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Using Skype as a backup phone system for PRI outage.

Posted on 2012-09-21
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-09-24
We have been paying phone bill for 2 PRIs, had to keep 1 PRI of the two, it costs some dollars which I couldn't ignore.
I searched on web, and found PrettyMay, Skype VOIP PBX. I tested and work. It's not so great, but work. For example, it doesn't handle call queue as I expected. It scans available agents, then if all busy, it just sends to voicemail.

Skype doesn't charge for incoming calls. For outgoing calls, I can purchase minutes and it's  used only when our phone lines are down. So this saves a lot comparing to keep another PRI line.

Anyway, my questions are two.

1. Are there any better VOIP? Skype voice quality is good, but there are 1-2 second delay when talking. So it creates some confusion while talking.

2. Since this is Skype installed on PC, and needs headset or speaker+mic to listen and talk, users may feel uncomfortable. I searched online to find Skype desktop phones, but reviewers say it doesn't work well. I found a few such as from Belkin or Xblue, but reviewers complain because it doesn't work well, for example, it doesn't provide DTMF tone, so they have trouble to join conference calls. Sometimes, it malfunctions so they have to restart. It looks like Belkin stopped selling it, maybe it's because they couldn't fix all kinds of problem reported. So are there any better desktop VOIP phones work with Skype???
Question by:crcsupport

Expert Comment

ID: 38424106
Are you stuck on Skype or are you trying to get a good VOIP product for an inexpensive alternative to land line during power outages?  I am not sure what the actual focus is.  There are several good VOIP options for consideration.

Companies like Ooma sell a device (hardware) that connects to your broadband connection to provide VOIP services.  I mention them by name because I have used their product and was happy with it, but there are many other companies that do the same thing, and for very little $$.

If this is only for power outages and you are trying to do this on the cheap, you could consider google voice as an option.  it can be set up like a phone routing system and if a primary line goes down, it can redirect the call to a different line (such as a cell).  I am not pushing Google in particular, just saying they have a solution that may be what you are looking for.  

You also mentioned conferencing.  There are numerous solutions for online conferencing as well.  An internet search for "VOIP Conference Calling" will give you plenty of reading, but this is a company I have seen before (and participated in a conference call through them).

I am not endorsing anybody, just giving you ideas and directions to investigate to better understand your options.

Author Comment

ID: 38427273
I read around about Ooma, it seems to have good quality with HD voice. But it doesn't provide call hunting or auto attendant for a group of their devices, which I wonder whey they don't developed for business call center purpose.
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 38427419

    What are your current PRI's terminated into today ?   An are you looking to back up the PRI or your call center switch ?

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Author Comment

ID: 38429220
We recently switched our PRI from Broadview to RCN, it works good. Instead of having two PRIs, what I'm thinking is to have one PRI and one any backup which doesn't result monthly payment. Our maximum concurrent active calls stay under 17, so I 'm sure just one PRI, 23 trunks are enough. But if this PRI goes down, we need some backup phone system temporarily, probably which can serve 20 users of a couple of days in maximum. Then, what I do is, I forward our main incoming call number to it so we can serve our clients for calling in.

Right now, I have Prettymay VOIP PBX which can send calls to a group of skype users. It works, but not so great, sometimes it skips agents, send calls to voicemail. I was looking to see if there's any other voip PBX which serves;

1. pay by usage for out going calls. No charge for incoming calls.
2. have auto attendant feature for call hunting.
3. voip
LVL 15

Accepted Solution

Phonebuff earned 1000 total points
ID: 38429246
I still am not sure what you have as your PBX / Call Director today as your PRI's must be terminating in something..

But, I would suggest a Voip Carrier like DID4Sale or IPCOMMS terminated in an Asterisk or Yate based IPBX solution,  An then either passing the calls through a Sangoma A101 board to the port that was being used by your second PRI to the existing Systems, just replacing the existing infrastructure with a system capable of receiving and processing both PRI and SIP traffic to agents.

LVL 32

Assisted Solution

aleghart earned 1000 total points
ID: 38429588
Your PRI has to terminate _somewhere_ in order to break out channels for voice.  If that PBX can handle SIP, then ditch Skype as a primary connection.  If you need it for taking web-initiated calls or Skype-based clients, you can leave it connected.  But it's expensive and a pain to keep topping off the account balance.

For backing up the phone lines that are handed off via PRI, you need to specify to your carrier an alternate number.  They will install it into their switch environment so that overflow calls or downed lines will attempt to switch to this other number.

Pick up a phone # from Vitelity.  You pay less than $2/month per number, then only for the minutes used (in/out).  No minutes = no additional.  You can have multiple channels active on the the same number.  And, they will honor your outbound Caller-ID info that your PBX sends.  So you can program your main line number, or individual DIDs for each user.

Author Comment

ID: 38429869
Forget about PRI and termination. this is not related to it. The voip pbx I'm looking for has to be completely seperate from PRI for failover. I made confusion stating the PRI we have, but it has nothing to do with it.

Author Comment

ID: 38429870
The PBX for voip or skype doesn't have to be a physical PBX server. Prettymay is software based PBX running on windows server.

Author Comment

ID: 38429895
Thanks for the links. I'll look through.

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