We use Cisco phones which work great after getting them setup. With the SIP software image, they are very powerful. We primarily use 7960/7940 models; however, these are usually overkill for the normal cube and a 7912 or 7905 would work.
The biggest trick with the Cisco phones is setting the first one up. This requires a couple steps:
- Get your hands on a copy of the SIP software. I would recommending reading this page at voip-info.org. For a business, it would probably be a good idea to get some type of official software access from Cisco. For those at home, you can scour eBay for other options (legality unknown).
- After getting a copy of the necessary files, get one or two Cisco phones for testing. The hardest part is getting the right setup of files in place on the TFTP server. Once you have it down, it’s easy to add more phones. Again, voip-info.org can be your friend. I would recommend spending some time on the site to read what’s out there.
- Make sure you understand what the phones should be doing. For example, what files it gets and when. The Cisco documentation is very helpful.
Lastly, when purchasing any IP phone, I would recommend paying careful attention to where it is going to get power from. When commercial power fails, you still need to be able to dial 911. Most phones, Cisco models included, are capable of getting power from the ethernet cable (PoE). If you get power from the switch, it’s a lot easier to impliment battery backups. A note of caution for the Cisco phones, not all of them support the 802.3af standard. My understanding is that the newer models which include a “G” in the model number support standard PoE. Just make sure to think of how users can use the phones in emergencies regardless of what phone you use.
Anyone please feel free to correct me if I’ve misspoke or ask questions.