New Office

New Office – A moving story

Just imagine: it’s your first day in a brand new office. The desks are in place, the PCs up and running, customers have been informed – but your phones aren’t working. This is a major crisis for any company that depends on calls or the internet for its business.

If you’re moving to a new office, there are 101 things to organise, cancel, pack and arrange but your phone lines and numbers are one problem you can be totally relaxed about.  Deep Blue is experienced in ensuring a smooth transition between locations, taking over the communication with Openreach and ensuring all your services move with you.

With a range of continuity options, project management and experienced support we take the stress (well some of it at least) out of moving office.

Just let us know when you are moving, where you are moving to and which lines and services you will need and we can do the rest. Any additional costs are quoted in advance and we will keep you informed of any engineer visits and installations.  So if you are moving or adding new offices contact us today for valuable advice.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery – One less thing to worry about

Why is disaster recovery important? Well did you know that 80% of businesses affected by some kind of disaster either never recover or close within 18 months of reopening?

Or that the average time it takes for a business to get back up and running after a disaster is 9.4 days?

Statistics like these are the reason Disaster Recovery is something all businesses should think about.

This is why Deep Blue provide a range of products and services which ensure disaster recovery measures can be put into place quickly and easily. They can be set up in advanced and because they are controlled through an online dashboard, you can manage them from anywhere with an internet connection.

With the Automatic Failover features in Horizon and InBound, you can put measures in place so that if there is a problem with the normal line, such as a fault, outage or damage, the system will automatically divert to your specified failover, such as a mobile or alternative landline.

You can also set up invoked plans so that if your office is rendered inaccessible, such as by heavy snow, roadworks or strike action, you can have your calls routed to another site at the click of a button.

Customers with Horizon or InBound- Contact Pro also have the option of setting up a staff emergency number, which can be used to inform of the effects of any disaster. If your area is affected by something such as flooding or heavy snow, you can set up a recorded message on the emergency line which staff can then listen to, to find out if your site is open before making the journey there. This is also a useful tool for schools who can set the number up for parents to ring.

Disaster Recovery measures allow you to prepare for many of the obstacles that can hinder the running of your business. Floods and heavy snow are now common features of winter and cost businesses millions of pounds every year, severe roadworks and strike action which impede staff getting to your site can bring your business to a standstill. But with features rich hosted telephony you are always prepared.

Contact us today on 0333 240 9100 for a complete review of your company’s disaster readiness.

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Stay Scam Safe with our top tips

Telephone scams, which target both business and residential customers, are always a nuisance. Here are some top tips to help you stay scam safe:

Stay Scam Safe

Don’t get caught out

Don’t trust the number on the display

Scammers are able to present numbers to make it appear like they are calling from the company they are claiming to call from. A legitimate company will always be happy for you to end the call and call them back.

If you answer a call and it is an automated message giving you the option to press a key to call back: don’t!

You have no way of verifying what number you will then be connected to. This leaves you unable to verify if you are being connected to the organisation or company that the call claims to be from. You may also end up with a large bill – many scams use this method to route you on to a premium rate number which generates charges that go straight into the scammers pockets.

If you do decide to call a company back, ideally call from an alternative number

If this is not possible then it is best to wait a while before using your line to dial out. Scammers have been known to keep lines open so you think you are dialing out to the legitimate organisation, but instead are still talking to them. They have even been known to play dummy dial tones down the line.

Never allow these callers to talk you through installing anything on your computer

Deep Blue and many other companies do, on occasion, use remote desktop facilities to carry out work on customer’s behalf. We will never contact you out of the blue to do this. This is only ever done on a prearranged basis. If remote works are needed we will agree a date and time with you in advance and give you details of the engineer who will be contacting you.

Deep Blue will never call you asking for immediate payment over the phone

If an invoice should fall overdue we will send notification to the registered accounts contact advising them of this, along with details on how they can pay.

Deep Blue will never threaten to immediately cease your service due to payment or usage issues.

We always endeavour to work with our customers to resolve issues before they reach the point of having their service suspended. On the rare occasions that we do have to suspend a service we always provide written notice of this before it happens, along with details of how to prevent this from happening.

Use the resources available to you to Stay Scam Safe

If you are using a landline: make sure you have registered for TPS. This can’t stop all nuisance calls getting through to you but it can reduce the number. For customers on the Horizon platform, the blacklist can be used to block nuisance numbers. Check with your provider to see what kind of fraud protection services they have in place. At Deep Blue we work with our carriers to provide a range of added safety services on our lines as standard. These services monitor your call traffic and can alert us to any suspicious activity. They can even automatically apply temporary call barring to limit your exposure should you get hacked or scammed.

To discuss your telecoms, contact us at theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk or on 0333 240 9100. If you would like to know more on how to stay scam safe, the Met police have a number of resources available like their Little Booklet of Phone Scams.

 

All that's left to say

All that’s left to say….

The Christmas jumpers have been worn, the festive call plans activated and our little Elves have now gone home. So all that’s left to say is…..

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all of our customers!

We will be back in the office on Thursday 2nd January ready to hit the New Year with a bang. Whatever your Business’ Resolutions are, Deep Blue will be here to help you and your business shine!

All that's left to say

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Our Christmas HO-HO-HOpening hours

Our Christmas HO-HO-HOpening Hours at Deep Blue

Monday 23rd December – 9am until 5pm
Tuesday 24th December – 9am until 12pm
Wednesday 25th December – Closed
Thursday 26th December – Closed
Friday 27th December – Closed
Monday 30th December – Closed
Tuesday 31st December – Closed
Wednesday 1st January – Closed

We will be happily back to work on Thursday 2nd January – 9am until 5pm

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During the festive shut-down, EMERGENCY SUPPORT is available. Please leave a message on the number below and a member of our team will be in touch.

0333 240 9100

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Are you winter weather ready? Six things to consider

As the nights draw in and the days get colder it’s time to make sure your business is winter weather ready.

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Do you have a back-up plan?

When bad weather strikes it can cause havoc. Blocked roads and cancellations to public transport can leave you and your work force out in the cold in every sense! Broken heating and burst pipes can leave your office unusable. So, are you prepared should the worst happen? Will you still be able to answer your calls and access your emails?

VoIP services from Deep Blue all have back up options. Some, like Horizon and InBound, can even be pre-set to failover automatically if they detect a loss of service at your site. Make sure you know what failover options your set up has and how to invoke them if needed.

If you are not sure what failover options you have or if you want a refresher on how to use them then get in touch, a member of our friendly team will be happy to go through your set up with you.

Heating

As the temperature goes down, the thermostat goes up.

There’s nothing like the feeling of coming into a warm room on a cold day but while you may love the heating, your office electronics may not. Before it gets too cold, have a quick check of your office to make sure your equipment is safe.

If you have radiators, make sure you don’t have electronics stood next to or directly above them. Check to make sure leads and cables aren’t resting on any device that may get hot. Have a look at your comms cabinet, is there anything blocking the vents on it that could cause things to overheat? Now might also be a good time to give the vents on your PC a quick clean up to.

Oh, and if you are using portable heaters, just make sure when plugging them in that you don’t unplug anything you need (it happens more than you might think!).

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When the going gets tough, you can’t always get going.

How do your staff get to work? Have you thought about what you might do if there are road closures or disruptions to public transport?

Consider planning ahead with a carpool plan. Arrange groups or pairings who can offer lifts should other forms of transport be unavailable. Make sure that your car is winter weather ready too, check it is in good running order and consider popping some extra layers and snacks in the boot in case you get caught anywhere.

If the weather looks really bad, consider ways of enabling your staff to work from home.

Supplies

Supply and demand.

If you rely on deliveries, have you considered what might happen if these are disrupted?

Are there alternative jobs or projects staff can work on if you run short of anything? Can you order extras of anything to keep in stock to tide you over? Are there plenty of teabags and biscuits in the kitchen?

Contact

Don’t be a stranger.

You’ve had a think about how you can stay in contact with your customers but what about your staff?

A dedicated DDi number given to staff only will allow workers to call and let you know if they are running late or unable to get in. If you have to close for any reason you could record messages on here for staff to listen to to keep them up to date, this can be especially useful if you have people out in the field like drivers or care givers who may plan on popping in unexpectedly. Outside of winter it can be used for staff to contact you if they are sick or for you to provide general updates that you don’t want other people to hear.

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Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year when festivals and events can start to fill up your calendar.

With Christmas falling on a Wednesday it is worth thinking about what days and hours your office will be open. What will you do when the office is closed? Will you send calls to voicemail, leave a message to say you are shut or do you need to divert your calls for emergencies? Have you thought about how you will notify your customers of your Festive opening hours?

Many of our services offer a range of options to manage your calls during this time. Some like InBound and Horizon can even have schedules created so that numbers divert automatically. See our knowledge base guides for help with setting up schedules for Horizon and InBound.

If you use Horizon hunt groups, don’t forget you can easily add and remove users. That way if staff are away you can take them out of the hunt group until they get back.

Our staff are happy to talk to you about your options for managing your calls over the holidays. We also understand that you can’t always deal with these things by yourself, which is why we are happy to pre-programme any changes for you, we just ask that you please let us know as early as possible so we don’t get a mad rush last minute!

If this list has given you food for thought and you would like to make sure your business is winter weather ready then why not get in touch on 0333 240 9100 or by emailing theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk

 

 

freedom, work anywhere, VoIP

VoIP – 9 reasons to make the change now

Making changes when you have an established business is always difficult, this is especially true when it comes to something as critical as your telecoms. Ifyou’re not sure whether you are ready to take the plunge with VoIP, here are 9 reasons that might persuade you that now is the time to make the change:

Flexibility

Freedom from fixed lines!

freedom, work anywhere, VoIP

Freedom from fixed lines

Take your numbers with you if you move site with no delays: simply uplift your equipment from one location and connect it in another. Choose your number; select the area code you want to use, set up blocks of numbers, add additional numbers whenever you need them.

Manage more than one business? Control all your calls from one place. Set up numbers and call plans for targeted campaigns and special promotions to track call volumes. Manage calls for your London sales office, your Leeds tech team and your Manchester warehouse all from one online portal.

Managed Transfer

With full training included as part of your setup, Deep Blue make sure that you hit the ground running when you switch to a VoIP system.

Pre-build and test set ups allow you to get your call plans in place before your numbers move. With options to have your telephone numbers migrated at fixed time slots or even out of hours, impact to your business is minimised.

Growth

Fully scalable solutions.

Systems that are designed to grow with your business. Get new staff set up quickly and easily. Adapt your call routing to suit your needs. Move users in and out of hunt groups with a few clicks to manage busy periods and promotions.

Security

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Concentrate on growing your business with the peace of mind that comes from a secure, feature rich VoIP solution.

Built in peace of mind.

Built in fraud protection monitors your call volumes 24 hours a day to keep you safe from potential fraud. Sending out alerts and even automatically applying call barring, it limits your exposure should the worst happen. Multi-layer security protocols and compulsory passcodes close off the hackers most common routes of access.

Features

With a range of features available, even on entry level setups, VoIP solutions from Deep Blue offer so much more. You can build call plans, create Hunt Groups, even create your own auto attendant. As your business grows, so too can your telephony. Call queue features and wall board integration make building your own call centre a breeze.

Need to be MiFID II compliant? No problem! Feature rich call recording keeps your customers and business safe.

By taking advantage of the option to self-manage you can control all your telephony functions in house. No more waiting around for engineers and call out charges.

Continuity

Get disaster recovery that kicks in automatically, rerouting your calls to keep you up and running. No need to rely on the local exchange or your onsite system to divert your calls.

Send calls to mobiles or alternative phone numbers. Change your voicemail message from your mobile or home phone to keep customers informed. Get new equipment delivered the next working day*.

Mobility

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Work from home

Free yourself from the desk.

Set up home workers with their own handsets so they can work as if they were in the office. Use desktop soft clients and mobile apps to make and receive calls wherever you are. Ma

nage your DDi with just a few clicks.

Your workplace is wherever you want it to be.

Cost

If your business grows faster than you expect and you need to increase your call capacity, traditional setups like ISDN can throw up all kinds of unexpected costs. Relying on Openreach to install, there are both activation and engineering charges which can quickly mount up. And that’s before you even get into the time costs.

With VoIP solutions from Deep Blue there are no activation fees for new SIP trunks and if you have a compatible set up, they can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

Withdrawal of the PSTN

Things are changing.

VoIP handset

Things are changing!

From 2023, Openreach will stop selling ISDN lines and from December 2025 it is their intention to fully withdraw the PSTN network: ISDN included.

While that gives businesses plenty of time to make the change, when you consider that 16 million lines and channels will need to be migrated to alternative products it’s worth start

ing to look at other options sooner rather than later. That being said, there is no need to panic or rush to make the change (as some providers would have you believe!).

Our article ISDN withdrawal – the key questions answered has more information about the withdrawal and it’s potential impact.

If all of this has got you thinking maybe your business is ready to take the next step then speak to Deep Blue. We’ll go over all the details with you, arrange a site survey if needed and give you all the information you need to make the decision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*When ordered before 2pm, subject to conditions.

 

 

secure telecoms

The first telecoms fraud and the lessons to take from it.

The First Telecoms Fraud

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Secure Telecoms

In the 1830s, two French brothers: François and Joseph Blanc, committed the first telecoms fraud.

The brothers were bankers working at the stock exchange in Bordeaux, trading primarily in Government bonds. The movements of these bonds were influenced heavily by what was happening further North in Paris. There was one problem though, messages on these market movements took about five days to reach Bordeaux. Anyone who could get details on the market movements ahead of their rivals stood to make a fortune. Many had tried, even using carrier pigeons. The Blanc brothers came up with a way of sending messages by ‘hacking’ the telecoms network of the day.

At the time France had the first National telecoms network , although it looked a little different to the telecoms networks we think of today. Instead of copper cable and distribution points, the French system used multiple series’ of towers with huge wooden signalling arms on the top to create an optical telegraph. Through various levers and pulleys, the arms on top of the tower could be moved into different  positions to signify letters, numbers and even whole words. Operators in each tower would maneuver the arms of their tower to match those of the adjacent tower, sending messages down the chain like a Mexican wave. The first problem for the Blanc brothers was the Network was only for Government use and on the line from Paris to Bordeaux there was a station part way along where messages would be checked so any message snuck in at Paris would be intercepted and removed long before it reached Bordeaux. The second problem was that, due to the sensitive nature of the content being sent along the line, only operators at the start and end of the routes knew what the signals meant. There was one exception to this: the signal which meant ‘backspace’. If a signaler made an incorrect sign, they could follow it with backspace, letting the end tower know to disregard it when the message was decrypted.  It was this that the brothers used to get their messages.

A contact in Paris would note movements in the market and send these with a messenger to a tower in Tours, South of where messages from Paris would be checked (problem 1 resolved). Here a tower operator (who had been well bribed) would convey these movements by putting intentional errors into messages that were being sent (problem 2 resolved). A third conspirator based near the final tower in Bordeax would watch the incoming message, keeping a look out for the error. Whatever signal preceded the backspace signal represented how the market was moving. when the message was decrypted at the final station in Bordeaux the erroneous signal was removed and no one was any the wiser.

The fraud worked for two years and, despite their rivals suspecting something was happening, the actual means of their success was only uncovered when one of the bribed signalers confessed all on his death bed (some reports say this was due to guilt, others that it was try to recruit his replacement). The brothers and their co-conspirators were arrested in 1836 but it seemed luck was on their side once again as, despite the towers being for Goverment use, there were no actual laws in place prohibiting their use for the sending of personal messages. The brothers ended up walking away free men (although the others weren’t so lucky because there were laws against taking bribes) and new laws were quickly put in place.

So what relevance does this hold for businesses today?

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Where’s the weak link in your chain?

While the ways and means may have changed, telecom fraud is as much an issue now as it was back in 1830’s France. Here are some of the lessons we can take from the first telecoms fraud:

  • Just like modern ways of sending data, the optical telegraph used a form of encryption to protect the content being sent along it, but all it took was the one known signal – backspace – for the hackers to find a way to infiltrate the network. It only takes a small flaw or weak point.
  • The Blanc brothers plan may seem like a lot of effort just to get very basic messages BUT the pay off was huge. It is the same for today’s hackers. While it may take a fair bit of work, a compromised telephone system can generate tens of thousands of pounds in revenue in a very short space of time.
  • Ultimately the weak link in the optical telegraph was the people operating it. A few bribes and the whole system was compromised. While bribery may not be the weapon of choice nowadays, people are still often a systems vulnerability. Using insecure passwords and codes (1,2,3,4 anyone?), revealing passwords to fraudulent callers and even malicious action from individuals against their own employer are some of the most common ways fraud happens.
  • Laws aren’t always able to protect you. At the end of it all, even though the brothers were caught red handed, they got off free because of the laws and regulations of the time. While there are laws against hacking in place now, many fraudsters are not convicted as they operate abroad, away from the reach of the law. On top of this, if you are hacked you have to pay any call charges generated by the hackers and then attempt to claim them back. If you don’t, you could be the one in trouble with the law.
  • At Deep Blue we try to do all we can to support and protect our customers. From expert engineers to help keep your telecoms and IT systems safe, fraud prevention plans on our hosted and IP products, call barring options and much more. We can’t stop fraud, but we can learn from the mistakes of the past to try to build a more secure future.

 

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UCI World Road Championships in Yorkshire

This is a reminder to all our Yorkshire based customers that the UCI World Road Championships will be taking place at the end of this month. From the 21st to the 29th September there will be road closures throughout Yorkshire to accommodate men’s, women’s and para-cycling events.

On the 21st and 27th of September, the action will be passing right by Deep Blue‘s very own home town of Wetherby!

Details of all the UCI World Road Championships routes and closures can be found on the Yorkshire 2019 UCI website. If you are affected by any of the road closures, or maybe just planning to pop out for a minute to watch the race, remember to plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss out on any important calls.

 

Green fiber optic background.

ISDN Withdrawal – the key questions answered

In this article we answer some of the key questions you may have about the upcoming ISDN withdrawal and the wider closing of the PSTN.

What is the PSTN?

The Public Switched Telephone network or PSTN currently forms a large part of the UK telecoms infrastructure. It is made up of copper telephone lines, fibre optic cables, microwave transmission links, satellites, undersea telephone cables and mobile networks. It used for several functions, including the making of calls using analogue voice data and Supporting digital services such as ISDN.

Why is the PSTN being withdrawn?

According to Openreach:

‘the equipment which runs the PSTN is ageing and will reach its end of life by December 2025.  This means the analogue telephone voice services that are reliant on this network will no longer be available……. Spare parts are becoming out of manufacture and, additionally, many of the people who designed, built and operated the system are retired or close to retirement so skills are increasingly scarce.’

The current PSTN network will be replaced with a fibre and VoIP network.

What products will be affected?

The PSTN network currently supports a number of products which, when it is withdrawn, will no longer be available. The key one which will affect business customers is the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). Many companies have telephony systems which use either ISDN2 or ISDN30 channels to make and receive calls. Over 16 million lines and channels are affected by the swicth off and will need migrating prior to 2025.

When are the services being withdrawn?

Openreach plans to stop allowing the connection of new PSTN services, like ISDN, from September 2023. All connections will be finally switched off in December of 2025.

How will the switch off be managed?

This is still an ongoing discussion. Openreach are in regular discussion with Ofcom and the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA2) about this process. The Federation of Communication Services (FCS) is also involved in these discussions. As a member of the FCS, Deep Blue is part of the wider conversation about how the withdrawal will be managed for communications providers and their customers.

What alternative products will there be?

Openreach are currently in the process of introducing a range of new services alongside some of their existing ones to ensure internet access is available once the PSTN is discontinued. From there, call traffic will be handled as Voice over IP (VoIP). This basically means that your voice call is sent as bits of data via your internet connection. If you are using SIP trunks, Horizon or InBound then you are already making calls via this technology.

I’m using ISDN lines, should I make the switch now?

As always when big changes are happening, some companies use the uncertainty for their own gains. We have already seen customers who have received communications, both at their business and at home, implying their connectivity is under threat and they should move now before it’s too late! This, luckily, is not true. There is still almost five and a half years until the PSTN is deactivated so while it is something to start giving thought to, it is not a reason to rush to make changes.

There are, however, plenty of other good reasons to make the switch. Keep a look out for our article ‘ISDN to VoIP- is it time to make the change?’ coming soon. In it we will detail the many benefits of switching to a VoIP solution: like potential cost savings, resilience and features.

In Conclusion

Many companies are already taking advantage of digital services which will serve them now and after the switch off. For those that aren’t, there is plenty of time and plenty of options for them to make the move to. Openreach, the FCS and service providers like Deep Blue are all working closely to put plans and procedures in place to manage the switch.

Deep Blue customers can rest assured that we will be on hand to make the change as easy and stress free as possible.

Have more questions, want to get ahead of the crowd or keen to start taking advantage of VoIP for it’s many other benefits? Contact Deep Blue today on 0333 240 9100 or by email to theteam@deepbluetelecom.co.uk