Asterisk, open source phone system.

Asterisk Small Business Phone Systems and Hosted Business VoIP Questions Answered.

Businessman with magnifying glass looking at Business phone system questions.Which phone systems do you recommend?

The best system for you may depend on your specific needs, but in most cases the systems we recommend will offer more features than you will need.  We feel the best systems are ones that will handle your current number of lines and phones (extensions) and still have room for growth.  Additionally, we would recommend:

  1. A Pbx VoIP ready system that will connect to your current phone provider, as well VoIP.
  2. Able to add multiple SIP trunks.  (Voice over the Internet connections for cheap calls.)
  3. Work with several different name brand IP phones.
  4. Able to add softphones as extensions.  This will allow your computer to become a phone.
  5. No licensing fees, all features would be already on with no additional licensee fees and included.
  6. An easy to navigate web based graphical control panel.
  7. Have available a good easy to understand user manual.

What type of connections?

Most small business connect to their phone service provider either thorough traditional business lines (CO Lines) or over the Internet (VoIP), (if they have very late technology).  To remain with your current provider that currently delivers your dial tone, you would need to get a phone system capable of accepting those lines.  This typically would be FXO ports, one for each line, except for faxes, alarms and other dedicated lines which might not even go through the phone system.

In many cases after you have started to use SIP trunks and seen the cost savings associated with this type of connection it is unlikely that you will want additional traditional lines again.  SIP trunks are connections to a Internet Voice Provider like hosted VoIP, just that your in premise business phone system handles all the PBX features.

What are the difference between business hosted VoIP and residential VoIP?

The primary difference between true business VoIP and residential VoIP is with the hardware.  With business hosted VoIP service typically the provider would use IP phones (like Polycom) that connect through a router back to the provider.  With residential service an ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) is supplied by the provider which the user then connects one or more traditional telephones.  The most popular of these residential ATAs are capable of two lines.

What about companies that don't need an IP phone service, but just a good affordable traditional business phone system?

There are many companies that only require a good affordable PBX that can connect three or four phone lines and comes with voicemail, an attendant and can connect 8 or more phone handsets.  These systems have become low in price and can operate for many years.  One such system would be the NEC DSX phone system.  Not everyone needs an IP phone system or even wants one, for these small companies there are good low priced business phone systems available.

What can I do about broken voice on my VoIP calls?

First, make sure that your Internet service has enough bandwidth for all your simultaneous calls and web applications that you use.  Typical cable bandwidths are very large and affordable today, so upgrade.  Second, replace your older existing router with a late model one that will deliver better speeds and allow for voice prioritization (QoS).

Are Chinese made Asterisk phone systems reliable?

Not only are they reliable, Asterisk based phone systems that are manufactured in China are extremely affordable and can save a company thousands of dollars. For some time now Yealink phones have garnered a following in the USA as SIP based phones and have proven affordable, reliable, robust solutions as endpoints for many VoIP based systems. Now several other Chinese companies have started manufacturing Asterisk based PBX systems and are gaining market share in North America and other parts of the globe.

Two Asterisk appliances that we believe you will hear more about are Yeastar and Zycoo. Yeastar has long been a favorite of ours and come highly recommended.  You can read more about Zycoo at:

   Made in China Asterisk Appliances

Which phones can I use?

We recommend an Asterisk based phone system that allows you to have a choice of readily available IP phones or for an affordable small system, one that matches the manufacturers phones.  Some of the popular manufacturers are Polycom, Grandstream, and YeaLink.  All of these phone manufacturers would be easy to purchase from sources on the Internet.  Some systems do highlight that any SIP IP phone will work, but the deciding factor for most buyers will be the look and feel of the phone, as well as the price.  However, some excellent small Asterisk PBXs will install easier with the same manufacturer's phones and this is an important consideration.  Then there are even newer model phones that may incorporate a gigabit switch port, as well as some models with color graphical displays.  For our choices in manufacturers, as well as some of the best prices available, see our IP Phones.

We like the Polycom IP phones, as well as Yealink and Grandstream, choices that produce excellent voice quality, are well manufactured and all of them are at affordable prices.  Both are durable and well established in the VoIP world, each being used by millions of users.  They can share the computer connection, eliminating the need for additional cabling and can be powered by POE or a power brick plugged into a wall outlet.  On a second note, Grandstream is making and excellent line of phones that have great features and come in at an excellent price point and match well with the UMC6102 & 6104 PBX systems.

Do Asterisk Pbxs cost less?

Yes, typically an Asterisk based phone system will cost less than a similar proprietary system, because all the time to write the PBX software code would not be required.  In fact, the Asterisk software which makes the phone system work is so good that some manufacturers actually started with it and then revised the code somewhat, locked it down and called it there own.  Asterisk, an open source software, does not require license fees which will further reduces costs.  Furthermore, Asterisk can use most SIP phones, like Polycom, Grandstream, Digium, Yealink, etc. which can be purchased on the open market allowing for competitive pricing, an advantage for the consumer.

What is meant by Cloud Based Phone Service?

Could Based Phone Service is where the "phone system" sits in the cloud or out on the Internet.  Your IP phone connects to that system which handles the features and the calling.  This is the same thing as hosted VoIP, just another name.

Are Internet fax services reliable?

Yes, Internet fax services are not only reliable, but offer features that traditional faxing doesn't.  Some of these include an email when new faxes come in and an online portal where all faxes are stored for easy access at later times.

When buying a low cost Asterisk based PBX, what are the things to look for?

First, is the feature set, which most systems will excel at. However if you have a particular need then make sure the phone system will do it before making the purchase. Second, is the ease at installation and configuration. Many small PBX systems, using Asterisk have made this easy. Do check the manual before hand and see if its well written and intuitive. Last, but not least, price and reviews should help complete the choice.

 

What about expansion?

Choosing a business VoIP capable phone system should be done by price, features and expandability.  Getting a system that allows for future expansion, without extra cost (except for the phones and phone service) will come back to pay dividends.  If your current needs are for 10 phones and the phone system you purchase allows for 25 phones, then you have plenty of room for expansion. 

Expanding your business VoIP system will most likely be done with lower cost SIP trunks, rather than getting additional CO lines from a traditional carrier.  The cost will be less and the ease of expansion can be as easy and a few clicks of the mouse.  Once you have established an account with a SIP trunk provider, adding additional lines is easy.

 

Asterisk Pbx v hosted VoIP?

Hosted VoIP can be delivered from a local provider with a Voice managed network or of the national hosted companies that use the open Internet.   Using a national VoIP provider is a good alternative for small businesses with a stable robust Internet connection that does not have end to end QOS.  These companies, which are not using a managed network provider can be a good affordable alternative for a business VoIP service.  Companies who fit into this mold would be ones with up to about 10 phones, as maximum.  Larger companies, or ones that are small call centers might look towards a local carrier that can mange the quality of the calls over the entire network.

Is a hosted Business VoIP solution the right choice for me?

The answer to this question really depends on a few factors.  One, is you're company one that will benefit from the latest technology.  We would group real estate, sales, and multiple small location companies right into this group.  Second, is your company brand new without any prior telephone service?  Then, hosted VoIP (Cloud Based Phone Service) would be a great choice, as everything is new; there are no existing phone lines to connect to, no existing contracts to worry about about and you will need new numbers.

I decided on an in-house VoIP capable PBX, what is my best choice?

Although there is never one size shoe that fits all feet, if you're looking for a great business PBX that can still connect to existing lines if you have some, then Grandstream's UMC6102 or 6104 offers small business an incredible good PBX that should do 90% of what most users want to do, and it's affordable.

We're a large company. What systems do you recommend?

Larger companies with 30, 40 or 100 phones have special needs. Installing a new phone system is an investment and should be treated with care and thought. One system or manufacturer does not fit all, so the best suggestion is to discuss choices, pricing and feature sets and complexities with professionals. For an easy way to start, just take a minute and answer a few questions.

Which phone service is best?

Choosing a business VoIP service should not be hard as long as you take time to consider some important items that will help guide you to the best provider.   Choosing business VoIP; consider these 6 items. 

Grandstream UCM 61xx Series Asterisk IP-PBX

 

AastraLink Pro 160 Asterisk Appliance

 

Asterisk, open source PBX software.

             Asterisk- for those that want good response, even at high speeds.

Recommended VoIP:

Top pick for Cloud Based phone service.Offering a great service at great price, with excellent support that customers have raved about, we recommend that you answer a few questions get the best quote and then if you like what you see start your next phone service in the cloud.