VOIP Suggestion for redundancy to Primary VOIP system

Currently have a client utilizing voip from Broadview, unfortunately the T1 goes down whenever it rains, this takes place on a fairly regular basis.  The phones go down and we have the phones configured to righ at an analog phone.  They would like to have in place another voip package that would run over the second internet connection for redundancy.  We can set the software running on the Broadview T1, if the phones do not pick up reroute the calls to a second number (preferably a second less inexpensive voip).  We are looking for some suggestioins in this area. something that would allow several phones to ring at once and that is not too costly with a small handset next to each monitor not to take up  much space.  Any ideas are welcome.  We have looked into Skype but we need to make several phones ring at once for the same number.

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First, if the T1 goes down when it rains, have the T1 fixed or cancel the contract.  A T1 should be the most reliable hunk of bandwidth you can buy aside from something Fiber based.  The rain problem is absolutely inexcusable and the telephone company would not be able to function if there own T1s (back in the day) when down every time it rained.  My guess the have your T1 circuit run through an amplifier that gets flooded out in a manhole someplace.  Make them fix it!!!!

Now, the other part of your question raises an interesting point: if you come up with an alternative to the Broadview solution, why use Broadview at all?

If you are willing to deal with an in-house "backup" phone system, you can switchover entirely.

You can setup a small server (and a spare) running Asterisk, an open-source telephony system and tie that to a T1 with either regular trunks or SIP/IAX trunks if you want to go VoIP.  You don't need a big machine to run Asterisk, particularly if you are running the same codec on the phones as you are running to your SIP/IAX trunking service.

I assume your service from Broadview is VoIP (given the forum) so you can get by with a router/firewall and an Ethernet port on the Asterisk server.  You will need to find a SIP or IAX Trunking service that will provide you with trunks (one per simultaneous call), DIDs (Direct In Dial numbers), 800 service, etc.  There are a bunch of these guys out there like Junction Networks, Broadvoice, MixTrunx, IIC Internet, VoicePlus, etc.  Most of these folks will resell you a T1 at the same time so you have a one-stop shop.

Then you can use standard SIP or IAX Softphones on the PCs to minimize the investment in hardware.  You can, of course, add as many hardware IP phones to the system as you like as well.

If you would rather go with standard PSTN trunks coming in on a T1, you can put a Digium single-span T1 card in the server for about $600 bucks.

One other item.  It is difficult to find a provider who supplies IAX trunking and the ones that do would prefer to provide SIP trunking.  The advantage to you of IAX is that it reduces the IP overhead by packing multiple voice packets into a single IP packet.  SIP puts each voice packet in it's own IP packet.  It might be worth your while to find an IAX trunk provider if you think you are going to saturate the T1 or grow out of it.  You should also consider whether using the G.729 codec (about 30Kbps) gives you the sound quality you need versus the heavier G711 (~70Kbps).  You may find that G.711 with IAX trunking gives you great call quality with reasonable bandwidth consumption.

Let me add a few other potential solutions:

Intertex (http://www.intertex.se/) has a small unit called the IX-66 which in effect is a Broadband router with a built in SIP based Phone System. A nice advantage of it is that it has a small built in IVR and can do forking, which will allow you to ring multiple phones in a 'Group Ring' fashion as you explained. The unit is cost effective, and has no moving parts. I can personally attest to how long it will last .. I have units that have been in the field for 5+ years and none of them has ever been RMA'd for any issues. That would serve as a good unit for the second data line you have, and could handle any calls that need to be sent to another location and a great solution for redundancy.

As mentioned by Bill, Asterix (or any open-source Phone System) would work well. I would personally reccommend Pingtel (www.pingtel.com) over Asterix .. they have a commercial and open-source solution available, very feature rich and stable. Either way, that loaded on a Linux desktop would serve as a powerful alternative to a Remote Survivability unit on the 2nd line, although it may be overkill just for that purpose.

Lastly, you could redesign your architecture and deploy a core telephony solution, build in the routes through either Data line, and enjoy voice service. But, as Bill mentioned ... your data solution needs replacing .. that T1 should not go down when it rains.
Peterson50Author Commented:
Thinks for the insight, what happens is that Broadview says that Verizon must fix it and Verizon comes out after several hours and it comes back on eventually.  But Broadview stated the contract states as long as it is guaranteed to be back up within 4 hours they have no violated their contract.  The system has literally been down at least once a month for several months and always always always when it rains.  Do you know if there is an agency that we can complain to, or I will just check to see if we have passed the contract timeline and can simply go with someone else.  Our concern though is that it is Verizon's T1, so even if another vendor comes in Verizon still is the company installing the T1.  Our cable connection does not go down though.  Is there any way around Verizon, or I guess as you stated simply have them fix it?  

I am not sure about New York, but in Ohio we have the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.  Most states have a Public Utilities Commission and you can complain to them since T1s are a tariffed service.  We also have an active Ohio Consumer's advocacy group that like to make the Utilities lives miserable.  I had great success with them in combination with the PUCO on a problem with my home telephone service when I built a new house.  You will have to look for the equivalent agencies in New York.

As far as getting around Verizon goes, it is possible but not cheap and definitely not cost effective for a single T1 line.

The real problem is that you are buying the T1 from Broadview and they should be acting as your advocate and insisting that Version fix the problem.  They clearly don't gives a rat's tail as long as you cannot claim they have violated the contract and walk away from it.  I would do several things:
1) Figure out when the contract is up for renewal.  If it is not too far out, do your research for finding someone that will make sure the T1 stays up and switch.
2) Read the contract with a fine tooth comb.  Figure out exactly what they are obligated to do and see if there are any technicalities you can hang them on.  Again, once you start down the path of dropping them, Broadview will give you less than no service so you should be prepared to switch.
3) Make sure whomever you go with has an uptime requirement (less than 10 hours per year) or a maximum number of outages clause so that they are forced to go beat up Verizon to fix it.
4) Lay out the history of outages in writing along with the impact on your business.  Set up a phone (or in person) meeting with a service manager or someone above the level of the dope answering the phone.  Have a lawyer there (just so you can say you have one) and basically tell them if they don't fix it you are going to:
a) terminate the contract for non-performance
b) get on every VOIP forum on the internet and make sure everyone knows about their quality of service issues.
c) are prepared to give them two weeks or until the next rain to get Verizon to straighten it out.

You probably won't get anywhere but at least you will know where you stand.

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