Will VoIP do this...?

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read this message and respond.

I am looking for a new phone system that will meet several criteria.  Before I list what I am looking for, let me provide some brief background information.

We have 3 separate offices; each office will not have more than 10 phones and 5 in/outbound lines.  We already have a basic VPN setup between all 3 offices, and each office has a broadband connection.  Two of the offices are on a wireless (microwave I believe) connection and the third has DSL.  The DSL is 768kb down and 256kb up; the two other facilities are both 512kb up and down.

What I would like is the following:

Each office location needs to make and receive calls in the same manner they do today, with both local and long-distance traffic (including 911 calls in case of emergency)

Each office will need the ability to transfer any incoming call to another office location seamlessly, and free up the incoming line

Need to intercom between all 3 offices, to anyone’s phone

Need to be able to smart-route calls from one office location to another if a user attempts to make an outbound call that would be cheaper to complete if originated from one of the other locations.  For example, if the 3 areas are Los Angles, New York, and Dallas.  If a user in Dallas attempted to make a call to a 3rd party in NY, I would want the system to recognize this, and originate the call to the outside party from the NY office.

Lastly, I need the ability to conference call between 2 or more offices and an outside number.

Is this something that VoIP can do?
What type of equipment should I be looking at assuming it could do this?
Without knowing the above, I started browsing at the Avaya IP Office:Small Office Edition.  Am I on the right track?

Thanks again.
Who is Participating?
scampgbConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Hi CamRewop,

Unfortunately I can't tell you exactly what to buy, but I can offer some advice.

> Is this something that VoIP can do?

The answer to this is a rather qualified "yes" :-)
VoIP is just that - getting voice from one part of the network to another.
That's just a small part of IP Telephony, which is what you want to do here.

What you want to do is possible, except "Each office will need the ability to transfer any incoming call to another office location seamlessly, and free up the incoming line".  You'll be able to do the transfer, but the incoming line would still be tied up.
This is because the call is coming from the telco to you down that bit of wire.  You'll be routing the call internally, but the "inbound" part of the call will still be on that bit of wire.
The only way you could so that is if you have some sort of signalling arrangement with the telco to re-route the call.  I don't think that's practical in your environment.

You will need to seriously look at your network infrastructure.  You said that you have a VPN between sites over a broadband connection.
What sort of service guarantees do you have on these lines?  VoIP is VERY susceptible to latency, packet loss or packets arriving out of order (jitter).
These things are quite common in your environment.

From each office, to go http://www.testmyvoip.com and run the test there.  It'll give you an indication of your performance to the Internet.  That won't take into account the inter-office performance though.
If your network is provided by a third-party, talk to them about it and see what they say.

You said that "each office will not have more than 10 phones and 5 in/outbound lines".  Make sure that you don't restrict yourself unnecessarily.

As for the Avaya IP Office:Small Office Edition - I can't seem to get to the info on their site at the moment, so can't really check.

Is that any use?
Dependant on exactly what type of solution you're looking for, it might be worth you taking a look at Asterisk PBX - http:/www.asterisk.org

It's a free, fully featured IP PBX system that runs on Linux.
You can configure it to do everything you need, and quite a bit more besides.

You can buy cards that will go in the Asterisk PC to connect to the phone lines and analogue phones.  I'd suggest that you use IP Phones though if you're going this route, it'll give you a bit more flexibility.

Take a look at Digium (sponsers of Asterisk) at http://www.digium.com/ - they sell the hardware and can provide consultancy services for getting it all set up.

If you think this is a worthwhile route, let me know - I'd be happy to advise you further.
CamRewopAuthor Commented:
Thanks!  That helps a lot.

My wireless broadband connections may be suspect, so I'll run the above tests to see how they fair.

Thanks again!
Improve Your Query Performance Tuning

In this FREE six-day email course, you'll learn from Janis Griffin, Database Performance Evangelist. She'll teach 12 steps that you can use to optimize your queries as much as possible and see measurable results in your work. Get started today!

I'm glad I could help.

It's the WAN connections that are often the problem with these plans.  Wireless connections in particular can have high latency and packet loss.

Best of luck :-)
I worked with voice over ip for three years.  I am not a Cisco person, but I ran the phone system, which was Cisco.

1. Callmanagers in each location is a must.  If the data connections are slightly less than perfect between the three locations, the locations without the call managers will have their phones go down.

2. Voicemail in all three locations is a good idea.  This way you can do Unified Messaging without haveing to consoldate Exchange servers.  We were unable to consoldate Exchange servers because of Microsoft bugs.

3. Conferencing can be done on the fly.  

4. The great part is the receptionist will be able to transfer calls to the other locations with a click of a button.  We used 13**, 14**, and 12** for the extensions between the three plants.  It used (vOip) 1/3 of the T1 connection.

5. Find well qualified people to set it up.  It can be a nightnare.  Logical was a horrible company to use.  They didn't have the manpower to sit through the initial setup issues.  We used Meridian IT (not the phone company) and Network Data Systems to clean the bugs out of the system. I should point out it is a much better system, than three years ago.


Hi CamRewop and the rest of the responders,

In regards to what system to purchase, do not base it upon solely the VoIP features the particular system may have. Few things to consider in regards to the next generation of ip-pbx systems: scalability, reliability, and availability. Below you will find a few notes based upon my experience installing all of the mentioned systems.

The Avaya IP Office actually has some of the worst reliability and availability ratings against other vendors VoIP solutions such as: ConvergenceCenter, Nortel, Altigen, Artisoft, Cisco, 3COM NBX, Mitel, Vertical Networks.

Also based upon your stated needs, most traditional phone systems have 98% of the features you are looking to deploy (LCR, tandem routing). Since you already have in place a data network, and based upon the fact you will have less than a dozen phones at a given site. You may consider using a VoIP analog gateway to connect to a traditional phone system, in conjunction with Centrex services from your local carrier.

Your VoIP traffic will be minimal, assume that you have 12 people at a site, and 40 % of that staff is on the phone at a given time, then assume that 50% of those calls would be routed over the network. Using a codec such as G.711 your total bandwidth requirement between two sites for the VoIP calls would be around 320K. This is pretty much the worst case scenario for the bandwidth.

If you are looking to start integrating applications into your phone network, then ConvergenceCenter and Vertical Networks may be a good choice for you.

Hi CamRewop,
     The thing that bothers me first about your setup is the wireless portion.  I install the 3COM VoIP system and for now I know they are still having issues with wireless networks.  Our phones require 56k per phone call, this might be a problem depending on your internet connection.  Keep in mind that before you go with a VoIP phone system you need to have VoIP compliant swith gear so the traffic is voice first then data.  Voice can not be retransmitted like a normal data packets.  

I would recommend that you think about putting a phone box at each location and connect POTS lines (telephone Lines) to the PBX.  This will allow you to have each location function on its own just in case your VPN goes down.  If you set it up like this depending on where your locations are you might be able to benifit from something called least cost routing.  Let me know if you need more information.  I think my email is posted with this reply.  Sorry if it is not, I am new to this forum.
Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.