I'm looking to install a phone system for a friend. I understand that
Intertel is not a favorite system. I also hear that Vodavi is alright.
But so far I know very little about the manufacturers. I just don't
meet enough people experienced with the various makers to have an idea
of who is best at what. Can anyone give me a head start on my search
for info by posting opinions of the various top makers?? I will be
very grateful for any opinions no matter how brief.
How big of a system? How many extensions/lines, voice mails or not,
autoattendant(s) or none? Are you (your friend) going to be servicing it
yourselves or will let professionals do that? It all matters when you
select a phone system. The biggest names in the industry would be your
last choices if you want to install a system yourself as they require some
training prior to installing. Not a rocket science, obviously if your
system is small, but still some learning curve to plan for. On the other
hand, there are small phone systems out there designed specifically for
consumers, self-install market. I used a system couple years ago called
Bizfon (try bizfon.com) which was 6x8, voicemail and autoattendant. With
all the limitations was a great choice for a DIYer. The system was a bit
more expensive than your Partner would be (with similar set of features),
but when you add a professional installation labor for Partner, the total
solution was much cheaper.
Just my 2c, the list of your possible choices absolutely does not stop
less than 100 lines will probably be used. This is a tool and die shop
(new building) I think around 25 lines will actually be used but want
to prepare for growth as you would expect. 25 voice mail.
We definitely want to make use of auto features
My friend and I both combined have a lot of experience with tech
stuff. I am from an electronics background (component level). He is
from tool and die and designs machines, programs, plus we both are
skilled with networking computers and related digital.
We are sort of DIY but because of our background I wouldn't
necessarily accept the implied connotatin that DIY suggests -
We accept that niether of us is experienced with Phone systems to any
large degree. I have enough knowledge to be dangerous. We are both
convinced that it would be a better choice to install the system
ourselves, glean experience and save money.
It might be that we are wrong. I accept that their is a lot to know.
However, as I have said we both have considerable skill with tech
stuff and I'm confident that we could learn enough to manage.
How many extensions/lines, voice mails or not,
The size you are talking about is large enough to hire a pro and let him
design and install it. I mean, you can probably get all the manuals from
Web and eventually install it yourself, but I can imagine it will take
considerable time during which you won't have phone service. Besides, if
you set to buy a new system, it is $15,000-$25,000 in equipment only,
which you want to be ordered properly as to avoid surprises during the
This is, obviously, entirely up to you, but I would call a pro. You can
also ask for an additional administration training once the system is
installed. This way you will be more independent in the system?s
operation, but will eliminate the responsibility for any possible hardware
I find it difficult to believe that a phone system for 25 lines is
difficult. However, I'm willing to concede that I don't have the
knowledge to contradict what you say.
If I do end up calling a pro, I would still rather do the wiring
myself as I have seen what passes for structured cabling from some
companies. Also since I will be doing the network wiring (something
I'm very good at) I might as well do the phone wiring. Is is
unthinkable for me to arrange with a "pro" vendor that I do the
cabling and save money and he comes in after with the system? Or am I
begging for trouble some how?
Thanks for the advice!!
I just got thru reinstalling a digital system, bit it uses centrex so
much of the features are not in the box.
What I'd like to know is at what point does it become cost prohibitive
for a business to use in-house people, and go to a vendor. Like, we
have thousands of lines, so we know we have to have a full time crew.
But with a couple dozen or hundred, does a system in a business become
too sporadically demanding on an IT person's time? Most phone systems
require very little of a person's attention, until all of a sudden
there's a whole bunch of moves, adds and changes that must be made.
Then the poor person responsible really wishes he had a contract with
I think there is a little misunderstanding here. You say 100 lines but I'll
assume you mean up to 100 extension. Depending on you call traffic that can
be as little as 25 lines (25 analog trunks or a 24 channel T1), but that's
Right now you're talking 25 extensions with basic voice-mail and probably a
simple auto attendant (you know "Hello you've reach X please dial the
So lets say a system with 8 analog trunks and 25 phones but can grow to 100
phones minimum and a couple of T1s.
Look at the Nortel Norstar w/a CallPilot or the Nortel BCM. The
Norstar/CallPilot is less money but the BCM is a single box that will also
support VoIP (it can support IP phones, or traditional Nortel digital
phones). A good IP solution will always cost more, but if you can support it
later, when the prices come down, without replacing the box you're one step
ahead. And whatever you do, a phone system is a 5-10 year investment (they
often last longer), and not the 3-5 years you expect from data equipment.
Ya, you guessed it we sell them. If you're in/near MA give us a call (calls
are always free)
I have a peculiar circumstance in that I'm crushed for time, so your
advice is very apropo. I'm really bummed in a way though because I
love learning new stuff. I even happen to have a complete set of phone
tools from previous forrays. I have some skill and knowledge, though I
have a long way to go. My friend and I agree with you and have
contacted a pro. Any advice on the type or brand of system that we
would be happiest with? The owner / purchaser is very tech friendly
and is not afraid to spend money on a proper system. Thanks
I wouldn't want to steer you away from installing and configuring the
phone system yourselves. I'm just trying to make a point that it may very
well become a very time consuming process, and you may save a lot of your
time by hiring a pro for the job.
One other thing to consider is that the pros normally have all the tools,
buy things in bulk, with a substantial discount not available to one-time
buyers, and they have all kinds of support from the suppliers they
regularly buy from, including technical and financial.
And yes, I would say that it is possible to run into a situation when you
are going to need external help anyways. This normally applies to installs
that involve complicated voicemail configs, digital trunks,
computer-telephony integration about other juicy (but complicated) phone
RC> Look at the Nortel Norstar w/a CallPilot or the Nortel
Out of interest, does the BCM need Nortel IP phones, or can
it interwork with other standards-based (SIP? H.323?)
phones? Can it support digital (PRI? T1? IP?) trunks or
- Andy Ball