Using your phone abroad

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Although within the EU legislation has dropped or cut most roaming charges using your mobile phone outside of the EU can still rack up large roaming costs.
A client came to us as a team member was racking up lots of roaming charges on his mobile when he travelled outside of the EU on business. We suggested he use the app included in his hosted voice deal where his mobile would use his UK office landline and calls to the UK would only be charged at the local UK rate. If he now makes calls from his mobile to the country he is travelling in, he would be charged as if he was calling from the UK to that country, which is still much cheaper than roaming charges.

For more information on how we can help you, please call us on 0208 150 9300
or email info@pen-telecom.co.uk

Can you still cold call?

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Can you still Cold Call in the UK when GDPR comes into play?
In short, YES you can, but with a few quick measures
It’s important that you end the conversation with:
“Is it OK for us to keep in touch?”
An answer in the affirmative is sufficient to permit a call back.
But there is a but…
…GDPR requires you to be able to prove it in court if you have to that you have permission.
The only way of proving it, is call recording!
If this is NOT an option, you need to show that you are aware and are taking measures.
You need to record the time and date of every conversation that you have, the name of who you spoke to, and that they are happy to be called back.
These rules apply to brand new company data, where you are speaking to your prospect for the first time.
If you already have stored data now, it’s important to receive permission from each person to permit a call back.
Make sure you get into the habit now of asking!
We offer call recording that is timed and date stamped and easily searchable. So to avoid any GDPR pitfalls, call us for a quote 020 8150 9300

Hacking can happen to any business !

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At the weekend I learned that Russian hacking attempts are not confined to large enterprises and political parties. I received the following email notice.

Event: Login failed There was a failed login attempt to your LogMeIn account. LogMeIn ID: jon.pentel@pen-telecom.co.uk Time of Event: 24/03/2018 09:33 From IP Address: 91.122.49.127 From location: St Petersburg, Russia To verify your account activity, log in to your account and go to Account settings > Security > Audit log. To change your notification settings, log in to your account and go to Account settings > Email notifications.

We are anything but a large enterprise but yet they still had a go at my logmein a/c. Well done #logmein .
Hacking can happen to anyone.

Using VoIP Abroad

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Mobile network providers are facing increasingly stiff competition from the VoIP market, as more and more users across the world are turning to network-based services for their voice calls.

This is going to be taking a chunk of profit away from companies which have traditionally allowed business mobile users to communicate over voice networks, although the extent of the impact remains to be seen.
With affordable, flexible VoIP integrated into the office environment and also available on the move, unified communications will enter the next generation.

Part of the reason for the rise in mobile VoIP is that there are simply more ways to connect a contemporary smartphone to a high speed network. Wi-Fi hotspots are widely available in densely populated areas, while the UK is soon to see its first high speed LTE network make an appearance, which will improve the quality of the audio and lessen the frequency of dropped VoIP calls.
Wi-Fi poses the biggest threat for traditional mobile network providers, because it means that people will not be harnessing their networks at all when they want to communicate.
For business mobile manufacturers, the growth of VoIP is going to be a welcome thing, since users are now choosing handsets based on the types of VoIP apps and integrated web-based voice services which are on offer straight out of the box. In the past, it has been necessary for international business travellers to put up with inflated voice rates when overseas, or to tackle the issue by using a domestic handset or SIM card, if they are particularly well prepared.

In the modern era, it is easy for a business user to take their smartphone with them on a trip, connect it to an available Wi-Fi network at their destination and then make VoIP calls, without incurring any cost whatsoever.
For the end user, the rise of mobile VoIP can only be seen as a positive step, which will save money and afford a greater degree of flexibility in the realm of voice services in the future.

What is behind your hosted voice service?

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So you are now ready to switch to a hosted voice service to take advantage of all the features and to cut costs and future proof your business. But which do you go for? All systems and all suppliers are not equal.

Questions to ask before deciding:

1) Does your platform have a mirror site to switch to in case of catastrophic failure – if no, then avoid as if it goes down you will be without service.
2) Does the platform offer interoperability with other platforms so that you can easily switch and take your equipment and numbers if dissatisfied?
3) Check your contract length and any out of bundle costs. We are seeing 5 year terms and some significant costs for usage out of bundle.
4) What handsets can you use on the service? Some services use non-mainstream handsets which, although a little cheaper, will not work on the mainstream providers, so that if you encounter difficulties you will need to invest in new equipment.
5) Do you get an easily accessible web-portal to make your own changes if needed?
6) Has the supplier checked your infrastructure to ensure there are no hidden surprises and charges when setting up?

Our service ticks all of the above boxes so you can order from us with confidence that it will all proceed smoothly from day one.

6 Criteria for Choosing a Hosted VoIP System

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6 Criteria for Choosing a Hosted VoIP System

More than one third of companies have already adopted hosted VoIP services. This number will almost certainly increase as more companies become aware of this alternative to traditional phone services and equipment. After all, hosted VoIP is cost effective, more feature-rich, and infinitely more scalable than plain old telephone systems or on-premise PBXs. However, choosing a hosted VoIP provider is not without an element of risk. Not all providers are alike, nor are their services. With all the buzz about VoIP, you need to be conscious of the following six criteria before signing the contract.

1) Set up and manage with ease
Leading hosted VoIP solutions require very little equipment to be installed. All you typically need is an IP phone, a voice gateway device, and a voice router (both of which sit on your network). Choose a hosted VoIP provider that offers the choice of either a self-installation process or professional help with the set up. Choosing the professional help typically includes a technical professional who does the actual installation as well as an account or project manager. This manager will be your liaison to the company and ensure everything goes smoothly. Once the hosted VoIP system is installed, administering it should be easy. Your provider should offer a simple online portal that requires little training and allows you to add new users/extensions, order new features, and get straightforward answers.

2) Include Quality-of-Service (QoS) Benefits and Security Safeguards
Your hosted VoIP system is likely to be the most important technology tool in your company. You need it to be both reliable and secure. Leading hosted VoIP providers will proactively monitor the network 24/7 to ensure the network performs as promised – this is where the QoS comes in – and that you can get support whenever needed, even in the middle of the night. The system should offer security safeguards; monitoring user logins to prevent hacking and ensuring passwords provided during equipment registration and configuration adhere to industry standards and are encrypted during use. Given this list of network reliability and security requirements, choosing a provider that owns the network that delivers your Hosted VoIP service just makes sense.

3) Avoid Hidden Charges
Hosted VoIP services are more cost effective than traditional services. Still, make sure there are no hidden charges to surprise you when the bill arrives. For instance, some providers might not include out-of-network calls in their “unlimited calling” bundles. Always read the fine print before choosing a vendor.

4) Check on the Vendor’s Financials
Hosted VoIP has been around since the late 1990s, but for some providers it’s a fairly new offering. Choose a vendor with a solid history of experience and a proven track record, and take the time to ensure you’ve picked a financially solid player.

5) Validate the Vendor Has Disaster Recovery
Make sure your hosted VoIP provider has a plan for disaster recovery in case of a flood, earthquake, or other disaster. Do not assume the VoIP provider will provide this plan. You need to make sure you won’t be stranded without voice services at a time when you need it most.

6) Make Sure You Know Exactly Which Features Are Provided

Although some of the phone services you need for your business may seem obvious, many hosted VoIP providers leave out basic services such as call forwarding. Make sure you understand exactly what is offered with your plan. The most popular features are auto attendant, Internet fax, conferencing, and call recording. Every function in your business is different, and your phone system should address that. For example, a receptionist may have different needs than the warehouse and the conference room. Your VoIP provider should address these needs with hardware and feature packages that simplify your purchase and offer cost savings.

Hosted VoIP can be a great option that saves your business money while giving you a plethora of features that your previous phone system lacked.
For a non- obligation chat , call Pen Telecom on 0208 150 9300 or email info@pen-telecom.co.uk

THE BENEFITS OF A DEDICATED INTERNET CONNECTION FOR YOUR BUSINESS

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When you sign-up for your business broadband, you will probably have been told some impressive download speeds that your connection can achieve. Unfortunately, ‘can’ is the key word. Whether you actually achieve these speeds is a different matter – and it might not even be your use that’s dragging the speed down.

With a regular internet connection, you will be sharing the service with other people in your building, street or even neighbourhood, and the connection speed will very likely slow down during peak times.

A dedicated internet line is uncontended. That means you’re not competing with anybody else for the resources available; it’s all for your business. As a result, your internet speeds are reliable, consistent and very, very fast. And in the case of total loss of service the line will be fixed in 7 hours or less!!!

The beauty of having your very own dedicated internet line is that you can have the service tailored to your exact requirements.

In short, a dedicated internet connection gives you a bit more control. That’s the control to ensure the productivity of your staff remains unaffected by sluggish connections during peak times and control over the technical capabilities of your organisation.

Dedicated internet access is cheaper than you think, please get in touch to discuss your requirements on 0208 150 9300 or email info@pen-telecom.co.uk

AT Society appointment as Corporate Ambassador

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Pen Telecom Ltd are proud to announce that they have been appointed a Corporate Ambassador for the AT Society. www.atsociety.org.uk

We are looking forward to working with the AT Society to raise awareness of this life limiting condition and helping to support families to live their lives to the full.

We will be holding awareness events in the future to which we hope you will feel able to attend and support.

Telecom mistakes to avoid when starting a business in 2018

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Telecom mistakes to avoid when starting a business in 2018

There are many challenges for every business start-up, but some new businesses make it harder for themselves by making basic mistakes with their telecoms.

1. Only having a mobile phone number on your business card
Research shows 30% of people do not trust it and therefore will not contact them. This is even higher if the business is offering professional services such as accountancy, financial advice or consultancy.
So what are the other options? Some company’s use 0800 numbers to get round this issue which add to costs as then you pay for the incoming calls. Others try to offset this by using 0843 or 0844 numbers but that just creates the impression that you want to profit every time someone calls you.
Anything other than 0800, or numbers beginning 01/02/03, for post sales service is illegal. If you still wish to use them then you must also publish the cost of call them in close proximity to where the number is publicised in all places – websites, business cards and vans.

2. Using your home phone number for business
Some business starters are tempted to use their home phone number but then you may not always know who is calling.
It also means you can’t turn your business off if you want in the evening or at weekends. There is limited functionality as well for handling a second call and personalising voicemails. Also if you move house you may move to another telephone exchange and not be able to take the phone number you have been marketing for years.
For this reason many small businesses wonder if they should use a telephone answering or virtual PA service for when they are not available.
The key question is what you want them to do. If it is to just take a message you need to ask yourself what value is that adding. If they can handle certain queries then that can enhance your offering.

3. Signing up to very long contracts
There is also great pressure for all new businesses to manage their costs at the outset whilst revenues are low. Offers of free installation if you sign 3 or 5 year contracts can on the surface appear very tempting, but there are many downsides. Technology improves year on year, do you want to be left with 3 years of a contract using outdated and expensive technology?
Firstly your business may expand and / or you may move the business and you could find yourself facing penalties for cancelling the contract. Secondly you are locking yourself into prices for a long term in an environment where prices usually go down. The cost of calling mobiles has fallen by 50% in the past 4 years.
At the same time many business owners forget to read the small print in the contracts and forget to check the basics such as length, notice periods and penalty clauses. They then get caught when they want to make changes.

4. Serviced offices
Many start-ups consider using serviced offices when starting out which can make sense as it avoids long term commitment that usually comes renting your own space.
But if considering this route ensure you check if they will expect you to use their telecoms services. This can create two issues.
Firstly, the costs can be very expensive compared to organising yourself, and secondly, they may not release the number to you should you move out at some point in the future.

5. Failing to buy business grade telecoms
Some start-ups also try and save money by buying residential services instead of business grade telecoms solutions, most notably mobile phones and broadband.
Whilst they may be cheaper service levels are also lower and you should factor in “what is the cost to my business of not being contactable”. It may well be more than the few pounds a month you are saving.

Final thoughts
Overall the key for any business owner is to be wary. Before you sign anything, ask yourself ‘will my telecoms support the business in the way I expect it to develop and will I be making it easy for customers to get in touch?’ We can offer no obligation assistance and guidance in getting your new business telecoms set up properly from the word go!!

Why Hosted Voice?

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Hosted Voice has many benefits…..

We were contacted on Monday afternoon by a potential customer who needed a Bristol number set up ASAP. We received the completed order form Tuesday morning and by 10:30 we had the number up and running.
There are numerous positives to using Hosted Voice. It is flexible, costs are fully under control. It is always updated with the latest developments at no cost to the user. You have complete geographical flexibility for your numbers.

Flexibility:
Hosted services are easy to expand and contract.
No engineering visit and consequent costs in time and money are required.

Low Entry Costs:
Costs remain under control as there are no hidden extras.
Hosted services require minimal investment, usually just in the handsets and a suitable router.

Future Proof:
Hosted services will always be updated to keep up with the latest developments and at no cost to the user.
Hosted Voice works seamlessly across multiple devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones.

Complete Geographical Flexibility:
Because your number is no longer tied to any exchange the number remains with the service no matter where you are located.
No more need to inform your customer base of a new number and the attrition that causes.

Maintenance costs and contract:
Hosted services have no maintenance costs. All support changes etc are done via a web-portal.

Here at Pen Telecom we are more than happy to chat through your specific needs with you