New partnership extends global footprint

We are pleased to announce a new working partnership with Level 3 Communications, Inc.  The initiative will allow us to leverage Level 3’s extensive data network reach, along with the company’s enhanced connectivity, cybersecurity, and next generation UC and C offerings. This co-operation will allow FCC to expand our footprint in the North America and Europe region, providing simplified technology solutions for enterprises by giving easy access to an array of products and services.

The new service in New York is part of our broader strategy to provide Tier 1 data network connectivity coupled with superior services for the areas served by Level 3’s network footprint.

The collaboration with Level 3 will establish FCC as a valued asset to businesses seeking connectivity options in the North American and European regions.

Level 3 provides communications services to enterprise, government and carrier customers, serving more than 500 markets in over 60 countries.

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Mobile roaming charges to end at last!

At a time when the harsh divide between us and member states over Brexit becomes ever sharper and the country itself is divided on quite where this momentous decision will take us, it is quite refreshing to point to a pan european decision that seems to be strikingly sensible and one we can all agree on. The abolishment of mobile roaming charges!

From June 15th this year these additional voice, text and data charges will end. Always controversial, travellers have for years had to add costly bolt-ons or accept surcharges to secure limited ‘safe’ use or run the risk of racking up expensive bills through opaque charging structures.

Roaming charges exist because when we travel aboard our mobile operator pays the local supplier to allow us to connect to their network. They then charge us a fee to recoup their costs. It’s fair to say that for many years UK carriers actually made a considerable profit from these fees leading to criticism over their tactics which forced regulation that, over time, considerably dropped the tariffs. Indeed, costs are now over 90% cheaper than they were in 2007. However, charges still remain from most carriers and it is these that are being scrapped. It means that there will be no extra fees for calls, SMS messages or Internet outside of the UK when we travel almost anywhere within the EU. I can hear a collective sigh of relief from holidaymakers whose mobile phones are an essential part of their holiday entertainment but equally, it is a significant boost to businesses whose staff need connectivity and internet access do their jobs but have been faced with the uncertainly of costs and the real potential of substantial shocks come bill time at the end of the month.

From our point of view I am very pleased to see simplicity and clarity brought to the whole charging structure. I’d like to think that FCC always works very hard to help all of our clients, who travel and do work in Europe, to use the best available tariff and to understand the potentials cost implications of their usage. I think staying on top of matters like these is one of our strengths. Nevertheless, with every carrier having its own approach to how they charged in Europe this levelling of the playing field is a significant development and one that should be applauded. One, slight grey cloud hanging over this is the aforementioned Brexit. There is much to be negotiated and one assumes that this arrangement will also come under scrutiny. Since we know these decisions are some time off we can assume that from June 15th and for at least two years we can banish the term ‘roaming charges’ from our travel phrase book.

Mark Burland

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County Contractors

INTRODUCTION:

County Contractors are a leading privately-owned refurbishment contractor. Working nationwide, they have a wealth of experience covering a broad range of sectors including hotel & leisure, commercial, retail and education and healthcare, as well as specialist services.

The company was founded in 1976 and is based in Weston-super-Mare. It has a well-deserved reputation for providing high quality and value-adding refurbishments to customers across the UK who also receive exceptional customer service.

THE CHALLENGE:

With staff working right across the country at changing locations, a requirement of paramount importance for FCC to fulfil was to ensure that these staff could stay connected to the office regardless of where they were and on whatever mobile device or tablet they used.

Additionally, they wanted a design solution to cater for short and long term site offices so that they could have the appropriate comms set-up for each location that could be scaled up or down depending on the number of users.

They were also seeking solutions that reduced their landline call costs to company mobiles and managed the mobile trends to prevent any bill shocks.

THE SOLUTION:

To ensure they received the reliable national connectivity they required, we integrated a Hosted Telephony system into their current infrastructure, managed over broadband connections for both voice and data devices.  This allows them to manage their entire communications across multiple sites and throughout the country. It is also easy for them to manage right down to the individual user level through a simple interface.

To cover their need to be able scale up or down depending on site tenure, we instigated flexible contracts. We significantly reduced their overall landline costs by moving them onto a tariff that gives them free calls from U.K. offices to company mobiles.  And, to avoid ‘bill shock’ we supply bespoke monthly billing reports that capture vital business intelligence to prevent unnecessary charges on the account.

CUSTOMER QUOTE:

“FCC understand just how business critical our mobile and landline needs are, which makes working with them a pleasure.”

Lorraine Baillie – IT & Telecommunications Manager

 

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What’s in a name? Updating our name & logo

Just before the end of last year we carried out a minor rebrand. We shortened our name from First Class Comms to FCC. Now to us, the reason was quite simple. We, like many of our customers, found using FCC a lot simpler than saying the whole name and so we made it official by changing the logo. It was quite a visual change and coincided with the launch of our new website, which we had built to ensure our online presence was easy for our customers and visitors to use and navigate in an increasingly mobile world. Simplifying a name is not uncommon, take tech giant Logitech who announced back in 2015 that it would start using Logi on its new ‘bright’ products of the future.

In fact, it turns out we were in good company last year as brand changes seemed quite common. You might not have been aware but:

Logos for FCC blog 1 400

 

 

– Instagram went from its polaroid-like camera logo to a stylised graphic version.
– The Premier League simplified the lion.
– Guinness added lots of subtle details to its Harp

 

Now, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek as we are not comparing ourselves to these giant companies. However, there is one common factor to all of us. The most important aspect of a brand is how customers relate to it and the message it conveys. There should always be an element of caution when making a change for fear of spooking customers into perhaps thinking something fundamental has changed.

As a company our goal is to provide a responsive, customer focussed service, at a competitive price and to be seen as a partner who is capable of understanding any changing telecoms needs and offering solutions. Our actions and the customers’ reactions (how they feel about our service) equates to our brand. In this context, as with the above examples, a new version of our name and logo should not really be an issue, for it should always be the actions that speak louder than words. We can never be complacent, but we know that nothing has changed in the way we deliver our service or look after our customers and so as long as we continue with the same focus we feel the FCC brand is secure, albeit we have shaved time off both saying and writing our name!

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What will 5G bring and, when!

A friend of mine recently received an updated Sim for her phone and it carried on it a 5G ready symbol. “What exactly is 5G?” She asked me, “is it much better than 4G?” It’s a good question and one I get asked from time-to-time from a business point of view. So, how significant will the change from 4G to 5G be and when will it happen.

Well, don’t get too excited yet. When Apple or Samsung launch their latest flagship versions with much fanfare and hype, they too signify this by simply increasing the number. Going from an iPhone 6 to a 7 immediately prompts a certain percentage of the population to get very excited and form queues outside Apple stores to grab one. Samsung can’t wait to launch its version 8 Note to banish memories of its combustible 7. However, in reality this steady stream of new versions is often as much a marketing tool to sell new phones than a sea-change in technical performance or capability.

Unlike phones, whilst the number progression in mobile networks is slow, the technological advances are steep. Here the G stands for generation of the mobile network, and each number before the G denotes more power to send out and receive more information. In the U.K. you have to go back to 1984 when the first 1G network was officially launched, 2G was commercially deployed in 1994, 3G appeared in 2003 and 4G started back around 2012.

Now, in basic terms and putting the different frequency bands mobile networks have purchased to one side, if you go from using 3G (H+) to a 4G symbol on your device with your mobile network provider, the time it takes to load a web page, send an email or anything that requires your data connection will be quicker. The original 3G had to reach a certain technical standard and the 4G standard is considerably quicker.

5G promises even more speed, in fact so fast that it might offer the same capacity as fibre optics. Additionally, it might allow for greater multi-device connectivity, lower battery use and pull in new uses like the rise of ‘The internet of things’.

So when will it arrive? Boris Johnson as London Mayor predicted 2020. Although that already sounds optimistic. The Government last year did put money into the development of this standard, which is a good sign.

But let’s not get carried away. The reason all of this sounds a bit up-in-the-air is because it is. 5G is just a proposal for the next generation and there is still plenty of research work to be done because a standard has yet to be agreed.

For all potential advantages 5G might offer, the most compelling is accessibility. One of the key requirements the body leading the development, Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance requires, is better coverage. As a telecoms provider I know how business critical this can be and we are very careful in assessing each customer’s needs with the potential coverage they will receive via different carriers. We know how patchy 3 & 4G can be. In fact, the government watchdog NIC found that Britain sits 54th in the world in terms of 4G coverage. With our client Bristol Airport, for example, we use three carriers because the topology of their site dictates this. With this multi network approach the client gets the reliable coverage they need, but all delivered through one customer service team.

So, the answer is I’m sure it will be a big improvement but you won’t be needing that 5G sim quite yet…I’m guessing it will be ready for around the iPhone 12!

Mark Burland

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 At Bristol

INTRODUCTION:

At-Bristol is regarded by many as the premier science centre in the south west. Located in the regenerated docklands, its two-floors are filled with interactive exhibits, activities and live shows.  Its vision is to make science accessible to all and to encourage a sense of adventure. Every year thousands of people are inspired by a visit. Perhaps lesser known is that it is a charity, receiving no direct central government funding to run, instead relying on its fundraising activities to enable this highly successful educational facility to prosper.

THE CHALLENGE:

As any well run charity will tell you, it is crucial that running costs are well managed and that the services needed to run the business are both efficient and cost-effective. For the Science charity a particular issue that had become apparent was their phone system auto attendant and voicemail system was unreliable. Customers were unable to direct through to the right teams for booking tickets and ‘help’ voicemail messages were not being saved. However, the cost they were quoted to replace this old system was, in their estimation, far too high.

THE SOLUTION:

They asked FCC to propose a solution and were extremely happy to receive a plan that met all of their specific requirements but at a cost that was 25% of anything they had previously received.  FCC replaced the existing voicemail and auto attendant with new equipment.

Everything is now working and delivering the enhanced service for customers and staff they required and all supported by a full maintenance agreement.

CUSTOMER QUOTE:

“Mark and the FCC team have been a pleasure to work with and we could not be happier with the new phone system they have installed. It goes without saying that for a busy museum like ours, making communications easy for our visitors and schools is a necessity and helps us run the business more effectively. The new system was installed with the minimum of fuss or disturbance and they are easy to contact when we have any questions.   I would highly recommend them to anyone with a similar need.”

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