Small Phone System
November 27, 2009 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Imagine that you have a retail store with 3 incoming telephone lines.

You want to be able to answer any of these lines from 3 different locations within a 2400 square foot space. Two of the phones need to be useful within a 800 foot radius of the base unit.

Cheap is good, used is not.

What do you buy?
posted by Mr. Yuck to Technology (5 answers total)
Well this may depend on your definition of cheap. Also - do you want to be able to route inbound calls depending on the line ringing, or just ring all phones when any line comes in?

What you are looking can be solved by free PBX software, you only need to put the hardware in place. You will need one computer which will run the PBX OS, the free version of Switchvox, a TDM card that supports 3 incoming analog lines (3 FXO ports) such as here. If you already have 3 analog telephones that you want to connect to the PBX - choose a card with 3 FXO and 3 FXS ports. Overall this can be accomplished for $1,500 - all hardware costs.

The software will allow you to set ring all options to ring all phones when a call comes in on any of the lines, or route lines to individual phones, answer and route, etc.

When you say useful within an 800 foot radius, does this mean that you want to use portable phones? If so you can buy plain vanilla wireless analog telephones and use with a card that supports.
posted by clarkie666 at 10:50 PM on November 27, 2009

Unfortunately when you get into office telephony, nothing is cheap... the electronic companies are all too aware they can mark this stuff up. However I have the 2-line version of this (Panasonic office phone, about $450) and it's awesome. I've owned mine for 9 years with no problems at all. It works mostly on cordless handsets and has a range well into the several hundreds of feet, probably longer if you put the base unit up high somewhere or get an add-on antenna (since this model has been out awhile I'd imagine someone makes them). You might try finding a seller with a good return policy and if it doesn't work the way you like just send it back.
posted by crapmatic at 11:34 PM on November 27, 2009

A client of mine uses a few RCA four line phones from Office Depot. They were like $89 apiece. There is a cordless phone that works with them. They're cheap and work surprisingly well, and you only have to have one line in common between the phones for them to network properly, so if you need lines 1 and 2 to appear at one phone and 1 and 3 at the other two phones, that's not an issue.

If it has all the features you'd need, go with it. If not, look into a used avaya or nortel system with the requisite accessories. Used isn't much of an issue in telecom, only abused is a problem, and used systems (sometimes) come cheap.

Alternatively, you could get an Asterisk appliance of some sort with a nice GUI if you want voicemail and advanced calling features. (probably not in a retail store as you describe)
posted by wierdo at 2:34 AM on November 28, 2009

there is this for

for $2646

comes with 5 phones, out of the box allows 4 lines.

The phones included are ip phones so only ethernet cable is needed.

You can probably find the office serv 7100 system cheaper with regular digital phones if needed.

We just installed the office serv 7200 and its pretty good.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:13 AM on November 28, 2009

Similar to the above Samsung are some of the units from Talkswitch. You can add IP or analog phones. It's expandable and configurable.

Surprising how few options for small business phone systems there are.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:22 AM on November 28, 2009

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