UK To Speed Up In Broadband Race

The United Kingdom draws in millions of visitors and tourists each year who come to see everything from Buckingham Palace to the Scottish Highlands; making it one of the busiest and most popular countries in the world. The amount of mobile data usage throughout the major UK cities is over 90 terabytes a day yet London still ranks lower than cities such as Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, New York and Berlin for broadband speed.

In an attempt to boost 4G coverage and mobile broadband speeds Vodafone is seeking to increase the number of antennas in our capital which currently amounts to 2.5 antennas per kilometre. To put that into context, major European cities ahead of us in terms of broadband speed have around 6 or 7 antennas per kilometre.

One person who may be disappointed with these figures is Prime Minister David Cameron who last year promised fast and affordable broadband for all by the year 2020 prioritising it as a basic right on the same level as having access to water and electricity.

General mobile data usage has grown enormously in recent years with the rise of 4G data and major phone companies offering impressive new internet speeds. Though broadband speeds in the UK keep getting faster they still fall short in comparison to a lot of other countries across the world.

The UK has always been a major player on the world stage therefore it is embarrassing for our Capital to have slower broadband speeds than places like Chattanooga and Bucharest. We need London and the rest of the UK to be up there with other big names such as Tokyo, Seoul and Zurich.

Unsurprisingly, Londoners are the UK’s largest consumers of mobile data, according to a statement from Vodafone’s chief technology officer, with data usage the equivalent of 23 million songs being streamed each day. Vodafone is now asking local councils to allow more antennas to be installed on rooftops to create a faster network that will be able to compete with the other major cities around the globe.

Though major cities are currently enjoying fast and affordable internet speeds, the rural parts of the UK are being left behind with nearly half of rural households unable to receive speeds above 10Mbit/s and one in five unable to receive speeds of 5Mbit/s. Obviously rural areas are more sparsely populated than urban areas meaning that coverage suffers as a consequence; outdoor coverage in the city is as high as 99% which drops significantly to 72% in the countryside. Though lagging behind, coverage of fast broadband in rural areas has increased from 22% to 37% from 2014 to 2015.

The chart below from Ofcom’s 2015 Connected Nations Report shows the percentage of premises unable to receive fast download speeds. From looking at the chart it is obvious that rural areas have significantly less access to fast broadband speeds than urban areas.

With this report comes controversy with some calling for the end of BT’s stronghold over the cable networks. Research commissioned by the former Cabinet minister Grant Shapps, backed by a further 121 Member’s of Parliament, blasts BT for ignoring rural communities and criticises the amount of taxpayer money being wasted with little results to show for it adding that, “If Openreach can’t deliver it’s time for the regulator to step in and find another way”. Sarah Lee, from the Countryside Alliance, even went as far as describing the current situation as a “digital apartheid”.

According to the report, residents of rural areas may have to wait up to three years until they can gain access to broadband speeds that the rest of the country currently uses; though it may be a long wait it is still within the time limit set by David Cameron. However, Hubert Da Costa, Vice President at Cradlepoint, explains that, though optimistic, it simply isn’t possible to get a wired network to everyone in the UK particularly in locations with geographical challenges.

He suggests that in order to supply connectivity for all we should be looking at wireless alternatives for locations that simply cannot be reached with wired broadband:

“This isn’t a government or consumer issue, this is simply a fact. Which is why we are seeing businesses setting up 4G Internet connectivity for either their primary networks or for network resiliency. Of course, connectivity is important, and it’s great that the government believes in ‘connectivity for all’ however behind the desire, there has to be a workable solution.”

Of course, though we should welcome Vodafone’s drive for faster internet, it’s important to note that the UK has vastly improved in comparison to previous years. The chart below shows the improvement of superfast broadband coverage throughout the UK from 2014 and 2015 as well as average download speeds.

Strong progress has been made but many are still affected by slow broadband speeds both personally and professionally. Daniel Latto, a business coach from Leeds, often travels around the world for work and found that broadband speeds in the UK are not up to scratch in comparison with other countries:

“I run webinars for my clients and I find I can’t run them in the UK as the broadband speed is around 2MB. I would understand if I lived in the country but Horsforth is a bustling suburb of Leeds.”

Daniel finds that he can now only run webinars from his home in Spain, rather than from his home in Leeds which has affected his business considerably: “My broadband is much faster even in Spain, in a small town near the coast.” Daniel is understandably irritated at the situation and strongly agrees with the research commissioned by Grant Shapps MP regarding the disbandment of BT whom he describes as holding him ransom due to their monopoly of broadband services.

It’s clear that improvements still need to be made for the UK to be able to compete with the likes of China and the USA however the fact is that 83% of the country now has access to superfast broadband coverage, up 8% from 2014, bringing David Cameron’s ‘fast broadband for all by 2020’ pledge closer to a reality.

WhatsApp Boost Security With End-to-End Encryption

WhatsApp, the world’s largest mobile messaging service, has been making a few major changes recently. Among other details, the service is now completely free with rumours of a video calling feature in the pipeline.

For now, WhatsApp may be introducing end-to-end encryption alerts to make conversations more private and secure for customers. WhatsApp already use encryption software by default but this new update, a more secure version of the encryption software, will allow users to actively see when their messages and calls are being encrypted.

With end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp telephone calls and messages are protected by preventing third parties reading any private data. Users will have the option to turn on or off encryption alerts, in the same way you can turn on or off your ‘last seen’ timestamp, meaning that concerned users can choose whether or not to message those who don’t have end-to-end encryption enabled.

Purchased by Facebook in 2015 for $19 billion, WhatsApp have also promised to entirely scrap annual subscription fees for all global users. On top of that, it has also been revealed that they will not be selling any advertising space to third party companies.

Instead, according to a recent official blogpost, WhatsApp are exploring new capacities of communication to improve andexpand upon. This includes messaging local or international companies and organisations instead of calling up a traditional helpline; for example, messaging your bank regarding a transaction or an airline regarding an upcoming flight.

The new encryption updates could come with some controversy with David Cameron threatening to ban apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat for its default encryption software under new counter-terrorism surveillance plans.

Should end-to-end encryption be a given?

Privacy groups are notably outraged at the possibly of the government banning end-to-end encryption arguing that private messaging is part of our human rights. However, it’s important to note that the security services must have a warrant before reading any encrypted messages; the issue Mr Cameron has is that even with a warrant security services struggle to access the data.

Whether end-to-end encryption should be a default feature in all our messaging services is still up for debate, however, with so many messaging platforms available, a lot of us still remain unaware of how secure or unsecure our data is.

Which UK city has the fastest broadband speeds?

 

Last year David Cameron promised fast broadband for every person in the UK by 2020 prioritising fast and affordable broadband as a legal right in the modern world.

Broadband alone is no longer enough to keep up with the pace and amount of usage people now consume. With more people than ever streaming television, online gaming and downloading music and film, superfast broadband is required and has now become the norm with 83% of UK premises using it in 2015, up from 75% in 2014.  

To answer the question, ‘Which UK city has the fastest broadband?’, you first have to break down the question into specifics such as download speed and area coverage. The fastest broadband in the UK at the moment is superfast broadband which offers speeds up to 300Mbps. Therefore, to find out where the fastest broadband in the UK is you need to look at which city has the most coverage of superfast broadband.

In Ofcom’s 2015 Connected Nations Report the UK cities with the fastest broadband speeds in terms of area coverage are listed.

Luton, Belfast and Portsmouth come up top with an average of 97% area coverage of superfast broadband. Brighton, Plymouth and Lincolnshire follow suit with 95% area coverage. On the other end of the spectrum were cities such as Kent, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.   

Surprisingly, a lot of the UK’s major cities, including London, are not at the top of the list for broadband coverage. Phone giant Vodafone blames the lack of broadband coverage in London to the minimal number of antennas around the city, currently around 2.5 antennas per kilometre, which is around a third less than that of other major cities around Europe who have an average of 7 antennas per kilometre.

Mr Cameron has four years left to ensure that every home in the UK has access to affordable superfast broadband. However, Ofcom raise some doubts as to whether his goal is achievable. The independent communications regulator claim that over 2 million city homes and almost 50% of homes in rural areas are still using broadband with speeds of only 10Mbps.

3 Ways To Keep Mobile Phone Bills Under Control

iPhone

Image credit: Jan Vašek

In the past I’ve often found that my phone bill was a lot higher than expected due to the number of phone calls I made – especially to numbers outside of the UK – and frequent usage of apps that drain a lot of mobile data.

My irritation was naive since the problem was entirely my own fault however the rise in cloud technology and access to both public and private WiFi has made it easier to beat the big phone networks and dodge those expensive bills.

Here are three ways I learnt to lower that expensive phone bill:

WhatsApp and Facebook Calls

If, like me, having 100 free minutes is simply not enough to keep up with your friends and family both in the UK and abroad then WhatsApp and Facebook have an alternative for you.

WhatsApp has rapidly grown with 900 million active monthly users and it is estimated that Facebook has over 1 billion users with 727 million of them mobile-only users. Both WhatsApp and Facebook now offer the ability to call any number or Facebook contact for free.

This new technology, known in the profession as Hosted VoIP, uses cloud based technology to transmit calls as an alternative to traditional methods of using phone lines and networks. The idea is simple and is already revolutionising the way in which people use their smartphones to make contact with others.

The most important thing to remember here is that you must always be connected to WiFi (unless you have an unlimited data bundle). Do not use these applications without WiFi if you want to keep your data under control.

Don’t Use Mobile Data On Big Apps

Another charge that weighed down my phone bill was my data usage. Long trains journeys and slow Sunday afternoons meant a lot of YouTube browsing and Mail Online reading; both of which use a lot of mobile data.

Now I make sure to only use these data eating apps whilst on WiFi. Connecting to home WiFi or private cloud networks are great when accessing apps that require a lot of data from the cloud. If you doubt your abilities in self control then you can change your phone settings to make sure that certain apps only play when connected to WiFi. To do this simply go to your general phone settings > choose the app > switch off ‘use mobile data’.

Turn Off Automatic Play

One new feature on social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter is automatically playing videos on your news feed whilst on mobile. This eats up your data big time. To stop this simply go onto the app, click the settings and turn off the option that plays videos automatically. Doing so enables you to control when videos are played; I recommend to only play videos when connected to a WiFi network with the capacity to handle the amount of data necessary to play a video.

If you’re a smartphone addict then I’ve just saved you a lot of data usage whilst teaching a lesson in self control and smart time management: use only when on WiFi!

Why not talk to us about how Hosted VoIP could help your business? Call our dedicated Hosted VoIP team on 0845 180 9988 today.

Voice_Cloud

 

 

How To Utilise Cross-Channel Communication For High Quality Customer Engagement

Not so long ago, customer communications were limited to a finite number of channels. Fortunately, the rapid growth of hyper-connected devices and platforms has completely revolutionised the face of marketing. Today different means of communication are integrated into the nature of the customer-business relationship

In order to meet the demands of the modern market, businesses need to enable an uninterrupted information flow across the plethora of channels which connect them to their customers. However, statistics show that in practice the majority of companies are failing to do so. According to the Cross-Channel Marketing Report, only 5% of respondents stated that they were fully set up to offer cross-channel marketing activities.

Cross_Channel_Communication
Being present on different channels is not enough – bring them together with a solid strategy.

The communication dynamic between brand and consumer has notably changed with the growth of mobile and cloud technologies. In order to address demands for faster and real-time information companies need to utilise the multitude of communication channels available. However, simply being present where your target audience is doesn’t necessarily make your communication more effective.

There is a key difference between being “present” on these different communication channels and being “engaging” on them. Anybody can keep a social media account alive, it’s a separate challenge to utilise it to communicate with your audience/customer base effectively. This needs to be done with a fine balance of brand message, engaging updates and useful information.

Find the right tools for implementing your cross-channel communication.

You need to utilise the best tools and technologies to ensure you can engage with your customers effectively, without it interrupting your working day. Tools such as hosted VoIP and Hootsuite are both excellent new ways of bringing your communication channels together.

Hootsuite is a site that incorporates every social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram etc) into one place making social media posts and engagements more manageable than ever.

Hosted VoIP combines the internet with traditional phone systems with telephone calls becoming accessible across a range of devices such as mobile phones, desk phones and IP phones, voicemails are sent to your email inbox in the form of sound bites and maintenance costs are reduced by up to 90%. These are just some of the many benefits of switching to a hosted VoIP system.

Optimise your telecoms for all customers.

The evolution of the internet, mobile applications and cloud storage has made it easier for companies to expand internationally. However, one of the most common problems they come across is delivering the same quality of information to all customers across the globe. In order to achieve unanimous quality your telecoms solutions need to include:

● Automatic call distributors
● CRM application
● Call recording systems
● Campaign management systems
● Speech recognition systems

Boost the quality of video conferencing

The quality of conferencing solutions is an important and sometimes forgotten aspect of telecommunications. Choose the best conferencing solutions which deliver a high definition experience, enable interoperability, support mobility and integrate real-time video or audio communication features.

Using personalised SMS in your cross channel communications

SMS has been empowering business communication for many years but is now being overlooked for more engaging online opportunities such as social media. However marketers and businesses are now making a move back to SMS in attempt to create more personal relationships with their customers.

With so many mobile applications these days, receiving a text has almost become a novelty which could explain why 90% people read their SMS in the first 3 minutes of receiving them. Therefore tapping into this unused space could make for an extremely successful communication campaign.

Active presence on digital channels can improve customer loyalty and retention.

Social networks are now a major communication tool for both B2C and B2B businesses. Their major advantage being a boost of visibility and online presence whilst maintaining a human and relatable connection with customers.

Your company website is a critical touch point for both new and existing customers which is why it needs to deliver an excellent user experience. The primary function of the company website is to deliver a message to encourage further interaction and ultimately sales. This is also a great place to present your other communication channels with social media buttons, click to call functionality and interactive contact forms.

Combined with an SEO strategy, such an approach can help to attract thousands of potential new visitors to the site. This is why it is important to consider working with SEO, web design and content marketing experts to come up with the best possible visibility strategy.

New research by a New York based SEO company suggests that: “to ensure engagement across all the desired channels, marketers need to understand their specificities, as well as the types of engagement they could expect.” This means that each company should assess their opportunities and specific needs when it comes to attracting and retaining new consumers.

Today, modern companies are required to work with highly digital and extremely connected consumers and because of this they need to pinpoint the customer communication channels that could bring the most profit. By incorporating and synchronising the right platforms, strategies and technologies, businesses will be able to optimise cross-channel communications to bring maximum results.

4 easy steps for your 10% retro phone discount!

Buying Christmas and birthday gifts can make for a stressful experience!

Getting it right is hard. We’ve all had to put on our fake smiles upon unwrapping a gift that we had no intention of ever using. But getting it right is a great feeling.

The key to buying the perfect gift is to find something unique. Something that no one else is likely to have, or buy for themselves.

retroemailRetro and vintage style is the way to go. Having a stylish retro poster or phone is a perfect way to stand out and create an interior space that is unique with a throwback to the ultimate design era.

What better way to give your home the vintage edge than with a classic retro phone?

And for a limited time, our retro phones are 10% off!

Step one: Simply choose your perfect retro phone and add it to your basket

Step two: Go to checkout

Step three: Type in the code: XMASRETRO

Step four: Click ‘apply promo code’

And there you go!

Four easy steps to your 10% discount!

How about that for a stress free Christmas?

Top 14 Call Centre Headsets

Here is our expertly picked list of the top 14 call centre headsets on the market. Whether you’re looking to start a new business or upgrade your existing headset to the best possible system this list is your perfect guide!

Jabra-Biz-2300-headset

Jabra Biz 2300

1. Jabra Biz 2300
£75

It’s important to have top of the range features for your office headsets. However what’s more important is user experience; comfortable staff are productive staff.

The Jabra Biz 2300 sits at the top of our list due to its comfort features that seem to go above and beyond for the ultimate customer experience.

Employees ears are protected with soft cushions, PeakStop™  that technology removes any excessive or loud sounds before they reach the ears and the headset comes with a 360 degree adjustable arms for maximum wearability and comfort.

The Jabra Biz 2300 also includes features such as HD Voice clarity and a noise cancelling microphone for optimum audio quality.

 

Plantronics_HW261N

Plantronics HW261N

2. Plantronics HW261N

£42

If it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for your business!

This classic Plantronics model takes the runner up spot due to its affordable price and value for money.

The Plantronics name is often synonymous with quality and the sound clarity on this headset is no different.

One of the main reasons why Plantronics headsets may be a favourite among astronauts is their resilience and longevity; you may not be using these headsets in space but their durability means that you won’t have to worry about costly repairs or replacements.

The lightweight cushioned headset means that employees will always enjoy that comfortable zero gravity feeling when on a call.

 

Sennheiser_Century

Sennheiser Century SC 660

3. Sennheiser Century SC 660

£125

Quality is the main theme of this headset; from the HD voice clarity to ensure the best audio to the large leatherette pads for ultimate comfort. The cables are even reinforced with Kevlar for durability that can’t be beaten.

ActiveGard® together with noise cancelling technology create the unbeatable sound quality that Sennheiser is renowned for.

If you are willing to pay slightly more for the top of the range headsets then this is the perfect choice.

 

Plantronics_Voyager

Plantronics Voyager Legend

4. Plantronics Voyager Legend

£48

With a name like legend you’d expect no less than the very best and Plantronics don’t disappoint with the Voyager Legend.

What separates this headset from the rest is its ability to connect to two phones at once allowing for optimum convenience and productivity.

With features such as hands free voice command, noise cancelling and WindSmart technology, audio streaming, 7 hour battery life and Smart Sensor™ technology this headset truly is legendary at a very reasonable price.

 

Plantronics_CS540

Plantronics CS540

5. Plantronics CS540

£130

One of the most important attributes of any great headset is sound quality; the Plantronics CS540 offers the finest sound quality on the market with its faultless features, including a noise cancelling microphone, ensuring optimum sound quality and customer service.

The CS540 is not only very comfortable and lightweight to wear but extremely compact meaning that workspaces are left with more room.

The battery life and range (120m) of this headset help set it apart with its style, design and value for money.

 

BT_H51_Cordless_headset

BT H51 Wireless Headset

6. BT H51 Wireless Headset

£100

This lightweight stylish sleek looking design from BT homes in on flexibility and freedom to move with wireless calls.

Productivity is a top priority for this headset with audio shock protection and background noise cancellation ensuring that calls are always 100% clear.

Employees using this headset can relax with features such as adjustable volume control and leatherette ear protection.

 

JPL-501-Monaural

JPL 501

7. JPL 501 Monaural Noise Cancelling Office Headset

£30

At the lower end of the price range, this monaural headset is very popular among customers since it provides such good value for money.

The sound quality is excellent with noise cancelling features that are particularly important on monaural sets.

The design may not be as sleek as the more expensive headsets but its modesty is exactly why we have placed it in our top 10.

 

Jabra_1900_headset

Jabra BIZ 1900

8. Jabra BIZ 1900

£35

This WiFi and DECT compatible headset offers excellent value for money with noise cancelling features and Quick Disconnect plug as well as audio shock protection software that are all often only found in the more
expensive range.

If you require a simple, lightweight, adjustable and comfortable headset at an affordable price then this is the headset for you.

 

Plantronics_savvi_w440

Plantronics Savi W440

9. Plantronics Savi W440

£150

Another innovator in style, the Plantronics Savi W440 offers a lightweight headset with one touch controls and multi person conferencing. The Plantronics Savi is pretty expensive coming in at £150, however the high quality noise cancelling features and the cutting edge ergonomic design make this headset one that is going to stick around for a while. – perfect for your employees on the go.

 

 

Jabra-Motion

Jabra Motion Office

10. Jabra Motion Office

£240

It’s easy to be distracted by the impressive design of the Jabra Motion Office headset but it’s sleek style is not all that’s on offer.

Boasting numerous mobile features such as a vast range (100m) and hands free voice commands as well as its own control centre and 8 hour battery life.

The dual microphones come with a noise filter and separate noise cancelling software ensuring the best audio quality.

 

plantronics_Audio_648

Plantronics Audio 648

11. Plantronics Audio 648

£19

Perfect for video calls, the behind-the-neck wearing of the Audio 648 headset means that the user’s face is always fully visible. The built-in volume and call controls allow the user the answer and terminate Skype calls from the headset.

With behind-the-neck wearing and soft cushioned earpieces this headset ensures that the user can always be productive with maximum comfort and ease.

 

 

Sennheiser_d10_headset

Sennheiser D10

12. Sennheiser D10 Headset

£140

This DECT compatible Sennheiser headset has a full day battery life and is very easy to install with multi person conferencing made easy through docking each headset to the same base station

As with many Sennheiser models it comes with enhanced Voice Clarity, ActiveGard® audio shock protection and noise cancelling technology.

 

 

Sennheiser_sc_630

Sennheiser SC 630 USB ML

13. Sennheiser SC 630 USB ML

£98

This Sennheiser headset is in our top 14 due to its ultra noise cancelling mic, ActiveGard® acoustic shock protection and Sennheiser HD voice clarity all of which provide an excellent audio service for both the user and the customer.

The headset is extremely lightweight with a large ear cushion for ultimate comfort and protection.

 

 

Plantronics_HW261N

Plantronics HW251N

14. Plantronics HW251N

£35

The wideband frequency response of this headset creates crisp audio with added ultra noise cancelling software for an overall positive user experience.

Its Quick Call and Quick Disconnect features together with the lightweight comfort of the headset allow for maximum user productivity.

 

 

Josh Rose – PMC Telecom
@joshzrose

Flipping Out: Adele Boosts Retro Phone Market | PMC Telecom

Retro is officially the new black.

Adele_Retro_Comeback

In the days where a new smartphone is released approximately every 4 seconds people are looking back at technology’s humble beginnings with nostalgic fondness.

This revolution has been rocketed by the use of a flip phone in Adele’s music video for ‘Hello’ which was viewed over 50 million times in its first 48 hours of release.

Internet and social media users have enormous influence and power when it comes to viral trends; notable examples include the blue or gold dress debate, the ice bucket challenge and, rather relevantly, Adele’s comeback teaser after a 4 year hiatus.

Being one of the most anticipated musical releases of the decade meant that every detail of Adele’s third album would be immediately shared worldwide with every detail scrutinized.

Indeed people were quick to pick up on the use of a retro flip phone by a multi-millionaire; leaving the internet shaken and baffled.

Adele_Headline

This led to an interview with video Director, Xavier Dolan, in which he explains that he avoids filming with modern cars and phones since they’re a reminder of reality and reduce the piece of art to an advert.

Adele_Director

Such is the influence of Adele (and the internet) that mobile phone giant Samsung is now bringing back the flip phone; with much better features than the original model. Already popular in Korea, the smart-flip-phone is now being brought over to the Western market.

Could the flip phone be a contender for the new ‘it’ phone of 2016?

Adele_flip-phone

Okay, whether Adele did inspire this flip phone rebellion may be up for debate but what’s clear is that people are beginning to appreciate the simpler times and incorporating those aspects into their now fast paced and technology heavy lifestyles.

Retro has always been ‘cool’ but with television shows, retro food, technology and vintage fashion all coming back it looks like we need to start replacing our phones with retro models to keep up with the times.

At PMC we’ve even noticed a rise in the the popularity of our retro phones, so thanks Adele!

Josh Rose – PMC Telecom
@joshzrose

Passwords aren’t enough! Secure your online accounts now.

Passwords just aren’t enough anymore!

We’re told that we should use strong passwords for everything we do online, and more so, we should have different passwords for all our account to stop hackers getting at our precious data.

Security experts recommend we make our passwords as long as possible, adding in capital letters, numbers and special characters to make our passwords harder to guess.

As an example of what is expected, a random password generator that I occasionally use to secure some of my systems here at PMC, throws out the following result: 53e;Lwl5fRmK+jT

To quote the eminent internet word-smith, Kimberly Wilkins  “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”

Okay, it’s a given, you need to make your passwords strong, but in the real world, we all need to remember those passwords for our day to day accounts, so most people do use simple-to-remember words or phrases with some extra punctuation or flourishes in there to make them harder to guess.

The main weakness of passwords is that they’re a single layer of protection; someone could easily look over your shoulder as you’re typing a password for example, or perhaps you’ve even been the unwitting victim of a phishing scam. Either way, when someone has your password, they can get into your account.  Worse still, if you’ve used the same password for other online services, then it really doesn’t take a determined hacker much work to find out more about you, which websites you use, who your friends are etc etc. Easy identity theft 101.

So how can we further shore up our online accounts?

Enter two-step-verification

From a personal stand point, I’ve been trying hard to advise friends and family to use two-step verification, but it’s an uphill struggle, it all seems more complicated than it actually is.  It’s really not, and this is part of the reason why I’m writing this blog, so I can say “Look, I actually took time out at work to write this!  It’s really important.  You should know about this.” You’ll all be making this PMC blogger a very happy guy if you look at two-step verification!

You should have this enabled on all of your accounts:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Yahoo
  • Paypal
  • Ebay
    etc, etc

So what is two-step verification and how does it work?

Two step verification is essentially adding a second layer of security on top of your password to protect your accounts. In short, after entering your username & password, before letting you into your account, the website or service in question would then text you a code for you to enter before it let you in. The thought behind this is that IF your password has been compromised, then the hacker, wherever they are in the world, still can’t access your account because they would need your mobile phone to get the verification code for that login.  Verification codes are a one-time only deal, so every time you want to get into your account, you get a new code sent to your phone, and most verification codes expire in a matter of minutes, too, providing that extra level of security for you.

paypal-code

Here’s step-by-step how you would log in to a Google account with two-factor authentication enabled

  1. Enter your username
  2. Enter your password
  3. Google then asks you for your verification code
  4. Instantly you get a text on your phone from Google with a six-digit code you need to enter that lets you into your account
  5. You enter the code and you’re in your account

*It’s worth noting that Google lets you disable the two-step verification code for your home computers so if this is a hassle for you, then you can at least turn this off for your personal device.

In short, this is it.  Simple.

Two-step verification makes sure that anyone trying to log into your account requires the verification code sent to your mobile device.

What if I lose my phone?  

As part of most two-step verification set-ups, you can set-up backup telephone numbers and  email addresses so you’ll never find yourself locked out of your account.  Google even lets you print out a set of single use only verification codes to keep in a safe place as a further backup.

Google explain more here:

There’s also an app for that!

The next step up from using text messages to get your authentication codes is to use an app.  Without getting too technical, what the apps do is generate an encryption key between your device and the service in question that allows them both to generate the same code independently of each other. This means that even if you don’t have mobile service to receive a text message, you can still get your authentication code.

The popular Lifehacker blog has listed the best authentication apps for both iPhone and Android devices here, personally I use the Google authenticator app, it allows me to generate codes for all of my online accounts, Facebook, AWS, Google, etc etc

Google Authenticator App

Google’s Authenticator App with multiple accounts. The blue marker is a timer, counting down the code’s expiry time. Codes are refreshed every 60 seconds.

Further reading

One of the best resources I could find was Google two-factor authentication page, it describes really well what it is and how it works.

You can enable two-factor authentication for your Facebook account, click the link here and find out more, go to “Login Approvals”.  I’ve got it set up in my authenticator app so it all works very well for me.

Find out more on using two step verification for Microsoft services here. Microsoft have their own code generator app for their services.

If you want to enable two-factor authentication for your Paypal account, you can enable it quite easily, but only text messaging is supported at the time of writing this blog.

In summary

Enable two-factor authentication on all of your online accounts now!

 

Five good reasons to use a headset over a deskphone

Telephone headsets; Everybody knows what they are, but does everybody know why they should use one?
Here’s five reasons why investing in a telephone headset could be one of the cheapest and best investments your company makes.

ZOETERMEER - Callcenter Teleperformance in Zoetermeer. ANP PHOTO XTRA LEX VAN LIESHOUT

ZOETERMEER – Callcenter Teleperformance in Zoetermeer. ANP PHOTO XTRA LEX VAN LIESHOUT

  1. Save your neck – If you or your employees are on the phone a lot, then craning the neck to use a handset will take its toll. It’s a simple solution to release muscle tension by using a headset, allowing the user to maintain proper posture as they work. This also ensures that employers are acting responsibly and covering themselves from claims of repetitive strain injury due to neck strains etc.
  2. Increase productivity – Freeing up your handset holding hand gives you an extra hand to type with. It makes things much easier when you need to take down customer details or interact with a computer as you’re talking to your customer or colleague on the phone as you’re working.
  3. Increase concentration – If you work in a noisy office you could invest in a binaural (two eared) headset, which not only helps block out some of the background noise, but also gives you two headset speakers in which to hear the caller through.
  4. Increase Clarity – If you work in a noisy office, then a noise cancelling headset will help cut out the background drone, allowing your customer to be able to hear you speak more clearly.
  5. Office Mobility – Cordless headsets allow office users who are more mobile, move around the office as they talk on the phone. If you have an employee who needs to access records as they speak, or perhaps works in a stock room, then a cordless headset can give that extra freedom to support the customer without interruption giving your business that extra professional edge.

Let PMC Telecom help you with your headset requirements, whether you’re a call centre manager requiring a regular, bulk supply of headsets, or a home or small office worker needing a headset to help you with your day-to-day tasks, check our full range of headsets online now, or for more technical information, give us a call today on 0161 737 9898 and we’ll help you find the right headset for you.