Small business phone system

Please don't be too harsh with me...

My brother is about to purchase a new phone system for his veterinary practice and has a few bids on NEC IPK Basic systems w & w/o voice mail. The questions we are having is whether or not we could install a system ourselves, and which of the systems we've looked at would provide adequate service for this smallish practice.

I'm fairly well versed at installations of anything technical (LANetworked computers, regular phone lines, electrical systems, etc.) as I've been mechanical all my life. I've looked at his existing phone system and I know I could have installed that, with an instruction booklet. As a matter of fact, the wiring for that system is done quite haphazardly above the suspended ceiling.

anyway, I've found the Toshiba DK40i system online that seems to have adequate capacity, but all this talk about VoIP and endless options has me a bit confused when looking through his NEC literature and trying to compare it to what we could purchase online.

Basically, he now has a 4-line (InterTek) rotating system with 6 phones (including the main reception phone), plus one dedicated line for fax and another for credit card purchases. He's wanting to have some small amount of flexibility to add phone lines & phones (we just added a new office remodel with 4 office stations). He's expecting to have 8 phone lines and probably 16 phones, which is exactly what the Toshiba system offers (DK40 10x16). The Toshiba system with (4 hour) Voice Mail, 16 phones {1]20-button 2020SD, [4]10-button 2010SD & [11]10-button 2010H} including the service unit base and all the cards and a 24-month warranty is about $2400 online. His NEC bids range from $3200 to $4200 (w/o & w v/m), but all three bids only include 8 phones.

So, what I'm basically trying to find out:

1) is there a major difference in quality or scalabity of either of these two types of systems, based on the fact that there probably won't be any more physical expansions in this practice (he might build somewhere else...)

2)is the difference in the number of actual phones delivered substantial enough to knock out the NEC bids. I've come to the conclusion that it is, as long as the actual Toshiba system is a DK40i (the web site says DK40, and I know there are differences...)

3) what am I missing that is obscured by all the acronym mumbo jumbo of options and upgrades??

4) being an installation contractor of heating systems for 25 years, do you think it possible for a do-it-yourselfer to install and manage one of these types of systems first time out??

I am "relatively" aware of his voice mail needs (about 12-14 employees), auto-attendant features, surge suppression & line conditioning needs, and uninterruptable power supply requirements needed for a new installation.

What else haven't I taken into account? He's not on the web (no web site), but is networked and has business internet service (just got it...). He currently has no plan to put up a web page, or do fax-back services, but it'd be nice if he eventually could. I write web pages for our family, so I'm sure I could get a site up in the next year, if he needs one.

What am I missing that could make the choice of our doing this job ourselves (myself) a mistake?? Any "positive advice" givers???

Thanks in advance for any advice offered, and thanks for not pouncing on me for being so naive when it comes to phone systems.


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Take a look at the Panasonic 8/24 system. About $1000.00 for the basic system without voice mail - good for 8 incoming lines and 24 extensions. Could be less $$ for a samller system - I don't know the cost of the voice mail add on, but I'd guess that it would be less than another grand. The KSU is EASY to program and even has a PC interface. It works with dedicated phones or regular phones. You could drop the dedicated line for the cc validator and plug it into the Panasonic.

I just put one into my office - I'm a fat fingered electrician and it went in fine the first time out.

Drop me a note if you would like further info. Bob

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You could also look at the next step up, the KXTA-1232, which starts as a 8x16 configuration, but can be expanded to 12x32.

If you're looking at Panasonic, take a look at

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of good info there..

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Bob Vaughan

As a Panasonic dealer, I would guess that you are looking at the wrong Toshiba product. Didn't anybody think to bid the CTX-100? A single cabinet system would give you the 8x16 with voice mail system.

Tne NEC DS1000/2000 series is pretty agressively priced. Their in-skin voice mail comes in a couple of flavors, as a flash memory or a hard-drive box, depending on the number of hours and mailboxes you need.

A lot. And I'm going to look forward to answer this question. When I added on to my house, I got a new furnace from the P-H-E suppy house. I saved about $2000 by doing it myself. About 2 weeks into the cooling season, the AC stopped working. You can probably guess why....The furnace was a downdraft unit. I paid later and I screwed up the duct sizing in the first place. My final price was about $500 more than if I'd had them do it in the first place :-)

I would be looking closely at the Panasonic TA824. As the number implies, you can get 8 lines and 24 phones in the system. A 6 line by 16 phone system with 2 ports of Voice Mail and 8 phones would be in that $2400 price range without installation. The Panasonic gives you Caller-ID to each phone port, USB programming, 2-way recording, and the ability to add single line phones with CID delivered to the set. Keep in mind, there are 2 prices for voice mail; one is delivered and the other is installed.

Carl Navarro

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Carl Navarro

I may be wrong, but when I had a Panasonic installed in my workplace, I was under the impression that quite a bit of the programming had to be done via computer with software available only to certified Panasonic dealers. I was told the voicemail programming couldn't be changed without that. Is that not true? BTW, very satisfied- 824 and TVS50.

Michael Muderick Still mov>

Reply to
Mike Muderick

The TVS-50 can be programmed with a terminal. The TVA50 is programmed with a laptop. The TA-824 and TVA-50 software is available to anyone. No Panasonic voice mail system is easy to install. .


Reply to
Carl Navarro

Check out and Same company. They handle both the Panasonic and NEC systems. Give you what you need for self install and answer the phone when you have a question.

I've done several Pana KXTD systems from them and recently an NEC 1000. No you don't need the "dealer" software but it does help. For Panasonic there are 3rd party softwares, for the NEC you can get it from the NEC web site.

As the other guy implied when there are over 1000 settings some with a dozen choices and many choices in one area changing the meaning or options in another it can be a bit daunting the first time out.

I can take a bit to get an auto attendant setup doing what you want even if the programming is a snap as the first time or two the office will say "we want" then later realize "oh, that's how it works... we don't want THAT". :)

Call the Ablecomm folks after wandering their site.

Now a note. Apparently Panasonic has stop manufacturing the KXTD series. Supposedly because they didn't want to change the production to meet Euro environmental rules. Whatever. It's still a great system and will be supported and have phones and part available for a long time.

As someone who has done both the NEC systems are physically MUCH smaller and are easier to program. The Panasonic VM is a box ranging from the size of a shoe box to much larger. The NEC VM is a compact flash card that plugs into the base unit. :)

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