GWI Blog

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

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

Top Tools for Building a Reliable Data Network

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Technology professionals, from in-house IT Directors to technology vendors, frequently talk about “reliability” and network “redundancy.” These terms may sound like jargon that only techies need to understand. However, every day, businesses and organizations across all industries become more and more dependent upon their networks. Customer information, industry data, time-sensitive communications and relationships with customers, vendors and employees – the day-to-day necessities of conducting business – all hinge upon building a reliable data network for your business. For decades, GWI has delivered a history of network reliability through a mix of ever-advancing technology solutions. Faster, cutting-edge technology still requires a thoughtful plan for reliability. This series of blog posts discusses how to plan for a reliable network through redundancy. Redundancy vs Hardening, which approach works best? There are two general techniques for building reliable systems. The first is to try to create components that are very unlikely to fail, often … Continue reading

Calling Kids With Ideas: Let’s Build-A-Biz

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Did you know that 97% of employers in Maine are small companies? Today’s small business leaders were once budding entrepreneurs themselves, with great ideas that eventually became successful products and services, and companies that now employ people, and help our economy grow. At GWI, we feel strongly about supporting our local and statewide economy, which is why we’re proud to once again sponsor Build-A-Biz Day, making this our third consecutive year supporting youth entrepreneurship education in Maine. What is Build-a-Biz Day?   Build-A-Biz is a free entrepreneurship program that gives Maine’s young people, ages 10-18 who would like to start their own business, an opportunity to pitch their business idea to real angel investors. The 2014 Elevator Pitch Competition will be held May 6th in Portland, after which competitors can then go on to compete for scholarships of up to $1000. Build-A-Biz Day is on Saturday, May 18th when all … Continue reading

A Community Hospital Gets a Business Phone Service Check-Up

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Houlton Regional Hospital is a 25-bed acute care facility serving several communities in northern Maine and employing 450 professionals. GWI teamed up with the hospital’s maintenance manager, Bart Peters, to help them update their antiquated business phone service and bring a fiber optic network to part of Houlton’s business district. The Situation: After acquiring several private physician practices over nearly a decade (a trend within the healthcare industry focused on integration and patient service), Houlton Regional Hospital had experienced internal changes and growth. With that came a need for a telecommunications provider that could support their ongoing needs for flexibility, reliable business phone service and excellent call quality. Bart Peters, the hospital’s Maintenance Manager, who for 27 years has been responsible for managing the phone systems and relationships with vendors, needed a telecommunications service provider that provided secure, reliable communications and the flexibility to add phone lines without the headaches … Continue reading

6 Question Quiz: Does Your Business Need a Hosted VoIP Phone System?

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Is it time to update your business phone system? Determining the right time and the best phone system for your business requires some thoughtful planning. Before you can choose a new phone system, you need to evaluate your needs. Take our 6-question quiz to get started. 1. How old is your existing phone system? A) 6-10 years old. B) 1-5 years old. Phone systems typically last 6-8 years. At minimum, you should re-evaluate your business phone system needs every 2-3 years. Depending upon the life cycle of your business, it may be time to start planning for an upgrade. Or, if your system is still functioning well and meeting your needs, why take on the added expense of a new system? 2. Is your existing phone system lacking certain features? A) Yes. We currently don’t have unified messaging/voice mail – it’s difficult for us to access our voice mail system … Continue reading

Top 3 Reasons Businesses Win Bundling Phone, Internet & Cloud Computing

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There are a myriad of choices out there for cloud computing and VoIP phone service. With so many competitors on the Internet offering free or cut-rate service in these areas, you may wonder if it’s worth bundling phone, Internet and cloud computing services with a local carrier. Not surprisingly, the answer comes down to the relative importance of service quality vs. cost. There are actually several concrete reasons why bundling phone, Internet and cloud computing will improve the user experience. For the purpose of this article, though, I thought I’d focus on factors that directly impact the way you, your employees and your customers use and experience these vital services. Quality-oriented reasons for bundling phone, Internet and cloud computing   Quality of Service (QoS) Management: Voice quality is very important for business phone service. A quality call means you hear your clients better, have less need to ask them to repeat themselves, … Continue reading

Going Green With Cloud-Based Business Phone Systems

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Can your business go green by going virtual? According to a Huffington Post article by Jared Seeger, if more companies pushed telecommuting whenever possible, Americans would use 625 million fewer barrels of oil annually, reduce greenhouse emissions by 107 million tons of carbon dioxide and save $43 billion on gas. The combination of reduced costs and increased brand image through social responsibility is becoming more and more appealing to many businesses, and its likely that your competitors are already working to become more efficient through visualizing their office. While it may not be possible for many businesses to go 100% virtual, cloud-based business phone systems offer multiple opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint. Cloud-based business phone systems like Hosted PBX can help minimize your company’s environmental impact in several important ways: Cut down on commuting. Because cloud-based business phone systems seamlessly incorporate work from home employees and satellite offices into … Continue reading

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