Jul 27

Yes, You Can Have Durable, Long-Range Phone and Two-Way Radio Communication With Your Current Phone System!

Long-Range Phone and Two-Way Radio

Putting up with lousy phone equipment but don’t want to replace your current phone system? If the complaints below sound familiar, we have the solution:

• “I can’t reach him when he’s in the warehouse.”
• “I’ve tried her phone, but she must be away from her desk.”
• “He could be out back, but the phone signal won’t reach there.”
• “How come she’s not on the store floor?” “Oh, she’s expecting a call, so she needs to stay in her office.”



These problems are entirely unnecessary. Businesses rely on rapid, efficient communication no matter where employees are on the grounds so that projects can be completed, customer service delivered, and tons of money made. When phone systems aren’t working properly, it can be mildly annoying to downright infuriating. Oh, and the lost sales aren’t nice either.

Business owners have no time for dropped calls, lost signals, and sketchy reception. In an attempt to remedy the situation, sometimes they will try DECT or Wi-Fi phones, but the former often doesn’t have enough coverage and the latter slows down the data network.

That’s where EnGenius long-range voice communications come in. For more than twenty years, EnGenius’s claim to fame has been its voice solution—ideal for all kinds of massive properties like retail stores, warehouses, manufacturing plants, hotels, and assisted living facilities. You can even use this solution behind your current hosted or IP-PBX service.

The question is, why does it work so well? Here’s why.



Range

The most important feature for large footprint facilities is range. Long-range wireless communications allow users to roam about the property to areas other cordless devices simply can’t reach—trash bins, parking lots, gas pumps, and delivery areas. EnGenius phones use the 900 MHz spectrum versus DECT or Wi-Fi which, as mentioned before, suffer from insufficient range and interference. Specifically, the EnGenius DuraFon Roam is capable of the following ranges:

• 200,000 sq. ft. or 24 floors in-building (office) penetration
• 1,000,000 sq. ft. in warehouse/retail store
• 3,000 acres open land (farm/ranch) coverage



The DuraFon Roam also gives the advantage of range with minimal infrastructure in an unlicensed frequency band. No FCC two-way radio license is required, yet full, private communication capability is all yours.



Durability

Businesses with demanding environments require durable handsets able to withstand the abuse many consumer grade handsets can’t handle. Specifically, the DuraFon Roam’s durable, rugged handset is designed for use in harsh environments and tested to withstand 6-foot drops over 50 times onto concrete floor without breaking. This isn’t your typical handset!







Simplicity

DuraFon Roam handsets are also insanely fast and easy to learn. Basic operation videos are available online to bring your new hires up to speed quickly. In addition to ease of use, the DuraFon Roam can handle power outages as well as remote monitoring and updates.

Power outage communication is available between handsets allowing for broadcast and intercom radio communication between handsets even if the power or internet service goes down.

In addition, the management GUI of the DuraFon Roam allows for the system to be rebooted, firmware updated, new handsets registered, and extensive reporting/management completed in a snap. Remote access for management, monitoring, and updating of DuraFon Roam equipment is free via EnGenius Cloud—saving on truck rolls to remote locations.



Functionality

These functions make the DuraFon Roam the choice for demanding business environments. Below is a sampling of our hottest technical features:

• The DuraFon Roam-HC handset is capable of phone calls, digital two-way radio broadcast, and private intercom.
• DuraFon Roam uses standard SIP protocol and can be used behind virtually any Hosted SIP service or with an onsite IP-PBX.
• Digital broadcast communication is available to all handsets or just a sub-group of handsets on 900 MHz, no FCC licensed required.
• A secure private wireless protocol prevents nearby FRS, UHF, or VHF radios from listening in or talking over your communications.
• Private intercom between handsets means telephone-style communications can take place between pairs of handsets.
• Phone calls can even be transferred from DuraFon Roam full-feature handsets and the DuraFon Roam-Walkie (two-way radio only) handsets.



It’s time to get some relief from the maddening disruption, disconnection, and dismay of your old phone equipment. Pave the way for better communications and higher profits with the EnGenius DuraFon Roam phone system. Contact us to learn more or see if you qualify for a DuraFon Roam Starter Kit!





Jul 11

7 Tips to Strengthen, Supplement, and Secure Your Business Network Firewall

Every business network should have a well-configured firewall as part of its cybersecurity strategy. However, it’s risky to rely solely on an external firewall to protect your resources against all cyber threats. Firewalls are effective but not the end-all in network security. Below are some tips on how to strengthen and secure your firewall as well as create a security architecture that makes the most of it.



Set Exclusive Firewall Configuration Rules

It’s best to configure a firewall to block ALL traffic to a network by default. Then, rules can be established about which users and devices are allowed access. In creating a firewall rules base, it is also important to restrict authorizations and eliminate redundant, contradictory, and obsolete rules. This will streamline traffic and reduce unnecessary delays.



Incorporate Internal Firewalls

The external or “perimeter” firewall protects a network against outside threats but not against internal threats. Businesses need a second line of defense within the network, which involves adding “internal” firewalls to network devices like laptops, computers, and servers and setting them to scan for threats each time they are rebooted. Furthermore, companies should have security protocols and training required of all employees to prevent virus and malware access through intentional or accidental downloading of files or clicking of links.



Use Security Access Points

Security access points (APs) are ideal for protecting the airspace in information-sensitive financial, medical, and distributed networks because they continuously scan the Wi-Fi environment for threats. EnGenius Wi-Fi 6 security access points come equipped with an intelligent wireless security system called EnGenius AirGuard™ (WIPS/WIDS) that identifies and eliminates intrusions and threats 24/7 while providing client devices with maximum performance.

Learn more about our 24/7 security access points with EnGenius AirGuard!



Establish Independent SSIDs and VLANs

It might be enough for small businesses like coffee shops and salons to create separate and simple business and guest networks. But for medium-size to enterprise-level companies, isolated SSIDs and VLANs are essential. When you divide up isolated networks or departments within a company into separate SSIDs and VLANs with partitioned assets, you prevent the entire network from being affected by a single attack.

There are some tips to keep in mind when establishing your SSIDs and VLANs:



1  Don’t make the names of your SSIDs so complicated that any variation on the text could be overlooked.
Hackers often create spoof SSIDs in order to trick staff and guests to connect to their network instead of the valid one.

2  Use pre-shared keys to authorize very large groups of users over a network.
Tools like MyPSK by EnGenius are designed to expedite the authorization process by creating and assigning PSKs instantly to groups of fifty users at a time (up to 500 on the same SSID). You can set expiration dates on the keys (for example, students and tenants) and allocate resources to certain users depending on their status.

3  VLAN pooling breaks a single network into separate virtual networks (VLANs) to reduce traffic.
There are two key benefits: Not only can each user access and navigate the network faster, but they could also theoretically wander between buildings (on a large college campus, for example) and still maintain a connection with their original VLAN and IP address. Since users are kept on the same VLAN with the same IP address, roaming and the user experience are greatly improved.



Read more about VLAN pooling for heavy network traffic and MyPSK for efficient network access.



Establish Security Patch Management Schedule & Software Updates

Firewall vendors work overtime to provide security patches whenever vulnerabilities are discovered. But it’s up to each business to make sure the patches are applied in a regular, systematic manner. Your IT team should set up a frequent patch management schedule to make sure all current patches have been applied to the network.

To demonstrate how important this is, hackers often create scanning software that attempts to find vulnerabilities in a business network. Once they find a weakness, they will continue to scan over and over again to find more. On the upside, hackers know better than to share the vulnerabilities with others because, the more attacks against a business network, the more likely security vendors will be alerted, and a patch created. On the downside, hackers who don’t share network vulnerabilities will go undetected longer.



Don’t Forget Deep Packet Inspection

SMBs usually don’t need the highly sophisticated firewalls that enterprise businesses do. “Next-gen” firewalls are designed for the enterprise space and are usually priced higher than other firewalls. However, they provide far more than traditional functionality including intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), deep packet inspection, advanced threat intelligence, malware scanning, and protocol monitoring from data link Layer 2 all the way through application Layer 7. Because larger enterprises tend to be the target of DDoS and other types of persistent attacks, the next-gen firewall can provide the protection they need.



Use Common Sense

Don’t pretend that adding a firewall or other security device to your network is going to keep it 100 percent safe. Business network security consists of a multitude of measures taken in concert with one another—use a combination of internal and external firewalls, create separate VLANs, partition the network, check for patches, and establish security protocols that every employee must follow.

Firewalls are essential for any network connected to the internet. But they must be used as part of a larger cybersecurity strategy to safeguard your business. Ultimately, if you have information that absolutely must be hidden from all prying eyes, it shouldn’t be connected to the internet at all. The irony is that the most sensitive information your company possesses ought to be stored on an isolated device that doesn’t have—or even need—a firewall at all.





May 31

Best Kept Success Secret for SMBs is Their Cordless Phone. No, Really!

Cordless Phone

Diverse case studies from the leader in industrial cordless voice communications tell success stories and introduce a brand new phone—the elegant FreeStyl SIP2!

Businesses rely heavily upon voice communications for both external and internal calls to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. But, in larger more demanding environments, communication failures can cause unending frustration and reduced productivity.

For over twenty-years, EnGenius has manufactured long-range and reliable cordless communication systems for large and demanding environments. Their less-than well-known systems are insisted on by industry players in the know. Strong EnGenius system attributes drive these markets to choose EnGenius again and again.



What We Have to Offer

EnGenius offers two lines of communications systems: DuraFon and FreeStyl. Both lines have attributes in common including long-range wireless phone communications using 900 MHz, built-in digital two-way radio broadcast, and private handset-to-handset intercom.

As its name suggests, the DuraFon line is durable and provides long-range communications for the most extreme environments. The FreeStyl line (with the new FreeStyl SIP) also provides incredible coverage all from a sleek and stylish carry-away handset.

Both lines operate wirelessly on 900 MHz, allowing the signal to outperform higher frequencies and not use or interfere with valuable Wi-Fi bandwidth.

EnGenius interviewed some of its small business clients across the country and asked them how well EnGenius solved their long-range phone and two-way radio needs.

Here’s what they had to say.



Peter Boisvert: Market Basket Grocery Store, New Hampshire

Market Basket Grocery had a worn-out phone system with inadequate coverage, poor range, and constant device breakdowns. Furthermore, the chain had trouble getting replacement parts and batteries for the phones. They already knew they wanted EnGenius phones and asked NETS New England to do the install.

NNE installed the DuraFon SIP system, which worked so well, the chain decided to have it installed in an additional 45 new and existing stores.

The DuraFon-SIP system easily covers up to 250,000 square feet—more than adequate to cover the 80,000 square foot stores. Its handset is also tested to endure over 50 falls onto concrete floors without breaking.

Boisvert raved about the ease of installation.

“The SIPs are very simple to install. Once they’re configured, it’s really just a matter of plugging into the network. We put the base stations in the network closet, and we’re getting good range throughout the store,” he said.

The DuraFon SIP’s scalability was another strong selling point.

“One of the best things about the SIP system is that you can run so many handsets off of the one base, added Boisvert. “You can add a lot of phones to an older store without wiring, so I see that as a real benefit.”



Bryan Nelson, Owner: Blacksmith Inn on the Shore, Baileys Harbor, WI

Blacksmith Inn had installed a cordless phone system over twenty years ago to work with its existing PBX system. However, they began to experience interference after installing a Wi-Fi network.

In addition, the phones didn’t have enough range to cover the whole 2.5-acre property.

Bryan Nelson, owner and innkeeper of Blacksmith Inn, tried a variety of consumer-grade cordless phones, but none of them could do the job. He contacted the company that installed the PBX system, but their solution would have cost a whopping $5000—well outside his budget.

Nelson explained that his search ended soon after. “I did a search for long-range cordless phone, found EnGenius DuraFon 1X, and decided to give it a try, ”Nelson explained.

Nelson knew that the DuraFon would be unaffected by the Wi-Fi network since it operated on the 900 MHz band. Nelson was also impressed by DuraFon’s two-way intercom, a feature his previous system lacked.

“Our property has a lot of nooks and crannies so the ability for our staff members to move around the property and still be able locate each other—is critical,” Nelson said.

According to Nelson, the DuraFon system has delivered everything he was looking for in a cordless telephone system—reliability, extended range, clarity, and cost savings. “These phones are just plain reliable,” said Nelson. “It’s like they were made for the military. It’s amazing.”



Greg Raymer, Director of Finance: Leiden Cabinet Company, Twinsburg, OH

According to Director of Finance, Greg Raymer, Leiden Cabinet Company’s consumer-grade cordless phone system was trouble from the start. The phones did not perform well—providing bad call quality, lack of coverage, and poor durability.

Leiden’s manufacturing plant covers 210,000 square feet. They needed a new phone system that delivered both reliability and durability to support operations in a harsh manufacturing environment.

“Users spend most of their time on the shop floor, which has a large number of machines including saws, CNCs, and power tools,” Raymer said. “We operate a wood shop, so it is a dusty environment. The shop has high 30-foot ceilings and multiple pallet shelving and storage racks which may cause interference.”

After contacting their telephone vendor, Big Ohio LLC, Leiden Cabinet decided to install the DuraFon PRO long-range multi-line expandable and DuraFon 1X long-range industrial cordless phone systems. The wireless handsets gave employees the freedom to roam throughout the premises and beyond without losing touch.

According to Raymer, the easy deployment and reliability of DuraFon was worlds better than their previous system.



Keith Millard, Manager: Mike Perry Chrysler Jeep Dodge, Nacogdoches, TX

Mike Perry Chrysler Jeep Dodge had been using an inexpensive long-range cordless phone that provided a fairly acceptable range, but spotty communication.

Keith Millard, used car manager, noted that the unreliable system had a negative impact on customer service.

“Customers and staff need to be able to get a hold of me at all times,” he explained. “Customers don’t want to leave a voicemail message when they call. To provide the best customer service, I need to be able to take their calls, whenever they call, from wherever I am during the workday.”

The full-service dealership in Nacogdoches, which includes a large parts department, body shop and service center, spans approximately 30 acres.

“I’m moving around the business a lot,” Millard explained. “Whether I’m in the warehouse, around the dealership or out on a test drive, I need to be able to get my phone calls.”

After extensive research, Millard found the EnGenius DuraFon 1X cordless business telephone system to be the ideal solution with its longer range, better reliability, and increased call clarity.

Millard boasts about the performance of the DuraFon 1X system: “I couldn’t do my job without it. I’m constantly moving around the property and appraising vehicles, driving them around the property and off-site. It’s critical that I be able to make and receive all of my calls no matter where I am. When I’m in the cars, I can’t even hear a page. With the DuraFon, I can drive within a mile or two radius, and I know I won’t miss a call.”

“The DuraFon is a more durable product and provides much better quality, clarity, and range than our previous phone system,” Millard explained.

He has no regrets about the deployment of the system. “It’s a pretty easy sell once people realize what this phone can do for them.”



EnGenius Technologies Always Innovating

As these stories illustrate, the range and durability of EnGenius phone systems and handsets is unequaled. But excellence has not stopped the manufacturer from pursuing innovation, including its recently released FreeStyl SIP and DuraFon Roam.

“The FreeStyl SIP brings together our renown, long-range, voice communications technology and the benefits of SIP protocol to our popular carry-away category of voice products,” says Doug Hayter, senior product marketing manager of EnGenius voice communications.







“For the first time, SMBs, hotels, libraries, and other large environments can have long-range voice coverage for their employees in a sleek carry-away style handset for phone, two-way radio broadcast, and private intercom—which uses SIP protocol without taking up valuable Wi-Fi bandwidth. That changes the game!”

The DuraFon Roam brings a number of innovations to the DuraFon industrial voice SIP line. This system brings the ability to have calls handed-off between base units as a handset is moved between base unit coverage areas. Additionally, the DuraFon Roam allows for up to 90 handsets with 32 SIP accounts verses 10 handsets with 10 SIP account of the DuraFon SIP system. The DuraFon Roam integrates the ability to enable broadcast to other handsets via the base units without a specialty base.

All the EnGenius SIP models use 900 MHz for their wireless connectivity allowing the Wi-Fi frequencies to be used for data devices and not voice.

Are you ready to change YOUR game? Contact us and solve your phone problems for good.




May 3

Four Ways to Reduce Network Upgrade Costs for Your MDU Clients

Hospitality Network Upgrade

Winning the business of hotels, student housing, senior & assisted living facilities, and apartment complexes means emphasizing affordability, profitability, and quality of upgrade.

In the early days of Wi-Fi, hospitality clients just wanted to be able to say that they had “free Wi-Fi” to draw in more customers. Now, travelers and residents desire much more—a thorough and well-planned network, reliable and well-tested products, and technical support to keep all the wireless communication flowing. As more and more hospitality clients upgrade their networks to meet today’s higher standards, you can sweeten the deal with cost-saving strategies while ensuring your client’s network is as futureproof and efficient as possible.


Interested in learning more about the EnGenius Cloud solution and how it can help hospitality clients? Contact Us




Apr 1

Dropping Enrollment and Advancing Technology Equal Surprising Opportunities for Colleges and Universities

college campus wifi

Even as the pandemic slows to a crawl, many of the changes it has brought to colleges and universities across the country will be permanent.

There is currently a groundswell of college and university students returning to campuses across the country, but it won’t be business as usual. Many of the transformative disruptions the pandemic brought to higher education, especially as it relates to remote learning, are here to stay.

Even pre-pandemic, college enrollment numbers had been dropping steadily since 2010. To combat the decline, institutions have been reimagining the university space to include more remote classes (which 73 percent of students still want), massive open online courses (MOOCs), and even fully-online graduate and undergraduate degrees. Many institutions also offer “hybrid” courses that provide a combination of onsite and online learning.

Other high-tech trends in education are poised to change the technological landscape as well. Advances in media, apps, and virtual/augmented reality as well as the accompanying “data dumps”—massive image, video, and VR files—will burden campus networks in ways never seen before.

But there are ways for colleges and universities to prepare for the coming revolution and take advantage of the newly-expanded Wi-Fi spectrum.



Cloud for Improved Network Capacity and Management

One challenge for campus networks will be providing connectivity to much larger numbers of users. Many colleges have hundreds of students while larger universities like Texas A&M have tens of thousands. Add to that the exponential increase in onsite and remotely connected devices and you run the risk of network meltdown.

Furthermore, college students need network access day and night. The right technology can help institutions stay ahead of the curve. Automated cloud management features can handle high numbers of users while simplifying network operations, management, and monitoring—enabling the “always-on” network.

The newest EnGenius Wi-Fi 6 access points are ideal for colleges and universities with enough memory to handle 1000 concurrent users. The cloud management system is built on FaaS serverless technology, which is extremely scalable and can manage and monitor up to 100K devices.







More Effective Network Deployment

Aside from the deployment of a new or upgraded campus network, campus IT staff must provide connectivity to incoming and continuing students while removing from the network students who graduate or leave. The larger the student body, the more crucial the network ability to handle the load. Pre-shared keys and VLAN pooling are two relatively recent technologies that can help.

MyPSK – EnGenius provides its own version of the “pre-shared key” called MyPSK, which automatically assigns a personalized password to each client on a network. Everyone gets a unique password for their own personal use. MyPSK allows you to instantly create up to 500 pre-shared keys (PSKs) for groups of users who you can then assign to any one of several VLANs (virtual networks), which will further allow them access to a specific set of resources like printers, databases, and collaboration groups. It’s also far easier to remove students who graduate or leave the school.

VLAN PoolingVLAN pooling breaks a single campus network into separate virtual networks (VLANs) to reduce traffic. There are two key benefits: Not only can each user access and navigate the network faster, but they can also wander between buildings and still maintain a connection with their original VLAN and IP address. Since users are kept on the same VLAN with the same IP address, roaming and the user experience are greatly improved.



Advanced Security Protocols

Conventional security protocols used to be sufficient for traditional onsite campus environments where it was easier to create a secure network perimeter. But the old model is unsuitable for universities where students, staff, and faculty move on and off campus, and online students access the network from across the country and even the world. Zero-trust authentication and security APs can help mitigate the risks.

Zero-trust security requires all users on or off-site to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated before being granted access to applications and data. Zero Trust operates without a perimeter. In much the same way as businesses needed to adopt zero-trust for their WFH employees, universities are well-advised to use zero-trust to secure the campus network as well as protect all the students and faculty who access it.

Colleges and universities can also add enhanced “security” access points to their networks. These APs don’t just scan for threats at off-peak times. They scan all the time using dedicated scanning radios optimized to protect networks against evil twins, rogue APs, flood detection, man-in-the-middle attacks, and radio frequency jammers—all while delivering maximum performance. This is the kind of protection students and staff could use.



The Newly-Opened Wi-Fi 6E Spectrum

Lastly, more educational trends on the horizon will benefit tremendously from the newly-opened Wi-Fi 6E spectrum, not least of which is the use of virtual reality (VR) to deliver immersive learning experiences—a tremendous improvement over and addition to video conferencing. Mozilla Hubs, Google Earth, Prospect, and VReddo are developing this kind of digital space where student collaboration and teamwork can flourish.

One glaring problem, however, is that VR files are enormous, requiring 10-20 times the storage space of regular HD video files. Moreover, user interaction data changes can generate up to one terabyte of data per hour. The newly-released Wi-Fi 6E spectrum is more than capable of handling this amount of data. Seven of the extra non-overlapping 160MHz channels and fourteen of the extra non-overlapping 80MHz channels in 6E will significantly increase throughput and proficiently handle emerging 4k and 8k VR displays. At this point, 6E is a massive, mostly uninhabited area of Wi-Fi spectrum just begging to be filled.







The technology is in its infancy, but virtual reality is set to revolutionize the world of gaming, business, and education. Wi-Fi 6E will be its playground.

As part of its entry into the 6E realm, EnGenius has developed its first Wi-Fi 6E access point, which support up to 8.4 Gbps using the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and the newly-released 6 GHz bands. Operating in the wide-open 6GHz spectrum, these APs can greatly increase network capacity and reduce bandwidth congestion while removing frustrations caused by overcrowding of legacy devices on multiple Wi-Fi networks.



What’s next?

Colleges and universities face enormous challenges adjusting not only to changing learning modalities, but to the rapidly-changing technological advances that promise to enhance learning like never before. As education moves toward the future, EnGenius is well-positioned to help its partners attract college and university accounts by making stakeholders aware of the coming challenges as well as the best strategies for building and future-proofing their Wi-Fi networks.

Contact us for more information!