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uk.telecom.voip (UK VOIP) (uk.telecom.voip) Discussion of topics relevant to packet based voice technologies including Voice over IP (VoIP), Fax over IP (FoIP), Voice over Frame Relay (VoFR), Voice over Broadband (VoB) and Voice on the Net (VoN) as well as service providers, hardware and software for use with these technologies. Advertising is not allowed.

Corporate VOIP - Skype?



 
 
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  #1  
Old May 15th 09, 12:33 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
TheScullster
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 51
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

Hi all

Total newby to this Skype stuff!
My boss has asked if this can be implemented as we have a lot of overseas
travellers and he is looking to make savings!
Currently we have a Windows domain with 2003server, ISA server as proxy and
a checkpoint firewall.
A quick scan of a few links shows up issues like:

"We need a software that we can setup on our Own server. One that does not
port hop, circumvent the firewalls, or try to suck up our bandwidth by
becoming a Super Node at it's own descretion"

Can anyone direct me to links that can demystify this VOIP stuff and give
unbiased info on Skype or alternatives used in a corporate environment
please?

TIA

Phil


  #2  
Old May 15th 09, 01:28 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Chris Davies
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 444
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

TheScullster wrote:
Can anyone direct me to links that can demystify this VOIP stuff and give
unbiased info on Skype or alternatives used in a corporate environment
please?


If you use Skype you are at the mercy of whatever they decide to include
in the software. (Their business plan, not yours.) If you go for a
standards based solution that uses SIP or IAX you are not tied in to a
single provider, and equipment will interoperate. Further, there are
many different SIP based VoIP providers out there - mostly you get what
you pay for (budget call charges but no customer service, right up to
reasonable call charges with excellent customer service).

I'm sure those with a commercial interest in your query will be along
shortly - it would be worth speaking with them to see how your kit could
interoperate. You should also talk to your existing PBX provider to see
whether they have something that is SIP/IAX compliant.

Chris
  #3  
Old May 15th 09, 01:41 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Gordon Henderson
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 797
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

In article ,
TheScullster wrote:
Hi all

Total newby to this Skype stuff!
My boss has asked if this can be implemented as we have a lot of overseas
travellers and he is looking to make savings!
Currently we have a Windows domain with 2003server, ISA server as proxy and
a checkpoint firewall.
A quick scan of a few links shows up issues like:

"We need a software that we can setup on our Own server. One that does not
port hop, circumvent the firewalls, or try to suck up our bandwidth by
becoming a Super Node at it's own descretion"


Skype won't give you that - it's decentralised. However I understand
it's possible to tell it not to become a supernode.

Skype does not need a server though - it's purely peer to peer (maybe
via a supernode which you won't have any control over other than telling
your own node to not become one)

Personally I'd not run a PBX on a windows server. I'd install a dedicated
box built for the purpose. But if you're looking for a software solution
to run under Windows, lookup 3CX. Just remember what when your windows
box crashes, so will your phone system....

Skype is good at getting round corporate firewalls, and other restrictions
that may be in-place by the owner of the Internet connection you are
using. VoIP is illegal in some countries, and may countries/ISPs try to
block it as it may compete with their own voice offering.

Skype is a closed system, running on proprietary software which no-one
has access to. This doesn't stop millions of people using it though.

Read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype

for more on Skype.

With standards based VoIP (SIP, IAX, H.323) you'll still run into the
same issues - firewalling, ISP/country rules & regs.. However it is then
possible to run your own server (PBX) and have more control over it.

The ultimate solution from my point of view (and bear in-mind that I
sell these), would be running your own PXB that supports VoIP, so people
can literally take their phones with them - or use remote extensions -
either desk phones or "soft" phones running on a PC/Laptop (which is
mostly how Skype works) The PBX can still connect to your legacy PSTN,
but adds VoIP as a bonus to allow remote users to connect into the office.

But while the Internet in the UK is good and you can control your own
firewalls, etc., the remote users will still be at the mercy of the remote
ISPs they connect through. It's not always plain sailing - especially in
poorer countries with slow/overloaded Internet facilities. (Same issues
with Skype too)

If you don't want a new PBX in-house, then a virtual or hosted PBX
solution may work, but integrating it into the existing office PBX may be
tricky - not impossible though. A crude solution is simply a couple of
"hot-line" phones at HQ connected to the same virtual PBX - the down-side
is integrating it with the existing HQ PBX though - but this can be done
if the existing PBX has spare analogue line capacity via ATAs.. (I have
a couple of clients who do this) There are other ways, but not for me.

I'm not sure if you can do the same integration with Skype yet - PC to
PC will work, but going into the PBX.. Tricky, but there are solutions
being worked on.

Can anyone direct me to links that can demystify this VOIP stuff and give
unbiased info on Skype or alternatives used in a corporate environment
please?


I can't really give an un-biased opinion on Skype - technically it's
a competitor to my own business, but I can't compete with free, other
than to say that you get what you pay for.. (Who do you call when it
doesn't work?)

Alternatives to Skype is standards based systems - there are 100's to
choose from, but your requirement of running in your own server limits
it somewhat.


Gordon
  #4  
Old May 15th 09, 01:57 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Theo Markettos
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 539
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

TheScullster wrote:
Hi all

Total newby to this Skype stuff!
My boss has asked if this can be implemented as we have a lot of overseas
travellers and he is looking to make savings!


Questions:

What kind of call volume (mins per month) are you likely to need?

What destinations are they likely to be in (eg developed world, or more
'exotic' locations)?

What kind of networks are the travellers going to be on? Hotel wifi?
Mobile broadband? Are they likely to be firewalled more stringently than
the average home router?

How 'mission critical' are these links? For example, if you were using one
for teleconferencing a sales meeting you really don't want it to fail
halfway. But if it's just for folks to check their voicemail (say) it's not
so critical.

Do you need your end to run on the Windows server, or can you accept another
box?

Do you want to do it yourself, or would you be happy for someone to provide
a turnkey solution (if the price was right)?


Theo
  #5  
Old May 15th 09, 03:17 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
TheScullster
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 51
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?


"Theo Markettos" wrote


Questions:

snip............

Theo

OK so I just started talking call volumes to the guys who are asking for
this and the goalposts have moved big-style.
They are talking about a whole office VOIP solution now rather than just a
cheaper method of connecting to a few remote users.

But I would suspect that some of the points you have raised will be equally
if not more valid here.
The majority of our work is overseas which means regular contact with
roaming employees, satellite offices and clients in the "more exotic
locations" (including the likes of Ukraine, Belarus Russia).

Roaming users are likely to be connecting via hotel wi-fi, or a client's
internet connection - firewall details therefore unknown.
Their calls are not likely to be mission-critical and would be voice only,
not video.

Would be interested to know the cost implications of DIY/turnkey.

Where are the savings most likely to be made in terms of call costs?
Do you need VOIP to VOIP communication to see significant savings IYSWIM.

Phil



  #6  
Old May 15th 09, 04:50 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Theo Markettos
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 539
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

TheScullster wrote:
Where are the savings most likely to be made in terms of call costs?
Do you need VOIP to VOIP communication to see significant savings IYSWIM.


I'm sure others who sell such kit can advise on the logistics, but as far as
call costs compare these SIP-PSTN prices:
http://www.siptraffic.com/index.php?page=Rate
with what you pay at the moment (those prices are in Euro). Their 'silver'
and 'gold' routes are supposedly higher quality calls/more capacity in busy
times.

Those are 'wholesale' (minimum topup 200EUR/USD) SIP VOIP rates from a
'bargain basement' provider. You may end up paying more if you need fewer
mins or to go with someone who has decent support, or possibly less if you
cherry pick routes from different companies. But the above should give you
an idea.


As to Skype, the problem is they're a monopoly supplier. So if they do
something you don't like you either have to lump it, or re-engineer your
system to go elsewhere. Microsoft and eBay have this business model down to
a T - the extra cost of putting up with their changes is always just
slightly less than it would be to ditch them and go elsewhere.

SIP is open, so if your provider does something nasty you simply cancel your
contract and move somewhere else. Should only require a few configuration
tweaks to make the change.

Theo
  #7  
Old May 15th 09, 05:11 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Theo Markettos
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 539
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

TheScullster wrote:
The majority of our work is overseas which means regular contact with
roaming employees, satellite offices and clients in the "more exotic
locations" (including the likes of Ukraine, Belarus Russia).

Roaming users are likely to be connecting via hotel wi-fi, or a client's
internet connection - firewall details therefore unknown.
Their calls are not likely to be mission-critical and would be voice only,
not video.


First point to make is that VOIP while travelling is a bit variable. Forget
trying to use it over mobile internet, it's too flaky to be useful. You may
find that internet connections in hotels etc out in the sticks aren't good
enough for reliable VOIP either.

So perhaps it's better to stick to the PSTN. Here's an idea...

One advantage of having a VOIP system is you can do interesting routing with
it. It's a bit like all the things you can do with email routing -
forwarding, filtering, etc compared to paper letters. You can keep the VOIP
system in the office to do this - you don't need to run VOIP in the field.

For the roaming users, how about you buy some local SIM cards for each
country? Have them in a pool, so you can manage topups etc centrally (each
country will have different rules about expiry, topups etc).

So Bill is going to Belarus. Before leaving he signs out a Belarus SIM
card. The system is set up so that calls to his office phone will now
forwad to the number on the Belarus SIM via the VOIP provider. That'll cost
about EUR0.10/min with Siptraffic's Bronze route (and assuming it costs
nothing to receive calls on the Belarus mobile network).

To make outgoing international calls, you set up a ringback system. Bill
dials the UK ringback number attached to your system. He gets an engaged
tone and hangs up. The system immediately rings him straight back (at
EUR0.10/min), he enters his password and the number he wants to ring. It
connects him. So a call from Belarus mob to Belize mob will cost the
Belarus leg (0.10/min) plus the Belize leg (0.12/min) - total EUR0.22/min.

If the ringback is too clumsy, some of the VOIP operators have a similar
system where you put the number into a Java application on the phone, which
sends the details over GPRS and then you're rung back. Or you do it with an
SMS.

Theo
  #8  
Old May 15th 09, 05:14 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Gordon Henderson
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 797
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

In article ,
TheScullster wrote:

"Theo Markettos" wrote


Questions:

snip............

Theo

OK so I just started talking call volumes to the guys who are asking for
this and the goalposts have moved big-style.
They are talking about a whole office VOIP solution now rather than just a
cheaper method of connecting to a few remote users.

But I would suspect that some of the points you have raised will be equally
if not more valid here.
The majority of our work is overseas which means regular contact with
roaming employees, satellite offices and clients in the "more exotic
locations" (including the likes of Ukraine, Belarus Russia).

Roaming users are likely to be connecting via hotel wi-fi, or a client's
internet connection - firewall details therefore unknown.
Their calls are not likely to be mission-critical and would be voice only,
not video.

Would be interested to know the cost implications of DIY/turnkey.


For DIY - it's time plus some hardware. A reliable modern PC running
Linux and an asterisk based system will work for the PBX - You may need
some PSTN cards to interface with legacy BT, etc. lines (analogue, ISDN..)

Then it's the cost of the phones plus someones time to program it all up.

Pre-built (free) solutions are trixbox, pbxinaflash and a few others. Just
google on those names to get started. And there are pre-build appliances
ready to plug in and go - some based on trixbox, etc. some on other
platforms.

(I'm of the view that it's not that simple to DIY it and much better to
have it installed by someone who knows what they're doing, so I rarely
sell my own boxes for DIY installation - but I did ship a full system
to Sweden once which is working very well for them!)

VoIP to VoIP calls are free - if you discount the cost of the bandwidth
(which most people do) however there are ITSPs (Internet Telephony
Service Providers) who can do the plumbing to connect VoIP to the PSTN
for you. Go to http://www.itspa.org.uk/ for a starting list.

If you want a quote for a pre-built system, drop me an email, (the email
here is valid) but I'll need a few more details...

VoIP relies on a good Internet connection. Wi-Fi is not that reliable
and prone to being swamped by other users, but it can work when not
busy. You can also use highly compressed codecs (eg. g729) to reduce
the bandwidth requirements, but there's more to VoIP than bandwidth.

Other considerations - remote offices - how many staff? It may work
out better for them to have their own VoIP PBX and desk phones, than
just extensions to HQs system - there are some relatively efficient
trunking methods (g729/iax) to connect two (or more) PBXs together,
and a local PBX might allow them to connect to their local PSTN lines,
so one phone on each desk rather than a VoIP phone plus a local phone.

Where are the savings most likely to be made in terms of call costs?
Do you need VOIP to VOIP communication to see significant savings IYSWIM.


Not always in my experience however while VoIP to VoIP is free, most
ITSPs can offer cheaper calls, especially to international destinations
than (say) BT can. Sometimes a call placed via VoIP in the UK to an
international destination (via a ITSP in the UK) can be "cheaper" in
terms of usabiltiy and quality than a pure VoIP to VoIP call if the
far-end does not have a reliable Internet connection. (ie. you call the
landline at the far end and have a good quality phone call, rather than
call a VoIP extension at the far-end which may be bad quality, depending
on the quality of their Internet connection)

Putting a price on "call quality" is hard though as it's a very subjective
thing.

However if it's staff to staff calls where you say not mission critical,
then VoIP to VoIP may well be acceptable, even if the quality is not 100%.

I have to say though that I have had excellent results VoIP to VoIP on
international calls - it really does depend on the Internet line. I had
to call my bank once when I was in Brisbane, Oz last year - I used an
IAX softphone and headset from my laptop in the hotel I was staying in
(Ethernet connection not Wi-Fi) and it "just worked". (After my bank
ever so kindly blocked my card, even though I told them I was traveling,
then only gave me a UK 0845 number to call which I couldn't call from
Oz. VoIP to the rescue...)

Gordon
  #9  
Old May 15th 09, 11:57 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Steve Terry
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 465
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?


"TheScullster" wrote in message
. uk...
Hi all
Total newby to this Skype stuff!
My boss has asked if this can be implemented as we have a lot of overseas
travellers and he is looking to make savings!
Currently we have a Windows domain with 2003server, ISA server as proxy
and a checkpoint firewall.
A quick scan of a few links shows up issues like:

"We need a software that we can setup on our Own server. One that does not
port hop, circumvent the firewalls, or try to suck up our bandwidth by
becoming a Super Node at it's own descretion"

Can anyone direct me to links that can demystify this VOIP stuff and give
unbiased info on Skype or alternatives used in a corporate environment
please?
TIA
Phil

Why not equip your staff with Three mobile phone network Skype phones?

Leave your server alone altogether

Steve Terry





  #10  
Old May 16th 09, 12:48 PM posted to uk.telecom.voip
Theo Markettos
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 539
Default Corporate VOIP - Skype?

Steve Terry wrote:
Why not equip your staff with Three mobile phone network Skype phones?


But they won't do Skype abroad, will they?
(Or do they work in 3LikeHome countries?)

Theo
 




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