Replace PaBX with IP Phones

andyalder used Ask the Experts™
PBX is old, no longer supported, needs replacing with something up to date. Current system has about 100 phones and connects to single ISDN 30 PRI.

Got quote from Cisco partner for router and PoE switches to replace PBX but costs more than double what a new POTS phone system would cost. Looking for alternatives, already got lots of CAT5 IP switches, not got any power over ethernet switches though so need new switches to power phones.

Any suggestions?
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A couple of ideas....

If you would like to go to IP Telephony, but dont want to replace all your access switches with PoE models, you have some options:

1) most phones such as Cisco/Linksys can use power supplies rather than PoE. Not as tidy, but will save replacing switches.
2) you can use "patch panel power injectors" which sit between users and switches, and provide PoE. Check out these guys make some nice ones we have used several times.

For the PBX, you might want to look at something like Asterisk (, which is a opensource(free) IP PBX. It can be hosted on very low end hardware, works well, and can use almost any SIP based handsets (including Cisco). The free version does not come with commercial support, however you can opt for a supported version with some cost. You would either need to add a PRI interface to the PC/Server hosting the software, or you can use an external PRI device such as a Cisco router or specialized PRI device.
Try getting a quote from Mitel.  They make VoIP controllers with all the features of the traditional PBX and are normally cheaper than Cisco by quite a bit.  Just look in the yellow pages for MItel dealer, they are in the UK
They offer inline power adapters for the VoIP phones if you don't have PoE. We purchase HP Procurve PoE switches, they are very well priced and have a lifetime hardware and software license, this removes the Cisco Smart Connect contract fees.
IMHO the problem with Asterik is that you basically get to set it up all by yourself.  You also get to support all yourself.  Frankly, for 100 users I would want a maintenance contract so that if I have questions or something crashes I get to call someone and yell "HELP!"
Top Expert 2014


I like the idea of Asterisk but don't think the customer will go for open source, I guess though if they go for Digium it won't appear open source to them. Setting it up and supporting it would be great for me, unlikely they'll buy it though, they want Windows GUIs normally.

Mitel may be the answer, I'd perfer an industry standard server but they'll probably want something that looks like a PBX and doesn't have standard parts inside.

Asterisk is managed via a GUI, usually web-based i believe, so it could be considered "windows"?

Another idea for you, have you considered refurbished Cisco equipment? You can buy refurbished (also called "re-marketed") Cisco equipment from Cisco (through your Cisco partner), or from a specialist company such as The refurb equipment generally looks brand-new, comes with same or even better warranty (Network Liquidators offers lifetime warranty), and generally costs ALOT LESS! You could expect around 40% off the price of new equipment, which would bring it close to your analogue solution, a not-so-well-known secret!!
why not try something like skype for business, you get individual numbers, centrally managed console for credits, low cost perhaps.
just use PC for calls...hard phones could be possible but havent tried it.

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