Better Solutions for Voice, Data and the Internet!

Author: Greg Page 1 of 2

Internet Access in NM – Fast, Cheap, Reliable – Pick Two!

Got a call from a customer this morning – “The Internet’s Down!”
This was fairly ironic because just yesterday, we had set up a secondary DSL connection from CenturyLink as a backup connection – The culprit this morning – Comcast.
Here is a kind of technical note – there are two ways your Internet can go down:
Soft: Everything looks like it’s working, but it’s not – What’s even worse is that if you call Comcast, they will say “Everythings fine! (like they did this morning)” – but it’s not – what a silly premise – My Internet was working and now it’s not and you all say it is working – I don’t think so! This is also the worst kind of failure because the automated fail over systems can’t usually detect this type of failure – so even though yesterday we had set up the redundant connection, because of the way Comcast was failing, it didn’t switch automatically – no surprise, this is the most common Comcast failure.
Hard: The connection actually goes completely down – the Cable Modem pops a Power supply and shuts off, or the Modem itself quits responding at all – This is much less common – in this case, automated systems work fine and other than a few seconds of no Internet, everything works like it should and you keep going if you have a backup connection. If you don’t have a backup connection, you are down.
So back to the title of this post – Why can’t I get all three? Because Telecommunication Companies are in the business of making money – Services are just the manner in which they collect money. But make no mistake, they are in business to make money – services are just they way they get money from you.
Let’s review what is available in New Mexico from cheapest to most expensive:
DSL – Cheap, Fairly Reliable, not very Fast.
DSL is a technology that uses regular phone lines to enable Internet service – It currently tops out at 80Mbit down (to you) and about 8Mbit up (to the Internet) and is fairly cheap – Around $100 if you are able to get that fast of a connection – however, it is distance-limited – the farther you are from the CO (Central Office) the slower you go. As far as reliability, once it is set up it’s usually pretty stable – MUCH better reliability than Comcast in this market.
Cable Internet – Fast, Cheap, not reliable at all
Cable Internet uses the Coaxial cable that is deployed in most residential neighborhoods in the Metro areas to deliver respectable speeds – typically 100Mbit down and about 10Mbit up and it’s around $130.00/Month. Problem is that it is not available to a LOT of business locations in dense metropolitan areas where it should be – in fact, here in Albuquerque we are constantly trying to get service to new or moved business locations and finding out that there is no service available there. The two major players in Cable in the Albuquerque Market are Comcast and Cable One – when I say their reliability is terrible, what do I mean? Here is a graph from a monitoring application in use at a customer site:

This is the graph for the last two days from a Comcast Connection at a Customer site – it is having all kinds of problems (and always does – Comcast can’t ever seem to get this site fixed!)
Compare that to the Fiber connection below:

This is the premier type of circuit for Business Internet – this is a Fiber Optic circuit at a Data Center and you can see it is working perfectly – as it should.
T1 and Bonded T1 Circuits – Slow, Very Reliable, and Expensive!
T1 is an OLD technology – they have been around for more than 25 years and they are very slow (1.5Mbit) but very reliable – if you combine enough of them (bonding) you can get to a reasonable speed for a small business of 6Mbit (4 Bonded T1’s) but the cost is prohibitive – however, in New Mexico, it is sometimes all you can get. It is also the same speed UP as it is DOWN – this is a good thing for business.
Fiber-Optic Internet – Fast, Reliable and Expensive!
This is the fastest Internet you can get (up to a Gigabit+ – a Gigabit is 1000Mbit!) and like T1 it is the same speed down as it is up – this is GOOD for business connections. But it is even less available than Cable and can cost north of $2K/Month – but this is the best, most reliable Internet you can get.

Cisco VS HP VS Netgear

We are big fans of Netgear’s ProSafe line of Enterprise Network Switches – they are competitively priced, they are easy to administer, and they have a Lifetime Warranty that is solid.
HP Procurve switches have the same warranty and ease of use and updating – they are just way more expensive than the Netgear’s.
Cisco on the other hand – just as pricey as the HP’s, but with none of the ease of Updating – and without a Smartnet subscription, no firmware updates – that means you have vulnerable devices in the field with no security and bugfix updates – no thanks!
Netgear or HP – No Cisco!

Truly – the best use for an old Cisco phone…

Not to be a broken record but…

Reliability on our Linux servers is FANTASTIC!

Let’s Encrypt – Encryption for Everyone!
LOVE these people – SSL Can get pricey – especially if you have many different sites to protect – and most of the competing products (although how do you compete with free?) are REALLY hard to get going – but trust is getting to be a BIG deal out there and both Mozilla and Google have signaled that they are going to start flagging non-encrypted traffic as not safe all the time – more work for the nerds, but well worth it!  See that green lock in the Address bar – Sweet Trustiness!
P.S. – Did I mention it is totally FREE!

So…maybe not the Russians…

A really In-Depth analysis of the data provided by the Intelligence Comunity as far as the Russian Hacking of the last election – I love these Wordfence folks – we just switched to Paid because it is a WordPress-Hostile world out there!  But perhaps not the Russians this time…

RIP Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher - 1956-2016

Sometimes you REALLY make the right choice!

We started looking at Asterisk back in 2004 and had our first commercially installed system at the beginning of 2005 at a small church in Albuquerque.
At the time we were selling primarily Samsung Digital systems and were trying (unsuccessfully) to sell Interactive Intelligence, a Microsoft-Based VoIP Call-Center solution.
We sold quite a bit of Samsung between 2004 and 2007 but by 2007 Asterisk had gotten so good that we dropped Samsung and Interactive Intelligence completely.
When we started selling Asterisk solutions, we usually had to spend 10-15 minutes explaining Open-Source software and that we weren’t charging for the “Free” software and instead were only charging for our time to implement the software and hardware into a cohesive working PBX.
We were rebels – we constantly came up against competitors selling traditional systems that did everything in their power to instill FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in the customers about this “Free-Software” – they would say things like “Who are you going to call when no one takes responsibility for writing the software?” and “It’s free software because no one is willing to pay for it!”.
What drove us crazy then almost makes me laugh now – look how far Asterisk has come!
One of the best statistics I heard yesterday at Astricon-2016 was from the FreePBX folks – quote:
“There are over 600 NEW FreePBX activation’s per day.”
Think about that – in 2004 we were the weirdo outsider trying to implement this upstart FOSS software from an unknown company called Digium and now Asterisk is the dominant player in this space!
When it comes to a VoIP PBX, Asterisk really is the best solution!

Astricon 2016 – Exciting Stuff!

I am attending Astricon 2016 in Phoenix – This is the premiere event for Asterisk Open Source Telephony software and hardware – Check it out here:

Patching – Why won’t people do this?

Microsoft Servers are more reliable today than they ever have been – Anything Server 2008 R2 and above is reliable as the day is long – but ONLY if they are kept up to date with Security and System patches.  This is a No-Brainer for us and has allowed Barking Dog Communications LLC customers to avoid all of the various SQL Slammer/Melissa/I Love You/Heartbleed craziness that plagues the Fortune 500 – and now, yet another reason to pay attention to patching – it is an actual documented and fined HIPAA violation – Check this out:
$150,000 for not patching their machines – how much would it have cost to patch them?  A tenth of that at most – more likely a hundredth!  That was a very expensive decision.

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