HFX Forum

Telecommunications => Internet Com Technologies => Topic started by: benthehutt on March 20, 2005, 09:50:26 PM

Title: Voice Over IP
Post by: benthehutt on March 20, 2005, 09:50:26 PM
At my church we're looking to update our answering machine/telephone system and we're looking into a linksys phone adapter for VOIP.  Does anyone have any experience with VOIP?  Is it cool, is Linksys the way to go? ???
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: Tazinator on March 20, 2005, 10:14:45 PM
Well, theres a few things about VoIP.

1st, why are they looking to change? Cost savings?

With VoIP you need a carrier (AT&T, Vonage, Global Crossing, etc) and a broadband connection if you want it to work well.

Downsides are:

If you have a sketchy broadband connection, you wont be able to send/recieve calls if it goes down. Most carriers have an answering service that will kick in, but its still annoying. Plus, power-outages will kill your phone system unlike analog lines that may still work in power outages.

911 is a problem. Some 911 call centers refuse inbound VoIP because they cant accurately trace where the call is being placed from. While this is sometimes avoided by the carrier taking some steps, it still again is a pain and a hassle. Some centers impliment whats known as "E911" which is supposed to allow carriers to send IP address info for the call but the carriers have been given till October 2005 to impliment so some still havent as well as the new system is still not trustworthy.

Hidden charges are also sometimes a concern. Sometimes the carrier will charge additional fees if you have to connect to a network over landlines if VoIP isnt availible. Say some overseas countries, backwoods towns and cities, etc, oh and most Cell carriers :P.

Non-standardized technology is another. Since there is quite a few equipment providers for VoIP and each carrier has implimented it in their own way, you sometimes have hassles between carriers if you decided to switch.

Fax and other non-voice services dont work on it. If you have a fax machine, you will still need an analog line to send/recieve faxes.

Voice quality is also lower with some carriers and equipment. Some carriers have options in plans that the default gives you less quality then an analog or digital line system. The higher quality sometimes costs more and requires more expensive equipment as well as eats up more bandwith. Also, you can experience quality issues with excess traffic on the connection, etc.

Not a lot of government regulation with the carriers. Since its new, uncle sam hasnt been able to put rules for the carriers into effect that protect the consumer from charges, privacy of data, quality of service, etc. Youre pretty much on your own with the exception of a few regulations some states have in place.

Im not a big supporter of VoIP as an all out replacement to analog and digital systems at the moment. There is some catching up it has to do as its still a relatively new and unknown technology in many respects.

My advice would be to consider all the ups and downs and see where you stand. As far as equipment, ive used primarily Cisco, but I believe the carrier you choose will tell you what equipment is compatible with their system. Safer to pick the carrier first and go from there.
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: Metgod on March 21, 2005, 10:31:10 AM
What do you have in place now ?

Maybe a centrex or pbx would be decent for you ?

I'm kind of with Taz on the view of VoIP. I don't like it too much because it's so under developed compared to other methods.

Just a few thoughts anyway.
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: benthehutt on March 21, 2005, 02:49:07 PM
Right now we've got just a crappy digital answering machine (it's a small church).  What sucks is that the church is expanding and we want to be able to have options for: schedule, pastor's office, secretaries office, youth office, et cetera.

As far as the voice degredation, I'm not too concerned that church ladies will notice or care.

Anyway, if not VOIP, what are some other options for a small network?  We don't need anything real big, Centrex and PBX say they're made for bigger networks than ours (correct me if I'm wrong, I really don't know anything about this kind of stuff).

(A side note: Linksys is a division of Cisco, so their stuff's pretty solid.) ::)
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: Tazinator on March 21, 2005, 05:31:43 PM
You can find a small office PBX on ebay or something that could be useful for a few hundred. VoIP with multi-lines can get expensive, plus again, no fax. Some phone carriers have specials for small office setups too where they provide the equipment. Esentially thats what you kinda need is a small office setup.

Linksys is Cisco, true, but Cisco hasnt gotten their hands in the products too much yet. ;) they just kinda slapped the logo on stuff so there is still some differences. :D
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: benthehutt on March 23, 2005, 12:16:41 PM
I'm not sure the church is willing to shell out a couple hundred on a small PBX(there are only 200-300 members and three offices).

How do you feel about software like FaxTalk?(http://www.faxtalk.com/products/ftmp70/index.htm)

It may not be as good as PBX or Centrex, but I'm not sure the secretary is going to know the difference.  But, if you think PBX is still the shizznap, speak it.
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: Metgod on March 23, 2005, 09:22:13 PM
Haven't looked at the site, but I would like to add that I think you should go with whatever works.

If the software seems to be fitting (I wouldn't know and I think you'd have a better idea anyhow), and it's worth the money to the church, then why not ?

I think as long as something works then the other priorities should be thought of too, and money is unfortunately a big one.
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: Tazinator on March 27, 2005, 04:12:05 AM
Looks like you still need an analog line for that software to work so Im not sure your gonna save any there since youd need a PC to run it and a cheapo fax machine runs sub $100 these days.

You can pick up a Nortstar system which is an older PBX but functional for what looks to be $400.



Better still, an Avaya system with 3 phones for around $75
and the Voicemail card for $25

Have you also looked at the local cable company in the area? Most cable providers now offer phone service in addition to cable modems and such and have small biz plans for more then 1 line.

I would list out what your church needs in phone requirements and then list out all the options for all the solutions and see what you come on top with dollar wise and options.

Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: benthehutt on March 28, 2005, 03:40:42 PM
Thx Taz and Metgod, you guys know everything!...at least everything I've asked about...which is a freaking lot...cause I suck at things...in general... :'(
Title: Re:Voice Over IP
Post by: benthehutt on April 12, 2005, 08:22:30 PM
Well, look like the search is over.  One of the guys here went out and bought an answering machine program without consulting anyone to install on the sec's computer.  I guess we'll have to make it work. (*swoon*) :-[