Business security voip

Disaster recovery in action – Timico style

It’s not very often I get excited about an ISDN line going down. This is what happened today at Timico Headquarters in Newark. Apparently becausewe are currently going through normal summer weather (that’s normal hot not normal British wet) the BT telephone exchange in Newark began to overheat. The BT response to this was to switch off some kit includiong our ISDN lines. Uhuh.

However fear not dear customer. When you called in you probably didn’t notice because our Disaster Recovery plan kicked in and the ISDN numbers were diverted to VoIP ensuring continuity of service. Hooray!

It is not true to say that this was seamless. It did take us a few minutes to realise that the lines were down and then switch over but the time lost was minimal.

The outage happened at around 14.20 and normal service was resumed at just before 17.00 hours, presumably because the sun had gone over the yardarm and the BT engineers wanted to get away for a cooling thirst-quencher.

broadband Business

Leased Line Business on the Up

Despite the advent of faster (ish) broadband the demand for leased lines is on the up. At least that is a trend we are seeing at Timico. This is evidenced by the statistic that in one day last week we received 32 (that’s thirty two) requests to quote for a leased line from our existing customer base.

You might argue that 32 quotes from a base of ten thousand or so businesses is not much but I’m telling you it is. That is the annualised equivalent of 8,320 leased lines in one working year, assuming no one takes a holiday but doesn’t work weekends.

Now we don’t get that number of RFQs every day, it would be great if we did. Also this is a recent statistic so they will not yet all have turned into orders although I’m sure that a significant proportion will do so.

It does point to a growing demand though. Businesses’ need for stable higher bandwidth is on the up as they have more and more internet (or at least Internet Protocol running on private networks) based communications that they rely on. With the best will in the world broadband (ADSL) is not going to give the same degree of reilability as a leased line, but there again it is significantly cheaper.

One huge opportunity for TImico is the massive installed base of BT leased lines. I read somewhere recently that this amounted to around 118,000 installations. Most of these leased lines will likely be 2Mbps connections that have been installed for donkeys years and are now well out of contract.

You can bet your bottom dollar that BT will not have mentioned that IP bandwidth costs have plummeted in the same timeframe. The chances are the typical BT leased line customer is still paying the same for the service that he or she was five years ago. This represents a serious opportunity for fast growing outfits like Timico.

If anyone out there needs advice on their leased line needs just drop me  line or leave a comment and I’ll sort out an independant assessment.

Business engineering

BT Wholesale Showcase at the Cabinet War Rooms

Went to the BT Wholesale Showcase at the Cabinet War Rooms in London yesterday afternoon. For those of you who don’t know this is the bunker where Winston Churchill and his government held court during times of danger in World War 2.


The room where the showcase was held was lined with a wall of original power control equipment. This mainly consisted of dials and levers and was a huge contrast to the technology in everyday use today. What is more astounding is the fact that I was born only 16 years after they stopped using the rooms. We have seen more technological progress in my one relatively short lifetime (so far) than in the rest of history. When I was growing up it was said that 95% of the physicists that ever lived were still alive.


As for the BT event it was somewhat crowded but it was good to see that they have an active programme to engage with their wholesale customers. It was also a great opportunity to network with industry peers. BT seems also to have a very competent and professional Sales Director in Karen Murray. It is often difficult to get things moving with an organisation the size of BT but they are responding to competition and saying the right things in the wholesale space.

broadband Business

ASA Upholds BT Complaint about Virgin Broadband Service

Virgin has been told off by the Advertising Standards Agency for not telling the truth regarding the speed of its broadband service. Its the consumer versus business ISP proposition again. Virgin didn’t tell users that it caps the broadband service of some users at peak times. I’m sure that Virgin will “get them back” sometime soon :-).

Full story is available on the BBC website.

broadband Business

Internet Bandwidth Usage Doubles Every 18 Months

According to AT&T  their ADSL network bandwidth consumption is doubling every 18 months.


This type of statistic makes life interesting for UK ISPs who currently have to order bandwidth in large increments. This means that effectively they have to order a pipe for only a few users once capacity is reached on their existing infrastructure. What’s more they have to do this three months in advance of when they think the capacity will be required which makes it very difficult to respond quickly when usage trends increment with step functions as new drivers such as BBC iplayer enter the scene.


A consumer ISP will squeeze this capacity to the limit because of the incremental costs involved. Business oriented ISPs have to take the hit because the services they offer have to be of a better quality.


The advent of BT’s 21CN network later this year will make life a little easier though not necessarily any cheaper for the ISP community. ISPs will connect to the 21CN via an Ethernet based HostLink – typically either 1Gb or 10Gb. The up front connection charges for Ethernet products are much lower than for the legacy ATM circuits currently used to link DSL tails to an ISPs network.


The ISP will then pay for bandwidth used on this link rather than having to pay for the cost of the whole pipe. They will be able to order incremental bandwidth capacity with only two weeks notice.


21CN will bring additional benefits in that high speed Ethernet circuits should (eventually) be available almost on a country wide basis with far more cost effective pricing than is currently available.


Incidentally the top five per cent AT&Ts DSL customers consume 46 per cent of its traffic, and the top 1 per cent accounts for 21 per cent all bandwidth. It is easy to see that the industry is going to have to move to an usage based charging model as being the only fair way of doing business.

Business video voip

WWF, VC, HD @wembley

You might ask yourself what WWF has to do with VC and HD? In fact you are probably wondering what the acronyms actually stand for and what have they got to do with Wembley.


We are talking World Wide Fund for nature, Video Conferencing and High Definition. (I knew that do I hear you say 🙂 ) and all three were being discussed at a Polycom seminar held looking down at the magnificence that is  the pitch at Wembley Stadium.


WWF is launching a programme to help businesses cut the number of flights by 1 in 5 and as a leader in the VC game Polycom found it expedient to have representatives along to make a presentation.


Obviously Polycom is using Global Warming and the need to reduce carbon footprints as a sales tool for its VC systems but the cynics amongst you should not poo poo this as it is a perfectly valid/nay sensible thing to do. VC does help cut down on business travel and thus helps save the planet as well as reducing costs.


One of the reasons I attended was to hear what Polycom was doing with Microsoft on OCS. Turns out they make some of the handsets and are producing a couple of VC products (HDX4000 and HDX8000) that integrate with OCS (more details anon I’m sure).


What really interested we was the fact that Microsoft has 11,000 staff working on rich media collaboration, apparently more than the rest of the industry put together. One of the OCS phones doesn’t even have a keypad. Microsoft is saying that you only need your desktop. The Polycom perspective on this is that businesses haven’t gone for desktop VC because of the difficulty of maintaining dispersed resources. It’s hard to see Microsoft getting this wrong.


A number of OCS case studies were presented. Gibson guitars reduced calling costs by 75% using OCS.  Prodavka reduced phone costs by 50%


There were lots of other interesting facts being bandied around:


  • China is the second biggest market for VC behind the USA
  • The biggest issue facing adoption of VC is the ability to reserve resources. ie room booking
  • The average HD system cost is $8k cf $200k for telepresence.
  • In 2008 there will be 1500 telepresence systems sold worldwide. By 2012 this is expected to grow to 17,000.
  • Interoperability between different vendor systems is still an issue
  • 1 long haul flight is equivalent of 12 months driving from a carbon footprint perspective
  • Air travel is the fastest growing contributor of CO2 – 3% today, 25% by 2030
  • The fastest ways of reducing CO2 generation include power saving data centres, extending networks to home workers and increased usage of collaboration and content sharing tools (video and voice conferencing) as alternative to travel.
  • The M4 motorway at Slough is operating at 150% capacity
  • The average traffic speed in London is 8 mph – no increase since the horse and cart !
  • PWC avoided 1.1 million miles of travel through use of VC resulting in the saving of 198kg of CO2
  • BT has claimed £238m benefit to their business by use of VC – £100m based on travel cost benefits and the rest based on productivity improvements including reduced staff sickness
  • Nortel has saved $60k a week on travel due to telepresence with 10 systems worldwide
  • A Yougov survey in 2007 said 37% of face to face meetings were deemed unnecessary
  • If European companies cut travel by 20% there would be a saving of 22m tons of CO2 a year

Finally Polycom played some impressive videos including