Newbie needs help with... everything


#1

I know very little about VoIP technology, and need some guidance.

I currently run an Avaya Partner phone system with 3 external lines and about 40 extensions and a paging system.

This old system is becoming a pain to manage. It’s hard to add new features and we’re pretty much maxed out for extensions. Not to mention that traditional phone service is expensive.

An IP based solution seems to be ideal, but I don’t know where to start exactly. I would really like to be able to plug an IP based phone into the network whereever I want, so that I can simply manage one wiring nightmare. I would love to see the cost savings of voip long distance.

  1. I require the ability to have at least 3 simultaneous telephone conversations going on with the outside world. I would like to try to take advantage of a VoIP service, but am not sure where I would get this service. Vonage? A local company? I would also like the ability to rollover to an analog telephone line if the internet connection is down.

  2. I require at least 40 extensions, with a max of probably 50 over the next two years. The maximum number of simultaneous conversations taking place between extensions would be about 3 (currently no more than 2). I have seen bridges that allow an IP phone to be used on the same line as a computer, which would be ideal as I wouldn’t want to make a drop for every phone.

  3. Our internal network is (mostly) unmanged gigabit ethernet. Approximately 35 workstations. Low to medium traffic. QoS issues on the LAN?

  4. We currently have 512Kbps SDSL. I would consider adding a dedicated SDSL line just for voip. I see many recommendations for a T1 - would that really be necessary for my requirements above?

  5. I have an old PII 450 x2 linux server with 1GB ram laying around that could be used, if it’s capable.

  6. Somehow I’d like to integrate with the analog paging system…which really just takes an analog audio input and blasts it through the paging speakers.

Blah, I would love to hear any comments about where I should start based on what I need and what I’ve got. I’ve barely got a handle on some of the terminology here, so be gentle.


#2

Sorry to hear about the Avaya system. I’m sure you paying a lot of money for it.

I’m personally amazed with having 40 extensions but yet only 3 external lines. This seems like you’d run into busy signals all the time however you know your usage.

You ask so many questions, responding at all is a daunting task. I suppose the best recommendation at this point is to read, read and read. Everything you ask below can be done with Asterisk and patience. I’d avoid using that old box you have as a production system but it would be fine as a test environment - and if you go the Asterisk route you’ll want a test environment.

Here are some web sites to use for researching:

voip-info.org/ (anything you want to know about VOIP)
asteriskathome.sourceforge.net/ (prebuilt-Asterisk)
mundy.org/blog/index.php?p=93 (step-by-step for building one)
asteriskguru.com/ (another good reference site)

Most of your initial questions can be answered on the first site. Come back and post the next ones.

[quote=“blarson”]I know very little about VoIP technology, and need some guidance.

I currently run an Avaya Partner phone system with 3 external lines and about 40 extensions and a paging system.

This old system is becoming a pain to manage. It’s hard to add new features and we’re pretty much maxed out for extensions. Not to mention that traditional phone service is expensive.

An IP based solution seems to be ideal, but I don’t know where to start exactly. I would really like to be able to plug an IP based phone into the network whereever I want, so that I can simply manage one wiring nightmare. I would love to see the cost savings of voip long distance.

  1. I require the ability to have at least 3 simultaneous telephone conversations going on with the outside world. I would like to try to take advantage of a VoIP service, but am not sure where I would get this service. Vonage? A local company? I would also like the ability to rollover to an analog telephone line if the internet connection is down.

  2. I require at least 40 extensions, with a max of probably 50 over the next two years. The maximum number of simultaneous conversations taking place between extensions would be about 3 (currently no more than 2). I have seen bridges that allow an IP phone to be used on the same line as a computer, which would be ideal as I wouldn’t want to make a drop for every phone.

  3. Our internal network is (mostly) unmanged gigabit ethernet. Approximately 35 workstations. Low to medium traffic. QoS issues on the LAN?

  4. We currently have 512Kbps SDSL. I would consider adding a dedicated SDSL line just for voip. I see many recommendations for a T1 - would that really be necessary for my requirements above?

  5. I have an old PII 450 x2 linux server with 1GB ram laying around that could be used, if it’s capable.

  6. Somehow I’d like to integrate with the analog paging system…which really just takes an analog audio input and blasts it through the paging speakers.

Blah, I would love to hear any comments about where I should start based on what I need and what I’ve got. I’ve barely got a handle on some of the terminology here, so be gentle.[/quote]


#3

Thank you very much for your reply.

We are a manufacturer and therefore don’t have very heavy external phone traffic. The 40 extensions are used mostly for interoffice communication and paging. A few years back we were talking about bringing in a few more lines to the outside, but suddenly everybody had cell phones and employee personal calls dropped to a minimum. It’s not too common for all three lines to be tied up - maybe a couple times per day. If we decided on internal voicemail (which we’d like to do), then we’d probably want more lines.

Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out and come back with questions.


#4

Grab this free book an astersik in pdf format.

This is a great newbiw guide, I am not finished myself, so I can not vouch completly, but I have read some 100 out of about 400 pages, and this looks great.

Also Amazon has a few good books on Asterisk as well as VoIP and plain network managment. Guess the whole Voip is a technology are build “on top” on lots of other knowlegde, so you need a broad knowhow to be able to get the most out of it.

If you run into more you could always PM me, I am in the mioddle of learning and setting up a PBX with somewhere between 8-18 extensions, and a variety of incoming numbers from different countries. Our approach is not pretty, we have just digged right into it, started to fiddle with the application, and as you might expect from a stupid approach like that thing is not running yet:-)
But we are not setting up a critical buisness system, so we can aford to be sloppy. Just a learn as you go mindset, and lots of posting here and on chatrooms. I am sure we will have things up and running by sunday.

So if I can be of help let me know.


#5

Ok I’ve done a bit of reading and have a specific question or two:

Is an “account” with a VoIP provider analogous to getting a telephone line from the phone company? That is, if I want three external “lines” like I currently have from the phone company, do I pay for three seperate accounts with a voip provider? Or can one account handle multiple calls at once? What’s confusing me here is the use of the term “extension” by VoIP providers, which seems to be different from what I am used to.

Since I do need at least three lines to the outside world, how do I manage incoming rollover with voip, especially if I was to use multiple voip provders? I may not be using the correct term - I need one primary phone number for all three incoming lines. If the primary is busy, the second line should be tried, etc, transparently.

Finally, there’s a 99% chance that I won’t be able to keep our existing phone number because of our location. Can I use a forwarding service from the phone company on that line to redirect to my new phone number until the number change is complete (probably take a year)?


#6

[quote=“blarson”]I know very little about VoIP technology, and need some guidance.

  1. I require the ability to have at least 3 simultaneous telephone conversations going on with the outside world. I would like to try to take advantage of a VoIP service, but am not sure where I would get this service. Vonage? A local company? I would also like the ability to rollover to an analog telephone line if the internet connection is down.

  2. I require at least 40 extensions, with a max of probably 50 over the next two years. The maximum number of simultaneous conversations taking place between extensions would be about 3 (currently no more than 2). I have seen bridges that allow an IP phone to be used on the same line as a computer, which would be ideal as I wouldn’t want to make a drop for every phone.

  3. Our internal network is (mostly) unmanged gigabit ethernet. Approximately 35 workstations. Low to medium traffic. QoS issues on the LAN?

  4. We currently have 512Kbps SDSL. I would consider adding a dedicated SDSL line just for voip. I see many recommendations for a T1 - would that really be necessary for my requirements above?

  5. I have an old PII 450 x2 linux server with 1GB ram laying around that could be used, if it’s capable.

  6. Somehow I’d like to integrate with the analog paging system…which really just takes an analog audio input and blasts it through the paging speakers.

[/quote]

1: Take alook here for providers. Also look here for more FREE providers.

2: Use the bandwith calculator to see what bandwith you need. With only 3 outside lines you will not need much bandwith. Also reed up on the different codecs.
Why so many extensions and so few outside lines? You can easily handle much more then three calls at the same time with asterisk without the need of over expensive hw, or T1 lines…just so you know when first setting up this you might as well calculate for some future growth?

3: As far as I know you will have no trouble with a Giga network. After all you will not have a heavy uasage of the PBX/asterisk server anyway. How many simultaneous calls will accure? Both calls outside and internal?

4: If you will use conference call, or have many users talking at the same time this might stress your Asterisk servers cpu, cause of the real time sound processing, but a T1 seems for me like overkill.

5: I have read about people using the pII 450 with less ram and they made it work, but I think the clue here is how many simultaneous calls will there be? This will determen what kind of hw you should get. Also how critical will you phone lines be for your buisness? You mentioned a regular line as backup, and if can live without the line if the server crashes then you could set it up and give it a try, you would still have the backup line. If critical I might have gone for something with more power.

6: Have not seen excactly anything about this, but my guess is that it should not be hard, make a different massage for each name?employee and tie this to the extesion, whenever someone calls a given ext. the recorded msg will be played over your speaker. This must be doable. Will try to look into this when I have my system up.

I am Sure you will make things work, if you get stucked, share your pain and I am sure someone have been there allready.


#7

[quote]2: Use the bandwith calculator to see what bandwith you need. With only 3 outside lines you will not need much bandwith. Also reed up on the different codecs.
Why so many extensions and so few outside lines? You can easily handle much more then three calls at the same time with asterisk without the need of over expensive hw, or T1 lines…just so you know when first setting up this you might as well calculate for some future growth?

3: As far as I know you will have no trouble with a Giga network. After all you will not have a heavy uasage of the PBX/asterisk server anyway. How many simultaneous calls will accure? Both calls outside and internal?[/quote]

Thanks, but I’m not sure which audio codec would be necessary to have voice quality similar to what we currently have…which is…well, pretty standard analog voice quality. Seems like 64kbps would be overkill, but how low can I go?

The reason we have so many extensions is that we do a lot of interoffice calling. Somebody on a production floor needs to call maintenance…somebody needs to page Bob and tell him to get back to work…etc. Our current Partner phone system has two intercom lines for this purpose, and I can’t remember the last time they were both tied up at the same time. Calls of this nature are usually pretty quick.

So right now we have two intercom “lines”, three external lines, and one paging line all accessed by 40 extensions and it’s suited us for several years now. We might have up to 5 external lines in the next two years. So we’re talking at most 7 conversations taking place at once. Conference calling is usually done via speakerphone from a conference room.

This is actually a dual processor 450 and was a very nice machine in its prime. Ultra160 SCSI RAID, 1 gig ECC SDRAM. No redundancy, but my servers are on a massive UPS which helps with uptime. This server, if used, would be dedicated to this single purpose.


#8

You can go all the way down to 8kbps I think. voip-info.org/wiki/view/ITU+G.729
The codec is not free, but the price is good. I belive this is from the company that wrote asterisk.
digium.com/index.php?menu=pr … gory=codec

I have not tested this, but from what I read this will do just fine, and is a great bandwith saver.

Hmm, you are right. In its prime the pII was something. Man how times fly.
Well I would start out with this. It seems that you will have light use of the astersik server so I am sure it will work just fine.


#9

voip-info.org/wiki-Asterisk+G.729+Licensing

"This license is purchased from Digium who resell from VoiceAge. "

voiceage.com/