Is VoIP worh it?

We are going to be moving into a new office building soon and the owner brought up getting VoIP. I need to let him know if its something we need or if staying with a regular phone system would be better. Some background.
20-25 employees each with the own extension
Only the one office.
Would like to have unified messaging.
Most phone calls are local.
Thanks for any help.
gochiefsAsked:
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kode99Connect With a Mentor Commented:
They offer a SIP trunking service which would be voip.

The service you are looking at is T1 that allows you to share some of the channels as voice channels instead of dedicating the whole T1 to data.

It is a 'digital' service as a T1 trunk is a digital trunk line.  Kind of like a bunch of ISDN phone lines all rolled into one.  The package you are looking at allows you to use some of the channels for voice and the rest for data.  The voice channels do offer some options that are not available with standard phone lines but these are likely not 'voip' lines.

Though after reading the documentation I'm not totally clear either, it looks like they offer pretty much the same options with SIP trunking.  It may really be a question of the equipment installed at your end or how you want to set it up.

It would likely come down to whether you want o connect your PBX to thier trunk through a T1 interface or a standard IP interface.  I think it would be a good idea to consult with thie people to make sure you are getting  and how it is setup.  

Asterisk based PBX's can interface to pretty much anything,  its just a matter exactly what hardware you will need.


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2PiFLCommented:
Unified messaging = VoiP.  Anything else is too expensive.    
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kode99Commented:
Voip to the outside world may not be much difference in cost.  After you figure in the voip provider cost,  bandwidth cost, added complexity and potentential for lower voice quality voip phone service may not look very favorable.

The big advantages of voip are cheaper long distance,  especially for international calling and it is more dynamic.  So in growth or rapidly changing situations it is easier and faster to get more lines or cut back as demand dictates.

BUT,

For your internal phone system a IP based PBX would be the way to go.  This will give you far more features than a traditional phone system for similar or less cost.    While these feature may not be needed,  simply have the option at any time in the future has a lot of value.

Also a IP PBX will allow you to use both traditional phone lines,  trunk lines AND voip service.  So for example,  your system could automatically route local calls out the local phone lines but route the long distance through a voip provider.  To compare,  adding voip service to a traditional phone system may involve some fairly expensive extra parts.

If there is an issue right now because they are going to be installing cables in the building for a phone system just make sure they use one Cat5 for the network and a second Cat5 for the phones.  That is pretty common practice anyway and will not limit your choices down the road.

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grbladesCommented:
I totally agree with kode99's comments above.

Another benefit of a IP based PBX is that people can connect to it remotely. So for example people could work from home and still be able to answer and make calls with no additional costs. With non IP based systems you would have to redirect calls to a different number (costs) and the users would have to make the calls using a mobile or use their home phone and put in an expense claim.
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gochiefsAuthor Commented:
Ok, i've been looking at Fonality from recomendations on other posts.
I think my question now, is how does this all connect? We're going to be getting our phonelines and T1 from McLeodUSA, when we make the order do we tell them were going to use an IP PBX or what?
Sorry for my ignorance on the subject. Up until this job i was mainly just PC hardware/software tech.
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kode99Commented:
I often use Fonality as an example for comparing with Cisco or other big names in IP PBX markets.  Fonatily offers a turnkey system for a pretty competative price with a lot of features and a nice interface.  It does bear mention that almost all the features that Fonality offer are available to any Asterisk based setup.  

It is not going to matter to the phone company what you do with the analog lines.   I would imagine the T1 is for data service and not voice,  so again that would be a networking issue that is not going to affect your phone service/equipment directly.  Though having a T1 data service is a better way to go if you do happen to use any voip services on top of the analog lines.


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gochiefsAuthor Commented:
This is currently what we have ordered for moving into the new building.
http://mcleodusa.com/Products/dyia 
Reading it, it seems like its VoIP but it never says exactly.
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