GWI Blog

Welcome to the GWI blog regarding telecommunications policy, rural broadband, and economic development in Maine and New England.

3 Steps to Managing Spam in your Email Inbox

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Recently, we migrated both our customer email and our internal email platform to new services.  This resulted in a temporary surge in spam in my own inbox and a rise in questions from customers on the GWI Facebook page about managing spam in their inbox.  Now that my spam filters are working well again and I’m spending less time managing spam manually, I thought it was time to share a few tips on effectively controlling the flow of promotional email into your mailbox. What is Spam? First of all, we need to have a common understanding of what email spam is.  Not all of the marketing email you get each day can correctly be called spam.  Another name for spam is Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE).  The key operator here is that the email must be Unsolicited. Very often, we subscribe to email lists to get products or services online.  Such … Continue reading

5 Things Most Businesses Shouldn’t Waste Backup Storage On

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These days, business IT budgets are more squeezed than ever, and being efficient is vital.  One area you can save money without sacrificing the security of the business is by properly managing your backup storage so that you aren’t wasting resources protecting files that don’t have business value. A good online backup solution will allow you to define your backup sets at the individual PC level so you have the ability to specify what does and does not get backed up. This means you don’t have to have a one-size-fits-all policy for utilizing your backup storage. Instead, you can craft your own list of files your business should back up and exclude the ones you shouldn’t. The below list covers some key items you probably want to avoid backing up for most users, but with the right solution, you have the ability to make exceptions where appropriate. Software. Software takes a tremendous … Continue reading

6 Things Your Business Online Backup Should Protect

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Imagine arriving at the office, only to discover that your computer is down or damaged and critical data is unavailable or missing. If you have an online backup plan in place, go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that your most important files and data are available in the cloud to be restored. The next worrisome question is: how much will you be able to restore? This all depends upon the back up strategy you have in place for what you should back up. Some businesses have zero tolerance for any missing files or data, while others don’t necessarily need to store everything. There are numerous factors that play into how much – and what – needs to be backed up. For example, some businesses may need to certify compliance with industry’s standards, which means your backup solution needs to ensure that all of your info is fully … Continue reading

RSU 29 Does Its Homework on Hosted PBX Phone Systems

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RSU 29 in Houlton is an education community that includes three school buildings, elementary through high school. With a mission of “encouraging growth, high aspirations, and quality standards for students and staff,” the school district recently invested in updating its phone systems to a GWI Hosted PBX system. GWI and its premier partner Caleidoscope Communications teamed up with the school’s technology coordinator, Kevin Kimball, to help this northern Maine school system transition to a cutting-edge communications solution. The situation: In the fall of 2013, Kevin Kimball of RSU 29 was faced with the imminent return of 1300 students to a three building school system and three antiquated phone systems that were falling apart. The system was so outdated, in fact, that external vendors lacked expert technicians to support it and Kevin himself didn’t have the time or resources to upkeep existing systems due to all his other responsibilities. Kimball said, … Continue reading

How Three Historic Forces Impact Broadband Deployment

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Broadband deployment in Maine has been hampered by a number of factors, including geography, topography and money. There are bigger factors at work, though and we should take a step back and look at the big picture. There is a deep underlying reality that is going to shape our futures. Great historic forces are at work in the area of network connectivity and we all need to align ourselves with those forces or be swept aside. Let’s start by talking about the term “broadband.” In the Internet realm, “broadband” is a term with no agreed upon technical meaning. It is a term invented by a cable network marketing executive about 15 years ago when searching for a term for “really fast Internet connections.” Broadband does not have a speed associated with it, so when we talk about “broadband” we are all using the term in a way that suits us … Continue reading

Network Reliability Requires Sound Procedures

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It is a truism that network reliability comes from people, not equipment. The obvious reason is that since people design the network, they need to get the design right to have it be reliable. The often overlooked reason is that  networks exist in a dynamically changing world and must adapt, and people direct that adaptation. Some networks have limited change. Envision a network with a static number of connections, a steady data load and no connections to the Internet, such as a closed network managing equipment in a factory. There is still change, however. Vendors may need to update switch/router software as bugs are uncovered, or perhaps equipment fails as design flaws are uncovered under actual use. Failure results when the people who designed and built the network walk away after it’s built. The more likely case is a typical office network in which PCs and SIP phones being added … Continue reading

The 3 Reliability Pitfalls at Work with Equipment Redundancy

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We’re continuing our series of posts on common techniques for building reliable data networks. Last week, we discussed three pitfalls that cause businesses to fail at building reliable networks through route diversity. This week, we’re going to build on this with an overview of the potential issues that arise when evaluating equipment redundancy. To recap, here are the three pitfalls again: Cost. Often companies and consumers can’t afford to double their costs, which may be required to achieve complete redundancy. Fortunately, with proper planning over the long term, it is possible to keep the costs down while providing real redundancy. False redundancy. False redundancy happens when a system is designed and built with the expectation that it is redundant, but when a supposedly diverse component fails, the redundancy isn’t there. Failure of control systems. Occasionally, steps taken to make a system redundant actually results in a system that is less … Continue reading

3 Network Reliability Pitfalls & their Impact on Route Diversity

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In our last post, I discussed why redundancy / route diversity is the fundamental tool for building reliable networks. In this entry, I am going to go over some of the pitfalls of building redundant networks and how to avoid them. The first major pitfall is cost. The simplest way to build redundancy is to duplicate the entire network and its operations, thus doubling the cost of connections. This works, but often companies and consumers can’t afford to double their costs. Fortunately, with proper planning over the long term, it is possible to keep the costs down while providing real redundancy. The second major pitfall is false redundancy. False redundancy happens when a system is designed and built with the expectation that it is redundant, but when a supposedly diverse component fails, the redundancy isn’t there. The third pitfall is that, occasionally, steps taken to make a system redundant actually … Continue reading

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