Four Steps to Troubleshoot Your Mobile Handset

Every long time wireless user has encountered a “cursed phone.” One of the functions of complete mobile device management is to keep these experiences to a minimum and when necessary, get the unit upgraded or replaced as quickly as possible. We help clients with virtually every problem, whether they need information on how to use a service or have a more serious situation at hand, such as billing irregularities or a broken handset.

troubleshooting wireless

Not all problems are so obvious

Don’t hesitate to call – but did you know that you can take several steps to deal with problems yourself, without needing to be an expert? The secret is to understand how to narrow down an issue to a definite cause – something called “reducing to the solution.” To do this, you rule out possible causes in a logical order, “reducing” the number of possible causes. For phones, try the following process, step by step:

1) Check the Power

Many problems can be caused by low or intermittent power and sometimes, software doesn’t do a good job of displaying true power levels. Take the time to fully charge your phone and check if the problem is still there. If the phone won’t charge across at least two outlets, there’s definitely a power issue with the battery or adapter.

2) Check the Network

Contact your carrier to check on network status in your area. You may discover an outage or that your coverage defaults to a lower level of service. If the problem goes away when your phone connects to a full service network, then the network is the source of your problem – not the phone.

3) Check Your Settings

You may have accidentally changed your phone’s settings, or suffered an unanticipated side effect from changing them intentionally. Go through each menu and look for settings that are different from the default, factory settings. Change them back. If that fixes the problem, great!

4) Check Your Software

Back up any saved information and files on your phone, and install the latest version of its software (iPhone OS, Android, etc.). If you already have the latest version, reinstall that. If this doesn’t solve your problem, perform a “clean” installation if you can to put the phone back to basic factory and carrier settings.

Once you’ve done all of the above, you should end up with a working phone or one that needs professional help. By recording these steps, support staff will know what the problem isn’t and your phone will be repaired that much faster.

Get to Know Your Canadian Carriers

Since 2008’s Advanced Wireless Spectrum Auction there’s been a great deal of excitement about new carriers coming in to compete with Canada’s “Big Three” of Bell, Telus and Rogers. This is sure to open up new telecom expense management opportunities and might just lead to lower prices overall for Canadians. With lukewarm competition at best, the Canadian wireless industry inflicted some of the highest prices in the developed world for core services, offering little advantage between carriers beyond occasional coverage considerations.

Canadian Telecom Expense Management

Not all Canadian carriers are who they appear to be

If you’re a Canadian wireless user, you may be wondering why we’re only talking about a handful of companies. What about the discount providers and other brands you keep seeing on TV? Aren’t they competitors? Nope. Most of them are Big Three brands or resellers. Here’s how it breaks down.

Bell Mobility: In Canada, Virgin Mobile is a Bell brand, used under license. Solo and PC Mobile are both independent resellers operating on Bell’s network.

Telus: Koodo Mobile is Telus’ discount brand. Mike is a Telus brand that uses push to talk technology.

Rogers: Rogers resells to 7-Eleven, Petro-Canada and Sears. Its own discount brand is called Fido.

Bell, Telus and Rogers have designed their pricing to be comparable with each other (there is virtually no difference in pricing for similar data plans, for example) and to close loopholes that might be allowed if you purchased phone on one carrier brand and used it on another. Resellers must take their own costs into account with their rates, and the Big Three have managed to prevent deep discounts from that source.

Fortunately, careful telecom expense management can find the best plan for a company based on its desired handsets, services and location – specifics that vary enough to create savings compared to simple head to head comparisons.

But competition is coming. WIND Mobile and now Public Mobile have thrown down their gauntlets to compete, shunning the Big Three’s traditional contracts and rates, but they currently have small coverage areas outside of a few major cities. How do they compare?

WIND Mobile has a limited number of phones available because it uses the Advanced Wireless Spectrum, and its coverage is currently limited to the Greater Toronto Area along with the Ottawa and Calgary regions. It is expanding, however, and phones can be used in “away zones” covered by Rogers for additional fees. WIND offers unlimited data and other benefits, but these only provide real savings in coverage areas.

Public Mobile is focused on basic consumer phones – it’s not set up for business use. Its coverage includes Windsor, Toronto and Quebec City, with more additions on the way. Due to its basic, consumer focus, it probably isn’t the right choice for most businesses.

More carriers can only mean more choice, competition and savings in the Canadian market, so we welcome new players, even if we wouldn’t necessarily recommend them.

Are You Getting the Best Internet Speed on Your Smartphone?

smartphone speed mobile management

Not all signal bars are created equal

Many people think their mobile device determines how fast their wireless Internet’s going to be. Phone manufacturers emphasize this by highlighting new hardware and software, such as the iPhone 3GS (according to Steve Jobs, the “S” stands for “Speed”). But your smartphone is only part of the equation when it comes to speedy web page loads and data transmission. If your company’s mobile management plan relies on high speed data transfer you need to consider what your phone will be able to do.

Your carrier’s network is the ultimate limit on data transfer speeds. A fast phone will still slow down on an older network.

How do networks and phones interact to determine your data transfer speed? We field questions about this every day. Let’s answer a few for you now.

Would the data on my Blackberry be slower than on an iPhone or Android phone?

Older Blackberries and phones are limited to slower networks, so if you’re on the second or third year of a contract you might be stuck with legacy technology such as the EDGE network. Newer Blackberries along with iPhones and Android handsets can use faster 3G networks such as Bell and Telus’ HSDPA, but there’s a catch: You need to be in range on the newer network.

In many areas you’ll be stuck with EDGE or other slower protocols, ultimately defaulting to basic GSM with no data access at all. New phones will still work, but at a reduced speed. Make sure you know your area’s coverage before you count on high transfer speeds.

What about Wi-Fi?

Some smartphones (including the iPhone – check the model of any phone you plan to get) can also connect to nearby Wi-Fi hot spots. Some carriers (such as Bell in Canada) operate Wi-Fi in busy areas. Otherwise, you can make use of Starbucks, home Wi-Fi, work Wi-Fi and other options. The great thing about Wi-Fi is that it doesn’t count as data transfer through your phone for billing purposes and it’s fast. The disadvantage is that older phones can’t connect through Wi-Fi, and it may not be available in all areas.

How can I tell what degree of coverage I have in my area?

First thing’s first: Ask carriers about their coverage in areas you plan on using your phone before you sign a contract! Once you have your phone out and about, the display will show what type of connection is available. This will normally display as follows:

3G: Indicates a 3G connection is available. This will only appear on 3G capable handsets.

EDGE: Indicates a slower EDGE (2G) connection is available.

edge (“lowercase edge”): Indicates only a GSM connection is available, with no data transfer.

Wi-Fi Symbol: The Wi-Fi symbol appears in Wi-Fi capable phones in range of a nearby network. You will be prompted to enter login information for any unfamiliar network. You can sometimes set up familiar networks (home, work) to connect automatically.

We hope this clears up some confusion and helps you find plans with the best data transfer speeds.

Mobile Management Goes Hands Free – It’s the Law

Bluetooth for Hands Free WirelessMobile management is a mandatory part of any company that puts employees on the road. This goes beyond wireless cost reduction into the basics of day to day operations, including how and when staff make wireless calls in the field. Across Canada, these businesses need to wake up to a new requirement: hands free calling. Last year, PEI, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia all enacted laws against hands on wireless calls while driving. Here at GILL Technologies, we handle upgrades and procurements for clients through our ClientCare service. We pursue bulk orders through select suppliers to get the best prices on new hardware such as Bluetooth sets, but more importantly we know how to make the hardware fit with your phones, and whether you’ll need additional services (such as voice activation) to build a seamless solution.

We also provide carrier liaison and technical support to make the transition as easy as possible. If you need upgrades to comply with the new rules, contact usand don’t wait. The Saskatchewan and BC bans went into effect on January 1st, 2010 the PEI ban hit on January 23rd, and Ontario’s legislation went into full effect this week. A growing awareness of the way hands-on wireless habits affect roads safety makes it likely that the ban will eventually turn universal. Many US states are also likely to adopt stringent regulations, or reinterpret existing rules to clamp down on hands on mobile use. If your workforce is on the road it’s time for you to invest in Bluetooth headsets and other tools to allow legal, hands free calling. While jurisdictions may apply new rules in various ways, we recommend going with a totally hands free calling solution that includes a combination of Bluetooth and voice activated features. Some hardware now allows for hands free text and email, with a device reading these items to you. No matter the exact requirements, the important thing is to remember that these new regulations exist for a reason: Studies have shown that driving while distracted by a phone call (and believe it or not, texting, email and smartphone use, as some foolhardy drivers actually access these on the road) is equivalent to driving while moderately to severely impaired by alcohol. In other words, if you’re using your hands, you’re as dangerous as a drunk driver. Going hands free is the legal, responsible choice – and it’s important to avoid liability in case one of your employees has an accident on the road. If a staff member gets caught with a company phone, no headset and evidence that he or she was in the middle of a hands on call . . . well, to say that’s bad for you would be an understatement.

Mobile Management in 2010

Mobile management is a swiftly evolving field, where effective solution providers need to stay aware of the latest business, technology and regulatory trends to offer the very best services. At GILL Technologies we need to do a little more than just pay attention to products and billing, however, because we also offer technical and service support through our ClientCare program, where people like Amy and Tara help clients with everything from setting up a new mobile phone to migrating entire fleets to new carriers.

Now that 2010 is here and CES has come and gone, it’s time to talk about some of the new trends that will affect mobile management this year. Some of these developments promise to save money – and others represent new costs to control.

Android Phones: An explosion in wireless powered by Google’s Android OS has brought an explosion of choice into the cell phone market, as well as a powerful mobile management opportunity on the procurement front. Blackberry may still be the best for certain business functions but it and the iPhone aren’t the only practical choices any more. Key phones to watch include Motorola’s Droid (known as the Milestone in Canada) and the Google/HTC Nexus One. Beyond these there are dozens of new phones in all price ranges – and you may need professional mobile management to find the right one for you.

Carrier Competition: GILL Technologies provides mobile management solutions in both the US and Canada, so we took careful note when the government decided to permit WIND Mobile to operate in Canada. WIND’s bringing genuine competition to a market that’s been dominated by the “big three” of Bell, Rogers and Telus. WIND has thrown down the gauntlet with significantly cheaper wireless internet and competitive voice packages – but as of January 2010 it still doesn’t have a significant network outside of Toronto and Calgary. Competition is heating up in the US as well with the highly publicized advertising war between AT&T and Verizon over who really has the best 3G network.

Carrier-Subsidized Computers: Now that virtually every carrier offers mobile Internet, many have taken the next step and begun to subsidize netbooks and laptops with the purchase of a wireless Internet contract. This development will prove to be especially important this year as several companies release new devices designed specifically for this purpose. This includes the rumoured Apple iSlate tablet and several other computers with the tablet form factor. From a mobile expense management perspective, the challenge will be to help clients identify what they need out of these devices before finding ne that best fits the profile.

4G Internet: In Canada, Bell and Telus are cooperating to offer fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband. In the US, Verizon and Sprint have just begun to offer it in selected cities. From a mobile management perspective, the question is whether signing on for a 4G plan early meets a genuine business need, and whether competing carriers are offering a reliable, cost-effective service.

We’re looking forward to these challenges and opportunities in the year ahead. If you’d like to find out how we can help you with them from a mobile management perspective, Contact us.

Three Ways Tele-Watch Saves Clients Money

As we cover the official release of Tele-Watch, our comprehensive mobile phone management and general telecom expense management solution, we want to get down to brass tacks and tell you exactly why it works for existing clients (who’ve been using Tele-Watch in various forms over nearly three years of development) and why it can work for you. Let’s look at three of the ways Tele-Watch’s telecom savings software, experts and ClientCare staff routinely save clients up to 50% on their wireless costs.

Tele-Watch Detects Billing Errors

Billing errors run rampant through major carriers – and they’re rarely errors in your favor. Errors come from a host of sources, from erroneously tabulated minutes to carriers applying a billing policy that doesn’t apply to your agreements. Tele-Watch software and auditing staff monitor your bills for errors, administer corrections and apply refunds to error-ridden bills. All you have to do is read the reports after logging in to Tele-Watch’s cloud reporting. We perform all of the management tasks needed to correct (and reduce) your wireless costs.

Tele-Watch Makes Administration Simple

Telecom, and particularly wireless costs, represents the largest expense after payroll for many companies. Businesses are often reluctant to roll out a wireless phone fleet for staff use because they fear abuse and the challenged involved in tracking the ROI for legitimate use. Tele-Watch’s mobile phone management software allows you to track users, the user groups you define, and entire accounts for usage volume (minutes, data transfers, etc.) the type of use (such as voice, text or data) and the associated costs. You can find your heaviest users with a single click and examine their usage patterns.

This not only allows you to easy detect employee abuse, but gives you the tools to associate usage with specific business activities. You’ll know how every phone in your fleet gets used and why. Best of all, you can do it all through any device that features full internet access, from office computers to personal smartphones.

Tele-Watch Reduces Staff Time Spent on Wireless Issues

One of the biggest hidden wireless costs disguises itself in your payroll. That’s the time your staff spends calling carriers for tech support on a price of hardware, disputing suspicious charges, or asking questions about the services your company is entitled to. Tele-Watch ClientCare handles all of these tasks through direct one to one communication with a focus on providing you with the highest quality, least expensive solutions available. Our team provides on the spot hardware support and will contact carriers for you, take care of any issues with them and contact you with the results. No matter how many carriers or handsets you deal with, you only have to call one number and you never need to wait on hold with a carrier.

Tele-Watch Does More

Beyond these three examples, Tele-Watch does a whole lot more – it really is a total wireless cost solution. Analysts apply new savings based on the latest developments in the industry. ClientCare manages hardware procurement and upgrades on your behalf. Its mobile phone management software displays charts, graphs and other accessible data comparison methods, and can even manage internet VoIP and landline services. It all depends on your needs, because we developed Tele-Watch software and management solutions to respond to the needs of real businesses – organizations like yours who need telecom savings to prosper to their full potential.

We’re excited about the possibilities. We want you to get excited, too, so click here for a free 60 day trial to investigate Tele-Watch yourself.

Introducing Tele-Watch: Telecom Savings and Cloud Reporting

For nearly a decade, GILL Technologies has provided telecom savings and management solutions for businesses of all sizes, from international enterprise to smaller ventures. We specialize in controlling wireless costs. As telecom has evolved we’ve developed new and improved services, and now we’ve taken the next logical step: Tele-Watch.

Tele-Watch is our integrated cloud software and comprehensive service program, designed to provide clients with a total telecom expense management solution. We distilled years of client feedback and exhaustive testing into a system designed to meet their needs. As a result, we routinely save clients up to 50% or more on their mobile phone bills.

Tele-Watch harnesses a seamless combination of user-friendly software and in-house expertise based on these pillars:

Mobile Phone Management Software: Tele-Watch’s software side is a cloud-based service available to anyone with a web-capable device. After logging into Tele-Watch you can view your company’s complete billing and usage information. That includes records of your heaviest users, breakdowns by carrier and administrator-defined cost centers (such as branch offices and departments) and most importantly, records of billing errors and other savings opportunities.

Management in the cloud (that is, hosted remotely on a secure web server) means that you never have to employ your own IT or accounting department to install and maintain it. It also means that you don’t need to be at a particular computer or local server – just get on the Web. We handle all maintenance and updates, so all you have to do is provide billing information.

Tele-Watch software is optimized for mobile phone management, but includes tools for other telecom services, including land lines, long distance plans and internet.

Telecom Savings Analysis: Telecom analysts work hand in hand with our software to seek out savings opportunities in an evolving telecom industry. Analysts discover savings on your behalf and integrate them into your cloud reporting, providing continuous savings. We detect errors, unused entitlements and more cost-effective alternatives without forcing you to change your carrier, phone number, handset or services.

Tele-Watch ClientCare: Again and again, our clients expressed dissatisfaction with the level of service major carriers provided, so we developed “next level” customer service with ClientCare. Once you register with Tele-Watch, a ClientCare representative will provide:

  • Tech support for hardware.
  • Liaison services with your carrier so that you never need to wait on hold with them again.
  • Procurement services to help you upgrade and add handsets, headsets and other hardware in a convenient, cost-effective fashion.

Try Tele-Watch now. Head to http://www.tele-watch.com to request a demo or a free 60 day trial. For a detailed walkthrough of the Tele-Watch solution, head to http://www.gill-technologies.com/visibility.php.

Why Offer a Communication Management Free Trial?

Why has a communications management firm that has offered telecom solutions for a decade decided to offer its proprietary management software on a free trial? It’s hard for me to write the answer without sounding like an advertisement, especially since as I write the reasons, it sounds like an ad to me – but that’s not the case. It all has to do with the evolving business climate in the US and Canada. We’ve adapted to it and want to help other firms do the same.

North American business has changed over the last year. At GILL Technologies, we’ve been very fortunate to have a loyal client base. Over the years, we’ve changed to respond to its requests for additional features and services and to keep GILL Technologies focused on best practices. In fact, what began as a cost audit company some 10 years ago has developed into much more. For example,  ClientCare (a component of our service) has become one of our most sought after services. Today, it’s one of the pillars of our business even though it really has little to do with the concept of cost auditing. By listening to our clients we discovered the value in being able to be their single point of contact for a technical support and services.

Tele-Watch evolved in much the same way. Companies need better control over their communications, period; most businesses will openly admit this. One crucial step to improve control is by acquiring timely, superior access to usage and spending information. This visibility gets crucial data to the right people in a timely fashion (not six months later). It drives accountability through the organization, because they know the nature of on what may be the largest business expense they face, as communications is quickly becoming one of the largest expenses possible for any company.

GILL Technologies responded with Tele-Watch: a proprietary software application hosted on the cloud and available from any web enabled device on a secure platform. Tele-Watch is absolutely amazing in how it presents important communications information. We developed it to let clients view their communications usage, expenses and services just the way they need to. Again, we improved a component of the service that really had little to do with the cost audit concept,  but again through our clients’ guidance we developed reporting tools that change the way a company manages communications.

So now, our challenge is to utilize what we created to grow our business. Bear in mind that our primary focus is to save companies money, however. We never want to lose sight of that mission. Tele-Watch is a software solution, but rather than take the typical approach of, “Let’s sell our software,” we made what I consider the bold statement of saying: “Lets give Tele-Watch to our prospective clients, let them feel the difference in single point of contact with ClientCare, and while this is occurring, show them how we can save them money. It’s a Win-Win-Win!”

OK, now I really sound like an advertisement! But when you think about our philosophy, it really makes sense beyond its raw promotional value. We save companies money. It’s our core mission. That’s why clients establish a relationship with us. Tele-Watch and ClientCare build relationships that last for years, if not indefinitely. So why not introduce people to the whole concept while we evaluate the benefit of the relationship in hard numbers?

That’s why we offer a Communication Management Free Trial, giving you the chance to sample our range of services as a prelude to securing long term savings and excellent service. I hope you can see beyond the sales pitch and appreciate the concept. I don’t know – did I fluff it up too much?

Like I said, North American business has changed, and you need the chance to make informed decisions, and today’s technology should allow it. Shouldn’t you able to test drive a service even at the enterprise level? What do you think?

All about Internet Sticks

Mobile carriers across the US and Canada are pushing “internet sticks” – USB modems that provide access over their data networks – as a major new product. In Canada, all three major carriers (Bell, Rogers and Telus) provide internet access via the stick. Rogers’ “Rocket Mobile” is probably the best known promotion in Canada – but does it and other internet sticks stand up to a rigorous wireless cost audit?

Using an internet stick provides the same quality access as using the internet on a 3G+ cell phone for a laptop or netbook. Many of the hardware limitations of an iPhone or Blackberry that cause slow web browsing won’t be present. This means you can enjoy fair to good speeds on major carrier networks. Installation is simple on Windows PCs and Macs – just plug the stick into your USB port.

Internet Stick Pricing

Most providers give you the stick for free on plans with commitments of at least two years. Canadian carriers offer two types of plans based on fixed or flexible tiered data usage. On a fixed plan you’ll use a set data transfer limit – go above the limit, and you’ll pay per-volume charges on the excess. This can increase your bill dramatically, so take care to track your usage and unplug your stick when you’re not using it. A tiered plan kicks you to different fixed rates – higher than fixed data charges for the same rates – depending on the amount of data transfer.

Remember that as the modem uses your carrier’s network, its regional service quality is the same as for your smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, etc.). If you have a plan with roaming data service and this connects you to a third party network you may be in for additional charges, so be careful when you travel.

Generally speaking, the fixed plan is a better bargain if your internet usage doesn’t change much from month to month, but if it goes up and down quite a bit tiered plans are a better idea. Both types of plans usually range from $30 to $60 dollars per month plus system access fee (budget carrier brands that claim “no system access fee” push prices  up by the amount the fee would cost anyway).

Controlling Your Costs

If you go with an internet stick its cost effectiveness primarily depends on knowing your usage. If your usage patterns outside of Wi-Fi hot spots (where it’s unnecessary) are close to a particular data plan’s limit without going over too often it may make sense, but if you’re just at the lower limit of a package the cost per bit transferred can be rather expensive. Contact us with information about your usage and we’ll see about finding the right plan for you.

Save on Data Costs with Tethering — While You Still Can

In Canada, Rogers is pushing its Rocket Stick wireless internet service pretty hard. But you won’t hear much about another service that could save you money while providing similar advantages. I’m talking about internet tethering.

Tethering is the act of using your mobile phone as a modem. This allows you to hook it up to a laptop so that you can take advantage of wireless high speed internet on the go, much as you would with an internet stick.That means that instead of having separate plans for your phone and internet stick (and paying for the internet stick on short term plans) you’d be able to take it all from one data plan . . . except that you can’t, because carriers don’t want you to.

Tethering capability is actually built into most Internet-ready wireless hardware, but carriers typically block, reduce or levy extra charges for this function.  Out of the big three Canadian carriers, Bell and Telus both charge outrageous overage on tethering no matter your data plan, as their conditions specifically exclude it.

Rogers does support tethering — but it sure looks like they don’t want to. Rogers data plans of 1 GB or greater either automatically support tethering, or can get it enabled with a phone call, but this only applies to data plans subscribed to from June 19, 2009 to December 31st of this year. That means if you want tethering you need to act now.

For GILL Technologies customers in Canada tethering is a simple two process. Just Call ClientCare to request Rogers’ tethering Add-On and we’ll set it up for you, along with any data plan you need. Next, call again or ask us to call you) and we’ll walk you through setting up tethering step by step.