Communication

The Federal Communications Commission is Evaluating Mobile Broadband

Broadband Internet access is a critical consideration for today’s world, considering how much of daily life and business is now conducted online. Having said that, Internet access is still far from a given. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission wants to work to fix this—but to do so, they need data. To help collect this data, the FCC wants you to install a speed test application on your smartphone.

The Importance of Broadband Access

Consider how prevalent the Internet is in everyday life right now: more and more is now handled online. This makes it challenging for many people in areas where broadband Internet connectivity is limited (or even nonexistent) to do very much at all—let alone shop, communicate, or as we tend to focus on, work remotely.

The past year or so has made the severity of this lack starkly apparent, with many people and businesses struggling under their current connectivity limitations. This is part of the reason that the FCC is reinvigorating an application that was originally launched back in 2013 and asking the public to install it on their mobile devices.

The FCC’s App

This application, fittingly called FCC Speed Test, will assist the FCC in evaluating which areas have the most prescient need of better Internet service quality, enabling them to more effectively fund the areas that need more help. Available on both Android and iOS, this app tests your mobile device’s upload and download speeds, as well as its latency, on either a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. By default, these tests take place once every 24 hours—although you can configure these tests to occur when it is most convenient, and how much data that can be consumed during these evaluations.

This app also allows you to test your connectivity speeds, plotting them out over time and by geographic location. In terms of privacy, the app collects a few different identifiers—location, IP address, operating system, device type, and ISP—but no personally identifiable details are recorded.

You’re also able to complain about your Internet speeds to the FCC directly, enabling them to collect even more actionable data.

Check out the FCC’s FAQ page about the application to learn more.

Hopefully, this resurgence in interest in accessible and equitable Internet access will prove fruitful, bringing the utility of the Internet’s full capabilities to more people and organizations. In the meantime, we’re here to help companies do as much as they can with the IT that is available right now. To find out what your technology could be helping you accomplish, reach out to Jackson Thornton Technologies at 334-834-7660. 

 

How to Compose Emails More Quickly with Gmail Templates

With so much time being spent in email, and Gmail holding a 33.7 percent market share, it should come as no surprise that many businesses wouldn’t mind it if a little less time were spent in Gmail if possible. As it happens, one of the most frustrating expenditures of your time—rewriting similar emails repeatedly—can be eliminated by creating Gmail templates.

Gmail Templates in a Nutshell

Gmail templates are a built-in capability that enables a user to compose a boilerplate email to draw upon and edit as required, greatly reducing the time needed to prepare certain messages. As a result, your team members can be much more efficient in their use of Gmail.

Using Gmail Templates

The first step is to enable templates in the first place. Go to Settings > See All Settings > Advanced > Templates and make sure that it is set to Enable. Save Changes once you’ve done so, and you’ll be able to start building your own library of email boilerplate to use in all appropriate correspondence.

Creating Gmail Templates, and Selecting Which to Use

Once your templates are enabled, you’re ready to build some and put them to use:

● Start a new message and create your template as you want it.

● In the message, access the three-dot menu to find Templates.

● This option will open a sub-menu, where you’ll find the options to Save draft as a template, along with the templates you’ve already saved and the option to Delete template.

● From there, you can create a new template or revise the one you’ve already created.

Hopefully, this will be useful to you moving forward. For more tips, keep checking back here!

 

Let’s Look at a Few Collaboration-Themed Applications

Boosting collaboration is a central theme to many companies' operational strategies. The more that people can do as a team, the less costly operations have to be. That is a sound business strategy. Today, many businesses are looking to software to build a successful collaborative situation. Let’s take a look at three such apps that, if used properly, will help any business boost their team’s ability to work together. 

Discord

Discord was developed as a video conferencing solution for gamers, and operated in that fashion for a number of years, but over time it gained popularity because of the number of communication options that the software presents. Some organizations have gone so far as moving from more traditional collaboration apps to Discord because it is effective. 

At its base, Discord is basically a conferencing application that is free to use. Users can create their own servers and use them to host several types of communication such as video chat, audio chat, and text messages. You can easily share screens and do it all in real-time. This is the part about Discord that gives it its benefits. Discord offers bots that help keep users focused on a task and offers organizations a great option as a team-building app.

Without the massive list of useful integrations found with titles like Microsoft Teams and Slack, Discord doesn’t provide a lot of the tools built in to those other platforms, but is an extremely useful tool for collaboration nonetheless.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams’ biggest benefit is a direct integration with Office 365. In a single window, users can view their Outlook-based communications and calendars, as well as create, share, and edit work found on the Microsoft Office platform. Shared workspaces are abound in Office 365 from apps such as OneDrive, OneNote and SharePoint. It provides a centralized platform in which to communicate, manage, and delegate work. 

Microsoft Teams also offers a bunch of active integrations that provide third-party applications access, building on this cache of apps regularly. This provides teams with tools that aren’t native to Office 365. More than that, a direct integration with Skype provides meeting capabilities that fuel collaborative endeavors and push initiatives along faster. 

Slack

Slack, much like Microsoft Teams, is an extraordinarily useful tool for teams looking to collaborate. is a collaboration software designed to make project-based management easier. It is set up as a chat program with forum-like resources and a massive amount of integrations available to teams of people. Therefore, users can customize their Slack experience to meet their needs. The platform is used by millions of companies so the application integrations are current and updated with new features regularly. 

In utilizing Slack, companies can work to replace a lot of the other traditional business communications such as email and text messaging and are available on desktop platforms and mobile platforms for continuous communication. 

Is your business looking to add to its collaborative toolbox? Would any of these three work for your needs? Does your organization utilize any of these?  

 

Switching to VoIP Can Be Good for Your Business

There aren’t many technological assets as important for the modern business than its communications solutions. The telephone, while being one of the oldest currently utilized communications systems available, is still the most utilized. Today, we will look at business telephone systems and why choosing Voice over Internet Protocol simply makes sense for your business. 

VoIP, either hosted locally or in the cloud, can bring any business a solid ROI because you use a resource that your company already has in place, your Internet connection to send and receive calls. 

Antiquated Strategies and Technologies

If you’re still relying on the traditional telephone system of yesteryear, you could be making your job more difficult than it needs to be. Businesses that still use traditional telephone systems have limited ability to grow and expand. Adding new users can mean adding new telephone lines and extensions, a process that’s not necessarily easy.

The most logical course of action is to figure out how your business can get away from traditional telephone providers. After all, these are the same organizations that are known to provide bundles filled with services you don’t need. Plus, running telephone wires and adding new users or phone numbers can be quite the hassle, one that you don’t have to worry about with a more dynamic solution.

Get a Cutting-Edge Telephone System

With great new features that put traditional telephony to shame, VoIP is a sustainable and investment-worthy technology for any business, small or large. VoIP uses your Internet connection rather than a traditional telephone line to function, giving any device with a VoIP application and an Internet connection the ability to work like a phone. Since VoIP only needs your Internet connection, you’re essentially eliminating mobile expenses from your budget.

To learn more about how else your organization can benefit from VoIP, reach out to us at 334-834-7660.