Business phone system - where to start?

Even if you never buy from them is a great site to learn about phone systems in general and Panasonic and NEC in particular. I've setup 5 or so system from them.
But if you want a T1 interface, study then really really really consider bringing in a firm to at least handle that aspect of things, if not all of it.
Reply to
David Ross
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Was wondering if someone could point me in the right direction. Work
for a company that has about 30 employees. We currently have a
digital phone system (not sure which one) with voicemail and a single
T1 line. We have an 800 number and get calls constantly throughout
the day (sometimes all the lines are used up). I'm a network engineer
(new to the company) but have no experience in phone systems and have
been told "go find a new one". Apparently we've had all sorts
problems with the system crashing, lost voicemails..etc...so they want
to start over. So where do I even start to look for a new system?
How do I know which ones are good and which are junk? Buy or lease?
Any advice would be appreciated.
Reply to
The Other Mike
Look in your local yellow pages directory for PBX vendors. Establish a relationship with one of them and be prepared to spend some real money. 30 employees, say 40 extensions, I'd put the ballpark anywhere from $8k to $50k, depending on what level of reliability and features you are looking for. You may be able to upgrade your existing PBX, preserving your investment in desk sets and line cards.
--Dale
Reply to
Dale Farmer
The first place to start is identifying your present system :-)
Once you know what you have, you can start identifying the problems it has. A T-1 can have 24 incoming voice lines and with 30 employees, it isn't likely that you have 24 working lines, unless you're into bookmaking. It may be that you just need to work with your present or a new vendor and repair the present system, or, keep the phones and replace the cabinet.
Of course, the crash may be so bad and the system/vendor may be such that you really want to replace the system. In that case, sit down and analyze what you have and what you are trying to accomplish. Are you growing? Do you anticipate more lines or employees in the next 3 years, will they telecommute, etc. etc. Then create a proposal request, or call a telephone system vendor, and get a few quotes.
A good vendor might be able to identify issues that you haven't even thought of when it comes time to replace the system.
Of course, you could always post your system and thoughts here and get a few opinions :-)
Carl Navarro
Reply to
Carl Navarro
It would be interesting to hear success/horror stories for real companies that are running asterisk. I run it at home and it is certainly fun tinkering with all the pbx features. The one ability I've wanted for years was to be able to route all calls with caller-id is blocked *or* unavailable to voicemail. That was nice but the feature that I ended up liking the most once I had it was email notification of voicemail. When someone leaves a message I get the caller-id-name and caller-id-number along with the time, date, duration of the message emailed to me. I can then call in and pick up the voicemail. In theory I can even have the voicemail mailed to me, but I don't do that. That's the good stuff.
The bad stuff is that asterisk is still very failure prone. There have been a few times where my asterisk has been stuck, spinning its wheels using up 100% of the cpu due to lame select/poll type code. Asterisk also isn't fully open source in the way that GNU programs are. While the asterisk sources are available under GPL it is really dual licensed under GPL and a proprietary one. Because of the proprietary license, asterisk doesn't use any GPL-ed libraries. Everything is either home grown or uses older versions of code that has looser licenses. For tricky code like SIP, rtp, databases etc. that really hurts it.
-wolfgang
Reply to
Wolfgang S. Rupprecht
I have a Grandstream Budgetone, Sipura SPA-841, and a Sipura SPA-3000 hooked to my asterisk. All three are 10base-t SIP phones with some PBX-like features built in (hold, music-on-hold support and transfer). The Budgetone looks a bit like a kid's toy phone, but the voice quality is better than the higher priced SPA-841 multiline phone. Voipsupply seems to have a pretty comprehensive listing if you want to get a feel for what is available. (I haven't bought anything from them, but their listing is pretty handy.)
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Cheap analog phones also tend to cause echo problems for the remote end. It is best to avoid analog phones attached to an analog telephone adaptor.
The soft phones seem to have many more voice dropouts. (My guess is that whenever the PC momentarily uses the cpu for something else the voice suffers.)
-wolfgang
Reply to
Wolfgang S. Rupprecht
Hello,
The Other Mike wrote:
Have you looked into Asterisk software? It is a PBX application running under Linux on an x86 system. It is freeware developed mainly by a company called Digium. Digium sells PC boards such as one to terminate a T-1, for example. It might be a very worthwhile, and much cheaper, alternative to other PBX systems mentioned in earlier replies.
Links:
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You might be pleasantly surprised.
- greg snipped-for-privacy@indy.nonotmorespam.rr.com (remove "nonotmorespam" in the above, of course)
Reply to
greg t. knopf
I browsed around the links a while, and the main think I can't figure out is what desk sets are people using?
All the interface boards seem to support are standard analog POTS line DTMF phones. No way is anybody going to be happy with a $7 phone from Target sitting on their desk, even if it does have a clear housing and a pink neon light that flashes when it rings. ;)
Since running a POTS line to each desk just ain't going to cut it, do people running asterisk usually use VOIP/Ethernet sets? Does anybody really use those PC-based "soft" phones?
Reply to
Grant Edwards
There are three issues with VOIP, in ascending order of annoyance: . audio quality . latency . dropouts
I have discovered with Skype that it can be quite good, or quite painful. A lot depends upon your IP connectivity and your equipment.
For example:
I noticed a definite improvement in Skype quality when I upgraded my DSL to 1.5M/896K from 640K/256K. Supposedly, even a dialup is usable, and any broadband should be OK. I suspect that it isn't just a matter of bandwidth to accomodate the Skype packets, but also what else may be flowing on the pipe, and that the more margin you have the better.
The other thing that I noticed is that a headset on my desktop Mac, connected directly to the network which has the DSL modem (I have a static /29, so there's no NAT on my DSL service), performs noticably better than a wireless phone going to a Windows laptop (with a faster CPU than the Mac!) which goes by 802.11/g to a Linksys WAP/NAT/router and then on to the network which has the DSL modem.
In *theory*, the DSL line should be the bottleneck in either case, because everything else is faster than the DSL's maximum bandwidth. In *practice*, the more hops things take, the less well it will work.
Another factor is that a laptop is frantically trying to conserve power while it's sitting idle. Laptops really not a good platform to run a lot of network I/O without someone interacting at it. If it's in its screen saver, don't expect it to be high-bandwidth I/O.
Unfortunately, the cordless phone doesn't have a Mac driver yet, so I can't try it on the Mac desktop and see how much the cordless aspect of the phone cuts into performance. I hope that will change soon.
What this all means is that you have to do some engineering and empirical testing before you get something that you will find satisfactory. The first thing that you try probably will not be what you want to use. What looks good on paper may not be the best solution.
There is also the general engineering rule: simpler is better.
I've experienced that too.
-- Mark --
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is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.
Reply to
Mark Crispin
We cut over from a stone age Toshiba system to an asterisk based one a couple of months ago.
We settled on the snom 360
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on all the desks.
When out of the office.
We use Idefisk
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with a Plantronics DSP 400 foldable headset
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Reply to
Rod Dorman
A more general question: Do people complain about the VOIP latency, or is that only a problem when you're routing VOIP over the internet? For a while I used a "calling-card" long-distance service which I'm pretty sure was using VOIP for the long hauls, and it was completely unusable. The actual sound fidility was great, but the 500+ ms latencies made carrying on a normal conversation impossible.
[I think most of the digtial cellular systems have too much latency for comfortable use as well.]
Reply to
Grant Edwards
Hey Mike,
Try here:
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This site is a really good resource for new PBX systems.
Also you can request a quote for voip systems there as well. Just put in your requirements and vendors will contact you back with thier solutions.
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Good Luck!
Reply to
rixride

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