Nothing to pay for. FreePBX is free (like the name implies). The appliance isn’t anything “special” except that they company knows exactly how it works.
My $0.02 - and remember that free advice is worth what you pay for it…
To test out phones, look to eBay or Kijiji. You can pick up used phones for $50 or less. You may, or may not, want to put them in production, but for look, feel, and functionality this is a fine route for testing. My users are very low-tech: make calls, answer calls, voicemail, and transfer a call. I think I have one user who forwards all calls from his desk phone to his cell phone. All these functions are native to FreePBX, and can be handled by any deskset - the point being that the vendors might want to sell you flashy and functionality lists and shiny, but what you probably want to buy is reliability and simplicity. Back in the 80’s I installed a new multi-million dollar phone system for a head office - and we spent more on desksets than on the core DMS-100 switch.
The FreePBX server (computer) will be near-idle most of the time. The phones do most of the work, the server primarily pushes through data. My FreePBX server is a Virtual Machine under ESXi - real quick and easy to spin up, and also easy to move to a different server if I have a mother board fail or some similar catastrophic error. For minor issues, having server-grade hardware is fabulous: dual power supplies, RAID storage, dual NICs, dual CPUs - any of these can fail, and the hardware just takes the failed component offline and processing continues. I restart the servers every year or two - they just work.
For a dedicated piece of hardware (a physical computer) - for a ten-line system any recent computer will have tons of capacity - the processing demands are very light. Make sure you put it on a UPS - bad power is the primary enemy of electronics.
Absolutely get a POE switch - though the multi-port POE injector (in the server room) also works fine. Power bricks at the desk are a clumsy idea.
If you have Ethernet to each desk, you’re fine on wiring. Make sure your selected phone has TWO Ethernet jacks on the back. Your wiring goes POE switch to phone, and then phone to computer. My MITEL phones operate as a switch, not a hub, and I can even implement things like VLANs if I ever want to do so.
Voice communications are not data-intensive. Your office almost certainly runs on either 100mbps (Fast Ethernet) or 1000mbps (gigabit Ethernet). There is a slim chance that it runs on 10mbps - which is still 100x more than the phone needs, but at 10mbps there is a chance that the computer can temporarily swamp that particular Ethernet branch.
I’m in Canada (Ottawa). We turfed Bell 10+ years ago and used a remote VOIP service using a MITEL switch and phones, on a T1 (1.544mbps) link. We had no issues with the phones - they ran at priority and we had lots of bandwidth for that. The computers, however, could swamp the link with ease. Don’t worry about the data demand for phones.
3+ years ago I installed a 50mbps link (up&down) using radio (because the copper to our location is so bad…), installed FreePBX, and never looked back. We just continued to use the MITEL phones from the VOIP service, without issue. The dollar savings from the cloud service discontinuation paid for everything in about 3 months.
We also use voip.ms. All of our phone usage is VOIP. I have one ATA device for the fax line - happens to be an Obihai 201, but there are a wide selection of devices available on the market.
I could not agree more. If you don’t want cloud FreePBX service and don’t have a datacenter that you can create a vm, you can fire one up from the big guys: Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace and install there. I run 4 physical locations, multiple branches and over 100 DID numbers all out of our data center and all on FreePBX. In this day and age I would strongly advise against running on “bare metal”
A side note: My primary datacenter feed is Level3 and my VOIP provider rides on Level3. Very few hops, low latency, perfect call quality. I also employ queues in my routers that give SIP and RTP packets priority.
He’s not living in this day and age.
With all of these hardware dependencies, running in the Cloud is going to be way more challenging than running on bare metal.
Now, remember, I only teach Computer Science and I’ve only been working in the Industry for 50 years, so I might be a little behind the times, but the amount of work to be done by the software is going to be constant. Adding overhead (even well-meaning overhead) just because it’s trendy doesn’t always make sense. Putting this installation (or more precisely these installations) into a VM anywhere but in his location is going to make this project unnecessarily harder, add the number of places that cause problems, and eventually lose his control to his intellectual and business assets.
This isn’t the first time “Virtual Machines” have come around. I’ve been there for every one of them and I’m still of the opinion that the overhead for a single instance, or even two instances, especially with these additional on-premise requirements, is simply not warranted.
Now, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do. If you’re comfortable with some other company owning the resources your company needs to thrive, then knock yourself out.
I have to agree with you,
I like to own my equipment and data.
1stly my broadband is not as stable as my POTS lines, this is just a fact from years of experience here.
Last year we lost internet for 24 hours because someone smashed their truck in a telcom box.
2 months ago there was a system wide outage. Through all this time at least my pots lines were working and orders were coming in via phone.
This is why I will keep a few POTS. I can’t have my call quality sacrificed through external issues.
Just the other day Google announced the end to free photo storage, Didn’t phase me since I use nextcloud.
I appreciate the advice given but I will be stubborn on certain aspects of my project,
On Premises and with a few POTS.
POTS is still TOPS for FAX!
I think you should keep both your PRI and SIP trunks, too!
One option I didn’t see mentioned yet is to run your new PBX right in middle of the call path from the old PBX to the telco. (Get a 2 port T1 card to pass-thru.) This might ease your migration path. Or you could set that new PBX alongside the old PBX and just swing the T1 cable back if there is an issue in testing.