PBXploration part 2 – Telephony for SMEs, SoHo, Projects and Startups


In the previous post I described how we went from “just buying new DECT phones” and the idea of integrating 2 S0 ISDN” lines, combining them with VoIP and Skype to the discovery of new concepts such as virtual PBXes, also named netPBX or hosted PBX solutions.

I had to let that sink in.  The biggest bummers are: more than one single ISDN feed makes PBX blackboxes such as Belkin or AVM Fritzboxes much more expensive than the classic all-in-one boxes including PBX/WiFi/Router. Those boxes usually only feature a single S0 Basic Rate Interface (BRI)  with a single ISDN line allowing two parallel calls.  Also those wonderboxes usually do not support Skype for phone handsets.  So here is our current thinking for our 2 test cases, the association with a small office and the startup with currently no office…

PBX box for the office (association)

Either keep current one o replace with low cost SoHo box with interesting features, such as an AVM Fritzbox, which is easire to setup. Also SIP (VoIP) is supported, which may help to reduce the monthly costs.

Virtual PBX (association and startup)

A netPBX or hosted PBX is interesting, because we can easily ditribute calls to team members and their landlines or mobile phones with moderate costs.  By using some clever deals and tools (such as Gizmo) we might reduce significantly our costs of communication within the team.  We are still discovering the opportunities, so if you got further ideas and experiences, don’t hesitate to leave a cmment.

Skype (association sometimes, startup uses Skype frequently)

The Skype problem is it’s non-standard technology, meaning, it is not SIP.  There are 2 ways: the first is to use Skype 3rd party products and services to route Skype calls into a VoIP PBX (SIP).  This is low cost.  So we might eitherroute it to the virtual PBX or in the case of the association, it might also be a new cheap PBX with integrate VoIP (SIP).  The second otion is to by DECT handsets which have Skype integraiton, so we are using a normal PBX setup and the personalised handsets connect directly to Skype va LAN, WAN and the boadband connectoin of the network to Skype.  What is more practical?  It may depend on the address book functionality and integration.

Mobile phone services

So far we have tried a few, some which need a special software (such as Skype and VoIP services) and others which use a go-between service, such as callback or conferencing.  The tricky part is that we are spread through different countries, sometimes 3G sometimes barely correct GSM connections.

Skype has been surprisingly good using the FRING client.  We have used advertising go-betweens, the quality was usually below Skype or VoIP and setting up the call was a tad to tedious, connections often failed.  Cellity and others have provided a decent qualty.  Ideally it woul be a service at very low cost, including SMS.  The service should be working regardless of where we are. Conferencing might be very useful.

We have to check out a few interesting contenders like Jajah.

We will look into integrating the mobile services with a virtual PBX.


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