General Telephony

The Mexico City Earthquake and How to Help through Los Topos

mexico city earthquake los toposWe’ve all been reminded recently exactly how unpredictable life can be. The recent surge of hurricanes that have battered the Caribbean and United States is proof enough, but additional forest fires all over the Pacific Coast states and into Montana are stark reminders that even without low pressure systems, natural disasters can strike in an instant. Nowhere has that been made more apparent, however, than in the capital city of our neighbor to the south. Mexico City has been literally rocked to its core by a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the most populous metropolitan area on the continent on Tuesday. Now, with emergency crews scrambling to free survivors from tons of rubble, the world is looking on in anticipation and with a desire to find a way to help.

What Makes The Mexico City Earthquake So Significant

First, a little background on what makes this week’s earthquake so significant. Not only was the Richter Scale tipped on Tuesday so much as to cause such pervasive destruction, but the timing of this quake came at a particularly significant time, as well. The quake on September 19, 2017, came exactly 22 years to the day after the catastrophic tremor in 1985 that leveled Mexico City with an 8.0 on the Richter Scale. In the wake of that event, the city was ill-prepared with a formalized response to such widespread carnage. What they didn’t lack, however, was a willingness to act. Therefore, the minutes following the historic quake saw the almost immediate formation of a group of volunteers who began to unearth survivors and clear debris. This group, which is now known as Los Topos, was barely formed before it was dispatched to nearby El Salvador following an earthquake there. Since then, Los Topos have been fixtures all over the planet in helping emergency responses to all manner of natural disasters where there are massive impacts to infrastructure. And while the group has been instrumental in helping save countless lives the world over, they remain relatively unknown, even during this moment of their greatest need in the most auspicious of circumstances and setting; Mexico City on September the 19th. We’d like to help change that.

Los Topos, The Moles, To the Rescue

We’re typically quite deliberate in avoiding an overt endorsement one way or another on a lot of topics. There are some agendas, however, which we feel obligated to work towards advancing. From our philanthropic endeavors, to our focus on service, and commitment to personal wellness, we have no qualms with asserting some positions. We believe that supporting Los Topos in our neighbor’s time of need is one of those times. In the vacuum of more well-known agencies and NGO’s that we typically direct our donations and support to in times of domestic disasters, we’ve seen that many people want to help Mexico City but don’t know exactly how to do that. Therefore, we’ve pulled this information below on exactly how to donate to the rescue efforts of Los Topos.

Los Topos is a professional non-profit Mexican rescue team. They need our support more than ever. If you can spare a few extra dollars this week, please support them via the following methods:
From Mexico:
Bank: Santander Cuenta, #92-00070929-4
CLABE: 014180920007092942
Reference: Brigada de Rescate Topos Tlaltelolco, A.C.
From Anywhere Else:
Paypal: donativos@brigada-rescate-topos.org

No matter how much or little anyone gives to Los Topos, we believe it’s important that we recognize their efforts as they rush to save lives in their own backyard. For an organization that has given so much to so many around the globe, we are humbled to give our thoughts and prayers to them, the people of Mexico City, and anyone who has been affected by all of the recent natural disasters around the globe.

All New SIP Trunking From VirtualPBX Is Here

SIP TrunkingToday is a bit of a banner day for the foundations of the hosted telecommunications industry. That’s because just today we’ve launched an all-new SIP Trunking service as part of our overall lineup of hosted telecommunications options. The reason this may sound familiar to you is that we have always been in the game of delivering on both SIP and VoIP solutions for small businesses, but now we’ve made huge strides to be able to deliver a totally new, streamlined option to bring SIP Trunking to the modern era alongside all of our hosted communications offerings.

What is SIP Trunking?

I’m glad you asked! We’ve prepared a helpful rundown of exactly what our new service provides for anyone who has ever wondered what the difference between SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX service is. The main takeaway is that SIP Trunking is most useful for businesses that are still financially committed to a robust, on-site PBX and are looking for ways to both expand its functionality as well as trying to defray the costs of their parent system as much as possible. Without getting too much into the technical jargon of it all, SIP Trunking is a way to bridge the gap between an expensive legacy PBX and the flexibility of a cloud-based system. This is something we’ve been doing for ages already, so we know our way around the marriage of systems like this, but today marks something new for the SIP Trunks of yesteryear, too. With this new offering, we’ve modernized SIP Trunking to the exacting standards of our other clean, intuitive VoIP products and services.

Get Your SIP Trunks Now

We’ve always been proud to be the transparent option for you to modernize all of your communications to cleaner, more powerful, cloud-based solutions, and SIP Trunking is no different. Just because we’re changing how well SIP Trunks work for businesses, doesn’t mean we’re going to rewrite the rules on how we interact with our customers. Simply review the benefits of a SIP Trunking solution for your business here and you can sign up for a brief consultation with one of our SIP experts. The whole process generally just take a few minutes and then you’re well on your way to saving by switching to a hosted phone solution without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, either!

Thanks, also, to all of the businesspeople who contributed to the design and function of this new product by way of their participation with the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap. Without your valuable insight we wouldn’t be able to keep delivering such great products and services as easily as we do. You can participate yourself by heading to the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap or by pinging us on Twitter or Facebook, too. Either way, thanks again and we hope you love your new SIP Trunks!

What the NFL Can Teach Us About Cloud Communications

nfl cloud communicationsAre you ready for some football? For many, that question can elicit feelings of dread as they know they are about to lose their significant other for huge gaps of time each weekend. For others, the same question can trigger feelings of euphoria and sheer joy. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of reactions to the NFL regular season and its associated pageantry, pomp, and circumstance, there is an undeniable impact that the league has on Americans in general. This blog examines why that is and exactly how the NFL has come to be such a ubiquitous juggernaut in the collective American experience for the better part of five months. Spoiler alert, it has way more to do with cloud based communications than you think.

Four Downs, Zero Cables

The massive explosion of NFL games is measured in a lot of ways, most easily in the pervasive growth of the media footprint it occupies. Between the three major broadcast networks and ESPN, the total amount of investment to simply be allowed to cover NFL games was over $20 billion in 2016. This is just the cost for these companies to have the right to cover the games, that doesn’t include the massive costs associated with producing the game for broadcast. Like all investments, these huge amounts wouldn’t be shelled out if the promise of an equivalent return weren’t so likely. However, the huge infrastructure that typically has delivered sports media to throngs of eager crowds is no longer enough to get the largest audiences possible. Especially considering the mass exodus that viewers have been making from traditional media outlets in favor of cutting the cord and going with leaner media options.

Touchdown From Anywhere

More and more people are leaving traditional media outlets for cloud-based communications. That is evidenced by the fact that 40% of all businesses report a likely shift to VoIP over the next two years. We see this shift in the number of businesses that are also augmenting their existing communications networks with over-the-top applications. Additionally, the NFL recognizes this trend as being the reality moving forward for its fan base, as well, which is why it made massive investments into new, robust compression and streaming technology for its hundreds of millions of viewers each week. These are worthwhile investments, indeed, when you consider that the very first time the college football championships were decided by a four-team playoff, the only way to view that game was through a famously insufficient streaming service from ESPN that crashed repeatedly during its maiden voyage. With such huge dollar amounts on the line, clearly, the NFL recognizes they can’t afford to have the same problems. Nor should, in our humble opinion, any business be so blind to the trends that they miss the boat on the importance of cloud communications.

How to Enjoy Modern, Mobile Gridiron Mayhem

Ultimately, to enjoy the growing list of services, products, and entertainment streams that are becoming available over the internet, the most important variable to consider is the quality of your network connection. Just like the speed and agility of a wide receiver is rendered useless without a fast and accurate pass for him to catch, having a robust streaming platform is under utilized with a suboptimal internet connection (sorry, I couldn’t resist). The best way to ensure that your internet connection can handle your cloud communications needs is to conduct a thorough network health check that will assess the total capacity, use patterns, and thresholds of your overall networking behavior. And unlike a simple speed test that provides a simple snapshot of the bandwidth of a network, a health check will dig deeper to provide a more useful, holistic view of the health of your network. This is typically an invaluable tool for businesses looking to maximize the benefits of a cloud-based communication network, but it will also come in handy by allowing you to prioritize various types of use so that the important traffic goes through uninterrupted. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that traffic is for VoIP, or for the NFL streams. Either way, we hope you have a happy season opener tonight, whether you were aware of it or not!

Fantasy Football, Golf, Hiking, and a VirtualPBX Labor Day

labor day mt shastaDid you get out for the long Labor Day Weekend? I know that plenty of us in the VirtualPBX ecosystem found ways to get out of town, even if just for a little bit, to make the most of the extra time to get away. Seeing as how we have a global footprint, some of our team members went for long golf weekends, some of us made some day trips to weddings or nearby beaches, and others still donned crampons and ice axes for a summit of Mount Shasta. Needless to say, the ways that we chose to enjoy the weekend were as varied as we are as teammates. One thing that remained fairly consistent, however, is that most of our vacation and staycation plans were aided directly by the use of our very own Dash hosted telephone system and the flexibility it provides us on a daily basis. Here’s a look at how some of our weekends went thanks to VoIP.

Enjoying the Fruits of our Labor Day

No matter what diversions anyone chooses to participate in, we each benefit in some way by the fact that we can get a jump on the activity thanks to the flexibility of VoIP. Looking down the line of these examples it becomes very clear that even a little bit of extra time and maneuverability can go a long way to maximizing your time off.

  • Fantasy Football Live Drafts If you are anything like me, you don’t any reminder that the NFL regular season begins on September 7. However, for those who aren’t aware (or don’t care, I don’t judge), then you wouldn’t know that fantasy football teams are being assembled, too. Our resident football and telecom engineering expert, Jay Beck, got his whole league together via hosted telephony to do some live drafting of teams. Being able to coordinate the schedules of a dozen people is much easier when they can all meet up from the comfort of their own homes.
  • Trips to Golfing Meccas When one of our sales leaders planned a trip to be with family for an annual visit to the links in Florida, he knew he’d need to be connected to work a little bit while he was away. Thanks to Dash and the VirtualPBX Softphone App, staying on a secured and mobile work line is easy. Of course, seeing as how our Atlantic coast may be in the path of another big storm, getting prepared for storms to hit your business is an important topic for him to discuss on the course right now, too.
  • Beat Traffic On Your Next Trip The picture above is of Mt. Shasta, the over 14,000 foot tall volcanic mountain in the northern cascades of California. Being a long and busy weekend for outdoor activities exactly in that part of the state, if I hadn’t had the flexibility to get an hour outside of town and work remotely sometime during the day on Friday, getting the chance to summit the peak at a safe and leisurely pace might not have been an option. Of course, thanks to Dash (and an accommodating company policy on remote work!), that wasn’t a problem!

Where Did Your Weekend Take You?

Did you get to do anything fun or different this Labor Day Weekend? Or did you even add onto the three days off with some PTO, too? If you did, or even if you just wanted to but maybe the plans didn’t pan out, where would your ideal long weekend take you? Make sure to let us know on Twitter or Facebook. Also, make sure to tell us what you would’ve done differently if you, too, could have used Dash to extend your playtime a little bit. Maybe you’ll even see a good idea or two for you to use on your next big adventure!

How to Diagnose VoIP Problems in 2 Minutes

diagnose voip problemsSo you’ve made the switch to a hosted telephone system from your old copper-wired system? Congratulations! What’s that, though? You’re not sure you like the new service because you have problems with the connection? That’s frustrating but the reality is that, though some networking and PBX hosting issues require the help of an expert, much of the time, problems with VoIP connections don’t reside in the hosted PBX itself, but rather in the network that you’re using on it. I know that isn’t immediately helpful if you have voice jitter, latency, or your HD voice audio isn’t feeling very high-def, but it will help you to be able to quickly ascertain where the problem is so that it can be solved ASAP.

2 Minute Diagnosis for a VoIP Network

In business, time is money. A two-minute investment might be too much to give at the wrong time, but if you’re experiencing problems with your VoIP connection, there’s no time like the present. That’s why if you have any persistently negative experiences with your VoIP service you should set the receiver down for a second and take a quick run through these simple diagnostic suggestions. Once you’ve gone through this, you’ll be able to contact the appropriate parties with reasonable confidence that you know what the problem is.

  • Check Your VoIP Provider’s Status Page The fastest way to determine if you have a problem with your VoIP provider is to see if they are up and running. Do that by checking their service status site, which is typically pretty conveniently linked on their Support Page. This will tell you right off the bat if they have a problem on their end.
  • Check Your Internet Speed How well your VoIP service works depends on how well you internet connection works, and nothing checks that faster than a simple VoIP Speed Test. At the absolute minimum, you should have an additional 100kbps of upload and download speed available per VoIP device.
  • Reboot Your Modems It always amuses me whenever this comes up into conversation because it’s so familiar to what we have to do from time to time anyway. Rebooting hardware is often how we install necessary firmware updates that improve functionality and security, so not only is it a good way to potentially get you back up and running, it’s also a good practice to do occasionally, anyway.
  • Assess Additional Traffic Are you experiencing major call volume? Is there a deluge of activity that you normally don’t have? Or is your coworker Johnson just streaming three screens of cat videos again? Either way, massive spikes in network activity can cause bottlenecks to form that, in turn, slow down all internet traffic. That means that if you don’t have a comprehensive network services strategy in place, poor VoIP performance could be explained by Johnson’s crazy buffing times for more Pizza Cat streams.

Knowing is Half the Battle

Knowing the outcomes of following these steps will make any Support Engineer’s job much easier if you still find yourself with suboptimal VoIP connections. We know this because, like the thousands of employees who enjoy improved VoIP performance by switching to VirtualPBX, few of them even had this basic level of direction explained to them with their former VoIP provider. We have the in-house expertise and the 24/7, around the clock support to back all of our VoIP Plans with the industry’s leading, US-based Network Services Team. They can conduct total network diagnostics, optimize bandwidth allotment by use type, and even conduct deep-digging VoIP remediation from your telephone all the way to your VoIP service provider, even if it isn’t VirtualPBX! Plus, we’re sharing additional helpful tips and tricks on how to optimize your VoIP and cloud communications experiences on Twitter and Facebook, too. No matter what your VoIP challenges may be, we’ll never be too far away with the answers you need, when you need them.

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