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By Bitstreams
#4258
Our office has just grown from 2 staff to 3 and we only have 1 phone line. I need to put something in place and something that will ideally allow us to work from home occassionally and take our phone line with us.

The phone provider we have a relationship with (for customers) is suggesting a Horizon system and it does look like it will do everything we want. Cost is not terrible.
But one of my staff is suggesting an Asterisk box which we could build ourselves (we're IT people) and the only costs would be a card to attach to our analogue line and an additional analogue line.

But I'm confused. If we go the Asterisk route, am I limited in how many concurrent calls I can make from/to the office by the number of analogue lines - presumably so. With the Horizon system can't I have as many as the bandwidth will allow? If so, then the Asterisk system seems a rather old fashioned way of doing things doesn't it?

Simon
User avatar
By WelshPaul
#4259
Hello Simon, I’m unsure what you mean when you say “Horizon system”? Is that a hosted VoIP PBX or onsite PBX? I'm going to assume that it's a hosted VoIP PBX platform.

You say that you only have a single PSTN line at your premises, who installed it and what type of line do you have? If it’s a just a standard BT PSTN line, then you’re going to be limited to how many concurrent calls you can make from/to the office whichever system you go for unless you port your telephone number.

If you insist on using your PSTN line with Asterisk, to get over the outbound call restrictions imposed by the capabilities of your PSTN line, simply setup a VoIP line and have your PSTN line’s caller ID applied to it. You can then make as many outbound calls as you like, Asterisk will use your VoIP line to place them and the person being called will be none the wiser. Trouble is, you're still restricted to only one inbound call at a time (2 if you have call waiting enabled) if inbound calls are coming in over that PSTN line. Porting your number over to a VoIP provider is the best solution, that way you can make and receive as many calls as your internet connection will allow. It will also save you money, you’d only be paying £2+VAT a month for your number instead of £15.90+VAT (BT business lowest offering).

For the record, Asterisk will work alongside a PSTN line and/or VoIP. Asterisk will likely do whatever that “Horizon system” will do and probably a lot more. Remember though, if you port your number over to any VoIP provider then you’re still going to need a broadband connection at your premises and unless you have access to cable broadband you’re still going to need an active PSTN line at your premises to get broadband.

Using VoIP and Asterisk as your phone system will cost you:
  • £2+VAT a month plus any call charges.
  • Broadband is still required so add the cost of that on to the £2+VAT above
  • If you require a PSTN line to get broadband then add that cost too
Also, there are no minimum terms and no contracts when using VoIP.

Finally, if the Horizon system is an online hosted PBX solution like I think it is, you're still going to need a broadband connection and possibly a PSTN to get that broadband connection to use it. Also, inbound calls that are coming in via that PSTN line will still be restricted to just one or two without porting that number over. (Unless your current PSTN provider offers a VoIP service directly, then there would be no need to port your number.)
User avatar
By Bitstreams
#4261
Hi Paul,

The Horizon system is Gamma's Hosted VOIP PBX solution.

We have a single phone line from Plus Net which also provides FTTC broadband at a good speed 80/20. If we port the number I understand that PlusNet would simply provide an alternative line for the fibra connection so that cost would remain.

I want to be able to make/recieve 3 calls at the same time ideally and also be able to use a handset on the same number (or a new DDI number) when I work from home, without the end user knowing.

At the moment we get an inclusive tariff for landline calls from plusnet but pay for mobile calls. The supplier of the Horison system is offering all UK landline and mobiles included (and the FTTC line) but the cost for 2 handsets is around £65 per month.

I understand that I can build an Asterix machine but I don't get why I have to put a 4 port analog card in to connect to our phone line. Is this an alternative to porting the number and if I do it that way, how are the number of inbound/outbound calls restricted?
User avatar
By WelshPaul
#4262
Bitstreams wrote:Hi Paul,

The Horizon system is Gamma's Hosted VOIP PBX solution.
I suspected it might be Gamma's Hosted VoIP PBX solution although there are many others offering the same.
Bitstreams wrote:We have a single phone line from Plus Net which also provides FTTC broadband at a good speed 80/20. If we port the number I understand that PlusNet would simply provide an alternative line for the fibra connection so that cost would remain.
Be aware, most providers would cease a phone line upon any number assigned to it being porting out. Also any broadband connection on that line would be ceased too. So if you do decide to port out, make sure that Plus Net won't cease your line and broadband.
Bitstreams wrote:I want to be able to make/recieve 3 calls at the same time ideally and also be able to use a handset on the same number (or a new DDI number) when I work from home, without the end user knowing.
This is easily achieved, you only need one extension for every handset. Free to setup on Asterisk but chargeable on a Hosted PBX. Most VoIP providers usually charge an additional fee per extension (usually around £1 each) or assigned a certain amount of extensions to be used at sign up (the cost for these are normally included in your fixed monthly fee).

A snom D715 registered against an extension is capable of offering multiple lines allowing you deal with several calls at the same time. Heck you could place one phone in Scotland, a second phone in Wales and the third phone in England if you wanted to and once connected to a power source and an internet connection all three phones would be working as if they were in the same room. Anyone that dials your phone number would result in all three phones ringing at the same time and the caller would be none the wiser. Same if you dial out on any of the phones, the person being called would see your business number no matter which of the three phones the call was generated from.
Bitstreams wrote:At the moment we get an inclusive tariff for landline calls from plusnet but pay for mobile calls. The supplier of the Horison system is offering all UK landline and mobiles included (and the FTTC line) but the cost for 2 handsets is around £65 per month.
Any other charges on top of the £65? Is it inclusive of VAT?

£65 a month for unlimited UK landline and mobiles calls, FTTC and 2 IP phones appears to be a great deal.
Bitstreams wrote:I understand that I can build an Asterix machine but I don't get why I have to put a 4 port analog card in to connect to our phone line. Is this an alternative to porting the number and if I do it that way, how are the number of inbound/outbound calls restricted?
You don't need to build anything, you can run Asterisk off an old PC, Raspberry PI or VPS. There is no requirement to connect Asterisk to a working PSTN line and no need to purchase any analogue cards, just register a it to a SIP trunk. If you do want to make or receive calls over a PSTN line via Asterisk then obviously you need to connect your Asterisk box to that PSTN line.

An example: Let's say you were running Asterisk off an old PC in a storage cupboard...

To be able to make and receive calls via that Asterisk server over your PSTN line, simply purchase an OBi110, connect the OBi110 to the same network that your Asterisk box is using and connect the OBi110 to your PSTN line. A bit of configuration on the OBi110 and Asterisk server is required but once completed your you're able to make and receive calls via that PSTN line using Asterisk.

Call would go out like this: IP phone on desk > your local network > Asterisk > your local network > OBi110 > PSTN

PSTN lines only allow one inbound call at a time, then you get an engaged tone. There is nothing you can do to alter this! OK, you can enable call waiting and then a second caller will no longer hear the engaged tone but that's it. If you don't port your number over the only way to receive calls on your PBX would be to divert them from your PSTN line to a DID assigned to your hosted PBX. That will likely incur additional costs by Plus Net as diverted calls are not normally included in any free allowance.

All you need is a small cloud based PBX, cost is minimal. It only starts to get expensive when you're looking at inclusive mobile minutes. Hosted PBX with three extensions, 1 DID and unlimited landline calls will set you back around £15 a month. It's the inclusive mobile calls that push the costs up, do you really need that? I have to pop out, when I get some spare time later I will see if I can come up with a cheaper solution for you.
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User avatar
By WelshPaul
#4265
@Bitstreams I looked into this a bit more last night and was surprised by how much some VoIP providers are charging for inclusive mobile minutes! :-o

I'm still unsure about how many phones/extensions you actually want? I'm going to assume that as your company has grown from 2 to 3 employees that you require one phone/extension per employee...

The best I could find (because i'm unsure of the vonage offering) was yay.com who offer a Unlimited VoIP package at £12.99 /month exc VAT per user, so for three employees that's £46.76 /month inc VAT
https://www.yay.com

Sipgate team 3 came in at £53.94 /month inc VAT
http://www.live.sipgate.co.uk/team/plans

Vonage offer a Business Unlimited package which includes Unlimited Calls to UK Landlines & Mobiles for £20.40 /month inc VAT but i'm unsure if thats per user? It does say "Make & Receive Calls on Multiple Devices" best to drop them an email and ask. Vonage are offering a FREE Office Phone (for a limited time only ) too.
https://www.vonage.co.uk/business/office-phone-systems/
https://www.vonage.co.uk/business/offic ... promotion/

If the Vonage Business Unlimited package allows for three extensions/phones at £20.40 /month inc VAT then it's a no brainer, a saving of £45! Get a free phone off Vonage and buy two cheap IP phones off eBay.

https://support.vonage.co.uk/app/articl ... Vonage-555

OK thanks, what VPN are you using ??

A good write up on SIP ALG: https://www.voicehost…

Thanks very much. Really appreciate it! :-D

Attached below is my latest OBIHAI UK configuratio…