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I need some good phone advice....

By dlsides ·
Ok the introduction,

I was introduced to this board by a IT placement manager that I highly respect. I have read quite a few reviews on the site and realize that there are definately some top ranking techs on this site.

I am a new IT Admin in a small business environment. I just got the job and have allready well past pushed the envelope of what I know for network administration and security. I have had a few productivity meetings with the president and sales manager of the company and it has been decided that we need a phone system upgrade. I have researched fully the VOIP option and know that we will are not wanting to go that far yet. I do however know that our new phone system needs an upgrade BAD. I've looked pretty hard and asked many people for advice to get nearly no where directly.

the punchline:

I need some help finding an appropriate phone system for the office.

The phone system needs to have the following features and capabilities and price is not a option right now. We just need everything to work. The system is only a 3 line system right now and one of which is a fax. I know a new line willl be added soon for myself once I get out of product training and more lines are without a doubt going to be inevitable. Maybe all the way up to eight lines in the future and when we go past that, I will research deeper the VOIP options.

Interference factors that are involved:

1) Bellsouth business dsl (so noise margins need to remain a factor, the noise margins on the line are at 24 up and 28 down so we have some play)

2) Fax machine

Features that are required:

1) I would like a IVR if possible for directory assistance

2) phones need to be wireless

3) inner office transfer

4) proper voicemail routing for each line

5) expandable to at least 8 handsets

6) possible ability to control hold music, but definate ability to place a customer on hold

7) and possible software integration capability

I appreciate anyone's input on this and thank the site admins for welcoming me to the board. If you are going to provide advice on this, please specify clearly what you are talking about. I have allready done a ton of research and finding a generic phone is not exactly easy. Like my buddy told me, maybe we should get a meridian phone system. I looked it up on Goiogle and found about a billion of those. I.E. PLease provide product names and/or models, links, etc... I hope to grow and maintain a fruitful future in the IT industry, but hey everyone has to ask questions at some point in time Thanks!

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A good solution

by Oz_Media In reply to I need some good phone ad ...

NEC's IPK, it is a key telephone system that has hybrid capability. You can start with a key system and add VoIP cards to the same box as you develop and grow. YOu can even have a mix of KSU style digital line cards, for your T-1 ADSL or ISDN line to handle distribution and multilines, and have SOME stations use VoIP cards and phones.

I've installed quite a few of these across many different industries and have yet to have a customer NOT like it.

NEC makes EXCELLENT handsets, they also incorporate the most powerful (AND TESTED) featureset available.

One word of warning, DO NOT USE AN UNAUTHORIZED RESELLER OR TRY TO INSTALL IT YOURSELF!!!

NEC will void your warranty as fast as you can dial 911. GO to NEC's Corporate Netrworks Site
http://www.cng.nec.com

Use THEIR dealer locator,http://www.necunifiedsolutions.com/main/FindReseller/FinFindAReseller.asp? to find an AUthorized reseller. MANY companies will advertise as NEC dealers, this does not make them authorized, factory trained or NEC supported.

You will find Avaya, Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic are a fair bit cheaper (I've sold, installed all of them too)Nortel makes a GREAT key system, and excellent handsets, but their VoIP upgrading is pricey and dodgy at best, the main difference is that NEC's system will actually work as they say it will (most people are still trying to get their systems to work, yet alone handle even the most basic KSU features effectively), the installation time is reduced and the overall tone quality is superior to cheaper products. I've seen a phone company SO rushed to ebter the VoIP market that they released a big VoIP PBX that wasn't even able to transfer calls internally! Get the receptionist involved as SHE will ask relevant questions that you won't think of. Even the SIMPLEST features can be absent from expensive systems.

PLUS, it gonna be easy as **** to expand and grow into VoIP whether gradually a few lines/stations at a time or a complete conversion.

NOTE: IVR will be a feature of the Voice Mail card, not the KSU itself.

Whatever you do DON'T BUY USED Meridian phones.

In MOST cases they are pulled form an old Centrex based system and are completely USELESS with the Nortel KSU or the KSU has an old processor and is expensive to get upgrades for and you will have to pay for all software upgrades yourself. I have seen at least a dozen companies buy auctioned systems etc. and ended up just eating the cost and buyig a complete system.

People always look for CHEAP in a phone system, it's the backbone of your business, it's up to YOU to decide how important your company's communications are, I would suggest they far more valuable than your computer network in most cases.

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Toshiba CTX100

by Lost_one In reply to I need some good phone ad ...

At the company I work for we use a Toshiba CTX100 for our phone system. We have 2 location with a CTX100 on both ends and run them across a T1 line. We will be adding a 3rd location but will not have to buy a 3rd CTX100 system since we can use VoIP for that location and hook it up to the main systems by adding a VoIP card. They are fairly easy to manage. All the voice mail is stored at one of the location. The CTX100 system is expandable to exept VoIP cards so in the future you will have the option of upgrading. The system can handle wireless phones and you can hookup a radio for hold music or music on demand if people want to listen to music will working. By using a Toshiba system you will guarantee all older Toshiba cards and new Toshiba cards (ones not yet released) will work in the system. Toshiba make sure all there old equipment will work in new models making your system more flexable in the future. The management software for both the phone system and the voicemail boxes in Windows based so adding, deleting and modifying setting is a breeze.

If you get a system make sure it is very flexable for future expansion. Toshiba has been in the game for a long time and know how to ensure your system will remain up to date in the furture. Swapping cards is much easier then getting a whole new system.

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NO they don't

by Oz_Media In reply to Toshiba CTX100

"By using a Toshiba system you will guarantee all older Toshiba cards and new Toshiba cards (ones not yet released) will work in the system."

I've worked for Toshiba and sold, replaced (and still swap out) many of their systems.

The features you listed are the most basic features of any half decent key system.

Cards are SOMEWHAT interchangeable, IF you have the proper processor and software upgrades in your KSU. Your KSU's lifecycle is terminated exactly the same as any Windows OS is. They just STOP providing software upgrades and they become farily useless after a while. So when NEW cards and features are brought out, you are NOT guaranteed an easy upgrade unless your switch is STILL supported. (2-5 years depending on growth)

This isn't unique to Toshiba at all, Panasonic, NEC, Nortel, Avaya, Samsung, Mitel, the older Nistuko's (now NEC) etc, are all the same. KSU's DO have a short lifecycle as far as upgrading and expansion is concerned. In an old POTS KSU you can get an EASY 10 years, no problem. IN newer VoIP hybrid KSU or a PBX, the software is being upgraded all the time, as much of it is still not prroperly functioning to standard even several years after it is introduced to the market. I've seen a $70,000 PBX (not Toshibas) that had more than 60 advertised features SOME very standard, that don't work 2 or more years after introduction. They often use businesses as guinnea pigs, put it out on the market and see where it fails. Much like MS does.

Toshiba is a mid-range quality system. Not high-end, not as cheapo as a Panasonic. They buy MUCH of their technology form NEC and Nortel (as do many others), and have only kept afloat in the Key System Market by providing small entry level KSU's (8-15 phones), where the main competition is Panasonic and Samsung and that's just a price war for smal business market. Most other companies (eg. Mitel, NEC, Nortel) are leaving the small business market to seek bigger fish that are able to afford improved technology, as it also comes at a cost. They offer SOME smaller Key Syetems but at a higher cost than Toshiba or Panasonic, but their focus is more toward expension and growth of their clients.

Tosh. is a good system, but is definitely not unique in the features or expandability you had mentioned, unless comparing it with the modular Panasonic cabs that have no upgrade opstions. But you can buy a new Pan KSU for less than most cards for a Toshiba cost.

EVERY company in the industry boasts swappable cards and backwards compatibility. You also need the appropriate software to deliver the features to the sets though. You will find newer cards and feature sets will not work with some sets and you will need the software, processor and handset upgrades in order to fully utilize the features. in most cases FAR more expensive than the KSU itself.

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You miss read

by Lost_one In reply to NO they don't

Were did I say that Toshiba is the only one that allow backward compatabilitly? I will leave it at that since I have read some of your other post were you jump to conclusions.

I am going off of my own experience as you are. We have a 1 yr old CTX system with a couple of 10 yr old cards in it. We are running over 50 extension off it with 11 incoming lines (more then the 8-15 you stated) and everything is working great. The management software is always being upgraded as is the systems software. You must ensure you get the latest release in order for your system to work effectively. I would go into more detail in our current system but we have a beta version of the system software (we were at the right place at the right time).

In future post could you please refrain from making post that are attacting in nature. We are here to make suggestions not attact one another.

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I think you mean attacking each other

by Oz_Media In reply to You miss read

Or perhaps attracting each other but I will go for the first.

First of all, nobody was attacking you. You made some comments that are true but NOT only features of Toshiba. The reason I decided to point this out is NOT to attack you at all, but to merely point out that Toshiba is but one company that does this, and YES, MOST companies offer backward compatibility in Key Systems, they have done since I started in the mid 90's anyway.

Where you DID make a misleading comment though was, "By using a Toshiba system you will guarantee all older Toshiba cards and new Toshiba cards (ones not yet released) will work in the system." Toshiba will say (as all phone companies do) that you older line cards and sets MAY work with newer STRATA CTX cabinets. When you're sick of your phones for whatever reason, they can get you to contact THEM for upgrades and can assure you problems are fixed, it's an ancient MAC trick of all phone companies to retain tired clients.

So while you ar happy with a fairly decent system (and rightly so), you are also quite clearly indicating that this is WHY you chose Toshiba, even though everyone else does it too.

That therefore implies what TOSHIBA does and others don't. As for the comment that Toshiba guarantees that 'new Toshiba cards (ones not released yet) will work in the system', that is false.

Toshiba does NOT 'guarantee' that NEW cards will be accepted by YOUR system, you were either lied to or misunderstood the salesman.
They MAY make cards for newer versions of the STRATA CTX cabinets that MAY work with the CTX but they don't guarantee they will and in most cases they don't, after a few years you are SOL for CHEAP upgrades.

WHY would I say that, you ask?

It's not to attack you,it's to inform the person to whom you implied that Toshiba is the only one with such a practice, which is incorrect. If he was guided by your comments, he would be making a decision based on misinformation.

As for your system, you are right, you can run over 100 ports in your system, BUT, the system is designed for the small to medium business market and to compete with old industry standard 8X16's without expandability, NEC does this, as does Nortel and Mitel and most others now.

The idea for being ABLE to expand is to bridge markets, just like everyone else, and offer port expansion, which until he mid 90's was pretty much impossible without adding expansion cabs or a new KSU.

I was actually thinking of the Strata DK's not the CTX. My mistake, correction is noted.
Were you trying to attack me or something? :^O

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Ok

by Lost_one In reply to I think you mean attackin ...

You came across as severly negitive twards me and I took that as an attack. My fault, I have read some of your other post that you subversly attacked them and I want to put a stop to it before it started. Again my fault.

I think you should do a little more reading on the Toshiba systems though. I went to a seminar and it was stated that current CTX systems will be able to except new cards as they come out as long you update the system software. I know I can put a old card (15yrs old) into my system and it will work as long as the system is properly programed, this will also be the case as new cards come out. Alot of people are told that since they need new cards they also need a new cabinets and that is FALSE. Most people have problem by failing to update the software on the system or the management software.

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You're right, in a way

by Oz_Media In reply to Ok

As for reading up on Toshiba, I have worked in business telecom since '96, and have been manufacturer trained on most systems, including Toshiba.

The seminar you went to was correct, but this is NOT unique to Toshiba and in MANY cases you will not be able to upgrade your cards when new ones are available without updating the software, in many cases you will need to swap out the processor and once your cab is full, an extension cab that will take the new cards, IF compatible with older sets and Voice Mail.

The problem with older sysems being upgraded and needing new cabs is that many older systems do not allow for digital line cards. They are forced to either conduct costly cabinet expansions, not neccessarily removing the old cab but adding a new one as they can only hold so many cards as cards can only handle a specified number of ports before new cards are needed.

Many people buy a cab with a 4, 6 or 8 port voice mail for example, thus utilizing two slots in the cabinet, when they need to add lines they need an expansion cabinet, as you will with the CTX when you fill it up. In most cases it is more cost effective to change cabs and prepare for even greater future expansion, digital interface etc.

Toshiba, if you listened carefully, also states that newer cards for YOUR KSU (The Strata CTX series) may be compaible with older systems.

They don't guarantee nor even hint that all newer cards will work in your KSU.

But EVERYONE in business telecom does this also, it's not a Toshiba feature or a reason to validate buying Toshiba. Toshiba is a good system for it's featre set, fairly durable, installation time, and R&D resulting in WORKING features. It's a good system, you just offered information that is industry wide and implied it was unique.

As for reading up, I don't need any brochures or seminars, those are sales tools not information or fact. If I have questions I have a Tech login ID and a good set of resources.

Addendum: Sorry I missed another point. TOshiba has been in Business Telecom for about 30 years (somewhere around 74-76 I think), which may SEEM like they've been doing it a long time, but when compared to other players like Nortel with over 100 years in business telecom, they are a new kid on the block. NEC cheated, they took over one of the world's telecom pioneers , Nitsuko, and picked up their industry and R&D experience that way.

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3com V3000

by djameson In reply to I need some good phone ad ...

buy the 3com NBX V3000 chassis. It can do most of what you need. I wouldn't rule out VOIP yet, If-n-When you go to Forklift your existing key system it becomes harder to remove it when it is still depreciating on the books. Only spend the money once. If you are in the West Call Redsky Solutions or email Sales@redsky.com, they can hook you up.

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3-Com

by Oz_Media In reply to 3com V3000

Yeah they've been in the business for......two days now!

It's JUST ANOTHER HYBRID, like all others, except 3-Com spent their first three years of selling systems trying to actually make them do what they propsed they did. Did you know 3-Com wasn't even able to handle single key in house transfer for 8 months after they introduced their first hybrid?

They are getting better, still WAS behind Avaya and light years behind real phone manufacturers but have nothing to offer that anyone else doesn't do better except the fact that IT staff like 3-Com products, it was a no brainer for them to enter the VoIP market, they just haven't managed to catch up yet though.

Hyundai is slowly managing to make budget cars of a FAIR quality, they fit in with KIA, somehow end Toyota models etc. yet they have never been able to surpass Ford, GM or Chrysler or even Honda or Accura products as far as working value for money.

I know I know, you have yours and it works great, the sales rep is a great guy and all that. But it still doesn't come remotely close to offering the R&D, quality, durability and experience as say Nortel, Mitel, NEC, Comdial, or even an old Nitsuko system.

Mitel and Nortel both make routers but I would still pick a 3-Com due to their proven expertise in the field, just turn the table on that one.

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3com

by djameson In reply to 3-Com

Actually, We don't have one. We have it's big brother the VCX. and yes, it is a hybrid that uses the H3 protocol and not even a true H323, But the latest software load brings in a true sip stack and a few other things. I wouldn't have recommended using it until now, because it is still missing some functionality, but it costs about what a small keysystem costs and with most of the cost in the phones anyways which are dual mode H3 and sip. Your investment is better spent on something that grows. In terms of Avaya and Mitel Pricy as he(( and they are missing functionality as well. and to turn the table about Mitel and Nortel --> Cisco makes more routers then anyone, doesn't mean that I would buy one. or their VOIP for that matter. if you want the ultimate in flexability though GO OPEN SOURCE ASTRISK it is just as developed as any other platform. I would, in my infinite wisdom split out the Gateway and Sip Proxy functionality into two boxes, or three then you could do ANYTHING you want.

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