Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Broadband Review of Zen Internet

I've been wanting to switch broadband provider for about six months now but was tied in to a contract with Talk Talk. The contract period finished this month so I set about hunting for a new ISP.

I came across this Zen Internet review at Broadband Reviews. I decided to switch to their Zen Lite package for £18.37. The connection is reliable and stable so should hopefully allow me to blog more often than my previous connection - I hardly used it as it was so unstable. *This post was updated on 16th June 2014 to remove the links at the site is no longer live. Apologies for any inconvenience. *

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

UK Metal Theft - Telephone Cabling

There has been a significant increase in the theft of copper across the United Kingdom in the past few years. This is due to a number of reasons, but predominately the rising price of copper, the recession and finally, the simplicity of the theft. I personally know of people in rural areas who have been affected by this up to three times in six months – each time, they are left without any telephone line and thus broadband for three or four days.

Some simple facts about the rise in metal theft (over a two year period)
The theft of metal across the UK has risen over 700%!
There have been a total of six deaths and fifty injuries related to this type of crime!
Some sixty fires have been caused, along with 673 days of delayed trains!

I'm sure you will agree, these statistics are staggering, however the further you delve into the statistics, the more shocking things get. British Telecom have said that over the past 11 months, there have been 480 arrests, along with 240 tonnes of recovered stolen copper. Up to 80% of BT's cable theft is said to be carried out by organised criminals.

Something had to be done about this and the tail end of 2011 had seen a large increase in raids by polic on scrap metal yards, although because of the very nature of the commodity this did not see a lot of success due to the fact that the copper can be easily melted down. There have even been reports of BT copper cable being stolen from the roadside and then shipped to China – in what is being coined 'theft-tourism'.

If you are one of BT''s customers' who this has affected, you will know just how much of an inconvenience this has caused. It is not known how much money business' across the UK have lost due to being essentially disconnected from the outside world, however, one thing is for sure, it's certainly not going to be a small figure.

However, things are set to change! This month, BT have introduced a widespread new technology 'RABIT' – Rapid Assessment BT Incident Tracker'. The technology had been piloted in certain areas in December 2011 and initial results suggest this could drastically reduce BT's metal theft figures.

RABIT is essentially a burglar alarm. The technology runs on the BT network, and instantly informs BT and local law enforcement of malicious attacks, pinpointing the exact location. Therefore, any would-be-copper-thief would now have to remove the copper and be gone within minutes to evade being caught. An impressive improvement on the hours that it would have taken before to first discover that cable theft was causing faults, and then to find it.

It is still early days on this technology, but BT and police forces across the country are both confident that this is going to be a huge improvement on customer satisfaction due to less downtime, whilst also catching the criminals red handed. Watch this space!

IT Support for your business

The development of the IT sector has grown massively over the last decade. As a result, the face of companies is shifting and businesses are becoming increasingly dependant on their IT. Businesses use IT for everything from running their accounting software to filling out timesheets.

Whilst the high majority of the workforce are what is often termed as ‘IT literate’ only a small percentage are adequately trained to deal with the IT problems, when the systems go wrong. Problems can be as simple as loading new software packages, unlocking systems rights or as complex as viruses wiping information. For larger companies, it is practical and simple to have an IT department to be on hand to deal with all the arising problems. Unfortunately this is rarely cost effective or practical for smaller business with perhaps only 1-20 employees.

The options an employer is therefore faced with, is either to entrust the responsibility of IT support to an employee and provide costly training to fulfil the duties, or alternatively to source an IT support contract with a local IT company. Most IT companies have a range of support contracts and can tailor the service to the size and needs of your company. If you would like a lot of services, the IT technicians can be regular visitors to your business or if your IT needs are much smaller and you just require a technician you can call when something goes wrong, then smaller support packages are available.

Why is it better to have an external IT support than an internal IT support? Well firstly, the probability is that a technician from an IT company will have much more extensive knowledge and not to mention experience than an employee of your own. Also a professional IT technician can also suggest improvements you can make to your IT systems and provide support that goes further then just fixing things. It generally works out much cheaper to have a support package externally then the costs of training staff and keeping their knowledge and expertise up to date.

How do you chose the right IT support company for your business? If you want the technicians to visit your offices, it is important to choose a company that is local because most companies will need to be charging travel. Decide on your budget then shop around for support packages that meet your criteria but are a price you think is suitable for the service. Particularly if you will have the technicians visiting regularly, meet with them and make sure you will be happy to have them in your office. Have in depth discussions about the costings to clarify what additional services might then become additional fees.

In conclusion, it is advisable to have an external IT support contract to ensure you have a support system in place for when problems arise and to keep your business running at optimum speed.