Technology Training

Tech Talk | Net Neutrality and the Future of the Internet

The Federal Communication Commission or FCC is looking to repeal Net Neutrality on December 14th, 2017. The implications of removing this legislation are vast and complex. The outcome of removing Net Neutrality could result in an internet experience that resembles cable television where you are nickel and dimed for every additional content provider you want access to. As it stands, the democratic way of internet life where you are free to go where you want, when you want using any internet provider you want is at serious risk of changing.

What makes the internet significant is that in one way or another, every person, not to mention every business, uses the internet to communicate. Allowing the internet service providers or ISP’s to moderate who has access to websites on their infrastructure and who does not, in addition to charging content creators based on consumed bandwidth, would change the internet that we all know and love in ways that we cannot foresee.

In this episode of Tech Talk, we discuss Net Neutrality and how we see the future of the internet in light of repealing the current legislation. We cover what Net Neutrality is, how limited access to a variety of internet providers is troubling and lastly, what, if any, legislation we feel would be appropriate and why.


Net Neutrality and the Death of the Internet?

The future of the internet is being decided by the Federal Communication Commission and American legislators are under a great deal of pressure for the decision they are about to make. On December 14th, 2017 legislation will decide the future of Net Neutrality or fair use of the internet. To help cut through the noise we have laid out the debate in this short video to help you understand why this legislation is important and what you can do about it.

There are many questions to address such as, should the internet be free, who should pay for access, should large companies and special interest groups get preference over small business because they can afford it. No matter your stance on the issue, it is important to understand both sides of the argument.

Over the next several weeks there will be a lot of campaigning to try and sway the conversation. With the major internet service providers or ISP’s like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon on one side and major tech companies like Google, YouTube, Netflix and Facebook on the other, there is going to be a lot of confusion and mixed information. In the middle, you have the FCC and key players like Ajit Pai who’s opinions you will also be haring a lot of in the coming weeks.

Before you take a hard stance on either side, be sure that you take a moment to be informed about the conversation. These decisions affect us all and if you are going to make your voice heard, it is important to know what you stand for and why.


Analog vs. Digital Phone Systems

Are you considering a new phone system for 2017? This is a big decision for a business and there are many options available. Most likely you will find yourself choosing between the two major options of using an analog system or trying a digital system. Before you dig into the pros and cons of each system, it is important to consider what your company needs. How does your company operate and grow. Are you a fast moving, transaction based company or does your company rely on building strong relationships with your clients? How important is voice quality and reliability in your company? How important is flexibility and having a feature rich system? Does your company staff numbers fluctuate frequently? How many employees do you have and where are they located?

ton can phone showing business communication concept

Once you have a good idea of what your company needs, it is time to start sorting through the features. It helps to understand the difference between analog and digital phone systems. Analog phones systems have been the standard until more recently. They rely on the copper phone line and simple POT phones. Perhaps the best feature that an analog phone system can boast is the voice quality and reliability of the system. They are also inexpensive up front but you have to consider the cost of maintenance since they are complex and you will need a professional every time you want to make a change.

Digital phones system are feature rich, easy to install and maintain and they are flexible. It is important to understand that your digital phone system relies on your internet connection in two ways. First and foremost, if your internet goes down, so do your phones making it important to consider a fail over internet circuit. Secondly, the amount of bandwidth you have will effect your voice quality. If you are connected to fiber internet and you have appropriately provisioned bandwidth, your voice quality will be as good as any analog system. Not understanding this is where a lot of people start to think that digital phone systems can’t offer the same voice quality as analog systems. You may be looking to move away from a digital system or know someone who has had a bad experience. This is most likely due to having purchased a digital system without having properly provisioned internet bandwidth to match.

With an analog phone system you will need a professional to make changes to a punchboard for simple things like changing extensions. Most of the features that we enjoy today such as voice to text, auto attendant and click to dial are only possible with a digital system. It is better to think of digital phones as software defined telecommunication which is what allows for more features and ease of use. This is the biggest difference between an analog and digital based phone system. Rather then paying to have someone change your extensions on a punchboard you will be changing them on a dashboard.

There are legitimate reasons to move in either directions and once you choose the options that is best for your company you will still need to maneuver through all of the carriers for either analog or digital phone systems. Before you make a decision, be sure and research the differences between the options that are available. For an in depth assessment of your company needs and the options available to you, please contact eTop Technology for help.


The Growing Importance of Business Internet

Sooner rather then later, business IT networks will consist of an internet connection and a light weight computer that acts as a terminal to the internet. There will be no more investing in servers, switches, battery backups, NAS devices etc. in the same way that has been done for the last 15 years. Companies will trade the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining a network for a “network as a service” in a hosted data center. Ultimately, this move will come with many benefits such as increased security, increased up-time, greater redundancy and decreased costs to your company.

landscape view of very large data centre data storage array ** Note: Slight graininess, best at smaller sizes

The catch to all of this wonderful techy business is your connection to the internet. Right now, if your internet connection goes down, it can hurt your company a lot. You will most likely lose access to email, payment processing, search, phones and any other hosted application that you rely on. The up side is that you can still work internally until your connection comes online. By hosting your entire network in a data center you would lose all functionality if your internet connection goes down. Despite all the benefits that hosted networks will bring, it will make your internet connection that much more important.

This will likely effect businesses in a few ways. Primarily businesses will want to invest in redundant internet connections that run on separate networks. A good way to look at this would be having a main fiber connection and a backup point to point wireless connection as a fail over. This will also effect they way businesses look at acquiring new locations. One of the most important questions you will ask when looking at a new building is “what internet options are available?” If fiber internet isn’t already connected to the building, this should be a serious problem to take into consideration.

Finally, with all of this in mind, you will want to watch out for the dirty tricks that the telecom industry likes to play. Namely their auto renew clause that is built into most contracts. A lot of businesses are in the process of making a change from copper internet to fiber internet. If you are at all interested in moving toward hosted options for your company network, you will want a solid fiber internet connection. It is important to know when your internet contract is coming to a close and make sure that you move to a month to month option or make sure that you are ready to cancel that contract and replace it with a fiber connection.

Business IT network options are in a constant state of change and now like never before, it is important to make sure that you have an IT partner that can help you navigate the options of the hosted world. If you are considering hosted solutions for your company, give eTop a call for a free consultation.

Technology Training

Server Backup vs. Computer Backup

If you spend your working days behind a computer, it is worth it to know what is going on behind the scenes when you save a file that you have been working on. There are usually a list of drives that you can use to save your files to. Knowing the difference between saving your files to your computer and saving it to your server can save you a great deal of trouble. This may seem silly if you already understand the difference, however, if you don’t know, it could lead to significant data loss.
If you are not saving your files to your server, then you are at risk of losing all of your documents should your computer die. Among many other things, the server acts as your first point of backup for your computer. This means that if your computer dies, you don’t have to worry. You can simply replace your computer and continue working since all of your documents are saved to the server.
The server in turn should follow the same principle. Once the data has been created on your computer and saved to the server, the server is then backed up to a local storage device. The local storage device should then be backed up to the cloud. Following these simple guide lines and making sure that you have at least three full copies of your data will insure that your company and your data are safe, no matter the disaster.

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