Millennials and BYOD: Study Finds 70% Use Unapproved Apps

Dubbed “Digital Natives,” U.S. adults coming of age around the turn of century – aka Millennials – are driving fundamental change in information and communications technology (ICT) throughout organizations. Millennials, according to a new study from TrackVia, “have embraced the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Bring-Your-Own-Application (BYOA) revolution like no other generation in the workplace.”

TrackVia, a provider of do-it-yourself application platforms for businesses, found that nearly 70 percent of all Millennials said they bring applications from outside the company to support their work, despite this often running counter to corporate policies. Just 31 percent of Baby Boomers admitted to doing the same.

Millennials and BYOD
Accustomed to finding and making use of new devices, applications and ICT services on their own, Millennials are making regular use of cloud tools and services, such as Box, Google Drive and Evernote, to help them do their jobs. Nearly half use their own apps, “because corporate apps don’t meet their needs,” according to a TrackVia press release.

Such habits pose challenges for IT departments. Sixty-nine percent of Millennials said they never work with IT when choosing new business apps. Sixty percent said they aren’t concerned about corporate security when making use of personal apps instead of those approved by corporate IT departments.

In addition, TrackVia found that:

  • Less than a quarter of Millennials (22 percent) think that BYOD/BYOA policies cause headaches for IT, but 40 percent of Baby Boomers do;
  • 35 percent of Millennials use their own apps because the corporate apps can’t be used across different devices.

“Millennials are on target to make up the majority of the workforce by 2015,” Walker Fenton, TrackVia product SVP, was quoted as saying.

“What we found in our research is that Millennials not only prefer to use their own devices, but their own software as well. In many cases the software provided by their companies simply isn’t meeting their needs. In today’s ‘there’s an app for that’ world, Millennials know they can buy or build flexible, mobile, custom solutions to be more efficient and productive.”

Wireless and VoIP Continue to Replace Wireline

Surveys of consumer and business voice communication trends have shown a steady decline in wireline usage, replaced by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) subscriptions and wireless adoption.

One such survey is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) annual Local Telephone Competition, formulated with data up through June 30, 2013. In this report, it was found that in June of 2010 there were 123 million end-user switched access lines in service, 29 million interconnected VoIP subscriptions and 279 million mobile subscriptions in the United States. Meanwhile, 2013 data showed that switched access lines fell to 90 million (an annual decline of 10 percent), VoIP rose to 45 million (a compound annual growth of 16 percent) and mobile subscriptions rose to 306 million (a compound annual growth of 3 percent).

Of the wireline services, which include switched access lines and VoIP subscriptions, 57 percent were residential connections and 43 percent were business. Forty-seven percent of those residential customers were VoIP subscribers, as opposed to 15 percent of business subscribers.

SIP Trunking Drives Business Growth

Driven by its flexibility and interoperability, SIP trunking is a rapidly-growing field. It conquers many of the communications-related hurdles with which businesses were once afflicted in the past, and it can scale with startups as they grow or enterprises as they expand into global markets.

A recent blog post on TelecomReseller points to a quote from Infonetics analyst Diane Myers, who says that SIP trunking is expanding because of its reliability and low cost. Her company predicts that, by the year 2015, the overall number of companies using SIP trunking services will expand from the current 38 percent to more than a majority at 58 percent. This change will sit alongside a decline in the usage of T1 lines, Infonetics predicts, when, during that same time period, the number of companies using T1 will drop from the current 71 percent to 55 percent in 2015.

TelecomReseller also points to the Eastern Management Group study, “SIP Market Size Analysis and Forecast 2013-2018,” which found that 80 percent of businesses with 20,000 employees and with between 100 and 500 employees report SIP implementation as very important to their companies.

The blog post also discusses the nature of what businesses can achieve, in general, by embracing SIP trunking. First of all, they can easily get over the hurdle of technicality and move straight toward cost savings with services such as the Net2Phone SIP trunking. Services such as those can work with businesses existing IP-PBXs or VoIP gateways to consolidate their phone service into a single IP circuit. This can save businesses from having to rip up their infrastructure and complete days’ worth of new wiring that could lead to expensive and inconvenient downtime.

Even with a small amount of downtime, the professionalism SIP trunking can provide should make it worth the effort. Customers want to be met where they are, and they want technological services to support their service inquiries. At the very least, SIP trunking can help global businesses provide virtual phone numbers for local customers in a number of countries throughout the world so businesses can have a presence in places they are not physically located but still complete transactions.

Finally, businesses can also help themselves by using SIP trunking to consolidate their voice and data services into single IP connections. This will allow them to save money and be more flexible with the services they use inside their offices and the services they offer to customers. That flexibility of having voice, data, instant messaging, and other application services available from central locations, can help businesses further integrate their geographically-separated offices and allow them to better communicate and innovate their services and products.

911 Call Centers Begin Adopting IP Phone Systems

While 911 call centers have been struggling to stay on top of new communications technologies for some time now, it seems they are getting closer to bridging the gap—thanks to communities working together in order to make sure first responders have what they need.

The Scioto County Sheriff’s Office and the Greenup County Enhanced 911 Center are both in the process of updating their current 911 systems to ones that will allow residents in the area to make requests for help using text messages and photos in addition to traditional phone calls.

These new kinds of calls for help will be sent through a 911 dispatcher at the 911 call center, meaning that people will no longer have to wait for someone to answer the phone, or wait on the line in order to tell people where they are or what they need. For call centers handling time-sensitive and urgent situations, this upgrade in communication capability could make a huge difference.

The police in Greenup County, Ky., are also looking at upgrading their 911 call center tech. That county is going to be relying on an IP phone network. The county is looking to replace its analog phone system with an Internet based one that will also allow it to receive and send text messages. The system is expected to be in place by the end of June of next year. The IP-based phone system will reportedly be priced depending on how many operators are working for the call center at any one time.

The cost of the new system seems to be secondary to the ease of use and quick response time that will come from using an IP based phone system over an older analog setup.

Finding a way to contact first responders and medical professionals through new technology is getting more popular all the time. Most upgraded 911 dispatchers being able to receive and send texts will be a huge boon to the community.

COMPTEL PLUS Debuts Educational Agenda

The educational agenda is set for the COMPTEL PLUS Fall 2014 Convention & EXPO, and it features a keynote address by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, general sessions on important topics facing the communications industry, as well as concurrent tracks focusing on the network of the future, the cloud market and broadband innovation. Tracks include:

General Sessions

  • Executive Roundtable
  • Telecom Convergence and Megamergers
  • Interconnection and the Over-the-Top Video Marketplace

Network of the Future

  • Open Internet: What’s at Stake?
  • Network Function Virtualization (NFV): Hope, Hype or Honest Value?
  • The Bottom Line: Maximizing Network Revenue

Cloud Market

  • What’s the Forecast? Multiple Clouds on the Horizon
  • Locked Down: Key Components for Airtight Cloud Security
  • Transforming Enterprise Networks: An Aggregated Multi-Cloud Strategy

Broadband Innovation

  • Rural Broadband: Extending the Reach to Meet Demand
  • Fiber, Fiber Everywhere: The Intersection of Industry, Government and Policy
  • Rural Telehealth: A Healthy Business Opportunity

To see full descriptions of all the sessions, visit the COMPTEL PLUS schedule-at-a-glance.

New Report Reveals Details of Popular Telecom Fraud Schemes

A new report from TransNexus, a leading VoIP network management software developer, examines the schemes being used for telecom fraud today and industry best practices for prevention.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, telecom fraud accounted for 34% of fraud complaints in 2012, up from 20% in 2010. These numbers continue to grow, as new technology has led to an onslaught of new telecom fraud tactics. The latest schemes are difficult to track and investigate because of their frequency, their layers of anonymity, and their global nature.

The new report includes detailed call flows and money flows for a dozen different telecom fraud scenarios. It divides the many telecom fraud schemes into three broad categories, based on who the fraudsters are targeting. These categories are:

  • Traffic Pumping Schemes – These schemes use “access stimulation” techniques to boost traffic to a high cost destination, which then shares the revenue with the fraudster.
  • Schemes to Defraud Telecom Service Providers – These schemes are the most complicated, and exploit telecom service providers using SIP trunking, regulatory loopholes, and more.
  • Schemes Conducted Over the Telephone – Also known as “Phone Fraud,” this category covers all types of general fraud that are perpetrated over the telephone.

“Many of these scenarios are new to the telecom and VoIP industries,” says Jim Dalton, president of TransNexus. “The first step to stopping telecom fraud is to understand it. The charts and diagrams in our latest telecom fraud report help our customers to realize the weak points in their network security.”

The report, entitled “Telecom Fraud Scenarios” is available for free download on the TransNexus website.

FCC Releases E-rate Modernization Order, FNPRM

On July 23, the FCC released its E-rate Modernization Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), which adopts a number of the proposals made in its NPRM and begins the process of re-focusing the E-rate program on providing the necessary support to ensure the nation’s schools and libraries have affordable access to high-speed broadband.

A fundamental step taken in the order is to overhaul the support system for internal connections, including the deployment of high-speed Wi-Fi in classrooms and libraries nationwide. The FCC said that “[b]y modernizing the E-rate program to expand schools and libraries access to more predictable E-rate funding that is sufficient to meet their needs for Wi-Fi connectivity, and other internal broadband connections.”

The FCC also adopted three goals designed to maximize the benefits of the E-rate program, which are:

  • Ensuring affordable access to high-speed broadband sufficient to support digital learning in schools and robust connectivity for all libraries;
  • Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of spending for E-rate supported purchases; and
  • Making the E-rate application process and other E-rate processes fast, simple and efficient.

Other updates to the program, aimed at furthering these goals, include

  • Setting an annual funding target of $1 billion for funding for internal connections needed to support high-speed broadband within schools and libraries;
  • Testing a more equitable approach to funding internal connections for applicants who seek support in funding years 2015 and 2016; and
  • Reorienting the E-rate program to focus on supporting high-speed broadband by phasing down support for voice services and eliminating support for other legacy services.

The FCC’s order also includes transparency measures to encourage sharing of cost and connectivity data; encourage consortia purchasing; and emphasizes that providers must offer the lowest corresponding price.

To the full order, visit the FCC website.

In conjunction with this order, the FCC issued an FNPRM to seek further comment on meeting the future funding needs of the E-rate program in light of the goals it adopted for the program. Specifically, the FCC is asking for input on whether multi-year contracts are efficient, how to ensure the efficient use of NSLP data, how best to calculate the amount of funding eligible libraries need in order to purchase Wi-Fi networks and other internal connections, and other additional improvements that could be made to the E-rate program. Comments are due September 15, and replies September 30.

What Can SIP Do for Your BYOD Policy?

Communications have evolved over the last few years. Companies need access to the latest technologies, yet they also need to know that the innovations they select will meet with the expectations of the user base. Likewise, these solutions have to deliver quality and support the overall enterprise communications strategy.

One trend that seems to be getting a lot of attention in the market overall is that of the bring your own device (BYOD) approach. Employees want to access the network regardless of location and they want to do so while on their own device. This device also often serves as their personal device, which changes the game in enterprise communications.

This is especially true in environments where Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is at play. A signaling communications protocol, SIP is widely used to control multimedia communication sessions such as video and voice over IP networks. The protocol works by defining the messages that are sent between endpoints that govern the connection, termination and any other essential elements involved in the call.

The point of allowing employees to bring their own devices is to encourage an environment of collaboration and support regardless of location. It shifts the burden of managing mobile devices away from the IT department, although mobile device management solutions should be in place to protect the network. If only some mobile devices will actually work on the network, it negates the benefits the company was seeking with the BYOD strategy in the first place.

Will Business VoIP Follow the Same Trend as BYOD?

Leading businesses generally enjoy success because someone on the inside is responsible for assessing processes and keeping costs at a minimum to increase profit margins. This includes communications. Whether the focus is on the mobile strategy or how to integrate applications with voice interactions, companies are paying attention to business VoIP and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) opportunities.

Sending voice communications over the corporate Internet significantly streamlines the cost of communications and allows organizations to eliminate separate bills for Internet and voice. It also greatly reduces the cost of national and international calls, allows for seamless collaboration and extends greater capabilities to all users. Plus, employees don’t have to be on-site to place or take calls as Internet-connected devices can integrate with the network from any location.

To be competitive, businesses today have to be always on, responding to the needs of the customer base regardless of time, day or activity. For many, this means finding a balance between life and work that doesn’t fit neatly into the 9-5 trend their parents experienced. But, unlike their parents, they have the flexibility to be at the afternoon soccer game and then finish the needed report after the kids go to bed.

The devices in use for this flexible arrangement are increasingly part of a BYOD policy. Companies are recognizing the benefits associated with employees owning and operating their own devices while on and off the clock. No training is required as users are already accustomed to the device; the company isn’t responsible for payments so no tracking of usage is necessary; and monitoring tools are available to ensure company information accessed through the device is protected at all times.

While this is becoming a popular model for a number of organizations, VoIP is also still on the upward trend. In fact, according to a Frost & Sullivan report, North American businesses in particular are grasping the advantages of VoIP and the industry is expected to generate revenue of $9.4 billion by 2019. The research firm suggests that companies are continuing to transition away from older equipment in favor of Unified Communications solutions such as business VoIP and SIP trunking.

BYOD has taken a firm hold across the business landscape and VoIP appears to be following the same trend. As mobile VoIP starts to find its way into the mix, the two platforms are more likely to converge. While mobile VoIP is still in its infancy, the clear benefits associated with business VoIP and BYOD are likely to create new user strategies across the enterprise and communications as we know it will take on a whole new look and feel.

FCC Reveals Rural Broadband Trial Plans, Reforms E-Rate

The budget for FCC rural broadband trials announced in January has been set at $100 million and the commission expects to award funding by year-end, officials said at today’s FCC meeting, where selection criteria for the rural broadband trials also were adopted.

The commission also proposed a plan for reverse auctions for the Connect America Fund program that would encourage states to pay part of broadband deployments. And the commission adopted new guidelines for the Universal Service E-rate program that shift funding away from voice and other legacy services to instead emphasize broadband and Wi-Fi.

Rural Broadband Trial Plans
The aim of the upcoming rural broadband trials is to provide information that will help the FCC structure the competitive bidding process that will occur in price cap territories as part of the CAF program. Competitive bidding will occur when incumbent local carriers decline to bring broadband to unserved areas of a state at the level of funding offered by the FCC.

The rural trials will target unserved areas in price cap territories, FCC officials said today. The $100 million budget will be awarded in three different categories:

  • $75 million for deployments that will support speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream to each location
  • $15 million for deployments that will support speeds of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to each location
  • $10 million for extremely high cost areas to support data rates of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to each location

Parties wishing to participate in the trial will have 90 days from the time the FCC order about the trial is released to submit an application and will be required to detail the amount of funding requested and the number of people that will be served. The FCC plans to award funding to the most cost-effective projects, officials said. Applicants that offer to serve eligible tribal areas will receive a 25% billing credit.

Various types of network operators are eligible to participate in the trials – including incumbent and competitive carriers, electric utilities, wireless Internet service providers and others. Those winning funding will have to meet specific build-out deadlines.

The FCC received more than 1,000 expressions of interest from companies wanting to participate in the trials, who requested a wide range of funding levels.

It will be interesting to see how funding levels requested in the formal applications compare to the funding levels calculated using the FCC’s CAF cost model – a comparison the FCC said it plans to make and which should help gauge whether the program has the budget needed to meet broadband deployment goals.

At today’s meeting the commission also said it would request comment on a proposal that could help budgeted dollars go further. The proposal is to offer a bidding credit for bids that leverage non-federal support – a move aimed at encouraging states to make funding available for broadband deployments.