needs.

If your meetings require more professionalism and attention to detail, we offer operator assisted conference calling. With a wide range of features and enchancements, Operator Assisted conferencing will be more professional, interactive and engaging. We have expert operators so that you can manage all the details so you can concentrate on call.

To enhance your operator assisted conference calls, we offer Surround-the-Call Features with dozens of options allowing you to record, broadcast and administer your meetings.

We also have a specialty service called Event Solutions. This service is for important event calling (small or large) with expert service and unmatched attention to detail for your most important conferences. Our Event Services Division is trained to provide stringent levels of customer service to ensure quality, consistency and complete satisfaction.

It starts with your Event Team. They'll help you select from a wide range of audio and web conferencing options that best suit your needs. Professional Meeting Facilitators, Event Service Specialists and Account Specialists manage your event from a pre-call rehearsal to post-call follow-up.

Typical Event Services conference calling is for events such as investor relations and quarterly earnings calls, product rollouts, employee training, press conferences and general company meetings & announcements.

For more information on any of our conference call services, call 888-400-8577 or go to the CNSG website for more information.

Converged Network Services Group

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hosted and Managed PBX

Dear Metro,

Can you tell me the benefits of a hosted and a managed PBX? We are considering a PBX for our growing business in Charlotte and aren't sure which way to go.

Charlie S. Charlotte

Dear Charlie,

Thank you for your question. A PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is a private telephone network for businesses. Users of the PBX share outside lines for making telephone calls outside of the PBX primarily to reduce the total number of telephone lines they need to lease from the telephone company--which reduces a company's expenses.

If you are looking for VoIP, your choices are: managed, hosted or on-premise systems. You asked about managed and hosted--which are similar:

Managed VoIP
With managed-VoIP services, a third-party vendor provides equipment, software, operations facilities and technical support. The benefits are having an IP-enabled phone system without the costs, risks, etc of a VoIP solution. With managed VoIP is you can run an effective business phone system with limited or no internal IT resources.

Pros on the managed PBX include 24/7 support, faster time-to-market, a potentially aggressive product-development cycle, low up-front cost and predictable monthly operating expenses.

Hosted VoIP
Hosted-VoIP services rely on a service provider’s hosted-PBX equipment to route a company’s voice and data traffic. Calls are routed over the PSTN (public switched telephone network) to the hosted-PBX system.

This method is also best suited for small and medium-size businesses with limited IT resources and budget.

Pros of the Hosted PBX include the adaptability to accommodate the fluctuating needs of a growing business, or even the seasonal peaks and economic swings. Also, the seamless integration with most legacy systems is a plus. With hosted PBX there is no need to purchase VoIP hardware or software , and 24/7 support and monitoring by trained IT staff is included.

To determine if managed or hosted PBX is right for your company, please give us a call at 1.866.738.1662.

Converged Network Services Group

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What is a NxT1?

Dear Metro:

As we are growing, we are investigating different bandwidth options. We currently have a T1, but I think that perhaps a T3 is overkill. Is there a stepped option in between that would make more sense? In the past, there was no way to bridge this gap, but I heard their may be a good choice available now.

William H. Charlotte, NC

Dear William,

I believe that we have the ideal options for those looking for something more robust than a T1, but not interested in going the full T3 route.

A NxT1 will give your business bandwidth over 1.5 Mbps (that of a T1), without requiring DS3 access.

A NxT1 connects 2, 3, or 4 dedicated T1 circuits (3 Mbps, 4.5 Mbps or 6 Mbps), and access is provided through a combination of software and hardware components. This provides greater bandwidth automatically by load balancing the traffic over the multiple T1 links.

Many of our clients have found that their old T1 lines do not have enough bandwidth to deal with the demands being made on their network networks. however the T3's are overkill for many small and midsized businesses.

The NxT1 option is a new approach to bundling T1 circuits. It solves the issues that had limited other solutions, and fills the T1-T3 gap.

We would be happy to discuss the NxT1 option with you. Just give CNSG a call at 1.866.738.1662.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DS3 Line

Dear Metro,

Thank you for putting together this blog. It is nice to be able to get straight answers.

Can you tell me: how is data transmitted with a DS3 line?

Brian M.

Dear Brian,

You are welcome--it is nice to be able to provide answers in this way. Feel free to comment (below) on any of the Q & A as well.

If you were looking at installing or utilizing a DS3, it would be because you are large business or institution that needed a high-speed, professional solution for access to the Internet. DS3's have very high capacity connections (45 Mbps digital service) above and beyond a T1 and would be a dedicated private line service.

To answer your question, a DS3 transmits data over fiber optic cable. So it is not available every where. You would have to have a fiber optic connection available nearby, or right to your building, or one would have to be installed for you to take advantage of a DS3. This can be costly, but the benefits of a DS3 for a larger business are enormous.

I hope this answers your question--If you would like to know if a DS3 is a good solution for your business, please call us at 1.866.738.1662


What is Colocation?...and Why You Need it

Do you think you might need colocation? For many businesses it makes sense to utilize colocation, because having web-based applications securely housed on a server can be mission critical. And while some choose to have their own data center, it is not feasible for others to take on the added expense of building and maintaining a data center.

Colocation is a common business scenario where a company or organization chooses to rent space in another organization's networked facility. This is a common practice for smaller technology companies and businesses needing web hosting, as it allows a business to put their equipment into a controlled, safe, reliable, networked environment without the cost of having their own data center.

By renting colocation space in one or a few data centers throughout the country, your company could not only save money, but provide added security and stability to your site(s).
Many companies choose a collocation company with multiple physical locations. This is done to capitalize on optimal performance. Often swings in internet traffic come from one part of the country or one area may have severe weather, or other emergency situations that affect connectivity. Businesses with data centers in multiple locations are better able to deal with these situations and continue to provide web-based applications to visitors, customers and employees.
The most important benefit to colocation may be cost. By renting space in another company's data center, you can simply move your equipment into that location and set it up. The colocation company takes responsibility for climate control, power and access to the internet.

If your company currently has a server on-site, and would like a back-up, are having problems with security or keeping it online for whatever reason, colocation is a great option.

(c) 2009 CNSG-USA

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How much does a T1 cost?

Dear Metro:

My business has grown tremendously in the last year and we are investigating having a T1 line. Can you tell me how much a T1 costs on average?

Ben K.

Dear Ben,

Congratulations on your business success. The cost of a T1 line varies a bit but you can expect a T1 line to cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per month.

A T1 line needs to be connected to a web server, and your total cost will be a combination of the fee the phone company charges and the fee the ISP (Internet Service Provder) charges.

If you would like more information about T1 lines, and if this is a good option for your business, please call Converged Network Services Group at 1.866.738.1662.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Do I Want Colocation?

Dear Metro,

My business partner and I are looking at some ways to save some money and the idea of colocation has come up. Can you explain the advantages and the disadvantages of colocation and if this is something that CNSG can do?

Nick T.
Small Business Owner

Dear Nick,

Colocation is generally a good idea for small businesses to consider--it gives you the benefits and features of a large IT department without the cost.

Large corporations have the infrastructure to host their own servers and have a team of IT professionals to manage and design and maintenance of the site. Small businesses and sole proprietorships do not.

To host your site, you have a range of options from simple hosting with a hosting company to running your own Web servers off of a dedicated Internet connection. One attractive option is colocation.

Colocation allows you to put your server in someone else's rack and share their bandwidth as your own. It generally costs more than standard Web hosting...since you buy the server, but less than a comparable amount of bandwidth into your place of business. And you don't have to share the space with other sites that the hosting vendor may set up on the server, (which could cause several issues including speed).

Once you have a server configured with your site and other hosted programs, you physically take it to the location of the colocation provider and install it in their rack, (or you can rent a server from the colocation provider depending on your specific needs and budget).

The company you are co-locating with then provides an IP, bandwidth, and power to your server. With co-location you will have access to the server whenever you need to.

The biggest advantage of colocation is the cost for bandwidth. Depending on the amount of servers and and the type of Internet connection you have. But the back-up and outage protection that a Colocation facilities can offer can save a business serious finanical and operational angst. Another advantage is that the business you colocate with may offer you IT services, so if or server needs management or maintenance, they can take care of this for you at an additional cost.

Disadvantages would include distance to the colocation facillity, and the cost over the amount you would pay for basic hosting.

If you would like to speak with someone about how colocation would work for your business, please give us a call at 1.866.738.1662 or go to our website at


Monday, December 1, 2008

What is IP? (Internet Protocol)

Dear Metro,

I am new to the technology world (just started a new job) and I was wondering if you could explain IP to me. I know it is an acronym, but I thought it stood for "intellectual property." But I think that in the context of technology, IP must have a different meaning.

So what is IP?

Lawrence S.

Dear Lawrence,

Congratulations on your new job and thank you for asking an easy one! (The holidays are coming and my brain is already thinking about my Christmas list!)

Simply put, IP is Internet Protocol, or the set of techniques used by many hosts for transmitting data over the Internet. (How we get the info from "point A" to "point B."Essentially it is broken into pieces and sent, then put back together at the end--at least this is the goal. Once in a while a packet will get lost, but that is a story for another time...

The current version of the Internet protocol is IPv4, (Internet Protocol Version 4--yes we tech people are tricky with those names aren't we!) which provides a 32-bit address system.

Internet protocol is considered a "best effort" system, meaning that no packet of information sent over it is assured to reach its destination in the same condition it was sent. We try our best. Often other protocols are used in tandem with the (IP) Internet protocol for data that must have extremely high fidelity--high quality. For example, if the data is highly important or highly confidential.

Every device (a computer, wireless device, or computer-like or containing device like printer) connected to a network, on a local area network (called a LAN) or the Internet, is given an Internet protocol...IP number. This is the IP address. This address is used to identify the device uniquely among all other devices connected to the extended network. IP addresses can be static (meaning they are assigned) or not, (meaning they change). This is determined by the Internet provider and system set-up.

Most of the time, the users of the systems, devices, etc. will not know the IP addresses that they interact with daily, and instead will give other names to the servers, devices and computers, to make it easy to keep straight.

I hope this helps - and keep those technology questions coming!

Metro - The Tech Answer Guy!