Business broadband is changing. In the next few years, BT Openreach will say goodbye forever to old-style copper telephone lines, switching off the network that has served homes and businesses for more than 20 years. In its place, we’ll all be using fibre optic cables. So what can we expect from the copper to fibre switch, and how can businesses prepare?

Check out our handy flyer for the key facts or read on for more detailed information.

Farewell to the old technology

Copper telephone wires have been the lifeblood of our telephone and internet network for years, with many customers still relying on these networks to this day. They support traditional PSTN, ADSL and ISDN lines.

These technologies have all been essential business communication tools – but the new full fibre optic cables can do the same job much faster, flexibly and more reliably.

Fibre optic cables

What’s changing?

Your current set up may very well differ from another business. For example, you might run fibre cables to the exchange cabinet and then copper wires from the exchange to your premises (FTTC – Fibre to the cabinet), whereas others might run fibre cables to their front door (FTTP – Fibre to the premises). In fact, some don’t have fibre at all and solely rely on the copper network. Even if you have an FTTC set up however, this won’t be enough. All businesses and residential properties will need to have FTTP.

The good news is that there’s plenty of time to prepare for the big switch, which won’t happen until 2026 – and when it does begin, it will happen gradually so you have time to adapt. Fibre optic cables first made their appearance back in 2000, with more people adopting them over time, so the changeover to pure fibre broadband really is happening slowly.

That said, there will be a time in the next few years when your existing ADSL, ISDN and copper phone lines will stop working, to be replaced by fibre. This is a really positive step for business communications – there’s a bright future ahead, with super-fast internet connections paving the way. They’ll enable things like video conferencing, Cloud computing and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone lines, which can transform your business communications and help you to work more efficiently.

Fibre optic internet connections have:

Katie Price delivering a free business telecommunications quote to a client

What to do now

Now’s the time to take stock of your existing phone and broadband setup, and plan for the future. The sooner you do this, the better equipped you’ll be for the switch when it comes.

Explore your options with Croft

Need advice from a telecoms specialist? Look no further than Croft Communications. We tailor our phone and broadband solutions to each individual client, so you’ll get exactly what you need to future-proof your business.

Contact us on 01920 466 466 or fill in our free quote form online.

What are your plans for Christmas? No, we don’t mean your dinner arrangements. In the office, preparation is key so that you can keep your business ticking over while you and your staff enjoy a relaxing break, and telecoms technology can help you to do it! Check out our top telecoms tips to see you through the festive period.

1.      Prepare your customers with on-hold messaging

Don’t waste your customers’ time annoying them with cheesy music. Use on-hold messaging when they’re being transferred or put on hold, to cement key messages from your brand, such as your opening hours over the forthcoming festive period. You can even set up your phone system to give a short on-hold message to every customer who rings before they get through to an operator. This is a great way to lead into the Christmas period by giving advance warning of any upcoming changes to your service.

2.      Update your voicemail message with important information

If you’re closed or operating a skeleton service over Christmas, it’s important that your voicemail message lets people know. Re-recording your answerphone message needs to be high on your Christmas to-do list, or you could end up with a lot of disgruntled customers. The new message should tell people when they’ll be able to reach you, and whether they can visit your website to get the job done instead. Don’t forget to update it again when things go back to normal in the New Year!

A Croft Communications team member making a call using a business mobile

3.      Use call forwarding to respond flexibly to demand

Let staff work from home, or wherever they are in the country, by diverting your incoming calls to a different number. It means you’ll still be able to provide the same level of service and never miss a call, whilst also being responsive to changing conditions. With unified communications in the Cloud, it’s possible to set out a backup plan just in case, agreeing with staff that you can forward calls to their business mobiles if you experience unexpectedly high call volumes. It beats sitting in a deserted office and waiting for the phone to ring.

A business woman answering a call on a business telephone system

4.      Check what support is available over Christmas

What happens if something goes wrong with your phone or broadband services over the festive period? Check the technical support arrangements your telecoms provider is offering between Christmas and New Year. If your usual point of contact is off for Christmas or there are any changes to your support service, make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.

5.      Celebrate and enjoy

With the telecoms taken care of, it’s time to treat your staff to a Christmas party with a difference. This year you may be seeing in the festive period by video conference, so make it special – why not send everyone a bottle of bubbly so you can toast the year you’ve had, and look forward to the future together? One thing’s for sure – whatever happens in 2021, telecoms are set to play a bigger role than ever before!

Festive video conference on Zoom

Get your business telecoms ready for the Christmas period. Contact Croft today by filling in our online contact form, or phone 01920 466466 to speak to us directly.

Are you working from home with a residential broadband connection? Wondering if business broadband is worth the extra cash? Get the lowdown on all the little extras that could add up to a better deal for your business.

Customer support

All broadband packages offer some level of support, but the customer service you can access is not always equal. With a good business broadband contract, you’ll have access to high-quality technical support that aims to troubleshoot any issues as quickly as possible, so you can get back to business with minimal disruption. If you’re a small business without an in-house IT department, good external support is a perk worth having – the reduction in downtime and quick resolution of problems could save you a significant amount in the long term.

Croft Communications' Dave Ambridge

Superior connection speeds

Need faster broadband that you can rely on? Switching to business broadband will improve your connection speed. Broadband for business is designed to accommodate tasks like video conferencing with ease, so you can get things done without interruption. There’s usually a range of different options available, designed for different business needs. At the cheapest end of the spectrum, there’s FTTC fibre broadband, which is perfect for small businesses. At Croft, we offer a small business broadband package from just £21 per month. At the other extreme, larger businesses that need superior connections may opt for lightning-fast business ethernet designed for heavy data users.

Business ethernet cable for superior connection speeds

Higher security

Every business must protect its sensitive data, so cybersecurity is rightly a big concern for companies. That’s why business packages have a higher level of security protection than residential broadband, with anti-virus and firewall software included as standard, as well as the option to back up your data to a secure server. Business broadband users also have the option to rent a private leased line that others can’t intercept.

Service level agreements (SLAs)

Business broadband deals offer a guarantee of reliability that can’t be matched by their residential equivalents. When you sign up for a business broadband package, you’ll benefit from a service level agreement (SLA) that sets out the level of service you can expect from your provider. This is great for peace of mind and business continuity.

Phone and web services

With business broadband, you can bundle in hosted phone services such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as part of your package. If you’re currently paying for a separate phone line, this could save you money.

If you want to host your own website, your business broadband package may also accommodate this, with some deals including web hosting, domain registration and business email addresses.

A Croft Communications team member answering a call on a business VoIP system

Static IP address

A static IP address enables many business-related tasks, such as logging on remotely to your PC, running a server or making reliable VoIP calls. It is possible to request a static IP address as part of a home broadband package, but this is usually an added extra. With business broadband, it’s included as standard.

Get business broadband from £21 per month. Speak to the team at Croft today by phoning 01920 466466 or fill out our online free quote form.

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: the new iPhone 12 generation is here! We say generation because there are not just one but FOUR different devices being launched this time around. Apple unveil their brand-new offerings tomorrow (October 13th), and the build-up to the release has been replete with gossip, rumours and general excitement. There may be some further surprises in store – but for now, here’s what we know about the latest must-have iPhones.

Four different handsets

We’ve heard on the grapevine that there will be multiple models released tomorrow, with different screen sizes. They’ll comprise the iPhone 12 Mini (5.4”), iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro (at 6.1”, both will be larger than their predecessor – the iPhone 11 Pro) and iPhone 12 Pro Max (a whopping 6.7”). The devices are rumoured to have a sleek new flat design, with sloping edges closely resembling the recently released iPad Pro. A new, sophisticated navy colour option is anticipated by those in the know, matching Pantone’s Classic Blue Colour of the Year.

Super-fast 5G connectivity

As telecoms specialists, this is the bit we’re really enthused about. Invitations to Apple’s online launch event hint at 5G capability (at least for the Pro models), with the cryptic message, “Hello, Speed.” We’ve blogged before about how 5G is set to revolutionise telecommunications, so the prospect of the release of the first 5G-capable iPhones marks a real turning point for the industry. Alongside 5G, the phones are set to ship with a faster Apple A14 processor, with CPU performance up to 40% faster than that of the Apple A12.

Triple-lens 3D camera and LiDAR sensor

Leaked images point to a new camera array for the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, incorporating wide angle, ultra-wide angle, and telephoto lenses. The phones will also feature a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor – a futuristic piece of tech that can scan objects in its vicinity and measure distances up to 5 metres away. Utilised by NASA on its Mars Rover, the LiDAR sensor will also come in handy for iPhone owners wanting to use augmented reality apps and games. In addition to this hi-spec camera and scanning facilities, the iPhone 12 will feature crystal clear OLED displays that can show a wider range of light and dark, while draining less power from the battery.

iPhone triple lens

Value for money?

Prices for the latest iPhone 12 series haven’t yet been confirmed, but are likely to start at around £540 for the iPhone 12 Mini or £700 for the iPhone 12. It’s worth noting that the new models are unlikely to be shipped with their own power adapter or EarPods, meaning that new users will have to fork out more for these extra accessories – but existing Apple enthusiasts will be able to carry on using the chargers and earphones they already have.

Upgrade your business mobiles with Croft

If you can’t wait to try out the new iPhone 12, we’re here to help. Following the final release of the much-anticipated Apple devices, we’ll handle your business mobile upgrade smoothly, so you get the best value and performance for your business.

Contact us for more info on 01920 466 466.

Text messages, online chat and social media have all opened up two-way conversations and brought brands closer to their customers, but despite all of this, there are times when only a phone call will do.  

Why do phone calls still matter?

We all have our preferred modes of communication – some of us like nothing more than a chat, while others like to get things done by email or text. But if you’re running a business, there are many reasons to prioritise your phone system: 

Business colleague chatting to customers on a reliable phone system

Phone problems to avoid

Most businesses will have some form of telephone number, even if it’s just a sole trader with a personal mobile. But just having a number isn’t enough: phone-based blunders can be a real turn-off for customers.

Here are some phone problems your business should take steps to avoid: 

Employee using reliable business phone system to make client calls away from her desk

Is your phone system up to the job?

Iyour current communications infrastructure robust enough to deal with demand? A good business phone system could help you to grow your business, work more efficiently and build a reputation for fantastic customer service 

Reliable office phone system

At Croft Communications, we’re experts in business telephony. We’ll help you set up a business phone system that works for you. Contact us on 01920 466466 to find out more or get a free tailored quote for your business.  

The coronavirus crisis has propelled remote working into the mainstream, triggering an unprecedented demand for fast and reliable broadband connections. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the fastest and most dramatic revolutions in the telecoms industry we’ve ever seen. As the dust settles after lockdown, this new reliance on connectivity is likely to continue – but what else does the post-Covid future hold for telecoms technology? 

Unlimited data and remote working

In spring 2020, the sudden but ongoing shift to remote working drove a demand for connectivity that shows no sign of waning, even as the government tries to encourage former commuters back to the office. Predictably, mobile usage and roaming both decreased, while home broadband usage increased dramatically. 

Business woman using telecoms technology to work from home post COVID-19

The switch to remote working is likely to mean an increasing trend towards unlimited data plans, as more people log in from homeAt the same time, we do expect people to start travelling again, with a corresponding increase in mobile data usage. 

Network reliability and customer service

Network reliability is going to be an ongoing focus in the post-Covid world, as more jobs are done from a distanceThere’s nothing more frustrating than a frozen screen in the middle of a video conference! Many businesses will need to look at their network requirements and consider upgrading to a faster connection. At Croft, we’re committed to delivering fast and reliable business broadband solutions that won’t let you down – even at peak times. 

Cyber security

VPN telecoms tablet technology in a post-COVID world

Remote work is likely to increase security and infrastructure risks for customers and telecoms providers – because accessing data in the cloud makes it vulnerable to cyber attacksBusinesses that enable remote working will need to get to grips with the issues surrounding cyber security, and the measures they need to take to keep their data secure 

5G networks

Contrary to some of the wilder conspiracy theories out there, we can confirm that the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t just a front to foist 5G technology onto the world. That’s not to say 5G won’t change the way we live, however. This disruptive next-generation connectivity represents a potential revolution in the communications industry, with implications for everything from the speed of our internet connections to the infrastructure of our cities.  

That said, 5G may not arrive as quickly as planned, with delays caused by the pandemic meaning it’ll take longer for 5G networks to be up and running. 

Tracking the spread: what does it mean for data privacy?

Mobile telecoms technology to track and trace post-COVID

One of the more exciting applications of communications technology is its potential as a tool to contain the spread of Covid. By tracking people’s movements through mobile technology, it’s possible to identify clusters of infection, enabling governments to act quickly to stop it spreading further. But using people’s data and tracking their location in this way raises important ethical questions about data protection and privacy. It’s important that this is addressed as we enter an age of pandemics, so that these valuable tools are trusted by the public, and can be used to their full potential. 

Do you love simplicity? Always looking for an elegant solution? Then the very concept of unified communications is likely to appeal to you and your business. But there’s more to it than that – having a single system to handle all of your telephony, broadband and other communication systems is likely to bring a solid and worthwhile return on investment. Here’s how… 

Save cash on bills  

If you’re paying out to several different providers for your internet, telephony, teleconferencing and more, streamlining your systems is almost certain to save you money. Many companies are paying out more than they need to, for apps that overlap or perform functions they don’t actually use. At Croft, we’ll help you simplify your communications. We offer bespoke unified communications bundles designed to meet your business needs – whether you’re an SME, larger business or a public sector organisation. 

And it’s not just about the direct savings you’ll make from streamlining your tech. Reliable and efficient communications technology allows businesses to make remote working a permanent reality – potentially saving you money on office space and running costs. 

Cut down on travel costs 

In the age of Zoom, the thought of spending thousands of pounds travelling to meetings and conferences looks increasingly illogical. Unified communications makes it easy to get everyone together, no matter where they are, on any device – so you’ll only need to shell out on trains or planes when face-to-face meetings can’t be avoided. You can even save on candidate expenses by having initial interviews by video conference. 

Business employees collaborating online with Unified Communications video conferencing tool

Keep calm and carry on 

The world can be an unpredictable place, as the past few months have shown. But with a cloud-based unified communications system, you can protect your revenue stream by allowing your business to carry on, whatever happens. Whether it’s a lockdown forcing workers to dial in from home, a fire at the office, or any other setback, being able to access all of your data from any location means that nothing can hold you back – you might even pick up extra business from competitors who haven’t been so wise with their communications tech. That’s got to be worth investing in! 

Work smarter with better communication 

Could you get things done more efficiently with better modes of communication? The opportunity to integrate methods like instant messaging and video conferencing, SMS and voice calls into one single platform can revolutionise your communications, especially if you have a lot of employees working remotely.  

Want to know more? Find out how Croft’s Unified Communications service can bring your business a great ROI! 

Remote working, and the technology that enables it, has been a godsend for many businesses in the past few months. The coronavirus has enforced an experiment in working from home that has opened up new possibilities for companies and their employees, and as a result, remote working is here to stay 

But while a home-based workforce can help limit the spread of the virus, it may also introduce risks of a different kindIncreased reliance on the cloud for communication and storage can make businesses more vulnerable to cyber attacksAt the same time, the protections that the traditional office environment afforded employees, such as firewalls and blacklisted IP addresses, may not be in place in a home office setting.  

Here are some of the main risks that a business employing remote workers should be aware of. 

Lack of remote working policy  

If you’ve never had a remote workforce before, you might not have any documented policies about the dos and don’ts. But going forward, it’s essential that everyone’s on the same page. Take the time to create a policy for your team which includes clear rules covering everything from the passwords they use to the way their devices are stored. Try to involve employees in the creation of the policy by asking for feedback on issues they need clarity on, and making sure everyone knows how vital these rules will be for the security of the business. 

Remote employees using their own devices 

Lots of people have worked through lockdown using their personal home computers or tablets. For some, it was the only option: the enforced home working took many of us by surprise and there was no time to supply an alternativeBut in the long term, using personal devices to do company work is a big no-no. Instead, each remote worker would ideally be issued with a laptop, tablet or mobile that’s to be used exclusively by them whilst working from home. 

Employee working on company device from home to avoid cyber security data breach

Forking out for devices for every employee may seem expensive, but the price you pay for a data breach could be a lot higher. Think about it: if employees aren’t using company-owned devices, things like antivirus software, application updates and secure authentication are completely outside of your controlHow do you monitor who’s accessing sensitive data if it’s stored on a private machine that might be shared with others? If you want to protect your data going forward, now’s the time to formalise your remote working procedures with company devices for all. 

Weak login credentials 

Working from home means logging in remotely. Every time someone uses data in the cloud, there’s an increased security risk  however small – which means it’s extra important to use unique, strong passwords that are kept private and not re-used: poorly-formulated login credentials could be easily exploited by hackers. Using tools like LastPass can help ensure that passwords are strong, and that they’re stored securely 

Vulnerability of home networks and broadband  

How secure is your home broadband connection? Unlike broadband for business, home connections often have weaker security protocols, because they’re not designed to protect business data. If you’re not sure, you can always give us a call to talk it through. We can help you with your cyber security needs and provide expert advice and tools to combat risk. 

Reliance on cloud-based tools 

Zoom, Slack and other cloud-based apps can be invaluable when connecting and collaborating with a remote workforce, but with any cloud-based technology, it’s important to consider the security implications. Take the time to evaluate the risks you’re taking whenever you select a cloud-based tool for your business. You might decide that the risk is acceptable in some scenarios but not others – for example, it’s OK for a Friday afternoon social get-together but not for a confidential client meeting. Or you might say that everyone needs to customise their settings to the highest level of security. For example, on Zoom you could disable the file-sharing option, to stop the spread of malware.  

Cyber security risks posed to home worker communicating via Zoom

GDPR breaches 

Working in an office, GDPR policies are usually simple. There’s filing space for confidential paper files, and the personal data revealed in a phone call isn’t likely to be overheard. But for remote workers, you need to make more effort to secure your client data. All the little things that might seem inconsequential – like working from a café or sharing a workspace with family members – could, in fact, put you in breach of GDPR regulations.

Put policies in place to make sure that confidential conversations can’t be eavesdropped, private data isn’t visible on a video call, and a lost laptop can’t be accessed by prying eyes. For those using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), consider utilising Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to remotely access any lost or stolen devices and remove and wipe any sensitive data. 

Phishing scams 

Phishing has always been a problem, but it may become more of an issue in this age of coronavirusUnlike many cyber security risks, this one isn’t based on technology. Instead, it preys on human error and vulnerability. 

In a phishing scam, crooks exploit someone’s fear or curiosity to get them to reveal their personal data. This may be more likely to happen if employees are working alone, and especially now that there’s so much important legitimate messaging going on with things like contact tracing and HMRC grants. The global move towards remote working amid lockdown scenarios means that there has been a spike in virtual interactions – and the phishers have moved in for the kill. As such, it’s really important that everyone in your organisation gets proper training to differentiate a legitimate message from a scam. 

Need help with cyber security? 

One of the best ways you can protect your company data is to get help from the professionals. At Croft, we’re old hands at remote working – so we can listen to your needs and advise you on the right technology. Get in touch with our expert team for invaluable advice, or get a free quote on any remote working equipment your business may be lacking 

Ever been put on hold and felt like you’ve been forgotten? Poor phone service is all too common in every industry – but it could cost you your clients. Keep customers happy and deliver service with a smile, with our top tips for business phone etiquette.

Don’t keep people waiting

Aim to answer incoming phone calls within three rings. If you just have the one phone line, use the Call Waiting feature so you know when someone is trying to get through to your number. Some multi-line phone systems also have customisable ringtones – so you can hear immediately when an important customer is calling.

Let them know who they’re speaking to

Start the call on the right foot with a professional greeting. Whenever you answer the phone, you should introduce yourself and the company, and ask how you can help. Get everyone on the same page, so there’s a professional and unified feel to your customer service.

Telephone conversation with client at Croft Communications on a dedicated business phone line

Check your voicemails

It can be really frustrating when nobody calls you back. Make sure you have a system to check your messages and get back to people in reasonable time.

Listen and respond

There’s nothing worse than an overly scripted call that doesn’t actually answer the caller’s concerns. By all means, stick to a basic structure in your conversation, but it’s important to be human, and hear what they’re saying, too. It goes without saying (we hope) that you should never interrupt.

Tell the caller what you’re doing

Long silences don’t work well on a business call. If you need some time to look up the caller’s details or transfer them to another person, always be sure to let them know what’s happening. If it’s appropriate, this is a good time to make a joke or a bit of small talk. Anything to make them feel valued and connected.

Be professional when working remotely

With the rise of remote working, many business calls are now taken at home or on business mobiles. Sometimes that’s tricky – it’s hard to be professional when you’re on a busy train, or a small child is clamouring for biscuits. If it’s a really awkward time, just be honest – tell them you’re on a mobile and you’ll call them back as soon as you can.

Use the latest technology

Nothing can replace basic courtesy when you’re on a business call, but you can make your customer service even better with the right tech set-up. Modern business phone systems do all sorts of things to serve callers better.

Croft Communications team member discussing EFM ethernet first mile with a client on the phone

For example:

Deliver amazing customer service by discovering our range of communication solutions, including everything from business phone systems, business mobiles, unified communications and more.

There’s never been a more important time for connectivity. To feel like we’re still able to socialise, be part of a community and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. With physical meet-ups restricted, digital and telephone communications have become an absolute necessity for fulfilling our inherently social natures.

Indeed, countless psychologists have explained the importance of keeping connected with others throughout this period. Socialising creates feelings of togetherness, camaraderie and support – all aspects of life we as human beings crave and need to feel fulfilled.

As a communications company, we know we are at the epicentre of this and as such, are keen to do all we can to help both individuals and businesses make their communication channels as open as possible. This got us thinking. If we were to recommend one piece of equipment that everyone should have right now, what would it be?

Our answer: an unlimited data 4G broadband dongle

Slightly bigger than a USB storage stick, the dongles connect wirelessly to your PC / Tablet, mobile / gaming platform etc to provide access to the Internet when you most need it. Because the devices themselves are portable and easy to use, they are an ideal solution if you have a slow Internet connection or if you need to access the Internet quickly when you’re away from a router or it is overloaded from everyone else trying to contend with your data allowance. With so many of us working from home at the moment, and entire families using the broadband connections all at once, this handy unlimited data plugin makes logging into Zoom, Skype, Instagram, and all other forms of online communication channels, simple.

TOWIE star Sam Faiers stays connected with Croft

And we’re not the only ones loving the dongle. Sam Faiers and family recently broadcast their appreciation for how amazing these devices are and how simple they are to set up. After moving out of her Hertfordshire home and down to Surrey, The Only Way is Essex star apologised to her fans for being off the ‘gram, due to lack of Internet and mobile signal within the house.

After seeing her post, and knowing we couldn’t let the TOWIE fans down, we swooped right in, offering Sam her very own dongle to ensure she would no longer be disconnected from the world.  Delivered and installed within 3 hours. It’s safe to say, she loved it!

Sam Faiers talks about Crofts broadband dongle Sam Faiers Instagram story discussing Crofts broadband solutions

But all joking aside, the team here at Croft really do feel a sense of duty to keep people connected at this time. If you’re looking for some advice around what services and tools might be best for you, your family or business, please do get in touch with the team. It would be our pleasure to help!