Small business PBX

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hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
No, but I can tell you. Every one is different in features, operation and programming and the method of interconnecting wiring to it. All require phones designed to work with the particular system although some can also have regular single line phones and cordlesses in the mix. Systems provide for multiple extensions that can share (or not share) multiple telephone lines. They also provide a hold capability, conference, intercom, voice mail with auto attendent and other features just to mention the most basic.

Small business systems are not normally a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) which actually refers to large systems often with capacities of hundreds of extensions (phones) and trunks (lines). Small systems are refered to as Key Systems, the reference dating back to the old Bell System days when the buttons on office phones were called keys and each line assigned to the extension had a button. A PBX, by definition, does not have individual buttons on each phone for each line. This is because it would be impossible to fit that many buttons on a phone because a PBX is a large system.

What is common to all is that all wiring must be home run from eack jack to the control unit (called the KSU or Key Service Unit) which is what you should be doing even if there will never be a system installed. Most systems today require one pair although some still require two pairs. CAT3 wiring is actually more than is required and is preferred because of it's low pair twist which makes it easy to terminate. CAT5 is often used by those who don't care or don't know any better.

Jacks should always be 6 position with at least 4 pins- your normal telephone jack. If one pair is needed they get wired like any single line telephone jack. Two pair phones get wired like a two line jack.


-Hal
 
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hurk27

Senior Member
Around here we call them networked phone systems, and what irks me is so many small business with less then 5 lines get talked into them, I have removed so many of these systems after a good lightning strike or just failure, because of the repair cost were too high, in place I install many self networking phones at a much lower cost, I have seen small restaurants with only one phone line and have a Merlin system that when a phone fails it cost over $400.00 to just replace one phone, the self networking phones are around $150.00 each and run on cat5 for inter communication, to me if there is no plans on ever having more then 1 to 4 lines PBX or networked phones are a waste of money.

Sure there are some features that a full PBX system has like call forwarding call recording, outside line blockage for certain phones, and many others, but most self networked phones have many of the features that the PBX systems offer such as call on hold indication at each phone, call transfer, BGM, caller ID, intercom with PA out to a PA amp, and many more, other features could be done at phone company level as needed, through the phone company, some even have ring detect so some call will be routed to a certain phone only.

I just can't see buying a phone system for over 10k when you only need 1 to 4 lines
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
Well, I guess we are going to get into a debate over commercial vs consumer type systems because that's what the "KSU less" systems you call "networked systems" are. Available from Radio Shack, Office Depot, etc. they do fill a demand- cheap customers. Yes they can be less money but you have to consider the wiring requirements (4 pair for 4 line phones and usually two jacks at each location) and the fact that they are basically throwaway. Because they are consumer goods the quality is not there and the manufacturers discontinue them after a few years. Unfortunately that means that if a phone craps out after like four years, you probably won't find a replacement and since the phones will only work with a like system you are faced with replacing the whole mess. I would never consider installing something like that in a harsh environment like a restaurant either.

These systems are cheaper than a KSU based system for a reason. Commercial equipment manufacturers support their products for many years and it is built for every day use in a business. You keep mentioning that Merlin phone. The AT&T Merlin system was the first electronic key system available and began being installed in the 70's by the Bell System (you couldn't buy it back then). It was discontinued around 1985 so that's how old that is. Yet there are some Merlin systems still out there in service, I just replaced one that died a few weeks ago. Most Greek diners and food service businesses around here seem to still have them because of their ruggedness. Merlin equipment is still available from refurb sources as well as remanufactured from the manufacturer, now Avaya. Hows that for support? I also don't know where you got that figure of "over $400" for a replacement phone. Check the internet, they are probably around $100 depending on what phone you are looking for. But I have to admit that Merlin stuff is becoming increasingly hard to get because of it's age. It is pushing 40 and when we get a customer with a problem with one we tell them it's time to throw in the towel.

You would have no problem though finding replacement equipment for the more recent Avaya Partner gear. The Partner replaced the Merlin and was inarguably the most popular and best selling key system. It was just discontinued after a long 20 year run and should still be available on the refurb market 20 years from now.

I can also tell you that the installed cost of the new IP Office Partner version small key system with a capacity of 4 lines and six extensions with voice mail standard and all the bells and whistles is no where near $10k. I do wish I could get that much though...


-Hal
 
I just can't see buying a phone system for over 10k when you only need 1 to 4 lines
I've installed a couple of Trixbox (based on FreePBX, Asterisk) PBXs. It is a very powerful, open source (free)system. But learning it is long, and difficult even if you are already decent in linux. Some of the more fulfilling learning I've done though. One of the coolest features was picking up any phone and dialing a three digit number that turned on an 120v electrical circuit (lights in this case).
 

hurk27

Senior Member
Well, I guess we are going to get into a debate over commercial vs consumer type systems because that's what the "KSU less" systems you call "networked systems" are. Available from Radio Shack, Office Depot, etc. they do fill a demand- cheap customers. Yes they can be less money but you have to consider the wiring requirements (4 pair for 4 line phones and usually two jacks at each location) and the fact that they are basically throwaway. Because they are consumer goods the quality is not there and the manufacturers discontinue them after a few years. Unfortunately that means that if a phone craps out after like four years, you probably won't find a replacement and since the phones will only work with a like system you are faced with replacing the whole mess. I would never consider installing something like that in a harsh environment like a restaurant either.

These systems are cheaper than a KSU based system for a reason. Commercial equipment manufacturers support their products for many years and it is built for every day use in a business. You keep mentioning that Merlin phone. The AT&T Merlin system was the first electronic key system available and began being installed in the 70's by the Bell System (you couldn't buy it back then). It was discontinued around 1985 so that's how old that is. Yet there are some Merlin systems still out there in service, I just replaced one that died a few weeks ago. Most Greek diners and food service businesses around here seem to still have them because of their ruggedness. Merlin equipment is still available from refurb sources as well as remanufactured from the manufacturer, now Avaya. Hows that for support? I also don't know where you got that figure of "over $400" for a replacement phone. Check the internet, they are probably around $100 depending on what phone you are looking for. But I have to admit that Merlin stuff is becoming increasingly hard to get because of it's age. It is pushing 40 and when we get a customer with a problem with one we tell them it's time to throw in the towel.

You would have no problem though finding replacement equipment for the more recent Avaya Partner gear. The Partner replaced the Merlin and was inarguably the most popular and best selling key system. It was just discontinued after a long 20 year run and should still be available on the refurb market 20 years from now.

I can also tell you that the installed cost of the new IP Office Partner version small key system with a capacity of 4 lines and six extensions with voice mail standard and all the bells and whistles is no where near $10k. I do wish I could get that much though...


-Hal
No debate, I agree that there is allot of junk out there and I have run into my share, but I stay away from no-names or look alike name brands (AKA Soutwestern bell) that are just junk, Att has allot to offer and a few other companys in this area, that offer very good products.

Each and every system has it's need or there wouldn't be a market for it, but here is one phone that I have installed and never had a problem with getting replacments and has allot of bells and whistles for the money, and have a great support when you do have problems;)

http://telecom.hellodirect.com/docs/Reviews/ATTKSUless.1.032601.asp
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
"Factory serviced" means that it is a refurb or otherwise was returned because it had problems, was supposedly fixed and is for sale at a reduced price.


-Hal
 

hurk27

Senior Member
"Factory serviced" means that it is a refurb or otherwise was returned because it had problems, was supposedly fixed and is for sale at a reduced price.


-Hal
I see that now, but I have got these at around $150.00 brand new.

Also they don't like DSL or the filters, so plan on a seperate line ahead of these types of phones to the DSL modem.

Another little tip is they work great with roll over lines, so if line 1 is busy the call will come in on line two Etc...
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
Line hunting or "rollover" is provided by the phone company, cable company or whoever people want to use these days to provide their phone service. You could have two old rotary dial phones on a desk, one on each line and if one is busy the next call will ring on the other one. So it really doesn't matter what system you want to use, as long as it's capable of handling more than one line hunting is going to be there. Hunting is not and can't be a function of the system.


-Hal
 
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