The annual freeze is upon the UK with forecasts of snow and freezing temperatures and of course the possible disruption to business inlcuding staff shortages as employees refuse to struggle through dangerous conditions to get to work. In this age of high speed internet and multitude of communications options it should be easy for desk based employees to work from home and it is not as expensive as you might think as long as you have made some preperations.
The obvious first choice is using VoIP (Voice Over IP) so that home based employees, even temporarily snowed in ones, can communicate with the office and customers seamlessly. As long as they have a reliable ADSL connection at home and a PC with suitable headset they can quickly establish a connection with the office phone system to remain a productive member of the team. Even if your business does not have a VoIP or VoIP enabled telephone system you can plan ahead by installing a VoIP Gateway which will easily upgrade your existing phone system to provide basic VoIP connectivity as a backup for this type of situation. The Telecom FM Onestream VoIP Gateway will connect to your small business phone system and provide VoIP connectivity for both the office phone system and also allow home workers to connect using an IP softphone on their computer or they could use an IP Phone at home and be able to answer incoming calls and transfer them back to the office. The Onestream Gateway also fetures a built-in GSM Gateway so the company can reduce their call charges to mobile phones or provide easy, low cost mobile extension functionality for their mobile workforce.
The next thing that a home based employee will need to do is access their office PC and applications from their home computer and this is easily achieved using a basic VNC service or a paid for remote access solutions such as gotomypc or logmein which are easy to set up and allow the user to work as though sitting at their desk.
With a little planning, and maybe a small outlay for items like VoIP Gateways which can provide additional benefits such as reduced call charges throughout the year, most small businesses can easily survive the cold snap.
The use of SIP Trunking by small and medium sized businesses in the UK has risen dramatically over the last twelve months compared to the previous three years data. The rise in SIP Trunk usage in the UK has been driven by the change in business phone system technologies that have been implemented by the leading phone system manufacturers such as Panasonic, Avaya and Siemens. New communications platforms from these leading systems providers such as the Panasonic NS1000 have focused heavily on SIP technology and promote the use of both IP Telephones for extensions and SIP Trunking to replace traditional PSTN Analogue, ISDN2e and ISDN30e telephone lines.
The move to SIP trunking has not yet been driven by pricing or service except in the case of new installations where the cost of installing multiple SIP Trunking channels is far cheaper and quicker than analogue or ISDN phone lines. SIP Trunk channel rental combined with the cost of using a dedicated broadband service to deliver high quality VoIP calls will usually cost the same as renting the equivalent number of PSTN or ISDN telephone lines, and the typical call charges for using a VoIP service compared to normal phone lines are usually the same.
During 2011, there were 127 new suppliers of SIP Trunk providers in the UK compared to only 32 new SIP Trunking providers in 2010 and this should help drive down the price, provide new innovation and improve quality.
The increase in SIP Trunking has also promted a new range of VoIP Gateway products that will enable business users to utilise SIP Trunks without changing their existing analogue or ISDN phone system. A VoIP Gateway will connect to the phone system trunk ports and provide conversion of these traditional telephone technologies to VoIP so that businesses can take advantage of the VoIP revolution. Oneproduct that does just this is the Onestream VoIP Gateway that provides PSTN and ISDN2e connectivity for SIP Trunking as well as providing two built-in GSM channels to enable low cost calls to mobile phones, as well as offering mobile extension capabilities and the connection of IP Phones to provide extra capacity in the office or for homeworkers.
With the introduction of the O2 Explicit Call Transfer service , a new market has opened up in the UK for the deployment of Mobile Extensions and Mobile PBX Phone System Solutions.
If you’re a Mobex, Groupworker, Groupworker Plus or Best For Business customer, you can transfer calls from your mobile just as you would from your office landline.Here is the link to the O2 website that details how you can transfer calls from your O2 Mobile phone to another O2 mobile phone or landline service.
This is not a new service and many mobile phones have the ability to use the call transfer service and this service has been available in other countries for some time. In fact many companies use this feature in conjunction with a GSM Desk Phone to provide a simple phone system solution for temporary or remote offices such as construction sites.
GSM Gateways have seen a surge of popularity due to the increase of Mobile Extension. Many new phone systems include Mobile Extension capability that enable inbound calls to the PBX to be routed out on another line to a mobile phone and enable the remote user to answer the call as well as provide the capability of transferring that call back to other PBX extensions.
Normally this process would use a second ISDN line to call the mobile phone, which would mean high call charges to use the Mobile Extension Facility. By using a suitable ISDN or VoIP GSM Gateway and a mobile Phone Plan that provides free calls between users on the same plan, these Mobile Extension Calls can be made free of charge.
For telephone systems that do not have Mobile Extension functionality built-in there are GSM Gateways available that can connect between the telephone system and the telephone lines and provide mobile extension functionality, wihout the expense of upgrading the whole telephone system.
The Telecom FM Onestream is a great example of a GSM Mobile Extension Gateway providing mobile extension functionality for analogue and ISDN2 phone systems as well as providing the additional benefit of having a built in VoIP Gateway to enable the same Analogue or ISDN2 telephone system to make calls using a VoIP Telephone provider (SIP Trunk).