Getting Started with VoIP


I would like to replace the very old traditional phone system ( of my office with something more modern like VoIP. We have 6 lines (2 dedicaded for faxes and the other for the phones). We have more than 20 phones in the office. I’m ready to change the phones, the CICS/ICS phone system, the music on hold module, etc.

I guess that FreePBX will replace the CICS/ICS and all the other modules like the music on hold…? However, I started to read on VoIP yesterday, so I’m a big newbie on this. I manage the network in the office and with that I have no problem… but VoIP is entirely new for me… and for the first time of my life…I didn’t find the information I want on Google.

Is there any general tutorial on VoIP and FreePBX to help me ? What I need outside of FreePBX ? What the PBX is really doing…? Is there any way to make redundancy with FreePBX (like hosting it on two VPS located in different regions) ? Etc… Etc…

Thank you.

Go out and buy the Asterisk book from O’Reilly. This will ensure you understand how the system works. Once you do that, FreePBX should seem pretty straightforward, it’s just a PHP front end to Asterisk.

I moved 3 posts to a new topic: Troll account found while reviewing history

Reading books about Asterisk in preparation for using FreePBX is okay for general knowledge of the internal nuts and bolts, but will not be very useful for day to day operation. For FreePBX, I know of no resources beyond installation and basic initial setup which can be found here in the wiki section or on nerdvittles or probably in a dozen other places.

You really have to learn by doing. Set up a PBX, configure a trunk and add a phone. When you get stuck, Google away and if that doesn’t work post specific questions with enough information to get a useful response. Learn the lingo, know what a trunk is, a channel, a DID, etc. Know that is a huge repository of asterisk info, much of which is out of date. Use it the way wikipedia should be used; as a resource but not necessarily an authority. The same goes for blogs, videos, etc and even older information on this site or on

I search a lot on VoIP provider and I’m disappointed. Currently I pay $130 per month for 6 lines with my traditionnal phone provider for unlimited local talk including all the options I need (call ID, call fowarding, etc). The long distance fees are just $0.04 / minute …

In Canada I found no VoIP provider with a guarantee of service (like 100% or 99.99% uptime)… just 2 that transfers my phone number… and all of them charges arround $35-$50 per month for the DIDs and channels + arround $0.01 per minute. We use at least 10 000 minutes per month. So with VoIP the price would be arround $130-$150 per month… that is more expansive than before for absolutely no guarantee of service like my actual provider does.

What do you think ?

I forgot to say that we are located in Montreal Canada (in the suburbs arround Ste-Therese)…

If you know any VoIP provider that is better than what I found… maybe I’ll reconsider !

That sounds about right, unfortunately you are in that “sour spot” a small business with low usage, You can still replace your Nortel with Asterisk/FreePBX and have your POTS line land on local hardware, yet divert your LD calls to a pay-as-you-go SIP provider at one cent or less a minute. You still get the advantages of a “modern” system with easy to manage IVR’s Conferences et al. also a choice of snazzy handsets that you take home and still use.

It’s difficult for VoIP providers to provide assurances about uptime and call quality. Most are getting PSTN connections from other upstream providers; it’s tough to provide any sort of redundancy or failover for inbound calls when you’re not an ILEC. Also the VoIP provider has no control over the local internet connection, which is a big factor in call quality.
That said, I work for a hosted PBX provider, you’re welcome to PM me and I can put you in contact with our sales guy in Toronto.

Bonjour! Nova Scotia here :slight_smile:

The provider, has servers in Montreal (and nearby in Toronto and New York). Local DIDs are $2/month and toll free is $1.50/month. There are several other providers with similar pricing.

There is no reason you can’t use both analog and VOIP trunks. My office uses telco analog lines for reliable inbound and local calls and we use SIP trunks for long distance and for inbound when the copper lines are all busy. We get away with fewer POTS lines than an all analog office, and we still have a functional system in case we lose internet. I have slightly more monthly usage than you but only running 3 analog lines. It works great.

Many people are complaining about the reliability of the VoIP provider (Voip.MS included). If it was only the internet the problem… I wouldn’t mind because I never lost my internet connection in the last 2 years and I have something fast 60 in download and 10 in upload. What is freaking me is the reliability of the VoIP provider. For the same price ($130 per month for analog lines vs $150-$180 per month for VoIP) why should I take that risk… ?

By the way : thanks a lot !

Just to have new IP phones and a PBX instead of Nortel…?

You started off with

" . . . I would like to replace the very old traditional phone system ( of my office with something more modern like VoIP . . ."

I guess I miss read you, you just want to save a buck, right?, If so then as I said you have a great deal from your vendor and the VOIP’ers out there will have a hard time beating that, but there are value added aspects that might be attractive, and some of them will eventually save you money ROI wise.

You could do a Hybrid with POTS lines and VoIP for DID’s, outbound LD etc.

I have never seen an SLA on POTS lines, but I have seen providers take 24-48 hours to repair.

VoIP trunks allow for DID’s and other business friendly features.

This thread is turning into a farce, so I will conclude my involvement with this:

“Why should I buy a new car if my insurance payments will be higher?”

The phone system and the phone service are separate items. If you want copper lines; use them. If you like Nortel phones; use them. If you want strangers to do a free cost benefit analysis without knowing the first thing about your business, you will not get your money’s worth.

As I said : I just want to modernize my equipment. There are modern POTS equipment too on the market. Your conclusion doesn’t make sense. If I have a reliable car and my insurance cost less than with a less reliable car… why should I get the less reliable car ? I thought VoIP was reliable as much as POTS… but I discovered it’s not the case. Furthermore, I discovered it’s more expansive if you use a lot of minutes per month because the VoIP providers charge per minute.

Not all VoIP providers charge by the minute, see also it’s been mentioned before SIP Trunking provides more fail-over capabilities than traditional POTS lines. There is also nothing wrong with using both, the thing about VoIP is it allows you multiple trunk providers for failover and redundancy. There is no “one right way” every customer must decide what fits their situation for connectivity.

From the cabling in your photo I’d say you don’t have 6 actual POTS lines but maximum 4 lines with maybe 8 extensions and I have never heard of anyone getting 6 business POTS lines for $130 per month in Montreal. If you really are paying $20 per line then it does not make sense to switch to VoIP.

It’s not a picture of my equipment (but I have something similar). I took the picture on internet. But I checked correctly on my last bill and yes I finally have 4 lines. We pay 32$ per line including callerid and call forwarding for unlimited local call and 0.04$/min for long distance calls in the province.

If you tell me I can transfer my Canadian DID, I can have unlimited local origination/termination calls with a VoIP provider (or under 0.001 per minute) with at least 4 origination/termination channels… it is better.

But I still have the reliability issue. Is it possible to have a secondary VoIP provider as a backup in case of issues with my main VoIP provider ?

We offer unlimited unlimited local origination/termination and I would presume most other VoIP local line providers offer the same.

Long distance calls in North America, with the exception of some high cost area codes like Alaska, Hawaii and non rboc destinations, should not cost more than 2 cents/minute no matter who you go with.

VoIP is as reliable as your Internet connection so you are affected by Internet outages and power outages. Adding a second VoIP provider would not help here. However your cell phone is your best friend in this scenario as that would be your backup if the lines ever go down.

We usually install one POTS line for DSL, Alarm, fax and emergency backup in addition to the VoIP lines. That way you are never really out of service.