It’s happened to all of us at one time or another, you try to check out at a store and you are you are met with an, I’m so sorry; our system is down. Any way you can pay in cash? Or another common scenario, you are calling a business regarding some incorrect charges on your account and the unfortunate reply you hear is: We cannot view your account at the moment; our systems are not cooperating with us. Now flip over to the business owner’s vantage point and imagine the thoughts going through their heads. Having downtime/network failures will cause at least one of the following backlashes:
- Loss of potential revenue
- Employees will have to manually phone/input every card transaction
- Labor Costs
- Repair costs
Loss of potential revenue
According to a survey done by creditcards.com, about 78% of consumers prefer to use debit/credit cards, whereas 9% prefer cash. When your network is down you can possibly lose about 78% of consumers who would prefer to use their credit cards. This doesn’t even include those that would prefer to use gift cards, store credit cards, and other methods of payments.
Employees will have to manually phone/input every credit card transaction
Phoning in every credit card transaction can result in a long wait and leave the customers with a very inconvenient feeling, to put it nicely. This can cause distrust between your business and the consumer. Unhappy customers want to voice their frustrations and they have a platform on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and let’s not forget the ever important Yelp. Some customers may just lament their disappointment but others may never return.
If your employees have jobs that require the network to be fully functional at all at times, then an outage would be a management nightmare. For others, employees are being paid to wait for the network to be restored.
If your business is not properly prepared for the impact of a network failure then you will have to pay to get it repaired. The cost to repair such outages could range from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars. Not being prepared to handle network failures could be costly.
Network outages are going to happen and can have a huge impact to your business which can inevitably, damage your brand. There is a simple way to mitigate this risk. First Communications is now offering 4G LTE Failover as a premise based solution that uses routing intelligence between the primary connectivity router and the cellular based failover device. This routing intelligence allows the device to detect when the primary connection is no longer working and automatically re-routes pre-defined critical business traffic to the 4G LTE connection. With these services, you can stay connected to your mission critical applications, have a reliable back up, and continue to serve your customers. First Communications offers this as a way to protect your most important assets and most importantly, your brand.
If you want to have a backup plan and end any potentially devastating business disruptions, contact First Communications at 1-800-860-1261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In today’s corporate world, conference calls are the glue that brings people together. Conference calls reduce the total cost of ownership by decreasing travel costs immensely. It is not only essential for you to utilize web and audio conferencing, but to make sure you are using it correctly. These tips will ensure that your conference call will be effective and productive.
1. Is a Conference Call Necessary?
When scheduling a conference call, you need to ask yourself, “Is this meeting necessary or can emails get it done?” Not every situation requires a conference call, but in truly urgent matters where real time response is required, this is the best option.
2. Who Really Needs To Be On the Call?
After you have decided that a conference call is needed, you will have to decide who would add value to the call. No one wants to feel like their time is being wasted. There is no shame in double checking the invite list to make sure that only necessary individuals are invited.
3. Include an Agenda
Adding an agenda to a meeting invite will increase the productivity. By including an agenda all the participants can be properly prepared to discuss each item. Also, it can help them confirm they are needed.
4. Minimize Text
When conducting a web meeting, graphics are a big part of the virtual presentation. You should cut down on textual matter so the audience will pay attention to you. As a rule of thumb , use text as a guide not as a complete thought.
5. Allow Questions
When hosting a conference call it is difficult to cover everything. Questions can help clarify some topics that were discussed. It can even bring up topics you may have missed or forgotten.
6. Assign Roles/Goals for Next Meeting
This is especially important for reoccurring meetings. This will guide the participants on next steps and ensure them to be prepared for the next meeting.
7. Follow Up
Most conference calls can be packed with information covering many different topics. Following up with your colleagues can ensure they understood everything discussed. It may even be beneficial to send out a survey afterwards asking for feedback.
8.*Bonus Tip: Use AnyTime Conferencing*
AnyTime Conferencing can help minimize your business time, resources, and global communications. Our fully redundant network will protect the reliability of your connections and minimize the impact of outages. AnyTime Conferencing even allows you to schedule and start meeting from Microsoft® Outlook®, Lync® and Google® Calendar.
For more information about how AnyTime Conferencing can improve your business’s communications, contact First Communications at 1-800-860-1261 or email@example.com.
The data center colocation market is growing by leaps and bounds, driven largely by enterprises continuing to outsource IT infrastructure and adopt cloud solutions. According to researchers at Markets and Markets, the data center colocation market is estimated to reach a total market size of $55.31 billion by the end of 2021. With this growth comes segmentation, and new trends in types of colocation providers.
Gartner describes the market at bifurcating into “pure” colocation, or providers offering purely space, power and communications, and “up the stack” higher-level service providers offering additional managed infrastructure services, cloud, security, interconnection and internetworking in addition to space, power and communications. In the second case, companies offering interconnection services has also come to mean connectivity to a large set of cloud and managed service provider options.
Critical and relatively standard considerations are physical infrastructure, redundancy and physical security; customers should also pay close attention to the managed services and connectivity options available within the provider’s building, as well as the teams supporting them.
Below are key considerations for customers vetting colocation providers.
Public and Private Cloud Services
The rapid adoption of hybrid strategies proves that cloud computing and colocation will be natural allies for many years to come. Selecting a data center provider that offers connectivity to public and private cloud services within their facilities allows customers to gain peace of mind, scale seamlessly and access platforms quickly and as-needed. Customers can also use the same IP addresses/networking between their own equipment and cloud in the facility. The customer’s virtual infrastructure can be augmented with a private connection to their cloud service provider’s cloud, enabling them to consume private cloud resources as if they were part of their existing infrastructure and as part of their existing cloud strategies.
Managed Infrastructure Solutions
With access to expansive managed services ecosystem, data center customers can also choose which parts of their environment to outsource to an array of different platform options; it’s no longer all-or-nothing. Selecting a provider that offers a range of managed services delivered incrementally behind your existing firewalls mitigates latency, integration and security concerns.
As cyber-attacks continue to increase, data security continues to be a growing concern amongst today’s companies. Ideally, selecting a provider that enables services to be deployed privately and securely in a way that never touches the public internet is the customer’s safest route. Innovative deployment models allow these solutions to be directly tied into customers’ existing infrastructure via secure MPLS, Metro Ethernet, or VPN, as well as direct cross-connects at major PoPs.
First Communications is excited to offer customers the best of both worlds when it comes to colocation and interconnection. First Communications is able to provide direct access to customized, highly available and fully managed services as well as Private, Public and Hybrid Cloud via secure cross-connects with the lowest latency. Combining reliable physical infrastructure, redundancy and physical security with our managed services and vast connectivity options, we provide businesses with all of the necessary requirements of an effective colocation deployment.
AKRON, OH, July 20, 2016 — First Communications, LLC (“First Communications”) applauds the leadership role the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) took in its vote on July 14 to adopt the Upper Microwave Flexible Use (“UMFU”) Report and Order. The new “Spectrum Frontiers” rules open up four millimeter wave spectrum bands for flexible mobile and fixed-use wireless broadband. The newly opened UMFU service bands are 28 GHz (27.5-28.35 GHz), 37 GHz (37-38.6 GHz), 39 GHz (38.6-40 GHz), and a new unlicensed band at 64-71 GHz.
First Communications owns fifteen 28 GHz spectrum licenses in Ohio covering 95% of the state’s population with each license containing 1,150 MHZ of spectrum. First Communications has recently successfully released new, high bandwidth services utilizing its owned spectrum in the Akron, Canton and Youngstown markets. This clarification on the rules will accelerate First Communications’ investment in other markets such as Cleveland and Columbus, which are anticipated later this year.
Margi Shaw, CEO of First Communications commented, “This order by the FCC underscores the viability of this spectrum to provide high bandwidth services to customers in an efficient, stable and secure environment. We are confident our customers will immediately benefit from these new rules through a more robust investment from First Communications. We also look forward to working with the industry in exploring the advancement of 5G networks and technologies through the use of this high-band spectrum.”
We had a great turnout for our most recent Agent Webinar on Tuesday, February 23rd. We had over 100 agents dial-in where we showed a live demo of our Cloud IP PBX Admin Portal, we discussed some of our current promotions, as well as, had a Question and Answer session.
If you were not able to attend and would like to listen to the webinar in its entirety, you can do so by clicking the link below.
Cloud IP PBX Admin Portal Demo
AKRON, OH, February 16, 2016 – First Communications, LLC (“First Communications”) a leading provider of data networking, cloud and managed services, today announced it has completed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of CIMCO Communications (“CIMCO”). This acquisition further expands First Communications network density and strong base of customers in the Midwest.
CIMCO provides data center, managed services, voice and network services to over 2,000 medium and enterprise sized business customers in the greater Chicago area. First Communications has extensive network, systems and customer service infrastructure to ensure a seamless transition and personalized service for the acquired customers.
“We look forward to introducing CIMCO customers to First Communications’ technology solutions and focus on customer service. Further, we hope to provide our existing First Communications customer base with the robust data center and hosted IP offering we have gained through the CIMCO acquisition,” said Margi Shaw, President of First Communications.
About First Communications
First Communications is a leading technology solutions provider in the Midwestern United States. Founded in 1998, First Communications has built a highly scalable telecommunications platform, infrastructure and support system, which represents a combination of world-class technology and cutting-edge product offerings. It provides communications services, including bandwidth connectivity, managed services, colocation and cloud services, to small, medium and enterprise sized businesses throughout the United States.
Margi Shaw Tel: 1-312-334-0083
First Communications has recently kicked off participating in community service events throughout the summer and fall season. First Communications has partnered up with The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) from the Chicagoland area to assist with helping families provide temporary lodging for families whose seriously ill children receive treatment locally. In August, we held our first annual bake sale in our Lombard office. With the donations and participation throughout the office and various departments, we were able to raise over $500! In addition to our bake sale in early August, we also took part in “Battle of the Bags” activity to help fundraise additional money for RMHCs. This gave us the opportunity to contribute to charity with having some fun with other organizations. First Communications has kicked off community service involvement and continues to do so throughout the fall and winter seasons.
If it is available in your area, Metro Ethernet warrants serious consideration for most SMBs if you have not made the move away from T1/TDM technology already. What follows is a quick listing of benefits that your organization can likely derive from moving to Ethernet technology:
1) Delivers Higher Bandwidth
Simply put, the bandwidth that can be carried by T1 or any TDM technology is paltry compared to the almost limitless capacity of Ethernet over Fiber EoF) Bandwidths of 1-10Gbps or more are routinely available on a single line, which is simply not possible with TDM technology.
2) Lower Monthly Recurring Cost (MRC)
At all but the very lowest levels of T1 service, which is inadequate bandwidth for most organizations, the MRC for Ethernet is considerably less expensive that TDM technology that provides the same bandwidth. The difference in cost of TDM vs Ethernet becomes more pronounced as the bandwidth needs of your organization increase.
3) CapEx Savings
Ethernet uses “off-the-shelf” equipment that costs less initially and scales better down the road than TDM equipment. A bandwidth upgrade of an existing Ethernet circuit requires no capital expenditure, while T1/TDM requires a significant investment in new equipment.
4) Easy Scalability
Once your organization has Ethernet service, increasing the bandwidth is normally a matter of contacting your service provider and amending your existing agreement. From the providers prospective, they are very happy to quickly provision additional bandwidth. Typically nothing else is required on the user end.
5) Buy Only Bandwidth that You Need
When purchasing or upgrading bandwidth, Metro Ethernet offers the ability to purchase bandwidth in smaller increments than TDM or SONET Technology. For example, if your organization requires 30Mbps, if you use DS3 you need to purchase 45Mbps, and you will not have the ability to easily upgrade the service when you outgrow the 30Mbps service.
6) Simple Technology = Less Burden on IT Staff or Owners
Because Ethernet is ubiquitous in the IT world, there is greater knowledge and a higher comfort level among users of Ethernet than TDM technology. In addition, Ethernet in the WAN is the same technology that is used in the LAN, which simplifies interactions between the two.
7) Enables Cloud Technology (Applications and Storage)
“The Cloud” provides SMBs with tremendous opportunities for increased efficiencies and enhanced capabilities. Many applications that hadn’t been thought of 5 years ago, like DropBox or Freshbooks, are now relied upon by Managers and Business Owners to do some of the heavy lifting in their organizations. Metro Ethernet provides affordable reliability and scalability so that these increasingly critical applications can be accessed on demand.
8) Enables Video Conferencing & Collaboration
Video conferencing and applications like GoToMeeting or WebEx are used to communicate with remote locations, vendors, and customers. These applications have become indispensable to many organizations. Inadequate bandwidth and poor Quality of Service can turn these applications into a headache or even a liability. Ethernet can easily help you stay ahead of bandwidth issues and prevent these problems from happening.
9) Enables Quality VOIP and Unified Communications
Ethernet service provides adequate bandwidth for current needs, and can be scaled quickly to meet future needs and avoid quality of service (QoS) degradation. Ethernet can also be configured to provide Class of Service (CoS) in order to segregate VoIP traffic from other network traffic, avoiding packet loss and latency which can cause noticeably poor quality voice and video connections.
10) Enables Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
Organizations can use Ethernet to tie into data centers in order to run real time applications offsite, and establish redundancy that may be required for practical as well as for good risk reduction practices and regulatory compliance. In addition, flexible Ethernet connectivity facilitates offsite data backup and recovery, as well as remote work locations that may need to be established in the event of severe weather or other disasters that prevent workers from traveling to affected office locations.
Metro Ethernet service is experiencing explosive adoption and growth because it delivers high value relative to costs for its users, who are largely SMB and enterprises and other organizations who are technology reliant. T1 Service has been a technology relied up for many years, but the demands placed upon TDM exceed its ability to deliver the performance and value needed today.
First Communications is pleased to be a supporter of the IT community, and also to be a sponsor of the IT Roadmap Chicago Conference and Expo, which is a one day event taking place March 18th, 2014 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. IT Roadmap is a annual event that is heavily attended by IT professionals from Chicago and beyond. The theme of the conference this year is “Building the Next-Generation Enterprise”.
At the conference, First Communications own Senior Sales Engineer David Godwin will be presenting “How to Construct a Disaster Recovery Plan” in one the of the educational sessions offered at the show. David will show attendees how to create a usable disaster recovery plan from the ground up, using a valuable template that will be available for use by attendees. The template is also available for digital download in the white paper section of our website (credit robert). The presentation takes place at 2:50PM on March 18th, and should run about 1/2 hour.
Besides our Disaster Recovery Planning session, there a lot of other interesting presentations on popular topics of the day like cloud, data center, mobile, BYOD, and other hot topics too numerous to mention here. In just one day, you’ll gain the insight you need to make critical decisions about your enterprise IT direction by being exposed to:
- Unbiased perspectives on high-value topics from industry leaders, analysts and IT practitioners
- Interactive learning in breakout sessions, workshops and keynotes
- Exhibit floor featuring next-generation technologies and tools from leading vendors
- Career coaching from top technology recruiters
- Networking opportunities with IT peers from across your region
Besides, the IT Roadmap Chicago Conference is a great excuse to get out of the office for the day, learn some things, and network a bit on what we all hope is a warm springlike day in Chicago. We hope to see you at Dave’s DR Planning presentation!
A great deal of detailed information has surfaced regarding the infamous Target data security breach that affected the credit and debit card information of over 40 million Target shoppers over the holiday season. This breach was announced by Target on December 19th, 2013. Since that time, Target recently reported that its net profit for the critical 4th Quarter Holiday shopping season was down 46%, and that it had already incurred $61 Million in expenses related to the breach. The total cost of the breach is expected by some equities analysts to top $1 Billion dollars. If Target is found to have violated Payment Card Industry standards (PCI), they could be subject to huge fines related to this breach.
It has been reported that the source of the Target intrusion was stolen access credentials to a vendor portal that had been issued to a PA based HVAC contractor. Apparently, vendors that provide services to Target use an external vendor management portal named Ariba to submit invoices and receive payment from Target. It is thought that the attackers somehow gained access to the administrative portal to the vendor system which allowed them to gain access to Target’s internal network.
The credentials to access the vendor portal were stolen from the HVAC contractor through an email malware infection known as “Citadel”. The contractor’s only line of defense in use was a free version of the “Malwarebytes” software, which is well known anti-malware software whose free version only works when a user runs a scan on the software. According to the KrebsOnSecurity blog, it is thought that the HVAC contractor and Target initially were not specifically targeted by the attackers. Normally the attackers cast a wide net during malware attacks, which involve sending mass emails which, when opened, download the malware to the email recipients computer. The attackers likely discovered the link to Target after stumbling across the Target portal credentials on one of the HVAC contractor computers. Once access was gained, the intruders were eventually able to distribute the malware to Targets POS registers. The malware sent the stolen data to a server in a Target data center (set up by intruders with stolen credentials) which served as a repository for the stolen data.
This incident sheds some light on the increased vulnerability to cyber-crime that companies are facing today. It is also particularly alarming to smaller companies, since this attack succeeded in damaging a huge retailer like Target, who have a staff of security professionals and large budgets to address these risks. Small companies do not have the resources of a Target, but looking back upon this incident it is ironic that the intrusion could have been prevented by simply using properly installed small business security software.
There are many lessons that can be learned from these events. The first is that your security defenses are no stronger than the weakest link in your chain. The second is that larger organizations need to insist on and obtain proof of adherence to security compliance standards for their vendors and business partners. Lastly, with the advantage of hindsight here, security audits and network penetration testing, while not cheap, are probably not something your company should consider skimping on (just ask Target!)