Exciting CTS Announcement – New certification earned!

Date posted: September 30, 2017

We are very excited to announce that Ian Christensen, who has been with CTS since January 2016, has successfully passed the CompTIA Network+ Certification!  The Network+ is a vendor agnostic certification and the studying that goes into the exam covers many networking components:  advanced network design, management and troubleshooting of all types of connectivity, including Internet, wired/wireless networks, unified communications, mobile and cloud technologies.

CompTIA is one of the world’s largest and most established IT technology associations, and the Network+ requirements were created by leading IT experts and meets the ISO 17024 standard.

The skills that Ian has gained from studying and successfully passing the Network+ will allow him to diagnose and resolve network-related issues quicker, which will increase our client’s uptime and productivity.   Also, Ian will be more involved with our larger and strategic initiatives that include data center architecture and visualization projects.

Please help us by congratulating Ian (ichristensen@onlinects.com) with his recent success!

iOS 11 compatibility issues with Exchange and O365

Date posted: September 20, 2017

With the release of the latest version of iOS for Apple’s iPhone and iPad line, unfortunately there are some known compatibility issues with Microsoft’s Exchange 2016 servers and O365. As is often the case when Apple’s mobile software has a major update, it takes a few iterations for Microsoft’s products to fully integrate.

While we realize it is difficult to wait to play with the new features that come with a fresh version of iOS, our recommendation is to hold off for a while until Apple announces that the compatibility issues are solved.

If you do decide to take a chance and upgrade anyway, Apple and Microsoft are suggesting syncing your account with the Outlook app from the App Store instead of using the native Mail app.

For additional information on this known issue, here is the Microsoft support article:

Written by Kevin Price


Free Voice and Data While Traveling Outside the US

Date posted: August 23, 2017

Recently I took a vacation outside of the United States and spent two weeks traveling throughout the incredible country of Ecuador.  Even though I wanted to keep in touch with my team, clients and family members, I was not interested in spending ridiculous amounts of money for International phone and data fees.  Especially after I spoke with Verizon (my cellular provider) and they informed me that there was a good chance that I would not have coverage in several of the areas that I was planning on being at.

After doing some research in voice and data options in Ecuador and other South American countries, I learned that most hotels and tourist sites, even remote locations, have great WiFi coverage and decent Internet speeds – at least 25 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up.   So Internet wouldn’t be an issue for my laptop and my cell phone, so I just needed a solution for voice calls and the occasional text message.

I did some additional Google searching and found websites for ex-pats from the US that were in South America.  What they were doing was ingenious and I’m disappointed that I did not think about it myself!  They were enabling WiFi calling on their Verizon (AT&T and other carriers offer this as well) prior to leaving the US, and then when they leave for out of the country, they enabled their Airplane mode.  Once they arrived to their destination, they kept the Airplane mode on and only enabled the WiFi.  After they connected to a WiFi connection out of the country, they had full voice, data and text capabilities and ZERO additional costs.

Rather than call Verizon again, I used their customer chat feature which is just a Facebook chat, but I wanted to make sure that I had it in writing that this would be completely free.  The Verizon customer service person kept trying to sell me on various International plans and danced around the fact that what the ex-pats were saying was accurate.  After ten minutes, they put in writing that it would be completely free and just enjoy my vacation!

Technically I understood why and how it was free, because I was just using the free Internet to allow my phone to connect back to Verizon services based in the US, and then it is as if I’m still in the US.  The only catch would be if I called a local (Ecuador) number, then it would be an International call because my calls are originating from the US.

So if you plan on doing any international travelling for either vacation or business, this is one free solution that I would recommend.  Every hotel, restaurant and even national parks had free WiFi in Ecuador and I’m guessing that most of South America, and other continents are the same way.

Written by Frank Stephens


Advantages of Mesh Wi-Fi

Date posted: July 30, 2017

Every day it seems more aspects of our lives need to be connected. At a typical business, every employee has a cell phone and many are used constantly for vital business functions. With business assets becoming increasingly mobile, a constant, lossless Wi-Fi signal is needed now more than ever. A mesh wireless network seeks to solve this issue by using a series of connected wireless access points (WAPs) throughout a workspace to keep the connection unbroken from end to end.

Most small businesses have an incoming broadband connection from their ISP, a router or firewall, and a single wireless access point. Those that are a little larger may have multiple WAPs for different areas that have different wireless network names and passwords. The first scenario can be challenging mainly because of dead spots in coverage area. Scenario two can be problematic if users need to walk from one area of the office to another. Having to re-join a Wi-Fi network every time wastes valuable time and productivity.

A typical mesh setup involves a single controller or software installation that can be managed from anywhere on your network. Any number of WAPs can be spread out over the space to maximize coverage while using a single network ID and password. Many include features like easy guest network setup for security separation, real time statistics for tracking, and cloud management and control.

Mesh networking does have several limitations. Most use only power over ethernet (POE) to power the individual units. This requires either a POE switch to be in place or the use of POE power injectors for each unit. Some mesh networks require software to be installed on an always-on computer or server for management purposes.

Recently many mesh setups have been targeted for home use. Products like the Eero home Wi-Fi system, Netgear Orbi, and Plume Pods usually come in packs of 3 and are great for home users who want a simple setup and do not require advanced features of a business. Businesses have usually had the choice of going with an enterprise grade solution like Aruba by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or a compartmentalized approach with several unconnected WAPs as described earlier.

For our small and medium sized business customers, we have recently been recommending wireless setups by the Ubiquiti networks. Ubiquiti is a completely flexible and modular system that strikes the balance between enterprise grade features and flexibility with a price that is more in line with consumer mesh networks. With Ubiquiti, we have implemented wireless networks as small as one WAP in a small office, to dozens of interconnected WAPs in a multi-floor hotel. Through their cloud controller, we can monitor connection speeds and coverage, make changes to network ids and passwords, and change most features on the fly. We have received incredibly positive feedback so far on Ubiquiti installations from clients. Most have been very impressed with their reliability and the strength of the signal from the units.

If you would like to review your business’ current wireless setup or think a mesh setup could be right for your team, please contact us at info@onlinects.com to setup an appointment.

Written by Kevin Price


What is Google Analytics?

Date posted: March 15, 2013

Ever wonder how many people are visiting your company’s website or how they are getting to it? Have you ever released a press release and wondered if it actually drew traffic to your website? There are several website traffic analysis solutions out there, but one of the best out there is actually free!

Google Analytics – http://www.google.com/analytics – is completely free and it gives you an in-depth insight as to how many visitors come to your site and why they are going on it. What’s really cool is that you can set up Analytics to automatically e-mail you reports that are specific to your marketing needs: Some items that you are able to dive into are:

Where are visitors geographically located
Amount of unique vs regular visitors
Effectiveness of content based on specific pages
How long visitors are spending on your site and pages
Effectiveness of your social media efforts
Mobile and smartphone effectiveness
Conversion rate – which is how many users are taking actions (filling out forms, downloading whitepapers, etc.)

Please let us know how we can help you integrate Google Analytics into your website!


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