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Q: it worth it? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: it worth it?
Category: Computers > Hardware
Asked by: thearchitect-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 27 Jun 2003 15:14 PDT
Expires: 27 Jul 2003 15:14 PDT
Question ID: 222563
First off, this is my first visit to Google Answers, and I'm pretty
impressed, or as impressed as you can be in 30 min or on
to the question...
I am currently working on a phone project for my work where we are
going to implement a new system, and the notion of VoIP has been
raised.   We are trying to decide between a Nortel VoIP system, and a
NEC system that is fairly easily translated over to VoIP if need be in
the future.   The thing is, that both systems are at about the same
price point.   I believe that there are some problems with VoIP and
calls dropping, and the quality of service is in question.   At some
point in the next 5-10 years I know that we will have a VoIP system if
we want to remain at the market standard, but I don't know if this is
that time.   To clarify a little bit, I'll provide an analogy....When
CD burners first came out, I think that they were around $300, and
they were 1x speed, and not very reliable...thus for a tech guy
consumer, you might buy it, but as a business, you could never depend
on it for business activity.   But, 4 years later, burners were at
$100 and were much faster, and were a very viable option for a
business.   Bottom line is this, is VoIP still in the stage where it
isn't worth it yet, or has it come into it's own as a viable business
Subject: Re: it worth it?
Answered By: arimathea-ga on 27 Jun 2003 16:36 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to answer this question.

Your question is a little subjective.  I do network engineering for a
living, and I think I can provide the information you're looking for.

First, it's extremely important to note that many large firms have
already deployed VoIP within their networks.  In some cases, this has
been the primary method of communication and was a complete forklift
upgrade from their existing phone systems.  I know many Cisco sales
offices and HP offices have already moved in this direction, and I
know of a number of employees at Fortune 50 companies who have VoIP
phones at their homes as an extension of the office system.  It works
very well, given network quality of service guarantees and other

I've assembled a list of articles below that discuss VoIP in the
		6/3/1999 - VoIP as a mainstream telephone service in VA
		2/1/2002 - VoIP being adopted by major telecom providers
		Gartner research collection on VoIP in the mainstream
		Voice 2000 article on VoIP/mainstream

There are also several open-source solutions other than NEC and Nortel
for VoIP.  I realize you weren't really asking this as part of your
question, but I thought i'd provide the information anyway in the
hopes you could use it.  I assume you've also thought over Cisco and
Lucent, two other very dominant players in this space.  The open
source solutions are Asterisk and Vocal.  They both act as VoIP
softswitches and will interact with PBXes using FXO/FXS cards:

	Vocal []

		"The Vovida Open Communication Application  Library (VOCAL) aims to
facilitate the
		 adoption  of VoIP in the marketplace. VOCAL provides  the software
and tools needed
		 to build VoIP  features, applications, and services. The  software
in VOCAL includes a
		 SIP-based  Redirect Server, Feature Server, Provisioning  Server,
Policy Server, and
		 Marshal Proxy  along with protocol translators from SIP to  H.323
and SIP to MGCP.
		 These modules are  designed to act as building blocks to help you 
create better, faster,
		 and stronger VoIP  systems."

	Asterisk []

		 Asterisk is a hybrid TDM and packet voice PBX (Private Branch
eXchange) and IVR
		 telephony toolkit. It acts as middleware between the Internet and
telephony channels  		 (like Zaptel, T1, PRI, E1, FXO, FXS, VoIP,
VoFR, ISDN, modems, Internet Phone Jack, etc.) 		 and applications
(like VoiceMail, directories, MP3 players, intercom, etc.). It has
		 advanced features such as a codec translation API. The base
distribution includes
		 several channel backends, as well as applications.  However, the
beauty of Asterisk is 		 its ability to be extended using its APIs,
dynamic module loader, and AGI scripting 		 interface. End users can
even write their own applications that run on the system
		 in C or any scripting language of their choice."

Shoreline also makes a lower-cost system for VoIP; there are obviously
a lot of players in this space.

There is a free registration at Webtorials on the subject:

Some research at NWFusion:

To summarize:  If you deployed now, you'd be slightly ahead of the
curve but not too far ahead.  VoIP is becoming a marketplace reality
and is offering many advanced features to businesses, particularly if
you are in a highly mobile workforce environment or have people spread
out.  The reliability can certainly be achieved with the right
solution.  Your network has to be built to support such a solution,
but it doesn't require such a significant investment to where it
wouldn't be worthwhile.  If you're connecting multiple offices or have
a lot of employees doing lots of long-distance calls between locations
which you control, VoIP could be a very valuable solution in terms of
recovered costs.  The adoption by major firms of VoIP technology
indicates that reliability has achieved a level that they are
comfortable with.

thearchitect-ga, I hope i've provided the information you're looking
for.  If I can be of any further assistance please feel free to
request a clarification of my answer, or post another question.  Best
of luck to you.

Regards - 

Research strategy:  

Google searches:
	Fortune 50 using VoIP
	VoIP mainstream
	VoIP reliability

Teoma searches on:
	VoIP reliability

Personal knowledge

Searches on

Request for Answer Clarification by thearchitect-ga on 27 Jun 2003 16:56 PDT
I am not really clear on the idea of "open-source" solutions...Also,
I'll clarify my network environment to make the situation a little
less subjective.   The company is a bank with 8 branches, and a hub to
link them all toghether in a Star.   We plan on bringing in 2 T-1's to
the hub to provide connectivity to the rest of the branches.   I am
assuming that you are not planning on routing the calls via the
internet are you? If you are, is that a viable option??   You
mentioned that this would be a very good solution for a very mobile
workforce, maybe you could clarify that definition.   Do you mean
"road warriors" in the context of a real estate broker, or simply a
professional that moves around from branch to branch.

To sum it up, when you are talking about VoIP are you routing via the
internet, or are you routing via a VoIP network, and out to the PSDN
network? And, a slight clarification on the idea of a mobile

Clarification of Answer by arimathea-ga on 27 Jun 2003 17:16 PDT

My pleasure to clarify the answer - first, open-source solutions.  By
this I mean software-based solutions running on a Linux or FreeBSD
system to support a VoIP network.  The Linux or FreeBSD-based solution
acts as a network device to "soft switch" calls to other phones in the
network - it handles things like your dial plans, your extensions,
your voice mail, and other items.  These solutions, by and large, are
free and require only a small investment in hardware but may not
always be suitable for larger organizations.

Secondly - wrt routing the calls via the Internet - depending on the
connectivity for the locations and the number of employees, it can be.
 I have reliably taken calls over the Internet and use an organization
called Vonage ( as my primary phone company.  I
still need a regular line for E911 service and because my broadband
goes out occassionally.  I realize this is subtly different from your
solution.  I would recommend building the network in the topology you
described, because it will give you a little more reliability and less
exposure to Internet-based failures.

Thirdly and finally - mobile workforces - I mean in both contexts that
you describe.  Cisco is doing exactly this today:  An employee moves
from his home office to his work office, his extension follows him, no
questions asked.  He can forward to a mobile phone at will or even use
his laptop as a "software phone" with a proper headset and take calls
there.  He can go to any other Cisco office and instantly realize all
his connectivity.  It's really quite amazing.

Best regards,
thearchitect-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Very good answer...I think that I need some clarification, but I think
that, that was mostly my fault, because I did not provide some
essiential information

Subject: Re: it worth it?
From: gf999111-ga on 02 Dec 2004 14:47 PST
I liked the answer aswell.  The basic question you have to answer is
do you need VOIP.  Do you need to run applications on phones, access
stats, have users move from office to office, bracnh to branch and
just take their phone with them .. or run software based IP phones for
mobile users etc...

If you are a sit at your desk, use basic phone features (voice mail
etc), have an existing phone cabling infrstructure (I assume you have
phones today) then I would go with traditional digital sets.  You may
wish to connect your offices via IP trunking but even that is not
really needed.. Why you ask .. because you get better support and
choice of support for traditional phone systems today than with VOIP. 
If you do not need the VOIP features then do not go there.  Most of
the Nortel swictches are VOIP upgradeable so you can add later or in
sections as required. Do not get sucked in by the hype.



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