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Retrieved from ISED-L list-serv 4/09, CC3.0 a, s-a, nc license

  • We decided to go IP and have been extremely happy with our Avaya IP 500. It's very easy to manage and maintain and has all of the features we needed.
  • We've had a ShoreTel system for about 3 years. Our finalists were Avaya, Cisco and ShoreTel. I love the usability and phone quality.
  • I made the decision to go with Mitel about 3 years ago because we still needed to support a large number of analog lines in dorms. If I could have had an IP-only solution, I would have chosen ShoreTel.

Retrieved from ISED-L list-serv 5/08, CC3.0 a, s-a, nc license

In selecting a phone vendor, I would recommend:

  • Research their client list and ask who their oldest clients are. Contact them directly for references. If they don't have any clients that are more than 3 years old, be cautious.
  • Be very cautious of companies that do not own any network resources. They will always have to deal with the local phone company for line issues but if they don't act as an ISP I would be wary. If they don't own physical networks, then they are offering savings by buying services from others in bulk and reselling them to you. That makes them more accounting oriented than network oriented and my experience indicates that those kinds of companies do not offer much in the way of technical support when things go wrong.
  • Review the detail in the contract rates very carefully. When we told the company that we were not going to purchase new equipment they resisted and then sent us a new contract with those charges removed. However, they had increased the long-distance rates by half a cent. When we pointed that out they said it was an error caused by multiple drafts.
  • Beware of the need for analog lines. Our company could not support the transition of our dedicated, analog lines that are necessary for fire and security systems. We still ended up with multiple telephone bills and while they had been factored into our "anticipated" cost savings we never saved that money.
  • Do not sign a contract until after a complete site survey that specifically addresses the need for additional equipment, especially routers, CSU/DSU, and battery backup systems. Make sure the leasing costs are realistic vs purchase.
  • Make sure you clarify any termination and/or upgrade costs for leased equipment. As I recall Cavalier originally had termination penalties in their contract but took them out.
  • Beware of companies that offer to do this by processing all your eRate documents for you. There are a dozen or more of these companies being prosecuted for fraud.
  • If your bill is over $1000 per month, you're in the top 15% of customers and are highly coveted. If it's higher, they'll do even more to keep your business, but I've never worked for a phone company that offered lower costs on their own. It's been a couple of years since I negotiated a telecommunications contract, but two years ago, If it was in the higher usage ranges, you should be paying less than $0.03 a minute, including long distance within the US.

Retrieved from ISED-L list-serv 2/06, CC3.0 a, s-a, nc license:

  • We have a company that did this for us using Asterisk. We have a phone in each classroom, the admins have portable phones that they can use in any one of our 5 buildings. (like a cell phone but free) There is a nice web interface (they wrote for us) that checks the master rosters and can not ring a class room if there is a class in it at the time. This solution was about 10 times less then an inter-tel solution.
  • About 1.5 years ago we replaced our Merlin Legend PBX with a 3COM NBX system See: This Link. At the time, it was the price:performance winner among about 6 competitive systems we evaluated. I like the relative simplicity, as it is completely self-contained appliance, and does not require a microsoft or other server. We have 140 phones, a T1 (24 lines), plus a 4 analog lines for backup, direct inward dial to each extension, voicemail, and can handle all of the other items on your wish list except network fax. You'd have to set up a separate fax server for that. By the way, we have also attached an external paging system to this NBX, so that someone who is managing a schoolwide crisis can page to all speaker phones plus external paging system, like the loud speakers in the gymnasiums, theater, dining room, etc. We have been very pleased with the performance and cost of this system. By the way, I am sure you have thought of this, but just in case... make sure you plan for uninterruptable service during a power outage. Moving to a VoIP system would likely require power backup to all network closets. In our case, we have a combination of power over ethernet, UPS systems, and an emergenecy generator.

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