Small company, remote workers, UK looking for setup pointers


#1

My situation is:
UK company – small office 2-5 staff, with another 10 or so based from home/ on the road. We are looking for a VOIP solution primarily because we hope it will allow us to transfer calls internally between sales team working from home.

We currently have 6 leased cost routing lines coming into our office and an 0870 number pointed to each of the home addresses, at times of load this allows us to arrange a hunter group cascade of the external numbers (we hold about 5) away from the office. The problem is if a remote worker takes a call for another employee the best he/she can do is take the number, Skype the colleague and have them call back.

Right now all of the remote guys are on broadband, varying capacity but generally a meg or two down and 256 up.

Questions:

  • Does this make sense?
  • What do we need? – Asterix + some phones – should we have cards going out onto our own lines or use a gateway – if gateway can anyone suggest one?
  • Where should we host Asterix? The main office – what sort of connection will it need (up and down)?
  • Backup – if the server goes down what happens? Can we have the lines transferred through to a couple of backup hard lines.

I’m certain I have all of the terminology off here, but am I on the right track? Is there a FAQ or tutorial I should be looking at straight up to answer these newb questions?

Many thanks for your help and support!

Rich :blush:


#2

I say, go for a bri card (or a tdm card if you are not using BRI) for the office,

Use some ADSL IAD, with PSTN lifeline for backup (in case the internet goes down, so that they can have 1 phone instead of 2) on the remote workers locations.

have a look at:

asteriskguru.com/tools/bandw … ulator.php

to see how much bandwidth you will need: (it will depend on the maximum amount of simultaneous calls). Since the iad’s will normally support g729, i’d choose that codec.

I’m not familiar with the ADSL offers in the UK, but if a 3mbit down. 384kbit upstream exists there, that should be enough to handle the voip.

(I’d take a second line for other internet applications, mail etc.)

edit: the vpn between the offices might be a good idea, indeed. but be sure to use something that is UDP (and not udp over tcp).

You could also just do part of the calls over voip, and have an overflow over pstn.)

Another option could be to let some carrier (voiptalk for example) handle the incoming numbers for you, and with some reinvite magic, you could send them directly to agents in the field, but personally i’d not go that way.)


#3

i would put asterisk in the mainoffice, VPN tunnels to the remote workers and give them IAX or SIP hardphones.

then i’d get a load of local (to the remote workers) numbers from sipgate.co.uk and then re-point the 0870 numbers to them.

sure, if the 'net connections go down the remotes are down, but VM will still be working at hq, and you could always redirect the call to the remote’s PSTN anyway.

def. buy some g729 licences though, UK ADSL doesn’t (yet) get much better than 256 up, and 4 calls is going to slaughter that. is there budget for SDSL ?

and second the additional 'net connection, unless your office browsing is happy to take a back seat to voip and you can install som QoS.


#4

Hi guys, first up thanks for taking the time to give me a head start!! Much appreciated.

Thought if you don’t mind id update you on where I am and maybe ask a couple more questions…

Where I am is: Asterisk@home on a and old 1U. Got the extensions etc going, signed up for a free incoming with Sipgate, got all of the ports pushed through my IPCOP firewall and got some of the guys to install Firefly (To me having downloaded about 6-6 of these things Firefly seams to be by far and away the best – but it doesn’t appear to be recommended that often – anyone know why?) over IAX. Things seam to be working fine….

Why use VPN I don’t really understand what that would help with apart from if a remote location were to download a pdf etc it would wind up using the (very limited) upstream of the VPN host (main office)….

Regarding phones I defiantly intend to go for hard phones and would love some recommendations….

Another something I have come across is the SIP vs IAX2 question. Using soft phones I have found IAX far more reliable, indeed to one location SIP wouldn’t work at all and it was IAX that saved the day. Should I be looking for IAX hard phones?..

I took the advice regarding Sipgate and have one of their free accounts and a London number going for testing. It appears to be working well. Moving forward I would really like some recommendations regarding a more permanent provider?.. At the moment we use vodaphone for our primary 0870 numbers for which we can then control the hunt groups through a web login and password generator keypad. The way to go appears to be to have a block of numbers with the VOIP provider onto which we overlay this hunt group. That way if the provider, our internet or the server goes down we can always transfer it back onto our mothballed analogue exchange… Does that sound about right?

Presence – I’ve tried googleing and reading around this but am not that much wiser using FOP which came with *@home I can see line statuses. Is there any way reasonably (without going for Cisco phones) that the guys are going to be able to see extension status’. For example from Firefly over IAX I cant see any status info.

QoS – what is the cheapest way to go forward with this? Our problem I guess is implementing it at the sales guys end? Does IPCOP support anything?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to interpret my garbage!!

Rich


#5

has anyone got any experiance with the Atcom 320?

Rich


#6

I have another question. Is there any way that we can support extention availability, eg visibility on whether someone is at their phone the phone etc…


#7

Can anyone recomend a good provider for outbound and inbound pots bridging?

Ive looked at sipgate, needs to be as reliable as poss… Do different providers add diff latency?

Rich


#8

Also, this board is UK based and may come in handy for you:

voipuser.org


#9

Have a look here, works in conjunction with a Jabber/XMPP server from Jive Software:

jivesoftware.org/asterisk-im/

It is in beta4, but progressing nicely.


#10

Cheers Muppet - im registered and taking a look…
Rich