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827 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 148608 24-Jun-2014 21:23
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Not sure which forum to post in but I'm after some advice in multiple areas.

My brother-in-law is expanding his small business from a one man band to a larger 3-4 person operation.  He has acquired new premises on the Kapiti Coast and is in the process of fitting out the rooms.

He has 3 rooms and a reception area that each need phone and internet capability.  I'm capable of helping him with the computers. internet email etc but I don't know where to start for a PABX, EftPos or the best router to use for a small business etc.

I'm thinking he needs a PABX (I know nothing about those), a decent router with at least 8 ethernet ports and a decent printer/copier.

I'm just keen for advice on what PABX to buy and who do you get to install it?  I assume an eftpos terminal would plug directly into a PABX in the same way a phone does?

Do any geekzoners specialise in setting up small businesses with this sort of equipment?

Thanks in advance.


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  Reply # 1073719 24-Jun-2014 21:25
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PABX, Eww.
Get VOIP, Vodafone do this Office net with VDSL, UFB etc.

Eftpos can be run over broadband too. You can get most of this stuff in a package these days very easily.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1073722 24-Jun-2014 21:29
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Probably quite a few :)

Most new eftpos terminals will use the internet as the primary connection.

Clint

 
 
 
 




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1073729 24-Jun-2014 21:34
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TimA: PABX, Eww.
Get VOIP, Vodafone do this Office net with VDSL, UFB etc.

Eftpos can be run over broadband too. You can get most of this stuff in a package these days very easily.


Thanks for your reply.  So if rings up and orders this http://www.vodafone.co.nz/office-net/ then they'll come and install the necessary lines/jacks, eftpos, router etc?

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  Reply # 1073736 24-Jun-2014 21:43
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BigMal:
TimA: PABX, Eww.
Get VOIP, Vodafone do this Office net with VDSL, UFB etc.

Eftpos can be run over broadband too. You can get most of this stuff in a package these days very easily.


Thanks for your reply.  So if rings up and orders this http://www.vodafone.co.nz/office-net/ then they'll come and install the necessary lines/jacks, eftpos, router etc?


They should install the lines, Eftpos is done by its own isntaller router is plug and play, Wiring inside the building should be done by a contractor or yourself. Easy Office plans are VOIP, Not 100% about Office Net.

Cheers

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  Reply # 1073769 24-Jun-2014 22:16
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While easy office is VoIP you only have 2 lines + Pots line for fax / alarm / eftpos backup and lacks most basic functions like transferring between the two lines let alone IVR and voicemail to email.

Look for a fibre or VDSL connection and use a managed pbx with someone like conversant or Voyager. It might cost a little more than buying your own equipment but they are very flexible and make changes quickly if needed.
You can get cheap asterix voip pbx like a yeastar but these need to be set up properly, there are also security considerations.

What I like about conversant and voyager is they have NZ support and have intelligent people on the end of the line. ( my prefrence is conversant as there is a web console and you can make quick / basic changes yourself )

I hope that helps.





I know enough to be dangerous


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  Reply # 1074719 25-Jun-2014 23:29
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Youre best bet is to go and speak to a Comms specialist and to get quotes. 

If you go see a specialist they will give you quotes and options so you can then compare and work out the risks for each option. 
Ill give you a quick rundown on how a PABX works so that you have an idea when the comms guys starts yapping away

If you go down the PABX route you get Telecom to install an ISDN circuit. 1 circuit = 2 channels. So that will allow your business to have 2 calls at one time (either outgoing or incoming). That circuit will have a main number (lets say 04 499 1234). You can add or subtract as many circuits as needed so getting 2 circuits = 4 channels all assigned to the same main number 04 499 1234 will allow up to 4 incoming or outgoing calls at the same time. You can have DDI numbers assiged to the main number (usually in blocks of 10) ie you might get a DDI range of 04 498 0001 to 04 498 0010. The PABX will be programmed so that if someone comes in on that DDI to forward it to the respective ext number. 

The ISDN circuit will have 2x Cat5 sockets on it which plug directly into the PABX system and the PABX system has x amount of CAT5 sockets which can then be run to a centralised patch panel (allows you to move phones around).
The PABX system is responsible for redirecting the calls to the specified handset. Lets take your example of 4 phones with ext numbers 100, 101, 102 and 103. The comms guys will set up a rule so that all calls come into the building and go to 100 (reception). Reception can now forward calls on to any other extension. If you only have 2 channels, the line will only let 2 calls at once be going on. If a 3rd call is made (either incoming or outgoing) they will get the engaged tone. They will need to wait until one call ends before it will come through again. 
The PABX will basically do "stuff" to the incomming calls. It can be programmed to ring all 4 phones at once (so first one to answer it), ring in a round robin (ie 100 for 5 rings, 101 for 5 rings etc etc), send to voicemail (if you have it installed). 

You need to work out how busy the business will be with calls. If it is likely that all 4 phones will be in use you may need to get 2 circuits (4 channels). If the business regularly has alot of people on hold you may need to get 3 or 4 circuits in order to cope with the demand. 
So yea you need to get your Maths out and get quotes for both then try and work out what will be cheaper in the long run. 

PABX 
+ Great for organisations that have lots of employees but small call volumes (ie 40 staff, but at most only 6 people on calls at once = 3-4 circuits).
+ Great for organisations that have large call volumes and need a "hold" system
+ Line is still live even with a powercut
+ low running costs (usually)
- expensive installation
- requires cabling infrastructure
- Handsets are expensive

VOIP
+ Great for scalability (ie staff members fluctuate)
+ Small investment outlay (plug in internet and away you go)
+ Pay only for what you use (6 users = 6 numbers = 6 unit costs)
+ Low cost equipment
- Single point of failure (no internet = no phone lines)
- Heavy internet use will affect phone line performance
- expensive running costs (usually)






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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1074787 26-Jun-2014 09:04
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Thanks jhsol, makes perfect sense.  

I've spoken with vodafone and they have a hosted VOIP solution that sounds promising which includes 4 lines and 200GB of data for around $200 per month.

I guess that needs to be weighed up against buying a cheap pabx and installing 2 circuits plus however much broadband data is required.

Thanks again.

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  Reply # 1074889 26-Jun-2014 11:10
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Consider talking to someone at Digital Island - they have some good plans for SME which include mobile, landline/hosted IP PBX and data/UFB.









.

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  Reply # 1074914 26-Jun-2014 12:04
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jhsol: Youre best bet is to go and speak to a Comms specialist and to get quotes. 

If you go see a specialist they will give you quotes and options so you can then compare and work out the risks for each option. 
Ill give you a quick rundown on how a PABX works so that you have an idea when the comms guys starts yapping away

If you go down the PABX route you get Telecom to install an ISDN circuit. 1 circuit = 2 channels. So that will allow your business to have 2 calls at one time (either outgoing or incoming). That circuit will have a main number (lets say 04 499 1234). You can add or subtract as many circuits as needed so getting 2 circuits = 4 channels all assigned to the same main number 04 499 1234 will allow up to 4 incoming or outgoing calls at the same time. You can have DDI numbers assiged to the main number (usually in blocks of 10) ie you might get a DDI range of 04 498 0001 to 04 498 0010. The PABX will be programmed so that if someone comes in on that DDI to forward it to the respective ext number. 

The ISDN circuit will have 2x Cat5 sockets on it which plug directly into the PABX system and the PABX system has x amount of CAT5 sockets which can then be run to a centralised patch panel (allows you to move phones around).
The PABX system is responsible for redirecting the calls to the specified handset. Lets take your example of 4 phones with ext numbers 100, 101, 102 and 103. The comms guys will set up a rule so that all calls come into the building and go to 100 (reception). Reception can now forward calls on to any other extension. If you only have 2 channels, the line will only let 2 calls at once be going on. If a 3rd call is made (either incoming or outgoing) they will get the engaged tone. They will need to wait until one call ends before it will come through again. 
The PABX will basically do "stuff" to the incomming calls. It can be programmed to ring all 4 phones at once (so first one to answer it), ring in a round robin (ie 100 for 5 rings, 101 for 5 rings etc etc), send to voicemail (if you have it installed). 

You need to work out how busy the business will be with calls. If it is likely that all 4 phones will be in use you may need to get 2 circuits (4 channels). If the business regularly has alot of people on hold you may need to get 3 or 4 circuits in order to cope with the demand. 
So yea you need to get your Maths out and get quotes for both then try and work out what will be cheaper in the long run. 

PABX 
+ Great for organisations that have lots of employees but small call volumes (ie 40 staff, but at most only 6 people on calls at once = 3-4 circuits).
+ Great for organisations that have large call volumes and need a "hold" system
+ Line is still live even with a powercut
+ low running costs (usually)
- expensive installation
- requires cabling infrastructure
- Handsets are expensive

VOIP
+ Great for scalability (ie staff members fluctuate)
+ Small investment outlay (plug in internet and away you go)
+ Pay only for what you use (6 users = 6 numbers = 6 unit costs)
+ Low cost equipment
- Single point of failure (no internet = no phone lines)
- Heavy internet use will affect phone line performance
- expensive running costs (usually)



I don't know who would ever choose ISDN these days. it's such a legacy technology and I've seen it being far less reliable than VOIP. The whole "internet not available thing" doesn't fly any more with he ability in most routers to have backup connections using a different transmission medium. What happens when a car takes out the copper distribution cabinet and it takes days to fix?

The lack of flexibility and need for dedicated, legacy and expensive hardware that only certain people know is a big downside too... and all this for 3-4 people?

Anyone would be crazy to choose it.





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  Reply # 1074922 26-Jun-2014 12:08
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For 3-4 people you'd have to be very stupid not to opt for a hosted VoIP solution.

The business case for non VoIP is very difficult these days, and the case for a traditional PBX is also very poor. Even most of the big brand PBX offerings that are "VoIP compatible" severely limit what you can do.



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  Reply # 1074929 26-Jun-2014 12:21
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Just out of interest, if one is looking at Vodafone then it is worth while remembering that they also have an office 365 offering as well, which may make for a more unified solution. I am sure other service providers will have a similar offering.




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  Reply # 1074989 26-Jun-2014 13:27
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You could try www.itworks.co.nz - they service the Kapiti region and specialise in SME businesses. They don't provide internet services but can manage everything for you and provide quick onsite after sales service when required.

Cheers
Matt.

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  Reply # 1074993 26-Jun-2014 13:33
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You really should be looking for as much "cloud" or "hosted" as you can get.... Invest in good internet with business ISPs, good office cabling and a good router.





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  Reply # 1075050 26-Jun-2014 14:47
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Zeon:

I don't know who would ever choose ISDN these days. it's such a legacy technology and I've seen it being far less reliable than VOIP. The whole "internet not available thing" doesn't fly any more with he ability in most routers to have backup connections using a different transmission medium. What happens when a car takes out the copper distribution cabinet and it takes days to fix?

The lack of flexibility and need for dedicated, legacy and expensive hardware that only certain people know is a big downside too... and all this for 3-4 people?

Anyone would be crazy to choose it.


You need to do your research first. There is no hard and fast rule that one solution will fit all scenarios. If you require 20 office phones for 20 people, but at most 2-3 users on a phone call at once then you will be wasting a load of money.  A small cheap PABX phone system will usually make its money back within the first 12 - 24 months. 

You also have to look at this over years rather than months. Weigh up the costs. PABXs are old technology but it is very resilient as well. The systems usually last 7-10 years. The number of people in the office (4) would suggest going down an hosted VOIP route but to just blindly go into the VOIP solution without weighing up all your options will just cause you heartache in 12-24 months time. 

You say you would be crazy to choose it and I say you would be crazy to just blindly jump into the VOIP route without understanding all of your options. Im not here to start an argument, im just saying that you should go out and research it.

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  Reply # 1075143 26-Jun-2014 17:44
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It raises a good point. One would have thought infrastructure would have been researched and detailed in the business plan, since there are other aspects that need to be covered such as maintenance agreements (SLAs), insurance, capex, opex, depreciation and technology and intended usage (business process) that have an impact on the solution that is required.  However, that needs to be balanced with the risk of making things overly complex.




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