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SIP lines for small office

We have a small office here with 2 employees and we want to get a VOIP setup.

We eventually want to add an IP PBX so i was thinking about getting some SIP lines first before getting the phone system.

What do you guys recommend?
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You are backwards in my opinion..  

Get one of the Distro's for Asterisk or FreeSwitch and get comfortable with the IPBX and go from there --



Cobra25Author Commented:
Need lines first not a PBX yet.
Jason PalmerOwnerCommented:
You could roll-your-own but for a small office, you are better off with Hosted VoIP from a provider such as http://www.megapath.com/ (formerly speakeasy.net)  This provides you with an Automated Attendant and as many extensions as you need along with all of the usual VoIP features such as follow-me, simultaneous ring, voice mail to email wav file, conference bridging and dozens of other useful features including the ability to use a Softphone (software on your computer that emulates an actual desk phone) so that you can be in the Airport or on-the-road and make and receive calls as if you were at your desk extension.  Great for Disaster situations as well when trying to work from a Starbucks.

Megapath offers cost competitive all-you-can-eat Domestic and International plans and per minute options for International in every flavor.  Depending on your location, and when available, it is always best to bring in dedicated service from the VoIP provider to maintain end-to-end Quality of Service (QOS).  This means that your voice traffic (SIP) rides a priority path from your office directly to the Carrier (SIP/VoIP Providers) Telephone Switch giving you the highest possible call quality.

Expect to pay about $30 per seat/phone regardless of the provider.

You can certainly BYOA (Bring your own [Internet] Access) provided it is a high speed carrier such as Verizon FiOS.  Most cable companies gate the upload at 2mb or 5mb, some at 15mb or 30mb.  And some cable companies are hostile to 3rd party VoIP carriers.

CODEC's, the encoding software that converts your analog voice to a digital signal use anywhere from around 56k to 100k per channel (a.k.a. SIP trunk or active call), so even the slowest xDSL line can usually provide decent call quality provided that Voice has priority over other traffic leaving or arriving to your LAN.

However, without a properly configured Router and/or a dedicated network switch in your office for the SIP/VoIP phones, QOS really suffers. With BYOA, it is critical that you segregate Voice and Data, (phones and computers), using either VLAN's (Virtual LANS - somewhat complicated) or Physical LANS (two separate network switches - easy) and then in your Router, put the Data switch on one port and the VoIP switch on the second port and assign the appropriate priority based on Port level access so that VoIP has the highest priority LEAVING your network.

When the carrier provides their own Router, it is usually configured to segregate the Voice and Data traffic by creating VLAN's and using multiple DHCP pools to help keep the traffic apart.

I would steer clear of any provider that does NOT explicitly provide a Router to handle your SIP/VoIP or just suggests that any consumer grade Router will "do the job."  They won't.

To do this correctly, you need a small business or business class Router in the $150 to $250 category.  These explicitly have VoIP/SIP configuration screens to optimize voice traffic.

If you proceed and shop "lowest price" and try to use a $75 Linksys, you will extremely disappointed in the quality.

NOTE:  There are a number of well know quality VoIP/SIP carriers out there.  Do you homework and ask for references.  Make sure they have 24/7/365 support that is "English as a First Language" staff.  Make sure they have a "Love it or Leave it" Trial Period and/or "out clause" for quality issues.

Hope this helps,

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