Should VoIP Be Regulated?

The growing penetration of Internet into our workspaces as well as homes has enriched our lives but at the same time it has thrown up some unique challenges. Data on the web moves freely and openly. Will it be the same for VoIP calls and data pertaining to the calls? Are the businesses going to accept that the calls move freely when they are being transmitted over the Internet? The assumption of this fact might be easy for many, especially when any kind of regulation on the web is not accepted easily and often resisted. However, if it is the business VoIP connection then regulations on it has to be there for the benefit of the business.

VOIP

Rules and Regulations

If you have recently switched to VoIP then in the coming days you might even adopt mobile VoIP as well. You will need to drill deeper into the VoIP regulations if you wish to safeguard your VoIP connections against a variety of malpractices. The VoIP users in the E.U. countries and North America have to abide by some of the regulation when the VoIP connection leverages PSTN connection. The regulation has to be put because the legacy carriers do not want to lose money and needs to be compensated when their network is used. The corporate users are able to receive the services at cheaper rates but here the VoIP connection complies with the legacy standards. This is needed because the service providers are compelled to provide good quality.

For the VoIP connection that does not leverage the PSTN, regulations are generally not used. For instance when Skype has to use such a connection, it uses the PC to PC communication. On the other hand when business make use of such applications they tend to prefer quality over the free services. The limited features and integration disabilities does not make the experience better.

In case you are a user who belongs to the zone where both the regulated as well as unregulated VoIP connections are used then the quality of the connections will definitely vary. For the business that want to focus on their core business functions, partnering with a provider that providers regulated VoIP will prove to be very useful. You will have to find out how things work out in reality and then take your decision regarding the regulation.

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Four Tips to Improve Employee Awareness of Internet Security

All of the security protocols in the world won’t help when your employees insist on making their passwords “password.” Not even the equally clever “drowssap” is enough to fool a talented hacker. With SaaS utilities on the rise in many markets, companies need to impress upon their employees the importance of Internet security. A data security breach doesn’t just cost companies significant amounts of money, but it could also potentially damage the company’s reputation with its clients for many years to come.

Virus

Virus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Explain It in Terms They Understand

Many employees may not become familiar with internet security protocols because they don’t understand how important they are. You can impress the importance of security upon them by explaining the consequences. According to Symantec, most companies lose over $7 million to a data breach on average. Explaining the risk in concrete terms may help employees connect. You can also explain to them on a personal level by outlining the personal cost of identity theft and how many people go the extra mile to protect themselves with services like LifeLock’s identity theft protection. Companies run in much the same way but on a larger scale.

Reach Out to All Levels of Expertise

Different types of employees will have varying levels of computer expertise. Some employees may not follow proper protocols simply because they don’t really understand the mechanisms by which the system functions. Company-wide seminars are a fantastic way to get everyone on the same page. Materials can also be provided to aid employees that may not be as web savvy as others and supervisors should always check to make sure that every employee understands what is being requested of them. It may not always be obvious when an employee simply doesn’t get it.

Don’t Get Lazy

English: Jart Armin, internet security researc...

English: Jart Armin, internet security researcher and HostExploit editor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Employees may become lax in their standards if the company doesn’t seem to check them as effectively as they should. Redmond Magazine covers some tips employers can use if they’re interested in monitoring their employees without being extremely obtrusive or increasing their overhead by too much. Employees that know they are being actively monitored may be more willing to follow the proper steps, even if the monitoring isn’t extremely extensive. This could be as simple as the IT department glancing at usage statistics and discussing potential red flags with employees.

Appeal to Their Selfishness

Company profit-sharing or bonuses for departments that follow Internet safety protocols and do not experience any high risk alerts can be a fantastic way of getting everyone on board with new safety protocols. Incentives often help a department work as a team and keep them active and engaged, as IntelliSpend notes. Not only will this motivate employees, it will also make sure that Internet security is always on their mind in one form or another. In this area, vigilance can be extremely helpful.

Internet security begins from the top. The system will only be as strong as the weakest link. While employee education is one very important step, it isn’t everything. Scott and Scott, LLP report that 85 percent of businesses have experienced a breach. Forming a comprehensive security plan is vital for a growing and thriving business. It’s also important that executive staff members follow the same or greater security protocols as the rest of the staff.

Ryan Bloom

Ryan is a digital security consultant and amateur painter. He owns an original Bob Ross.

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End of The Internet

I found this in a forum. Try it and see what happens:

“I just discovered this today and I want to know if its just for me:”

“Type a random internet address then add .ro.ro at the end”

“Example: http://random-site.ro.ro

“How can it happen for every single address??”

“And always in your language/proxies language?”

“LOL”

 

Gold Stars For Motorola, McDonalds; Trader Joes – Vonage Sits In The Corner

Remember this mystery I shared in last week’s blog?

Let me refresh your memory:

Here’s another mystery.  Currently I connect Comcast -> Motorola Surfboard Surfboard SB5101 Modem – > Vonage V-Portal -> Computer

  1. If I try to eliminate the Vonage V-Portal for tests, I can’t connect to the Internet via Comcast -> Motorola Surfboard SB5101 Modem – > Computer, without rebooting the modem
  2. If I perform action #1, then I can’t connect to the Internet via Comcast -> Motorola Surfboard Surfboard SB5101 Modem – > Vonage V-Portal -> Computer, without rebooting the Modem, followed by rebooting the Vonage V-portal.

I did contact Motorola technical support and they shared this with me:

“The SB5101 uses a Lease table to assign IP addresses to devices. When the modem is connected to the internet service provider, it only has one IP address to assign: the IP address that the ISP gives you. Once a device connects to the modem and obtains that IP address, the modem associates the two together in its lease table. The modem will keep those two associated for an unknown amount of time even after the device is shut down or disconnected from the modem. When you power cycle the modem, this clears that Lease table and allows any device to obtain that IP address.”

“This method of assigning IP addresses has been addressed in newer versions of the modem’s firmware so that it will dynamically update the lease table for any device without the need of a power cycle. Unfortunately, the ISP controls the firmware, so you cannot upgrade that firmware yourself. The ISP automatically updates the firmware on all modems installed on their network to be sure they match what their systems support. This also includes downgrading firmware to versions that their systems support.”

“The only thing you could do at this point is to either contact your ISP to see if they will update your firmware for you. If they will not, then we’ll have to stick to power cycling the modem each time you switch the connection.”

“Alternatively, you could also purchase a router to connect to the SB5101. That way, the router would handle all the IP Addressing and the modem would only have to recognize the connection to a single device: the router.”

Vonage Lessons learned:

Time to beat up Vonage…to be fair, I’m not anti-Vonage (companies like Lingo probably wouldn’t fair much better) .  This week, I tested talking to the University of South Africa via Vonage – very nice – when 0% packet loss.  I’ll wait a year and see…do they fix their problems?

At least I give Motorola credit.  They knew what the problem was – shared the current status – then confirmed a firmware fix would arrive, in the near future.

Remember my discovery in last week’s blog with Vonage?

OK Vonage – give me an explanation (Or for that matter, any competitors like Lingo can take a stab):

  1. How come when I run tests with http://www.pingtest.net and http://www.voipreview.org, they both show a significant packet loss – at the same time I experience voice degradation via Vonage?
  2. How come every time I recycle your device for 30 seconds – then run tests on with http://www.pingtest.net and http://www.voipreview.org, they both show zero packet loss – at the same time I experience excellent voice quality via Vonage?

“If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.” –  Douglas Adams

Let me share a cool layman’s article on packet loss at http://is.gd/4JhHN, before I discuss my technology discoveries this week.  Another article by the same author at vonage.nmhoy.ne…,  shares an interesting thought: “In my experience, and that of others I’ve seen on the forums, Vonage devices seem to work better when placed behind a more effective router.”  Would this minimize my packet loss concern?  Maybe I’ll test this with inexpensive routers, like those found at netgear.com/Pro… or  amazon.com/Link…?

  1. Vonage tech support says things like, “it could be anything.  It might be the router, the Comcast connection… blah, blah, blah.”  A former Motorola electrical engineer – who has several patent applications over the years…designed and build cell phones…says it’s the Vonage router.   I also contacted a “computer hardware genius”, studying computer engineering technology at DeVry University…says it’s the Vonage router.   Common sense says that if I power down their device…then power back up…where packet loss is non-existent…it’s the Vonage router.   What do you think?
  2. I had a strange problem this week, where I worked with Vonage level 3 support (normally I get level 2).  The level 3 support person spent 4 hours with me, trying to diagnose the problem.  We came away with a mutual respect for each other.
  3. The problem in item 2 was a Comcast issue.  My Motorola Comcast modem is leased by Comcast.  Guess what they did?  They unregistered my modem on their side.  Why?  They mixed my account up with some other account.   Excuse me?  You win the Curly Stooge tech support award.
  4. I mentioned that Google Voice works well with Gizmo5 (see http://www.gizmovoice.com/).  Question: If I took a laptop to Mexico and initiated a call to a US number – would that constitute a free call?
  5. I now have Windows 7 running and I’m impressed.  Office Depot will install Windows 7 free in store – regardless of where you brought it officedepot.com…

Or ask this question of Vonage – What is your definition of “unlimited service?”:

I recall seeing some Vonage TV commercials where they advertised unlimited world service.   Yet if you carefully review their terms of service, they state that 5,000 minutes/month  is what they consider normal, for usage with normal residential plans.  Where did they get this number?  Especially when Skype considers 10,000 minutes/month normal for their unlimited plan?

Or things like they can cancel a 30 day money back guarantee any time – without notice?

Suppose you brought sometime from the Internet.  They offered a 30 day money back guarantee (like Magic Jack does).  You  send the product back after 15 days.  They refuse to refund the money, because they claim they can cancel a 30 day return policy any time.

How would you feel?  Tell me!

This is similar to some Magic Jack complaints I found via Google.  Yet Magic Jack has no excuse –  Vonage does – it’s stated in their “terms of service”.

Or (if I read this correctly), if you don’t cancel within a precise time frame – after one year of service – they can automatically renew you for another year?

What?  Come again?  I feel like I’m an actor in the TV series Star Gate – in order to return to earth, I need to enter the Star Gate within a certain time frame.  Else, I’m stuck on a remote alien outpost for another year.

There’s So Many “Loopholes” in Vonage’s “Terms of Service”, an elephant can squeeze through – Lingo probably wouldn’t fair any better – didn’t  they change their contract length from 1 to 2 years a few months ago?

One good thing I did was to buy another surge protector.  Why?  Plug the Vonage device into surge protector 2.  Plug surge protector 2, the Motorola Cable modem, and other electrical components into surge protector 1.  If I need to reboot the Vonage device, I just use the surge protector’s off/on switch.  I can even boot the modem – followed by the Vonage V-portal – all by using surge protectors’ off/on switches.

McDonald’s Now

I’m not sure if you visited the McDonalds’ headquarters in Oak Brook.  I have several times over the years.   There used to be this former Roman Catholic priest (now deceased), who became a spiritual healer.  Someone in his audience worked at McDonalds, so they were able to hold spiritual healing seminars there.

Someone else I knew had a connection with McDonalds.  There were different presenters of homeopathic medical topics, over the years.  It’s interesting that many medical doctors were audience members.  There’s actually no disconnect between homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing.  I find them to be quite complimentary.  You can ever throw in traditional medicine into the mix and I would see them as potentially fitting together.

Speaking of McDonalds – their coffee is very good!  Let’s not forget the excellent price also!  I know some would rather pay he premium prize for Starbucks.  Or buy these very expensive beans, rather than the excellent Trader  Joe  (a grocery store chain) “Joe” variety.  I’ll tell you what.  I rather invest the money I save, not going to Starbucks.  Let me stick with McDonalds and Trader Joes store blends.

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