When Customers Become ‘Friends’

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How to incorporate social media into your contact centre

A recent study from marketing services company, Sensis, shows that Brands are more likely to build trust if they interact positively with customers on social media.

Recent similar studies show that nearly 40% of consumers provide feedback to organisations online, that nearly a third of people used social media to make pre-sales enquiries, and that the use of webchat is closing in on phone calls for preferred contact method for some consumer products companies.

So if you’re hoping to control the customer experience through the entire path-to-purchase and beyond; then social media needs to be a key component of your customer service platform.

However, there are a few points to consider before integrating social media into your current call centre:

1. Do you have the right technology?

Current Call Centre is safe, simple – and incredibly out-dated. So if you’re looking for the best way to incorporate social media into your call centre, it can mean forcing out this old legacy technology.

Modern “contact centre” technology is both multi-channel – phone, email, webchat and social media – whichever way your customers want to interact with you and distributed, meaning that expertise does not need to be in the “call centre” but can be anywhere inside your organisation. Whoever is the most appropriate person – for example by subject matter expertise, or by job function - can answer a query, post a response or deal with an issue.

As you can imagine, staff (and sometimes management) can be firmly reluctant to change. So make sure that the unified communications company you go with offers staff training as part of their software solution.

2. Do you have the right staff?

Call centre scripts require staff with fantastic phone manners, who are great at one-on-one communication.

However, social media interaction often occurs via public posts for all the world to see; which requires a different skill set to traditional call centre employees.

So, to better prepare your company for the years to come, look for call centre staff who are (or can come across as) genuine, and have excellent written skills - ideally with a sense (careful) of humour.

3. Which platforms are your customers using?

Even though there are now over two billion monthly active users on Facebook; your customers might not be part of that number.

Luckily though, applications like Facebook Audience Insights can give you some fantastic data on who is talking about your business, and what they are saying. So it’s a great idea to do your research first before you commit to a social media plan.

What next?

If you are looking to make social media a bigger part of your customer service platform, then talk to one of our team at BTAS.

Our contact centre solutions are built around a multi-channel approach, which allows your customers to communicate with you via whatever means they are most comfortable with: phone, email, webchat and social media channels. We also provide thorough training by certified engineers and consultants, to better help your staff make the switch.

To find out more about how BTAS Contact Centre can better integrate social media into your customer service platform, go to our product page.

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3 Ways your Wi-Fi Could be Holding You Back

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Common connection pitfalls on company networks

Modern business connectivity has never been faster or cheaper – just as according to “Moore’s Law”, computer processing power doubles every 18 months, high-end internet connection speeds have been found to increase by 50% each year according to “Nielson’s Law.”

Recent increases in network connection speeds have allowed organisations to switch to cloud-based computing, as well as having the capability to transfer large files efficiently between offices and remote users without discernible performance degradation.

However, modern business networks are complex beasts involving multiple data transmission technologies:  carrier backbones and data pipes, wide area networks (WAN), Private Virtual Networks (VPN) and Local Area Networks (LAN – both wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi) and the cellular phone network, that all need to work together to get a webpage, file, a voice call or video stream from one place to another.

Performance depends on all these working well in sync. Today we’ll look at the Wi-Fi component of the chain. So if your network isn’t achieving the speed increases Nielson’s Law suggests, then here are three Wi-Fi things to consider:

Does your Wi-Fi setup have enough capacity for the users you have?

If your internet speeds are slowing down, then it could be that you either have more users than your network was originally designed for, or your network was incorrectly designed from the very beginning.

If your organisation has brought on more people over the last twelve months, then a simple upgrade to the Wi-Fi Access Points may suffice.

However, to ensure that your network is set up correctly for the number of users your company has, a Wi-Fi analysis will produce a usage ‘heatmap’ showing where traffic is heaviest and congested access points may be under performing.  A common misconception is that adding more access points will speed up Wi-Fi speeds – however this is not always the case, and often interference between access points means that although more users can now connect, the expected increased performance isn’t available.

Are there Wi-Fi dead spots in your office where it’s difficult to get a good connection?

Wi-Fi dead spots include those where devices won’t connect at all, as well as those areas where devices report that they are connected, but speeds are too slow to work effectively - creating frustration and loss of productivity.

Dead spots force your employees to move around to different parts of the office in search of a “better connection” which can overload access points and repeaters in the faster areas of your network, and also cause a whole other strain of network slowing: reduced user productivity.

It’s a relatively simple issue to fix, as a properly designed Wi-Fi network shouldn’t have any dead spots or slow areas.

The design phase involves analysis of a number of factors including: office floor size, number of storeys and floor plan - including the placement of solid walls, windows, dividers etc; building construction material – concrete, double-brick and other signal reducing materials; number of users – where the desks are clustered, meeting rooms, reception areas; heat maps of usage through the day, wired vs. wireless users, expected guest usage, and average number of connected devices (laptops, phones, tablets) per user; type and strength of wireless equipment (802.11g/b/n/ac/X) and measurement of interference across the Wi-Fi spectrum by other networks or other equipment.

Taking the time to analyse the networks needs and to design the Wi-Fi network will result in the appropriate number of, and optimally placed, Wi-Fi access points that mean everyone that is expected to connect to the network will be able to. 

Ideally this is done before a new Wi-Fi network is deployed, however an analysis of an underperforming Wi-Fi network will also yield some “quick fix” solutions to improve speeds.

What Happens When Guests Access your Network?

Guest networks are an essential part of most modern businesses. Even in organisations which rarely have visitors, guest networks are vital for protecting the privacy and security of your primary network.

One thing all companies can do to safeguard their overall network speed is to control the usage on guest networks. Using business-grade Wi-Fi management tools to limits the amount of bandwidth speed guests can use on your network, allowing them to easily access the internet without affecting the performance of your primary Wi-Fi network.

BTAS Network – optimise the performance of your LAN.

BTAS Network involves the design, deployment and monitoring of your LAN – both wired and Wi-Fi, including 24/7 security management and network monitoring. BTAS Network gives you the highest possible performance, reliability, and uptime for your local area network (LAN) and Wi-Fi.

To find out more about how BTAS Network can boost the performance of your Wi-Fi network, just head to our product page.

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Improve Connectivity - Improve Collaboration

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How to make it easier for your employees to work together. 

Up until recently, ‘collaboration’ may have seemed like an unquantifiable buzzword. However, international professional services agency, Deloitte, just put a figure on it - and they’ve found that collaboration is worth 46 billion dollars in Australia alone. 

According to a recent study Deloitte conducted for Google, “Companies that prioritise collaboration are twice as likely to be profitable, five times more likely to experience a considerable increase in employment and twice as likely to outgrow competitors.”

Maybe it’s not just a buzzword after all.

What does collaboration really mean?  People within organisations have been working together – collaborating – for decades, that’s how work gets done, what’s changed?

The speed of business has changed; organisations are trying to accomplish more with less – reduced resources, smaller budgets, fewer people.  Technology has increased the speed and reduced the cost of communication which means customers and suppliers expect responsiveness, fast turnarounds and more detailed, complete information.

How can these expectations be met?  With better internal collaboration:  Employees being better informed, having easier and speedier access to colleagues reduces internal ‘friction’ and allows more to be done.

Improved collaboration allows staff to complete tasks efficiently; speeds up the internal processes; removes obstacles and blockages, and has also been found to increase employee satisfaction by making it easier for workers to learn and understand how parts of the organisation function and work together.

If you’re looking to boost productivity and employee satisfaction through collaboration, here are three simple ways secure unified communication technology can help your organisation:

1. Presence Technology

When incorporated into your unified communications platform, presence technology allows your employees to see exactly who is available to communicate at any given time, and how best to communicate with them.

By knowing who is available and unavailable, it encourages employees to call one another, which can be further encouraged with the addition of click-to-call capability; which lets the user call another employee by simply clicking on their contact details.

2. Instant Messaging

While many still see instant messaging as a distraction in the workplace, when it’s combined with presence technology - and staff are trained on how to use it properly - there’s no denying that instant messaging can boost collaboration by making it quick and easy for employees to contact each other and get answers to simple queries fast.

As we’ve covered in a previous blog post, instant messaging has been shown to increase response time and it encourages users to be brief and to the point. This helps to reduce the time it takes for decision making, solving problems, or completing tasks; which allows employees to achieve more each day.

The real value is in breaking down the ‘formality’ of setting meetings and email exchanges for the simpler every day – business-as-usual queries and tasks.

3. Video Conferencing

With video conferencing, you have in the instant benefit of being able to have face to face communication with anyone in the world. However, you don’t have to be on the other side of the world to get the full benefit of video conferencing.

Even for mid-to-large sized companies with 100 to 1,000 employees, video conferencing can be used to eliminate the lag caused by travel to and from meetings, traffic and weather incidents, or even in situations where companies are split across several floors or buildings.

It may seem lazy at first, but the easier you make it for employees to communicate with each other – the more they will.

BTAS Unicoms can help your employees communicate and collaborate, by giving them the platforms, and the training required to incorporate modern collaboration techniques into their work procedures.

To find out more about BTAS Unicoms, just click on our product page.

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Call Centres - a Thing of the Past?

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New technologies enable Virtual Contact Centre efficiencies

When you think of the words ‘call centre’, what images come to mind?

If you imagined anything similar to the Google Image Search results for ‘call centre’, then you probably imagined rows upon rows of people in tiny cubicles, wearing headsets and reading from scripts.

‘Call centres’ became a centralised, dedicated function within organisations in the 1960’s as an efficient way to handle the increasing volume of incoming customer calls. However, that image is becoming a thing of the past.

A lot has changed in the last fifty years: advances in unified communications, fast networks, new communications technologies and flexible networks have allowed companies to ditch these old-fashioned ‘call centres’, in favour of more agile and efficient solutions.

Email, web self-serve and online chats have enabled a whole new way to interact with customers, while social media has created ‘crowd support’ where your customers are communicating openly with each other.

Will these solutions replace the telephone-centric call centre workers?

Not yet. But perhaps your centralised ‘call centre’ can now be a ‘Contact Centre’ and customer contact can be distributed throughout your organisation to have the most appropriate people handling enquiries.

Your company can now be reached in more ways than ever before, and your contact centre is still the first point of contact for the majority of your potential and existing customers - you only chance to make a great first impression and convert a potential customer into a loyal customer.

Modern unified communications solutions can replace static phone-based call centre workers and direct customer contact to the right places within your organisation. Instead of having a dedicated room of cubicles for customer service representatives, you can have a distributed, dedicated team of customer service representatives, who can be based from anywhere around the country (or around the world).

Basically, modern UC empowers you to economically create a virtual contact centre.
This doesn’t just apply to actual physical contact centres. Companies without a high amount of regular visitors could also use it to replace the need for a dedicated receptionist. For example, rather than having one person staff your central inbound calls all day, you could use your virtual contact centre’s presence availability feature to detect who in your organisation is currently available to take the call, and have it forwarded to them – wherever they are.

Social media and webchat contacts can be redirected to your digital marketing team, sales teams, logistics or to technical support as appropriate, without having to hire multi-skilled people in a central team.

For companies who use their contact centres for telemarketing, or for companies who require a large workforce to handle all of their inbound calls, the shift to a virtual contact centre means that you can recruit the best people for the job – without having to rely on those who are geographically nearby.

The shift to a virtual contact centre allows your employees to easily forward calls to the best person in your organisation, even if they’re out in the field, as long as they are listed as available.
So, are call centres a thing of the past? YES – the way we traditionally think of ‘call centres’ are on their way out.

However, contact centres based on unified communications, fast networks, new communication methods and distributed workforces are more powerful than ever as a way to be available to your customers, to answer their questions, give them support or make it easy for them to buy from you.

So if your company is considering building a contact centre, or up-sizing your current one; make sure you call us first.

As well as virtual contact centre capability, BTAS Contact Centre uses a multi-channel approach, to allow your customers to reach you using whichever medium they’re most comfortable with.

To find out more about how BTAS Contact Centre can help you switch to a virtual call centre, visit our product page.

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Why Monitor Your Network?

Maintaining a healthy, glitch-free network environment often requires a lot of time and effort by a company’s IT team. Although there are several technologies that can help, the IT team may already be preoccupied with everyday tasks such as help desk tickets, and checking server logs and backups.

A company may not have the budget or manpower to proactively manage and optimise its network, let alone deal with incoming security threats. Strategic investment in network monitoring may be the solution.  

Document what you have

Over time, more devices are added to the company network, to the point where you may lose track of what is connected. With a small and simple network, a diagram can be created to show where devices are located and how they’re connected, but this may be difficult with larger networks found in mid-size businesses.

Network monitoring is able to detect and inventory devices both quickly and easily. After the end of the inspection, you will have a live map that provides an accurate view of the network infrastructure, making potential improvements easier to spot.

With new devices regularly being added to a company network, regular inventorying is required to ensure there are no sudden outages, poor network performance, or security breaches. For an IT manager, this in itself could become a full-time job.

Network monitoring pings devices in real time and updates their status on the map, meaning you do not spend time tracking down devices by yourself. You can also rely on network monitoring to notify you when preset thresholds are being exceeded and require your attention.
 
Respond proactively

The network monitoring may be done by technology, but it is the people at the network operations centre (NOC) that observe and interpret the flow of data and notifications.  When thresholds are being reached or exceeded, the NOC team is there to act on the alerts and inform you of the situation.

This means you are always aware of the network’s health and reliability, regardless of whether you’re out in the office or at a satellite branch. When the network monitoring spots an issue, you will be immediately informed so that you can act upon it and stop it escalating to a serious fault.

Most of the time your network will be running fast and reliably, and the network monitoring will just continue to observe unobtrusively in the background. But when something starts to go wrong, it can help with the detection and remediation of issues.

Because network monitoring inventories all devices and shows the physical connections between them, anything out of the ordinary can be quickly identified on the network map. In addition to having the information to find the root of a network issue, you are able to use the key performance data to predict the impact of a potential outage.

Focus on what really matters

When it comes to monitoring your communications setup, BTAS Optima is our end-to-end reporting, monitoring and incident management service. This includes 24/7 network monitoring and managed security by our dedicated Network Operations Centre (NOC).

For the initial four week period, the network environment and its critical elements will be mapped. Alerts and thresholds are then adjusted so that we only report on what is important at the right time.

The network monitoring, reporting and notification is entirely done by BTAS, meaning there is no need for you to invest in any new infrastructure or IT staff. This frees up time and resources that you can use to improve productivity in other parts of the business.

To find out more about BTAS Optima and how it can help your business, visit the product page or contact us.

Boost Cloud Connection to Boost Productivity

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How faster internet can immediately improve productivity

At the time of publishing this article, global data usage currently sits at just over nine billion gigabytes per year. However, research conducted by U.K mobile network, Giffgaff, suggests that will rise to over sixty-seven-billion gigabytes by 2021. According to Cisco, Global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next five years.

This dramatic increase in the demand for data isn’t just because of an increase in users, it’s because the way we use the internet has changed radically. The recent shift towards cloud computing solutions as-a-Service (Xaas) such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Security as a Service (SECaaS), as well as other bandwidth-hungry business applications such as Peer-to-Peer File Sharing, video conferencing and content streaming, all require much more data than previous internet traffic.

When you combine this growing demand for data with the substantial increase in the amount of Wi-Fi devices fighting for bandwidth on a company network, it leads to a whole new series of hurdles which were never considered during the construction of most business networks. If not planned for correctly, each of these hurdles is going to create lag in network speed and down time for both companies and customers.

So what does this mean for your company?

If your business’s internet connection feels slow today, it will be even slower in the future and may already be costing your organisation thousands of dollars in lost productivity.

Studies conducted by storage specialists, Sandisk, have shown that the average worker will waste one week per year, waiting for their company’s network to load. While a mere week may not seem like an important amount of lost productivity, multiplying that time by the number of employees in your organisation – it suddenly becomes a significant amount of lost productivity.

So what’s the solution?

If you’re running a company with anywhere from 100 to 1000 employees, then you need an internet connection that can keep your workforce up with the pace of business.

With BTAS Connect Fast Fibre, your business can achieve internet speeds up to 400Mbps, making cloud-based applications behave as though they were on your own network - reducing application lag and allowing your employees to create and collaborate seamlessly.

Once you’ve supported your business with that speed of connection, it also allows you to further improve your telecommunications infrastructure, move more applications to the cloud and boost productivity via a private WAN, centralised VoIP voice services and virtualised telephony architecture – all of which can help to reduce costs.

BTAS Network provides optimised, fast, monitored and managed Ethernet and Wi-Fi networks for reliable, frictionless internal networking for your organisation.

To find out more about how BTAS Connect and BTAS Network can improve productivity within your organisation, just head to our product pages.

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Customer Experience and Contact Centre Conversions

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Happy customers spend more.

A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review into the effects of customer experience and sales-based transactions, found that customer experience is a major driver of future revenue. Some of their research even indicated that customers who had the best past experiences spend up to 140% more. 

So as your contact centre is often the first chance for your organisation to provide a positive customer experience, here are three things you can do to help improve that experience and increase conversions.

1. Improve Call Quality with VOIP

When combined with a noise-cancelling headset or hand-piece, VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calls can provide far superior sound quality compared to traditional narrowband telephony. This simulates a personal, local call by cutting out the noise of a bustling call centre or office, which makes it easier for your employee to build a strong rapport with the customer.

A clearer conversation also means that neither party should have to repeat themselves, which allows the conversation to flow at a more realistic rate, which can significantly improve customer satisfaction.

2. Cut Wait Time with Presence Technology

In an inbound call situation, the employee who takes the call may not be the best person in your organisation to answer the caller’s query.

Previously, this has meant putting the caller on hold and blindly forwarding their call to another department, which can lead to a lost call if the customer is placed on hold for too long.

Luckily, a modern unified communications solution will allow your employees to instantly see who is available and unavailable in your organisation. So they can quickly find the best person to forward the call on to, and know that they’re actually there to answer the call. This can result in a far superior experience for the caller and the agent taking the call.

3. Remove Repetitive Questions with Instant Messaging

If a call does have to be passed on to another employee, it used to mean that the customer would often have to repeat themselves as their basic information is repeated along the line.

By equipping your staff with an integrated instant messaging program, the employee who took the call can inform the next person down the line about the customer’s information, their question and any other relevant information. This not only improves efficiency within your organisation but it also drastically improves the customer experience by reducing repetition.

So whether you use your call centre for marketing, telesales, as a help desk, or for any part of your organisation; BTAS can provide custom solutions to improve the customer experience. 

BTAS has a specialised practice focusing on contact centre technology, with vendor trained and certified engineers and consultants.

Our contact centre solutions are built around a multi-channel approach, which allows your customers to communicate with you via whatever means they are most comfortable with.

To find out more about how a BTAS Contact Centre can help you improve the customer experience, just head to our product page.

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The Benefits of Instant Messaging

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Reduce emails and boost productivity

Instant messaging in the workplace has been around for a while.  The consumerisation of technology, and popularity of social media and messaging apps, have already filtered into the workplace and changed work interactions.

Organisations have tried to harness messaging in different ways, back in 2011 Thierry Breton - the CEO of French IT company, Atos, caused a huge stir by announcing his plan to ban all internal emails.

Such a ban is difficult to enact for even the smallest of businesses, but Atos employs over 70,000 employees, across 42 countries. So how did Breton plan to keep employees communicating without internal emails?

Internal instant messaging.

Breton’s plan was to reduce the amount of clutter in the workplace, as he saw the trend of excessive emailing as a sort of digital pollution. Breton said, “...we are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives.”

It wasn’t just the clutter, Breton had also started to notice that many of the younger people Atos employed were more comfortable using messaging apps. As for upper management, Breton noted that they were spending up to twenty hours a week on emails. When you consider that France has a 35 hour work week, it all adds up to a lot of lost time.

Of course, email is still an essential tool for every business. It’s fantastic for sending and receiving files, and few companies could function without external emails. However, data shows that email use is beginning to wane (especially in younger users) in favour of instant messaging.

So should your company incorporate instant messaging into your unified communications plan?

Here are some of the benefits to consider:

1.    Real Time Responses

One of the biggest benefits of instant messages is that they elicit a swift response. This is in part due to their short nature, which encourages the receiver to act swiftly upon the message request.

2.    Precise Targeting

Unlike emails, which are often sent to a large group of people, instant messages are directed at specific employees with specific requests. This encourages workers to ask the right questions from the right people and assists with decreasing the amount of needless emails in your employee’s inboxes.

3.    Boost Productivity

Instant messages are written in the same format as an SMS, so you aren’t socially expected to use formal greetings or sign offs, which makes instant messages quicker to write and quicker to read – especially for quick questions, quick decisions, the smaller communication points that end up cluttering email inboxes. This gives your employees more time to focus on the task at hand, and helps to boost productivity.

If your employees are already using ‘informal’ or consumer-grade instant messaging at work, or you are considering introducing instant messaging into your unified communications plan, then talk to BTAS.

BTAS Unicoms has a strong and secure instant messaging feature integrated into the overall platform. Not only does this keep your communications systems streamlined and secured, but it also reduces overall costs by negating the need for third party applications and licenses.

To help your business get the most out of BTAS Unicoms, we’ll also provide thorough, on-site training to ensure that all of your employees are comfortable incorporating instant messaging into the way they work.

To find out more about BTAS Unicoms, just head to our product page, submit an online enquiry, or call us on 1300 55 44 11.

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Disrupting Aged Care with Technology

There has long been a need for the aged care industry to embrace emerging technology-based solutions, even if it they are disruptive. Although these technologies have sparked debate in the sector, Australian Ageing Agenda reported that it often ends in a lack of action.

The aged care industry has been careful in adopting technology-based solutions, citing fears about the Internet and the dangers that come with it. However, debates around disruptive business models have tended to overlook the improved outcomes technology can deliver for aged care as a whole, such as better self-direction for aged Australians accessing care services.

Setting a trend

Some providers have been more progressive and harnessed the benefits of technology, such as the two year trial by WA Home and Community Care (HACC). With the help of technology, a sample group of 100 aged care recipients can now choose and hire their care workers directly, and the initial trial results have been encouraging.

With market demand growing much faster than the industry can evolve, it is the disruptive providers that will have the capability to respond quickly to changing resident behaviour and needs. As more traditional, established care providers get behind such projects, the more the aged care industry is expected to benefit as a whole.

In the age of the Internet, online consumers have come to demand a higher level of service and support across a number of industries. This now extends to aged care, where technology is able to create a transparent and an affordable marketplace filled with skilled and knowledgeable workers.

Building a solid foundation

In order for technology to provide aged Australians with the freedom to exercise real choice, aged and healthcare facilities need fast and reliable technology infrastructure. BTAS Connect can bring fast fibre-powered WAN and Internet powered to your village, while BTAS Network is end-to-end network management for peace of mind.

Symmetric connectivity of BTAS Connect means uploads are equally fast as downloads, so you’ll be able to add high quality content to the Cloud within minutes. High speed broadband also means you do not need to worry about the reliability of your file transfers or the availability of the Internet.

BTAS Network is designed to not only manage your network, but also secure it. Our Network Operations Centre (NOC) will proactively monitor your network, ensuring you remained focused on running your village and not distracted by the running of technology.

Contact us today to find out how BTAS Connect and BTAS Network can enable your business.

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Can IT Managers Realistically Expect to Stay on Top of Their ICT Environment?

Time strapped IT managers are often forced to prioritise “keeping the lights on” with their information and communications technology (ICT) ahead of exploring new strategies, or even getting around to analysing and optimising the environment already in place. This means if there are gaps in their infrastructure, they may slide “under the radar” while more pressing current ICT matters are attended to.

The danger of just “keeping the light on” is that any potential risks may accelerate over time. If IT managers remain fixated on where they are now, and less on planning for the short and long term futures, there is a real danger of quickly being left behind, particularly at the rapid pace that technology changes.

  • Maintenance costs now vs. expensive rectification expenses later

As an example, allowing product support to fall off and reach end-of-life could result in escalating future maintenance costs. We’ve found, in experience across various industry sectors, that customers who have to rectify a situation now end up paying significantly more than if they had addressed it six to twelve months earlier through regular maintenance and/or schedule product support and updates.

  • Approaches to risk

IT managers have clear perspective on and awareness of the risks, however they have often been hesitant to take measures against risks. Not always by choice, but perhaps due to time pressures, resource constraints, knowledge gaps or a combination of all of the above.

Although the cliché “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” does often hold up well, having information and processes to help predict network issues, breakages or bottlenecks will greatly reduce risk by being ready to act and reducing the impact any outages should they occur.

  • Budget pressure and cost savings

Today’s business operating environments typically involve “doing more with less”. From discussions with various IT managers, we know that budgetary constraints are at the forefront of their minds.

Most IT managers also have to be exceptional budget managers that run their departments efficiently. However, while they may know their own best practices and be widely read, it is difficult to find more efficient ways to manage cost savings.  

  • The mobile revolution

The proliferation of mobile devices has also placed expectations on IT managers to implement wireless networks, though it is not as straightforward as many people may think. We’ve found through our deployments that providing good quality coverage and speeds, with the simplicity experienced from a home grade wireless network, requires a more secure and robust approach for a workplace environment.

  • We need to move to the Cloud!

With the industry buzz around the Cloud, IT managers are experiencing pressure from management to consolidate or move to the Cloud. However, some IT managers have turned to us for advice because they are unsure of what the shift to the Cloud means or what it entails, and importantly, what it means for their organisation.

Different IT managers have told us the Cloud means different things to them, so we used it as an opportunity to help them understand the benefits and risks of the approach. Through these types of honest discussions, the IT manager may realise that a move to the Cloud is not a good fit for the company.

An outsider insight

Controlling all aspects of ICT can be a fulfilling part of and a great source of pride for IT Managers, and any probing questions (justified or not) about risk may put the spotlight on their ability to do their job and deliver ICT goals. With increasing complexity, constrained resources and greater demands form management and users, it has become increasingly necessary to find trusted advisers with specialised knowledge.

The value we try to offer as an outside partner to an IT manager is our specialised insights and skills. We’ve found that IT staff at the admin level tend to be generalists than specialists, so there are situations where they are looking for external assistance.

As an external partner that works across industries and companies, we can offer insight, best-known-methods and cost-effective services. In short, we fill in the gaps by providing information, analysis and optimisation.

The benefit of foresight

Depending on the business environment, visibility is sometimes that is highlighted by IT managers as an important consideration. IT managers may not know what they have and/or what they need, and that is something we have been able to help with during discussions.

BTAS Snapshot is designed to provide an “early warning” look into a business’ network infrastructure. It’s not an audit or a consultancy, but a holistic overview of an ICT environment.

The purpose of Snapshot is not to just look at the technology, but to provide an executive or IT manager with a broader picture of their current ICT setup. It is a business-driven engagement measured against a key metrics looking at all aspects of the business, including finance.

Snapshot is a fixed engagement over four weeks, and is designed not to be a labour intensive experience for a business. While it provides insight into how more radical changes can be made to the ICT infrastructure, it is the “quick wins”, such as moving from ISDN to SIP, that will bring the immediate benefits to a business.

For companies that may not have the budgets, they can look at using the potential savings to fund some or all of the improvements. Not only can Snapshot help to justify any additional investments to an ICT setup, in certain situations it could also potentially cover the costs.

To find out more about BTAS Snapshot and how it can help your business, visit the product page or contact us.

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UC success depends on getting users engaged early

A TechTargets article reveals the challenges organisations face in creating a successful and smooth transition to Unified Communications.  The main obstacles are lack of information about the tools at hand, and inadequate employee training on how to use them, which leads to lack of engagement and low usage.

The article quotes independent research by Nemertes, and highlighted conclusions include:

Enterprises are struggling with unified communications (UC) success because employees are not adequately trained on the applications or they simply don't know their company has the tools.

Some IT departments are frustrated they can't get employees to use new UC tools, which can include telephony, video capabilities, cloud, conferencing and collaboration apps.

Often IT rolls out a new UC product and makes sure it works properly, yet no one is there to train employees on the ‘cool new tools’.

A clear disconnect exists between the IT rollout and the employee uptake.

Notifying employees about the new service may simply hinge on a quick, ineffective email.

Companies generally rate their UC success via metrics like employee usage, user feedback and business impact. Evidently, employees are simply not using UC tools.

For its report, Nemertes interviewed 50 senior-level IT leaders representing 45 companies, mostly with 2,500 employees or more. In 2015, about 61% of benchmark respondents rated their UC efforts as successful or very successful.

In 2016 that number is down to roughly 43%. Lack of use was the biggest reason for the drop-off.

You can read the full TechTargets article here.   

BTAS Unicoms provides mid-sized organisations with integrated voice, video, messaging, data, mobility services and collaboration tools that are secure, robust and agile. Our deployment communication and training processes work hard to ensure your staff are prepared and ready for the change to modern Unified Communications (UC) in the workplace.

The BTAS approach to improving uptake and user engagement is by involving users earlier in the deployment process with clear, concise, relevant information that prepares the way for UC becoming a reality. 

The internal information campaign is supplemented with structured in-person training coupled with self-paced web learning, online knowledge-bases, clear ‘how-to’ guides, quick reference cheat-sheets and FAQs.

We believe the successful uptake of UC depends heavily on user engagement and we make that a central part of UC deployment.

Visit our product page to learn more.

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Aged Care and the “Internet of Caring Things”

As sensor-driven technology at home starts to deliver a better quality of life for elderly, it will redefine our idea of modern aged care. IBM master inventor, Susann Keohane, made the observation in an interview with The Australian, where she spoke about how The Internet of Things (IoT) will one day evolve into “Internet of Caring Things” (IoCT).

IoT is when connected devices, vehicles and buildings collect and exchange data to later make informed decisions. IoT has been a key topic in the IT industry in recent years, particularly about the benefits it could bring to industries such as health and aged care.

IoCT refers to a network of Internet-connected devices in the home used to proactively monitor the health of an elderly resident. The data collected by the devices is sent to and stored in the Cloud, where it is then analysed to help medical professionals provide optimum care and better inform family members.

Monitoring of an elderly resident is the most common implementation of the technology. However, Keohane said it will need to do more to empowers users and provide them with greater autonomy within the comfort of their homes.

“If you can keep someone in their homes that little bit longer, that translates to huge wealth preservation,” she said. “You are going to see a lot more integrated care in the future, and caring for the elderly won’t be an isolated piece of the whole healthcare conversation.”

Patterns within the data

IBM has already started a pilot project around the technology in Bolzano, Italy, a city where almost a quarter of the population is over the age of 65. After looking through the patterns of daily activity, IBM’s system identified the elderly residents that needed to move higher up the list for allocated visits.

While the pilot has already demonstrated how the technology can benefit the community, Keohane said adoption will play a key role in determining the future of potential services. But with data being collected through ambient sensors in the home, concerns about privacy has the potential to act as an inhibitor.

The emphasis for IBM’s pilot project is finding patterns, so the system is not collecting sensitive data such as health or biometric readings. Even so, Keohane recommends careful consideration when deciding how the data collected will be governed in the future as the ecosystem evolves.

“The clients we are working for are assisted living providers, so in that case the data collected belongs to them and they use it to allocate the right resources,” Keohane said. “As smart homes and smart appliances become more prevalent, there are important questions that will need to be answered around ethics and governance, and every country may come up with its own model.”

Preparing for the future

In order to support emerged technologies such as IoT and wearables, aged and healthcare facilities need fast and reliable technology infrastructure. BTAS Connect can bring fast fibre-powered WAN and Internet powered to your village, while BTAS Network is end-to-end network management for peace of mind.

Symmetric connectivity of BTAS Connect means uploads are equally fast as downloads, so you’ll be able to add high quality content to the Cloud within minutes. High speed broadband also means you do not need to worry about the reliability of your file transfers or the availability of the Internet.

BTAS Network is designed to not only manage your network, but also secure it. Our Network Operations Centre (NOC) will proactively monitor your network, ensuring you remained focused on running your village and not distracted by the running of technology.

Contact us today to find out how BTAS Connect and BTAS Network can enable your business.

Top Tips to Improving Your Wi-Fi

Anyone with a smartphone or tablet has come to rely on Wi-Fi for Internet, but in some cases, the experience is not as fast or reliable as it should be. Here are some simple yet effective ways to get the most out of a Wi-Fi connection.

Better placement

A router tends to be placed in a corner of a building, usually near a window, to eliminate clutter. However, this may cause the Wi-Fi signal to spread omni-directionally and limit its range.

It is better to place a router in the centre of a room or office, preferably at eye-level or higher, so that it provides even coverage and optimum signal strength. To avoid any signal interference, it is also a good idea to keep the router away from other wave-based devices, such as printers, microwave ovens, and other routers.

Use guest networks

If you regularly have visitors to your office, set up a guest network on your router with a separate, simpler password. Once the visitors leave, you can disable the guest network and not have to worry about your Wi-Fi being used later without permission.

To set up a guest network, access the admin settings on the router and give a name to your network, set a password and even limit the number of users simultaneously connected to the network. Some routers also have the option to block and remove connected devices that are taking up too much bandwidth.

Manage your connections

If you haven’t been using guest networks, you may have given out your primary Wi-Fi password to people in the past. It may be possible that people are still connected to your Wi-Fi and using your bandwidth.

The best way to avoid this situation is to change your Wi-Fi password regularly, particularly if you tend to share it with people. Changing the Wi-Fi password once every six months will ensure only the right people connect to your network.

Extend range with repeaters

Unless you work in a home office, a basic router will not provide enough coverage beyond a room. If you don’t want to upgrade to a more powerful router, a simpler and more affordable option is to use a repeater.

A repeater takes the Wi-Fi signal from your router and repeats it to where it is located. The
Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) method is the simplest way to connect a router with a repeater, and usually consists of pressing a button that automatically configures the connection settings.

Time for an upgrade

Some Wi-Fi environments may need a few tweaks to run optimally, but others may need more significant improvements. In those cases, upgrading to a new and modern network will bring about higher Wi-Fi speeds.

BTAS Network is our end-to-end management of your local area network (LAN) and Wi-Fi. Not only do we offer choice when it comes to the right network for your BYOD strategy, we also provide you with a variety of ways to invest in it.

In additional to capital and operational expenditure options, BTAS Network is available as NoD. It also comes with 24/7 network monitoring and managed security by our dedicated Network Operations Centre (NOC).

By offering BTAS Network as NoD, customers can have an experience that is faster and less complex. They also have the ability to cut costs, in some cases getting 120% network capacity for only 70% of the cost.

To find out more about BTAS Network and how it can help your business, visit the product page or contact us.

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Where Does Technology Fit into Aged Care?

Technology in aged care should go beyond just eliminating filing cabinets, according to Australian Ageing Agenda. Recent innovations in information technology have shown what is possible in the aged care sector, but legacy technology continues to be a barrier.

Technology in the aged care industry has already come a long way and continues to mature. What started as an effort to go paperless soon evolved into improving access to critical data at any time using electronic health records (EHR).

In that time, the aged care industry has come to understand the business potential of qualitative collection, use and delivery of data for both residents and staff. This has also moved technology discussions to ways of leveraging disruptive technologies, such as the Cloud and the Internet of Things, to further enable facilities and carers.

Recently, the Federal Government announced plans to invest $485 million to take medical information online and revive its eHealth scheme. An initiative like this would help to mobilise and connect healthcare professionals Australia-wide regardless of location, particularly at multi-site aged care facilities.

Innovation through planning

With all of the advancements in technology, it is time for the aged care industry to think beyond merely eliminating physical documents and filing cabinets. As facilities continue to digitise and paper dwindles, staff are now becoming increasingly dependent on technology.

A growing number of facilities have introduced smartphones and tablets to improve connectivity and provide access to a wider range of resources for aged care residents. Wearable devices, such as wristbands to smart watches, have provided staff with accurate, real-time monitoring of residents’ wellbeing, ensuring they are properly taken care off without the need for regular check-ins.

While aged care facilities are embracing new and transformative technologies, in many cases end-user demand and data growth is becoming unsustainable under existing delivery methods. Legacy solutions may not have the necessary performance capabilities, meaning any new implementations become unnecessarily difficult and expensive to manage.

Instead of providing a better level of care to residents, new solutions and services running on outdated technologies can become a hindrance. That is why it is important to first think about the backbone that will support end-user innovations instead of merely focusing on their investments.

Connectivity with reliability

Aged and healthcare facilities can meet the needs of both residents and workers with fast and reliable technology infrastructure. BTAS Connect can bring fast fibre-powered WAN and Internet powered to your village, while BTAS Network is end-to-end network management for peace of mind.

Symmetric connectivity of BTAS Connect means uploads are equally fast as downloads, so you’ll be able to add high quality content to the Cloud within minutes. High speed broadband also means you do not need to worry about the reliability of your file transfers or the availability of the Internet.

BTAS Network is designed to not only manage your network, but also secure it. Our Network Operations Centre (NOC) will proactively monitor your network, ensuring you remained focused on running your village and not distracted by the running of technology.

Contact us today to find out how BTAS Connect and BTAS Network can enable your business.

Designing Your Office for Collaboration

collaboration

Collaboration is one way to boost productivity in the office. However, successful implementation consists of more than just putting a group of people together in the same room.

Fostering teamwork

There are several things an organisation can do to foster a collaborative environment. If you are moving offices, you have an opportunity to plan and design your new location around collaboration.

Consider organising the new office around focused work, conference calls, and telepresence. This means setting aside quiet, social, and collaborative areas where speakerphone can be used without disturbing other people.

Place meeting rooms and project areas within close proximity of teams. Remember that any room or space that’s located too far from the workspace will typically go unused.

Evolving to digital

Provide for and support the transition of analogue work into digital documentation. Enable workers to share information from personal devices, such as notebook PCs and tablets, to a larger format, such as TVs and projectors, to encourage group participation.

Instead of assigning staff to a fixed desk, encourage them to switch where they sit, to connect them to other people, projects, and ideas. Provide a range of furniture and technology that will support employees in their preferred work mode, whether it is focused, social, learning, or collaborative.

Decide where to place network cabling and phone points throughout the office, and what type of phone system and/or unified communications solution to install. This means checking if the office space is already cabled, or if it will need to be done before you move in.

It is worthwhile to find out what is and isn’t available at your new premises well before the move date. That way you will be able to plan ahead and not get stuck with poor performing infrastructure that will hamper your staff from collaborating.

Ready to work together

To help prepare an office for collaboration, BTAS Snapshot provides a high-level management summary of the current status of the organisation’s communication environment. The on-site and remote discovery, analysis and measurement activities take on average three weeks, and are followed by a detailed report and stakeholder presentation.

When it comes to upgrading the communications environment, BTAS Network is our end-to-end management of your local area network (LAN) and Wi-Fi. This includes 24/7 network monitoring and managed security by our dedicated Network Operations Centre (NOC).

BTAS Connect uses fast fibre as the backbone to deliver high speed Internet and Wi-Fi to mid-size organisations. In addition to offering choice to companies in terms of design and architecture, it delivers cost efficiency by providing the latest in technology and increased competitiveness around pricing in the market.

To find out more about the above products and how they can help your business, visit the product pages or contact us.

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The IoT and data centres: A match made in heaven

With estimates as hyped up as 50 billion devices expected to be connected by 2020, the internet of things (IoT) will be the most significant change to the way data is managed in a generation. And that has enterprise data centre operators going back to the drawing board. Data direction The surge in the range of devices and sensors that create and send data means the IoT revolution will bring huge data inflows to centres that will need to be...

With estimates as hyped up as 50 billion devices expected to be connected by 2020, the internet of things (IoT) will be the most significant change to the way data is managed in a generation.
And that has enterprise data centre operators going back to the drawing board.

Data direction

The surge in the range of devices and sensors that create and send data means the IoT revolution will bring huge data inflows to centres that will need to be stored, analysed and used. In fact, the very direction of the data flow represents a significant shift from the past, with centres traditionally feeding data-hungry networks.

But the big promises and opportunities of the IoT means that data storage costs are expected to balloon with huge amounts of inbound traffic.

Real-time (and order) is of the essence

While the discussion around the IoT is centred on the possibilities for healthcare, education, public transport and other improvements in civic life, IT managers will need to consider the time- and order-sensitive nature of IoT data.

Whether it’s sorting through peak-hour public transport or remotely monitoring elderly citizens’ health, getting accurate and reliable data on time and in order is important so that automated decision-making has all the available information.

That means data should be sent in real-time, or time stamped in batches.

Planning

Getting the architecture right will be key to successfully hosting the rapid connectivity that is a core feature of the IoT. To avoid storage and networks creaking under the weight of the data, and to account for yet-to-be-conceived IoT applications, data centre operators will have to completely rethink systems and management.

One consideration might be the move away from big data centres to smaller pockets of storage across a range of sites. Coping with the enormous number of devices and sensors will be a challenge that will almost force a return to a more distributed network. But that might also mean a better handle on security.

A host of other planning considerations will need to come into play, including network bandwidth to cope with increasing frequency of the packets of small data, how that data will be backed up and the increased processing required to sort through all the data that comes into the network.
While the IoT promises to drive a new industrial revolution, the gauntlet has been thrown down for enterprise data centre operators to meet the challenges of its introduction.

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Improving Aged Care with Mobile Devices

Visual devices such as tablets enable aged care workers to provide a better level of care, according to Australian Ageing Agenda. The result is from a study run at 12 Wesley Mission aged care facilities in Queensland.

The purpose of the research was to evaluate the benefits of providing care workers with a tablet loaded with a picture care plan (PCP). The PCP is an illustrated point-of-care app that illustrates information to care workers prior to providing care to the resident.

A handy device

87 per cent of the 85 respondents found the app to be helpful, while 76 per cent said it increased resident safety and quality of care. A further 69 per cent said it made them more confident in their work.

More than half of participants (60 per cent) often or always used the app when providing care, while 15 per cent said they used it sometimes. The main feedback for the tablet and PCP was that it was user friendly (81 per cent), helpful (75 per cent), and time-saving (73 per cent).

When it came to areas of improvement, respondents highlighted the weight of the device (306 grams). Some commented that the tablet was somewhat heavy and pulled on their utility belt or shoulder bag.

Wi-Fi speed was also highlighted as an issue, with a slow connection resulting in a delay in accessing information. While the tablets were speedy and user friendly, the information only displayed as fast as the Wi-Fi they were connected to.

Support the technology

As the pilot with the tablets demonstrated, aged and healthcare facilities need fast and reliable technology infrastructure to support devices used by care workers. BTAS Connect can bring fast fibre-powered WAN and Internet powered to your village, while BTAS Network is end-to-end network management for peace of mind.

Symmetric connectivity of BTAS Connect means uploads are equally fast as downloads, so you’ll be able to add high quality content to the Cloud within minutes. High speed broadband also means you do not need to worry about the reliability of your file transfers or the availability of the Internet.

BTAS Network is designed to not only manage your network, but also secure it. Our Network Operations Centre (NOC) will proactively monitor your network, ensuring you remained focused on running your village and not distracted by the running of technology.

Contact us today to find out how BTAS Connect and BTAS Network can enable your business.

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The Advantages of Virtualising Your Office

Virtualization is an industry buzzword that may be as widespread as the Cloud, but it is just as often misunderstood. For that reason, many businesses have not fully realised the potential benefits of the technology.

Doing more with less

Virtualization is the process of establishing the virtual version of a technology that may be found in an office such as a network, server, storage device, or operating system. That means both physical and non-physical pieces of technology have the potential to move from the office and virtualise in a different location.

If done correctly, many businesses could benefit from substantial cost savings and flexibility advantages by implementing a structured virtualization plan in their offices. A lot of the savings of virtualization are related to hardware and software purchases, or depending on the situation, the lack of them.

For instance, virtualization makes it possible to install multiple operating systems on a single server.  This means one hardware configuration can effectively serve as four or five different configurations, saving both hardware and energy costs.

The digital domain

Networks and associated resources can also be virtualized, with a single real network divided into several virtual ones. In addition to the cost savings, the structural complexity of the network will be simplified and performance will be optimised.

A well-implemented virtualization scheme can make it easier to rollout hardware and application upgrades. This is because virtualised technology exists as digital data, so it can be copied and installed quicker than on physical devices.

Virtualization is also a good way to outsource IT services so systems for different businesses can be run virtually and securely on the same server. This type of flexibility not only cuts down on IT-related spending, but also frees up physical office space and better realigns resources within the company.

Eliminate the complexity

A quick and easy way to virtualise your network environment is with BTAS Network, which is available as Network on Demand (NoD). It also comes with 24/7 network monitoring and managed security by our dedicated Network Operations Centre (NOC).

By offering BTAS Network as NoD, customers can have an experience that is faster and less complex. They also have the ability to cut costs, in some cases getting 120% network capacity for only 70% of the cost.

To find out more about BTAS Network and how it can help your business, visit the product page or contact us.

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Seniors Benefit from Going Online

seniors benefit from digital

A university study has found the use of digital technology by older people contributed to their social and emotional wellbeing. Australian Ageing Agenda has seen this research lead to grassroots initiative to bring more local seniors online.

Transitioning online

A professor from the University of Wollongong carried out the research and found that the social elements of the Internet helped older people deal with their isolation. The results from the research were so encouraging that the professor started a not-for-profit social enterprise, called “Living Connected”, to help older people understand and use digital technologies.

The digital inclusion of seniors has the potential to mean a lower burden of care for both the Government and carers. By using a computer to engage and connect, older people will be able to do things for themselves and this can translate to a better quality of life.

Living Connected, which includes a volunteer-run personalised home service, has so far helped approximately 50 seniors in the Illawarra region in Sydney. Some the services include computer classes for aged care residents and workshops to train volunteers.

Bringing it to the masses

The initiative is in the middle of a crowdfunding drive to help bring it to more aged Australians in more locations. People in Brisbane and Adelaide have already expressed interest in expanding Living Connected to their communities.

The NBN has also looked into Living Connected, and the crowdfunding aims to grab the attention of other larger supporters. Longer term, the goal is to develop systems that will aid in trouble shooting client problems remotely.

Expanding the scope and reach of Living Connected will ensure that the group can continue to provide support for older people who cannot afford the technical costs of going online, or don’t understand how to use the Internet. Once those barriers are removed, they can experience the social aspect of the Internet and not feel as isolated anymore.

Connect your guests

In order for older Australians to fully enjoy the benefits of being connected to the Internet, aged and healthcare facilities need fast and reliable technology infrastructure. BTAS Connect can bring fast fibre-powered WAN and Internet powered to your village, while BTAS Network is end-to-end network management for peace of mind.

Symmetric connectivity of BTAS Connect means uploads are equally fast as downloads, so you’ll be able to add high quality content to the Cloud within minutes. High speed broadband also means you don’t need to worry about the reliability of your file transfers or the availability of the Internet.

BTAS Network is designed to not only manage your network, but also secure it. Our Network Operations Centre (NOC) will proactively monitor your network, ensuring you remain focused on running your village and are not distracted by the running of your technology.

Contact us today to find out how BTAS Connect and BTAS Network can enable your business.

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Gigabit Networks Will Need to be Wired

gigabit.jpg

Superfast Gigabit broadband may be around the corner, but Network World expects the highest speeds to come from wired, not wireless, networks. Adequate planning and the right technology will also be key in unlocking the full potential of thousand megabit broadband.

Preparing for Gigabit

Although Wi-Fi is now commonplace and often the preferred method to connect to networks, upgraded wired installs will better handle the throughput of Gigabit. Implementing Gigabit at a networking level is also expected to be simpler with the wired route.

Although today’s Wi-Fi technology is already speedy, Internet metrics company, Ookla, recommends using a Cat 6 Ethernet cable for Gigabit. If taking the Wi-Fi route, the latest standards, such as 160 MHz channel, four-stream 802.11ac with 5GHz frequencies, are required for Gigabit, though even then it will be limited to 600 Mbps.

Another issue affecting Gigabit over wireless is signal interference. A sporadic and halting connection, due to nearby interference to Wi-Fi, will mean a less than perfect Gigabit experience.

Going back to wired

To achieve the fastest results with Gigabit, a hardwired connection will be needed. Cat 5e specs should be able to handle Gigabit, but Cat 6 will provide the highest and most reliable speeds, since it is less susceptible to crosstalk than Cat 5e.

The Ethernet ports on a router should also be checked that they are prepared for Gigabit speeds, as well as whether the router’s CPU can handle the load. x86 processors are the fastest option, followed by ARM and MIPS.

The trend for some businesses has been to move away from wired to wireless, but the introduction of Gigabit may push them to return to Ethernet. This will ensure they can use the promised speeds of Gigabit to adopt newer technology, such as virtual reality, and maximise existing ones, such as video streaming.

Time for an upgrade

BTAS Network is our end-to-end management of your local area network (LAN) and Wi-Fi. Not only do we offer choice when it comes to creating the right network that runs fast, we also provide you with a variety of ways to invest in it.

In addition to capital and operational expenditure options, BTAS Network is available as NoD. It also comes with 24/7 network monitoring and managed security by our dedicated Network Operations Centre (NOC).

By offering BTAS Network as NoD, customers can have an experience that is faster and less complex. They also have the ability to cut costs, in some cases getting 120% network capacity for only 70% of the cost.

To find out more about BTAS Network and how it can help your business, visit the product page or contact us.

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