PBX Buying Guide - White
PBX Buying Guide
PBX Buying Guide
How to choose the right phone system for your
While upgrading to a new phone system will bring great advantages, the more options, features, functions and
capabilities that are available, the more decisions you have to make. That makes it crucial to thoroughly
understand your needs before you buy.
General Considerations:
 Does internal wiring need to be added or upgraded?
 Does our telecom room/closet need to be upgraded or expanded?
 Can we re-use any of the phone equipment we currently have?
 Can we consolidate or eliminate any existing phone lines or circuits?
Here are eight steps to help in that process:
1 Determine how many users, and what kind
of users, you need to support.
This isn’t necessarily the same as counting the number of phones or extensions you’ll need. You may need
phones at the reception area or loading dock, for example, but such phones don’t represent individual users.
And you probably don’t want to pay the same monthly fee for those extensions as you would for your sales
staffs’, as most hosted solutions would require. In addition, if a lot of users are going to be working from home
or other remote sites, you’ll want a solution that makes it as easy as possible to set up and configure their
phones. In fact, such ease of setup may let you use more remote workers than you could otherwise. Either way,
a thorough analysis of the number and type of users you need to support is a crucial first step in choosing the
right system.
How many users do I need to support?
Main Office ▪▪
Branch Office ▪▪
Lounge, Lunch Room ▪▪
Remote Workers ▪▪
Call Center ▪▪
Warehouse ▪▪
Fax Machines ▪▪
Alarm Lines ▪▪
What kind users do I need to support?
Attendants’ ▪▪
General Office ▪▪
Remote Workers ▪▪
Telecommuters’ ▪▪
Call Center Agents ▪▪
Work from Home ▪▪
Customer Service ▪▪
2 Estimate how many simultaneous calls you need to support.
In general, you may need to handle anywhere from three to five simultaneous calls per every 10 employees for
ordinary businesses, to nine or 10 calls per 10 employees for call center-type setups. Knowing this number is
important if you’re planning to use the flexibility of IP telephony to tailor your telecom service to your needs.
For example, with a traditional PBX, your options include buying either individual analog lines or higher-capacity
circuits such as T1s. But a dedicated T1 carries 23 voice circuits. If you need to support 24 or 25 calls at a time,
you have to buy another T1, most of which will go unused. On the other hand, you can buy SIP (VoIP) trunks that
run over your broadband Internet connection in the exact numbers you need. Or you can mix and match PSTN
and SIP circuits in any combination you wish. SIP trunks can connect directly to your IP PBX. Also, consider how
much out-going or incoming faxing your company is doing or if there are peak calling periods throughout the day
or the week that must be accounted for. Can you share bandwidth between a data and a voice circuit or
overflow to another unused circuit if necessary?
How many simultaneous calls do I need to support? ▪▪
Typical business (3 to 5 simultaneous calls per 10 users) ▪▪
Call Center (8 – 10 simultaneous calls per 10 users) ▪▪
How many circuits do I need to support my call volumes? ▪▪
T1 ▪▪
SIP trunks (VoIP) ▪▪
3 Decide what kind of phones your different users need.
Just as you don’t want to pay a full monthly fee for those seldom-used reception-area or loading-dock
extensions, you probably don’t want the most expensive multi-button phones for all your extensions either. A
lot of employees may need little more than a dial tone, voice mail and the ability to transfer calls. Others will
need multiple lines, speakerphones, programmable keys, bright color LCDs and more. A more general
consideration is whether you want to have to plug every phone, even those in the middle of conference room
tables, into a power outlet. If not, make sure to get models with Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) capability. And if
you don’t have an extra Ethernet connection for every IP phone you’re installing, try to get models with two
ports, so users’ computers can access the LAN through them. Would some users benefit using “soft-phones” or
“soft-consoles”, rather than the traditional digital phone set? Are there other applications some users need,
such as call-accounting or call-recording capabilities?
What kind of phones/ features do my different users need?
Basic business phones ▪▪
Speakerphones ▪▪
2 or multiple lines ▪▪
Paging ▪▪
Dual Ethernet Ports ▪▪
Programmable Keys ▪▪
Conferencing ▪▪
Wireless Phones ▪▪
Caller ID ▪▪
4 Determine how much support staff and time you can commit.
PBXs are getting easier all the time to administer and manage. Still, doing it all yourself can require assigning a
reasonably tech-savvy person to spend a fair amount of time on the task. The skills and time required will vary
according to the type of system involved, particularly when you are totally responsible for all maintenance.
Comparing the requirements for each type of system to the staff resources you are in a position to commit will be
a big help in clarifying your purchasing options.
How much support staff and time do I want dedicated to my phone system? ▪▪
How easy or difficult is it to administer the system? Can I administer remotely? ▪▪
How much will the vendor help monitor and maintain the system? ▪▪
5 Decide how important service quality, reliability
and security are to you.
If you can’t afford to lose phone service, even temporarily, you’ll need a solution that includes or relies entirely
on PSTN connectivity, which provides a dedicated channel or circuit between you and your callers over
traditional wired phone lines. The same goes if you need guaranteed voice quality. On the other hand, perhaps
you can put up with a bit of uncertainty about how your calls will sound, and feel confident that your Internet
provider is reliable. If so, you may want to opt for the savings and features that come with VoIP connectivity,
which you can use even if you choose a premise or hybrid-hosted solution rather than hosted service. Most
important, think carefully about how willing you are to have all your voice mail messages and prompts stored in
a service provider’s data center rather than in your own building.
Can my phone system depend on the Internet for the delivery of calls? **
Where do voice mail messages, prompts and call records reside? **
Can I keep analog POTs lines for 911? **
What are my disaster recovery options? **
6 Analyze your long-distance calling patterns.
This is the other half of the tradeoff between the guaranteed reliability of PSTN service and the savings of VoIP
connectivity. Look at how much you currently pay for PSTN phone service, including DID numbers (individual,
dedicated dial-in numbers), inbound toll-free lines and unlimited or per-minute calling plans. Add your longdistance charges for calls such as those between branches, if they’re not covered by your calling plan, and those
to overseas destinations. Pay particular attention to routes that may cost significantly less with VoIP service.
With these figures in hand, you’ll be ready for the next step.
How much do I currently pay for long-distance calling? ▪▪
If you have multiple locations, how much are you paying for calls between different locations? ▪▪
What are other communication charges and fees I am currently paying? ▪▪
7 Determine which combination of PSTN and
VoIP service will best fit your needs.
If you decided above that you have to rely solely on PSTN service, you have already completed this step.
Otherwise, start by adding up the costs of extensions and calling plans you would need with a hosted VoIP
service. Next, look at the various combinations of PSTN lines and SIP (VoIP) trunks that are possible with premise
or hybrid-hosted IP PBXs. Then figure out what your current pattern of long-distance calls, which you analyzed in
the previous step, will cost under the different combinations. Don’t forget to note which solutions will give you
free VoIP calling among your company’s branches or sites, as traditionally hosted solutions do not include free
VoIP calling among branch sites. Finally, decide what part, if any, of your voice traffic you’re willing to send via
VoIP in order to save money, and what part absolutely requires PSTN transport for quality, reliability and even
safety purposes. And remember, you have the flexibility to mix analog, digital, and IP phone sets into the same
phone system.
How much will I save by moving all my long-distance calling to VoIP? ▪▪
How much will I save if all inter-branch calls are free via VoIP? ▪▪
How important is guaranteed quality and reliability in my phone service? ▪▪
How important is saving money, even if there’s a quality and reliability risk? ▪▪
What will the charges be for DID numbers, toll-free numbers, etc.? ▪▪
8 What are my options for branches and remote sites?
Can my branch offices share our centralized voicemail?
Can we transfer calls between offices using our 4 digit extensions?
Should we route all calls directly to our branch offices or through the central receptionist at
Can we use our WAN/data circuit for voice calls also?
PBX Disaster Recovery
What would it cost your business to lose phone service for a day? Even an hour?
Every business has a "Plan A" for their PBX phone system: where calls come from, where calls are
delivered, which networks and providers are involved. What about a "Plan B"?
PBX disaster recovery is one of the most overlooked aspects of business continuity planning – until it's
too late. You go to great lengths to back up your data, co-locate your servers, and otherwise protect the
vital parts of doing business, but what about the vital link between you and your customers? The PBX.
White-Harris provides PBX Disaster Recovery consulting services to provide complete system
backup and failover in case of any emergency. Please call us for a complimentary
consultation about keeping your phone system up and running if a disaster strikes.
Making the Right Choice
Going through the above steps will help narrow down your choices. It may in fact eliminate some of the options entirely.
For example, if you absolutely need the quality and reliability of PSTN delivery, hosted service won’t work for you. In the
end, you’ll be balancing three main factors. One is payments to suppliers, including equipment purchases, maintenance
contracts and telecom services. The second is the quality and reliability of phone service. The third is your ability or
willingness to monitor and maintain your equipment entirely on your own. At White-Harris, we can answer all of your
White-Harris, serving the NJ, PA, and DE region since 1994, specializes in
Phone System Sales, Support, and Maintenance.
As the only certified Avaya Partner headquartered in South Jersey, we provide superior levels of service and value for the
Avaya IP Office, Enterprise Class, and associated Unified Messaging applications. We are committed to maintaining our
stellar reputation as a PBX Support and PBX Maintenance provider, and have recently been named as a Certified Samsung
BCS and Certified Extreme Networks partner in the NJ, PA, and DE region. Additionally, our versatile services include PBX
Assessment, Remote Monitoring, Network Readiness, On-Site Technicians, Cabling, Wireless, Hardware, Overhead Paging,
and related Telephony applications.
Our ability to provide exceptional service and support in deploying the latest solutions in IP Telephony, Unified Messaging,
and Wireless has resulted in outstanding client retention and growth built upon “Word of Mouth”. Whether you are a single
location small business, or a multi-site international organization, we can assist with PBX support and PBX assessment to
optimize your IP Telephony and unified communications needs.
Sample Projects
Holy Family University
Philadelphia, PA
 Complete upgrade of older Avaya Definity PBX, including
Project Management, Installation, Configuration, Cutover
and Testing.
Mountainside Hospital
Montclair, NJ
 Complete upgrade of older Avaya Definity PBX, including
Project Management, Installation, Configuration, Cutover
and Testing.
National Freight Industries
Vineland, NJ
 Supplied, Coordinated, and Installed new Avaya PBX servers
And gateways in branch locations across the United States
Mercy Health System
Conshohocken, PA
Assist in the maintenance and support of Avaya PBX systems
in various member hospital locations
* Customer Auto Router: Automatically Route Your Calls
This package offers you the capability to route callers to a particular extension, the operator, or up to five other
destinations (including additional extensions or other IVR applications). All destinations can be selected and
changed by your system administrator. This package gives you the flexibility to establish two separate routing paths,
for example, one for daytime business hours and another for after hours.
* Appointment Reminder: Automate Your Appointment Reminders
This application automatically calls patients to remind them of their upcoming appointment. Also, the system asks
the patient to confirm that they will keep their appointment. The patient responds by pressing "1" on the telephone
key pad if they will be there or "2" on the telephone keypad if they cannot make the appointment. The system
produces reports that are sent to the clinic office indicating which patients will or will not make their appointments
each day.
The system will allow the clinic to set all calling parameters:
-What hours of the day to call.
-What to do with busy signals, how often to retry.
-What to do with ring-no-answer.
-What to do with answering machines.
* Account Status Line: Allows Customers To Check Their Account Status
This application enables customers to make inquiries on their account balance, payment history, or payment
schedule. Callers can access the system 24 hours per day/7 days per week and retrieve information about their
account. Customer information can only be accessed by a caller with the correct account number. This method
insures security and confidentiality. Information provided is accurate and consistent since the system reads exactly
what is in the database and cannot misread numbers. The system enhances the services offered patients by
expanding business hours without adding staff to support the expansion.
* Never Miss an Important Call Again
Avaya EC500 Extension to Cellular is a mobility solution that enables you to receive business calls where you are . . .
not where your desk is. Avaya EC500 is an efficient and cost effective solution for reaching mobile workers
anywhere in the world cellular coverage is available. Since it is operable with all major cellular standards, such as
TDMA, CDMA and GSM, you can install the Avaya EC500 solution across your facilities – without having to think
twice about what cellular carrier or cellular standards in use for a given area.
More Applications……
* Customer Satisfaction Survey
The Customer Satisfaction Survey provides a framework for non-technical employees to build their own surveys and
received compiled, printed results without ever touching a computer keypad or incurring the high costs of
administering and interpreting, paper-based surveys.
Typical applications of the Customer Satisfaction Survey include monitoring caller and customer satisfaction. A
business can run up to three different surveys at one time, with up to 30 questions each. The system captures the
Touch-Tone responses from survey participants and automatically prints regular reports for each subgroup and the
total group.
The Customer Satisfaction Survey can also be designed to accept the caller’s comments. This can be extremely
beneficial in uncovering newly emerging satisfaction criteria.
* E-911 Services for Small and Medium Businesses
E-911 Anywhere Hosted is the perfect E911 solution for small and medium businesses that have an IPT platform and
need a low cost, high performance E911 system. Small and Medium businesses need a low cost E911 solution that
enables them to meet all State regulations and provide their employees with the E911 protection they deserve.
E911 Anywhere™ Hosted, gives companies complete E911 protection in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. By
accessing the E911 Anywhere™ Hosted web portal, enterprises can quickly and easily provide E911 protection for
every phone in their enterprise.
* Call Recording Solution
OAISYS call recording and voice documentation solutions help to improve risk management, quality assurance,
customer retention, dispute resolution and other critical business concerns. We offer superior integration with
leading business phone systems, ensuring the right fit for a broad array of organizational needs. OAISYS records calls
between businesses and customers, and optionally, related desktop activity through screen recordings. Contact
centers utilize these recordings to manage their agents, company processes, quality of service and customer
Glossary of Telecommunications Terms
A signaling method that uses continuous changes in the amplitude or frequency of a radio
transmission to convey information.
The capacity of a telecom line to carry signals. The necessary bandwidth is the amount of spectrum
required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information. FCC rules require
suppression of the signal outside the band to prevent interference.
Broadband is a descriptive term for evolving digital technologies that provide consumers a signal
switched facility offering integrated access to voice, high-speed data service, video-demand
services, and interactive delivery services.
This term, often used for all wireless phones regardless of the technology they use, derives from
cellular base stations that receive and transmit calls. Both cellular and PCS phones use cellular
In the telecommunications arena, the term used to describe a telephone company.
A new technology for transmitting and receiving broadcast television signals. DTV provides clearer
resolution and improved sound quality.
A high-powered satellite that transmits or retransmits signals which are intended for direct
reception by the public. The signal is transmitted to a small earth station or dish (usually the size
of an 18-inch pizza pan) mounted on homes or other buildings.
Also called electronic mail, refers to messages sent over the Internet. E-mail can be sent and
received via newer types of wireless phones, but you generally need to have a specific e-mail
Internet telephony is the use of the Internet rather than the traditional telephone company
infrastructure and rate structure to exchange spoken or other telephone information. Since access
to the Internet is available at local phone connection rates, an international or other long-distance
call will be much less expensive than through the traditional call arrangement.
Any connection of two or more computers that enables them to communicate. Networks may
include transmission devices, servers, cables, routers and satellites. The phone network is the total
infrastructure for transmitting phone messages.
A system through which announcements can be broadcast throughout a building or area using
overhead speakers and the phone system.
A one-way mobile radio service where a user carries a small, lightweight miniature radio receiver
capable of responding to coded signals. These devices, called "pagers," emit an audible signal,
vibrate or do both when activated by an incoming message.
An acronym identifying the traditional function of a telephone network to allow voice
communication between two people across a distance. In most contexts, POTS is synonymous with
the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
The public switched telephone network (PSTN) is the network of the world's public circuit-switched
telephone networks, in much the same way that the Internet is the network of the world's public
IP-based packet-switched networks. Originally a network of fixed-line analog telephone systems,
the PSTN is now almost entirely digital and includes mobile as well as fixed telephones.
Quality of service is the ability to provide different priority to different applications, users, or data
flows, or to guarantee a certain level of performance to a data flow. For example, a required bit
rate, delay, jitter, packet dropping probability and/or bit error rate may be guaranteed.
A telecommunications provider that owns circuit switching equipment.
The word used to describe the science of transmitting voice over a telecommunications network.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a network that uses a public telecommunication infrastructure,
such as the Internet, to provide remote offices or individual users with secure access to their
organization's network. A virtual private network can be contrasted with an expensive system of
owned or leased lines that can only be used by one organization. The goal of a VPN is to provide
the organization with the same capabilities, but at a much lower cost.
VoIP (voice over IP) is an IP telephony term for a set of facilities used to manage the delivery of
voice information over the Internet. VoIP involves sending voice information in digital form in
discrete packets rather than by using the traditional circuit-committed protocols of the public
switched telephone network (PSTN). A major advantage of VoIP and Internet telephony is that it
avoids the tolls charged by ordinary telephone service.
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