After looking into various equipment options, we’ve made some decisions and ordered some gear, and since I think everyone should be running trixbox (or some other software-based pabx system) instead of their old-fashioned switchboard, I wanted to share with you what we decided on.
Our goals in designing this phone system were to find an inexpensive, easy to set up and maintain phone system that would easily grow with our company and that would give good phone performance.Â A few notes on our requirements:
- We wanted to keep the cost under RMB 10,000
- We expect our company to grow rapidly in the next few years, so we need a system that can easily be expanded without throwing the whole thing away or making a major reinvestment
- As a media company, sales is our heart, so we need advanced voicemail and other tools that can help support our salespeople
- Also, for our sales we need to be able to have professional quality phone signals — no echo please!
- We don’t have a full-time tech resource, so the system needs to be easy to set up and administer
- We are based in Shanghai, so equipment that is not readily available in China is not an option
- VOIP is not much of a priority for us since we make few overseas calls
So after considering these factors, bothering a lot of my more tech-savvy friends and pounding out some google searches, we have come up with the following set up for a basic trixbox configuration:
- Server: We are going with a basic, no-name rack-mount server with two drives and 2GB of RAM.Â Details of the configuration are available here. Cost: RMB 4000
- FXO/FXS Card: a software-based phone system requires a hardware interface for converting our analog phone signals from outside so that they can be transmitted over our LAN.Â We chose a 3 FXO/1 FXS card from Shenzhen-based manufacturer named OpenVox that has a software based echo reduction system. The card will allow RightSite’s team to send and receive calls over three phone lines.Â Cost: RMB 1664
- Phones: We will be using softphones until we get our system running.Â Good VOIP phones like the Linksys 941 are available on Taobao for around RMB 400
- Total equipment cost with four VOIP phones: RMB 7104
- If you would like more explanation of how this works, check out this document
For people setting up a trixbox system in China, OpenVox is a vendor to remember.Â The company has a website where affordable cards for running a software PABX can be ordered via the Internet.Â If you would like your card custom-configured (which we did) you can call their customer service department on the phone, to give your requirements. They will put the card together that day, post an item on Taobao.com, and you can confirm and pay for your order.Â Shipping within China is free. We ordered our card on Thursday night and expect to receive it on Monday. Not bad.
Then came the bad news. The technician who was going to set up the system decided to bail out of China and move to Canada.Â So unless we can come up with a new techie to assist with this, Mike will get to enjoy trying to set up the system himself. At least we will save some labour cost!
Oh yeah, and when we called the server vendor to confirm our order on Thursday the 15th, they told us that they couldn’t actually put the box together until after Chinese New Year on the 26th because all of their staff had already gone back to their home villages. Ouch!