Mandatory State Security Licenses in NJ & NY

Direct inward dialing (DID) is a service provided by a dial tone carrier or communication service provider. Typically the carrier allocates a range of telephone numbers that are routed to a company’s existing dial tone in its phone system. DID service allows an outside caller to directly reach an extension (or group of extensions ex. Service dept.) of an office without the assistance of a receptionist or automated attendant by assigning DID numbers to a business. DID numbers have become important in IP communications in connection with SIP trunks and hosted phone systems. To learn more about DID service please click here. There are several advantages to using DID numbers.

Local Presence: Obtaining DID numbers can offer a company the ability to appear to be a part of the local community but yet not have a physical location in the area. Customers typically prefer to conduct business with local vendors because it offers a higher level of comfort; close access, faster service and more accountability. If you use DID numbers, your telephone number is no longer restricted by your geographical location. For example, your business office is in New Jersey but you want to seek clients in New York. You can have your dial tone carrier provide a DID telephone number that is “local” to New York (a 212 area code) and have it forwarded to your PBX system in New Jersey. Potential clients seeing this telephone number advertised will get the impression that you have a local presence in New York. If you have local numbers across multiple locations, you can increase your probability of getting calls for new business.

Cost Savings: There are several cost savings associated with DID numbers. If your business has multiple locations, you can save money by investing in a single phone system, installing it at the main location. Utilizing IP technology and DID numbers, you can install IP phones at the remote locations and have DID numbers local to each location assigned to your dial tone at the main location. This eliminates the cost and maintenance of a PBX at each site and the associated monthly dial tone bills.

Lower labor Expenses: DID service can lower your labor costs by minimizing receptionist duties. If you assign DIDs to every employee, any caller may directly reach their intended party by dialing the DID of the employee, thereby eliminating or minimizing the duties of an operator. Rather than answering every incoming call, the receptionist can be reached only when needed by the incoming caller. This enables the receptionist to attend to other duties during the day.

Efficiency: These days, calls want to reach their intended recipient as fast as possible. Callers do not appreciate being placed on hold, listening to an automated attendant, or going through several option prompts to reach the employee. Many do not know or recall the extension of the employee and get irritated when requested to dial the party’s name, especially if it is the last name. Assigning DIDs to every employee, gives callers quick and direct access to each employee. Hold times will be shortened, caller frustration will be minimized and telephone traffic will be managed more efficiently.

Higher Customer Appreciation: Last but not least, clients tend to feel that they are getting a better level of service when they are able to directly reach an individual. There is a more personal component when you call the employee and not the company.

In summary, businesses are choosing to incorporate DIDs into its communications solution to gain a competitive edge.

Many of you may have a PRI or a T-1 circuit connected to your telephone system as your main source of dial tone. A T-1 has 24 channels (trunks) and a PRI has 23 channels for voice communications. Each channel serves as a single telephone trunk/line and can conduct a call with the outside world; it is the same as having 23 or 24 separate phone lines. Unlike traditional analog (copper) lines, telephone numbers are not assigned to each channel. Going forward we will refer to both types of circuits as a PRI.

What happens if this PRI circuit goes down? You lose your ability to make and receive calls. This can be disastrous to your bottom line because you have the potential to lose money and customers. There are several points of failure; the carrier’s central office, the cabling from the central office to your location, carrier provided equipment and your telephone system. If any of these points fail, callers will hear a ring with no answer or a fast busy. Even worse, they will not reach your office. The worst possible outcome is that the caller is impatient or thinks you are out of business and calls another vendor.

There are some ways to minimize this potential business nightmare.

First, you can install back up telephone lines from a different carrier that are different in form (technology); i.e. copper, FIOS, cable or SIP phone lines. This way if the PRI goes down, you still have alternative dial tone connected and working in your phone system. Once they are connected to your system, you have your PRI carrier program your PRI with direct trunk overflow (DTO). In the event of a PRI failure, all calls made to your main telephone number will automatically be forwarded to the backup lines in the phone system. In this scenario, the number of back up lines connected to the system will limit the number of incoming simultaneous calls.

With DTO, there should be minimal disruption in service. Keep in mind that you may only receive as many calls as the number of backup lines in the system. If the number of incoming calls forwarded exceed the number of backup lines, the callers will hear a busy signal because there are no open lines to reach your telephone system. For example, if you have 4 backup lines in the system, the fifth incoming call cannot reach you phone system and you will not get that call. Typically, we suggest 4 backup lines because circuits are usually not down more than 1 hour. Please keep in mind that some carriers charge a monthly fee for DTO but it is well worth the cost if you want to ensure the continuity of your business.

Another strategy to maximize the number of incoming calls received during a PRI outage is to have Direct Inward Dial (DID) numbers configured on your PRI. In addition to a company’s published main telephone number, a PRI circuit can provide a block of telephone numbers for calling a company. Much like assigning an email address to each employee, each DID serves as a dedicated telephone number assigned to an individual employee. It allows an outside caller to directly reach the employee’s extension without the assistance of an automated attendant or operator. For more information on DIDs, please see this blog. Once employees have assigned DIDs, the PRI carrier can program DTO for all of the DIDs. Upon a PRI failure, each DID is forwarded to the employee’s cell phone. While these calls will not be routed to the phone system, at least they will be answered by the intended recipient or the employee’s cell phone voice mail.

Take note that not all carriers will provide DTO to multiple alternative telephone numbers. If they do, you should find out if there is an additional charge and whether it is automatically effectuated upon a PRI failure. Some carriers that offer this option may provide the service but it will not be automatic; the carrier may require the customer to visit a portal to initiate the call forward for each telephone number (DID).

If you choose not to pay the monthly fee for DTO, you have the option to call the carrier when you realize the PRI is down. However, keep in mind that it may take a bit of time for you to realize the outage and then to reach the carrier to effectuate the call forward (DTO). Some carriers will not commit to implementing the call forward immediately, claiming it takes some time to process the request.

If you already have DTO service on your PRI, we highly recommend a call to your PRI carrier to confirm the telephone number assigned for the DTO upon failure. We know of at least one client that was paying the monthly fee for DTO but the carrier failed to program the call forward telephone number in the DTO service. Unfortunately, this came to light when the PRI failed and they were not receiving the calls on the backup lines installed in the system. It is also imperative to confirm they have the correct telephone number for DTO.

Take into consideration that there are carrier charges for DIDs and in most cases, DTO. In addition, there may also be equipment and/or labor charges from your telecom vendor to connect back up trunks in the system.  Please contact your carrier and telecom vendor to discuss these business continuity considerations.

Direct inward dialing is a service provided by a dial tone provider to allow an outside caller to directly dial an extension (or group of extensions ex. Dispatch dept.) of an office without the assistance of a receptionist or automated attendant. The carrier typically provides a block of direct inward dial numbers (DID numbers) to the business to be assigned to designated employees or ring groups within a phone system. The company’s PBX or hosted phone system is programmed to recognize the DID being dialed and routes the incoming call to its assigned extension. Some businesses assign DIDs to all employees, some only to certain extensions or divisions. DID service does not require a physical phone line for each telephone number given to the business. In most cases, the carrier provides more phone numbers than trunks.

Direct inward dialing was developed over 40 years ago to allow companies to assign employees a dedicated telephone number without having to pay for a physical phone line for each extension. Prior to DID service, the only way to do this was cost prohibitive; install a trunk for each employee.

A business traditionally had the option to use only analog copper trunks, each having a dedicated telephone number. A company would have several trunks in a hunt group connected to its PBX but only publish the main number. A caller would hear a greeting from an automated attendant or get a live receptionist. In either option, a transfer was required to reach the appropriate recipient. When using analog trunks, when the main number was dialed, and that trunk was in use, the call would “hunt” (roll over) to the next available trunk (that has its own telephone number) in the hunt group. The hunting feature prevents the ability to assign a telephone number to an extension because you never know what trunk the call will ring into the system. The system will not know the number the caller dialed, only the number the call rang into the system, therefore you cannot guarantee that the call will ring at the originally dialed desired extension.

DID service resolved this issue. It was invented as a way to route incoming calls to a specified extension without having to pay for a physical line for each extension. DID service was were first used in connection with a PRI or a T-1 circuit which provided dial tone to a PBX or an on site telephone system controller.  A T-1 circuit has 24 channels (lines) and a PRI has 23 channels (lines) for voice communication. For the purpose of this blog, I will refer to both types as a PRI.

Each PRI channel serves as a single telephone trunk/line; it is the same as having 23 separate traditional phone lines, except that traditional analog lines have a dedicated phone number dedicated to each line. The PRI has number(s) assigned to the circuit, not each channel. When the DID is dialed, the call is presented to the circuit and will ring (not really but for simplistic reasons) into the system on any available channel. As long as a channel is available, the call will be received by the phone system and then routed to the desired extension.

Typically a dial tone service provider allocates a single or consecutive range of DID telephone numbers that are within the customer’s area code and local exchange. The customer then assigns each DID to an individual employee; similar to assigning an employee an email address. When an outside caller dials a DID, it rings the employee’s extension, bypassing an automated attendant or operator who must transfer the call to the intended recipient.

It is not uncommon for a company with a PRI to have only 1 main advertised telephone number (which can be considered a DID) but yet have up to 23 employees conducting outside conversations (on 23 trunks) at the same time. In the alternative, you may have more DIDs than channels. A business can utilize 100 telephone numbers (DIDs) but they will only have the ability for 23 employees to conduct an outside call at the same time.

The telecommunications industry is ever evolving.   The DID now has an important application in IP communications, including SIP trunking, other IP based dial tone and in connection with hosted phone systems. Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) trunks are similar in concept to a PRI circuit but there is no physical connection to the dial tone carrier. Instead the SIP provider delivers voice services over the internet to its designated end users.

DID service also allows the public switched telephone network (PSTN) users to call people with IP based dial tone and IP telephones. The IP networks assign DIDs to a communications gateway that routes and translates calls between the two networks. The amazing thing is that with all the different types of phone service (PSTN, cellular, circuits, SIP trunking, cable providers, etc.), when you dial a phone number, calls are completed with extreme reliability.   I’ll bet Alexander Graham Bell never envisioned the continuing changes over the last century.

Look for our next Blog detailing the Many Benefits of DIDs and the importance of redundancy for the PRI

Think twice before calling back that unknown missed call! Calling back you cost you or your employer money!

Cell phones have become a necessity in the work force and almost 35% of mobile phones are provided by employers. Comtex wants to alert you to the resurgence of an old scam that has come back again to haunt cell phone users. It’s currently known as the “one ring scam”.

The thief programs a robo-dialer to make calls over the internet that only ring your phone once. If you answer the call, it disconnects. While that isn’t harmful to your pocket, the missed call is meant to pique your curiosity so that you call back the number listed in the caller ID. Bad idea!

The caller ID lists a 3 digital area code that appears to be domestic, but in reality it is an international pay-per-call telephone number. Calling one of these numbers will cost you upfront $10 to $30! You think you are calling a local number but you are dialing an international hotline that charges a fee for connecting the call, plus a huge per minute fee for the duration of the call.

This scam is reminiscent of the old “809” area code trick that enticed you to call a foreign telephone number to claim your prize or help out a family member. The con artists obtain a block of these phone numbers. When you return the call, you hear music playing or listen to a long advertisement for services. The longer you wait, the more money the thief earns.

Some area codes to look out for are (284), (876), (473), (268), and (809). A way to avoid this scam is to let any unidentified caller go to voice mail so you can determine if it is legitimate before you return the call. You can also Google the phone number to see if anyone posted it as being connected to a scam. Of course, the best solution is to only return calls from identified numbers.

There are other variations of this scam that include automatically signing you up for fake services that will be added to your cell phone bill without your knowledge or permission. While there are warnings that this scam can also allow the thief to steal your contact or financial information, there is no evidence that is possible. They would have to hack into your phone to obtain any information; clicking on a link in an email or text. The mere act of dialing a telephone number should not compromise this data.

It is good practice to always review your cell phone bills for “mysterious” charges. The sooner you discover the fraudulent charges, the easier it is to get a credit. Another suggestion is to speak with you cell phone carrier and ask them to block all international calls. Be careful, not all carriers consider the Caribbean or the Dominican Republic an international call. Discuss your concerns with the carrier and seek the best way to inhibit these types of calls.

If you’ve made the decision to invest in a video surveillance system, don’t just buy the first one you come across. IT is also not recommended to buy it based on only on price. There are many factors to take into consideration when designing a surveillance system. While the purpose of the system is important, camera locations, DVR features, lighting, indoor or outdoor requirements, recoding details and storage rank high too. Information is key before you jump into the search for the right system. Doing the research will help save you time, money and a lot of headaches.

So, let’s review a few ways to determine what might make for a good fit.

What Do You Want it For?

The most important question is why do you need a video surveillance system in the first place? Security is the typical answer. However, there are other benefits.

A good surveillance system can help you monitor employee safety, theft, or behavior on site. Did you know you could integrate video recordings with a cash register to minimize employee theft? Point of sale integration provides the whole story to the manager. The camera records the customer and the money transaction and the DVR also records the data transaction; what product was actually sold. For example, the bartender serves top shelf drinks to his friend but rings up well drinks in the register.

Recordings can be used for training purposes, improve customer experiences or to prevent the threat of a lawsuit. A CCTV system doesn’t have to be reserved just for saving money or keeping your business safe. Camera recordings can help with both profit and loss control too.  Recording customer habits may help increase profits by monitoring high traffic areas in the store for product placement.

How Many Cameras Do We Need?

You may think that the larger the area, the more cameras you need to install. That is not necessarily the truth. You can buy fewer cameras depending on what you actually need to “see”. You may not be concerned with certain areas in the location. On the other hand, you may invest in a pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera that moves up, down and around, eliminating the need for several fixed cameras. You can cover a much larger area with the PTZ and in many cases, with an IP camera zoom in to great detail.

Or maybe you don’t need something that expansive. Maybe you aren’t concerned about every square foot of your property and only want to view certain areas of the business; your dumpster or parking lot. You would look into a smaller system with several cameras.

Don’t forget to consider the future of your business. Do you have plans to grow? If so, you may want to choose an IP based system, as they are usually the best bet for a growing business because they are easier to expand.

What Are Some of the Options You Need?

The bells and whistles that are available for video surveillance systems today are extraordinary. Waterproof, vandal resistant, dustproof, infrared technology for night viewing, zoom, remote video monitoring from any PC, tablet or smartphone and cameras that offer 180 -360 field of view.

There are low-resolution cameras for areas that are either well lit or don’t require a lot of detail. High-resolution cameras that are good for places where you need to see a lot of detail like license plates or printing on boxes. Perhaps you only need to record an area when there is someone present. You can save money and storage space by getting a camera with a motion sensor.

Make a list of your needs are so you can find the right system for the right problem.

Where Should the Cameras Go?

There are several differ styles of cameras so not only should you consider the athletics of the installed cameras but the purpose of each camera. Cameras can be very obvious and placed in a way to show people they are being watched. They can also be hidden to keep them from being stolen or vandalized. Sometimes covert cameras are installed simply to “catch” a thief. The recording can be used to substantiate a dismissal of an employee or given to the police for evidence to prosecute the person. It all depends on the purpose of the cameras.

How Long Do You Want to Store the Recordings?

How long do you want to store the images recorded in the DVR? A five-day period of recording, without audio, will take about 50 GB of storage on a hard drive. If you’re just trying to keep an eye on things and don’t anticipate a need for long-term storage then you don’t need to buy a large hard drive. However, some business owners have saved a lot of money in court because they had images they saved for years.

Nowadays, storage space is so incredibly inexpensive that it makes sense to hold onto the recordings for at least a year.

Do You Need Audio?

Audio can be quite convenient, allowing you to speak to people directly as they are on camera. This can be helpful with deliveries, instructions to employees or even to warn somebody off your property. However, audio adds to the amount of information being stored and may require a larger hard drive to store the data. BE careful, there may be legal considerations when recording audio in some environments and states have different laws regarding this issue.

Who Will Be Operating It?

You need to understand how to operate the system so you can retrieve images from it if necessary. But don’t think just about you. There should be other people who can operate the system in your absence. You may also want your surveillance vendor to have access to the system for diagnostics, employee assistance or service requests. With the permission of each client, Comtex will remotely access the system on a daily basis to verify the performance of each camera and DVR. We may know your system is down before the client. If we see that the DVR is not recording or a camera is out, we alert the client of the issue. Early detection is key and may save a client money and aggravation.

Demo The System!

Keep in mind that once the system is installed, you are stuck. Don’t like the camera pictures, that’s what you paid for. Didn’t know the DVR features are limited? Now what? We highly recommend you demo the cameras and DVR.

Look out for our next blog detailing the importance of purchasing a system form a local surveillance vendor rather than from an online store.

And That’s Where We Come In…

There is a lot to think about when choosing the right system. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let us make it easier for you.

Comtex has been installing surveillance systems for more than 40 of the 55+ years in business. While most surveillance systems offer the same features, camera pictures, camera views, lighting and DVR functionality drive the effectiveness of the system. Comtex will design a system to accommodate your specific needs. We have proven longevity in the industry and will be here for you before, during and after the installation.

Contact us today for a free site visit and demo of any equipment.

  1. Ensure Business continuity. If there is a local power failure, your phone lines go down or there is a natural disaster, 75% of your remote employees would still be able to work.
  2. Reduce your attrition rate. Attrition can be expensive for an organization; job postings, interviewing, paperwork and training. Two thirds of employees would change their job to reduce commuting time and costs and 95% of employers claim that offering remote privileges increases staff retention.
  3. Increase Employee Accessibility. Decisions and projects are delayed because of a delay in reaching key employees. Collaborations are negatively affected when all team members cannot be reached simultaneously. In fact, at least 2 hours a week, per staff member are wasted because of a communication problems.
  4. Equipment Savings with BYOD. More and more, employees increasingly want to bring their own device to communicate and access data at work. More than 50% of employers will require it by 2017. It will save them money (reduce hardware, licensing and maintenance costs), increase employee productivity (employees are more comfortable and work faster using their familiar device) and increase employee satisfaction (work flexibility).
  5. Increase Productivity. While there is a $600 billion dollar loss attributed to staff distraction, 66% of employers claim an increase in productivity in remote workers. Some companies report that remote workers out produce the onsite workers.
  6. Decreased real estate costs. Less employees at the office require less office space. It is an average of $10,000 per full time employee; $68 million for major real IT organizations.
  7. Reduction is unscheduled time off. Did you know that 78% of employees taking a sick day are really healthy? Unscheduled absences creates a $300 billion dollar loss to American employers. However, employees who have the ability to remotely work from home will more likely work when they are sick. This is because they do not have to get ready for work or commute and they have the comforts of home at their disposal. Employers also benefit from sick staff remotely working because they will not infect coworkers.
  8. Reduce Staff Compensation. According to statistics, 36% of workers would forgo a raise to work from home, and 37% of IT employees would take a pay cut to work at home.

There is an ever expanding increase in the demand for videoconferencing across all lines of communications; no internal or external limitations. Mitel and Vidyo extended its original 2013 partnership to allow Mitel to embed Vidyo ‘s APIs into video, audio and collaboration features inside numerous Mitel solutions. This expansion offers Mitel end users the ability to engage in high definition video conferencing from any mobile endpoint across the organization or beyond its internal borders.

In response to the ever increasing corporate demand to keep employees connected and productive anywhere, anytime and on any device, Mitel incorporated VidyoWorks into the newest version of Mitel MiCollab, Mitel’s enterprise communications collaboration platform. It seems to be a logical progression for Mitel to incorporate videoconferencing into the MiCollab solution; the platform places a great deal of importance on mobile communications.

Mitel MiCollab provides the essential mix of tools that unite employees together from any device or location, providing for spontaneous or planned communications and collaborations. Employees may choose from instant messaging, voice, desktop video, or web collaboration; whatever method works best given the event, attendees and or location. Not only will staff have the ability to connect with others using traditional phones and computers, but also using mobile phones and tablet devices.

In today’s busy working environment being able to connect with others in a timely manner can make all the difference in being able to make timely, well informed decisions. It is directly related to business success.

This agreement will allow Mitel’s 3,500 channel partners to deliver the best in videoconferencing and collaboration to any endpoint, fixed or mobile.

For more information on how you can leverage this technology, please contact us!

There are many things to consider before investing in a new telephone system. While the equipment is extremely important, there are other factors that must be a part of the process; dial tone, system features and the vendor.

Your vendor is truly the most important part of this process. They will guide you through the process and you will rely on them to make this a smooth transition. After all, if your system does not work, you have no connection to your clients.

Most phone systems are the same with a few exceptions in features offered; the biggest decision is whether to use a hosted solution or invest in an on premise system. The more important decision is the vendor you choose to implement your communication platform. You should align your business with a vendor, like Comtex, who has the ability, experience and product knowledge to get the best out of your investment, through effective programming, repair and ongoing support.

Comtex has evidenced its business longevity in the telecom field with over 56 years of customer support and satisfaction.

Questions to ask your on premise vendor:

  • How long have you been in business? (evidences experience)
  • How many years have you been a certified dealer for the systems you sell? (evidences experience with programming and service)
  • When did the system come to market?
  • How many technicians do you employ?
  • How many programmers do you employ?
  • Do you offer 24/7 emergency service?
  • Is there a live person during working hours to take my calls?
  • Do you hire subcontractors?
  • Did you offer references?
  • What is your warranty?

Our industry has “trunkers’. A one man shop, with a professional website, with pictures of “employees”. In reality they have no office (they use the home address), no warehouse to stock replacement equipment, hire subcontractors to assist them when they need more manpower and send all incoming calls to a cell phone. This may impact your future service needs.

You want a vendor who has a reputation in the industry; one who will be there for you before, during and after the installation. The true test if after the installation when you need changes, upgrades or support.

DIAL TONE AND INTERNET

You should compile a list of your dial tone carrier(s) and internet provider and a copy of your most recent bills.

The first piece of information you should know is when the carrier contracts expire. You may want or need to switch carriers. Please call your dial tone and internet carriers to confirm the date your contract expires and have them put it in writing. Mark your calendar 2 months prior to that date to investigate other carriers. Also find out when you must give notice in writing to the carrier. (usually 30 days prior to contract expiration).

Your dial tone may impact the features you want to use in your new system. For example, you need a PRI or SIP trunks for DIDs (direct inward dialing), an out of state phone number to ring into your office or to send calls to a cell phone. You should contact your current dial tone carrier(s) if you are under any contract term. You do not want to buy a system and not be able to connect to the type of dial tone that you will need for certain features.

Your will need to contact your internet provider to find out if you have a static IP address and confirm your current bandwidth at your office. The new phone systems require a static IP address to allow the phone vendor to remotely access your phone system for programming and diagnostics. You will also need sufficient bandwidth if you are using IP phone and SIP trunks. Your phone vendor will help you with these things.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The configuration and features of a system and the cabling in your office, will help your vendor determine which type of system, hosted or on premise, would work best for your company.

  • What type of cabling do you currently have going to your phones? CAT3 voice or CAT5 data?
  • How many telephones do you want in the office?
  • Do you need any analog phones/devices in the system (cordless phone, fax or conference phone)?
  • Do you have more than one office location? If so, do you want the locations connected?
  • Are there any remote (off site) workers that you want connected to the system?
  • Do you want any enterprise features? ACD, voice mail to email, calls to a cell phone, contact center solutions, etc.

Future Market Insights, a research firm in India, projects that the electronic card based access control market in North America will increase by almost $1 billion dollars over the next 6 years; market share in 2014 was approximately $2 billion and it is expected to increase to $3 billion by 2020.

Pallavi Guhe, senior consultant at Future Market Insights told Security Systems News that the North American market is expected to surpass all other global regions in the electronic card based market. She said that the 2014 global value was approximately $6 billion and it will increase close to $11 billion by 2020.

The report discusses two types of access control cards: smart cards and proximity cards. The report did not state which type of technology is the currently the most popular or which will prevail in the future. The report also reviewed the market by types of end-users; government, commercial, industrial, and residential.

“Commercial and industrial end-user segments are expected to lead the global market by value. Additionally, these segments are expected to show the leading growth rates for coming five years as compared to other end-user segments,” she said. Guhe said that crime and terrorist activities are driving the increase in market growth.

Healthcare facilities, pharmaceutical companies and financial institutions are increasing demand for card access control system, said Guhe.

If your business is in need of an access control system, please visit our website or call us at 201-935-2000.