School Phone Systems
I've been asked to look at phone systems so I thought I'd ask you guys how you do it. Do you have a POTS, Hybrid or a VOIP system? Do you manage it youself or is it looked after by an external company? Did you use off the shelve hardware and software or is it a dedicated box? How much does it cost? How many internal/external lines do you have?
Currently we have an LG 'GDK-186' system. We have an ISDN-30 line coming into school although we only use 8 of these lines. We have 48 extensions in school although a new building is going up, so there will be some more anolog lines going in for that. No idea about the current costs though.
We have a system provided and managed by Russell Telecom with about 6-8 external lines I think.
Phones are a mixture of either digital NEC or analogue Cable & Wireles (CWB100H). We have about 50 extensions. If we need to move a phone, add a new line or simply change the caller ID of a line (digital and analogue phones can't be moved between lines), we need to contact Russell Telecom and have them do it for us.
I'm looking at the same thing... we currently have an Avaya IP Office (based around an aging IP403) which, contrary to its name, is a digital/analogue system and not IP. We have approx. 50 extensions - 15 of which are digital.
From what I can gather, Avaya hardware is about the most expensive that you can buy and the maintenance on them is equally steep. Our current contractor ATC Communications sucks too!
The two solutions that look tempting at the moment are Trixbox (see Fonality trixbox CE, an Asterisk-based PBX Phone System (formerly Asterisk@Home) | trixbox ) and Mitel (see Mitel Networks: Mitel Unified IP Client for Sun Ray ). I'm yet to get quotes on either solution though. I need an IP-based solution because our 7 building site makes the addition and maintenance of analogue extensions nigh on impossible.
Before looking at costs, Mitel is looking good. Mitel and Sun have just partnered and there is an addon for the phones which turns them into Sun Rays!!! There's some very cool stuff that you can do once you start to think about simultaneously logging into your desktop session and your phone.
We are just expanding our (Zultys Technologies - VoIP products including IP phones, IP PBXs, Ethernet switches, gateways) system here - fully IP internally but ISDN30 when it hits the PSTN. It's... not a bad system. Been reliable. We're going to put one in for support, will be costing us circa 5 grand for 20 users including phones.
We have Cisco 7912 IP phones here, and the bigger versions with the extra consoles in reception etc.
All tied back over cisco kit and 10/100/1000 fibre to the Council IT Offices, where the LEA IT setup is based. They hold the call manager switch there. That deals with all outgoing calls.
We're lucky though - every school, public building and so on has the same system, and all are interlinked. LEA provided, reliable, free calls across the LAN etc. Very nice.
We upgraded ours a couple of months ago from an old panasonic analogue system. We decided it was something we could do in house, and after a lot of hunting around went for a system from Epygi with snom ip phones. Total cost of the phone system, and 12 handsets was under £1500. It currently runs over an ISDN 2 line, but has the capability to support voip. All of the handsets are true ip, which we needed as a lot of our buildings are connected via fiber. Although i'd never heard of the company before, their support has been good, and their product range seems to be really good. It also seems to be pretty flexible - i've manged to set my nokia n95 up as a voip extension over the wireless network with no problems.
We changed ours during the summer holidays. Panasonic hybrid digital/analogue system with 55 extensions running into 8 channels of an ISDN 30 line. Changed to pure VOIP. We spent a long time getting firms in and detailed quotes, and came to the conclusion that it was something we could do ourselves, but it would take some time to set up and there would be a steep initial learning cruve, so in the end we got a firm in to do it.
We have had some issues with the firmware and configuration of the system, but the actual switchover from one system to the other took 10 mins and the general operation has been excellent. The company we went with did an audit of our network config and equipment to make sure there would be no issues and I would highly recommend this: it could save a lot of grief later.
What I like about it is that the phones are totally within our control, completely integrated into the network, and the flexibility it gives you, especially if you are contemplating significant building work, is huge. We bought 75 IP phones and are now about to roll out 60 softphone installs for all the staff PC's in the classrooms, and this is a big plus; IP is by far the easiest way to get a phone on every teachers desk.
I would also say that we saw a lot of companies and I was very disappointed with the flexibility and approach that many took: there were a surprising number who only dealt with one manufacturer, and so your requirements had to fit their systems specs; two firms said they only used Cisco kit and they would happily put us in a system if we replaced all our switches (30+) with Cisco ones, as they were the only ones they supported.........
I used to look after the phone system as well as the IT for my previous employer, will be taking over the school phone systems in the new year.
At my previous employer, I opted for the Siemens HiPath 3000 series switches becuase the 3000 series will do analogue and VoIP so there is a lot of flexability.
The garage I worked at had two sites, three miles apart. I used two EPS9 circuits to connect the sites together, using two actelis line drivers at each end. Both systems had 'HG1500' cards which did all the magic VoIP bit on the link.
I used our structured cabling for the phones and they were patched to a panel with the extenstions on. You can used the HG1500 card to give you full VoIP if you wish, for me it was simpler just to use analogue.
I used Datasharp in Newbury for that install and I have to say that they were excellent.
We looked at loads of options, from digital systems to commercial VOIP systems, to open source systems.
In the end, we went down the route of doing it ourselves with Asterisk + Ubuntu +FreePBX. We bought hardware from European Electronique and LinITX.
We chose Digium cards, and Grandstream handsets, but find that the handsets are not that good (GXP-2000) they have a few issues, such as ease of deployment and handset echo.
For the server + a spare of every component and 40 extensions, it cost us about £6k.
We have a Mitel 3300 system running about 60 ish extensions. All IP based apart from the external connection which is a standard ISDN30.
The Mitel has been in for about four years now, originally put in my Marshland Telecom (MTL) and is still supported by them if theres something I cant do.
We also have some custom call logging software (written by me:D) for monitoring it.
Same here. But then we had no choice, we didn't realise until late in the day that the phone system had been taken out of the PFI contract so we were left with a choice of buying our own VOIP system at huge cost or go with county for VOIP, we chose the county route. It was cheaper, but still almost 1/4 of the IT budget we had set aside for the new school gone in one go............ Still at least it's now free calls to most of the county offices and schools.
Originally Posted by Sirbendy
Now all I need to do is get county to put the CTU ring tone on...........
Originally Posted by BaccyNet
We have the exact same system it's been in now for a month and we haven't had any troubles with it at all. Although our system was installed by executel.
Are your faxes connected through the Mitel system? If so how have you done that?
So the Mitel systems are OK then?
I have heard not necessarily bad things but poor reviews on the Cisco kit... things like extortionate prices and lacking in features.
There are plenty of features with the Cisco kit, it's just that everything requires extra licenses - at least that's what we were lead to believe.
Originally Posted by Ric_
I have one cisco phone, and TBH I cant stand the sight of it - hard to use, and hard to provision.