New Configuration Assistance Needed

First, let me say I’m sorry for sounding completely lost, but I’ve looked everywhere and can’t honestly find a straight answer. I’m still relatively new to the Asterisk scene, but have more or less gotten the code-end of things pretty well down. My only headache right now is to determine what hardware to go with on a particular system I am being asked to configure, and that’s where you guys come in (I hope).

Currently the setup that my company is working with has 6 analog lines coming in from the local phone company, and they have approximately 15 analog phones. The current setup is giving the recently acquiring owners massive headaches, and they’re wanting to move into a setup that’s a lot more accomodating for shuffling of employees (currently extensions don’t travel with users).

More or less, here are my questions:

  • If I were to keep all 6 analog lines, what hardware would be required to get the same basic setup going? They don’t mind switching over to IP phones, but if it would be more cost effective to stick with the analog, they may do as such.

  • Would it be advisable to switch over to T1/E1, and if so, what type of hardware configuration would be suitable? Keep in mind we’re not planning on expanding to more than 25 stations at this particular office.

I do appreciate any and all help you can provide. Sorry if I didn’t provide enough info, as I said at the beginning I’m still relatively new at this.

First, if you are in the US and less than 10 incoming lines are adequate for your needs then the T1 will be way more expensive. I believe the break point is between 13 and 18 lines (a T1 has 23).

You would need to either get 2 4 port (FXO) cards for your server or a much better solution would be to get a channel bank (i.e. Rhino) and a single port T1 card for the server. I have read many times that it is highly recomended that you only have one card per server.

If you want extensions to travel with users you pretty much need IP phones. To do that via analog you would have to set up a patch panel and swap patch cords to move extensions around. The IP phones range from about $100-$400 but lots of very good options in the $100-$180 range. I personally use the Polycom 501’s and love them (about $180 per phone). To run analog phones you would either need to get ATA’s or a FXS channel bank. Each port would end up costing between $60 and $100. IMHO, if you can run ethernet or already have it near your phones I would rather get a $120 IP phone than spend $60-$80 for an analog port.