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UK LLU breaks the 7 million unbundled line mark

The number of unbundled broadband connections in the UK has broken through the 7 million mark, making up around one third of all broadband connections according to data from the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator. The 7.03 million connections shows a massive surge since Ofcom overhauled the local loop unbundling (LLU) rules back in 2005 forcing BT to break off a new division called Openreach to manage the local telephone loop and provide equality of access between other companies and BT.

There are over 30 different companies providing unbundled services across the UK which has helped boost competition in the market. One clear example of the benefits of this is the changes in costs of broadband. At the end of 2005 a broadband service cost around £23.50 a month (excluding VAT) but this has decreased to an average of £13.31 today. How does that stack up against your own tarriff?

The bottom line is that broadband lines have now become as commoditised as electricity and gas supply. If you are not checking your own tariffs regularly and changing to follow the best deal you are most probably paying too much. If you would like to understand more clearly exactly how you can benefit from this increased competition in the telecom marketplace give us a call, free today on 0800 012 1090. The list of satisfied customers we help navigate through this minefield is always growing. Why not add yourselves to it?

4 tips to help secure your phone

We’ve heard a lot of news lately about how smartphones are the new frontier for hackers, virus writers, and cybercriminals. We talked to the folks on the Windows Phone 7 team and they haven’t heard any complaints about mobile viruses yet, but we thought it wouldn’t hurt to give you four ways that you can help secure any smartphone.

You’ll notice that this advice isn’t much different than what we’d recommend to help you secure your laptop or your desktop computer.

1. Protect your phone with a password. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can go a long way toward protecting your information if you’ve secured it with a password or a Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you use your phone to access your company’s email or intranet, chances are that they already require that you protect it with a password or PIN.

2. Be careful when you install apps on your phone. Apps can do nearly everything these days, from streamlining your social networking to changing the channels on your TV. No matter what kind of phone you have, install apps from a trusted source. For Windows Phone, you can only install apps from the Zune Marketplace. This means that they have been digitally signed, which reduces your risk. The same purchasing model is used with Apple’s iPhone, but not with Google’s Android phone.

3. Install your phone’s updates. Just like on your PC, you should install all updates for your phone and for the apps on your phone.

4. Make sure your smartphone has a feature that helps you find it if you lose it or if it is stolen. Windows 7 includes a “Find My Phone” feature that allows you to find a lost phone, lock it remotely, and also wipe it remotely so that no one can get access to the information there. You can usually install a third-party app that can do this for you.

On Hold Message Adapter for Small / Home Offices

Finally! Now your small business can sound like “the big boys!” We recently found a great little item that allows small and home offices with single-line and two-line phones to add a professional Message On Hold. This MOH adaptor gives you the ability to place people on hold directly by pressing the “1” and “2” buttons (for lines 1 and 2 respectively).

Virtually all Small Office / Home Office Phones have no ability to add a MOH (music on hold) input. They have what is known as “electronic hold”. This means when the Hold button is pressed on the phone, people are placed on hold but hear… absolutely NOTHING. That can prove to be deadly as people tend to hang up after a very short while in these situations, either believing they may have been hung up on or just feel they can spend their time more wisely and re-connect with you again later. Later may never come as they might find someone that will deal with them immediately at another supplier!

The Message On Hold adapter is placed between the wall jack and your 1-2 line phone and all you need to do is add a Message On Hold system player with a custom message production and “voila” your callers will be listening to useful information about your business instead of silence.

Rustyice Solutions offers a great start-up package which includes a USB Message On Hold unit and a fully customized message production about your company. The best part is there is currently introductory offer with a “recession buster” discount to get you up and running as easily and inexpensively as possible. This offer applies to all businesses, and small office / home office clients need only add the Message On Hold adapter to complete the package.

On Hold Adapter Features:

* Modular connections
* Place up to 2 callers on-hold
* Large easy-to-push buttons
* Blue LED status indicators
* Durable high-impact plastic case
* All cables included

Installation of the Message On Hold adapter is simple – so simple, our engineers at Rustyice Solutions will come along and install it for free – and don’t worry about working out what to say on your message as our team at Rustyice Solutions has been assisting it’s customers with scripting for over 10 years. Interested? Contact us today to find out more.

When did you last review your telephone service ?

If you have not reviewed your businesses telephone service strategy in the past 18 months , now is a good time to think about it. The telephone , like electricity and gas , are services we assume will always be working , and our concerns are cost and service level , but if you do not shop around you will be left behind. The marketplace is coninually shifting as providers compete for your business. If you do not consider your options regularly, you may well find that you are paying over the odds for a service which may well have been good value 12 months ago.

The line provider, line rental , ( LLU ) :
Typically this will be BT , Cable& Wireless , Virgin Media or one of many other mainstream providers. The line provider is responsible for getting a physical connection into your building that can carry a phone signal. Despite the advances in recent years in telephony technology, the vast majority of telephone and broadband network connections rely on a cable of some description to connect with the outside world via a local exchange. If this cable fails you will not have a working system, and in many cases it will be BT Openreach that repair the cable regardless of who you are leasing the line from as they are usually responsible for what is known as the “last mile” connection. Other than the obvious cost of leasing , make sure you can change line provider , if you want .

The service provider :
The “dialing tone” does not have to come from the same supplier that provides the physical connection. They are going to connect you with the world and bill you for the calls you make even if you think you are getting “free” calls. The choice of tariffs is huge, the difficulty is to find the best tariff for your actual usage. As mentioned above, this market is always very fluid. It pays to reassess your requirements every 12 months or so.

The internal systems:
If your business has more than a couple of telephones, it will probably make financial sense to utilise some form of internal exchange hardware. This can be from any number of manufacturers such as Asterisk, Avaya, Siemens and many others. The old switchboard clicking away in a back room that requires a specialist to make changes is rapidly being replaced by systems that take advantage of new technology and are cheaper to install and run. VOIP ( internet based phones systems ) have moved on from the original “Skype” offering business level service to a mind boggling array of services and companies willing to provide them. Like many of the computer programs installed on your PC , you will only use a few of the many available features, some are free and some have extra charges. The simplest advice is consider the benefits , rather than the features .

So, where do you start? Rustyice Solutions can not only assist in reviewing your telephone system and associated service contracts for line and calls, but will implement recommendations and monitor the value for money that your telephone systems and contracts provide for your business on an ongoing basis with a simple fee based on proven savings. If we can not save you money there is no charge. Contact us today to discuss how we at Rustyice Solutions can make your business telephone systems work harder for your business and also cost you less.