Virtual learning, distance learning, online learning… whatever we call it, the principles of eLearning have been around for a long time. But what will eLearning look like in the future – and is it ever likely to fully replace traditional, face-to-face classroom education?
A brief history of eLearning
The word ‘eLearning’ means different things to different people. For some, that little ‘e’ is all-important: eLearning is defined as education using electronic media, such as videos and smartphone apps, inside the classroom or elsewhere. Others might say the concept of eLearning includes any kind of distance learning, letting people learn flexibly and at their own pace in any location. Either way, eLearning certainly isn’t new. The first computer-based training course was developed way back in 1960, while the Open University, offering home-based flexible education, was founded that same decade in 1969.
Over the years, with the introduction of home computers, online resources and smartphone apps, eLearning has become ever more accessible. Computers in classrooms in the 1980s and the launch of the World Wide Web in the 1990s signalled exciting new educational possibilities. By the turn of the century, electronic learning resources to support education for all ages were already widespread: the internet, though still in its relative infancy, was well established as a valuable research tool, and interactive CD-ROMs helped make learning more relevant and compelling.
Today’s world: eLearning as an essential lifeline
Fast forward to 2020 and during the coronavirus pandemic, eLearning took on a new urgency. No longer a gimmick or novelty, it became an essential lifeline providing a continuous education to children of all ages who couldn’t physically attend school. The dangers of a ‘digital divide’, where children without access to laptops and WiFi during periods of lockdown might lag behind their peers, became all too apparent.
The Heart Tech Appeal
At Croft, throughout the pandemic and as part of our Croft in the Community initiative, we’ve been helping combat digital poverty to enable better access to an online education for children across Hertfordshire. We pledged to supply free mobile broadband to 100 families and teamed up with Heart FM to appeal for donations of laptops and devices.
In a future where eLearning is an integral part of everyone’s education, we hope these essential tools will be freely available to all.
A turning point in the history of education
In future, the home-schooling that took place during the pandemic is likely to be seen as a turning point in the history of education, marking a ‘before and after’ in terms of the way the curriculum is taught and how students learn. It’s shown educators what is possible, what works and how learning might look in the years to come – as well as revealing important shortfalls. There’s more research to be done on the effects lockdowns have had on learning, and this is likely to uncover some essential areas where eLearning can’t be substituted effectively for face-to-face classroom teaching (or at least not yet).
New eLearning technologies
Nobody has a crystal ball, but we can catch a glimpse of the future of eLearning in the technology that’s already being developed and deployed today. These technologies are just beginning to be explored – but it’s likely we haven’t yet exploited their full potential. Tech-savvy educators using cutting-edge methods will pave the way for more mainstream use in the years to come.
Augmented reality and virtual reality
There’s a buzz around virtual reality in education: it’s a new and exciting tool that could (almost literally) bring any topic to life. Learning through experience – by visiting a historic site or exploring an object from all angles – is well known to be more effective than more passive education styles. And with AR and VR technology, this can become a (virtual) reality. In the future, it will enable students to visit the places they’re learning about or go back in time to discover what a period in history was really like to live through. In practical subjects like medicine, would-be surgeons will be able to practise difficult procedures virtually.
In the future, as always, human teachers will be central to learning but AI technology could play a valuable supporting role. Today, we use AI in simple ways: for example, with chatbots programmed to answer simple questions. In tomorrow’s world, the way we use AI is likely to be more subtle and complex. For example, if computers can learn about the needs and learning styles of individual students, they’ll be able to generate a curriculum that’s personalised and adapted to each learner’s unique profile. Artificial intelligence could even do smart things like suggesting improvements to course content, based on the data it gathers from actual pupil performance.
Learning management systems
One big shift during the coronavirus pandemic has been the widespread adoption of online learning systems like Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams for home-schooling. These learning management systems have the potential to make life easier for both teachers and students and they’re likely to loom large in the future of eLearning. Marking – the bane of every teacher’s life – could in many cases be automated using an LMS, and the technology it uses could even enhance the quality of the assessment. For example, educators will be able to easily access patterns and trends in pupil performance that might not otherwise have been spotted and adjust their teaching accordingly. Meanwhile, students will benefit from having an archive of all their learning available in one place, including recordings of live lessons, so they can dip into it whenever they need to.
eLearning trends of the future
The new technologies we use are influencing popular practices in education. Many of these are likely to be here to stay!
- Social and collaborative learning. We’re social animals and working with others has always been fundamental to the way we learn. Since the advent of social media, educational tools like online chats and forums have been second nature to digital natives – and they’ll continue to be a cornerstone of eLearning into the future.
- Adaptive and personalised learning. Good teachers have always adapted their approach to individual learners – and perhaps, in the early days of online technology, this wasn’t something that eLearning could replicate. But in the future, far from a one-size-fits-all approach, one of the strengths of computer-based learning will be its ability to offer different resources to every student, based on their own individual learning requirements.
- Simply put, microlearning is the practice of breaking up lessons into small chunks. Many people have already adopted this type of learning in their use of educational apps like Duolingo, spending just a few minutes every day building up their knowledge. As we grow to understand more about effective learning, microlearning could play a larger part in classroom-based education in the future.
- Everyone learns better when they’re actively interacting and having fun, so games and quizzes have long been a feature of every classroom. In the future, the gamification of learning (and game-based learning) will become more sophisticated, with virtual reality likely to play a bigger role.
Learning tools with a purpose
In the early days of the internet, eLearning was often seen as a novelty and many resources developed simply reproduced printed materials into an electronic format. One expert said in 2001: “Most e-learning replicates the worst features of face-to-face instruction. So, it may be cheaper to ‘deliver’ knowledge over the Internet, but it will not be more effective.”
Today, and into the future, this remains pertinent. To be effective, the technology we use to enable learning needs to be user-focused, deployed sensitively to support students in their learning journey. It’s likely that many of the technological developments that will have the biggest impact on student success will be simple essentials like fast, reliable internet connections that enable better real-time interactions – so that the learning tools we’re already using can be deployed more effectively.
Here are some of the most meaningful benefits to be had from eLearning in the future:
- People will have more say in where and when they learn, with ‘hybrid learning’ (some in the classroom, some at home) likely to be a mainstream option. This should open up educational opportunities to a wider cross-section of the population.
- Unlimited resources. With electronic learning materials, there’s no limit to the number of books students will be able to access – there will no longer be any restrictions based on how much you can carry or store. Having virtual libraries available on tap will revolutionise the quality of resources open to students.
- New connections. Far from limiting social interactions, eLearning will break down physical boundaries and connect learners from all over the globe. Students of the future will learn valuable lessons from the experiences of their friends and counterparts all over the world.
- Reduced teacher workload. The idea of automation and artificial intelligence is scary: could it make educators redundant? In fact, what’s more likely is that with the technology to support them, skilled teachers will be able to spend less of their time doing repetitive tasks and dedicate their energy to delivering thoughtful and effective teaching.
- New subjects to study. With the rise of eLearning, perhaps the very subjects we learn will change. There’s likely to be a larger focus on topics like coding, which in turn will help young adults to develop new eLearning materials in the future.
Connectivity for all
For eLearning to be successful, free access to the right devices and connectivity will be essential or the digital divide that was feared during recent lockdowns will become a reality.
Wondering how telecoms can support with your pupils or employee’s education and training? Get advice from our team of friendly telecoms specialists and make a plan for an eLearning-filled future.
Good record keeping is paramount for financial firms. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many firms weren’t adequately set up for home working. In this extraordinary situation, it took time to put procedures in place to ensure that professional standards were maintained when staff were based outside the office.
Now that working remotely has become the norm for most office-based roles, the FCA has laid down its expectations for robust record keeping, including call recording. Under the new regulations, firms will need to have the policies, procedures and technology in place to record all relevant communications (including voice calls) when working outside the office. This will help firms to ensure that sensitive information is treated appropriately and crack down on the potential for staff misconduct when working from home.
What are the FCA call recording regulations?
The FCA call recording regulations are as follows:
- All voice calls must be recorded, including those using mobile phones. So, whether your staff are working at home, travelling for business or office-based, you’ll need to be able to provide recordings of every conversation.
- Firms must monitor calls periodically. In addition to having the records in place, you must also listen regularly to ensure the quality of the conversations.
- Policies and procedures for remote working must be in place and must be shown to the FCA on request. If you haven’t reviewed your policies and procedures since the first lockdown started, it’s important to check that they’re still fit for purpose and can be applied to home working situations. You might find that you have to add in some wording about the use of privately owned devices or certain apps.
- You must offer training to staff on call recording policies and procedures. This will make them aware of the regulations, help them to understand their importance, and outline the consequences if they don’t comply.
Getting the right call recording technology in place
Compliance with the FCA regulations is a lot harder if you don’t have the right tech setup. This was the main barrier to most firms when the first lockdown was brought in and the reason why there has been some lenience in enforcing the rules. But the good news is, once you’ve implemented the technology, you’ll benefit from an integrated way of working that’s not only compliant with call recording regulations but also helps your workforce to collaborate remotely and get things done more efficiently.
Croft’s Unified Communications solution gives all of your communications a home in one place. It’s based on Hosted Telephony, keeping records in the Cloud. So, emails, voice calls, instant messages and more can all be called up from one central record, meaning that there’s a complete file that can be accessed by everyone working on it. It doesn’t matter where you’re based – staff can log in from anywhere, ensuring that your business can continue as usual, whatever external constraints or surprises come your way. If you’re concerned about people outside the company gaining access to your records while staff are working remotely, you can protect the system with authorisation codes.
- Call recording as standard
- Records of all incoming, outgoing and missed calls
- Authorisation codes to protect your data
Ding ding! The Android and iPhone debate can get pretty polarised: like sports teams, most people tend to pick a side and defend it to the death. But what really is the difference between Android and iPhone – and which operating system is best for you?
Back to basics
First up, some basic information. If you’re choosing a mobile device today, the operating system you choose is pretty much an either-or. Don’t want an Android phone? Then you’ll have to go for an iPhone (and vice versa). Android is owned by Google, while the iPhone (plus the iPad and other gadgets that use the iOS operating system) is owned by Apple.
There used to be more diversity in the market, with contenders like Microsoft throwing Windows phones into the mix. These never really caught on however, and other older systems such as BlackBerry were swallowed up by Android.
Look and feel
Apple products are famed for their sleek, streamlined appearance. If looks (and design in general) are important to you, you might instinctively lean towards an iPhone. A joy to behold, the iPhone 12 is the latest example of Apple’s enduring design credentials.
But all is not lost in terms of looks if you decide to opt for an Android model. There are plenty of beautiful non-iPhones out there, from the likes of Samsung, Motorola and more. In the end, it comes down to a matter of taste.
In the early days of smartphones, iPhones were unquestionably the easiest to use. Nowadays, their rivals have caught up, and it’s pretty much even.
If you’re choosing business mobiles, cost may be the deciding factor. Android will always beat the iPhone on cost, with phones available for every budget.
From headphone jacks to handsets, your phone hardware is all the physical ‘stuff’ you use to make it work. In terms of handsets, there’s a far wider choice on Android – lots of different companies design Android phones, so you’re not limited to three or four options and you can buy something on a budget if cost is your main concern.
Cables are often an annoyance with the iPhone; Apple’s Lightning cables only work on iOS devices, so if you lose one, you’re stuck. As for headphone jacks, the iPhone has evolved beyond them, meaning that you’ll need to use wireless earphones (AirPods), or buy a special adapter if you want to plug your headphones in.
Proprietary or open-source?
If you’re looking for a device that will support your other iOS applications, it’s an open and shut case: you need an iPhone. All Apple products are proprietary, meaning that they only work within the Apple universe – you can’t just rock up with an Android phone and expect access to Apple Music or iCloud for example. That’s part of the reason why the iPhone has inspired such loyalty since its launch in 2007: once you’re a paid-up Apple user, it’s difficult to go elsewhere.
On the other hand, Android is an open-source operating system, with apps that can be used on iOS devices. It comes from the Google stable, so includes Google Play Music, Gmail and Google Docs as standard – all of which can be installed on an iPhone if you later decide to switch. There’s lots more choice in terms of customising your phone and choosing how to use it – such as changing your launcher (the software that creates the interface design on your phone).
Get help with your business phones
Want to go the extra mile to keep your clients happy? Technology is your friend. Make sure you’re using yours to its full potential, with these tips to harness your telecoms technology to improve customer service.
No, not your brains (although you’ll need them too), but the data you collect about your customer service calls. If you’re using a Hosted Telephony system, you’ll have access to all kinds of statistics on how long you take to answer calls, how long the calls are taking, the location of the caller and lots more. For example, say you don’t have enough customer service agents to handle all the calls you’re getting: this will show up in the number of calls you’re missing when all operators are busy. Take advantage of these analytics to get an insight into how you’re performing, act on any trends you notice and monitor the results, so you can deliver a better level of service to your customers
Let people choose how they contact you
The beauty of today’s telecoms technology is that there’s a mode of communication to suit everyone. Make sure these are all available to your customers. While some people prefer to hear a human voice on the other end of the phone, others would rather interact with a virtual assistant on your website, or send a quick message on social media. Making use of all these different avenues – telephone, chatbots, social media, email and more – will ensure that customers feel comfortable contacting you on their own terms. And if you have a Unified Communications system to bring them all together, you’ll always have a record of your conversation history – no matter which format was used.
Create a diversion
Need to work from home during lockdown? Your customers need never know. By diverting customer service calls to business mobiles, you can ensure a seamless shift to remote working, without inconveniencing your callers.
Get the message
Sometimes calls get missed, so your voicemail system is vital to help you retain customers and offer the highest level of service. Make sure yours is set up so that you can dial in from any location to check messages on the move – that way, you’ll always be able to stay connected and respond promptly to your customers’ needs.
Keep a record
Nobody wants to repeat themselves. If you keep a recording of your customer service calls, that shouldn’t be necessary. Play back the recording if there’s anything you didn’t quite catch on the call, and keep it handy so that others can refer to it when dealing with that account. You can also use call recordings to review performance and help with training – helping all team members to develop great business phone etiquette.
Want to overhaul your phone system? Croft Communications can help. We can set you up with a business phone system to help you get the best out of your employees. Call us on 01920 466 466 or email [email protected] – great customer service guaranteed.
Are you ready for the next generation? The telecoms world is buzzing with anticipation as 5G finally makes its appearance. But what makes it stand out – and will it really change the world? We’ve listed some of the biggest differences between 4G and 5G mobile networks.
5G is faster
And that’s an understatement! 5G connections will theoretically be able to reach speeds of 10 gigabits per second – that’s up to 100 times faster than 4G. The difference this makes will be dramatic. Download times for a typical movie will reduce from minutes to seconds, and you’ll be able to do more things at once – great for multi-taskers. The super-speedy connection will also mean your phone can cope with higher-resolution images, so everything will appear crystal clear.
5G has lower latency than 4G
Say bye-bye to buffering! Latency is the delay you get between one side of a connection sending information and the other side receiving it (think of the pause you sometimes get in conversation, when TV reporters are talking via satellite). With 5G, latency will be around 50 times better than 4G, so everything will be as good as instantaneous. This means that anything you do in real-time that demands loads of data, from gaming to streaming, will work like a dream. Virtually zero latency is a necessary requirement for exciting new innovations such as self-driving cars, which will need to rely on real-time instant data exchanges in order to work safely.
5G has higher capacity
Ever tried to get through to a friend at midnight on New Year’s Eve? Although the 4G network is great most of the time, it can collapse under the pressure when too many people try to use it at once. This can be frustrating at the best of times but could spell disaster in emergency situations, such as terrorist attacks, where 5G’s capacity could make a life-or-death difference. 5G’s superior bandwidth capacity also holds tantalising potential for future tech. It means we’ll have the means to connect lots more devices to each other, paving the way for smart fridges, cars, street lighting and more, in a new technological era characterised by the ‘Internet of Things’.
5G isn’t as widely available as 4G… yet
If you’re choosing a phone plan in 2021, 4G will still be the norm. Only a limited number of handsets (including the new iPhone 12 suite) are built for 5G, and the network itself is still limited to a select but growing list of cities and postcodes. All this means that 5G is the expensive option, for now. If you’re excited by new tech and impatient to harness the super-fast speeds everyone’s been raving about, the option is there. But if your mobile needs are limited to business calls and modest data allowances, you’re likely to be happy sticking with your existing setup until 5G is firmly in the mainstream.
Say goodbye to slow connections and look ahead to a high-speed future, with these New Year’s Resolutions for 2021.
1. Embrace 5G technology
2021 will be the year that 5G makes it big. More 5G-capable devices (like the new iPhone 12) will be released and nationwide 5G coverage will bring this next-generation technology into the mainstream. What could it mean for your business? Lightning-fast connections (up to 100 times faster than 4G), increased data capacity and ultra-low latency will all make life easier, especially if you still have a large remote workforce. Going forward, these dramatically faster connection speeds could enable new and innovative business solutions such as 3D printing and the Internet of Things.
2. Adapt to a post-Brexit world
2021 will mark a new era for business, as the transition period out of the EU ends on 31st December 2020. Mobile phone roaming services – previously free in EU countries for UK residents – will no longer be guaranteed surcharge-free, so check your mobile phone contract carefully and contact your service provider if you are unsure. You don’t want to be hit with an unexpected bill next time you travel across the Channel or the border from Northern Ireland to the Republic. EU data and telecoms regulations, such as GDPR, will no longer apply in 2021, although the UK’s own Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 should ensure that there’s no difference to your obligations in practice.
3. Embrace video conferencing as a permanent fixture
Virtual events and video calls became routine in 2020, necessitated by the pandemic. And in many cases, that shift has become permanent. Virtual happenings streamed online were once a futuristic novelty, but now they’re here to stay. This year, ensure that you’re making the most of this exciting new environment. You can network from your office hosting publicly-streamed industry events, or give your employees the chance to attend gatherings all over the world – all from the comfort of their workstation. This year, you’ve got to make sure your broadband connection is up to the task!
4. Ensure business continuity
If there’s one thing 2020 taught us, it was that business continuity plans can mean make or break for many SMEs. If you dipped your toe into the world of remote working in 2020, 2021 is the year to formalise your remote working policies and procedures. Why not future-proof your business by moving over to a Unified Communications system that can work wherever you do? Reliable business broadband is also a must for companies with remote workers – home broadband simply won’t cut it.
5. Make the switch to fibre
As we ring in 2021, the impending 2026 copper switch-off suddenly feels a lot closer than it did. That’s the date when old-style copper phone lines will finally go extinct – and if you’re still dependent a telephone system that uses these lines, now’s the time to act. Get advice from our team of friendly telecoms specialists and make a plan for a fibre-filled future.
Is your IT system on its last legs? It might be time for an upgrade. Switching to new technologies can be tricky, but here’s how to make it as painless as possible.
What is a legacy system?
A legacy system is one based on old technologies that are no longer widely used. Remember Betamax, cassette tapes, minidiscs and even CDs? They may still do the job they were designed for, but as the years pass, this becomes more difficult, because everyone else has moved on.
In the world of IT, systems can become outdated very quickly. These days, if your software is not connected to the Cloud, it can probably be classed as a legacy system.
What’s wrong with keeping a legacy system?
Some legacy systems may still work well and if that’s all you’ve known; you might not see the advantage in upgrading. But as time goes by, your system will become more difficult to maintain. The software may stop being supported, meaning that problems can’t be fixed and security may become an issue. It may not work on newer operating systems and you’ll find yourself patching together workarounds in order to keep doing things the way you always did.
At the same time, the chances are your competitors will have seen the light. They’ll move on to newer, more efficient ways of working. If you don’t keep up, they’ll have a big business advantage.
The perks of upgrading
It’s not all negative. Migrating from a legacy system to a modern, Cloud-based IT system can be a real eye-opener and change the way your business functions. Connecting to a remote system on a server, rather than relying on software that sits on a particular machine, opens up all sorts of possibilities, making things easier, faster and more efficient. Hosted Telephony that works over the internet will save you cash, while the potential for remote working can help you to work flexibly and ensure business continuity.
How to prepare
There’s a lot to consider when migrating from legacy software.
Here are some dos and don’ts:
1. Plan ahead
Schedule your migration during a quieter time for your business. It’s likely to involve some downtime and disruption – so if you’re an e-commerce retailer, you won’t want to do it in the run-up to Christmas.
2. Get staff on board
It’s natural for people to resist change. You’re likely to need to sell the benefits of the switch to your employees, especially if it makes their life harder in the short term. Communicate the issues, listen to their concerns and explain why the transition will improve their work role in the long run.
3. Keep your data safe
Whoever’s assisting with your migration, ask them how they will back up your valuable data and keep it safe as you move over to the new system. Get advice on best practices to ensure that your business-critical data is protected.
Make the move to modern technology with Croft
Get things done more efficiently with better modes of communication. Talk to Croft about your existing legacy systems and find out how upgrading to our business communication tools can help you save money, work flexibly and increase productivity.
2020 has been the year that we embraced remote working – whether we were prepared for it or not. Despite a steep learning curve, many companies have seen its advantages and are beginning to embrace this new style of working.
We’ve gathered our top tips on how to switch safely and seamlessly to a remote office in 2021.
1. Get everyone on board
Not everyone has enjoyed working from home during lockdown, and many people much prefer the social space and dedicated work environment that an office provides. If you are planning to switch to a fully remote workforce, you’ll need to anticipate this and decide how you’ll accommodate your employees’ wishes and preferences. You might choose to keep your office open with a smaller number of desks so that those who wish to work there can do so. If that’s not an option, consider how you’ll provide the same sense of community and social contact that people would get in a physical environment, and what you could offer your employees to make them feel more comfortable working from home.
2. Plan the logistics
The transition to remote working may be a chance to change the way things are done in your organisation. For example, you’re likely to need a paperless office system and a setup of regular video conferences so that people can keep in touch. It’s a good idea to implement a trial period of remote working to analyse how your productivity changes, what problems people encounter, and if there are any challenges that can’t be tackled from afar.
3. Take security precautions
The cybersecurity risks associated with remote working are heightened. It’s vital that everyone in your organisation is aware of the vulnerabilities that can arise when working from home or another location. Make sure you provide company devices for every employee, put training in place to avoid data breaches, and implement security measures to protect your company from cyber-attacks.
4. Provide reliable connectivity
Staying connected is essential when working remotely. Poor internet connections can impact on productivity, impede customer service and frustrate your employees. There are significant differences between a typical home broadband connection and professional-standard business broadband. Get the best from your workforce with high-quality business broadband connections for all remote workers.
5. Look after staff health and wellbeing
It’s easy for employees to feel forgotten when working from home, so it’s more important than ever to make them feel valued. Despite the work environment changing, you’re still responsible for staff health and safety while at work, so provide ergonomic equipment and training to guard against RSI, eye strain and other common workplace ailments. Make sure all staff have regular one-to-ones where they can raise any issues that are affecting their wellbeing. Hammer home the importance of a work-life balance: make it clear that you don’t expect employees to log on at midnight just because they physically can. Your company culture is likely to change significantly as a result of the transition to remote working: make sure that change is a positive one.
Need help setting up your remote workforce?
Croft’s business communication solutions are designed for remote working. Covering everything from collaboration and conferencing tools, cybersecurity, business broadband collaboration and more, our team of experts can set your virtual office up for success!
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.
- PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) – A traditional telephone line using copper wire to transmit voice communications. The simplest phone setup, common in residential properties and small businesses.
- ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) – Using a PSTN, comprises of standard copper wire telephone lines. With the addition of a microfilter however, users can make phone calls and browse the internet at the same time. A common choice for residential and small business use.
- ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) – Uses traditional copper wire telephone lines but sends digital rather than analogue transmissions, making it faster than ADSL. A common choice for businesses.
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.
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:
- Faster speeds, so you can transmit data more quickly.
- More reliability, so you’ll get a good connection no matter what time it is, or how far you are from the exchange.
- More potential, allowing you the flexibility to work remotely.
- Better value when you take advantage of technologies like VoIP, which could save you 60% on telephone bills because all calls are made over the internet.
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.
- Check the technologies you’re currently using for your business telephone and internet services. Are they serving you well? Listing any pros and cons will help you identify what you need from a new system, and if you need to take action straight away.
- Are you in a fibre-enabled area? Over 90% of the UK can currently access super-fast broadband technology, but if you’re in one of the remaining areas not yet connected, you’ll have to adjust your plans accordingly.
- Create a wish-list. Decide which technologies could support your business goals in the next 5-10 years. Talk to a telecoms specialist to find out which systems are most likely to serve your needs. Our friendly team of experts are only a call away!
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.
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!
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.
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!