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The Great Divide

So which side of the MPOE do you live?

The “Minimum Point of Entry” is where data enters a building via either coax cable, fiber optics or most commonly, copper. This “last mile” is provided by LECs – Local Exchange Carriers (AT&T and the local cable provider) and is then leased to other service providers known as CLECs – Competitive Local Exchange Carriers.

These LECs and CLECs are continually upgrading and changing the technology protocols of (the way they deliver) the 0s and 1s that become spreadsheets on your computer, voice on your telephone sets, video on your boardroom screen, and websites on your smart device. Commonly referred to as Telco, this occurs on the street side of the MPOE. Once inside the building, these providers will place a switch (router) that converts those 0s and 1s to 0s and 1s that your company’s hardware and software understands.

Therein lies the great divide.

Each of these companies, and now, to complicate things even more, cloud based, internet riding, “SIP” (Session Initiation Protocol – an emerging way of delivering voice and video) companies each have their own sales and marketing forces marching to the marketplace with long term contracts in hand, hoping to sign up businesses to their service, generating lucrative monthly recurring charges.  Meanwhile, inside the office lives the corporate infrastructure of computers, telephones, smart devices, and even fax machines that may or may not work well with the services being offered.

This is where the role of a systems integrator becomes critical. Before making any changes to the service provider (Telco) offering, or to the company’s local area network infrastructure, a company needs to make sure that both sides of the MPOE will be compatible and efficiently combined and utilized. No one likes having to make an unplanned hardware or software investment. Additionally, business suffers while having to wait for data to upload or experiencing a choppy voice or video conversation.

So, a systems integrator lives with you on both sides of the MPOE.

Choose one wisely that represents multiple service providers as well as quality hardware and software network products. Ask for and check their references of implementations at similar companies, and visit their place of business. Your business depends on it.

The More Things Change…

Developed in the 1960s, there are still some old AT&T “Centrex” lines in use. Centrex lines are a direct connection to the AT&T “Central Office” through an individual phone and phone line that provides “PBX” functionalities such as call forwarding, hunt groups and three-way conferencing. These have been replaced over time with “premise” based PBX phone systems using “PRIs” that allow access to the Public Switched Telephone Network with greater flexibility and lower cost. Instead of paying per line, businesses instead pay a small amount for Direct Inward Dial numbers that reside on their PBX and use the PRI to access the PSTN. Got it?

 

Substitute “SIP” for Centrex, “Cloud” for Central Office and make it 2014 and you now have “Hosted” VoIP. SIP technology allows voice to use the internet rather than “plain old telephone lines”. Hosted voice vendors place their PBX servers in data centers and advertisements on web pages. There are a number of additional features available with VoIP such as mobility and voicemail to email that can greatly improve business efficiencies. Like Centrex lines, businesses can use individual (SIP based) phones and pay a monthly fee per user.

 

VoIP can also be PBX “premise” based. The appliance or server takes the place of a traditional PBX and is assigned an “IP address” on the local area network. It can use both the PSTN and the internet to make and receive calls and provide the added benefits of VoIP Unified Communication features. This is generally a less costly option than hosted and can provide a higher level of reliability, depending on the needs of the business.

 

Businesses need to communicate with their customers and vendors in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. There is a choice of technologies available to accomplish that. Choosing the right solution is critical and can be made easier with proper research as well as partnering with a Value Added Reseller that is well established and offers a variety of products and services, and can provide strong local references for those products and services.

Here It Comes Again

I was thinking back to the philosophical conversation I had not too long ago with friends about sacrificing quality for convenience, example not-so-smart-phones. Nothing hit that point home quite like the prospect of an upcoming move of a spinet piano with me. It has been in place for more than a decade, and since then there are now keyboards that come very close in sound and fit under my arm.

So, I played it to help me decide. A hundred bucks to have it tuned. A hundred bucks for pizza and beer to have it moved. And so on. Still, I do wish through the years I hadn’t gotten rid of some nice keyboards that I’ve owned. Perhaps I just have this Norman Rockwell vision of someday singing carols at Christmas.

Whatever the case, it is indeed an amazing time to be alive to have choices like this. Those exponential factors we were promised are here. Pretty much anything you would ever want to know and then some is at your fingertips, including how to play piano. Collaboration of ideas has never been easier. Communication is increasing.

As in every era, change is a constant. Change is exciting, it is fun. Those who can adapt will succeed, those who can adopt will exceed. There is plenty of opportunity. I am, however, keeping the piano. Jingle Bells, anyone?