First Look: PhoneBochs Mini IP PBX Appliance

November 19, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Duluth, MN based PhoneBochs has released a new, small footprint IP PBX appliance called the PhoneBochs Mini.

The PhoneBochs Mini is built off the new, energy efficient Intel Atom Dual Core CPU, and is available in three model versions:

PhoneBochs Mini Basic – Intel Atom 1.6GHz Dual Core CPU, 1GB RAM, 80GB SATA Hard Drive, Pre-Loaded with Trixbox CE V2.6, Single PCI Slot.

PhoneBochs Mini Standard – Intel Atom 1.6GHz Dual Core CPU, 2GB RAM, 160GB SATA Hard Drive, Pre-Loaded with Trixbox CE V2.6, Single PCI Slot.

PhoneBochs Mini Premium – Intel Atom 1.6GHz Dual Core CPU, 2GB RAM, 1TB SATA Hard Drive, Pre-Loaded with Trixbox CE V2.6, Single PCI Slot.

The PhoneBochs mini is aimed at the small office, but can scale to handle up to two T1/PRI. With a single PCI slot, the PhoneBochs mini is also available pre-configured with a Sangoma Card in 4FXO, 8FXO, Single or Dual T1, all with 128Ms Hardware Echo Cancellation standard. You may also choose to integrate the TDM card of your choice.

The PhoneBochs Mini is shipping NOW at

Ask Mr. Andrews: Hard Phone or Softphone?

November 18, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Q: I run a small office with 25 employees, 10 of whom work in our call center making outbound sales calls. We are about to deploy an Asterisk based IP PBX, and I am in the process of researching IP phones to complete our solution. I am looking at both SIP based hard phones as well as softphones. What is your opinion of softphones versus traditional desktop IP phones? Gary P.

A: Gary, personally, I’m an IP phone guy…but there are benefits to both approaches. Softphones are typically employed to keep purchase and maintenance costs down. Call center’s in particular often employ softphone clients for their agents, in conjunction with USB or PC based headsets. Some softphones also offer video conferencing capabilities.

There are several factors to consider here. The first factor I consider is how each employee works. If you think about each of your 25 employees and what they do during the course of a typical work day, you can begin to determine if they are a good candidate for a softphone versus a traditional IP phone. (more…)

All I want for Christmas is a 7961G EnviroXtreme Rugged IP Phone from Coleman Technologies

November 17, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Just decided what I want for Christmas this year.

The 7961G/62G EnviroXtreme is a hardened, ruggedized IP phone designed created by CTI that provides all the functionality of Cisco’s 7960 IP handsets. The EnviroXtreme has been tested to a variety of MIL-STD 810F and MIL-STD 461E standards and can withstand harsh, extreme conditions including excessive temperatures, moisture, shock, vibration, and abuse.

10 Small Business VoIP Mistakes to Avoid

Over the last few weeks we have talked quite a bit about the best practices in selecting the right small business VoIP phone system. Together we have taken a look at a small business VoIP requirements list, 7 answers you need before buying a phone system, 5 VoIP phone systems under $5,000 and even learned about selecting the proper IP phones to go along with your new system. While we have spent a good amount of time focusing on the “right” things to do, we haven’t talked about the mistakes people often make when buying and deploying a VoIP phone system. In other words, here is a quick list of what not to do when exploring a small business VoIP phone system:

First Look: Polycom SoundPoint IP450 IP Phone with HDVoice

November 11, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Polycom yesterday announced the release of the new SoundPoint IP450 3 Line IP Phone.

Polycom SoundPoint IP450 IP Phone with HDVoice

The SoundPoint IP 450 is a mid-range, standards-based SIP phone featuring three lines, Polycom HD Voice and a high-resolution graphical backlit display that supports multiple languages and Asian characters. The 450 is applications-ready with Polycom’s open API and XHTML microbrowser to enable productivity-enhancing applications and business processes. It is designed to bring advanced telephony features and applications to cubicle/office workers handling a moderate volume of calls.

Polycom continues to phase out their older SoundPoint series phones in favor of newer models which offer support for Wideband Audio codec….HDVoice as Polycom has dubbed this acoustic feature.voips

Memo to Microsoft Response Point Team: Bring Back Clippy

November 5, 2008 by Garrett Smith

So we’re getting excited about working with Microsoft on their new Response Point product line. We have a number of other “appliance” type solutions but Response Point is a bit different in that we feel it might be a good fit for SMB customers who do not have a tremendous amount of IT resources in house. Since it’s Microsoft, the user interface should be a bit more comfortable to lay people who might not be comfortable performing basic administration on a typical IP PBX.

I’m more of a Linux guy….but I have been thinking about Microsoft as of late, and it dawned on me that they should consider bringing back Clippy and putting him to work inside the Response Point user interface. For those of you not familiar with Clippy….Clippy is the little paperclip with the soulful eyes and the Groucho eyebrows. The electronic assistant who politely offered hints for using Microsoft Office software. Clippy was demoted (downsized, pinkslipped, etc.) when Microsoft released Office XP.

From the Microsoft press release:

…after four years on-screen, Clippy will lose his starring role when Microsoft Office XP debuts on May 31. Clippy, the Office Assistant introduced in Office 97, has been demoted in Office XP. The wiry little assistant is turned off by default in Office XP, but diehard supporters can turn Clippy back on if they miss him.

“Office XP is so easy to use that Clippy is no longer necessary, or useful,” explained Lisa Gurry, a Microsoft product manager. “With new features like smart tags and Task Panes, Office XP enables people to get more out of the product than ever before. These new simplicity and ease-of-use improvements really make Clippy obsolete,” she said.

“He’s quite down in the dumps,” Gurry joked. “He has even started his own campaign to try to get his old job back, or find a new one.”

I think that the release of Microsoft’s new Response Point phone system is the perfect opportunity for Clippy to get back in action, helping a new generation of small business Unified Communications users navigate the hurdles of setting up and administering an IP PBX. Perhaps he could don a new moniker, we’ll call him SiPPy.

Need some help with your autoattendant? SiPPy can walk you through a basic setup wizard.

Having issues with call quality? Let SiPPy quickly analyze the call diagnostic logs on the Response Point PBX to determine potential problems with your network setup.

SiPPy would also make a great personal assistant for setting up conference calls, call appointment reminders, gentle reminders to update your outgoing voicemail message…etc.

Owning and maintaining an IP PBX, even a simplistic and seemingly user-friendly one, can be a daunting challenge for the non initiated small business, technological weekend warrior. Until setting up SIP trunks and find-me-follow-me rules becomes “old hat” for the average business user….I think there might be a solid employment opportunity here for Clippy…errr…..SiPPy.

Audiocodes Releases Line of High Definition IP Phones

Audiocodes announced today their release of three IP telephone models which offer support for wideband audio. Wideband audio has been capturing a lot of buzz throughout the industry of late and many vendors are moving to support G.722 wideband audio codec in their product and service lines.

The 300HD Series of IP Phones meets a growing demand for High Definition VoIP solutions in end-user phones and terminals, providing high voice fidelity, advanced security and features and enhanced user interface.

This announcement marks a foray into a new market segment for Audiocodes….traditionally known for their Media Gateway, Media Server and Session Border Controller solutions. These new products will likely compete head to head with offerings from Polycom, Aastra, Snom and Cisco…whom also support the use of wideband audio.


Obama Presidency a Win for Net Neutrality

Obama Presidency a Win for Net Neutrality

Whether you woke up this morning excited or disappointed, you should be pleased that an Obama presidency strengthens the cause for Net Neutrality, which is a good thing for the VoIP industry. Jim Higdon at VoIP-News wrote an excellent, comprehensive piece that touches on the implications of net neutrality for the VoIP industry.

Senator, now President elect, Barack Obama is a strong proponent of net neutrality. Back in June 2007, John McCain expressed his opinion and non-support for net neutrality.

McCain appeared at the All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif., and said he did not think government regulation of internet service providers to stop them from censoring, slowing down, or otherwise disrupting consumer’s access to the internet in order to stifle competitors or undesirable content was an appropriate solution.

“When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment,” he said, according to

Later, McCain said: “I’m all for the government encouraging competition, but I’ve found over time that less government involvement is better.

In stark contrast….President elect Obama has positioned net neutrality as one of the cornerstones of his campaign platform.

Protect the Openness of the Internet: A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history. It needs to stay that way. Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.

If you are interested in learning more about the Obama plan to support net neutrality, you can check out a podcast from then Senator Obama from June 2006 below.

“It is because the Internet is a neutral platform that I can put out this podcast and transmit it over the Internet without having to go through any corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship or without having to pay a special charge.

But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the Internet as we know it. They say that they want to create high speed lanes on the Internet and strike exclusive contractual agreements with Internet content providers for access to those high speed lanes.

Everyone who cannot pony up the cash will be relegated to the slow lanes.”

20 FREE SIP Softphones

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted November 2008 and there is an updated version for your viewing, 5 FREE SIP Softphones

I occasionally run into folks who are looking to deploy softphones versus traditional, desktop-based IP hard phones….and am often asked what softphone technologies are out there that are compatible with SIP based IP PBX platforms such as Asterisk and Trixbox. Below is list of the more popular SIP softphones, all of which are completely free to use.