Fast and Easy Network Setup in Just 15 Minutes – The Power of the Connect+ Platform.

High Performance Networks that Optimize Traffic and are Easy to Setup

A year ago, Pakedge unveiled it’s vision for the next generation AV network. Called the Pakedge Connect+ platform, it is comprised of Pakedge hardware and select 3rd party devices that are overlaid with a layer of software intelligence that interconnect the hardware to optimize performance and ease of use.

In 2015, this vision became a reality through a series of consecutive product releases – the RE2 router in January, the WK  access points in May, the SX switches and BakPak 3.0 in June. In the second half of 2015, we continued with the launch of the SK series of switches in July and the WX series of wireless access points in October. We will close out 2015 with the RK1 router and WK2 (wireless access point) product releases.

At the 2015 CEDIA Expo, we showcased one tiny, but powerful real life example of what a network platform can do – setting up a complex high performance network in just a few minutes. With this one example, we showed the power of the platform:

  • End to end integration of protocols, processes, and intelligence across multiple devices,
  • Automated implementation and consistent application of these throughout the network
  • Complex processes masked by intelligence, engineering, integration and automation

We chose the network setup with virtual local area networks (VLANs) as our showcase demo because it is relevant to both our dealers and their customers. One of the secrets to a high performance AV network is the use of VLANs to segment the different types of network traffic. But many dealers shy away from specifying and using VLANs because they are hard to setup correctly and apply consistently across the network. Using Pakedge Zones, enabled through the Connect+ platform, Pakedge has provided dealers with a foolproof and automated way to segment traffic for high performance AV networking, and to do a complete network setup in under 15 minutes!

Demo Video and Webinar

If you missed our demo at the CEDIA Expo, or wasn’t able to attend the Expo, or just want to see it again, we made this short 5 minute video (see below) of a fast and easy network setup with Pakedge Zones to highlight just one simple but powerful example of the Pakedge Connect+ platform.

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We will also be hosting two training webinars in November highlighting this application in more detail. The dates and times are listed below. Please click on the most convenient date to register.

Webinar: Setting up a complete Pakedge network in less than 20 minutes!

November 17, 2015 (Tuesday) – 7 a.m. PST (10 a.m. EST)

November 19, 2015 (Thursday) – 9 a.m. PST (12 noon EST)

If you have any questions or would like more information after watching this video, please visit our Pakedge Zones webpage, Connect+ webpage, or contact us at sales@pakedge.com or call us directly at +1-650-385-8702.

In the coming months, we will be showcasing different applications enabled by the Pakedge Connect+ platform. Please check back regularly to see more.

Should I upgrade to the new 802.11ac wireless access points? Some considerations to think about.

This year Pakedge introduced its 802.11ac based wireless access point (WAP) lines – the WK series and the WX series. The WK series is designed for residential and light commercial use, while the WX is designed for commercial use.

A common refrain we hear from our customers and resellers is “Should I upgrade from 802.11n to 802.11ac?” This blog will provide you with some things to consider as you make this decision.

What is the current wireless technology being replaced?
In terms of performance, there is a big difference between 3rd generation (802.11g), 4th generation (802.11n) and 5th generation (802.11ac).

  • 802.11g or “G” – There is no compelling reason not to upgrade from G technology. This technology is over 10 years old and is insufficient for many of today’s applications and services for a variety of reasons, including:
    1. It has a maximum theoretical speed of 54 Mbps and in real world situations, you will get less than half that. Many people have Internet services faster than G’s wireless transmission speeds.
    2. Multiple users streaming video will max out its capacity.
    3. It only operates on the congested 2.4 GHz band and is susceptible to interference, especially in an urban multi-tenant office environment or a multi-dwelling residential building.
  • 802.11n Single Band (2.4 GHz) or Single Band N – Unless there are very specific single purpose applications or that the local environment is interference free, there is no reason not to upgrade from Single Band N. Its main shortcoming is that it only operates on the congested 2.4 GHz band, and is subject to interference and degraded device performance, especially for those that are streaming high bandwidth and low latency content.
  • 802.11n Dual Band (2.4 and 5 GHz) – The decision to upgrade depends on the applications. The biggest difference between AC and dual band N lies in the performance and capacity of the 5 GHz band. AC is 5 times faster than its N counterpart, while supporting twice as many client devices (per WAP), and having a longer usable range (i.e. the coverage profile stays flatter longer before dropping off at the edge of coverage, thus providing you with higher throughput further out than N before dropping off). Consider upgrading if these are important to you.

Are you in a high interference environment?
The number one factor affecting wireless performance is interference. Most of the interference occurs in the 2.4 GHz band because many devices still use it. Legacy devices, still in service today, only operate in this band while other newer devices choose to operate in this band because of its longer range. In addition, the 2.4 GHz band has only 11 channels, of which 3 (channels 1, 6 and 11) do not overlap.

If you live and work in an dense urban area, you are in a high interference environment. This is easily verified by performing a site survey using a tool like inSSIDer or a built in application within your WAP (for example, you can use the site survey function in our W6 and W7 WAPS). In addition to interference sources within your own network, it is likely you have as much interference from your neighbors as well.

If your environment does not have a lot of interference today, there is a strong possibility that will change in the future as the 2.4 GHz band is only going to get crowded. Your microwave, cordless phones and any wireless cameras/monitors are potential sources of interference. In addition, many of the automation devices (wi-fi enabled and Zigbee enabled shades, thermostats, and appliances) operate on the 2.4 GHz band. As more and more of these IOT or connected devices become mainstream, and you or your neighbors buy and use them, the limitations of the 2.4 GHz band on performance will become clear.

We recommend upgrading to AC if:

  • You live and work in a high interference environment
  • You use a lot of high bandwidth low latency applications (e.g. streaming video, VOIP telephone service)
  • You have a large number of 5 GHz compatible devices that you use to consume high bandwidth, low latency applications
  • You wish to futureproof your network against a local RF environment that is likely to get more congested in the near future

What types of applications are you running?
The applications you use will be a major consideration in the upgrade decision process. Are you using your network to stream video? Are you using it to stream audio, to do internet surfing (reading), to print or data transfer? To do VOIP?

Some applications are sensitive to performance. High bandwidth/low latency applications, like HD/UHD video streaming, high resolution audio, VOIP, videoconferencing or AVB applications, require high performance whereas data transfer or print applications don’t have the same performance requirements. Even if you don’t use a lot of high bandwidth, low latency applications today, you may do so in the future as more and more content is being delivered in the form of video.

For these high performance applications, you want to be on the uncongested 5 GHz band whenever possible. If you use this band frequently, the decision to upgrade is based on your requirements. As stated previously, AC is 5 times faster than its N counterpart, while supporting twice as many client devices (per WAP), and having a longer usable range.

We recommend upgrading to AC if:

  • You use a lot of high bandwidth low latency applications (e.g. streaming video, VOIP telephone service) on the 5 GHz band
  • You have a large number of 5 GHz compatible devices that you use to consume high bandwidth, low latency applications
  • You wish to futureproof and scale your network against growth, both in the number of devices supported, as well as usage of high bandwidth, low latency applications
  • You want to maintain 5 GHz performance at long distances without having to buy additional N access points to make up for the performance coverage gap

What types of devices are in the network?
If you have a lot of 5 GHz compatible devices, they should always operate in that band instead of the 2.4 GHz band. This allows them to operate in the uncongested band, while freeing the 2.4 GHz band for the 2.4 GHz only devices and reduces performance robbing devices from the spectrum.

If you have a large number of 5 GHz devices, then the decision to upgrade is based on the applications you run. Coming from G or N single band, you should upgrade to N dual band or AC. Specifically, we recommend upgrading to AC if:

  • You use a lot of high bandwidth low latency applications (e.g. streaming video, VOIP telephone service) on the 5 GHz band
  • You have a large number of 5 GHz compatible devices that you use to consume high bandwidth, low latency applications
  • You wish to futureproof and scale your network against growth, both in the number of devices supported, as well as usage of high bandwidth, low latency applications
  • You want to maintain 5 GHz performance at long distances without having to buy additional N access points to make up for the performance coverage gap

What is your current ISP service?
Many users still have low speed service (10 – 25 Mbps) with no plans to upgrade. However, as more and more high speed Internet services are rolled out, many of the existing service plans are being upgraded for free. For example, Comcast has been upgrading its customers with 25 Mbps service to 50 Mbps, and some 50 Mbps service to 100 Mbps service. Even if you are at 25 Mbps today, you will find that many service providers are now routinely upgrading its customers to the next higher speed level at no charge (as long as their infrastructure can support it).

Consider upgrading to AC is this is happening in your local service area, or if high speed services are coming in the near future and you utilize a lot of cloud based streaming services.

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CEDIA Giveaways: Save 20% on Product Bundles and Win an AC Access Point!

CEDIA-2015-RaffleWe are headed to CEDIA! Are you going? If you are, make sure to stop by our booth, #6414 on the second floor in the Exhibitors Hall.

We will be giving away power banks at our booth presentations and raffling off brand new 802.11ac access points twice a day.

Win a WK-1, AC Access Point!

Twice a day (Th, Fri, Sat) we will be raffling off a WK-1 2×2 AC access point. That’s six chances to win! All you need to do is stop by and drop off your business card and we will ship the WK-1s to the winners. If you don’t have a business card you can fill out a card. While you are there we encourage you to check out one of our demos stations, of which there are three categories – the Pakedge Wireless demo station, the BakPak Remote Management demo station, and the Fast, & Easy Connect+ Network Setup demo.

We also have a special offer for visitors who participate and check out our demos, trainings, or presentations.

Visitors who check out two of our demo stations will be given a promo code to receive up to 20% off a Pakedge network bundle. You can pick and choose to build your own.

CEDIA-2015-DISCOUNT

  • Switches – Managed switches only
  • Routers –  RE 1 or 2, RK (pre-order), K60D/K60DU, R10/R10U Models (except FG)
  • Wireless – C36, WX series, WK series, W7 series
  • PDU – P2, P8, P20
  • Cloud – NP36 (15, 30 or unlimited)

As a thank you for stopping by and checking out our CEDIA events and demo stations we will give a 15% discount to those who buy at least one device from four categories. We will give a 20% discount for those who purchase a device from each of the five categories.

Just check in with a Pakedge team member at which ever  two demo stations you choose (they will have a card for you to check off.) After you’ve completed the two demos, a Pakedge team member will give you the promo code. Please note that you aren’t limited to the demo stations – if you want to check out one of our Manufacturer Trainings or one of our scheduled BakPak presentations that can also count toward your two station visits. 

So to summarize – To take advantage of the promotion, follow the four-step process:

  1. Attend any two of the Pakedge events:
    a) Any Demo Station – BakPak demo, Wireless demo, or the Fast, & Easy Connect+ Network Setup demo (All day, Thursday-Saturday at booth #6414)
    b) Pakedge Manufacturer Trainings (MPT)trainingsc) BakPak Overview presentations at booth #6414
    (Thursday-Saturday at 10 AM, 12PM, 2PM, and 4PM)
  2. Get signatures from a Pakedge representative confirming completion of both events that you chose.
  3. Receive a card with the Pakedge promo code.
  4. Call Pakedge Sales at (650) 385-8702 to manually place your order. With the promo code, you will receive 15% off a bundle purchase of 4 of the 5 product categories or 20% off a bundle purchase from all 5 product categories.

Terms and Conditions

  • Promotion open to US and Canada dealers only
  • Promotion runs from Oct 17th to November 30th, 2015
  • Promotion price is good for one time use.
  • Order must be placed through Pakedge sales team and shipped during promotion period.
  • Subject to inventory availability – first come, first served; no reservations, no rain checks.
  • Pakedge reserves the right to cancel promotion at any time.
  • All sales are final, no returns except for defective.
  • This promotional price is not stackable with other discounts and promotions.
  • Existing quotes on unshipped orders (prior to CEDIA Expo 2015) with old pricing will NOT be readjusted to reflect promotion pricing.
  • Orders fulfilled/shipped prior to promotion launch date will not be adjusted promotion pricing.
  • If you are a new dealer and this is your first time ordering, please contact Pakedge Sales now at (650) 385-8702 for assistance.

Webinar: Advanced Wireless

Optimize Your Wireless Installations &Services

This training will teach integrators best practices and advanced settings for the Pakedge 802.11ac access points, the WK and WX,  as well as the C36 Wireless Controller. Topics covered will include:

  • The difference between and when to use the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands
  • Best practices for optimizing 5.0
  • Understanding band steering
  • Planning your wireless network
  • MAC filtering
  • Wireless scheduling
  • The basics of wireless roaming
  • Using site surveys to enhance wireless performance
  • C36 wireless optimization
  • Troubleshooting

Tuesday, September 22nd
7:00 AM Pacific Time

(San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

click here to register.

Thursday, September 24th
9:00 AM Pacific Time

(San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

click here to register.

Can’t make it? No problem.

We record all our webinars. Links to the recordings are made available  within a day or two of our live sessions. Just email sales@pakedge.com for the link.

The project of residential house. 3D image.

The project of residential house. 3D image.

Launch of Pakedge BakPak® 3.0 is Game Changer for Remote Management Systems

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The third incarnation of Pakedge Device and Software Inc.’s award winning BakPak® Cloud Management System has been unleashed.

BakPak 3.0 takes remote management to the next level with even broader capabilities and deeper integration. It’s sophisticated task and management automations transform networking by increasing efficiency, minimizing errors, and increasing profitability for integrators.

“This is so much more than power cycling and rebooting – BakPak’s intelligence empowers integrators with broader and deeper system control while allowing companies to save on labor overhead by simplifying and automating the more tedious maintenance and management processes,” said Victor Pak, CEO of Pakedge.

“BakPak 3.0 monitors, alerts, assigns, maps, repairs, manages and reports. There’s not another remote management system like it,” adds Pak.

Pakedge, a leading manufacturer of network devices specifically designed for AV applications, presented the new software at InfoComm a few weeks ago where it was well received and won an award for Best Network Management Solution – but at that time BakPak 3.0 was only out for limited release. As of Tuesday July 14th, the highly anticipated upgrade will be out for general release and the NP36 network patroller will be shipped with the new software.

Intelligent Self-Healing and Automated Troubleshooting

The cloud based remote management solution gives integrators end-to-end control from a distance with in-depth monitoring of network devices and control systems. BakPak does this with prioritized alerts, robust permission settings, automated network repair and mapping, easy configuration management, report logging, backup and restore functionality, and TriPlex – a unique troubleshooting system that determines the cause of the problem in case of a network outage or configuration error and suggests potential fixes.

Triplex is a built-in network diagnosis algorithm that works to find the source of network problems even in case of complete network outages. If the problem cannot be resolved through BakPak’s own self-healing functionality, TriPlex will report to the user the source of the problem on the network, allowing integrators to repair the issue or prevent it from occurring again. As it goes through these procedures it creates a log which is sent to users as part of a weekly report. The log is also useful to the integrator, because should BakPak be unable to restart the system and it becomes necessary to make an on-site visit, the integrator will have a list of procedures that were already attempted as well as the direct cause of and location of the problem in the network.

“It is intelligence that really sets BakPak apart from other cloud management systems,” said Dr. Marc Ilgen, Vice President of Software Development at Pakedge. “We’re trying to incorporate the same type of computational intelligence used in aerospace and intelligence industries and give it purpose for everyday uses. The best part about BakPak is that all of that all of this comprehensive tech is accessible in a really intuitive, clean, user-friendly interface.”

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Smart, Actionable Alerts

Should BakPak’s built in self-healing features not be able to resolve a network failure, integrators can count on the intuitive alert system.

Unlike other remote management system, BakPak 3.0 does not send misleading alerts – it is intelligent enough to pinpoint which device failure caused the network to crash instead of inundating integrators with a string of “device failure” notifications that don’t help. It does this by validating all error alerts through situational-aware AI algorithms to provide accurate usable information to take action on. These useful alerts are sent via e-mail, SMS, or the BakPak app so the integrator can respond as necessary.

Devices and types of alerts can be prioritized by urgency. BakPak smart alerts group devices into one of five prioritization categories based on their criticality to the network – with a separate category for wireless and IoT devices to prevent alerts from devices that go online and offline frequently.

Intuitive Management &Maintenance Functions: Group Firmware Updates, Group Power Scheduling, and Group Configuration Backup

Within BakPak’s device view and network map, profiles and devices are color-coded to allow users to quickly and easily note the device’s status – green if everything is up-to-date and working, yellow if the device is working but needs an update, or red if the device is down and needs immediate attention.
Grouped device management makes keeping devices up-to-date easy. With BakPak, firmware updates for Pakedge devices can now be pushed across all devices across multiple sites with the click of a single button.

This means that if you use the same switch model at different sites for different customers you still only have to push the firmware once.

Power scheduling, power cycling, and power control on POE switches and PDUs can be managed as groups as well. Even system backups can be grouped – instead of backing up configurations on devices individually, you can backup all the configurations for all the devices across the network at the same time with the click of a button. The configurations are then stored on the cloud for easy device replacement in case of failure. No additional setup or configuration required – simply swap out the affected unit and restore configurations from the cloud.

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Third Party Integration

BakPak’s intelligence is not restricted solely to Pakedge devices. Intelligent device management and third party device integration is a core part of BakPak’s service offering – with greater support for more third party devices being added constantly. At launch, BakPak 3.0 boasts full compatibility and support for Control4, Crestron, Middle Atlantic and Panamax devices. Even for third party devices not natively supported within BakPak’s own interface, users can use BakPak to access the built-in GUI of any third party device on the network, allowing configuration and management from anywhere in the world.

BakPak 3.0 as a Business Model

The Pakedge BakPak was designed to save technology integrators time and money by eliminating tedious processes. Automatic device discovery and auto-mapping minimizes setup time and simplifies troubleshooting in case of network problems. Group firmware updates and power control makes maintenance a breeze. Prioritized alerts, automatic self-healing, Triplex automated troubleshooting, and cloud managed backup and recovery help integrators bring peace of mind to their clients.

This peace of mind should be a selling point for dealers and integrators to begin offering managed services for which they can accrue recurring monthly revenue.

“So much is dependent on network integrity. Networks are truly the backbones of our modern spaces. With BakPak 3.0 integrators will be able to guarantee their clients peace of mind and also develop recurring revenue by charging modest monthly service fees. For too long integrators have undercharged for services,” said Pak.

His views are shared by Dawn Meade, AV Nation Board Member and Director of Marketing at Net-AV. Meade explained that margins on equipment sales all across the industry are razor-thin or non-existent thanks to commoditization.

“For decades, integrators have been giving away their time and services to make money on the equipment,” says Meade. She explains that customers have been trained to expect cheap services and engineering and that something must change in order to change that mindset.

To answer that call to action Pakedge developed BakPak and offers it in three service tiers – Basic, Advanced, and Premier. The company hopes integrators will use as an example for developing managed services as a part of their businesses.

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To kick off the launch of the new revamped BakPak 3.0 Pakedge announced that it would be offering the complete suite of features – Premier level services – for FREE until Sept. 30th. Pak says that he hopes this will give integrators the opportunity to experiment with the new features and decide which service level would suits their client’s needs. He added that after the free trial ends Pakedge will be offering a significant discount on the first year of Advanced or Premier sub-sections. The Basic service tier is free and does not require a subscription.

BakPak is part of the Pakedge Connect+ Platform, which is a carefully integrated system of switches, routers, wireless, power management and software technologies, designed specifically to work with each other to deliver seamless, scalable, and reliable multimedia networking performance.

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What About Band Steering? Follow Up to “Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance”

Since posting our piece “Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance” the other day, we received a few emails and a comment asking us “What about band steering?” and “Why all the hassle? Isn’t that what band steering is for?”

Well, we are happy they asked.

It’s a common misconception that band steering is a miracle solution for wireless optimization. Band steering – a common function found on wireless controllers  – discovers which devices are 5.0 Ghz compatible and  signals the access points to move the device to the 5.0 band. It is helpful, but its effectiveness of this is limited by the sophistication and quality of the wireless coverage.

This is why points #1 and #2 from our Best Practices for Maximizing Wifi Performance post are so important:

Assign different names for your 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz SSIDs

Using SSIDs to differentiate between the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands allows for more transparency and control of the wireless experience. For example, if the SSIDs were named Skynet2.4 or Skynet5.0, users and integrators would always know which band they were connected to.. Such differentiation in name would also empower users giving them then ability to choose between the bands if they wished to manually do so – this is not the case if the bands are masked by having the same SSID. Design your wireless network around the smaller range of 5.0 GHz band

Designing your wireless network around the smaller range of 5.0 GHz band is crucial if band steering is expected to work properly. If the wireless topology was designed around the 2.4 GHz range, then you can expect there to be drops in coverage on the 5.0 band. Designing around the 5.0 GHz band  will ensure that the fast 5.0 signal strength is seamless and won’t be overpowered by the strong, but slow 2.4 band. The 2.4GHz range can always be tuned down to minimize overlap, but you can’t really boost the 5.0 range with out compromising signal strength and speed. While the 5.0 GHz band is faster and less congested it’s range is not as long, nor is it as able to penetrate walls and dense objects as well as the 2.4 signal.

If you missed our Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance we suggest you check it out. We also suggest you make sure your firmware is up to date on your wireless devices – on Friday (7/10/2015)we released updates for our WK-1 access point (v1.1.05) and our C36 controller (v3.17 ), please make sure you check for the updates on our dealer portal.

July Webinar: BakPak 3.0 Revolutionizing Remote Management

BakPak 3.0 – Revolutionizing Remote Management

Learn how to use BakPak® and how to grow your business by offering remote managed services.

First, we will walk you through the new features and functions in BakPak 3.0 and teach you how to use them. Then we will review the tiers of service and how they can be used as models for earning recurring revenue.

During the function review will walk you through automated network mapping, 3rd party device integration, disaster recovery features, and control systems management and more.

 

 

Tuesday,  July 21st

7:00 AM Pacific Time

(San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

click here to register.

 

 

Thursday, July 23rd

9:00 AM Pacific Time

(San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

click here to register.

 

Can’t make it? No problem.
We record all our webinars. Links to the recordings are made available  within a day or two of our live sessions. Just email sales@pakedge.com for the link.

 

BakPak 3.0 – Live Monday!

 

Full Premier level access, FREE until Sept. 30th

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Automated Troubleshooting, Control System Management, and More!

With the BakPak® Cloud Management System, users and integrators alike can rest assured that their networks are always secure and performing at peak. BakPak® takes the guesswork and headaches out of network maintenance by empowering integrators with remote monitoring, auto-healing, auto-mapping, auto-firmware updates, auto-configuration, back-up and restore functionality and Triplex – a built-in trouble shooting algorithm.

 

Grow Your Business with Managed Services and Bakpak.

BakPak® was designed to reduce labor costs by simplifying network setup and management while allowing technology integrators grow their businesses by offering managed services. Our new tiered service levels – Basic, Advanced, and Premier – will allow you to offer your customers peace of mind with remote managed services and allow you to collect recurring service fees.

While Pakedge does it’s best to make sure that we offer some the best profit margins in the industry we understand that can be difficult with other manufacturers. We believe that the AV industry needs to shake the bad habit of under valuing their services and we’re not the only ones – industry writers and experts all agree that recurring revenue and managed services are essential for business growth. BakPak® 3.0 just makes it easy.

 

You Get to Try BakPak® 3.0 Premier for FREE.

We are so excited and proud to be launching the new revamped BakPak® 3.0 that in order to properly celebrate its release we are inviting all our dealers to test drive BakPak® Premier absolutely FREE until September 30th, 2015. That means when you login after June 13th you will have complete access to a whole new suite of features. Between then and Sept, 30th you will be able to experiment with all the new features so that you will be better able to choose which service best suits your needs. The Basic service will be FREE and require no subscription, while Advanced and Premier levels of service will be offered as subscriptions for a very modest price that can easily be passed on to your customers. In fact, if you decide that you want to continue using the Advanced or Premier functions after the free trial ends, we will be happy to welcome you with a special discount off your first year subscription.