Before we get too deep into 2005, a fresh assessment of your telecom strategy is in order. Make sure these are on your resolution list:

1. Assess your remote-worker connectivity. Up to 90 per cent of your employees might be in remote offices. Your voice and data costs might be as much as 40 per cent higher than you think, once you’ve factored in remote-worker connectivity such as cellular services, wireless mobile data charges and home-office Internet connections. To reduce costs, plan aggressive carrier negotiations, look into consolidating your cellular services rather than reimbursing employees individually, and explore managed-service, Wi-Fi and cable offerings.

2. Issue a telecom RFP. I recommend following the “matrix RFP” format: List all your services down the side, with geographic regions as columns across the top. Include services such as cellular, home-office Internet, mobile data and other hidden costs. Then issue the RFP to as many carriers as possible. Pursue a competitive negotiations strategy that aims to reduce the number of providers to no fewer than two to three.

3. Assess your vulnerability to distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Last year saw a noticeable uptick in the number of distributed DoS attacks against commercial organizations. You might think that unless you operate an e-commerce site, you’re immune to the danger — but an increasing percentage of your corporate data traffic might be traveling across the Internet. If a distributed DoS attack can cut off your remote workers from corporate resources, you’re vulnerable.

4. Assess VoIP. Documented VoIP cost savings include local-loop reduction, a dramatic decrease in audio conferencing charges, and a 50 to 95 per cent reduction in the cost of moves, adds and changes.

5. Optimize your WAN. Telecom managers tell us they’re anticipating a 50 per cent increase in bandwidth requirements. To pack more traffic onto your pipes, you’ll need to investigate creative measures.

— Johnson is president and chief research officer at Nemertes Research LLC, an independent technology research firm. She can be reached at

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