Do-it-yourself Cisco IP phone system: oxymoron or money-saver?

Hey all, hope you had a Merry Christmas.

Sorry if this is in the wrong group. I posted here because the quoted system mentioned below is a Cisco.

Our company, a small retailer with 2 branches 1000 miles apart, is considering migration to a hybrid or IP phone system, with the end of connecting these locations via fiber link. We've had a system quoted and found that labor is (shock shock) about 20% of the price. Aaggh. Now although I am a computer guy, I don't know much about IP phones in particular and what peculiarities can be expected from the difficulty level.

So, I'm looking for opinions: Can a normal computer tech read a book and install a small, simple IP phone system? Or is this equivalent to a 3-year-old entering the Chess Olympiad?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Have you heard of a site-to-site VPN? It could save you a fortune on the fibre approach.

Just a thought. wrote:

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i suspect you mean access tails over fibre rather than dedicated end to end fibre link.

if you have plenty of bandwidth then things are always easier....

We've had a system quoted

FWIW i think the phones are fairly easy - complications are with WANs and gateways to PSTN (which you always need on a real system)

with a LAN QoS is simple when you havebandwidth to burn, but things get more complex with the WAN and

cisco do an equiv to a small PBX in extra software for a router - look for call manager express.

look for manuals in

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for general stuff, or here for CME:
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if you use a dedicated router per site for CME you will make it much easier to sort out the phone system

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If you have never worked on a PBX system before, don't sweat the 20% labor cost (that is acutally really cheap!). Phone systems sound simple but they are just as complicated (if not more than) a computer network or a server. If your server or network goes down, yes people complain, but when was the last time you pickup up your phone and didn't get dial tone? In your situation you also have the complication that your two locations are not in the same locality, so you have to make sure that 911 works properly because this is a life-safety issue. If 911 doesn't work in an emergency because your phone system was configured by someone who didn't know what they are doing (you) it would have dire financial concequences (i.e. gross negligence) for yourself and your company. Also since your locations are

1000 miles apart, you need to think about internal and external dial-plans, least-cost routing, conferencing, etc.


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Thanks for all the ideas, everyone. I'm beginning to think that I'm starting too far forward in this plan. Our goal is simply to connect the phone systems of both stores so that calls can be seamlessly transferred between them. With a very low volume of calls (probably no more than 2 or 3 at any given time) we aren't in need of anything big and fancy. Does this potentially reduce complication? Or would it be better to get a simple digital system with VoIP linking capabilities?

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Its probably going to depend on what "phone systems" you have at the stores and how they're interfacing to the PSTN.

If you're not in a hurry and are willing to experiment try taking a look at Asterisk

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