You can also hold off on the SIP trunks and get an 8 port analog interface card for Asterisk/FreePBX – sounds similar to what you have now – then maybe just install a few new SIP phones (they will make intra-office calls sound much better, assuming you have decent Ethernet network/switches internally.)
The advantage in this case is easier migration – and down-migration – if you need it. Setup a new SIP phone on each desk next to your existing phone, move a couple of analog lines over from existing system to new system (not main line number, yet), and let users try it out for outbound calls. Do it after hours. Worst case, you swing the telco lines back to existing system, while you work out any issues on new system.
Not really a salesman and, unlike others, they have a vested interest in the outcome of their recommendations. But, I would hate to get bit again because of someones recommendation. You know what I mean?
Yep - Thanks, I think it can be done, too. Your idea adds a layer to help transition over to a new system. We can check it out for ourselves with time on our side.
If our current system was down, I would not hesitate to call in a professional. We can’t wait around for me to figure this out. But, if we have a current system still working (mostly), I don’t see the harm in me gaining more knowledge on my own time - with the help from here. Maybe I am looking to add this as a career, so this may not be a one (or two) and done.
Something I didn’t see pointed out by anyone above - your old system seemed to present the lines themselves to the end users - by default a VOIP system doesn’t do this. You can mimic this behavior to a point, but likely not exactly.
Also - I’m curious why you are doing this at home? Is this for your business? Have they tasked you with finding a better solution? If so, why not work on this at working, during working hours (as time permits) with company resources? Doing so won’t interfere with your current phone system at all. As mentioned above, you can have multiple phones on a person(s) desk, some on each system (old and new).
The OP has POTS, so internet doesn’t affect their phone calls. Also, the OP has a local PBX, so internal calls aren’t affected either.
As to @penguinpbx comment about no inter-office calls during an internet blink - how critical are those calls versus the PBX being up and online and available to the SIP trunks? A hosted FreePBX (any PBX really) that’s in a DC with good internet connections, backup lines, etc have a much higher availability than most servers inside a business. If the local ISP goes down, they could use any number of ways to re-attach to the PBX (cellular, go to local starbucks, etc), if the PBX is local, if the ISP is down, the PBX is down from the outside POV.
Initially, I thought we needed to purchase an individual channel for each concurrent call. So, I was thinking about how a user could determine if a phone line was available to call out if the channel availability is not indicated on the extension. Do they pick up the receiver and get a recording that all available channels are in use? Now, we just look at the extension and can see what lines are in use at a glance. And, more importantly, we now have three POTS lines with rollover kind of designated for incoming customer calls. If we have vendors calling in on one or two other lines, that leaves three available for the customers. What would happen with channels, if all channels were in use by vendors at one time? That would seem to leave none for a potential customer and, at present, they would receive a busy signal. I imagine we could use inbound rules with DID to control this. No?
As pointed out early in this thread and if I understand correctly, if we obtain SIP Trunk service and pay by the minute, we would have unlimited number of concurrent calls (as a service) and simply run out of available users to answer the phone. I imagine we can then use call queues and/or voicemail to handle callers beyond our capacity. I don’t know we would need more than 8 concurrent call capabilities, but why not? We don’t have that capability now, so it would just be gravy on top of what we have (and know about) now.
I’m doing this at home in order to learn at my own pace. Our current system is working, but extensions are failing and replacements are becoming harder to find. The main system board in the PBX has become unresponsive twice and those boards are also hard to find and becoming very expensive when found. I have VoIP service at home and actually really enjoy learning about different ways to handle calls that could leave a customer with a better experience. And, if we can throw in some of our own advertising while someone is on hold, we gain without further expense. Ad space on the radio isn’t cheap.
For the record, the current PBX/system was working just fine when the installing company walked out. It was the lack of support from these consultants afterwards that kind of placed us in bad position. They told us how to use the system as we asked them when new, but when you have to scramble to get the phones going, that sucks! If I have the time and can learn about a system, when something does go down, I have much less chance of experiencing the lack of support we have in the past. At some point, I can introduce a side-by-side comparison at work.
I think I prefer to have the PBX onsite. Maybe it’s because that is what we have now. Yes, I have not put a pencil on the costs either way. I do know I can have a few spare parts at the ready for common replacements. Many times, hardware failures can be diagnosed quickly. I may not have mentioned it earlier, but we do have two internet feeds. One is wider than the other, but we wouldn’t be at a complete loss if one went down. As far as my time and maintenance, I can start a process and move on to other things while that process completes. Not completely free, but I’m not just waiting for it to finish. I also want to believe that if the cost of electricity to run a server is draining the budget so much, there are probably other issues that need addressed first. That’s just an opinion. I realize it all adds up, but I feel there are benefits to having the server local.
Just be aware, rules changes in the US last month. You would be installing a new PBX system so it would have to be installed with compliance to the new rules/laws. You are making yourself the Installer/Admin of the PBX and that makes you 100% responsible. So if the PBX isn’t installed/configured correctly YOU are on the hook.
Thanks - I can investigate. I don’t know if it matters, but if I installed it, this would happen as an employee, not as a contractor (after hours, etc). If it doesn’t matter, there may be many EULA agreements that admins have accepted in the past, too. Also, if it doesn’t matter - having someone else install it while someone here is admin might not make a difference. An installer can leave it setup correctly and an admin will make changes afterwards. Maybe we’ll have Captain Tuttle perform the installer/admin
It doesn’t matter. It specifically covers who installs it and who maintains it. If you are the Installer then it must be installed correctly. If you are the Admin it must stay configured in compliance.
There is no more more shared channels to worry about. You can have a single SIP trunk with all of your phone number (DIDs) on that one trunk. As you figured out - you can get basically an unlimited number of calls on that single trunk, many carriers will place a limit in place to help with fraud, but you can have them lift if you if need.
You’re right in thinking that the number of incoming calls could grow beyond the personal you have to answer the phones, and right again that the use of Queues and Voice Mail are how most people handle those overflowing calls. One thing you likely don’t know today is how many busies your handing out. Once you open the incoming calls, you might find that you’ve been handing out a lot more than you realized (that happened to my company - we went from 15 POTS lines to a PRI and suddenly we had way more calls than we could handle - the use of queues and VM became a requirement), but something we gained was there was never a time when someone in the office picked up the phone to find no open lines to make a call on, so that was a good plus for us.
You definitely need to make those answering the phones aware that you could be opening the flood gates, you just never know (unless you can get a report from your current carrier on the number of busies you hand out).
I don’t understand how this makes this your problem to work on at home unpaid? I do appreciate that you like learning this stuff, but this is still seemingly being driven by a company need. If you were less motivated, you would be spending work time calling vendors to pitch you phone systems, but instead you’re taking on this responsibility yourself - but should definitely be able to do so on company time/dime.
Sounds like you just found bad consultants. Just because you pay them to offer training to you, doesn’t mean you should just cut them off after the job is complete. There are options: such as keeping them on retainer for issues you can’t solve, don’t have time to solve, etc. Or just have them on call at a normal hourly rate (not really much different than retainer). Sure they might not get a lot of billing out of you, but you don’t want to sever the relationship, just use it when you need. Of course, unfortunately, short of references from others who use said vendor/contractor, you don’t know how well they will respond after the initial install is complete, but your situation sounds like you just got a bad consultant, or you set their expectations to be - when I call, I expect assistance with no additional pay to you (but I really doubt that was the case).