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Best solution for a phone system? Multi-line business

Jabbit 11,212 1,395 September 23, 2016 at 10:41 AM
I'm the tech person for a non-profit. I think we have 3 lines and a fax line? Phone system is extremely outdated. Looking to upgrade. We have phone line run into a few office from a central closet. Also have ethernet cable run into the same offices. My preference is to use the ethernet cable because we are picking up interference and I believe it is coming from the telephone wires. Is there a Voip system I can buy and setup myself? I don't know much about phone systems at all unfortunately. Absolutely must be able to port-in our current number, believe it is with Verizon. Thanks in advance!

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1

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#2
What is your budget and how many extensions do you need?

Do you want it to ring off premise (if they take a phone home, to have the ability to forward calls to that phone?)

How techy are you?
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#3
Quote from Jabbit View Post :
I'm the tech person for a non-profit. I think we have 3 lines and a fax line? Phone system is extremely outdated. Looking to upgrade. We have phone line run into a few office from a central closet. Also have ethernet cable run into the same offices. My preference is to use the ethernet cable because we are picking up interference and I believe it is coming from the telephone wires. Is there a Voip system I can buy and setup myself? I don't know much about phone systems at all unfortunately. Absolutely must be able to port-in our current number, believe it is with Verizon. Thanks in advance!
VOIP is the best option. But there are many different paths that can take.


What do you mean by interference? I doubt it's coming from the phone lines, but they could be acting like antennas picking it up. Loose connections can cause lots of crackling and popping noises on POTS.


You can do all sorts of things, ivr prompts for callers, voicemail, call recording, CRM/donor tracking software integration, shared phone books, and so on.


What it will come down to is balancing your budget with your needs and things that would be nice to have.


VOIP phones can work independently of other hardware but you have less functionality if you go that route and much harder setup. To get the most complete setup, you need a voip server. This can be your own voip hardware, any server and open source software like asterisk, or possibly a hosted solution minimal on site hardware.


ebay is the cheapest place to pick up voip phones. The cheapest ones are lots of used phones sold as "make offer". Offers below the asking price are often accepted. More than you need, but as an example: http://www.ebay.com/itm/LOT-OF-27...2146849698
You can get stuff that's basically new for good prices if you shop around.


As to whether this is in your wheelhouse, that depends on your background and willingness to learn. Outsourcing some of the setup may not be as expensive as you think either.


Keeping your phone number is easy enough, but if you can avoid switching between a bunch of different providers that would be helpful.
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Last edited by jkee September 23, 2016 at 03:52 PM.
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#4
Usually your business internet provider has a VOIP option for a reasonable amount for a small business.

I've purchased many VOIP systems in the past and they are expensive if you go with a true full-blown VOIP setup. The smaller offices almost always go with a VOIP business package from their provider for a fairly reasonable price. I'd at least ask them what they offer.

Hopefully that helps a bit.
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#5
Quote from TeeDub View Post :
What is your budget and how many extensions do you need?

Do you want it to ring off premise (if they take a phone home, to have the ability to forward calls to that phone?)

How techy are you?
Not sure about the budget. Would like it to be as affordable as possible but I don't mind spending more money for a good product. I don't need the forwarding feature. I don't think we have any extensions right now, I believe the Secretary does all the screening/forwarding. Need 3+ lines. I'm extremely comfortable with technology.

Quote from jkee View Post :
VOIP is the best option. But there are many different paths that can take.


What do you mean by interference? I doubt it's coming from the phone lines, but they could be acting like antennas picking it up. Loose connections can cause lots of crackling and popping noises on POTS.


You can do all sorts of things, ivr prompts for callers, voicemail, call recording, CRM/donor tracking software integration, shared phone books, and so on.


What it will come down to is balancing your budget with your needs and things that would be nice to have.


VOIP phones can work independently of other hardware but you have less functionality if you go that route and much harder setup. To get the most complete setup, you need a voip server. This can be your own voip hardware, any server and open source software like asterisk, or possibly a hosted solution minimal on site hardware.


ebay is the cheapest place to pick up voip phones. The cheapest ones are lots of used phones sold as "make offer". Offers below the asking price are often accepted. More than you need, but as an example: http://www.ebay.com/itm/LOT-OF-27...2146849698
You can get stuff that's basically new for good prices if you shop around.


As to whether this is in your wheelhouse, that depends on your background and willingness to learn. Outsourcing some of the setup may not be as expensive as you think either.


Keeping your phone number is easy enough, but if you can avoid switching between a bunch of different providers that would be helpful.
Thanks. The interference is coming from the pots lines. Local radio station being picked up. I contacted the FCC, etc but they aren't in violation of anything.

Quote from eekthecat View Post :
Usually your business internet provider has a VOIP option for a reasonable amount for a small business.

I've purchased many VOIP systems in the past and they are expensive if you go with a true full-blown VOIP setup. The smaller offices almost always go with a VOIP business package from their provider for a fairly reasonable price. I'd at least ask them what they offer.

Hopefully that helps a bit.
Yeah we might have to do that. I saw that Ooma has a business option, wondering if that would work. 30 day return period would give me a chance to try I suppose.
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Last edited by Jabbit September 24, 2016 at 06:52 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
#6
Quote from Jabbit View Post :
Not sure about the budget. Would like it to be as affordable as possible but I don't mind spending more money for a good product. I don't need the forwarding feature. I don't think we have any extensions right now, I believe the Secretary does all the screening/forwarding. Need 3+ lines. I'm extremely comfortable with technology.

Thanks. The interference is coming from the pots lines. Local radio station being picked up. I contacted the FCC, etc but they aren't in violation of anything.


Yeah we might have to do that. I saw that Ooma has a business option, wondering if that would work. 30 day return period would give me a chance to try I suppose.
In the context of a business phone system the number of phone lines is often a bit more complicated (even non-voip). Presumably your current system works a little differently than just 3 basic ptsn phone lines (eg if the main number is in use you still get calls, if all "3" lines are in use other phones may still be able to dial out, etc)


How many total phones do you have (eg. "extensions")?
How many employees?



With many voip options you pay for DIDs and channels and in some cases pay by the minute (at low rates around $0.01/min). Sometimes inbound calls are free but outbound calls have a low rate. Ultimately you should probably start by figuring out as much as you can about the current phone system, how it works, and what you're actually paying for.


I'd imagine the interference is happening in your building the wires just happen to be the right length.
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#7
Give this a read for a bit of a primer: http://www.pcworld.com/article/26...iness.html
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#8
There are three things that you can have... Price, ease of use, and reliability. You can have two of these but never all three....

If price is your sticking point, look at something like this: http://www.asterisk.org/

Realistically, what you probably want is a hosted PBX type solution. That seems to be the new trend.
Just an option... http://isgtech.com/data-centers/85/hosted-voice
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#9
Quote from TeeDub View Post :
There are three things that you can have... Price, ease of use, and reliability. You can have two of these but never all three....
Sure you can.
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