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3CX by Geek Guru

3CX - PSTN, ISDN and VoIP – Part 5

Posted on October 31st, 2013 by Emily

 

In our final blog post in this series, we look at an overall summary of the features and qualities of each type of line and how 3CX can bring them all together.

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By now, you’re probably aware of the types of line available, but we feel it’s better when things are easier to compare, so we’ve put together a short summary for each of them.

 

POTS / PSTN

  • Analogue system.
  • Simple features.
  • Standard telephone network.
  • Inexpensive line rental.
  • Each connection carries 1 line.
  • Good to have as a backup.
  • Suitable for small businesses or sole traders needing few lines.

ISDN 2e

  • Digital system.
  • More advanced features than POTS.
  • Better call quality.
  • Available in pairs of lines / connections.
  • Required for some equipment.
  • Can be used as a backup data connection.
  • For small businesses needing 8 lines or less.
  • Powered by the local exchange.

ISDN 30e

  • Up to 30 lines through a single connection
  • Same quality as 2e.
  • Additional features designed for larger organisations.
  • Upgrade or downgrade without additional installation costs.
  • Combine or split lines as necessary for data transfer.
  • Requires on-site powering.
  • Suitable for businesses requiring 8-30 lines or more.

VoIP / SIP

  • Cheaper call costs especially for international calls.
  • Cheaper line rental.
  • No gateway needed.
  • Reliability and uptime match or exceed standard telephone networks.
  • Many advanced features.

 

3CX IP-PBX systems can work with any of the above, or all of them together if you prefer. They can provide your organisation with a multitude of advanced features at far less cost than a standard PBX system, with enhanced flexibility.

It’s possible to have a part-VoIP, part-ISDN network running seamlessly with a standard POTS line as a backup, if necessary – through the use of gateways to connect the external POTS and ISDN systems to the IP-PBX. Even though a gateway is required, installation and hardware costs of these systems are still significantly less than you’d expect to pay for standard PBX with similar features. They are also easily upgradable to meet your needs, adding an additional internal line can be as easy as plugging in an additional computer and headset and telling the 3CX control panel it’s there.

No matter what type of line you choose, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the enhanced flexibility of a 3CX IP-PBX system along with it.

At Geek Guru, we provide, install and support 3CX systems, so if you’re considering making the switch to VoIP or just want to upgrade your existing PBX system to a more versatile 3CX system, get in touch with us.

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If you’d like to discuss 3CX Systems, VoIP, ISDN or anything else IT or tech-related with us, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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3CX by Geek Guru

3CX - PSTN, ISDN and VoIP – Part 4

Posted on October 27th, 2013 by Emily

 

In our penultimate blog post on line and connection types, we’ll look at specialist VoIP lines (Also known as SIP trunks) and how they work with the 3CX systems we offer.

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SIP Trunks are special lines for dedicated VoIP services. They allow you to connect your 3CX system directly to the line, eliminating the need for a gateway; the connection between the VoIP / SIP trunk and the PSTN (telephone network) is managed by your SIP provider (known as an ITSP or Internet Telephony Service Provider).

Choosing a specialist SIP trunk to provider for your services means that you get a separate SIP connection installed. This is very much like any other kind of broadband internet connection, but deals only with SIP / VoIP traffic. This means that your business’ standard internet connection is not hampered or slowed if you have a lot of incoming or outgoing active calls – as your SIP trunk has its own dedicated bandwidth.

Because it’s based on internet telephony, VoIP/SIP systems can save a lot of money, particularly for larger businesses. For instance, if you replace a standard ISDN 30e connection with SIP trunks, the rental and installation costs can make thousands of pounds worth of difference.

It’s also very valuable for those who make many international calls. Because it’s using internet telephony, the call charges are far cheaper compared to standard calls made over a PSTN or ISDN line.

The uptime and quality of VoIP / SIP trunks has been increasing over the past few years, and right now they are able to compete with ISDN and PSTN lines for total uptime. This means that using VoIP / SIP, you won’t be without your phone connections any more than you would using a regular ISDN or PSTN line. The call quality of VoIP / SIP trunks is also constantly increasing as codecs are changed and compression gets more efficient, so currently the call quality is around equal to or better than you would achieve from an ISDN line – bearing in mind that call quality is also affected by the other party and their connection method and equipment.

People often choose to have a backup line such as a PSTN or ISDN line from a standard telephony provider. Some people still prefer to have the safety of a backup line, but if you wish to connect this line to the 3CX network, you will need a gateway. Some businesses also use a full hybrid connection of VoIP / SIP and ISDN – if this is something you’re interested in we’ll find you a package to suit while still saving you money.

You can maintain all of the efficiency and features provided by your 3CX system using VoIP – in fact, the system is tailored to use it just like a standard ISDN or PSTN connection. The only difference you should really notice is on the bill!

Next post we’ll be providing a short summary of the line types available to you, and how you can use them all together with a 3CX system.

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If you’d like to discuss 3CX Systems, VoIP, ISDN or anything else IT or tech-related with us, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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3CX by Geek Guru

3CX - PSTN, ISDN and VoIP – Part 3

Posted on October 24th, 2013 by Emily

 

Next up in our series exploring the different types of lines available to use with 3CX systems, ISDN lines.

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ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. It’s the technological standard for transmitting voice, data and other services over standard copper telephone network cables. It can allow both circuit-switched transmission (voice and data) and packet-switched transmission (data only), unlike PSTN which is solely circuit-based. It is the technologically advanced successor to PSTN.

In some countries, ISDN is still used as a primary line to access the internet, but it is much slower than most broadband options now available in the UK, which use ADSL or Cable/Fibre networks to provide greater speeds. It is still used in some areas in the UK where standard broadband internet is not available. Each ISDN channel (or line) offers a data rate of up to 64 kb/s, which allows you to use all the features made available by your provider – ISDN generally offers features such as video conferencing, DDI (Direct Dial-In) and the ability to transfer calls externally. Call quality over ISDN lines is often very high, noticeably higher than a standard PSTN line.

Some businesses that choose to go totally VoIP keep one ISDN line (or rather pair of lines) active for emergency voice and data communications, but also providing them with support for more advanced backup services than a standard PSTN line. Backup ISDN lines can also be used to provide connectivity to various pieces of equipment such as modern G4 Fax machines that require an ISDN line to function.

The 3CX systems installed by Geek Guru are fully compatible with any number of ISDN channels, through the use of a gateway. They can be used exclusively with ISDN or combined with VoIP, PSTN or both.

 

ISDN lines come in two main types:

 

ISDN 2 / 2e

This type of ISDN connection is suitable for businesses requiring up to 8 incoming channels or lines. They are provided in pairs, so you will be paying line rental for them in multiples of two. They provide the advanced services and quality of ISDN in small chunks, so if your business is small, you don’t have to rent far more lines than necessary. These lines are powered by the local exchange, therefore they don’t need an on-site power supply to function.

 

ISDN 30 / 30e

Suited to large businesses or small businesses requiring 8 – 30 channels or lines, ISDN 30 provides much the same service as ISDN 2, except on a larger scale. The initial installation of this service is designed to support up to 30 lines – meaning you can upgrade to more lines without needing to pay additional installation costs. You can purchase lines one at a time, with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 30.

 

ISDN lines provide more functionality and greater quality than standard PSTN lines. They can be used with most equipment, are fully compatible with the 3CX systems we offer and renting a pair of ISDN channels is generally not much more expensive than renting two standard PSTN lines (depending on provider and selected options).

Next time we’ll be taking a look at VoIP lines (also known as SIP Trunks), how they work and how we can help you get the most out of them.

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If you’d like to discuss 3CX Systems, VoIP, ISDN or anything else IT or tech-related with us, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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3CX by Geek Guru

3CX - PSTN, ISDN or VoIP? – Part 2

Posted on October 20th, 2013 by Emily

 

Continuing in our series exploring the different types of lines available to use with 3CX systems, we focus on PSTN standard lines.

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PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network. While it’s really a catch-all term for the wide spectrum of telephony and communications systems used by the general public, in the terms of our article and topic of discussion, it’s often used to refer to the standard analogue telephone services provided by many networks. The technically correct term is POTS or Plain Old Telephone Service (yes, that’s actually the official name), but many prefer to refer to it as PSTN.

However you refer to it, PSTN or POTS is the standard analogue telephone system that’s been around for many, many years – and is still extremely useful. Fax machines, franking machines and modems up to 56k were (and still are) designed to transmit digital signals across an analogue network. Many of these kinds of systems support communication over different types of network now, but most will still function across a PSTN analogue line.

For residential lines, businesses who only need a single line, sole traders, or as an additional or emergency line, PSTN lines still have a firm footing in the telephone line market.

For most small businesses, PSTN is not really something we’d recommend to be used on its own. However, it can come in useful when your business is running primarily on VoIP or ISDN and you want a backup line in case of any malfunctions or breakdowns.

Standard PSTN lines are easy and relatively cheap to install, and usually don’t require any extra cabling. They also don’t require any power source as they’re powered by the local exchange, so they are great for use in emergencies. You can have multiple PSTN lines installed if you wish. If you want an additional line to use solely for a fax machine or franking machine, PSTN lines can also be useful there, as the line rental for them is also usually quite cheap.

PSTN lines are supported by 3CX through the use of a gateway, so you can use your 3CX PBX system and PSTN lines together with VoIP to get some extra functionality and a backup line if you wish. If the VoIP line is not available for whatever reason, you can make and receive calls through your standard PSTN line.

In our next blog, we’ll take a look at ISDN and its basic functionality, some of its advanced features and how to get the most out of it with a 3CX PBX.

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If you’d like to discuss 3CX Systems, VoIP, ISDN or anything else IT or tech-related with us, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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3CX by Geek Guru

3CX - PSTN, ISDN or VoIP? – Part 1

Posted on October 17th, 2013 by Emily

 

Which type of line is right for your business? Stick with us over the next few posts as we go into a little detail about the various types of line available.

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Telephony and its associated technology has come an amazingly long way since the American Bell Telephone Company introduced the first telephone exchange in 1877. It may be hard to believe that technology similar to that used such a long time ago is still being used for communications today – but in fact, it is.

All of our wired telephony systems stem from this one common ancestor, which used standard copper wiring and human operators to connect calls. Over the years, while the copper wiring has remained in some areas, computerised systems have been put in place to allow for much greater speed, accuracy and many more features. Many residential areas and some business areas still consist of a “local loop” that’s made from copper wire, connecting to a more technologically advanced “trunk” line at a nearby connection box.

Advances in telephony technology mean that users wanting to install a new telephone line have three main options:

  • PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network (also known as POTS or Plain Old Telephone Service).
  • ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network.
  • VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol.

The type of line (or lines) you’ll need really depends on how much your business communicates via telephone, and how many external lines you need.

The great thing is that with a 3CX IP-PBX System from Geek Guru, you can operate as many or as few of these as you like, together as one phone system, through the use of a wonderful little box known as a Gateway. As one of 3CX’s Certified Partners, we are able to provide, install and support all of the equipment necessary, (including extras like the gateways,) at the high standard you’d expect from us.

Whatever you decide on, or if you need help deciding, or have made your decision and need advice or to take the next step, we’ll help you as much as we can and provide ongoing support, usually through one of our value-added support plans.

Over the next few posts we’ll be going through the different line types, explaining the technology they use, their advantages and disadvantages, and what this can mean for different sizes and types of business.

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If you’d like to discuss 3CX Systems, VoIP, ISDN or anything else IT or tech-related with us, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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3CX Features - Handsets and Softphones - Part 3

Posted on October 13th, 2013 by Emily

 

This time in the Geek Blog, we’ve a few examples of possible 3CX configurations including handsets, softphones or a combination of both.

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Usually it’s a good idea to have a mixture of both handsets and softphones to suit the needs of all users, but there are some cases in which you may want to just use softphones for all users, or cases where all of your users may need a handset.

Particularly for offices where machines are shared, or phones are used by various different people, it is generally advisable to have a few handsets connected to the network.

A small business may choose a system where the most frequent users of their phone system use handsets with connected headsets, while the remaining users who use their phones more infrequently just have regular handsets. This can be helpful where people may share computers, desks or phones. This configuration is often more suited to businesses where people are not always sitting at or using computers to work.

For businesses with some mobile workers who are in and out of the office frequently, it may be advisable to run a system where the more regular users have regular handsets or softphones on their PCs, but the mobile workers have softphone apps running on their smartphones so they can log in and make calls using the network while they are at the office.

In businesses with a large number of employees who are using the phone almost constantly, such as in call centres or providing phone support, softphones can provide a convenient space saving, money saving solution. You don’t need to buy a handset for each additional user, and they can log on and off or be added or removed as necessary, just by logging into a computer system. All they need is access to a computer system and a headset. This may be useful in companies that see a large increase in call volume around holiday periods or weekends, and allows them to dynamically adjust the amount of lines that are available.

Some users who are used to traditional phone systems or who are not comfortable using a computer may also feel much more at home using a handset rather than a softphone.

If you are interested in the advanced functions of the 3CX softphone such as call recording, monitoring voicemail, monitoring your presence on the network etc, you can run the softphone in companion mode, where it connects to the network and works alongside the handset on your desk and gives you access to additional information – you still answer calls on your standard handset desk phone but you can be notified of incoming calls and other information via your computer screen.

Due to its extensive flexibility, you can be sure that whatever your type, style or size of business, there is a configuration of 3CX’s IP PBX system that will be suitable for you.

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If you are interested in VoIP or 3CX systems and what they could do for your business, you can take a look at our other posts on VoIP, or alternatively you can call us or email us and we’ll give you all the information you need. We’re always on hand for any IT queries you may have!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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3CX Features - Handsets and Softphones - Part 2

Posted on October 10th, 2013 by Emily

 

When using 3CX systems, you have two options when it comes to making and receiving calls – handsets or softphones.

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Special SIP handsets are available for use with 3CX systems, from various manufacturers, but there is also another option. Software phones, or softphones, are programs designed to enable you to use your computer as a phone, when connected to a 3CX network. Softphone apps are also available for many smartphones such as iPhones or Android phones, turning a regular mobile into a phone that can connect to and use your company’s 3CX system. Consumer programs such as Skype already exist, but there are also many softphones by different vendors (some of them free) that can be used on your company’s 3CX IP PBX system.

There are advantages to using both handsets and softphones, so we’ve provided a little information about each in order to help you make a more informed decision. The handset used in our comparison is the Grandstream GXP 2100 HD, and the softphone is 3CX’s own in-house maintained software.

Handsets

  • Basic functions as easy to use as a standard phone.
  • Centralised phonebook capabilities.
  • Programmable soft keys.
  • Full duplex speakerphone.
  • HD audio.
  • LCD display.
  • Web apps (stocks, news feeds, weather etc.)
  • Work independently of your PC – Make and receive calls during PC downtime or errors.
  • Add or remove handsets from your network as required.
  • Maintain the “feel” of using a desk phone while taking advantage of money-saving features.
  • Compatible with many headsets.
  • Can be used together with softphones.

 

Softphones

  • Use your PC and standard headset or earphones and a mic – No additional hardware to purchase.
  • Save on space.
  • Add more extensions / users as you add PCs.
  • Use a PC or smartphone to add a temporary extension.
  • Allow mobile workers to use the network as they enter and leave.
  • Turn an Android smartphone or an iPhone into a 3CX network compatible handset.
  • Fully featured.
  • Highly configurable.
  • Automatic connection and configuration for many devices.
  • Extensions turn off as PCs are turned off or users are logged off.
  • Can be used together with handsets.

There are many more points we could delve into for both handsets and softphones, but we feel that those mentioned above are the most important.

In our next post, we.’ll be looking at some scenarios and what kind of configurations may be suitable for those organisations or businesses.

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If you are interested in VoIP and what it could do for your business, you can take a look at our other posts on VoIP, or alternatively you can call us or email us and we’ll give you all the information you need. We’re always on hand for any IT queries you may have!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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3CX Features - Handsets and Softphones - Part 1

Posted on October 06th, 2013 by Emily

 

You may remember some weeks ago we covered the advantages of VoIP. Over the next few posts, we’ll be covering some of the features specific to 3CX systems.

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3CX is a versatile IP PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch eXchange) system. It can be configured to use VoIP lines, digital ISDN lines, standard analogue PSTN lines, or a combination of any of these at once.

3CX Systems allow you to use any SIP-compatible handsets, and do not restrict you to a particular manufacturer. SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. This is a connection protocol used by communication hardware and software, usually to transmit voice, video, other communications such as instant messaging, or online games. It is an industry standard set of instructions, comparable to HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) for displaying web pages, or IP (Internet Protocol) for connecting to the internet. Because it is a standard set of instructions, it means that many different manufacturers can make equipment to use it, resulting in competition between manufacturers and better value for consumers.

At the moment, our opinion is that Grandstream brand handsets provide the best value for money, so if you’re obtaining a quote from us that includes handsets, you’ll more than likely be quoted for Grandstream handsets. All of the comparisons we make in these articles will be using this manufacturer as an example, but there are various other manufacturers available, such as Yealink and Snom, whose products offer many similar features.

To use ISDN or PSTN lines with your 3CX system, you will need a small, relatively inexpensive device called a gateway – this acts as an intermediary and converts the signals used by ISDN and PSTN to something that the 3CX software can understand, and vice versa. To use VoIP only, you’ll need a VoIP (SIP) provider, and no additional hardware.

Because 3CX is a computer-based PBX system, this means it also supports softphones. Softphones are just as the name suggests – software phones, installed on a computer or mobile device. This means that with a 3CX IP PBX system you don’t necessarily need a handset at all. You can use your computer and a connected headset instead, or even your iPhone or Android smartphone, and use the softphone to make and receive calls as you would use a normal phone. This, plus the fact that the 3CX IP PBX software can be run on a virtual machine on an existing server and runs under Windows 7, can drastically cut down the cost of a new phone system.

Next post we’ll be comparing physical handsets to softphones to see what the differences and benefits to each one are.

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If you are interested in VoIP and what it could do for your business, you can take a look at our other posts on VoIP, or alternatively you can call us or email us and we’ll give you all the information you need. We’re always on hand for any IT queries you may have!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Geek Guru Special Offer - Free VoIP Installation!

Posted on August 02nd, 2013 by Emily

 

Last week, we blogged about VoIP and its various features. This week we’re happy to tell you of a very special offer from Geek Guru…

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Last week’s blog posts may have left you wondering if you’d like to go down the route of having a VoIP system installed. Good news! For a limited time, Geek Guru are offering to set up and install your system free of charge*, and provide some training on how to use it.

The free installation and set up* is provided for all 3CX systems purchased through and installed by us during the offer period. We’re a 3CX Certified Partner, so even for free, you’ll be receiving the usual high standard of service you’d expect from us.

Join the thousands of businesses all over the world who are already enjoying the benefits of switching to money-saving VoIP system, give us a call today!

*Terms and Conditions apply, see the offers page for further details.

 

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If you’re still unsure whether VoIP is right for you, get in contact and we’ll give you a no obligation quote, and discuss any concerns you may have.

Give us a bell on 0845 234 0580 or drop us a line at info@geek-guru.co.uk and you could be saving up to 80% of your phone bills ASAP!

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VoIP by Geek Guru

Is VoIP for my Business?

Posted on July 26th, 2013 by Emily

 

In the final Geek Guru Blog of this week, we’ll consider the pros and cons of VoIP for your business, and find out if it’s suitable for you and your business.

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Many businesses make and receive a large volume of calls, and it may be a larger number and be more expensive than they realise. If your company conducts a lot of business over the phone, you’ll already know how important cost-effectiveness really is. Particularly if you have international clients, your company may see quite a large amount of savings if you switch to a VoIP system. Of course, there is an outlay for setting up the system and the new hardware that’s required, but this is often much, much cheaper than installing a new standard telephone system, and the cost is outweighed by the potential savings.

Another of the great things about a VoIP system is that it’s still relatively cheap to upgrade, add new lines or add new users as your business grows. Any size or type of business may benefit from one of these systems, from a small office with 3 or 4 phones to a huge call centre with hundreds of people working simultaneously – the same system handles them both, enabling you to access the same set of configuration options no matter the size of your business or number of users. There’s a variety of phones available, from basic models for standard use to ones with a large number of programmable buttons, options and features – all of which can be controlled centrally from the server, so if you need to re-task a phone, it’s no problem.

Like all systems, even current PBX systems, there are problems and downtime. As with a standard telephone line, there can be problems with an ITSP connection or with your servers from time to time – which is why we offer support packages to go along with your system.

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At Geek Guru, we’re always interested in keeping our clients up to date. If you choose to make the switch to VoIP, we’ll make the transition as hassle-free as possible, and set up your new system to exact specifications. We’re partnered with 3CX, one of the leading VoIP technology providers, and also with Spitfire, one of the best ITSPs (Internet Telephony Service Providers) available.

Along with our first class support, these all make for a winning combination – we’ll provide the support for your system and its servers just as we would for the rest of your IT, and we can handle any maintenance or upgrade requirements that the future may bring.

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If you’re interested to find out what VoIP could do for your business, still have questions, or would like us to prepare a no-obligation quote tailored to your needs, get in contact with us and we’ll be happy to provide all the help we can!

Call one of our friendly engineers on 0845 234 0580 or drop us a line by email at info@geek-guru.co.uk

 

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