Needed: Medium Business VOIP solution

Posted on 2006-04-19
Last Modified: 2010-04-12
I am in need of a medium business VOIP solution.  Currently, we have a PBX with extensions.  We ran out of extensions and adding new ones would require the purchase of a new PBX.  We are wanting to move to VOIP.  We currently have a cable broadband internet connection into a PIX.  We want to get a T1 for the added load of VOIP and for redundancy in case one goes out.  So, given that I can actually accomplish that, I need a replacement to our current PBX.  We have multiple offices and want them all to be connected as if they were in the same building.  They have DID, but we want to be able to transfer to their extension or call the extension rather than tying up one of their lines.

14 lines total at main office (4 DID, 8 pooled, 2 for fax server)
Remote offices will have separate internet connections (~2 DID, 2 pool)
Virtual Switchboard and possibly IVR connected to mulitiple SQL servers
Theoretically unlimited extensions (that is if the internal network can handle the amount of traffic)
Voice mail, remote Voice mail access by call-in or via web-browser
Call forwarding, parking, snooping, auditing, waiting
Keep existing main local phone numbers and 800 number
Blasting groups, hunt groups
Call Forward on Busy or No Answer, DND
Caller ID, Caller ID routing based on area code
Multiple Lines per extension and some with DID or multiple DID
Line Pooling
Music on hold
Interactive Directory Listing
Local and Global speed dial
Conference calling
Customizable phones with web-based per user and admin configuration

We are willing to make the initial investment of new IP phones for all stations and integration into our current network.  We need the hardware, software, and ITSP, a full solution from start to finish.  I have Vonage at the house and it's easy to setup, configure, and understand the concept, but I'm not a Telephony guy and I've never done something on this scale.  Vonage was just plug and talk.  I have a feeling this will be slightly more complicated.

Thanks for any help,

Question by:traigo
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    There are dozens, if not hundreds of business VoIP providers out there.  I became a certified speakeasy partner in their VoIP solution so I have a decent understanding of theirs and their claims regarding their competitors.  According to them, most VoIP providers do not focus on call quality as much as they should.  Speakeasy does a number of things to help ensure call quality.  As a result, they are NOT the cheapest out there, but they aren't super-expensive either.  
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    What state are you in? Are you going to do the installation and configuration yourself? Do you care if it is a PBX or hosted solution?

    Author Comment

    leew, thanks.  I'm looking into

    We are in LA.  Installation depends on cost and complexity.  If it's got a manual and wires, I can pretty much do it.  If they want to charge only a couple hundred bucks for the setup, why not have one less headache.  If it requires any PIX firewall programming, that's not my area.
    As far as hosted/PBX, I'm open for either at the moment.  It's a matter of cost and configuration options.  I am willing to look at both sides.
    I will also need to have some way for the phones to have a primary and secondary connection so that if the primary is down, use the secondary (T1 as primary and Cable as secondary).  That way, calls coming in would be routed through the secondary IP address rather than getting no connection.  Or have both connections listed and it connects through the one with the lowest usage polling every 5 min or so.  I don't know how it would work with redundant connections or what the options are.
    LVL 36

    Assisted Solution

    For comparison have a look at Asterisk ( It runs on a Linux platform and is what I use in a company with 30 extensions. It works very well but you do need someone to configure it. If you have a member of staff familiar with Linux you should be fine but if not it might be a bit too steep a learning curve. You may have a local company which will configure and support it for you though.
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    With VoIP, most commercial solutions are going to be hosted PBX style environments.  Keep in mind that VoIP is NOT anywhere near as reliable as traditional phone service.  Meaning, VoIP has, probably, a 99.5% uptime, whereas a more traditional phone configuration would (should) likely have a 99.99+ uptime.  Speakeasy uses their own network whenever possible and does QoS on it to help ensure voice quality.  They also use specific hardware as a router - I don't recall the make/model off hand, but the device allows for extension dialing even when the internet connection fails.  So unlike some VoIP solutions, a SpeakEasy VoIP solution would allow calls AT LEAST internally while the internet was down.  The PBX end of the system (again, hosted at SpeakEasy) ensures that callers get VoiceMail if the connection is down - OR you can configure call forwarding to other numbers via telephone (cell, pots).

    Faxing on VoIP is NOT reliable.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  LARGE faxes (dozens of pages) will fail more often than not.  Most VoIP providers (including SpeakEasy) tend to recommend you keep a couple of POTS lines for faxing.

    Author Comment

    Thanks for posting.  I checked with SpeakEasy which seemed to be the best solution for us.  Unfortunately, they do not provide services in our area.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Try Linesider, I know one of there VP's are in Cali and I believe they do installs out there

    If not them any of NGT's customers can help you... speakeasy does not run thier own servers, they outsource it so these customers will technically all be on the same network in ohio in maine

    I would just make sure that they run either a broadsoft or sylantro platform... they are proven with thier stability and have the most available features.

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