Chat with Nat

Natalie DeCario | VoIP Innovations

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Happy Friday! This week’s VoIP Innovations Chat with Nat is coming out a day early because there are going to be quite a few people out of their offices on Friday. With that being said, I’d like to wish a very happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating. It’s always a good thing when you can get together with your loved ones and have a great day. It doesn’t hurt that the kids get to be occupied with Easter Egg hunts all day either!

Now back to some VoIP Innovations news. All last week members of our IT, Engineering and Development teams attended Boot Camp on VMware 5.5. This is was a 5 day, 10 hour a day intense workshop where they were able to learn the ins and outs of our new VMware software. One highlight of the training was learning how to administer a VMware cluster. The employees who attended this Boot Camp learned a great deal of valuable information and it’s going to be vital in continuing to successfully execute our strategic plans. We have a second group of IT, Engineering and Development employees attending this Boot Camp in June.

While some VoIP Innovations employees are attending training workshops, others are unfortunately coming down with the flu. Our Porting Department has been hit hard with illnesses this year, “but we’re not missing a beat!” That’s what Barry Yancosek, Provisioning Manager, had to say. No matter who is feeling under the weather, the team pulls together and helps each other out. Keep on drinking orange juice and working together, team!

Speaking of the Porting Department, yesterday we noticed that Project Porting was taken over by the K-9 Unit! That’s right, we had the lovely Tiffanie standing in for Denise Breide who is usually in control of our Project Porting. Take a look at Tiffanie answering the phones!

The Pups of VoIP Innovations

The last announcement that I’d like to make is that our office has a new addition… a Ping Pong table! I’m not sure what other kinds of things we can add to this office, but I’m definitely going to stick around to find out. We’re already fully stocked with all kinds of Nerf Guns (there’s even a cross-bow in the mix), a Basketball hoop, footballs, flying stress balls and I’ve even seen some golf and whiffle ball being played. Needless to say, it’s NEVER a dull moment in the office! If you ever want to see pictures of the crazy things that go on in our office, visit our Facebook page because I post everything there!

VoIP Innovations Ping Pong Table

Thanks for taking some time to check out this week’s VoIP Innovations Chat with Nat! Have a great weekend and a Happy Easter.

Happy Easter from VoIP Innovations

Chat with Nat

Natalie DeCario | VoIP Innovations

Click for my info!

Thanks for stopping by the VoIP Innovations Blog to read this week’s Chat with Nat! We have some quick announcements to make and then we’re heading out to for our Annual Company Kickball game. Please be aware that our support team will still be in the office in case any of our customers need assistance. You can contact them by putting in a ticket through your BackOffice or you can send an email to support@voipinnovations.com.

The first big announcement that I have to share with you is that on Tuesday this week we launched our brand new website. We posted an article that goes much more in-depth about the new site, but I just want to go over the basics again. We wanted to completely change the look and feel of our website and we went through a few different designs, but in the end we came up with the perfect idea. When people think of VoIP Innovations, they first think about all the awesome services we provide like DIDs, Wholesale Termination and Origination and E911. The second thing people think of when hear our name is the VI Guy who is always sporting the orange tie. This has become and very big part of our company and we wanted our website to reflect that. By using an outline of the VoIP Innovations city (Pittsburgh, of course!) that everyone’s familiar with, revamping our logo, making the VI Guy stand out and highlighting our services in a new way, we accomplished building a website that is definitely going to stand out in the industry. If you haven’t been by to check it out, please stop over and take a look around!

This week was also exciting for us because we found out that VoIPReview.org named VoIP Innovations the Number 1 Wholesale VoIP Provider in 2014. This was a great honor because VoIPReview.org is a very well respected resource hub for the VoIP industry. We’d like to extend a big congratulations to VOXOX for being named the second best Wholesale VoIP Provider!

One of the last things I want to bring up in this Chat with Nat is the VoIP Innovations University (VIU) that we created. This is a central spot where our customers can go to get all the information and resources they need to use our BackOffice to its full potential. Customers can access all VIU Press Releases, Training Videos, Wiki Articles and White Papers in our BackOffice by opening the Help tab and selecting VI University. We even have a handy Search feature that allows you to find what you’re looking for, much faster.

Before I end this week’s Chat with Nat, I want to show you some pictures of the latest artwork that’s been added to our office. Below you can see our Mission Statement, C.O.R.E. Values (Cultivate, Overcome, Respect, Evolve) and company logos.

VoIP Innovations C.O.R.E. Values

 

VoIP Innovations Call Center

As some of you might know, VoIP Innovations is an ABG Capital Portfolio Company and we share their resources with the other companies shown on our Call Center walls.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we have our Annual Company Kickball game, so make sure to visit our Facebook page later on today for pictures! I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. :)

Today We Launched Our Brand New Wholesale VoIP Website

We would like to announce that today we have launched our brand new website. We have been working on a website redesign for months and we’re so proud to announce it has been released for the world to see.

A website that displays excellent content is great, but if you don’t have an attractive looking website then potential customers might decide to look else for their services. We recognized this and went for a complete overhaul on our website. We have developed a new logo, revised our content and created a site that displays Wholesale VoIP services like no one else in the industry.

New Wholesale VoIP Site

“Having a website that is clean, easy to use and inviting is very important to us,” said Jason Tapolci, President of VoIP Innovations. “Our customers already know we have the best Wholesale VoIP services in the industry, and we’re proud to say that our website is a great representation of the kind of quality services we provide.”

In December, we revamped the way our content and pages were laid out and that was the true start of our website redesign project. Since the December edits, the content and layout of the entire website was revisited and changed to make it easier for current and potential customers to navigate and access the valuable information they were searching for. Our new site is sleek and really shows off that VoIP Innovations is made up of the guys in the orange ties!

Along with the new website, we redesigned our Wholesale VoIP BackOffice so it matches the look and feel of the new site we launched. And believe me we didn’t stop there! Our blog and social media sites have followed suit as well. Take a look around our new site and get familiar with it. If you want to survive in the Wholesale VoIP Industry, a company must embrace change full force and that’s exactly what we did with our amazing new website.

Go visit it right now!

Chat with Nat

Natalie DeCario | VoIP Innovations

Click for my info!

Welcome back to your VoIP Innovations Chat with Nat! You picked a great day to check out this post because we have some amazing news to share with you. Let me get some of the housekeeping things out of the way and then we can jump into the exciting things I’m talking about.

This week we shared a great article that talks about VoIP and payment processing. We all know how fantastic VoIP is because of its versatility and ease. While it’s great to start thinking about implementing a VoIP phone system for your business, one thing to keep in mind is that using VoIP for making payments might not be the best idea. The article talks about a few different reasons why this is not a good business practice, but the main point to understand is that hacking VoIP networks is very easy if the information being passed along is unencrypted. Business owners should always be aware that using credit card processing terminals to handle transaction is a violation of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations. Check out the article for more information on this topic.

The second bit of information I want to share with you today is about our brand new End User Portal. This portal was released last week and we can’t stop talking about it! If you remember from the article we posted about it, this is designed to be a Portal specifically for the end users to manage. Our customers are mostly smaller resellers who may not have the man-power to efficiently deal with large volumes of end user calls, so our solution was the End User Portal. Below is a video that introduces you to the Portal you can see how great it is for yourself. And remember that if you’re one of our resellers, you have the ability to manage your End User Portal from you VoIP Innovations BackOffice account. Take a look at this video that shows you what exactly you can do in the new Portal.

And now for all of that exciting news I was talking about earlier! The first announcement is that we are officially launching our brand new website on Monday, April 7. We have been working constantly on developing the perfect design and we’re proud of what we have created. Along with a new VoIP Innovations website, you’ll also notice that on Monday our social media sites, blog and BackOffice will have a shiny new look to them as well.

VoIP Innovations Goals

Our VoIP Innovations Goals Wall!

The second big announcement is that we’ve reached a goal we’ve been working towards for years… At the end of March 2014 we hit a revenue milestone that proves we are doing something right and moving in the right direction as a company. If you remember from a few weeks ago when we were talking about some of the office art we’ve been doing, then you probably remember that we dedicated one wall to our goals so they can always been seen. We even created cardboard cutouts of the VI Guy to add extra motivation to our staff. Speaking of our staff, VoIP Innovations would not have been able to reach this goal without the hard work that they put in. To our Support Team, Porting Team, Engineers and developers, we appreciate everything you have done over the years to get us to this point. To show our gratitude to them, today we are holding a celebration so everyone can relax and enjoy a work-free afternoon. But don’t worry, we’ll still have members of our support team ready to take your calls. Check out our social media sites later on today to see pictures of our party!

That’s all we have for you today, but as an added bonus, we’d like to share the April Fools’ Day prank that we played on one of our Porting Reps… Check it out!

Payment Processing With VoIP

When it comes to today’s telecommunications, Voice over Internet Protocol is the rising star in the firmament, offering inexpensive phone service and easy data integration/access over the Internet. Unfortunately, like any other new innovation, VoIP has its limitations and no-no’s, some of them discovered only through trial and error or painful experiences.

Payment Processing With VoIP
VoIP is the extremely bright star on the farthest left side.

Considering the ease and versatility of VoIP, it’s only natural that merchants would turn to it as a means of expediting payment processing. However, this has exposed a potentially nasty vulnerability in the setup. If you don’t want to risk hacker disasters and customers filing lawsuits, read on.

A Fatal Vulnerability
In the world of 21st century E-commerce, merchants and customers alike are exposed to a staggering array of different options and processes, including electronic fund transfers, third-party payment solutions, online marketplaces, and money transmitter licenses. There are so many ways to conduct financial transactions online, and people have come to expect a reasonable amount of security implicit in them. Fair enough.

A lot of small businesses use dial-up credit card processing terminals to handle transactions, which is to be expected. However, some small businesses use them with VoIP/Digital phone lines, which is most emphatically not cool. The short answer as to why: It’s a violation of Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations and there’s NO data encryption that works with this practice.

The longer answer is a bit more disturbing. Putting a credit card processing terminal on a VoIP line results in sending unencrypted information over a public network, making that information susceptible to being intercepted by a Man-in-the-middle attack, where a third party eavesdrops on Internet messages. The middle man (or woman; both genders are equally able to be sleazebags) can take and manipulate intercepted data, causing all sorts of problems for the merchant as well as the customer.

Point-of-sale credit card terminals are designed for analog phone lines, where the information is far more difficult to hack. Think of it this way: the dial-up POS credit card terminals are previous generation technology, and VoIP is current generation technology. They operate by different rules, and a hacker can exploit that difference, plain and simple. The simple fact is, most VoIP providers out there don’t use encryption.

Dire Repercussions
If you attach one of these terminals to a VoIP network, you are no longer PCIa compliant. If this setup comes to light, you can lose your credit card processing privileges, especially if you’ve gone on record as being PCI compliant. Furthermore, if customers end up getting their information hacked and funds stolen, they can sue you. So, yes, don’t go there.

So What CAN You Do?
Okay, so after all that bad news and heavy warnings, what are your options? You have two methods to choose from.

Many models of POS credit card terminals have an RS-232 Ethernet port. This is a secure means of processing credit cards, though you’ll probably have to contact your credit card processor to get fully set up, and more often than not, it’s free.

Secondly, you can replace the unit with a wireless credit card terminal, which is a more expensive means of processing payments. All transactions are encrypted, as the units use the same PCI-compliant technology as cell phones do. You pay a bit more, but you’re covered. It’s a good investment.

It’s a foregone conclusion that at some point there will be effective end-to-end VoIP encryption. Until such time, don’t mix old and new tech. It’s a disaster cocktail waiting to happen.

Byline: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about car maintenance to Internet culture and everything in between.

Chat with Nat

Natalie DeCario | VoIP Innovations

Click for my info!

Happy Friday and welcome back to the VoIP Innovations Blog for another great Chat with Nat! This was a big week for us because we finally launched the End User Portal that we’ve been developing since January. The original idea behind the portal was very simple and straightforward, but once we got into the development stages we realized that this project was something bigger.

No other Wholesale VoIP provider in the industry has a BackOffice that is specifically designed for the end users to access. In most cases the end user has to contact the reseller in order to make any sort of changes to their account, but the introduction of the End User Portal has changed all of that. With the Portal, the end users have the ability to view and manage their own account without having to go through the reseller, which saves EVERYONE time. Our article about the End User Portal also includes links to the detailed Wiki article, as well as two tutorial videos. One video is geared toward the reseller and explains what they can still control from their VoIP Innovations BackOffice account and the second helps familiarize the end user with the features and functionalities of their new portal.

The second article that was featured on the VoIP Innovations blog this week talked about VoIP Legal Issues and Security Concerns. While VoIP is considered one of the best up and coming technologies, two of the biggest causes of concern are privacy and call fraud. The great thing about VoIP is that is it less expensive than traditional land lines, which makes it easier to spend more time talking on the phone. If not monitored correctly, sensitive information can be compromised. As for fraudulent activity with VoIP services, it’s always good to be aware of hackers who will abuse the system for phishing, spamming or causing Denial of Service Attacks (DoS). No matter the technology, always be aware of the security implications that come along with it.

The last article that we posted on the blog this week was from one of the VoIP Innovations Porting Representatives, Dave Smith. Our BackOffice is packed full of amazing features and functionalities, but new customers might feel intimated by that. To help create a smooth transition into a new BackOffice, Dave explains the steps that are involved with ordering Local DIDs. This is a basic function that everyone should know how to do and we think he explained it perfectly!

I also have some big news to announce this week… Over the past few weeks we’ve been working to revamp the VoIP Innovations website. It’s going to be a completely new site and we hope everyone will love it! It’s getting close to being finished, so keep checking back for the official launch date!

How to Order Local DIDs

Dave Smith, Porting RepToday we’d like to share a post with you from Dave Smith. Some of you may think that name sounds familiar, and it should! Dave is one of our Porting Representatives and has been here for about 4 years now. Working the Porting Department has given Dave the chance to learn a ton of great things about numbers (DIDs). All day he fields questions from customers who are trying to manage their DIDs and from those experiences, he came up with a great topic to write about. The VoIP Innovations BackOffice has numerous features and functionalities and at times it could feel a little overwhelming to new customers who are navigating through it. Dave thought it would be a great idea to take a step back and look at a basic function that everyone should know how to do – Order Local DIDs.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. The first thing you want to do is dropdown the DIDs tab, hover over Order DIDs and then click Order Local/Toll Free DIDs.
  2. Once you’re on the Coverage Search page, you want to make sure that the Local DIDs option is selected.
  3. From here, go to the State/Province dropdown box and choose the state you wish to buy a DID in. Do the same for the Rate Center dropdown box that is right next to the State/Province box.
  4. The following step would be to input any specific NPA-NXX combo that you had in mind.
    1. Please note that if you want a specific word or phrase for this combo, we also have a Vanity DID Search option. To get there, simply select Vanity DID Search that is next to Coverage Search at the top of the section.
  5. If you wish to order multiple DIDs in sequential order, then check the Sequential DIDs box and enter the amount of numbers you want to order.
  6. Next, you’re going to select the features that you would like on your DID. Your options are T38, CNAM or SMS.
  7. When you make sure everything is correct, you can click Search.
  8. The next menu is where you have the option to View DIDs or Order DIDs
    1. View DIDs – These are numbers we currently have in stock.
    2. Order DIDs – We do not have any in stock, but you can still place an order based on Quantity Requirements.
  9. Once you have your desired DIDs selected you will add them to your Shopping Cart and click the Check Out button to proceed.
  10. You’ll be able to see all the details for your DID including the Network, Tier, Location, Pricing, Service Details, Features and Endpoint Group. You also have the ability to edit this information.
  11. Hit Check Out and you’re done!

See how easy that was! We know this is a very basic how-to article, but it’s necessary information that all customers should be aware of. If you’d like even more detailed instructions how to order Local DIDs, then please visit our Wiki article or check out the video tutorial below.

VoIP Legal Issues and Security Concerns

Voice over Internet Protocol (aka VoIP) has gotten a lot of praises sung about it, and rightly so, but the chorus of adulation often risks drowning out the cautionary voices that warn us that even VoIP has its downside. Every technology, no matter how awesome or beneficial, has pitfalls that we need to be aware of and take measures against.

With VoIP, voice communication is handled over the Internet, which is a great setup overall, with plenty of benefits. But that very same voice communication brings with it the same vulnerabilities as the conventional net-based services and applications.

It’s a wise entrepreneur who embraces this rising star in the communication technology firmament. But you do need to be aware of certain VoIP legal issues and security concerns, as part of your risk management. What sort of concerns and issues, you ask? Read on …

A Matter Of Privacy
Thanks to VoIP, telephone call costs are slashed deeply, which means that the temptation is there for more personal calls to be made over the line, which in turn leads to the temptation for businesses to monitor those calls. While many businesses allow their staff to make a certain amount of personal calls, this can rapidly turn into an issue if left unchecked. How much is too much? And how closely do you monitor your employees’ calls?

VoIP Legal Issues and Security Concerns
Sometimes, in the bid to have a secure Internet, VoIP security is overlooked.

Furthermore, a VoIP system that doesn’t have its own unique security architecture and controls may cause legal headaches for companies that deal in sensitive information such as customers’ credit information, or a health center’s patient records. This issue is further exacerbated if a company relies on third-party VoIP applications, since it becomes difficult to verify the safety of information or the maintenance of privacy, as such measures are out of the company’s hands.

The Biggest Security Issues
Would you believe toll call fraud? Although many companies have firewalls in place for their data, most don’t give VoIP security a second thought, thereby making the system vulnerable to hackers. One of the best ways to fight this is by monitoring usage, something most businesses simply don’t do.

Then there’s voice phishing, also called vishing. Since more people inherently trust phone lines more than they do Internet connections, they can fall prey to scams involving phone usage. For instance, a victim may receive an e-mail that instructs them to call a certain number to verify financial information, only to have information such as bank account numbers delivered right into the hands of fraud perpetrators.

And let’s not forget the ever-present spam. Yes, VoIP can be victimized by spamming, and in this case it’s called Spam Over Internet Telephony, creating the very appropriate acronym of “Spit”. More of a nuisance than an example of outright fraud, Spit can clog voice mail in-boxes beyond capacity, possibly pushing out legitimately important phone messages. Also, the cheap cost of VoIP makes it easier for telemarketers, direct sales people, pranksters, and con-men to increase their activity, which means more useless calls going to businesses and being a nuisance time-waster.

Finally, there are Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. A hacker flooding a VoIP server with unwanted requests can bring a system down just long enough to cause damage or even in some cases allow a hacker to steal information or funds. On top of that, there’s the damage to the company’s reputation to take into consideration if their customer service call center goes down.

All told, VoIP is still a killer deal for today’s businesses. People simply need to be made aware that VoIP security needs to be taken as seriously as regular net security, and as a result take stronger security measures to make the network secure.

Byline: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about smart phones, auto detailing and everything in between.

Our End User Portal has Been Released

We’ve been working on this End User Portal for months and we’re proud to announce that today it has officially been released to our customers. The concept behind the development of the portal was to eliminate the need for end users to call their reseller and purchase a DID or add/remove a feature on an existing DID. Once the project was underway, we saw an opportunity to create something that wasn’t available anywhere else in the industry.

Our End User Portal Has Been Released

This is the End User Portal Main Dashboard that end users see when they first login.

Let me give you a brief overview of who are before I get into the nitty gritty of the portal. We are a Wholesale VoIP Service Provider who aggregates the best quality and lowest price VoIP services to sell to resellers, who then sell to end users. We have developed an industry leading BackOffice platform, Titanium III, which gives the reseller a vast amount of transparency and automation. It is also stocked with countless features and functions that save time and, ultimately, money. The same principals behind the reseller BackOffice were applied to the End User Portal, and it has turned out to be something exceptional!

Before this portal was created, the end user would need to make a call to the reseller if they wanted to purchase a new DID or add/remove a feature. With the End User Portal, that call is completely eliminated because the end user can login to the portal and do everything themselves. End user Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as DIDs, Termination, E911, Origination and Porting, are also included in the portal.

When looking at the End User Portal from the reseller perspective, it is understandable that they might not want end users to have the ability to purchase DIDs or add/remove features. We saw this concern and created a solution that allows the reseller to pick which functions the end user is able to use. These settings range from giving full access to end users, only allowing them to view the KPIs, and everything in between.

If the reseller chooses to grant full access, the end users are free to purchase DIDs and add/remove features. Please note that before anything is final, the reseller must approve or reject the end user requests. The reseller can either drop down the Clients menu in their BackOffice, select Pending Orders to see every open request, or they could open an individual Client and view the Pending Orders for that Client only.

Our End User Portal Has Been Released

This is the updated Clients section in Titanium III. Resellers will be able to manage their End User Portals through this dashboard.

Before the end user can log on to the portal, the reseller must create them a login. This can be done easily from their BackOffice account. Once the login is created, the end user will get an email verification with a temporary password and a link to the portal. There is one generic URL that gets sent out to the end user, but if a reseller wishes to use a branded portal login page, a unique URL is provided in the End User App Settings in the BackOffice. The App Settings is also where the reseller can add a display name, email (important for getting notifications) and phone number. This is also where they can upload the logo that will show up on the login screen and in the portal for end users to see.

The End User Portal is ideal for smaller resellers who may not have the resources to deal with constant end user requests. The majority of our customers fall into this category and we believe they will benefit greatly from this new development.

We will be adding detailed instructions to our Wiki that will benefit resellers, as well as end users. We’ll also be adding video tutorials to the VoIP Innovations University YouTube account that help the resellers and end users familiarize themselves with the capabilities of their new portals.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback on our new End User Portal!

Chat with Nat

Natalie DeCario | VoIP Innovations

Click for my info!

Welcome back to another Chat with Nat at VoIP Innovations! Let’s jump right in and talk about some of the articles we posted on our blog this week. The first was from one of our Technical Services Representatives, John Livingston. John is part of the team that fields all of our customer calls so he has a pretty good understanding of the things our customers are concerned about. For this particular article, John wanted to focus on Caller ID, more commonly known as CNAM storage. His article explains that Caller ID isn’t something that’s very complicated at all.

The second article we featured on the VoIP Innovations Blog this week was titled, Setting up a Call Center on Time and on Budget. The first rule of setting up a Call Center is to always focus on your Call Center Staff. They are on the front line of your company and deal with customers first hand.Providing a great environment is a sure way to inspire these employees to excel. This article explores some different things you can try that will make your employees happy to work for you.

Coming up next week:

How to Order Local DIDs – Dave Smith, one of our Porting Specialists, will walk you through the process of ordering Local DIDs through our industry-leading BackOffice, Titanium III.

VoIP Legal Issues and Security Concerns – This article features some insight on a part of the VoIP industry that no one should be left in the dark about. It will talk about things you can do to ensure that you are always prepared!

As we end this week’s Chat with Nat, I want to share a video of something that happened in the VoIP Innovations office today. Our Provisioning Manager, Barry Yancosek, has been tormenting the Porting Team with Nerf guns all week. But today, the team got him back and they got him back good! Check out the video below to see what we’re calling, The Great Mustache Mutiny of 2014.