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Business phone plans

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Mark Laszczuk, 6th Dec, 2006.

  1. Mark Laszczuk

    Mark Laszczuk Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Brisbane
    Hi everyone,

    Just wondering if anyone has some tips or recommendations re: phone line plans for small business or a website I can look at (haven't looked at infochoice yet)?

    The provider we're with at the moment is hideously expensive (no prizes for guessing who it is though!) so looking into alternatives. Might give Internode a squizz.

    Mark
     
  2. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    How many lines do you need ?

    I can highly recommend Internode's NodePhone as a very high-quality service.

    If you use Internode for your ADSL link, and you have a decent router, you get full Quality-of-Service (QoS) which means that no matter how much you are using your link, you will still get pretty much perfect quality voice calls. Third party providers (eg Engin) can't offer this QoS, since they don't have the network tuned to provide this.

    I've been using NodePhone for both personal and business calls from my home office for over 16 months now - it's seamless (my wife doesn't even know it's there).

    Two-way calling (ie inbound call support to your NodePhone number) will be coming 1Q07).

    With the default NodePhone account, you can make two outgoing calls at once (assuming your hardware supports this). I have a second NodePhone account (an extra $10 per month), which I use for business calls. My ADSL/VoIP router has support for two phones, so this works a treat. It also does automatic lifeline fallback, so if your link goes down or you lose power, you can still make PSTN calls through your normal provider.
     
  3. gman

    gman New Member

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  4. Jenny

    Jenny Well-Known Member

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    great site gman, thanks I have bookmarked it

    Jenny
     
  5. TryHard

    TryHard Well-Known Member

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    17th Aug, 2005
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    Hi Mark

    I faced a similar quandary recently when we moved office.

    I eventually ended up using Internode for broadband access (thanks to Sim's and a couple of other good reviews), so evaluated NodePhone and some others, but went with a more tailored solution for phones in the end :

    PROVIDERS
    - ISP - Internode
    - ITSP (VoIP) - Engin
    - Telstra - limited to the single phone line - still stuck with telstra for the ADSL line unfortunately

    HARDWARE *
    - SPA9000 PBX (by Linksys)
    - 3 x SPA 942 business phones (Linksys)
    - 1 x SPA3000 adapter (to enable fallback to PSTN inf necessary) - Sipura - which is Linksys, or Cisco, anyway :p)
    - Linksys AG241 ADSL modem / router (supports QoS)

    * You can avoid the use of the SPA9000 and SPA942's if you don't have a requirement for PBX style functionality, but the things this system can do for a cost well below $1K are quite astounding ! With only one incoming ADSL phone line, the system allows you to allocate extensions, hunt groups, automated attendant, call diversion by time of day/day of week, etc across your network, and we're successfully carrying on at least 2 simultaneous phone conversations over (the number of concurrent users/extensions can be 1-16 and the only real limitation will be the ISP connection bandwidth).

    Don't know if this link will work, but the gear is explained on the Linksys site :

    Linksys.com - Products/Business Solutions/VOIP/Linksys Voice System/SPA9000

    My main reason for going with Engin as the ITSP is :
    - very competitive call rate (10 cents Australia wide untimed)
    - excellent quality (in my experience using standard phones with the Voicebox and now with the PBX style hardware - its indistinguishable if not better than the old analog in most cases)
    - supports incoming calls so your new number is portable (one of my main needs for the business in case we move * again * :p )

    If you wanted a slightly less complex multi-line solution I think the Engin Voice box 3 (engin - Voice Box Series 3) offering would probably suit small business type applications.

    For info, IMHO Westnet remains the best ISP service-wise I have ever experienced (I swapped out of principle when they raised their prices, which was probably a bit narrow minded ... but anyway :) ...). There's nothing wrong with Internode at all, but their help desk service / response times aren't as ridiculously quick as Westnet. Not really an issue though, as we've only had one outage since joining Internode.

    This whole set up, despite appearing reasonably complex to my non-technical nature, works seamlessly and can be set up by a complete idiot - I'm living proof !

    Cheers
    Carl
     
  6. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    Probably because users are leaving other ISPs in droves and joining Internode - I've heard they are constantly hiring new helpdesk staff to cope with the huge growth they are experiencing :D
     
  7. Mark Laszczuk

    Mark Laszczuk Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Cheers blokes! Yeah, I pretty much wanna stick with Internode (I have it at home - no VOIP yet, but then I think in the year I've been living where I am, I've made maybe ten phone calls). Just need to ensure that I can keep network compatibility or some such thing with Sydney if changing over.

    Can we use the phones we have now or would we need to buy new stuff?

    Mark
     
  8. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Co-founder Staff Member

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    Location:
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    If you go the PBX route as described by Carl, you'll probably need new phones.

    If you go NodePhone / Engin, etc, and you buy an ATA (Analogue Telephone Adaptor) such as a Linksys SPA3000 (aka Sipura SPA3000), or a VoIP compatible ADSL router, then you can keep your same phone.

    My setup at home:

    • Billion 7404VGP ADSL2+/M VoIP Router
    • Router connected to PSTN line for ADSL
    • Router connected to same PSTN line via splitter/filter for lifeline phone support
    • Cordless phone (Panasonic multi-handset) connected to router on VoIP line 1 (all calls made via NodePhone)
    • Desk phone (Telstra Access 200), connected to router on VoIP line 2 (all calls made via NodePhone)
    • Inbound calls on Telstra line call on both phones, and I can transfer between the phones if required

    I actually have two NodePhone accounts, so calls from my deskphone are charged to a separate account, but it works the same way with only one account - and you can still make two calls at once (bandwidth permitting) on the one NodePhone account.
     
  9. TryHard

    TryHard Well-Known Member

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    If its only SOHO stuff mate, any old phone handsets will do - the "ATA" bit means analog telephone 'adaptor', so you can get your old analog gear to play 'digital'. The beauty of this is ability to use decent analog wireless handsets over your VoIP line (not much good wireless VoIP handsets on the market yet).

    If you need more advanced 'business' features, the PBX/digital setup absolutely kills the analog set up, and the phones are about $250 a piece. You need the digital phones to take advantage of the features of the PBX, so then the analog phones would be little use. Add another $400-$500 for the PBX (compared to say $5K for a base PABX in the old language!). The fact its expandable to 16 lines is attractive, but god forbid I would ever have 15 other people working here ! :rolleyes:

    But a PBX is quite possibly overkill (even though its stupidly cheap) if all you want to do is make economical calls. We operated on a similar set up to the one Sim has described for quite a while, with no worries at all. Both scenarios shaved a good 50-60% off our overall telecomms bill (probably more like 75% now actually) - the current infrastructure just gives us a more 'business class' solution on a very attractive budget.

    Have fun !
    C