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1 Consult Autumn 2008 Our quarterly newsletter for business Click here

2 : The last word in data networking, flexibility and reliability Whether it s a simple to a colleague or a cash register searching live inventory information, more and more of our daily work relies on access to data and applications. As a result, many businesses are finding out the hard way that there's more to a Wide Area Network (WAN) than simple bandwidth. Opal has over 15 years of experience designing and supplying data networks and equipment to businesses of all sizes. We specialise in providing organisations with fast, robust networks, which meet the dual challenge of making access both easy and secure. A key new product in our portfolio is Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) IT networks. Opal s Harry Soomal explains what this technology can do for companies of all sizes. Business IT applications are bandwidth hungry, and put increasing demands on your IT network. A MPLS network allows you to prioritise business critical traffic above such things as employee web browsing and this has allowed customers to re-size and optimise their network bandwidth. Together with hosting and a secure managed link to the internet we are able to deliver a reduction in bandwidth needs to the traditional HQ/IT hub and provide a disaster recovery capability. Keep your business applications up and running even if your HQ lost connectivity. So, you are able to make the most of your bandwidth as well as giving you a platform to carry voice and video applications with MPLS s QoS (Quality of Service) capabilities. Business IT applications are bandwidth hungry, and put increasing demands on customer IT networks. With MPLS, you use the Opal Data Network to create your MPLS private VPN. It remains on our network at all times rather than using the variable capacity of the generic internet. MPLS also provides Quality of Service (QoS) for your data traffic, explains Harry, so you can transport voice, video and any time critical dependent applications as well as your own IT applications on the same network. Key to the strength of Opal's MPLS offering is its failsafe diverse routing over the Opal backbone and the ability to access add-on services from the Opal network. continued... 2

3 If for example, your servers are hosted within our network, you don't need to buy the extra connectivity into your head office for people to access them. Whether you need to communicate with a central database or other offices we now offer the industry leading technology to enable you to do that. Harry says, any employees who have authorised access to the MPLS network can access your hosted applications, including satellite offices and home workers. It's easier, more cost effective and you retain the benefits of a controlled environment with added resiliency. Additional application security, too, can be provided from within the Opal network. Anti-virus, spam and firewall packages which are deployed from the heart of the network, so that they don't have to be installed on individual desktops, and Opal is the only company in the UK to host WebSense's industry leading MailController application on its own servers. Whatever applications the customer is running, concludes Harry, whether you need to communicate with a central database or other offices we now offer the industry leading technology to enable you to do that. 3

4 No-one enjoys trading through a time of economic downturn. Everyday we are faced with another headline which seems to suggest that the worst of the current financial crisis is yet to come. No-one really knows what the next twelve months hold: at the heart of the current troubles, the Council of Mortgage Lenders thinks predicting the future at the moment is a futile exercise. No-one enjoys trading through a time of economic downturn. Everyday we are faced with another headline which seems to suggest that the worst of the current financial crisis is yet to come. There's no such thing as a recession proof industry. At Opal, however, we do believe that we can mitigate some of the more serious affects, thanks to a timely 'coming of age' of several diverse technologies which are incredibly well placed to drive business efficiency. We believe that intelligent use of telecoms is part of the solution to the current global problem. Better services delivered at lower costs can help as part of an efficient strategy for managing difficult trading conditions and, importantly, growth beyond that. Click here to see our top tips>> 4

5 We want to help you manage your finances over the coming months, and spend your telecoms and IT budget intelligently to reduce overall costs and ensure you weather the storm better than your competitors. Our account managers are always on hand to help you find the best solutions for your business. 1. Check out your charges 3. Get hosted! 5. Go leased cost The regulator, Ofcom, has made huge progress in making the market more competitive. Many of the best value deals on simple call charges and line rental can be found away from BT s domain and Opal provides some of the most competitive deals in the marketplace. From simple analogue lines to ISDN30, you ll notice no difference in terms of service and value. 2. Consider new technologies Modern telecoms providers carry both data and voice as packets of data using the standard IP protocols. Many people still cringe when they hear the term Voice over IP (VoIP), associating calls placed over the internet with poor sound quality and intermittent signal loss yet the truth is that on a truly modern network that offers Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees, you ll be unable to tell the difference between a traditional call and one connected via IP. Check out Opal s new SIP Trunk offering on page 6. We're confident that our range of hosted telephony services can deliver an exceptional level of service. Running costs are low and adding new users to a hosted service can be done quickly and because the technology is ubiquitous, there's no long term contract to get locked into either. Opal offer a new hosted dialler solution as well as call recording, IVR and hosted IT applications. You pay for the seats you use, and no capital expenditure. 4 Be flexible We can help you reduce your travel bills and communicate with your customers more effectively with bulk messaging and conferencing solutions. Homeworking, meanwhile, doesn't just reduce the amount of expensive office space you need to rent either; it helps to make employees more productive and in turn, deliver better value for money. Even better, by taking advantage of initiatives like hosted telephony and data services together with homeworking, we can help to reduce your carbon footprint too. As much as we've done to reduce capital expenditure, though, sometimes it is unavoidable and absolutely the right thing to do to keep your business competitive in the future. That's why we've put together industry leading leasing and finance packages for new telephone system purchases. 6. Free up bandwidth Ever thought how much spam you receive and how much of your network bandwidth and IT storage is taken up from non business critical activity such as Facebook and MySpace? Opal s web filtering and anti-spam solutions might be the first port of call before making more costly decisions to increase bandwidth and storage. Indeed, if browsing the internet is a big part of your business processes check out our new EthernetReach solution on page 8. 5

6 hit the market It would be highly unusual to find newly installed telephone equipment that wasn't IP-based these days. Yet in order to unlock the full potential of inter-site IP services, most are forced to rely on expensive and cumbersome ISDN connections. SIP Trunking is here Voice traffic can be correctly prioritised for quality, and because it's an IP connection, any advanced features you have access to on your IP PBX (such as unified communications) between sites, still work with the correct network infrastructure. Local numbers can be routed to any location, avoiding the anonymity of 08 numbers for companies which need to use a centralised call centre, and there's no charge for forwarding. SIP Trunks are available wherever you can get broadband, and new lines can be provisioned at very short notice and for any length of time, it's much more flexible than competing ISDN services. Big call centres might take large contracts for a short campaign at short notice, says John Shearn, Opal's Product Manager for SIP Trunking, but the minimum contract lengths for ISDN is 12 months, and there can be a six week lead time. With SIP Trunking these can be catered for easily, and there s no need to install additional trunk cards in the PBX on a temporary basis either. Click here to find out more. See also: Opal Dialler EthernetReach up to 1Gbps 6

7 ...continued Connecting the call with the Opal Dialler The benefits of a hosted service for inbound calls are well understood, but what about outbound traffic? It's not unusual for operations that think of themselves as inbound only to see 40% of calls heading the other way. Opal Dialler is a simple hosted application which can help manage and monitor outbound traffic. Without the need for any on-site equipment or capital investment, it will schedule and target calls from a contact database according to your campaign needs. All your agent has to do is simply click on a Windows application and the dialler will attempt to connect the next call in the database. It's simple, efficient and effective. All calls made through the dialler are logged, so if the customer can't be reached, the dialler will reschedule the call for later. Once a contact is reached, the call outcome can be tracked and logged for later analysis. Call recording (also hosted) is also available should contacts need to recorded for compliance and/or contract terms. It's a powerful tool for any contact centre. The days of expensive mobile data tariffs are officially over. Opal is offering its Mobile Broadband service to customers from just 15 (+VAT) for up to 5GB of data transfers. Vodafone Mobile Broadband offers the fastest speeds available in the UK; up to 7.2Mbps. That's quick enough for all business critical applications, beyond and unified communications, and its simple to set-up too. Simply plug the USB modem into your laptop, and you'll be online straight away. There are no drivers to install or log-on screens to navigate. Opal Mobile Broadband isn't just for domestic travellers either. Our USB modem will work across Europe, Japan, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Click here to find out more. See also: SIP Trunking EthernetReach up to 1Gbps 7

8 ...continued Get up to 1Gbps with EthernetReach Using the very latest in fibre to the premises and Next Generation Network technology, Opal is able to deliver enterprise-grade connections of 10Mbps, 100Mbps or even 1Gbps to organisations across the UK. Opal EthernetReach is a highly reliable and resilient service, which delivers high speeds and low latency suitable for business applications, including voice and video, regardless of the time of day. Connections to the Opal cloud are uncontended, and subject to strict traffic management that ensures there's always capacity available. It's simple to install, and supported by four hour response and five hour fix SLAs, as well as a back-up ADSL2+ or ADSL Max connection. It's an uncompromising choice for today s business that can't afford not to be connected 24/7. Click here to find out more. Find out more information about our latest products by clicking on the relevant datasheet. See also: SIP Trunking Opal Dialler 8

9 : Mitel Opal doesn't just provide industry leading voice and data services at the network level. Thanks to a partnership with Mitel, the world s largest provider of telephone equipment to the SME market, Opal can help design, install and support CPE requirements too. That includes telephone systems, computer desktops, integrated systems, contact centre equipment and conferencing kit. The partnership came about last year, after Mitel acquired Opal's long-term hardware partner Inter-Tel. As part of the integration of the two companies, Mitel has already begun to make the existing product lines the Mitel/Inter-Tel 5000 and Mitel 3300 series interoperable, offering more choice to end users in terms of handsets and other hardware for their network. Opal s Liane Rowland explains that this means more choice for customers old and new. Going forward, Rowland says, any customer who has the Mitel / Inter-Tel 5000 system can rest assured that it's not going to get discontinued, and the product lines will become interchangeable. There are now so many additional options available. The relationship between Opal and Mitel has got off to a flying start, and Opal has achieved Platinum Partner status with the Canadian firm. Rowland is enthusiastic about Mitel's position in the market and the way the company is directly addressing the biggest issues the industry faces. They're very strong in homeworking and green issues, leading the way in areas like reduced power consumption, explains Rowland. They're also very strong on resiliency and fail-over solutions. For corporate customers with global sites and extensive networks, with Mitel we have a lot of solutions for routing calls no matter what happens to the network in any one place. You'll always be able to route the call to the person at the desk. Another advantage to working with Mitel, says Rowland, is the close partnership it has with HP, which is integrating the Mitel call engine into its ProCurve network switches. continued... 9

10 ...continued We already deal with HP for LAN installations, so a partnership between two of our existing suppliers is very good news for us. We're well placed to take advantage of both for our customers. Perhaps the most reassuring news for customers is the commitment of Mitel to provide the necessary technical support. We can take a Mitel support person along with us to visit customers pretty much at the drop of the hat. emphasises Rowlands. That means you can be certain that you're receiving the very best attention when it comes to design and implementation of your communications network. Click here to find out more. 10

11 Customer service is enormously important to Opal, and we pride ourselves on being better than anyone else in the telecoms industry at responding to calls and s quickly. We know that pride isn't misplaced, because we're always receiving compliments from the people that matter; you. Rewarding service Still, it is nice to be recognised by the world outside too. Last month we were shortlisted for the National Customer Service Awards in the IT & Telecommunications category. It's a major awards body which covers every industry area. Brand and vision refresh You may have noticed a fresh new look and feel to our brand. This is the start of an exciting journey for Opal as we begin to transform ourselves into an even bigger player in the ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) market. This will help us to continue to play a significant part in the TalkTalk Group s mission of being the UK s leading telecoms group. It will allow us to build a stronger proposition to our business market and the platform to launch exciting new products, solutions and great service. Hot on the heels of our brand refresh, we have a new website. Check out Also in this issue: Opal takes Call Centre Expo by storm>> IP08 - new ground for Opal>> 11

12 ...continued Opal takes Call Centre Expo by storm IP08 - new ground for Opal Opal saw its first introduction to IP08 at Earl's Court in early October. The event focuses on the convergence of voice, data and video over IP networks, and is one of the largest in Europe, with seminars and keynotes on all subjects from unified communications to virtualisation. Over 5500 people visited this years show, up 47% from last year. Opal also showcased its latest SIP Trunking and EthernetReach propositions, as well as demonstrating that we can provide organisations of all sizes with a complete range of converged services. All this, backed up by the resilience and value of the Next Generation Network. Indeed, Neil McArthur, original founder of Opal performed a key note speech on How Next Generation Networks can transform your business. Last month, Birmingham's NEC played host to the Call Centre Expo Now in its tenth year, it's the UK's leading event for cutting edge call centre technology. Opal were there, of course, displaying new solutions for the call centre industry ranging from SIP connectivity to specialist on-site equipment from Mitel. The highlight of the event, though, was the unveiling of our new Opal Dialler solution. Overall the event was a great success and underlined the importance of our contact centre solutions to organisations of all sizes. Overall the event was a great success and underlined the importance of our contact centre solutions to organisations of all sizes. The stand at Call Centre Expo 12

13 Get in touch We hope you enjoyed our newsletter. If you have any questions regarding any of the issues or opportunities raised, send us an . Alternatively, call your Account Manager for more information. Opal, Stanford House, Garrett Field Birchwood, Warrington WA3 7BH NL.Q4.1008

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