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Small Business VOIP system using Linksys...including Wireless?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pcastleberg, Nov 23, 2007.

  1. pcastleberg

    pcastleberg Network Guru Member

    Hey guys, kind of a complicated one here. Just looking for some input and information.

    My parents have a small business and it has grown to the extent that they really need a more sophistocated phone system than their two analog lines. (1 voice and 1 fax/voice).

    They are want to link their home office with their business office (3/4mile apart with good LOS).

    I of course am the Techy son so I get tasked with helping on both accounts.

    I really think they could use an INTERNAL VOIP system but they definately are not going to want to foot the bill for having a company come in and put it in for them.

    They currently have 4 people in the main office and will have another 1-2 at the home office initially when it gets linked.

    So I have two project to figure out:
    1: Linking the two offices. That I think I can do pretty much no problem, but Certainly am open to recommendations on the best way to do that. (In the process we might like to link a 3rd location that also has good LOS (they kind of make a nice triangle with two locations both having good LOS to the 3rd but not to each other. (all less than 1 mile apart).

    Any recommendations on hardware or thoughts about things to watch out for would be very appreciated.

    2: VOIP. Ok, they aren't brave enough to try external VOIP but they will let me deploy it for them internally. So we are prospectively looking at having 3-4 analog phone lines coming into the main office and from there I would like to setup a VOIP network.

    The problem/question is how best to do that. Some people said the best/most flexible tool to do it on the cheap is Asterisk/Tribox. To me that looks like it might be a little more complicated than I care to try to deal with...but I have never done much VOIP stuff before.

    I was thinking going all Linksys for this setup. Using the SPA400 linked to the SPA9000 to create the VOIP system I needed. I think that will work for what they need and It seems that it might be more straight forward to configure but probably less flexible.

    Of course we would have to get phones too.

    The big monkeywrench is how to link the two offices phone systems...(in other words)...Can I run the VOIP over the wireless network between the two locations?
    If I do this:
    1. Am I going to have bandwidth issues?
    2. Can I run VOIP on the same network as the office LAN or does it need to be seperate?

    I have done some wireless "bridging" of networks before between two locations (though it was back in the 802.11b days) but I have never experimented with VOIP over wireless.

    Any input/experiences that anyone has had with any of this would be very helpful. Also any ideas or recommendations are very welcome.

    Thanks in advance, you guys have never failed to answer any other question that I have had.

    -Patrick
     
  2. thepianobar

    thepianobar LI Guru Member

    Here are my somewhat coherent, rambling thoughts. Hopefully someone else has some experience with this they can share.

    My guess is that you will have problems running VoIP over your wireless connections because of the inability to do real QoS with the hardware you're talking about. That said, I haven't tried it myself, so who knows, it just might work.

    The problem is that I think there will be a somewhat significant investment in antennas, phones, routers and other hardware for something that may or may not work well.

    To answer your question about a separate network for VoIP... The whole idea with VoIP is to be able to run it on the same IP network as everything else. It just requires QoS to make sure your VoIP traffic gets the priority it needs.

    One VoIP call using G.711 at 64kb/s and adding Layer2, IP, UDP, RTP overhead requires 83-115kb/s depending on your voice payload size. (Then again, using G.729 that drops to 10-32kb/s). However, that's without any encryption. Then remember that voice traffic is extremely sensitive to jitter and delay and dropping more than one packet will have a noticeable effect on the call... so your wireless connection would need to be rock solid and you'd need QoS to be enabled ensuring that if someone decides to transfer a 5MB powerpoint while someone else is on the phone that it doesn't ruin the phonecall.

    I guess I would link the offices first (because it'd be helpful to have a WWAN between them anyway, right?) and then do some testing with the connections to see how stable they are and what kind of performance you get. Then after the WWAN has been up and running for a while, try out the VoIP. Maybe you could even do some testing using softphones so you don't have to drop money on the hardware for VoIP to make sure the wireless links will be able to handle the load.
     
  3. thepianobar

    thepianobar LI Guru Member

    So I talked to a friend of mine who has done something similar, over about 100 yds, with 30 -some phones at the remote site, but they were using Cisco hardware and running CME... so obviously they had access to advanced QoS and CAC on that hardware.

    If you could get the wireless links established I think it would work, but there might be some issues depending on the other traffic going over the link and when running multiple calls over one link. If you decide to go for it I'd be interested to hear how things turn out.
     
  4. JOHNCON3

    JOHNCON3 LI Guru Member

    I work for Cisco and am a Voice Guy. CME is probably going to be way out of your price range, the minimum would be $4k+ w/ installation on top of it.

    Trying to create two systems injects a lot of complexity in this, you would really want a centralized system and have your parents phones as remote ext's off of the main instance. The problem you will have is that most phones on the market don't have the ability to create a VPN tunnel, so you would want a tunneling router. The problem there is that you will a) inject a lot of delay by doing that with cheap devices (would cause echo and talkover delay) and would also create networking challenges as many IP systems don't have a way to deal with NAT.

    As a guy who is involved in multi-million $ deals, my advice would be to switch your parents to a hosted platform (Vonage comes to mind but their financial situation is precarious). This way the system lives in the cloud and a lot of the issues you would run into are negated.

    Just my $.02.
     
  5. pcastleberg

    pcastleberg Network Guru Member

    Thanks for the responses guys, I guess I need to update my email, I didn't get my notifications telling me that there were reponses.

    As far as the investment goes we are going to be doing the Wireless Lan connection between the two points regardless of the phone situation.

    I can certainly look into different hardware as well and from a standpoint of testing I can use an "extra" phone from the main office to take up to the remote office to test.

    I am not familiar with QoS so I guess I will have to do some studying. :D

    I have been thinking we needed to "upgrade" our network here and make it more robust anyway. What you have told me just means that I also need to look at some more expensive Wireless hardware with some more options.

    We haven't purchased anything yet and I will just have to look at what I need to get and give them a different quote.

    hmmm

    Obviously as I orginally stated the budget is not unlimited, (what budget ever is)....I really appreciate all the responses....Do you guys have any suggestions on network setup and hardware that I should be looking into that would give me Qos and the other options discussed?

    I am thinking both in the existing office and for the wireless.

    Right now we are just running of the DSL router with a wireless AP and some "basic" encription for the in house wireless.

    Any additional suggestions are greatly appreaciated.

    Thanks....Patrick
     
  6. kspare

    kspare Computer Guy Staff Member Member

    This is easy.

    Pick up a 4 port voice card from Sangoma. Get a decent computer and download trixbox. Pick up some linksys 942 or 962 phones. That will cover you with a stable phone system for CHEAP. SPA9000 isn't the greatest thing out there and it's not that flexible, so run from it.

    As far as the two sites go, i'd get a cisco 871w at the main site, so you can do wifi, internet and qos out to the net.

    At the remote locations do you have internet already? If so you don't need anything else, the 871w at the main location SHOULD be enough to make everything work, then just put a phone at the house and let it connect over the internet and away you go!

    I sell solutions like this everyday so if you need anyhelp, let me know.
     
  7. JOHNCON3

    JOHNCON3 LI Guru Member

    Patrick,

    If you have a little budget and are looking to upgrade the network anyway, you might want to look into the Cisco UC500:

    http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps7293/index.html

    It's an all in one box that is geared towards environments like yours. It has built in Voice, Vmail, Basic Call Center, Wireless Access Point, Firewall and VPN & would probably be a better fit. You could then put an 8x1 series router in your parents house and have them VPN from it to the UC500. Trying to run wireless over that distance is not for the feint of heart and will have all kinds of issues that a VPN would not.

    There are likely to be a small VAR local to you that would implement for fairly short money. My view on these things is to spend a little more money for a good solution than give up a lot of nights and weekends supporting a 'do it yourself' one.

    Good luck with whichever way you elect to go. PM me if you'd like me to put you in touch with a local resource.
     
  8. kspare

    kspare Computer Guy Staff Member Member

    Are you for real? You can do a trixbox solution for 1/2 the price of the cisco one without any limitations and with just as much stability.

    Add to the fact that he can buy linksys spa942 phones for MUCH less money than the cisco phones.

    Pick up a used compaq/hp business desktop
    pick up a sangoma as20002d voice card
    pick up some linksys phones
    a linksys poe switch
    cisco 871w router and you are good to go, and for cheap.

    You don't have to worry about voiceports etc etc...it will just work. and quite easily.

    I checked on my costs for the basic 8 port version and my cost was $3000 canadian, so use your imagination.

    I can sell you a sangoma voice card for $650cdn, and linksys spa942 phones for about $175cdn, the switch for about 775 and the router configured for about $999.

    You can also do alot of the things that the cisco solution can't...don't be fooled! We beat cisco,nortel, nec everyday on quotes with trixbox solutions, it's pretty sweet!
     

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