General questions regarding IP Phone Systems and Networking

I've been tasked with the possibility of upgrading our offices phone system.
Our current phone system runs off CAT3. Newer systems CAT5 or better. Our network is pretty old. I don't have CAT5 everywhere there is a phone and not even everywhere there's a computer. Those users end up on wifi. Anyway, from what I gather we can use a passthrough on the phones to connect the phone then the computer back to the network. We've got about 55 users and about the same amount of phones in our main office. Our plan was to also roll out VPN phones to multiple locations as we have jobsite trailers all over several states.

Is it advisable to use the passthrough on these phones? Or is having a dedicated line going to be significantly better? We also have a few places in the building where I've had to add a few small switched and I'm concerned we'll get some call degradation because of this.

Like I said, our network is a bit older and a lot of it has been band-aid fixes by adding some wifi AP's and daisy-chaining a few small switches in some areas for additional personnel over the years.

Personally I'd love to have our building rewired but I'm not totally sure it's necessary, however I don't want to cause more problems or increase load on a network that's barely adequate as it is.

If you need more info from my I'd happily provide it. I'd like some advice from anyone else who's done similar upgrades or implemented phone systems on current networks.


Thanks
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JoshSystems AdministratorAsked:
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TjnoNetwork AdministratorCommented:
You can use IP Telephony system. We have 100 users, based on Analog system before, but now we are using 1 Granstream UCM 6202 and 100 IP phone Granstream 1610. It is easy to setup and works functionally. You can even save more cost with softphone (3CX, X-Lite,...) installed in PCs but it will require headsets.
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masnrockCommented:
You have some options. In my opinion, what would make the most sense for you would be a hybrid solution. That way, you could ease your way into the future. Check with a manufacturer like Mitel or Avaya. You should be able to have a system that would let you utilize some type of legacy phones that require CAT3 wiring, while being able to use SIP trunks, as well as SIP phones. This would at least let you not have to fight the fight of rewiring or worrying about the quality of calls over wireless.

Personally I'd love to have our building rewired but I'm not totally sure it's necessary, however I don't want to cause more problems or increase load on a network that's barely adequate as it is.
In the long run, you're probably going to need this. However, you need to be sure your network hardware is able to handle the load. Check what type of switches and so on that you have.
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Bryant SchaperCommented:
We run cisco inhouse.  Not sure what vendors you are looking at.  But voice traffic is pretty minimal, and we use passthrough on the phones as well.  That said, yoru network being old, maybe it is time to look at some new switches as well.  While not required, you probably would prefer to use POE for the phones as well.  End users like to unplug things, including phone AC adapters.

If it is a one to one relation user to phone, the softphone would work as well, and you can eliminate the expense of handsets and maybe roll that into cabling/switches.  Again, Cisco Call Manager, but we use the jabber client as our softphone and not a problem.  We still deploy a ton of handsets, but jabber is great for remote users and has a client for iphone/android as well.

My take aways:

not concerned about wifi, depending on how many users are on it.
Passthorugh is fine
Prefer POE
Upgrade switches and some cabling if possible
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lrmooreCommented:
Can you use the passthrough on the phones? Absolutely. The phones are just little computers with 2-port switch in the back.
If you are going to move to VoIP, you will also want to consider things like Power over Ethernet. If your current switches don't support that, you can look at power injectors or power bricks for each phone.
You also want your switches to be managed so that you can VLAN off the phones, mainly for Quality of Service and security of the voice network.
Might be a good time to justify cabling and switch upgrades as stated above.
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JoshSystems AdministratorAuthor Commented:
I think for our particular application a hybrid solution offers us the best of both worlds while keeping costs down as well.
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