Making Your Home Internet Office-Quality

People are spending more time at home than ever before. 

And that probably won’t change any time soon. 

Students are learning at home, employees are doing all kinds of different jobs and careers from home, and a lot of entertainment and relaxation are happening from home. 

This has a significant impact on their internet, and usually, it goes down. And if you’re a reseller, your customers will have questions and concerns that they expect you to be able to resolve. 

Andy and Louis discuss this very topic in this clip. 

Andy Abramson: 

What can be done in the home today that you never would have thought of doing before because I’m working from home an hour a day?

I’m not there eight, 10 hours a day, so no one really cared or they would go, “Oh, I’ll call you from my cell phone. My Internet’s going wonky.” 

What are you doing today to mitigate that? If you’re not using SD-WAN, what can be done.

Louis LeBlanc:

If anybody has heard of a product called Bigleaf, which is a different type of SD-WAN product, that’s kind of a cloud-first (option) that sits in front of your firewall. 

We’ve had tremendous success with this product and all of our clients. They recently came out with a home product as a response to these issues that, that Dan just spoke about, with everybody being at home. 

Their product – the pricing is based on a bandwidth usage model, but they’ve scaled it down to make it affordable almost in a loss leader type of sense to help out their clients who have a whole lot of need for this thing. 

But I can’t say enough good things. If you haven’t heard of Bigleaf, not just for the home part, but if you have any challenges with quality of service, you put this thing in and you stop hearing from the client. I mean, it’s just amazing, what it’s done for our business. 

So, that’s on e product we’ve only had to put it in once at a home spot where they were working from home with multiple kids and, you know, just crushing the network kind of thing. But, it really sings when you have two connections, which most people at home wouldn’t have. But even with one connection, the QoS and the packet prioritization, it does; it’s tremendous how much it’s helped our business.

Andy Abramson: 

Lou is that a cloud-managed service that you just go online, you set it up, you point your program, your router to point to a certain IP address? How is it?

Louis LeBlanc:

No, it’s kind of a hybrid system. There’s a physical piece of hardware that they ship you. It’s basically like a little Linux computer, if you will, or it looks like a firewall, but your internet connections plug into it and they give you a new static public IP address and then you plug their box into your existing firewall. The nice thing is you don’t have to change the firewall. It doesn’t affect VPNs. It doesn’t affect any rules you have on the firewall. 

What they do is they use your multiple internet connections and create a tunnel from the customer site up to their pops, which are around the country. So they have insight into both of your weigh-ins in real-time and they can move things like voice calls in real-time, from one way into the other and prioritize, whichever one has less latency, less jitter, and less packet loss.

Then of course you have a dashboard where you can see all of that and you get emails. If there’s an alarm on a circuit, all of a sudden it’s producing a lot of jitter. You can call the client or open a ticket with the internet provider. 

It just gives you all this insight that you didn’t have before. With a small business firewall, let’s say obviously higher-end firewalls have some capabilities. But if you have a small business that has a two or $300 firewall, this thing, the statistics alone is worth the money: just to be able to call the client and say, “Hey, one of your circuits is down. We need to get it back up in case the other one goes down.”

The ability to have a live VoIP call not disconnect when they lose one of their circuits has paid for itself time and time again, but as most of you guys probably know and any reseller will tell you, it’s not a problem when the circuit going down but, for lack of a better word, when t goes wonky, right?

I mean, coax connections are famous for that. I’m sure we’ve all gotten those calls. “Our internet is not working properly. Our voice quality is horrible.” 

They still have internet and their computers are working. But there’s so much jitter on the circuit. You just can’t do anything about it. So, the Bigleaf has solved that problem for us. 

to finish answering your question, Andy, that there’s the hardware part that goes up and in front of the firewall. And then you pay a monthly service fee for that ability of where the packet’s going to their data center to do the prioritization before it goes on to the final destination. And it’s based on how fast your circuits are. But anyway, highly recommended; fantastic tech support, fantastic response times, but overall, the product itself is just a winner and it’s done wonders for our business.

Andy Abramson: 

So, you could literally have a cable connection coming into one of the WAN ports. So you could have a mobile connection from one of the devices that’s built for industrial-grade, which will keep running. Uh, I’ve seen brands like Peplink and others who make industrial-grade mobile, LTE routers, and soon 5g routers. You can plug one of them into each port. Now are they bonding the two connections as well, or are they just allowing you to flip flop between the two?

Louis LeBlanc:

As far as I can tell, there’s no bonding going on but you can have up to four weigh-ins. And one of them, as you mentioned, being an LTE. Most of our customers will have a fiber circuit and a coax circuit or a co-ax and a DSL circuit. But the benefit is that they can move packets around in real-time based on which circuit is better at that exact moment. And they call it ‘load balancing.’ 

But let’s say you only had a coax and an LTE that’s limited in bandwidth per month. They have the ability to set the LTE as ‘fail-over only’. So it only, if the coax goes down hard, level seven, then start using the LTD. But if you have unlimited connections, it’s doing load balancing in real-time.

As a reseller, having these possible problems in the back of your mind can do wonders when your customers have these kinds of questions. 
Want to be even more prepared? Check out the full webinar right here.

Why Your Home Internet Can’t Keep Up

Challenges that resellers faced during the COVID-19 pandemic provide valuable lessons we need to learn from going forward. 

In this clip from our webinar, Resellers Helping Resellers, we examine how SIP ALG was a big problem with so many people in each household working from home. 

Transcript:

Andy Abramson: 

What were some of those unique challenges that reared their ugly head during COVID-19 that you had to overcome?

Dan Napolitano

Louis mentioned some of them already, but SIP ALG on cable modems was a big problem, but we’re also an IT firm, so we just own those (problems) for our clients. 

We walk through with the client; we don’t like to tell our client, ‘here’s what you need to do, go do it.’ 

We like to do it with them, for them. And they pay for that (service). But it’s a white-glove kind of service. 

For example, when their kids would wake up and turn on the Xbox, all of a sudden, video meetings would stop working. 

So consultative, things like that, who’s in your house, what are they doing? You know, I’ve got three kids doing their distanced learning, watching movies, and playing video games. You know SD-WAN is a great solution for that problem, but, you know, it’s not really practical in the home.

So, a lot of that was just a matter of educating our clients so that they knew, “Hey, I’ve got a conference call. You can’t be on the Xbox right now.”

We’re fortunate that our area has pretty good bandwidth, so that wasn’t super prevalent, but it popped up.

I don’t know if you guys know about the Glance app, but it’s fantastic for identifying SIP ALG right away, you know. Our team with those tools was pretty good for us to quickly identify those problems. 

Trying to remember what else I told you. And I think that was it.

Andy Abramson: 

Oh, let me look at my list. Limited bandwidth issues, home networking issues, busy line function issues. That was another one.

Dan Napolitano

Yeah. And those were almost always SIP ALG.  

While there is a bevy of solutions for things like bandwidth issues in the office, when your customers have most, if not all, of their staff working from home, their expectations need to change. 

When resellers explain to their customers what to expect when working from home and how to manage those expectations, they’re able to avoid a lot of the problems we faced during the beginning of the pandemic. Want to know more ways resellers are helping resellers? Check out the full webinar right here.

How VoIP Automation Can Prepare Businesses For Unstoppable Growth

Here’s a highlight from our Resellers Helping Resellers webinar where we ask our best resellers what problems their customers faced from the pandemic, how they solved it, and what we can learn from it to be even more prepared for the future.

Video Transcript:

Andy:

What kind of impact, whether it was negative or positive, did COVID-19 present to your business and, if you had a negative hit, how did you overcome that? What would be the one or two things that, were present to you as a business owner? Because you’ve got other owners on here, many of whom experienced exactly what you did. So let’s start with Louie. Why don’t you give us a story there?

Louis: 

Yeah, I think like everybody, we had an increase in tickets, which we expected just because the way they’re going to use the system had to pivot quickly. But I looked at it as an opportunity and that opportunity was to really show the clients how flexible the system was and how fast we could implement change. To piggyback on what Dan Crabill said about his restaurants. We actually do very little in the restaurant business but our very big success story is we have a retail operation that has 12 locations in the fitness industry. And if any of you have seen the national headlines about certain fitness products, it was actually helped their business, because everybody’s at home wanting to exercise. So they got crushed with phone calls and emails and requests to their website.

Naturally, they reached out and asked, ‘What can we do here? How do we handle this? How can we better manage it?’ 

The first thing that was obvious was they just needed to turn their phones off to stop them from ringing. We were able to quickly pivot to an auto-attendant; record the message that they needed it to say, to direct them to their chat on their website, as they can’t handle phone calls right now. 

They really appreciated that. And then they had to do curbside delivery, ‘text us when you arrived’. The mobile app came in handy for that and still does. 

The volume of texts that these guys received was just off the charts. And the SkySwitch system handled it beautifully. 

All 12 locations, probably had a thousand texts a day, in and out at each location. So iit was a great success story. 

And we took that knowledge and reached out to other clients in similar situations. And we’ve heard back from all of them, just how thankful they were, that they were on this system, that they had the ability to make these changes quickly, because obviously other systems, especially an on-prem(ises) system, can’t do a lot of those things. 

The requests we’re getting now, from new clients are obviously seeing that they couldn’t pivot quickly enough. I think all of us are going to benefit from this. When you’re selling now, how those success stories like that of not just how good the system is in terms of performance, but its flexibility, and how fast you can turn features on and off and really customize it for the customer.

This is just a highlight of our Resellers Helping Resellers webinar. Get even more tips, insight, and guidance with the full webinar right here.

Too Many Tickets: How This Reseller Stayed Ahead by Keeping it Simple

Here’s a highlight from our Resellers Helping Resellers webinar where we ask our best resellers what problems their customers faced from the pandemic, how they solved it, and what we can learn from it to be even more prepared for the future.

Video Transcript:

Andy:

What’s the one thing, or two things, that you learned now that you wish you knew this before all this started because it would’ve made your life a lot easier and your customer’s life easier.

Dan: 

I think it’s, from a support issue, they (customers) didn’t use the kiss method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

We had a ton of tickets come in and people are like, ‘my phone doesn’t work.’ And we’re like, ‘what do you mean your phone on work?’ 

At the end of the day, they were plugging (their phone) into the wrong slot on the back of the phone. They get their poly-com and they plug it into the computer slot to plug into the ethernet port the back of the phone. 

We must have had 30 or 40 tickets open. It was crazy. So we just came up with a quick document, sent it out to everybody, and all of a sudden those (tickets) started slowing down.

So that was one of the big things, from the support side that we learned. We probably should have made that a little bit more clear with people taking these phones home.

So that was kind of one of the big things that we learned. And then, from a sales perspective, where we’ve had some pretty good success right now is talking to a lot of restaurants, that they were hurting because they didn’t know how to go mobile

Using all the texting features that SkySwitch has, we’ve actually walked into quite a few deals just by having the SMS feature and kind of educating our clients on how the mobility works from the VoIP side. I wish we, we thought of that at the beginning of all this, I think we could have picked up some more clients, but, those are my two takeaways.

Andy:

I want to dig a little deeper. And Corey did a great video on our appointment reminder app with restaurants because I know they make up a good chunk of our resellers’ businesses around the country. What exactly are you seeing the restaurants doing and how is it helping them, which in turn, if you’re helping your customer, it’s helping your business?

Dan: 

You know, a lot of them (didn’t know) that you can text their menu to this (customer’s) number and it sends the customer their menu. 

That was a big thing that a lot of my restaurants were doing. They were also using it as a way to place orders, just click here and it automatically dials into their SkySwitch phone (number). 

Those are two big things customers really liked because a lot of their customers were asking, ‘Hey, what’s your menu again?” And they (the restaurant) would go ‘great’, and just texted the menu to them. They’re like, ‘that was awesome,’ but then they (the customer) just hit ‘dial’, and boom, it would connect them to the restaurant. So, that was the two big things that the restaurants really took advantage of now.

This is just a highlight of our Resellers Helping Resellers webinar. Get even more tips, insight, and guidance with the full webinar right here.

The Best Tool Telecom Resellers Have For The Future

Here’s a highlight from our Resellers Helping Resellers webinar where we ask our best resellers what problems their customers faced from the pandemic, how they solved it, and what we can learn from it to be even more prepared for the future.

Video Transcript:

Andy:

What was the one thing you learned that if you knew then what you know now, you would be doing differently?

Louis:

I definitely agree with Dan. We ran into that same thing. But one of the things we learned is our clients were much more open to having multiple devices full time.

One of the nice things with SkySwitch, we can have five devices per extension without additional seat charges. 

And once I started engaging customers who are now going to be living in this new reality, almost a hundred percent of them said, “so we just have to, you know, just for the one-time cost of the phone, we could leave the phone at home?” 

We had clients taking phones back and forth. They weren’t working full-time at home. They might’ve been working at home two, three days a week and they just got tired of dragging their phone around. 

Once we made all of our customers aware of that, they really appreciated that. So now we’re starting to sell a bunch more phones the last few weeks; just getting customers set up. So now they can have devices wherever they need to work full time. So I think that made us look really good when we were able to tell them we could do that very easily.

Andy:

So what you, what you’re saying is a lot of your customers created a new brand of mobile phone with Yealink or Polly or Grandstream, or any other brands that they have on their desk that became a mobile phone because they were having to take it to and from when really there was an easier solution. 

During the period of time where they were waiting to get second phones or third phones to work from at home, did you find any of them picking up the use of ReachUC, the soft client, and coming to you for help with configuration? Or what was it like around ReachUC?

Louis:

Yeah, absolutely. I guess it depends on the type of client, not all of our clients were even aware that a mobile app existed; that there are some situations where we sell to certain businesses that it’s, it’s just not necessary. 

So a lot of people didn’t even know about it. So we started getting the support tickets of just, “how do we work from home”? 

And then that’s when we introduced the mobile app to a lot of clients, the existing clients who knew about it, we didn’t hear from them because they just started using the app full time, rather than as an ancillary phone. 

I’m sure everybody else can speak to this, that the challenge with the mobile app is, of course, their internet, at home, as everybody’s experiences during the pandemic have just overworked or not enough bandwidth or not enough GOs at home.

We still struggle with that. We had to put out a blanket email to the office managers, basically, every one of our clients to let everyone know that this is a best-effort product. It’s going to depend on these variables. It’s not going to be the same experience you have with the desk phone. 

Once we kind of set the table with those parameters, things kind of calmed down and people understood, and as I’m sure other people experienced, turning off Wifi was a big hit for us.

That at least the cellular network tended to be a little better than a lot of people’s home broadband just where they were so that the mobile app really saved us.

And in the sense of, I think we may have lost clients, had we not been able to have that and to Skyswitch’s benefit. I know there were some capacity issues when things ramped up, but Skyswitch stepped up. I don’t know what you guys did in terms of the technical backend in terms of spinning up more resources. But that was brilliant. That SkySwitch was able to do that very quickly.

This is just a highlight of our Resellers Helping Resellers webinar. Get even more tips, insight, and guidance with the full webinar right here.

Tour Our New Corporate Headquarters in Tampa, FL

In the past year, SkySwitch has experienced rapid growth in both our offered services and the expansion of our team. In order to best accommodate this, we have moved into a new corporate headquarters in the Westshore area of Downtown Tampa. Take a peek at our new office.

Our open-concept space includes six private meeting rooms, all equipped with the latest in real-time collaborative technology.
The SkySwitch Executive Team: William Brister, VP of Customer Success, Frank Babusik, COO, Blake McKeeby, CTO, Harlan Hamlin, VP of Business Development, Andy Abramson, CMO, Eric Hernaez, Founder and President, Jayson Jones, VP of Sales, Corey Stoker, VP of Support.

For more information on our recent move, read the full news release here. You can also find our announcement covered in Tampa Bay Inno and shared in ChannelVision Magazine, Cloud Communications Alliance, Telecom Reseller and Channele2e.

Don’t forget to follow us on social media for behind-the-scenes updates as we continue to make our mark in the Tampa Bay area.

Jeff Pulver Speaks on Why “Now Is the Golden Age of Voice” on Telecom Reseller

In this podcast exclusive with Jeff Pulver, listeners get a special preview of Pulver’s session at Vectors 2019: Now Is the Best Time to Be Selling UCaaS. Jeff Pulver chats with Doug Green of Telecom Reseller, and explains his concept of “Purple Minutes” and why voice will always remain the ultimate app.

 

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“We’re now living in a time where you can envision a service wherever you are, as long as you’re connected to the internet, and deliver it. And that, to me, is magical,” Pulver says.

Make sure to listen to the full podcast episode on Telecom Reseller. And, if you’d like to learn more about Jeff Pulver and his keynote session at SkySwitch’s Vectors 2019, check out this blog post.

SkySwitch to Exhibit at Channel Partners 2019

Channel Partners is one of the largest channel events for agents, MSPs, VARs, consultants, integrators and service providers. And this year, you can expect to find SkySwitch there.

Taking place from April 9th to April 12th at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, this conference provides a space for attendees to network with over 6,200 channel pros, learn from the best in business and explore the hottest innovations.

 

SkySwitch will be exhibiting for 3 days at the Expo Hall, where you can meet with some of our team and learn more about our leading-edge solutions in the UCaaS industry. We are excited to learn more about you and would be happy to talk about how our solutions may be advantageous for your business. (Like our rich Business SMS services complete with an intelligent keyword responder to our top-tier huddle rooms that showcase the best in telepresence technology.)

 

If you’d like to schedule a personal one-on-one meeting while you’re at Channel Partners, Jayson Jones, VP of Sales and Business Development, and Sean Breeden, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, will both be available. If you’d like dedicated time with one of our staff, make sure to request a meeting time as soon as possible.

 

 

 

SkySwitch Resellers Should Capitalize on Nomorobo—Here’s How and Why

If there’s one thing everyone can agree that needs to go away ASAP, it’s robocalls. This is a widely discussed issue that Eric Hernaez, Founder and President of SkySwitch, has addressed at a recent panel discussion at IT Expo 2019. Audience members at that panel asked about solutions for robocalls because they are simply becoming out of control—not only on personal cell phones, but even at the workplace.

 

In fact, according to an article by USA Today, Americans received 3.36 billion robocalls in April of 2018 alone. This equates to 1,297 robocalls every second. And if you look at the numbers, the amount of robocalls continue to climb. Not to mention, robocallers have gotten even smarter.

 

Nowadays, robocallers use “neighbor spoofing” technology, where they will use a local area code to encourage recipients to answer. Other than being a huge nuisance, the amount of money that fraudulent unwanted robocalls cost consumers is even more staggering. The Federal Trade Commission estimates this amount to be $9.95 billion annually.

 

What You Can Do to Take Action Against Robocalls Now

In a press release distributed in October of 2018, SkySwitch announced integration with Nomorobo, a spam filtering service. As stated in the release, Aaron Foss, Founder of Nomorobo, said, “While many residential landline telephone providers have implemented robocall blocking recently, this feature is not usually offered on business telephone systems. But we all know that businesses are not immune to robocalls, and we are very excited to see SkySwitch offer Nomorobo to its network of UCaaS providers.”

 

Robocall protection for workplaces isn’t yet very common—in fact, during the panel discussion aforementioned at IT Expo 2019, the audience members expressed that while they were familiar with solutions for personal use, they were interested in learning about what offerings white label UCaaS providers had for this problem.

 

At the panel discussion, Eric Hernaez explained that at this time, Nomorobo is the best way to combat robocalls and that SkySwitch is a provider that is integrated with their service.

 

How Does Nomorobo Work?

So first, let’s address why SkySwitch chose to integrate with Nomorobo. Nomorobo is a top-leading solution that has, to date, stopped over 900 million robocalls. And, their service has received the recognition of being the FTC Robocall Challenge winner as well as receiving the PCMag’s Editor Choice award.

 

At the enterprise level, Nomorobo offers a specialized data service that allows telecom network operators to identify a potential robocall before it rings the end user’s phone. Since SkySwitch is integrated with Nomorobo, SkySwitch is able to alert business telephone users that a call is potentially from a telemarketer and then let them choose how to handle it. The system can be configured to answer the call, send it to voicemail or just hang-up without disrupting users.

 

As explained in an article about Nomorobo by PCMag, not many carriers have integrated with Nomorobo, which means that many end users interested in using Nomorobo may not be able to take advantage of the service. This is why SkySwitch resellers should take full advantage of the Nomorobo integration.

Resolutions in the Pipeline for Robocalls

While we’re on the topic of robocalls, we can’t leave out the big-picture solutions that are in the works, such as a new senate bill that would hit robocallers with a $10,000 fine per call.

 

The proposed solution that has really stirred a lot of excitement is STIR/SHAKEN. In theory, this method would essentially require that every phone have a certificate of authenticity attached to it. A policy administrator overseen by the FCC would be in charge of handing out the certificates.

 

So, as NYMag sums up in simple terms how STIR/SHAKEN would work: if a user places an outbound phone call, the call would contain a certificate that verifies that the actual phone number lines up with the phone number it claims to be. Then, the phone call would be passed to the incoming carrier that is responsible for verifying the certificate’s public key against an encrypted private key.

 

While the authentication process sounds like a great idea, there are a few caveats to it:

  1. This method will only work in the U.S. as it’s currently envisioned today.
  2. STIR/SHAKEN will most likely add overhead to phone companies.
  3. Most importantly, the method has largely been in a testing phase with multiple unknown variables about how it would actually work in the real world. There’s no sure say in when, or even if, the solution will come into fruition.

How to Leverage Nomorobo’s Brand Recognition for Robocalls

It’s clear that for the time being, Nomorobo is the best solution available. If you’re a SkySwitch reseller, we recommend that you leverage the existing brand recognition of Nomorobo. It’s a top leader in the industry, so it works to any reseller’s advantage to proudly display the Nomorobo name rather than renaming or rephrasing it into something generic, like “spam filtering service”.

 

Consider adding a blurb about Nomorobo integration to your website’s services or features section and emphasize the mark that Nomorobo has made in the quest of stopping robocalls. Robocalls are a universal nuisance and chances are your customers have heard about Nomorobo.

 

Brand recognition is huge for developing trust with a potential client. By establishing that level of trust, it becomes easier to incite a prospect’s interest to listen in on all the benefits of switching to VoIP, and more specifically, switching to you as their VoIP provider.

SkySwitch Launches Video Surveillance as a Service

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