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VOIP Business Phones

MisterFister

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#1
Not really a clue but it appears my buddy is getting humped. He is paying for 5 lines (5 different phone numbers) as part of his Comcast bundle. Should he be paying for 1 line (1 business number) and then have 5 "seats" (as Comcast call them) or extensions (as I believe other non-nazi's call them)?

Basically, need a business line with five users. These users need to all be able to have incoming/outgoing. Can't they do that through one number? Why is he paying $39.99 a month for five different numbers when he just needs 5 extensions?

Is VOIP unable to accommodate the old school 'dial 445 for Robert Johnson' extension stuff?
 

BrIONwoshMunky

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#2
Don't know about incoming/outgoing lines, but once it reaches his end from the telco, he should be able to setup an IP-PBX system that will allow extensions, intercom, voice mail and all sorts of other do-dads. Like using a computer on a network through a shared internet connection, with phones included.

http://www.freepbx.org/

EDIT:: After looking at the comcast website, it appears that if all five of your buddy's employees need to be able to be on the phone with an outside line at any given point, they'll need 5 lines. It also appears that comcast is doing the PBX'ing instead of your buddy taking care of his own 'phone system'.

Back in the day with hardlines, a phone call would come into your personal PBX (whether hardwired or server based) and then the PBX would handle how that call is directed within the walls of your business (hold, voice mail, extensions).
 
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BrIONwoshMunky

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#4
Unless two people want to make a call at the same time.

Lines in are synonymous with lines out.

If you have 5 extensions/seats on a system with one line, there would only be one connection available to the outside. You could dial through the outside line with any extension, but no 2 people could be on separate outside phone calls simultaneously.
 
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BrIONwoshMunky

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#6
Also, paying for 'seats' looks like a ripoff. I don't know why you couldn't set up your own IP-PBX and have as many seats/extensions as you wanted. Looks like paying per seat simply rents you an IP phone which you can buy separately anyways.
 

MisterFister

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#7
That's how it all started. He's one of these guys who goes to AT&T's website to buy a new phone system. *shakes head* Then I grabbed his bill and it just didn't seem right.

Ready to cut a check for $1010. Found the same thing on Newegg for $610.
 

Jung

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#8
I've brought two VoIP start ups through infancy and pretty good with Asterisk (Freepbx is basically a GUI for Asterisk). I hope I can point you in the right direction.

Your public phone number is called a DID (direct inward dialing). For a typical SMB you only need one of these. Comcast's PBX system will allow the other extensions to dial out through this number. If you need more than one person to receive inbound calls, you will need to set them up in a ring/hunt/call group, depending on Comcast's terminology. That way, each necessary extension will ring when the DID is called. (For example, you may want the receptionist and office admin to ring, but not the sales people etc). You should also be able to set up roll over dials, so say if the receptionist doesn't answer, you can send the call to another extensions, a cell phone or an "IVR" auto-attendant menu, where the caller can select any number of options.

Personally, I'd suggest finding an Asterisk vendor for your company. You can grab some used Polycom 430 or 450s for $80-100/each and they'll last forever and any vendor worth their salt should be able to support them. They have the easiest xml config format to work with of all the popular handsets.

Charging for extensions is mostly bullshit. Most vendors simply mark the cost of the phones up 1.5% and leave it at that. Configuring new phones is trivial; if you go with a VoIP vendor, they'll probably setup the phones to auto configure themselves. (My phones can simply be plugged in to any internet connection in the world and register, and be making calls in <5 min.)
 
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MisterFister

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#9
@BrIONwoshMunky @Jung

Could you help me out here? All is well except one thing. This is the system I bought.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...7902&cm_re=SB67138-_-0J3-0002-000G1-_-Product

Everything is A-O-K except once the factory is fired up (its a production welding shop) the wireless handset located at the far end of the shop is NFG. All static. I'm assuming the RF created by all the welders is wreaking havoc with the wireless signal. I've tried every handset and they all do the same thing. The minute I enter 'the floor' they all instantly turn to garbage. It doesn't matter where I locate the repeater. I even hooked it up right outside the door and its still crap.

I'm not willing to fight it anymore and its pretty clear I need to run a hard line to the satellite office. My question is...can you tell me how I can integrate a hardwired unit into this specific package and recommend a hard wired unit which will sync with this specific package?
 

BrIONwoshMunky

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#10
@BrIONwoshMunky @Jung

Could you help me out here? All is well except one thing. This is the system I bought.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...7902&cm_re=SB67138-_-0J3-0002-000G1-_-Product

Everything is A-O-K except once the factory is fired up (its a production welding shop) the wireless handset located at the far end of the shop is NFG. All static. I'm assuming the RF created by all the welders is wreaking havoc with the wireless signal. I've tried every handset and they all do the same thing. The minute I enter 'the floor' they all instantly turn to garbage. It doesn't matter where I locate the repeater. I even hooked it up right outside the door and its still crap.

I'm not willing to fight it anymore and its pretty clear I need to run a hard line to the satellite office. My question is...can you tell me how I can integrate a hardwired unit into this specific package and recommend a hard wired unit which will sync with this specific package?
It looks like all communications between your handsets is wireless. This makes them easy to setup/expand if you don't have the issues you're having. Adding in a wired extension may not be possible. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that those AT&T packages may not offer the degree of interoperability that traditional hardwired IP phones possess.

http://telephones.att.com/telephones/office-telephones/syn248 Looks like this is more along the lines of what I was thinking, if you look at the flowchart/connections diagram.

I think your base is functioning as your PBX (Phone Base Exchange - i.e. the beginning of the system that tells everything else how to get along) If your corded base IS your PBX, I don't know of a way to connect another corded base into the system because there obviously isn't any port to connect something downstream.
 

Mange

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#11
Sorry I arrived late to this conversation, I would have advised you to go in a totally different direction. My shopping list would be:

48.99 @ (1) 8 Port Switch : Netgear GS108-400NAS
189.95 @ (5) OBI100 VoIP Telephone Adapter(s)
45.40 @ (10) RJ11 Wall Mount Phone Jack(s)
89.95 @ (5) Panasonic KX-TS500B Corded Phone(s) Black
6.99 @ (1) Ethernet Cable
156.00 @ (4) Telephone Station Cable 4 Conductor R/G/Y/B 22Ga (2000 ft) may need more or less
19.10 @ (1) Belkin 12 Outlet Surge Protector
3.59 @ (1) Roll of Duct Tape - Just in case
__________
559.97

+ (1) voip.ms account @ .99 per mo DID & .01 per minute usage - includes auto attendant, extension dialing, call transfer, ring groups, call ques, voicemails, failover to an offsite phone and as many 'seats' as you could program at N/C - no need for an onsite asterisk box.
 
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Jung

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#12
Sorry I arrived late to this conversation, I would have advised you to go in a totally different direction. My shopping list would be:

48.99 @ (1) 8 Port Switch : Netgear GS108-400NAS
I wouldn't suggest running a business requiring multi-line functionality solely on ATAs and analog handsets. Especially without knowing his IT support situation. You're lacking solid QoS capability here, can't VLAN voice traffic, can't capture packets easily and will have no remote logging, graphing or device support. Even for someone dead set on building their own system, you'd be better off just buying a Grandstream box or trying your hand at FreePBX.

You don't need an Asterisk server on site either. I would consider this bad practice unless the client has good reason (medical, legal or financial compliance).

The main point to be made here, I'd think, is reliability. When my clients go down email and txt alerts are generated and the outtage is displayed on the network map.
 

Mange

Tenderony
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#13
Seems a little overkill to me for just five lines. I mean, he's looking at five Comcast ATAs at an exorbitant monthly rate. I mean sure, if he needed twenty or a hundred lines he would need to have an onsite box and support but that begs the question of how many trucks does a company have to have on the road before they can justify the cost of a full time onsite truck mechanic.

To address Fister's initial question, the station phones need to be hard wired but he already figured that out. As to how to replace five Comcast ATAs with something that provides one DID, auto attendant, extension dialing, call transfer, voicemail on each line and offsite fail over to cell phones when Comcast goes down with a little less on the equipment investment and considerably less than $200 a month bill, I stand by my post.
 

Jung

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#14
The whole point is that you don't need a box on site. You engage a vendor who will sell you a router and handsets, support being part of their managed hosted system.

As to how to replace five Comcast ATAs with something that provides one DID, auto attendant, extension dialing, call transfer, voicemail on each line and offsite fail over to cell phones when Comcast goes down with a little less on the equipment investment and considerably less than $200 a month bill, I stand by my post.
Again, why in the world would you opt for this instead of something like a Grandstream UCM? You're not saving money by going with unsupported oddball configs. That I guarantee someone will have to fix later when they decide to do this properly.
 

Mange

Tenderony
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#15
Just my DYI suggestion which he seemed to be looking for. I personally would not have recommended a Grandstream product because Grandstream is the only device I've ever had that aged out and bricked of it's own accord. People tend to maintain brand recognition. I prefer Obi(s) for voice quality over anything else I have ever had and for a five line operation if one Obi was to die it doesn't take down the whole show just one line unless of course his Comcast goes out then it's a moot point. For a small business I don't think plugging all the lines into one multi-ATA is the best option.
 

Jung

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#16
Yeah, I'd say this isn't really something you'd want to DIY unless you're versed in telecom. At the very least I feel you want to have basic outbound QoS in place to prioritize SIP & RTP, second only to the usual DNS, ICMP and TCP ACK, of course. A bunch of ATAs on an unmanaged layer 2 switch means you have basically zero logs to indentify issues and can't span port to properly sniff traffic when you start having weird issues. And you will.

I've reluctantly put ATAs at some of our client's... but only for a warehouse cordless or something. They're too unreliable, and you can't really do anything about jitter related issues, echo or the "underwater sound", aside from certify the cabling or try a different box. When the SIPuras were around I kinda liked them for what they were, but I've yet to come across a decent one since. I personally don't see the point these days. Especially given that most handsets will register directly to a SIP trunk, and how common and relatively cheap hosted PBX service is these days.

We're lucky enough to be able to cross-connect directly to many of our clients in our datacenter, so we use CoS and .p tagging often. I have some multi-branch clients on MPLS or L3VPN/VPLS sexiness. For everyone else I just sell the client a Mikrotik 951, 2011 or similar (basically a $50-$100 layer 3 switch marketed as a router... which can do spanning tree & portfast, and even run BGP with multiple VRFs, MPLS, VPLS etc) and setup a QoS tree and tunnels to our edge routers. This way I can VLAN voice & data on site if need be, or bridge a 2nd IP to their main router if they want physical segregation.

Oh, Grandstream sucks, no doubt. Cheaply made headsets, auto-provisioning config format sucks, they use three separate DHCP options where everyone else just uses 66, and in my experience Asterisk BLF hints work randomly. Even their flagship Android handset feels like a chinese knock off compared to the cheapest Polycoms.

I only have experience with their UCM2150 (or whatever) PBX demo unit from a vendor. My partner's idea... which I veto'd pretty quickly. Anyway, it's not great but it's basically just an Asterisk appliance with a nice web GUI that's simpler than FreePBX. And absolutely no Linux or Asterisk console CLI... although there is an ssh server, which is absolutely useless for anything. Anyway, for <$300 it's not a bad 5-10 handset PBX if you don't need the full Asterisk tool-kit (dahdi, tftpboot provisioning etc) or many call recording options. The upseide is that you get SIP, all common features and industry standard log files to help track down issues (the output is almost exactly what you'd get from tailing /var/log/asterisk/full). Only downside is that you really need a syslog server to take full advantage of historical logging.

As for handsets, I haven't found anything to want to make me move away from Polycom. They're industry standard, rock solid and the 430 and 530s can be had for fairly cheap, their config format is widely known easy to read and script, auto-provisioning over the internet is foolproof, and the handsets come configured out of the box for local autoprovisioning via tftpboot (just chown your configs to PlcmSpIp: PlcmSpIp and when plugged the handset will start looking for their MAC.cfg file after pulling the provisioning server from DHCP option 66.

Our process is down to scanning MACs from the box (we don't even open them) into excel, 2 minutes to setup exten #, user, sha2 secret, hints and vmail string, then passing that cvs to shells scripts to generate the xml configs. So easy day one techs can do it. When the client gets their handset they... just plug it in. If they're on one of our hosted PBXs, the handset reaches out to an FTP, checks firmware+bootld, then downloads its configs. 5 minutes and a reboot later and the phone is working. Same thing if they take the handset home or on the road.

I really like Ubiquiti's Android handsets. I have a few of the Executives in the office and everyone loves them. Some of the Snom handsets are OK too but I had BLF issues with these as well.
 
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edpal

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Comcast VoiceEdge absolutely sucks. So bad my boss wrote them on the second day, demanding to rescind his contract. There was nothing wrong with our old Toshiba VOIP system (Status 5 I believe). All the gear is still here - he has already called the folks who serviced that and made arrangements for them to hook up stuff up. You know it's seriously bad when your boss who is an attorney, is willing to spend money to get out of a deal. LOL

Oh - seats charges are such a rip. LIke who cares how many users you have, the cost is in the actual lines/numbers. It's like when we would get charged for text - total hose job, they were already transmitting data through that channel, the cost to the carriers was pennies a year. But we were paying $.50 a text or whatever.
 
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