I have some questions and maybe some of you can help me. We are a Internet Solution provider and Network consulting firm and we are looking to get into the VOIP/phone system market, really just so our clients do not have to go to a 3rd party provider. We have a number of clients that have 3rd party providers for these services (ex: XO) for voice/data solutions and are not happy at all with their service.
We are fully capable with selling, installing and supporting a complete phone system for these clients, but there are some voids in our knowledge. We have never really done the phone side of things, although with have done some light support from time to time.
The questions that I have that I hope some of you could help with, are...
If we wanted to get into this space and provide a solution for clients (voice/data), what solutions are working for you and who would you recommend using for the voice side of things? We normally install Covad or other tier one t-1's or DSL, but want to get a decently-priced wholesale VIOP provider. Someone we can switch the companies existing numbers to, configure the equipment to gateway through the provider and have the provider be responsibile for the equipment staying up, etc. We could turn servers up and install Asterick and obtain numbers and or switch people over to our equipment, but we do not want to be (directly) responsible for the voice service going down for a client. The clients in mind are probably $2m to $25m companies that have anywhere from 4 to 20 phone lines.
What equipment vendors do you recommend or like? Alot of companies are selling 3com and Dlink. What has the features and is the best bang for the buck?
We would love to find a reliable provider that we could resell to clients that could offer an awesome package that might include something like this - include maybe 5 or 8 lines of dial tone (over VOIP), unlimited US calling and like 2500 minutes of worldwide calling for like $100 a month (wholesale), and we could provide the customer their data line and just configure their network and phone systems to use this VOIP/SIP provider, and we could bill our client directly. We do not want to go with a cheapo company. We cannot aford to have our clients go down, but at the same time these services are only getting cheaper.
Would you please point me in the right direction? We are looking for some recommendations. Thanks in advance!
For equipment, you might check out SmartCom or StarTel. I worked with StarTel about seven years ago actually and was well versed in their system. We went through one update with them I remember - from using a 3ft X 3ft X 3ft box that relied 5 1/2 floppies to using a Windows NT box.
For resellers, you might check out Freedom Voice or Call Clear Voice.
I would go with asterisk. I have been using it for 2 1/2 years and I have been real happy. The sponsor of asterisk (Digium) makes all diffrent kinds of cards for the diffrent phone lines. I personally use a company Sangoma for all my install's. I have seen them work better. It is fairly simple to learn.
I reccomend the following:
Sign up for the asterisk users list. http://lists.digium.com/asterisk-users. Its a good place to ask questions.
IRC: irc.freenode.net And join the #asterisk room. I you have quick questions the people there can generally help you out.
The Book: A book was written about asterisk. It is called: Asterisk: The future of Telephony. It an be downloaded at: http://www.h6315.com/ast_book
WIki: Use the wiki. Although it isnt 100% acurate it is pretty good. Thr URL is http://voip-info.org
The Asterisk Forums: http://forums.digium.com
Now as far as pricing plans what you want is unrealistic. There is almost no one th at will give you 5-8 channels with truly unlimited + 2500 of internatonial calling. Every provider has a limit for "unlimited". Most termination providers charge per minute. There are also very few companies that will give you unlimited for asterisk.
I personally use:
Myphonecompany.com for Origination (inbound calls) - They charge $5.00 per month per line. You get 2 incoming calls at once (it is flexible to more. I have called my number and was able once to get 10 channels - however if you abuse it they will terminate you. They told me to purchase one did for every 2 channels that I want to use. I have one client that needs 4 incoming channels so he pays them $10.00 a month)
Teliax.com - Termination - Outbound calling. They charge $0.02 a minute for calls to US48. Thier customer service is great.
Voipjet.com - Termination - Outbound calling. They charge $0.013 a minute for calls to US48. Thier customer service is real poor although you should never really need them.
Both of the termination providers above allow you to set the caller ID to what ever yo want.