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In this blog, we offer ways your small business can use the Cloud to keep your sensitive information safe and out of the hands of hackers.
If you aren’t convinced of the importance of protecting your business information in the Cloud, look at a list of some of the high-profile companies that were recently hit by hackers. JPMorgan Chase, Target, Home Depot and Sony have all been the targets of hackers in the past year or so. According to FBI Director James Comey, “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked…and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.”
Of course, small businesses are also potentially vulnerable to hack attacks. While your small business isn’t as big as Target, the data you are storing there is still valuable to you, your employees and your customers. Here are a few tips on ways to minimize the danger of your valuable information falling in the hands of hackers and other nefarious types:
Back up your data. Even though your company’s information is stored in the Cloud, experts advise you to manually back it up on a hard disk or a thumb drive. This will also allow you to access files if your Internet connection is interrupted.
Be smart with your passwords. This is probably the most crucial way you can proactively protect your small business data in the Cloud. Create complex, original passwords for every one of your accounts. Experts say the best passwords contain lowercase and capitalized letters, special characters and numbers. You should also make sure you and your employees change passwords at regular intervals, usually every few months. There is password management software available to help with the daunting task of remembering all those complex passwords. They include Dashlane 3, Password Genie 4.4 and LastPass 3.0 Premium.
Stay on top of software upgrades. It’s easy to take software upgrades for granted. Doing so can leave your business vulnerable to hackers, so make sure you download security updates on a regular basis and use security programs to safeguard your data.
Protect yourself with anti-virus programs. This will help guard against viruses and malware. Make sure you upgrade them on a regular basis. Some of the best-reviewed programs include Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and McAfee AntiVirus Plus.
Consider encrypting your information. This is especially important when dealing with sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and other personal data of customers. While most cloud storage companies provide encryption and decryption, double-check to make sure they are part of your contracted services.
Carefully choose your cloud storage company. Pick a provider that limits file access to carefully vetted employees, and make sure you only share documents that contain no confidential or essential information.
Be picky about what information you put in the Cloud. For example, experts advise against the common practice of using Social Security numbers to identify customers. Pick another method, with less chance for putting sensitive data at risk in case your business ever falls prey to hackers.
Make wireless network security a priority. Wireless networks are becoming increasingly popular targets for hackers. To stop them in their tracks, protect both your Wi-Fi and router access with robust passwords and use your router’s strongest encryption standard. You should also consider disabling the SSID broadcasting function on your wireless router to keep your networks hidden from would-be hackers.
Protect sensitive credit card information. If your small business accepts credit cards, you should look into using the EMV payment system. EMV derives its name from its founders, Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and utilizes sophisticated technology to protect credit card information. EMV uses microchips embedded in credit cards to safeguard cardholder data. Currently, the liability for fraudulent credit card usage falls on credit unions and banks. That is set to change this October 1, when new regulations take effect making small businesses liable for unauthorized charges. This means if your small business doesn’t accept EMV cards, you have only a few months to do so, or you could end up paying later. Several companies sell EMV card readers for small businesses, including squareup.com/emv, frontlineprocessing.com/services/emv/ and cardinalcommerce.com.
Do I need a website if I have social media?
So you’ve got fans of your Facebook page and a bunch of Twitter followers, you may even have people connecting with you on LinkedIn. With the rise and importance of social media for a business these days, you may think that having a website would overpower your social presence or that a website isn’t worth it if you’ve got good things happening on social media. Do you really need a website if you’ve got social media?
The answer is YES!
While social media is great for attracting current or new customers, your website is the first impression many customers will see about your business. In some cases, customers may discover your social presence because of your website. Social media is a great place to communicate with your customers, no doubt, but it’s your website that gives you the credibility they want when viewing your company.
How does a website help?
Websites are still an important factor for businesses. Many customers will often find a favorite company on social media because of links or buttons that proclaim the fact. Websites can also deliver an importance to customers by –
Establishing credibility for your company
Providing your company’s core values
Showcasing your company’s products and services
Giving customers confidence about doing business with you
The case for a website
Websites don’t need to be static anymore. Thanks to new technology, websites can be responsive, meaning they can be viewed not only on computers, but on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. As with social media, websites can be viewed while on the go, allowing for potential customers to view your company and its services while they may be on the way to your offices.
Your company’s website can display a wealth of information that can’t be adequately done through social media. For instance, customers can view or order products from your site if you have a shopping cart page; Amazon’s mobile app is a good example of a customer being able to view and then order a product from their phone.
Customers can also save your website to their browser for future viewing; with some browsers, they can bookmark your site on their phone and then return home to check it on their computers. The very aspect of social media makes it near impossible to save a page and expect it to still be there for the next five minutes.
Having both a social media presence and a website can help your business thrive and make a profit by engaging customers through both platforms. Customers have a positive first impression, while also feeling satisfied in knowing they have multiple ways in which to communicate with you.
Explore the practical differences between DSL and Cable high speed Internet in this whitepaper, written for business decision-makers. We compared the benefits and challenges of Cable and DSL technology in four key areas: speed, distance, consistency, and availability. Both DSL and Cable will deliver broadband connectivity, but which one is the best option for your business? We believe our solutions – which are built upon the cable industry’s exclusive DOCSIS 3.0 technology – will better position any size business.
In today’s fast paced environment, small and medium-sized businesses need reliable and powerful broadband options that offer both flexibility and affordability. When DSL and Cable high speed Internet capabilities are compared, the choice becomes evident:
Planning for the future as well as delivering speeds today that enable fast operations and technical innovation is essential. As technology changes, so do the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, and infrastructure must be flexible to meet the needs of this ever changing market. When the deliverability of both DSL and Cable high speed Internet is examined, it is Cable that clearly comes out ahead with the ability to give businesses what they need now and in the future.
The Cloud offers your small business several strategic advantages that can help it grow and prosper. In this blog, we offer you real-world tips on making smart decisions when it comes to getting started in the Cloud.
There is a lot of talk these days about small businesses and cloud computing. Before you decide to have your small business utilize the Cloud, let’s start with the basics. Simply put, cloud computing is storing and accessing your business data over the Internet instead of the traditional method of using your computer’s hard drive. As long as you and your employees have an online connection, you can work anytime, anywhere as long as you have a web-enabled device such as a tablet or smartphone.
Once you’ve decided your small business should use the Cloud, you have a variety of cloud apps to choose from, including several that are small business-friendly. They include Mozy, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Carbonite and CrashPlan. When deciding which cloud back-up to use, there are plenty of questions to ask about your individual business. How many employees do you have? How big is your business and how much information do you need to back-up and store? What kind of CRM system do you have in place and how do you manage it? What is your company’s five-year plan? Where do you see yourself in the long-term? What will your cloud needs be in the years to come?
When you’re choosing a cloud service, make sure you consider the future needs of your business. Choose one that will be able to meet the needs of your business now and down the road. Once you have made a “big picture” evaluation of your business, do your homework – shop around among the cloud apps out there, asking specific questions about what each one can offer your business.
Here are some tips from small business experts on making the transition to cloud-based computing:
Don’t go at it alone. Trust at least one other person in your company to help you make this important decision. While the call is ultimately yours to make, it’s important to have input you can trust. After all, your employees will be using the Cloud on a daily basis to conduct business.
Don’t overdo it out of the gate. Working with the Cloud is different than traditional ways of conducting business. Realize that it is bound to affect your regular business processes. You should start small – consider having two or three employees work together on a Google Docs file. Plan on at least a few hours to acclimate your team to this new way of working and know there will be a learning curve, especially for those employees who may be averse to change. Once your team feels more comfortable with this different style of working, you can start expanding the cloud services you utilize.
Understand what you’re signing yourself up for. Before you sign an agreement with a cloud service, read it carefully. Make sure you’re getting the level of service your company needs, that you can live with the provider’s policies on things such as privacy and early termination and that all the elements you’ve been promised are in writing. You don’t want any surprises down the road.
Be sure you’re able to export your information in standard formats. Make sure you use formats used by Excel, Word and other programs used by your business. That will make it easy for you to back up and access your data in-house or easily move it to another cloud service later, if you decide to do so.
Consider encryption. Cloud experts say one of the best ways to protect sensitive business information is to use data encryption. You can do this with Data Loss Prevention Tools (DLPs), which monitor data leakage and facilitate the secure transmission of information to and from the Cloud.
Look at open-source Cloud services. They encourage third-party developers to develop features that will make your cloud-based experience more relevant to your business.
Consider ways to save money without sacrificing utility. For example, some small businesses use Google Docs spreadsheets as a basic CRM system, rather than paying for a CRM cloud service.
To avoid buyer’s remorse, shop around. You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, and you shouldn’t choose a cloud service without testing it out first. Since most services offer potential buyers a free trial, this one seems like a real no-brainer.
Make sure your employees can use the cloud on their cellphones and mobile devices. Since so much work is done out of the office these days, this is a crucial consideration. You might want to offer special training on using the Cloud outside the office.
Embrace the future – don’t fear change. Of course, moving your business to the Cloud is a big move, but plenty of other companies have taken the plunge (most likely at least one of your competitors) and with higher-than-ever levels of security, now is a great time for your small business to make the transition as well.
Phishing – the attempt to get financial or other confidential information from a person or business online – has been around for years and it doesn’t look as if scammers intend on stopping anytime soon. In February 2015, authorities announced that, over the past two years, a cybergang called Carbanak used phishing techniques to steal more than $1 billion from banks, e-payment systems and financial institutions in 30 countries around the world.
It appears Carbanak used spear phishing techniques to make off with all that money. Spear phishing uses emails that appear to come from an individual or business the targeted person knows, rather than generic messages (such as those addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam”) that scammers have been using for years.
This was the state of phishing and malicious attacks back in 2015, with security experts predicting 2016 would be the worst yet for businesses. Then we entered 2017.
With the recent attacks of ransomware - like WannaCry and Petya - businesses are becoming increasingly targeted by hackers. Back in 2015, Malwarebytes spokesman Adam Kujawa predicted that future phishing attacks would target a wider range of employees, such as those with access to potentially lucrative data, such as a firm’s customer accounts.
Think your employees are too savvy to fall for what looks like an obvious scam? IBM researchers discovered that businesses are seeing more and more malicious email, with a 4x increase of spam in 2016 alone, and email is still the number one method of delivering malware. During the summer, Google experienced a major phishing attack against their Google Doc users.
Cyber experts say that businesses need to be vigilant to prevent phishing attacks. Here are ways to protect your organization and customer information:
To learn more about keeping your business safe from spear phishing attacks, log on to https://www.staysafeonline.org
Choosing a telephone system for a small business used to be a simple proposition, because there really wasn’t much to choose from. All phones were pretty much the same. As it has for so many aspects of our lives, digital technology has changed all that. Now, when it comes to picking a telephone system, small businesses aren’t restricted to traditional telephones and managed voice solutions has become a preferred alternative. In this blog we compare managed voice services with traditional telephones and list some of the advantages of switching to this newer technology.
First, let’s look at the basic differences between old-fashioned analog and digital telephone systems. Analog phones (the traditional landline) use standard copper wire and what are called plain old telephone service (POTS) phones. Compare that to the latest technology, digital phones. They are used by businesses for managed voice services. A digital PBX (private branch exchange, a switching system that allows a large number of telephones in a business to be connected) is designed with a proprietary bus structure that allows for the addition of various features and capabilities that aren’t available for use with analog phones.
For small businesses, managed voice services offer innumerable advantages over POTS phones. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology can increase the productivity of a small business by allowing its employees to seamlessly multi-task. It allows businesses to integrate software programs – such as email and remote conferencing – over the Internet. An employee can conduct business with a client while simultaneously using other applications, including the Internet. Using VoIP, employees can hold conversations anywhere there is an Internet connection, meaning they aren’t tied down to being at a desk in the office anymore. As an added benefit, outgoing calls display your company’s number on caller ID, rather than an employee’s personal phone number. Employees can check incoming calls no matter where they are. With VoIP, the world truly is your office.
As you can gather from its name, managed voice services truly let you manage your calls more efficiently. For example, with a virtual receptionist you’re not paying a person to answer and route calls – cutting your payroll costs and increasing productivity.
Gone are the days of poor call sound quality. VoIP technology has evolved to provide voice clarity that is indistinguishable from traditional telephones.
Here are some of the other advantages to small businesses that replace analog phones with a managed voice system:
Technology has transformed the way we run our business, especially when it comes to running those required office meetings. If you’ve ever organized a business meeting, you know what a chore it can be – especially if people who need to attend are in a different city, state or even country.
Using apps like GoToMeeting, Webex, Mikogo.com, Skype and Skype for Business allows you to collaborate effectively in real time with several people, whether they are scattered across town or across continents.
There are several advantages using web conferencing for your business -
There’s more to effective webconferencing than choosing the right equipment and software. You need to make sure you understand what it takes to use that technology in the most effective manner possible, ensuring you’ll reap the benefits webconferencing offers.
Some tips to consider:
If you’re lacking in the bandwidth department in order to utilize these types of tools, contact Mediacom Business who can offer an affordable Business Internet package so you have the capacity your business needs. Click here for more information.
More and more small businesses are using managed voice services. In this blog, we discuss some of the advantages they offer to businesses that make the switch.
For years, small businesses used analog phones, traditional telephones that use landlines with copper wiring to transmit calls (otherwise known as plain old telephone service, or POTS) to connect with other phones over the public switched telephone network, or PSTN. This was almost by default, as no real alternatives existed. That changed in 2004, with the widescale introduction of voice over IP (VoIP) technology, which is used to make and receive calls over an IP network, such as the Internet. Managed voice services use digital, rather than analog, technology and they have the capacity to transform small businesses.
Managed voice service offer small businesses advantages that can make their day-to-day operations run more smoothly, streamline business practices, increase productivity and cut costs.
Your employees will be invigorated and more productive knowing the latest technology is backing them up whether they’re working in the office, at home or on the road. Your customers will be happier knowing they’ll always be able to reach the right person in your business who can help them, when they need it.
These are just a few ways in which making the switch from analog phones to a managed voice system can transform your business.
More and more small businesses are migrating to the cloud to help reduce expenses and increase productivity. It’s estimated that by the end of this decade, 80% of small businesses will be on the cloud, doubling the percentage of just a few years ago.
If you’re thinking about migrating your business to the cloud, there are several advantages you should consider:
Costs are lower. Cloud computing is an easy way to save on expenses, by getting more out of your hardware. Using the cloud increases the value of physical server space, which means businesses can accomplish more with what they have, seeing lower power costs as well as decreased maintenance and support costs.
Collaboration is increased. Using the cloud allows your employees to work together more efficiently, as they write, edit and upload documents. Management can access, track and oversee the progress of individual employees and work groups and can limit what employees can access.
Flexibility is enhanced. The cloud allows both management and employees to break away from the confines of the office. Authorized users can access files, documents and information on their computer or other devices (laptop, smartphone or tablet.) Your business no longer needs to be tied down to the old “9 to 5” mentality, while employee creativity and productivity are enhanced.
Integration is encouraged. Working in the cloud opens up new possibilities for integration with cloud-based providers that provide HR, accounting and marketing services. This frees up the time and resources of small business owners, allowing them to concentrate on increasing their revenues and sales.
If your business is new to the cloud, here are some ways you can use this transformative technology to organize information and manage your time and expenses better.
To learn more about the broadband highway that can take your business to the cloud, click here to reach a local Mediacom Business Account Executive.
Cloud services are extremely popular as file storage and syncing alternatives allow for people to bring their files on the go, no matter where they are. This can be a smart choice for small businesses, with employees who may sometimes work at home or need to collaborate with employees who work at the office.
The cloud isn’t the scary beast that many businesses think it is, where files disappear into the ether only to reappear at some other destination. Basically, your files are being kept on servers maintained by a cloud provider, which you can then access from a program or an app from your other devices.
There are of course a variety of different cloud apps that you could use to access files from anywhere. Here are the top four that you can consider as a small business.
Price: free/$9.99 a month or $99 a year
Access: website, desktop, mobile
Dropbox is a popular choice for not only personal use, but businesses as well. As with many of these cloud applications, Dropbox gives you the option of using their website to view or upload files or using the desktop client or mobile app. All basic accounts start with 2GB of free space; upgrading to either $9.99 provides 1TB of storage. Businesses can get as much storage as needed for $15 a user each month.
Depending on the amount of storage you need, you could use the free or paid version; regardless, the same log on can be used with any device on which you install the app.
Price: free/$1.99 or $9.99 a month
Access: website, desktop, mobile
If your business is using mostly Google products or their apps, Google Drive may work best for your business. All users who have at least a Gmail account already have access to the 15GB for free. As with Dropbox, if you want more storage, you can scale up to 100GB for $1.99 or 1TB for $9.99; again, depending on how many files you need to store, 100GB for $2.00 a month is an option.
Google Drive also has the ability to view and upload files from the website, with the added benefit of being able to edit them using Google Docs, as well as downloading the app for both computers and mobile. You can also now send email files from Drive right from Gmail as well as download any attachments you receive to your Drive account.
Price: free, as part of Windows
Access: website, desktop, mobile
A lot has been said about Microsoft and Windows, especially in light of the changes the company has been undergoing for the last few years. Formerly known as SkyDrive (and Live Mesh prior to that), OneDrive is a new cloud app from Microsoft that now comes with the latest versions of Windows operating system, like the recent release of Windows 10.
Like Google, if your company is running on the newer versions of Windows, OneDrive is already installed on your computer and running, with access to the website. In the past, that was as far as you could get, but thanks to new CEO Satya Nadella, you can now get many of the standard Office programs for your smartphone or tablet, for free.
Price: free/price depending on users
Access: website, desktop, mobile
Box is another popular choice for cloud applications, though of the list, Box is geared towards business use. Price is determined by how many employees are using the system, it’s free for one user, offering up 10GB of space and 250MB for file sizes. If that seems like too little storage compared to the other large offerings at free, Box again makes it up by the amount of users that you have in a company.
For 10 users, you can get 100GB and 2GB for file sizes for $5 per user ($50/month), with the most popular being the business for content collaboration and user management.
The big difference with Box versus the others is the ability for admin management, which for the others is usually handled by the user and not say, a network or IT admin.
These are just four cloud applications that you can consider for your small business, making it easier for employees to access the same data, simultaneously no matter where they are – another means of connectivity.
Every day businesses are using app-centric programs in order to get their work done, be it email, web conferencing, CRMs, or video conferencing. These daily activities and technologies are essential and even crucial to ensuring that business can be conducted across cities, states, and other countries, if necessary. It’s also a part of the ever–growing technologies that set the pace for business sustainability and innovation.
But while running these daily apps is a benefit for business, it also often presents the biggest of hurdles, especially if you don’t have the bandwidth necessary to power each and every one. Today, new apps are appearing on business' networks and while some are required to perform the job, others are not, in turn clogging up and slowing down the network. Some of these apps are downloaded onto employee desktops; others are on their mobile devices. Have you ever wondered why every day at 2 p.m. your browser windows paint the screen slowly or the network feels slow? As your employee base becomes younger and more “web savvy,” they listen to Internet radio and stream videos; the appearance of Web Real-Time Communications and more video conferencing on top of streaming are putting a strain on your network’s performance and may be maxing out the connection.
Take for example a small business based art studio with 12 full time employees; the table below showcases examples of the bandwidth needed to power basic business applications on the network for these 12 users.
Mediacom Businesses helps small businesses identify what their day to day operations require in terms of bandwidth so service isn’t latent. We also have the delivery mechanism whether that be HFC or fiber to handle all your technology needs. Different applications warrant different blends of capacity and Mediacom Business can effectively scale their services to manage those requirements and monetize your network performance.
What are the pressures to improve network performance?
Businesses can adapt to meet the high speed connectivity needs of their network – the choice is there with Mediacom Business. It’s important that businesses have a broadband platform that allows for flexibility to scale their Internet needs – as the business climate is always changing and there are a plethora of technologies being introduced each day that can further fuel your business. Which are right for your business? And more importantly which are the applications that foster business growth and create new opportunities. Mediacom Business can be the broadband highway to power each and every application – efficiently, fast and securely.
Businesses need robust bandwidth to drive capacity for video, speed for responsive cloud services, scalability for “Big Data”, and server reliability for workers both in-house and those remote. With advancements in modern technology, productivity and collaboration, even when mobile, are easier than ever. Day to day functions that run on the network such as file sharing, data transfer, video conferencing, HD streaming, mobile devices (BYOD), backups, and virus protection to name a few, all affect the amount of bandwidth each business needs. This will also fluctuate based on the number of employees engaged at any given time, something to consider so your business doesn’t “max out” bandwidth and wonder why data service may be latent.
How much bandwidth does my company really need? Answering this question requires you to take a look at the several key factors that impact your speed and bandwidth requirements and assess your current usage levels for each. The core activities, functions, and technology applications that require an Internet connection, how many employees you have, and how many devices in use will all affect speed and performance. The table below showcases an SMB hospitality business with 50 employees and the amount of bandwidth that is required in terms of upload and download speeds. Looking at each distinctive task, it doesn’t seem like a large amount of speed would be required, however collectively, it ramps up the overall requirement:
The amount of bandwidth a business needs will change from year to year as it grows and introduces more bandwidth heavy platforms. As a result, organizations need to think about both short and long term goals when deciding.
A lot of businesses think they aren’t a “big enough” operation to need fiber data and voice solutions but the beauty of Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions from Mediacom Business is the element of scalability. Once connected to the Mediacom Business “fiber pipe”, turning up bandwidth as your business advances into other platforms is turn-key and seamless. It doesn’t require additional construction or down time. Having that type of agility has pushed many businesses to take a second look at fiber solutions.
Mediacom Business has an array of high-capacity broadband packages to fit business’ needs: whether your business is simply using a credit card machine or conducting e-commerce to moving into desktop virtualization. Our data delivery methods are fast and reliable – it’s simply a matter of matching usage to bandwidth. Let us help you accomplish the most important thing of all: developing a solid plan for future growth. Preparing for future growth will ensure that the business you're running is more successful and capable of adapting to market changes. If you’d like to learn more about Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions and what it can do for your business, click here to contact one of our local Account Executives today.
The internet is the lifeblood of a business, enabling e-commerce, online research, customer interaction, data flow, sharing of files and much more. Connectivity fuels all of these operations and there are many technology delivery methods. But which technology is most superior, and more importantly, which method is going to drive business growth and allow you to venture into advanced platforms that can really sustain your business? We’ll unpack many internet delivery services and highlight the benefits that will serve your business best.
Unfortunately, it’s quite common to see businesses with insufficient internet connectivity. As we’ve discussed earlier in this series, knowing what’s appropriate can be difficult and in some instances businesses may feel their data service is latent when, in fact, they simply don’t have enough bandwidth to power their day to day operations and are simply maxing out their connection. How much bandwidth you need depends on what you are doing, and how many people are doing it. Below is a crash course on the various types of internet bandwidth delivery methods used today.
Problems: Available speeds are below the 50 Mbps threshold. The delivery method requires a shorter distance so data transfer is impacted by subscriber distance from the company’s central office. Therefore, performance degrades markedly and may not be available at all. Distance and peak usage hours on the network will affect service, so consistency will be an issue. DSL is limited in rural areas, so availability and high costs could be an issue as well.
Benefits: High-speed cable is not only able to deliver that 50 Mbps benchmark, but has gone far beyond it. Leveraging DOCSIS 3.0, top-tier cable providers are providing 100 Mbps service today, and speeds reaching 250 Mbps are expected in the near future. High-speed cable is not distance sensitive. Cable-based services have delivered 102 percent of advertised speeds. High-speed cable internet doesn’t degrade over distance and runs over the same infrastructure that brings cable TV to both densely and sparsely populated areas; it is available to a far wider customer base; in cities and rural areas alike.
Cable’s roadmap is ambitious and far-reaching, intended to take speed and reach well beyond what next-generation DSL will offer – the forthcoming DOCSIS 3.1 – is expected to turbocharge bandwidth even more, bringing speeds of 500 Mbps to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) to a coverage area far and wide.
Problems: To achieve any real level of high capacity broadband, users have to purchase multiple T1s which, in the end, can be extremely cost extensive.
The fiber-optic path to the internet is many times faster than even the highest-speed copper internet connections. During periods of high demand for internet access, your business should not notice the internet slowing down. With Mediacom Business’ Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions, businesses can experience high-capacity broadband at speeds from 1 Gig to 10 Gig+ that outperform DSL and T1 delivery methods. Think of it as a business’ own private lane on the highway of broadband.
Benefits: Signal strength does not degrade as quickly over distance. Bandwidth availability is significantly higher, and speed does not decrease as high demands are put on the network. Fiber-optic internet eliminates many latency issues as it is extremely reliable and robust. It is secure, as the only way to penetrate fiber-optic internet is to physically cut the fibers, which will cause the signal to disappear. Fiber-optic internet increases your company's protection against cybercrime, is resistant to interference and is a major cost save since productivity issues attributed to slow or unreliable internet disappear with fiber. Cloud access, from customer relationship management (CRM) tools to data storage, is an important business tool for apps, hosting, and more. 82% of organizations are now using the cloud in some capacity. The speed and bandwidth capabilities of fiber internet mean faster access to your data and applications stored in the cloud. The delivery method is also scalable and bandwidth changes are easy to turn-up as needs change.
Research by Sandisk indicates that slow internet connections cost employees "one week per year of productivity." While the time your teams spend waiting on slow internet can seem minor, it adds up significantly over time. Your internet connectivity should never inhibit productivity. It should be a tool that supports your employees' desire to work productively.
Below is a chart of the most common internet technologies:
|Fiber||optical fiber||100 Mbps to 1000 Mbps|
|Cable||coax cable||512 Kbps to 100 Mbps|
|DSL/ADSL||twisted pair phone line||128 Kbps to 8 Mbps|
|T1||twisted pair, coax or optical fiber||1.544 Mbps|
|Dial-up||regular phone line||
2400 bps to 56 Kbps
Internet speeds are measured in Mbps, or megabits per second. These are related to but different than megabytes, a file size measurement which you are probably familiar with. A bit is 1/8th of a Byte, therefore if you have a 1 Mbps connection, it will take (in theory) 8 seconds to transfer a 1 MB file. This measurement refers to the speed as well as the bandwidth. Think of it as a multi-lane highway, in which you can only go so fast, and the easiest way to get more stuff from one place to another is to add more lanes. That is essentially what increasing your bandwidth does.
A decade ago, most small- and medium-size businesses could get by with an internet connection of 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps). But with today’s usage, the benchmark is closer to 50 Mbps – and very soon, it will reach 100 Mbps. Businesses that don’t have that kind of bandwidth will find themselves unable to fully leverage trends like the cloud and remote access. And to be sure, if they don’t, the competition will. Spending on public IT cloud services – including applications, servers, and storage – is expected to grow from $47.4 billion in 2013 to more than $107 billion in 2017, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Not surprisingly, many business internet customers are already reporting that their bandwidth requirements are increasing by nearly 25 percent each year.
Upload & Download Speeds
Another point to be aware of is upload versus download speeds; in most cases these will not be the same. Internet speeds are typically listed in download x upload, i.e. 3 X .384 – typical DSL speed, meaning 3 Mbps download and .384 Mbps (384 Kilobytes per second) upload. Usually you will have more download than upload speed, but some higher capacity options like fiber optic cable or the older T1 and T3 technologies will give you a symmetrical throughput (same upload and download speed).
Accounting for the Future
As the projections show, networks are increasingly requiring more capacity and 1 Gbps networks are where things are headed. You also need to plan for growth.
Some considerations for IT leaders:
Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth states that internet usage doubles every 12 months. If you need 10 Mbps of bandwidth service right now, next year you’ll probably need 20 Mbps. With IP traffic in North America predicted to reach 49.7 exabytes per month by 2019 (that’s one billion gigabytes), now is the time to evaluate your organization’s bandwidth needs and ensure that your broadband delivery method is able to support business growth.
An increase in bandwidth or making the switch to gigabit internet, allows employees to increase productivity and overall profitability within your organization.
The May 2015 Cisco Visual Networking Index predicted that, by 2019, 80% of consumer internet traffic will be video. Additionally, the growing use of 4K and 8K video will create an even greater demand for bandwidth. Video is one of the most used internet applications today, especially among millennials and in virtual education settings. The need to grease the wheels and hasten video based apps and services has created a demand over the last few years for faster, more reliable internet. The infiltration of gigabit internet to fill this need is affecting the future of organizations in a very positive way.
The infographic below showcases the importance of video based communication today:
Businesses still want face to face interactions and thanks to video communication, that possibility is a reality, especially for businesses with multiple locations. As shown by the image above, most professionals want to have these face to face interactions with colleagues, customers, students, and teachers. Understanding the bandwidth needs of your organization will enable you to maintain the ubiquitous, high-quality connectivity required to support user communications, applications, as well as up/downloads across your location. For colleges and universities, keeping up with student demand and providing enough bandwidth can be challenging, coupled with having knowledgeable staff on hand.
Virtual classrooms and online-learning has grown immensely popular over the last decade, as shown in this infographic:
How Gigabit is Bringing Back the Video Star
Gigabit level broadband capacity provides immediate access to remote servers and cloud based computing services, allowing businesses to be twice as productive. All aspects of a business, ranging from higher-quality videoconferencing, customer service and product development to management and operations benefit from this high-speed internet service. Collaboration between geographically separated workers, students, and teachers is much more in demand and widespread, so this is an obvious plus for organizations that need to facilitate this. Some of the benefits of implementing gigabit internet at your organization include:
Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions from Mediacom Business will satisfy the bandwidth intensive needs of organizations that rely heavily upon video based communications and services, and with noticeably better performance at all times and affordable pricing. Gigabit represents the next generation of high-speed internet. Learn more in our next series: “Is My Business Ready for Gigabit Internet?”
Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2014-2019 White Paper
High Latency vs Low Bandwidth – Impact on Web Performance
2015 Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report
What speeds do I need for Skype, Netflix, etc.
As the digital world continues to expand, so does the demand to connect, whether that’s to devices or each other. For cable providers, DOCSIS technology has become a solution that not only meets the demands of businesses today but is built for the requirements we know tomorrow will bring.
What is DOCSIS?
DOCSIS is the acronym for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. Businesses receive their broadband connection via cable modems. It’s a technology investment that takes connectivity well beyond what phone companies have been traditionally providing businesses. And while DOCSIS may seem like a foreign term in the business world, it’s important to understand the technology behind the broadband path you choose for your business. Different iterations and standards of DOCSIS have been configured as the technology evolves; DOCSIS 3.1 is the latest on the horizon, where the speed capability able to be achieved will be revolutionary to what businesses have been used to from cable providers.
DOCSIS Speed Table
For small to medium sized businesses, when looking at DOCSIS vs. DSL technology, there are important differences to point out. DSL transmits data but is based on technology developed for voice, while high-speed internet delivered by cable companies was specifically developed to transmit data. And the key areas where the differences are evident include the following: Speed. DOCSIS speeds have not only been able to deliver the 50 Mbps benchmark of DSL but have gone far beyond it. And with DOCSIS 3.1, Gigabit speeds will be the standard of capacity. Distance. By running a data connection over that which carries a voice call, does not fare as well. If businesses are located more than a few miles from the phone company’s central office, performance will start to degrade. So while the technology is good for calling a client – it may not work so well for sending them large files or sharing cloud-based data. Consistency. The truest indicator of this factor is when internet traffic is at its peak and the stress on the network is at its highest. The FCC frequently tests this by way of speeds advertised and speeds delivered. In a 2015 study, the FCC noted “some DSL broadband ISPs’ actual download speed falls substantially short of their advertised download speed; the gap between their consistent download speed and advertised download speed is even greater.” Availability. The distance limitations of DSL mean that for a large percentage of a phone company’s footprint, the service will not be available, especially so in rural areas. Since high-speed cable Internet doesn’t degrade over distance, and runs over the same infrastructure that brings cable TV to both densely and sparsely populated areas, it is available to a far wider customer base; especially through the investment Mediacom Business has made in its rural 22-state footprint.
How DOCSIS and Gigabit Work Together
Few internet providers outside of Mediacom Business can deliver the high-capacity speeds of Gigabit and beyond, simply put because this technology is not readily available in rural areas. The network infrastructure Mediacom Business has made in these areas was a proprietary investment having the foresight of where technology could take businesses. And now with DOCSIS, cable providers are on the cusp of offering these same speeds quickly and easily, with a nearly 100x increase in the average data rate. The current version of DOCSIS is 25% more efficient than earlier versions. This makes DOCSIS a good fit for businesses who need the ability to host clear video streaming, video conferencing, VoIP and other business applications without delays and drops.
For our customers in rural communities, not only does this technology provide businesses with access to high speed internet, but it also means that they are able to connect faster and easier, as DOCSIS 3.1 over HFC hopes to go upwards of 100 Gbps in the future. Plus it allows these businesses to compete on a national or global level because they have the broadband needed to create a competitive edge.
Q&As: DOCSIS 3.1
DOCSIS 3.1 Enables Rapid Deployment of Gigabit Broadband
Cox, Mediacom Plot Broadband Speed Increases, as DOCSIS 3.1 Rebranded as Gigasphere
FCC 2015 Measuring Broadband America. Fixed Broadband Report.
We live in a technology driven world, with many of us wanting and needing to be connected at every turn, to every device, and so on. Technology has afforded us the means of innovation and advancement, from healthcare to communication to our everyday business. It is in business that technology has enabled us to garner the best of tech, helping to promote and produce goods and services.
This is certainly true when it comes to agribusiness, where revenues and technology are based within agriculture. Many agribusinesses are in heartlands and farming lands across the US and the growth of technology has given these farmers the ability to do more with their “business”.
In the past, farmers relied on weather and seasons to calculate the best times to harvest or plant crops. Now, farmers are using technology to help them make the best possible decisions when it comes to growing and managing one or even multiple locations. Some of the new agribusiness technologies include:
These technologies, as well as upcoming trends for agribusiness, are giving farmers a new way to farm, produce, and grow their business. But as with the weather and seasons of the past, these technologies need reliability and speed.
Covering the Rural Community
While broadband has been growing in urban communities and cities, it’s been slow within rural towns. An earlier report from the National Broadband Map showed that only 55% of those in rural areas have broadband access compared to 94% in urban areas. This divide is usually because many telecom providers target and install lines within high population density areas.
Mediacom Business knows that for businesses, especially in our rural communities, the need for available and reliable internet is critical. For agribusinesses, this is especially so, as the new technology depends on having fast speeds and a reliable connection to properly and effectively manage their crops and land. As incubator spaces and innovation centers continually emerge, precision agriculture is a hot topic among these startups. Using satellite imagery to help farmers better manage their crops – a high capacity fiber pipe is critical for transmitting data and imagery of this magnitude. In Mediacom Business’ latest partnership with the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia, MO, we see this as a key development in their growth efforts.
Our high speed internet service is not only capable of handling these new tools, but we pride ourselves on being one of the few telecom providers that have deep rooted our high-capacity broadband network into rural communities – giving these areas the same level of internet access one would expect in any major metropolitan area. And we keep on going in an effort to put gigabit internet speeds within immediate reach of more local businesses in our 1,500 communities.
Part of Mediacom’s broader plan is to invest $1 billion over the next 3 years to, among other projects, upgrade and expand its national broadband network to ensure that we are bringing high speed internet to our rural communities. Having also partnered with John Deere in the past to bridge the gap between reliable connectivity and farming operations, this next level technology is only as good as the robust broadband connection behind it.
Back in 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made waves when she banned the company's popular telecommuting policy in order to boost work productivity. Following her company's decision, Aetna, Bank of America, IBM and others also called back in their remote employees. But not everyone has followed suit with these popular companies, especially businesses in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Telecommuting is an important aspect for these businesses - several employees live and work in other counties or states and aren't able or willing to move. As Lynn Manternach, President of MindFire Communications states "What we do is so 'people-based' and we need the best talent. Sometimes the best talent is not in the same city where we have our office. You don't walk away from the talent."
In this article, discover why telecommuting is still alive and well for many businesses, especially for our customers. The one thread that keeps remote employees connected is bandwidth. Whether the team is on a teleconference call or a WebEx of data needs to be shared simultaneously, broadband is fueling those operations so productivity never stops moving.
Does your business have remote employees or the need to connect multiple sites? Make sure your business has enough bandwidth for all locations to access data in real time. Mediacom Business offers that link with internet speeds up to 1 Gig and beyond.
The rise in video popularity isn’t just regulated to mobile channels or devices. Video use within businesses is expected to continue to increase moving into 2019, as the percentages below translate:
The anticipated percentages highlight the ongoing and growing importance of video in the marketplace. Web conferencing, virtual/online curriculum in schools and tele-health services are all built upon video served via broadband. This technology has changed the way we effectively communicate with those around us, especially ones that are remote. Businesses of every sector at one point rely on video in order to collaborate with a perspective client, partner, customer, or colleague.
Video, Video, Everywhere
Video isn’t just useful for conducting meetings with internal and remote employees, 66% of higher education institutions also use video for remote students. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are taking the first steps into telemedicine, where physicians and patients are able to connect visually through video for consultations and even diagnosing symptoms; they are also using video to help educate others in their field.
Video allows the user to convey more emotion than an email, text message, or even a phone call, however assuming the current bandwidth solution is capable of supporting quality video will be a business’ first priority.
Video Needs Bandwidth
With all of the growing use cases for video, broadband networks need to be able to handle the amount of video that’s being utilized – and for these cutting-edge applications, the need is heavy. Businesses, especially ones outside the entertainment or consumer based industries, may have a tendency to underestimate the value or real use for video within their organization, and therefore not plan well enough for bandwidth to support this platform and other emerging technologies. Web conferences and video lectures, for example, at standard definition of viewing would need about 36 Gbps a month, while high definition grows to a usage of 156 Gbps a month on a network.
When you factor in multiple employees accessing and watching these lectures, either for training or education, spikes in bandwidth usage will occur. This coupled with day-to-day activities, such as email, web browsing, VoIP, cloud services and the like – can cause the experience of the dreaded bottle necked, slow network, halting productivity and effectively business itself. But this is not to be confused with the quality of your broadband provider; you simply may not have enough bandwidth to support the functions you are using, therefore causing the lag. The chart below shows the broadband levels needed to support video conferencing or screen sharing which is becoming the preferred method of taking “meetings” with business clients/prospects.
Time is a precious commodity in business. A downloaded replay would take only seconds to retrieve using Gigabit level fiber internet speeds versus the several minutes to hours it would take to access data with antiquated technology. When that's the case, wait time mounts when multiple employees are trying to access video material on a server at the same time and task completion is delayed.
Why Businesses Should Consider Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions
Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions offer businesses the opportunity to venture into new technologies – often ones that are critical to success. Using advanced platforms and applications can take your organization to that next level of innovation. But businesses need broadband capacity in order to do so and the fiber “pipe” delivers that space to utilize many different forms of data retrieval without maxing out the connection. It affords users to be online at the same time, accessing the same data. Gone is the worry of how many people are utilizing video on a daily basis. Streaming, downloads, and uploads won’t impede with cloud backups, regardless of the time of day or how many employees are in the office.
Take for example a school district in the Midwest who is a Mediacom Business customer. One of the district’s elementary school sites loved watching the daily process of a very popular live eagle cam. With all the classrooms wanting to play the content online at YouTube at the same time, the overload of usage completely disabled the data network. Not only did it block each classroom from viewing the eagle cam, but it prohibited other users from downloading online curriculum. The school's IT Director realized the need for more bandwidth to be split between these levels of usage, realizing even YouTube had its place as an important piece of the student’s learning process.
To find out how Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions from Mediacom Business can deliver the scalable broadband capacity your business needs to support video platforms, click here for a free consultation.
The Pokémon Go phenomenon utilized Augmented Reality (AR) and brought some of the biggest retail chains to the table to participate - ones that you probably would have never associated with the Pokémon brand. But the element of Augmented Reality and the technology behind it fascinated businesses as yet another touchpoint to market to consumers. AR superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, in most cases via a mobile device, thus providing a composite view.
Within the same spectrum of technology, Virtual Reality (VR) is based on the diametrically opposite concept. It immerses real people into a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly very real or physical way. Historically known in the world of gaming, AR and VR are now being seen as valuable tools for businesses to enhance interaction with customers and their own employees.
Content and engagement is always the goal toward generating revenue or keeping employee morale high. Businesses can use both AR and VR for many applications and programs, including training, conferencing, and remote work. Coupled with Augmented Reality, the Virtual Reality market could hit $150 billion dollars in revenue in 2020, with $30 billion belonging to VR alone. More than 12 million VR headsets will be sold in 2017 and is expected to reach $407.51 million dollars by 2018.
VR Has Come a Long Way
It may surprise some younger businesses, but Virtual Reality has been around for over twenty-five years. Getting its start in 1991, VR looked to be the future of technology, but in those days, the vehicle just wasn’t up to par for the challenge yet. Processing power, screen resolutions, and more all lacked the power, and bandwidth, we’re used to today. So the idea of VR seemed to disappear until a Kickstarter campaign brought about the Oculus Rift, which was soon purchased by Facebook, making VR a viable business topic today.
These new advances open up new worlds, so to speak – VR can bring us closer to visiting places that were once outside of our reach. A good example of this is the use of VR in education. Many schools are looking at VR to help provide students the ability to travel throughout the universe, immersing them in new learning environments to further their education engagement.
Buffalo Elementary in Davenport, Iowa is one such school who has recently become the first school in the country to incorporate VR into the Next Generation Standards Science Curriculum.
But it’s not just schools that benefit from VR. Businesses can also use VR/AR for a variety of reasons that evoke intellectual engagement and emotional connections.
With so many opportunities to use VR & AR, businesses should also take stock of how these technologies work within their own networks and the heavy need for bandwidth to power them.
Why Bandwidth is So Important
In 2016, telecom equipment manufacturing company Arris predicted that more and more consumers and businesses will want and need even more bandwidth to run applications like this. The CTO estimated that a virtual reality video game, running at 720p might require 50 Mbps, with a 4K VR game going up to 500 Mbps.
This might seem like a lot of broadband speed, but considering that even at a low resolution, a 360 degree experience would still need at least 25 Mbps for streaming and HD resolutions going upwards of 80-100 Mbps.
What most experts believe is that as VR and AR continue to grab headlines and interest, the need for faster bandwidth is paramount. Luckily, if your business is considering using VR, then Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions is the next step your business should take. Speed is an incredibly important component for VR and fiber-optic delivery is the latest in broadband technology capable of providing some of the fastest speeds within the industry.
Mediacom Business’ fiber “pipe” is highly secure and scalable – the symmetrical data throughput, both down-stream and up-stream, is there to support innovative technologies like this and allows businesses to integrate this usage within everyday operations.
VR and AR are still growing for both business and consumers; it’s a technology that can and will create a tremendous amount of opportunities in many industries – from education to finance - the capabilities are wide open. Will your business be taking advantage of Virtual or Augmented Reality and do you have the broadband path to get there?
Move over Silicon Valley, the Silicon Prairie is making its way on the digital scene. No longer seen as a fly over area, cities like Des Moines are playing a part in the technological revolution in this country. One of the ways to level that playing field of competition is broadband. You can’t innovate without having the necessary bandwidth to power technology. New technology ideas are only as strong as the broadband behind them.
The co-founder of AOL, Steve Case, is pushing for this kind of development in the heart of America, acknowledging that these cities can be the center for innovation with the help of successful startups and tech ventures. Incubator spaces are popping up all over the Midwest as a hub for new ideas and emerging technologies.
Last year Mediacom embarked on a 3-year, $1 billion plan to, among other projects, upgrade and expand our national fiber network. It’s these types of investments that are going to put a spotlight on places like Des Moines as a very competitive place to land a business. Cities will be able to offer startups and the like, the type of broadband capacity that those in large metropolitan areas have simply come to expect. Rural America now has the tools to play in that space.
Mediacom Business has worked with technology hubs like the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia, MO and the TechWorks Campus for their Startup Weekend in Waterloo, IA to provide the broadband necessary for these entrepreneurs to turn their innovative ideas into a reality. And the broadband need is heavy, while our Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions platform is pumping speeds of 1 Gig and beyond to maintain the connections needed for these research and development projects.
Check out the conversation the Des Moines Register in Iowa had with this Fortune 500 powerhouse.