Th Real Cost of Doing it Yourself…

Often times, we have clients who want to try to save on costs so they think they can install portions of the cabling themselves. We understand the thought process which of course is,  “I am already paying employee XYZ, we can just have that person run the wire!” For instance, we recently had a client tell us that they were going to source their own fiber for ATT internet and install it themselves, then have us out to terminate it. Well, ATT had already installed their equipment so the customer was getting billed monthly for internet they haven’t even started using yet (which is typical in their contracts). It took their employee 2 months to source the fiber, rent a scissor lift, and install the cable. Therefore, they ended up spending $2000 over two months with ATT to only save about $300 with us. Unfortunately for them, that was a large net loss!

Now that is an extreme case, so then, is there ever a savings generally? Let’s think about some other questions:

-What else should your employee be working on? How far behind will it put them behind in their day to day tasks? Will they be upset if they are asked to do something well outside their job description?

-Will it affect your workman’s comp insurance if they were to get hurt? If they fall off a ladder when they are classified as a “clerical or sales employee” and not and “installation or laborer” employee? The insurance adjuster’s job is to find fault and pass blame.

-What about building codes? Voice, data and even speaker wiring fall within the National Electric code. Even if the job isn’t being ‘inspected’, shouldn’t it be done correctly and more importantly with everyone’s utmost safety in mind? Something like not knowing when to use plenum rated cable vs PVC cable could seriously injure someone if there was ever a fire (PVC creates toxic smoke when it burns). Does your employee know this important piece of information?

All good things to keep in mind when you are thinking about “saving some money”.

Remember it always ends up costing more to pay someone to fix what was started wrong in the first place.

Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here to learn more about Wireline

Why Does Rain Effect Our Phone System?

We had a customer call telling us that their phones kept “going out”. We had them reboot the system and they said it was working again and stable. We didn’t think much about it until a month or so later when they called again complaining of the same symptoms, but now the voicemail system wouldn’t work at all.

We went onsite and started investigating. In this location the phone system is located in a basement utility room. While looking thru log files in the phone system we found that the system had been rebooting every 30 minutes for a couple of hours and then it would be fine again. This would go on for a day or two and then the logs would be clean for days or weeks at a time. Strange. Followed the power cord down and found it was plugged into a battery backup, which is good, but there was other equipment plugged in as well. While following those power cords we bumped into the sump pump drain pipe that was going up and out of the building. It kicked on and started pumping water, but at the same time the phone system went dark. As soon as the pump turned back off the phone system started rebooting. Turns out that the battery backup that was running everything couldn’t support the loads that were plugged into it and every time there was a fair amount of rain is when they were having the problems.

After moving the phone system to a straight electrical outlet and suggesting they purchase a new dedicated battery back-up, they have been without these power outages. The down side is that this problem ended up destroying their voicemail system beyond repair and we had to replace the entire system. That’s a pretty large expense that could have been averted with a $200 battery backup.

The moral of the story, just because you have space to plug it in, doesn’t mean that you should.

Brad “the phone guy” Carr


Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here to learn more about Wireline

Emergency Alerts & Unique Paging Systems

More and more employers are stepping up the security and safety policies for the well-being of their staff. Recently we have been asked for some unique emergency alert systems to be added onto existing and new overhead paging systems. They have been predominantly for warehouses and large campuses, but would work in a typical office environment as well. The situations vary from site to site, but one thing holds true. How do you inform employees of a dangerous situation in a quick manner? It started about a year ago when we were asked to design a new paging system to replace the original one that was approx 50 years old. They were expanding to a 3rd building in one square block. The need was to be able to page separate buildings for day to day reasons, but in an emergency be able to page all the buildings at the same time, including the rooftops where building engineers could also be located.

This part is pretty typical however, the challenge was that they wanted the speakers in every conference room to be turned down and off by a volume control in the room itself. Using our knowledge of the Bogen and Viking brands of paging equipment and with their design team help, we came up with a cost effective solution that will last for decades. The emergency page can be reached by anyone by dialing a code from their phone system. It will cover all areas and override any muted speakers in the conference room. To enhance functions even more, we created emergency switches at the main reception desk, which, when switched on, will create either a tornado siren or a fire alarm sound indicating to everyone real time that danger is imminent and they need to take cover immediately.

A few months later we were designing a similar system for another customer and they wanted to take it a little further by adding a third alert for an intruder. However, they wanted to skip the switches and be able to turn it on from any phone by dialing a code for each alarm. They dial the code and the alarm starts going until they dial the code a 2nd time. For this site we even had professionally recorded messages that would play. Eg <tornado siren sound>, then “tornado warning, please take cover,” followed by the same message in Spanish.

Most recently in a food manufacturing facility, they needed all these options but the biggest complaint? Pages were too loud when machines were off, but not loud enough when they were in operation. The solution? A small microphone that listens for the current noise levels and then adjusts the volume in real time!

All of these sites undergo a monthly test of the systems. This ensures that everyone knows how to operate it in case of a real emergency and that the employees know what to do when it happens.


Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here to learn more about Wireline

The problem… unwanted sound!

The problem- sound. The solution – Sound Masking

Let me start with a few examples and maybe you can relate…

I’m visiting a client a few years ago, they had just moved into a new office space a few months prior. Their new space is a a very open floor plan, an industrial space with 14′ ceilings. They have offices around the perimeter, and cubicles in the center, but theoffice walls only go up about 8′.  From there it’s an open, loft-style ceiling, a very sharp looking place. The problem they werehaving however, is sound. Everyone can hear everyone, everywhere!  From one end of the office to the other you can clearly make out everyone’s conversations, it’s beyond distracting, and very difficult for anyone to get any work done.
A few weeks later, I’m at a new doctors office for a routine physical and I’m sitting in an exam room filling out paperwork. I begin to hear the doctor start talking to a patient in the next room. Luckily I didn’t see them in the waiting room before or after my appointment, as I heard their entire conversation, and learned much more then I wanted to about him. So much for HIPPA privacy.  After walking out of the doctor’s office I walked past a psychiatrists office, they had a noise machine sitting in the hallway, with a power cord going under the doorway. It was a very loud, non aesthetically pleasing solution. I’m surprised the land lord would allow that day to day.

Then I’m on a pre-bid walk through for an office remodel at one of the world’s largest soft drink manufacture’s research and development facility. They have a lot of policies and items in place for confidentiality of their products, but the one that I picked up on was sound masking. We walked down a large section of cubicles. I could tell that there was a lot of people working away, on phone calls, mini meetings, and typing away on their computers, but what was missing was the clarity of their voices. I couldn’t make out what the employees were saying as we walked by. Only 10′ or so away, but since they were not talking to us, it was private to them.

What they had was a sound masking solution in place.
Here’s how it works! A small, web enabled, amplifier with small speakers is placed throughout the facility which creates a nice constant sound, similar to the whoosh of air conditioning. Some people refer to it as white noise, but when you get specific it’s really pink noise, which is more on par with the human tonal range of speech than the static-like sound of white noise. It really does create harmony between the employees, reduces confidential information going to the wrong people, and creates less distractions which helps the bottom line.
Contact us to let us help your company do the same!

Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here to learn more about Wireline

International Call Fraud & How to Minimize Risk

Hackers are always going to be a threat to anything that is connected to the outside world. That includes computers, cell phones, and phone systems. Even if your phone system isn’t connected to the Internet, it doesn’t mean that it’s not vulnerable to bad people wanting to do bad things. We have had a few clients (ones that we didn’t install originally) over the years call us in a panic that their long distance provider was telling them they were hacked. When it happens the long distance and international bills can add up to thousands of dollars overnight. Most telecom carrier contracts put you liable for these fraudlent calls!

Basically what hackers will do is guess one of your voice mailbox and password combinations and then setup some type of forwarding. Then when they call into your system (usually overnight and on weekends when it won’t be noticed as quickly) they dial an extension which transfers them to a 2nd outside line, and then gives them a dial tone. Once they have dial tone they can dial anything you can dial from your desk. Nowadays most carriers block 900 and 976 numbers, but most still allow international calling. Depending on the country dialed, the charges could be over a dollar a minute. Once the hacker has got your system in their control, they will sell your info on the black market and your system will make calls all over the world.

There are easy ways to protect yourself.

First, if you don’t need to make international calls have your long distance carrier set  international calls to be blocked completely or at least require a PIN number.

Second, would be to make sure the administrative mailbox passwords (0 out mailbox, system greeting mailbox, etc) is not using a default password or one that is simple like 1234 or 0000.

Third would be to require your employees to change their passwords on a regular basis. Some phone systems can be set to force the changes on a calendar setting.

Fourth, have your phone system programmer lock down the voicemail system to not be able to make long distance or international calls. This feature is usually referred to as “destination restriction” or “class of restriction.” Wireline came up with this solution close to 10 years ago and it always surprises me when I look through a system programmed by another company when it doesn’t have this simple safety feature in place.

Unfortunately without extensive technical knowledge of your system, it’s not easy to test if your system is vulnerable. A quick service call now can save you thousands of dollars in money and in time.

Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here to learn more about Wireline

Business Grade Cell Phone APPS

As smart phones take over the world so do the Apps that make them “smart”.  The Toshiba phone system supports a few different apps. From being able to have visual voicemail, to easily changing your voicemail greetings. “There’s an app for that”, as they say!

The one I find most helpful is being able to call out from my cell phone by using the caller ID of my office phone number. I like it for the fact that when people return my call that they always call my office number, it’s just easy. I don’t have to have two different numbers to give out and I don’t have to give out my personal cell phone number.
I can have it ring my desk, then my cell, both at the same time, or send all the calls straight to voicemail.

From a service company’s perspective, clients calling your techs directly is not usually a good thing. It distracts your techs, calls might not make it back to your office for proper ticketing (and billing!), and then what happens when the tech moves on to another company? Do you want your customers following them?

Set a policy that they need to make their calls thru the app, then when clients call back, the talk to the office get into your dispatch system properly.


Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here to learn more about Wireline