NOW it’s time to embrace the fibre roll-out!

fibre broadband

In the last 12 – 18 months Planet IT has seen a huge rise in the demand for better connectivity, fibre ethernet and faster speeds, motivated by the desire to move to resilient cloud-based solutions and the drive for remote working.

Many organisations pre-COVID, were simply “getting by” with copper variants such as FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) and GEA (generic ethernet access). These were previously adequate for the business requirements of the SME market. However, the epidemic has increased the need for reliable, sizeable, and dedicated managed data circuits.

Accessible to the masses

Historically, ethernet circuits or leased lines (as they are commonly referred to) were deemed cost prohibitive to the masses (unless you were a large corporation). But, they relied heavily on available infrastructure, exchange capacity or location. This is no longer the case. In fact, many rural locations are surprisingly well supported. They are no longer suffering with poor speeds or service restrictions, as a direct consequence of outdated equipment or lack of infrastructure in the exchange.

Now’s the time!

With the upcoming switch off around copper-based services, there has never been a better time to review data connectivity in your area.

Currently the UK is undergoing a major fibre roll out utilising underground fibre optic cables to transmit data far quicker and with fewer reliability issues than copper wires. This has resulted in the cost to deploy such services reducing considerably, making ethernet circuits accessible to all, without a high price tag.

Furthermore, many ISP’s will absorb the first £2,800 of ECC’s (excess construction charges) previously passed on to the end user, as these covered the costs to determine the route required to deliver circuits to site.

copper vs fibre broadband

Why Ethernet?

It’s simple! Just look at the benefits:

  • Speed: Synchronous dedicated bandwidth (simply put, you get the same speeds up and down)
  • 99% SLA – Faster engineer response and fix
  • Security
  • Flex up & down to help cope with peak times and demand.
  • Real time bandwidth management and reporting
  • Exchange and Carrier diversity
  • Increased efficiency

As an aggregator, Planet IT offer managed ethernet circuits at a price which do not involve a sharp intake of breath, strong coffee, and a seat!

Challenge Accepted

In fact, why not challenge us to beat your price? We are so confident that we will be able to beat your current price, that if we cannot, we’ll buy you lunch!

Best case scenario, you save on your ethernet. Worst case, you eat for free.

Give me a call on 01235 433916 or email farah.nazir-chapman@planet-it.net… I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

Virtual Roundtable Recap: Facing and Overcoming IT Challenges In Education

Education IT Event

This week, our panel of special guests came together for an educational virtual round table event. Our panellists discussed the challenges they have faced in their education provider and how as IT professionals, they overcame these challenges.

We also opened the floor up to our selected guests so that the panel could try to help them with their challenges.

Our panel included:

David Higgs, Security and Service Experience Centre Lead at Imperial College London

Mike Pearce, ICT Network Manager at St. Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Academy Trust

Graham Rivers, ICT Network Manager Moulsford Prep School

James Dell, Head of Technical Architecture and Education specialist at Planet IT

 

Discussion Points included:

  • The challenges encountered when delivering IT solutions to their organisation
  • How our guests overcame these challenges and turned them into successes
  • New trends & technologies critical for educational IT in the next 12 months
  • The ever increasing threat of cyber attack
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
  • Hiring and building a team on a budget

 

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Remember, if you you have any questions or challenges that you dafe in your Education IT career, then please reach out to James Dell and he would be more than happy to talk you through the solutions he found to any similar obstacles. Call 01235 433900 or email james.dell@planet-it.net

 

Microsoft Teams Webinar Recap: A record attendance & your questions answered

Microsoft Teams Demo

This week, we hosted a Live Demo Webinar based all around using Microsoft Teams as a Unified Communications Platform to replace your existing phone system. We have never had more interest in the build-up for one of our webinars, and the actual event did not disappoint!

We had well over 100 businesses join, many with multiple people to see the power of Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams.

Our experts, Farah Nazir-Chapman and James Dell demonstrated the platform to show just how powerful this tool it. Not only can it completely replace your existing phone system, but they also showed how it can save your business money too.

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Your Questions, Answered.

A sign of a good webinar is the quality of the questions asked at the end. We had 65 questions before we had to call time, otherwise we would have been there all day! What’s more, sometimes on these webinars, you see a drop off towards the end. 98% of the attendees stayed until the last question was answered.

Did you miss some of the answers? Good news. We have compiled them all, merged a couple and got James & Farah to answer them again.

Remember, if you you would like to find out more about Microsoft Teams, or if your questions are not answered below, please visit our Direct Routing For Teams webpage. You can also reach out to your Planet IT account manager, call 01235 433900 or email enquiries@planet-it.net

 

If I get a call to my mobile from someone dialling my company number rather than my mobile direct is there a way of ID’ing this?

If I get a call to my mobile from someone dialling my company number rather than my mobile direct is there a way of ID’ing this?

 

We have a switchboard where we have on the 1st level with 9 option then on some of them we have another menu can the team PBX do this?

Yes, it can do two levels of an IVR/ Automated attendant

 

Voicemail – can you receive the voicemail on an email?  (So you can forward it to somebody else)

Yes, voicemails come in via the Teams app and you can set them to also be delivered to Email in the form of a WAV attachment. Which can be forwarded on.

 

Can you set up hunt groups on teams and can you setup timer so if one department don’t answer within 1 min it will auto call the next group

Yes, You can configure the call queues to fail over to another queue should the one they enter not be able to take the call.

 

Hello – thank you for this very helpful introduction! Do you have guidance available on a document? Looking for something that could be made available to our employees about all the features available. Thanks.

We do have documentation we can share, if you reach out to your Planet IT account manager, they will be able to assist you with getting access to our documentation.

 

Can we configure automatic message for Unknown or Hidden number to say we’re not answering call from them?

Yes we can route the call to a message.

 

Hi, is there feature parity between Teams on Windows and macOS? We are exclusively macOS, are there any caveats to note?

Between the desktop versions of Teams there is now very little in the way of feature difference, with most updates hitting both MacOS and Windows on the same day or same week. The major differences are between Windows and iOS and Android, however this game is also reducing.

 

Does the caller get notified that the call will be transcribed? Do you foresee any privacy issues with this feature?

The caller does not get notified when the call is being transcribed, however there is no legal obligation to do so as it does not fall under call recording as its purely a record of the call and not a live recording. If you wish to record a call a user would be notified.

 

I’m mainly interested in how this would integrate with our current DDI’s etc. is this something you are going to cover?

Planet IT work “port” your existing DDI numbers onto the direct routing for Teams platform.

 

Are Teams physical handsets available?

Yes you can get a range of physical devices that are Microsoft certified for Teams and your account manager can share additional information on these and which versions would suit your needs including the Teams Rooms equipment.

voip and microsoft experts

 

CLI – what options are there for the numbers I can present?  (Rarely in a call centre environment do you want to present the ddi of the agent.)

We activate SIP CLI flexibility, so during the set up we liaise with you and ask which telephone numbers you would like to be presented, this can be either the “bearer” (main number) or a DDI

 

Are you able to choose the data residency for data such as the transcribed calls (to be in the EU)?

Yes as with Microsoft 365 data residency is chosen at a tenant level as is set for the whole of your Microsoft 365 estate, adding Teams voice does not change this.

 

Can existing DDIs be moved over to the Teams phone system?

Yes, your existing numbers can be ported onto the direct routing for reams platform. This does depend on your contractual status and porting agreements being in place.

 

Can you transfer calls to people who exist in a different 365 tenant?  Plus, can you block premium rate, international and other expensive services?  Thank you.

Calls can be transferred out to any number however Teams to Teams tenant calls require both sides to have a valued voice licence.

 

Can the system cover hunt groups and overflow groups?

Yes, you can have hunt groups and these can overflow to additional groups or voicemails

 

Can you record calls?

Calls can be recorded via our call recording partner.

 

Hi all, are you recording the webinar?

Yes, you can view the recording HERE

 

Numbers – Are there any restrictions to numbers you can port into the teams PBX?  How many countries are there local numbers available in?

We can port in international numbers and we have the ability to offer new international DDI numbers. Due to the different porting process and some country restrictions please contact us to discuss this further to ensure that the porting agreements and number availability can be provided for the specific locations required.

 

Are there other additional costs? Call recording?  Office 365 add ons?

Call recording is sold as a separate system, we can provide you quotations for these systems based on your specific needs. In terms of the Microsoft 365 licences their is a single add on which can be added to any Business , E or F Plan.

 

Is the voice license on your system effectively a bolt-on to Microsoft 365 E3?

The system is an add on licence to Microsoft 365 subscription, there are several options for the bolt on depending on your use case and business type.

 

Are there any additional paid options for multi-tiered IVR

There are options available, please contact us to discuss this requirement further.

 

What if our organisation has the full MS 365 integration? Would we still be able to use Planet IT for this phone integration?

Planet IT’s Microsoft DRFT can be added to any existing Office 365 subscription

 

Are offices in different countries all covered under the same system and can we have different phone numbers for each different office location?

Yes

 

What is the teams mobile app version experience like?

The Mobile application of Teams has near feature parity with the desktop version and allows you to make a receive calls seamlessly while on the move.

Microsoft Teams Dial Screen

 

Mobile app – is there a separate Teams PBX app or is it built into the normal app?

The application used on the Mobile side of Teams is the same all that happens is the dial pad is added to the call screen.

 

Another way of asking that is what is required for your system by way of additional Microsoft licensing if we have MS 365 E3 licenses already?

If you already have a E/Business of F licence you need to add the Microsoft Voice licence, which is provided as part of the service this is then backed off by Gamma for the SBC and voice access

 

If I get a call to my mobile from someone dialling my company number rather than my mobile direct is there a way of ID’ing this?

The incoming call will be received via the Teams app and therefore will present as a “teams” call rather than a normal mobile call.

 

Can we configure automatic message for Unknown or Hidden number to say we’re not answering call from them?

Yes we can route the call to a message.

 

Does the caller get notified that the call will be transcribed? Do you foresee any privacy issues with this feature?

The caller does not get notified when the call is being transcribed, however there is no legal obligation to do so as it does not fall under call recording as its purely a record of the call and not a live recording. If you wish to record a call a user would be notified .

 

Are Microsoft Teams physical handsets available?

Yes you can get a range of physical devices that are Microsoft certified for Teams and your account manager can share additional information on these and which versions would suit your needs including the Teams Rooms equipment.

 

Are there published rates for international calls to landlines and mobiles?

A SIP international tariff is available, please contact your account manager.

 

Is it possible to pick up a call from a team members phone? When they are away from their desk?

Yes this is possible via either a quick pick up command or via delegation.

 

How do hardware desk phones integrate?

Microsoft Teams requires a Teams certified handset , we can provide you information of the ones currently on the market. Reach out to your Planet IT account manager for more information.

 

Can existing DDIs be moved over to the Teams phone system?

Yes, your existing numbers can be ported onto the direct routing for Teams platform. This does depend on your contractual status and porting agreements being in place. We require a customer letter of authority (CLoA)

 

Can you describe the process for arranging current numbers and DDI’s that are in use to be ported to Teams please?

Depending on your incumbent provider, we request that you complete a CLoA (customer letter of authority) and providing that a porting agreement is in place we simply port the numbers onto the direct routing endpoint.

 

Numbers – Are there any restrictions to numbers you can port into the teams PBX?  How many countries are there local numbers available in?

This is subject to the range required and the countries requested. Please contact your account manager to allow us to investigate this for you.

 

Are there other additional costs? Call recording?  Office 365 add-ons?

Please contact your account manager regarding call recording costs as this is costed based on the number of users required and whether you require just audio recordings or to capture screen sharing/meetings and chat

 

Are offices in different countries all covered under the same system and can we have different phone numbers for each different office location?

This is achievable, you can have one platform for all users and select different geographic telephone numbers.

 

Are there published rates for international calls to landlines and mobiles?

Yes, please contact your account manager for a SIP international rate card

 

Is it possible to pick up a call from a team members phone? When they are away from their desk?

Yes this is possible via either a quick pick up command or via delegation.

 

Is there a minimum requirement of broadband speed, as some users that live in rural or poor broadband areas might be affected?

2.5Mbps is the recommended minimum connection speed for a user on Microsoft Teams.

 

Can Teams be plugged into CRM systems for caller display?

Yes There are many API based integrations with CRM systems.

 

Is there an option for a reception console, like Mitel 5500, to have a real person filter/direct calls?

You can have an operator type handset if required, alternatively the receptionist can configure speed dials based on the users/ departments for ease of use and transferring

 

Why Microsoft Teams might be the right phone system for your modern business

Microsoft Teams as a phone system

The continued drive to work from home has increased the pressure on all areas of IT within business. This is clearly evident when we look at the situation in many businesses when it come to their existing telephony. Many are simply being reconfigured from the classic “on premise” approach to try and make them work for employees working from home. It may be as simple as diverting calls back out to a mobile phone resulting in tying up two trunks or trying to deploy a soft phone solution the business has never tested. 

We are seeing this across nearly every business who has had a phone system in place for a few years. Modern systems have some flexibility, but their older cousins struggle. They are inflexible and are so office centric that they are unable to function effectively.  In contrast, Microsoft Teams is the platform that many businesses have already adopted for video conferencing, instant messaging and group communication. In comparison the legacy on premise phone system struggles and appears outdated.

How does it work?

We have seen a mass shift in the market with many organisations transitioning their voice calls into Microsoft Teams. Now there are two clear approaches to this, the first is to use Microsoft Cloud PBX system. Microsoft Cloud PBX is technology that was built on the success of Skype For Business. It leverages local break out for calls across Microsoft global Azure network only transitioning to SIP and then traditional calling technology once it leaves the global infrastructure that Microsoft own.

Sounds good right?

work from homeIt does, but it is not without side effects. The key problem mainly being cost. Microsoft don’t do free calls and they don’t do unlimited business packages. Therefore, the second option is to use a 3rd party SIP provider approved by Microsoft to enable Direct Routing for Teams. Planet IT facilitate this through our partnership with Gamma, one of the U.K’s leading SIP providers. By integrating Gamma SIP into Microsoft Teams, it offers all the benefits of Gamma to Microsoft Teams customers, including the ability to access free calls on certain bundles. 

We already use it for messaging and internal calls, but why would I use Teams as my main phone system? 

Well, it’s simple! With staff adoption and understanding of Microsoft Teams up by 80% and into millions of end points, you gain the ability to not only reduce the number of systems you need to support as an IT administrator but, also reduce the number of systems your staff need to learn. Microsoft Teams with Voice enabled is simple and does not change the core function of the software, it simply enhances and extends what the users already have. To add to this, if another business is using Microsoft Teams Direct Routing and you call them, Teams will detect this and leverages point to point digital only calling, (providing public federation is enabled) this can further reduce your costs but, also offer a much greater user experience!

Microsoft Teams Dial Screen

 

But we use Zoom, not Teams?

There is only really one case where Teams is not the right solution for a business and that is where you don’t already use Microsoft Teams and utilise Zoom or Google as your main unified communications platform. When approaching this problem, having made a commitment to another vendor, Planet IT would recommend  looking at a cloud-based phone system which can either be integrated with what you have in place, or simply work alongside. Our dedicated Voice and Connectivity Team can help you find a solution that is right for you in this instance.

How do I find out more?

Microsoft Teams is already feature rich. Add Direct Routing for Teams and it only expands this to a position where not only do you get the best of the platform but empowers you to decommission and move away from systems which don’t support your business currently. The best way to understand Teams as a phone system is to see it in action. Planet IT we are holding a number of live events around Microsoft Teams and its use as a phone system. Sign up for our live event on the 25th February 2021 please click here.  

If you want to find out more about our Direct Routing for Teams Offering you can call 01235 433900 or you can email enquiries@planet-it.net

To see Microsoft Teams in action, with voice enabled, you can register for our Live Demo on the 25th February here

Alternatively, you can contact our architecture team directly via architecture@planet-it.net and one of our team to help you understand how we can fit technology into your business stack.

 

Digital Acceleration for businesses. Why 2020 was just the start

Digital Acceleration

We all saw the scenes in March 2020 as lockdown across the U.K and most of Europe was announced. At a moment’s notice, businesses across the globe scrabbled to build vital communication and digital strategies that could support their business operations.

This for many included the mass roll out of new digital devices, communication tools, work place and data management tools and virtual telephony. At the time many businesses made these changes as a knee jerk reaction, simply to combat the “in the moment” problem. However, this dynamic shift in our approach to working, the working environment and our forms of communication has enabled leaders in business to accelerate IT strategies in a way they never would have been able to if 2020 had been “a normal year”. For many CIO, CTO’s and Technical Directors 2020 marked the beginning of a new chapter and the start of a very different IT landscape moving forward. 2021 is already beginning very much where last year left off we are seeing this continued trend of digital acceleration across the business landscape.

digital transformation Breaking through the red tape

Some businesses when asked about the effect of 2020 on their digital strategies have said they jumped through two years of red tape, internal approvals and cost benefit analysis in two days. This shows the systemic shift we saw almost overnight. This change has seen many business jump from traditional technologies (desktops / servers and onsite telephone systems) to cutting edge technologies emerging across the IT landscape with the likes of Public Cloud, Mix Media Devices and cloud telephony with unified communication.

This trend can easily be reflected in the numbers published by Microsoft in relation to the usage of their communication platform Microsoft Teams which jumped from 900 Million meetings held on the system per day in March 16th 2020 to 2.7 Billion per day by the end of March. That number is yet to drop and if anything will continue to rise as the pandemic runs in course and staff continue to be offered the flexibility of work space.

The Importance Of Being Ready

digital acceleration It is worth mentioning at this point for the business which unfortunately saw their trade days come to an end in 2020. Many had failed to adapt, grow and change before 2020 and where therefore unable to adapt in a way that enabled them to be flexible around the pandemic. For these business, the lack of development of IT systems lead to a perfect storm of spending requirements, insufficient time and a lack of business commitment to IT and digital development.

The importance all business must learn from the events of 2020 is that digital transformation in the modern age is imperative. A business without IT cannot function and the drive of CIO, CTO and Technical Directors has and will always remain in the development, expansion and overall success of a business. They above all others know how critical those systems are.

Unfortunately for many businesses, IT is often considered to be a “cost with little reward” which from last year we can see is ultimately the wrong way to approach the topic. IT is a business enabler and when used as such it can allow all business to overcome situations and circumstances which is never would otherwise be able to.

The right focus

As we move in 2021 with earnest, I am working with all of our customers to enable this continued business growth with the aim of removing the stigma around IT spending. The focus is on the benefits vs the cost rather than the costs vs doing nothing as was so clearly the case for many business in the years leading up to 2020.

If any business wants to strive and succeed in 2021 then the goal must be to continue the path of digital acceleration and put IT as a business focus for all. Remember, don’t just look at the short-term pains. It’s all about how we develop and implement strategies that protect businesses for many years to come.

If you want to discuss your business IT strategy or how Planet IT can help you to accelerate your growth using IT then please call 01235 433900 or you can reach out to me via DM or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

 

Can I get rid of my phone system and just use Microsoft Teams? Of Course!

Can I use Microsoft Teams as my phone system

Struggling with your phone system while your team works from home? Still using a system that struggles with the modern way of communicating, transferring calls and staying connected? Then Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams might just be the solution you are crying out for!

Could it be the right solution… ask yourself these short questions…

👉 Do you already have Microsoft Teams? If you use Microsoft 365, you will.

👉 Are you looking for a straightforward voice solution? The fact that you’re already this far down the article means you probably are!

👉 Do you have a basic requirement to make calls? Receive calls? Transfer calls? … yes to all, right?

👉 Are you still using traditional digital lines? (ISDN?). Are you aware this is being phased out completely over the next couple of years?

👉 Do you require flexibility to add users quickly and effectively?

If you have answered yes to the above, then Direct Routing for Teams is the ideal solution! To help you get a better feel for what this can do for your business, I’ve put together a FAQ to explain.

 

What does Microsoft Teams provide when Voice enabled?

When Planet IT add SIP (IP/internet) trunks to Microsoft Teams, it simply gives users the ability to make and receive calls via the Teams platform.

Your staff will be able to transfer calls, forward calls to voice mail and implement a basic automated attendant, all through Teams. Essentially, it’s a straightforward, cost effective telephony solution for businesses of all sizes, who need to have the flexibility to change the way they communicate and work more collaboratively!

microsoft teams

Will calls be expensive?

In a word, no! Depending on the bundle and the contract term selected, you can reduce your costs overall, as your calls are routed via the internet! So, you get resilience and the call savings!

What about users who require handsets?

All you require is a USB or Bluetooth headset, however, if you have users who prefer a traditional handset on the desk, Planet IT can supply a wide range of Teams enabled handsets for you to choose from.

What about mobile phones? We use them a lot.

It can still be used on mobile, of course! all you need is the Teams App, easy!

It does sound easy, what’s the catch?

No catch. all that changes for you to move to Direct Routing for Teams, is that Planet IT need to move your numbers into the cloud. Just check your contractual status on your existing numbers and we do the rest of the work for you.

Microsoft Teams Training

What about training?

Although Teams is intuitive, if users require training, we can perform this via…. Yes, you guessed it, via Microsoft Teams, or we have a range of easy-to-follow video tutorials for you and your staff to access anytime.

Will there be down time?

It will be minimal. When you move onto any new solution there will be some service disruption, however our experienced Voice & Connectivity team will keep this to a minimum and transition you, hand holding you every step of the way.

Sounds ideal! What do I need to do?

Call our Voice and Connectivity team on 01235 433 900 or speak to your Planet IT Account Manager to discuss this further!

If you want to know more about Planet IT’s voice & connectivity service, READ MORE HERE, or if you want to see the power of Microsoft Teams, check out our tutorial videos HERE

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