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The 19th century called, it wants its phone system back

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The future of telephony lies in VoIP

Recent Ofcom data found that if business landline numbers continue to drop at their current rate, they will be all but extinct within just six years. But would this be a bad thing? The landline has enabled connectivity from 1876, so is it time for an upgrade? Here, Douglas Mulvihill, UK marketing manager at business phone system provider Ringover, explains why businesses should move on from the landline.

Landlines have been an office staple for decades, enabling communication, customer service and collaboration. However, as technology has evolved, more efficient tools have been created that help businesses to do everything that the landline offers, but in a more streamlined way.

The decline of the landline

The landline’s lifespan has been cut short by the announcement of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) switch off. The PSTN has formed a large part of the UK’s telephony infrastructure since its creation, but the rise in popularity of digital solutions has led BT to the decision to permanently switch it off from December 2025.

This means the businesses need to start thinking about what the future of their telephony system is going to look like, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is taking centre stage as the landline’s successor. VoIP phone systems have all the features of traditional landlines with the addition of some modern upgrades.

VoIP telephony transmits calls over the Internet, rather than phone lines, for almost instantaneous connectivity. By using the internet, it completely removes the reliance on the soon-to-be obsolete PSTN. But why is VoIP the future of business communications?

Ready for anything

VoIP phone systems don’t require any additional physical components beside the device, meaning the entire system is accessible from a mobile or browser application. No time is wasted on infrastructure installation and businesses can deploy their system rapidly, such as when onboarding new employees.

A survey from the British Chambers of Commerce revealed that 66 percent of UK businesses are looking to retain some element of remote working in the aftermath of the pandemic. So, an employee’s communication setup needs to be flexible to enable remote task completion without any limitations.

In this progressive working model, a landline is not a viable option for remote work. Employees need to be able to take calls from wherever they are working. Yes, the IT department could provision and reallocate numbers and install physical phonelines in employees’ homes, but when there is an entirely digital option, this is unnecessarily complex.

Globetrotting… from your desk

A common challenge for companies with a global footprint is how to make calls cost-effectively. Making international calls from a landline typically results in astronomical charges, but VoIP offers the capability at a fraction of the price.

VoIP enables businesses to use virtual phone numbers, which, unlike traditional phone numbers, aren’t tied to a physical device. Businesses can give the appearance of being locally present in several countries from one system without actually having a base in any of them.

For businesses working across multiple time zones, automated smart routing ensures calls are diverted to employees working at the time of the call, in the relevant language and with the skillset to handle the query.

Giving the appearance of a local presence is also beneficial to business growth. When sales prospecting, using a local number suggests a degree of proximity, improving pickup rates and, by extension, sales leads.

Work-life balance enabler

How do landline-based employees answer calls when away from their desk? They may be able to set a voicemail to direct people to their mobile, but does this approach promote a healthy work-life balance? The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s Good Work Index 2021 revealed that 56 percent of workers struggle to separate work from home life, so surely there’s a better solution?

While VoIP systems are accessible from an employee’s own device, they use a different phone number, creating a physical distinction between professional and personal life. However, this doesn’t mean that calls should go unanswered if one person is out of office.

VoIP enables group routing, where incoming calls are directed to relevant employees if the recipient is not available. It is possible to create groups according to expertise, working hours or language competencies. Calls are cascaded down these groups until an available employee answers, maintaining high-quality service without putting employees under pressure to be available 24/7.

The landline has served us well, but with dramatic changes to working practices and the looming PSTN switch off, it’s time for an upgrade. With a VoIP phone system, employees benefit from all the features of the landline, but with a modern zing, facilitating international, balanced work for the future. 19th century? You can have your landline back.

Douglas Mulvihill is the UK marketing manager for Cloud communications software provider, Ringover. He has ten years of marketing experience for a range of fast-moving consumer goods brands. As the UK marketing manager, Douglas oversees Ringover’s marketing operations, which involves aiding the brands expansion in the UK, growing brand awareness and ultimately helping to drive global growth.

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Tango Networks Unveils Mobile-X Extend, BYOD Business SIM™ for Work-from-Anywhere Communications

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Service embeds app-less business extension into employees’ personal dual SIM mobile phones.

Tango Networks today announced Mobile-X Extend, the communications industry’s first service using a modern electronic SIM (eSIM) to instantly add a business-controlled extension to a mobile phone.

Mobile-X Extend places a full-featured, secure and controlled business phone on employees’ BYOD devices. Now employees can use their own mobile phones for business communications with a business identity while their personal communications remain separate and private.

“Today’s work-from-anywhere business world demands that we rethink how our employees communicate,” said Douglas J. Bartek, CEO of Tango Networks. “Mobile-X Extend is a first-of-its-kind service that reinvents mobile communications for today’s corporate users. It transforms not only how we communicate in commerce, but it greatly improves company operational efficiency and employee productivity. Now employees working in any location can be as reachable and responsive as if they were in the office at a desk phone.”

By integrating into Unified Communications (UC) platforms or UCaaS services, all business calls and texts on a personal mobile phone automatically use the business identity and can be captured and recorded for archiving or monitoring. All personal calls and texts remain private and external to company control.

“The mobile network is the most extraordinary machine that mankind has ever built,” said Andrew Bale, Tango Networks General Manager of Cloud Services. “Today we give individual businesses unprecedented control over that machine. This represents the greatest advance in business communications technology in a generation.”

With Mobile-X Extend, a business can cut landlines and the huge expense of buying, managing and upgrading company-paid mobile phones. This reduces the company’s carbon footprint while shrinking administrative overhead and expenses. The solution eliminates the cost and hassle of managing expense claims for business calls on personal mobile phones.

The service is mobile native, using the mobile network and the device’s native interface for all communications and features. That means it requires no apps or special phone clients and no training. The service offers superior, business-quality communications not possible with over-the-top VoIP.

Mobile-X Extend is based on Tango Networks’ Mobile-X fixed-mobile convergence technologies covered by more than 90 patents.

Businesses use Mobile-X for Mobile Unified Communications, Mobile First and Mobile Only communications, and work-from-home, hybrid and work-from-anywhere flexibility. It brings fully integrated business communications to mobile employees, deskless employees and first-line workers, many for the first time.

Mobile-X Extend is available for customer pilots now and will be generally available in 1Q2022. The service is sold solely through Tango Networks’ value-added resellers and communications service provider partners.

About Tango Networks

Tango Networks is revolutionizing business communications with the industry’s first mobile network built for business, controlled by businesses.

The Mobile-X service turns any mobile phone into a fully featured extension of a company’s communications platform, putting mobile voice, text and data entirely in a company’s control for the first time.

Businesses use Mobile-X to deliver easy-to-use, business quality communications for work-from-anywhere programs, remote workers and employees working from home, the distributed workforce, deskless employees, and workers on the go.

Mobile-X empowers companies to transform operations, streamline collaboration and boost employee productivity across the board. Learn more at tango-networks.com.
              

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Lessons learned from remote education: Teaching will never be the same

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remote education

Before March 2020, catching ‘fresher’s flu’ was a right of passage for university students. Fast forward 18 months and students around the world stayed indoors to keep illness at bay. However, the pandemic has taught the education sector an important lesson — the value of selecting the right communication tools.

According to UNESCO, more than 1.5 billion students around the world were forced out of their typical learning settings in 2020, with many participating in lessons online. Globally, education in the 21st century has never seen so much disruption and it has prompted critical conversations about the role of technology in delivering education.

Education isn’t the only sector that’s facing an overhaul. Over the course of the pandemic, and for several more years to come, communication technologies have grown increasingly more sophisticated. The UK increased its fiber connections by 50 percent in 2020, and while its broadband connectivity stills lags behind many other countries, the nation is undergoing massive change. As Openreach switches of the public switched telephone network (PSTN), every business will be communicating differently by 2025.

Research by broadband company Zen shows that 17 percent of large organizations are still unaware of the switch off. Education facilities also risk becoming out of the technology loop if they don’t learn from the past 28 months.

Going remote

Throughout much of 2020 and 2021, educators had no choice but to deliver teaching remotely. However, even though in-person teaching has widely resumed, distance learning could become an increasingly favoured choice, rather than an obligation.

Distance learning isn’t a phenomenon of today’s society. Back in 1969, The Open University (OU) pioneered the concept by offering students the chance to gain a degree without needing to set foot on campus. It was a radical idea for its time — yet proved highly popular. By the time applications closed for its first year of enrolment, the university had received over 100,000 applications.

However, The OU’s popularity has decreased over time with numbers of full-time enrolments slipping over the past decade. But things could be set to shift again. Increased demand for upskilling and reskilling, as well as an emphasis in the attractiveness of online learning spurred on by the pandemic, has caused a surge in OU registrations.

Overall, the total number of OU students enrolled for the 2020/21 academic year is up 15 percent on last year — from just over 141,000 to more than 163,000. While distance learning has seemed like a short-term fix to keep people safe, it’s also encouraged a newfound appreciation for the teaching method that could lead to long-term behavioural changes.

Getting prepared

We won’t be saying goodbye to fresher’s flu any time soon. While most forms of education continue in person, education facilities shouldn’t neglect the promise of distance learning.

What’s more, the past 18 months has taught every industry to expect the unexpected. Most businesses were not prepared to go remote overnight at the start of the pandemic, and education was no exception. However, having the right tools in place to ensure distance learning can be carried out effectively is the best way to plan for any other unforeseen circumstances.

One essential piece of any education facility’s armoury is the right communication tools. In particular, facilities should opt for a Cloud-based solution. Cloud-based platforms provide an easy way for educational institutes to streamline their academic communications and collaborations. They can achieve this by combining real-time voice, video, and messaging capabilities with their business applications.

Using Cloud-based software that enables Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) makes it easy for students and teachers to interact collaboratively by using real-time messaging and video. This can effectively improve completing group projects, enhances the way teachers communicate with students and cuts down obstacles in the system of education. Because technologies such as VoIP enable calls through the Internet, rather than a fixed telephone line, it’s far easier for education providers to interact with geographically dispersed students and with less ongoing costs.

As such, 90 percent of data breaches are a result of human error and using the Cloud to manage communication tools and store their associated data can help universities better manage sensitive information.

At Ringover, another huge benefit we see for VoIP technologies in education is its scalability. Our own software can be easily scaled to suit the size and needs of any business, whether it requires a complete professional phone system or additions to its existing infrastructure. With collaboration tools such as screen sharing, instant messaging, and video conferencing, Ringover’s software can help facilities of any size communicate effectively.

After several weeks of getting to know each other, it’s likely many students are battling fresher’s flu right now. However, no matter which education route a person chooses, having access to effective communications tools is crucial. Post-pandemic education won’t look the same as it did previously, and having scalable, streamlined software in place will help any facility to future proof.

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Introducing the 5G Workforce

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It’s been a long time since a technology breakthrough generated as much anticipation and fanfare as 5G. Buzz around it has been building for some time and with good reason: 5G will fuel an economic and social revolution that disrupts how companies operate while opening-up incredible new opportunities for those who have the talent to support it, a 5G workforce.

To fully grasp the necessity for a 5G workforce, you need to recognize the impact this technology standard is going to have. Consider the following:

  • PwC’s “The Impact of 5G: Creating New Value across Industries and Society” reports that 5G will fuel a variety of new opportunities. This includes “the optimization of service delivery, decision-making, and end-user experience,” which “will result in $13.2 trillion in global economic value by 2035.”
  • Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report states that the number of 5G smartphone subscriptions worldwide will exceed 500 million this year. That’s double from 2020 and the momentum will continue in 2022 when subscriptions are expected to pass one billion.

With numbers like these, it’s easy to understand the excitement around 5G. But for businesses to see the benefits, they need employees with skill sets that extend beyond the 3G and 4G worlds we are leaving behind — these networks utilized similar technologies which eliminated the need to upskill teams, hastening the transition from 3G to 4G.

This is not the case now. 5G requires people with aptitude and experience in an entirely different set of technologies. This explains why Boston Consulting Group estimates that it will create 3.8 million to 4.6 million jobs in the US alone.

As businesses begin searching to construct their 5G workforces, various skills are required to start building your 5G workforce. Some examples of areas that your 5G professionals must be skilled in include:

Software-Defined Networking (SDN): You will be looking for people that have experience with SDN, a new architecture that turns a wireless network infrastructure from a close environment to a more agile and cost-effective network, where external controller control is moved from network hardware to external controller. This allows teams to quickly introduce new services or changes. Many view SDN as the key to enabling 5G to meet its ultimate promise.

Some specific skills here include network engineering experience focused on designing, implementing, deploying and supporting a production network at an enterprise-scale as well as at an enterprise scale

Software-Defined Radio Access Networks (SoftRAN): SoftRAN is key to supporting network slicing, which is the process of creating multiple virtual networks. While each is part of a physical network, network slices can be automated and used for distinct applications with specific requirements.  

When it comes to SoftRAN, you’re seeking people who have experience in network programming, radio frequency transmission systems, C++, Linux, and Java.

Edge Computing: While 5G delivers dramatically increased network speeds (4X that of 4G LTE), it’s the edge that dramatically reduces latency. It brings the computing capabilities we experience in the network to the user, regardless of location. This includes those areas notorious for spotty connectivity that we are all familiar with. Ultimately, the edge is essential for 5G meeting its full promise.

Your edge computing people will have experience in continuous integration and delivery, Java and Python, as well as edge/IoT applications and system design.

Network Virtualization (NV): NV removes the network’s dependency on hardware, allowing it to run virtually on top of the physical network, where it can accelerate the deployment of applications, improve security, and reduce costs.

Key NV-related skills include experience with continuous configuration automation tools, application programming interfaces (APIs), programming languages, as well as success in deploying and optimizing VMware NSX environments and NSX virtual networking implementations.

5G is likely to be the standard in just a few short years, and its impact will be felt across all industries. In healthcare, a connected ecosystem will be born that is predictive, preventative, personalized, and participatory. In manufacturing, we will see new smart factories that fully leverage the power of automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The list goes on.

All these innovations and many, many more are within reach but will be fueled by the next generation workers who have the requisite skills to make it all happen. For businesses, the time to begin assembling your 5G workforce and forging an ecosystem of partners to help with this journey begins now.  

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