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General questions about business-quality VoIP

Posted on 2008-10-04
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Hi experts:

I was just looking for some advice as to where to find the best information such as websites on VoIP. I head researched hosted VoIP a couple of years ago and at that time, I thought I had learned I would need a switch compatible with VoIP (I bought a PoE one), some type of "brain" (maybe a VoIP gateway), plus the phones or seats. I also thought I would require quite a bit of bandwidth such as at least 512Mbs or more. And that was part of the reason for the QOS. The rough cost estimate for 7 $200 VoIP phones, the "brain" (sorry, I can't remember the term), and the switch was going to run around $7000 plus the monthly cost for each seat from the host.

I am still looking at this as I still have regular PBX, but we are also talking about it on an Electronic Medical Record message board. Someone there is stating he has VoIP with Cisco phones that only require 16kbs. Yes, 16kbs. I told him I didn't think that would be possible. Then, combine that with some of the suggestions about Skype and Vonage, and I don't think everyone is understanding the differences.

So, can anyone suggest what sites to go to and how much bandwidth should be used?

Thanks.
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Question by:Bert2005
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Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 22642841
Hello Bert2005,

I'm a Certified SpeakEasy VoIP seller/installer.  VoIP - for QUALITY sound - requires between 80-100Kbps.  Services like Vonage can lower that but you obviously loose quality. A ROUGH ball price for hardware would be $200-400 per phone.  I don't recall the specific prices for other equipment, but I believe the other "required" hardware would cost roughly $1000.  To be clear, this is considered a Hosted VoIP solution, which, for small business, is probably the best kind of VoIP to use because it could be MUCH more difficult to manage a fully in-house system.

The catch with SpeakEasy is that they generally require you use their internet services as well (which aren't that expensive - their T1 prices are pretty cheap...).

There are, of course, many other options available other than speakeasy.  Packet8 is another.

A hosted solution is actually not a bad idea because of the flexibility of it all.  If the internet connection goes down, you can call in and redirect your phones to the cell phones.  With an in-house system, that's not really possible (certainly not easily or cheaply).  They also provide a handy Outlook/IE plug-in for managing the phone configuration for each number and can send voicemail messages to you in email.

Regards,

leew
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by:Bert2005
ID: 22642867
Hi Leew!

So, from what you're saying, it sounds as though things have either gotten much cheaper in the past two years or the quality of service from a Vonage or SpeakEasy has improved. The host I was talking too only hosted the VoIP but required that we had a broadband connection of our own. Since we had roadrunner at 10 down and 4 up, we weren't too worried about

When I was looking at it two years ago, I was told I we need some type of router for VoIP such as the Edgemarc http://www.edgewaternetworks.com/edgemarc_overview_page.htm (not sure if this would have also taken the place of my Firewall/kind of router PIX 501), plus a more expensive managed switch if I wanted PoE. Then there was the cost of the 7 seats (around $200 for each Cisco phone). Then there was the monthly charge for each seat (not per line). Depending on the bells and whistles this could be $25 to $50.

Does this sound about right. I am still a bit confused about the broadband speed. So less than a Mb would work?
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22642916
SpeakEasy only guarantees their quality if you use their internet service - this is because they can prioritize VoIP packets to ensure that a simultaneous ISO image download (or upload) doesn't cause degradation of your conversations.  If you are to believe the marketing, SpeakEasy has among the best voice quality (when you use their internet service) amongst all VoIP providers.

Actually the Edgemarc is exactly what I was referring to.  It CAN be considered optional for smaller installations, but for larger installs, they require it.   There are several configs that could be done, some with better reliabilty (of quality) than others.  For PoE, yes, you'd need a switch that supports it, however, strictly speaking, you don't NEED to do PoE - you could just get AC/DC adapters.  For 7 phones, that's a LOT cheaper than replacing a switch.

For SpeakEasy, you pay per line as well as per auto-attendant and I believe the fee is roughly $30 month unlimited nationwide calling.  

Less than 1 Mb/sec upload WOULD work for probably 8-10 simultaneous calls with a router that prioritizes VoIP packets.  

While I can't be certain without working up a quote, I would suspect 7 lines plus an auto-attendant from SpeakEasy would probably run, with taxes, somewhere in the vicinity of $300/month not including internet service which may be required.  That can be SDSL if you have it in your area, but would be better off being a T1.  The internet service would probably run $250-400 per month and be slower than your current service.  

And again, there are other competing services - but SpeakEasy is the one I know best by far.  (I will say, STAY AWAY from broadview networks - if they even service in your area.  Worst ISP/Phone provider I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with).
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by:Bert2005
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Is their speakeasy service in the Downy California area?
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22642947
Can't be certain (I thought you were in Maine?).  They can provide service in MANY areas across the country, but I have found ONE they can't (in south central New Jersey).  Also, FYI, they are owned by Best Buy (purchased about 12-18 months ago) and are based in Seattle.  They also have great support - I can call them 24x7 and speak to a tech, usually within 10-15 minutes (late night) and within 5 during the day.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 22642953
I am in Maine. But, on the message board, there is a physician who is looking to scratch his POTS and go VoIP. He is looking for some guidance as to how to start, what he needs and who to use. He knows absolutely nothing about VoIP and, since it has changed, I am not sure how to help him. As he stated, "I need someone to point me in the right direction."
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22642955
Also, FYI, I use them myself - I have two lines without an edgemarc - one using their DSL service, one using cable - one line is at my home office, the other is at my remote office/data center about 30 miles away.  One of the great things is extension dialing and simultaneous ring.  If you call either my home office number or my office/data center number, it rings simultaneously on both lines as well as my cell phone (of course, that means voice mail ends up going to my cell phone, not my email).  I can also do extension dialing - meaning I call "102" from my office and my home office phone rings (and vice versa).
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22642956
Ah, ok... that makes sense now...
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by:Bert2005
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I suppose I should just tell him to contact Speakeasy in his area.
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