Thursday, March 5, 2009

VOIP

An illustration based on :Image:Voip HowItWork...Image via Wikipedia

Our district is in the early stages of evaluating VOIP and its overall value to our organization. The initial conversations have revolved around reducing long distance costs, leveraging our wireless infrastructure to reduce cellular plans and voicemail for all users. (Note: our infastructure is more than capable of supporting VOIP in our current environment.)

It is a must we are able to utilize existing handsets, in order to keep costs minimal initially. I forsee power users requesting IP phones, or simply preferring to use the soft phone on their PC.

I am at the point in this project that I cannot find a reason to move forward and continue the conversations with vendors willing to engage. Are there other school districts / small businesses out there that have implemented VOIP recently and would comment on its value? What cost savings did you see? What features / functionality do your users have now that they didn't before?

JDS | CIO


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4 comments:

Wayne Bogan said...

John,

Give me a call. I'd be glad to give you feedback from a neutral 3rd party perspective. We do hosted VoIP and I can give you details on what to ask and what to expect. Pain points, etc.

Wayne

wayne.bogan@spirittelecom.com
803-726-9029

John McMillen said...

Our phone system is physically what you are explaining without having IP assigned devices. We have one integrated system that has a central server and then a server at each school/location. We have two PRI lines that feed the system and we have a separate voicemail server that provides voicemail to every phone line. Some of our schools pass voice traffic over fiber while others utilize T1's which we are slowly switching over to our existing fiber lines.

There are pros and cons to moving to this structure. Ask and I will elaborate.

JDS-CIO said...

What are the pros and cons, John?

John mcMillen said...

Pro's: You have an integrated system that will save on long distance rates for not only your schools but you will also be able to provide PRI lines that remove long distance fees if you have them from one end of your county to another. Centralized management is another benefit along with having a single voicemail location to manage. I am probably forgetting something on the Pro side and will add if I remember anything else.

Cons: By having one central system and all calls leaving your district from one or two PRI lines then all caller ID's from the district will be the same number no matter which schools calls out. We get a ton of calls from to our board office in response to a call that identifies the call as coming from our main district phone number. Then we have to explain that the call could have come from any place in our district.

Also, an integrated system means that if the central location goes down then all locations go down... much like your network.

I am probably forgetting more cons as well but I just realized I have a meeting in 15 minutes... oops.