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Low Cost IP Phone Systems
Low Cost IP Phone Systems
Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.

 

Office phone systems are a critical part of your business. The technology has been evolving, and there are some exciting new products coming out.

 

Phone systems started out with key systems, which are still used in small offices. A key system has telephones with multiple buttons ("keys") and lights that indicate which lines are in use. When you want to place a call, you just press a button to directly select the telephone company's central office phone line. Prices start at about $60 per phone.

A PBX connects telephone company trunk lines with individual user lines and equipment inside your organization. A PBX is essentially your own, smaller version of the phone company's central switching office. It is a computer running specialized hardware. A PBX allows you to have fewer outside lines than extensions. You dial 9 to get the next available outside line. Call management is much more flexible, and there are more features available, including auto-attendant. Prices start at about $2000, plus about $150 per phone, and are more typically about $6-8000 for a small office. Newer hybrid PBX systems integrate IP functions with traditional phone sets.

 

IP phone systems translate the sound of your voice to and from a digital signal. They can then treat the call as one more type of data on your computer network. This allows for even more flexibility and some new features, including sending calls over existing data or vpn lines between branch offices, portable phone numbers, and integrating voice mail with email. You can bypass your phone, using a “soft phone”, with a headset plugged into your computer. It is also easier to integrate computer software with IP phone systems, such as customer service applications. Until recently prices started at about $30,000, making them appropriate for offices with 50 or more users. IP phones start at about $200 each. The phone plugs into a network port rather than a phone line.

 

For the first time the advanced features and flexibility of an IP phone system is becoming affordable for small business. Several companies are now offering small office IP phone systems, starting at under $3000.

Linksys, a division of Cisco, has the SPA 9000 which can support up to 16 phones. www.linksys.com

Microsoft has released ResponsePoint, with hardware from Dlink, Quanta, and Aastra. It supports up to 4 lines and 16 phones.  www.microsoft.com/responsepoint

 

Consider the new options available when purchasing your next phone system, and get advice from a phone vendor who keeps up with newer technology.


Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networking for the past 30 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, web and custom software development. www.toriangroup.com

     
 

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