Unfamiliar with all the Lingo?
Have not ordered a Telephone system before? Or, not sure what it is you actually need? Of course, you can always calls us for free advice regarding your communication requirements. You will also find some useful information about the Switchtek site which may help you better understand what it is you actually need in a telephone system for your business, not something somebody wants to sell you.
I hope the information below will answer your questions.
ISDN or PSTN?
ISDN stands for Intergrated Digital Services Network.
Basic Rate ISDN (BRI) They are ordered in pairs (2 channels/lines) at a time.
PRImary rate ISDN can come in 10, 20 or 30 channels (lines), this service is generally provided over a fibre optic network to your office and may not be instantly available at your building. Check first with your carrier for availability.
The best feature of ISDN is that it allows you to have Direct inward dialling (DID -100 numbers for incoming calls). The benefit here is that every extension can have its own external number, spare numbers can be used for fax machines or even other departments or companies. This way every one has their own number, but you share a pool of lines. This can almost eliminate the need for a receptionist to answer and transfer calls and is the most efficient way to run numerous departments. Call charges can be determined by Call Accounting software or by your Carrier on an extension or department level.
It also allows you to transfer calls through your telephone system.
PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network.
Generally provided over the same copper wires as ISDN BRI, this is the old analogue network. Keep in mind that some services like adsl internet, alarms, fax’s, cordless phones and modems work on analogue lines.
PSTN lines can be programmed as a Rotary hunt group by your carrier. This enables you to only advertise your main number, but calls will overflow to the other lines when busy.
Adsl can now be ‘ghoasted’ or ‘naked’ in some areas (does not require a PSTN line rental) and analogue devices can be run through the system on analogue extension ports. This way you can do away with analogue lines altogether if you wish.
ISDN and PSTN are normally charged differently by the carrier, you should investigate call rates, account and connection fees before deciding to switch over.
Why so many buttons?
Buttons on Digital handsets can be programmed for function (a feature of the system eg. Headset or page etc) or for line and intercom appearance keys.
If you have more than 4 lines and 8 extensions, we recommend more buttons for easy intercom or transfer by touch of a button for every extension and status appearance of each line.
In larger organisations a couple of loop keys can replace the line keys, and some extensions will be called by their extension number, allowing some staff to use cheaper model handsets with less buttons. The receptionist in larger offices normally has a DSS (Direct Station Selection) module attached to the handset to enable all extensions in the office to be set on a key.
An intercom key will indicate if an extension is busy (or, out of the office on some models).
A line key will indicate a call ringing, on hold or busy.
Buttons on Analogue handsets, may call an extension or execute a feature by a programmed button, but it has no light indication for status. You also do not know what line you are using or answering The LCD display if it has one will not be intergrated into the telephone system features.
Voice Mail or Voice Message?
Voice Mail allows each extension to have a private mailbox for caller to leave a message when your phone is set to No answer, busy or all call forward.
This works particularly well with indial (ISDN), as Direct Inward Dialling (DID) allows callers to reach each extension or mailbox without the need for a receptionist.
You can use Voice mail like an answering machine for your company or Companies as well (not available on Hybrex Basic Voice mail). The advantage is that it will answer more than one line at a time (as many channels as it has). This can be useful during the day during busy periods. It does not have to take a message but can play a message and que the call on hold, with an option to leave a message if you wish.
The Voice mail is programmed or set to answer calls after hours or during holidays with a different greeting and take a message. (day/night/company greetings not available on Hybrex Basic Voice mail).
Voice Messages (also called VRS, OGM or Autto attendant). Will answer a call with a message and que a call, but not take a message. It can help eliminate the need for a receptionist to transfer calls. Calls can be directed to certain departments by recorded prompts and caller input.. Most voice mails as mentioned, include this feature also so this is a cheaper option if taking a message is not important.
Stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. This does not necessarily mean free, as the equipment (and or licences in some cases regarding phone systems) is quite expensive. You also need to pay for a high quality Broadband connection to make it reliable, with enough bandwith (speed) for the amount of call traffic you require. If you intend to run both voice and data over your one internet connection or VPN, then you may require more expensive routers and switches for your Data network.
VOIP to VOIP calls in some cases are free, but you will normally need a ’Service Provider’ to provide your Qos (Quality of service) and routing to the Traditional telephony network (Telstra etc). In which case you will have an account fee also and more than likely, call charges.
So apart from your equipment cost, internet cost and VOIP Provider cost, calls are almost free.
In the case of VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks), there is normally no call charges. This is a good solution for Organisations with other remote offices who need to talk alot.
SIP Trunking (Session Initiation Protocol) is starting to become more popular these days. It can be connected to a network switch and IP phone or intergrated into latter model telephone systems or older models (with less functionality) with adaptors, to gain all the benefits that a phone system offers with the cheaper call rates.
Keep in mind that unless you can carry over, port or divert your existing ‘advertised number’ to your VOIP Provider (and at what cost?), you will find that you may only use your VOIP lines for outgoing calls. Yes, that’s where you save money, but you still have to rent some Telstra lines for incoming calls, how many do you think you need?.
IP Phones are generally more expensive than their Traditional counterparts (In the case of Proprietary Telephone system IP Phones, which have more features than your cheap SIP Phone). They run off a data point which is more expensive to install than a phone point (unless it is structured data, then all points are data points anyway).
IP phones require a power adaptor or a Poe (Power over ethernet) Switch.
Some IP phones can run your PC off the one outlet, but that usually requires an expensive phone system or switch in some cases it is recommended to run your IP Phones on a separate Network to your data.
They can however be run over huge distances with Optical Fibre, or any where in the world over the internet.
IP phones do not actually require a phone system, they can be connected to your switch and router and talk through your VOIP Provider. The phone system merges and intergrates your VOIP calls, Telstra lines and IP or traditional TDM phones and features all together seamlessly.
Digital or Analogue extensions?
Analogue handsets are generally cheaper compared to Digital, especially cordless phones, however, the equipment (or cards) to run them are actually dearer in most cases. They also have less features and functionality.
Example, digital phones have separate line keys or displays to indicate which line is ringing or maybe who is calling you (caller ID) or help you find telephone numbers through a system directory. All of the system features can be programmed onto a key, like intercom, diversion and group keys etc. Features like conference, hold and transfer are found on the phone already.
Most features can be accessed by codes on analogues, this can make them un suitable for most office situations, but OK for people who only need to make calls.