Having your small business located in a funky old building or house can be a lot of fun. For one thing it can be conducive to creating a warm, “homey” work environment, which in turn can help drive better employee productivity than if your business was located in some cinder-block dungeon.
Depending on how historic, or how unusual, the old building is it can become one of the things that distinguishes your organization from others.
But when it comes time to wire these older facilities for new technologies such as IP communications, challenges can arise -- and costs can begin to mount. In fact, this has been one of the major impediments to small businesses and non-profits seeking adopt Voice-over-IP (VoIP): Sometimes the cost of wiring an older facility for VoIP communications simply isn’t worth it – as it will essentially off-set any cost savings on communications that could be realized.
You have to bear in mind that when it comes to VoIP installations, labor is a major piece of the cost – and if there are old walls that need to be carefully opened and fancy molding that needs to be carefully replaced, then it’s easy to understand how these labor costs can quickly increase.
Sure, you could go wireless – but even if you deploy WiFi (News - Alert), chances are you’ll run into problems, such as dropped calls and garbled sound quality, once you get a bunch of workers simultaneously connecting VoIP calls across the WAN.
Making employees use softphones might not be the best option either, as it requires training – plus there’s a good chance that if you’re using traditional phone service, this will require some sort of network upgrade anyway, as your LAN might not have the capacity to handle voice.
But there is one option that just might work for you – one that will allow you to migrate to VoIP the right way without having to rip your precious old building apart -- Phybridge’s UniPhyer. This nifty appliance allows you to connect IP phones to your new IP-PBX (News - Alert) by using the existing phone wiring that’s already installed in the building.
Although the UniPhyer does require an up-front capital investment, it many cases it is only a fraction of the cost of cabling an old building. Furthermore it enables you to avoid the hassle of interruptions during the installation, as the UniPhyer can be installed in well under an hour, depending on the number of lines.
Recently the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) deployed VoIP in the old building that is its Washington DC headquarters quickly and without disruption using UniPhyer. The amazing thing about this device – dubbed the “VoIP Enabler”– is that it creates a “parallel network” dedicated for voice using existing CAT3 (traditional) telephone lines, yet gives organizations all the benefits of a fully-converged VoIP network.
Not only does this help organizations avoid the high cost of cabling (or re-cabling) their older facilities -- it also allows them sidestep the hassles associated with converging data and voice on the same infrastructure. With UniPhyer, organizations no longer have to go through the trouble of testing their LANs to ensure VoIP readiness; deploying new hardware or infrastructure; taking the risk of service disruptions; or dealing with poor service following installation.
The appliance, which comes in both 24- and 48-port models, delivers Power over Ethernet over existing telephone lines, which solves the problem of how to power up the IP phones without running additional cabling.
Michael McCarn, director of information technology at AICR, said at first he was skeptical of the UniPhyer’s capabilities.
“I didn't think the UniPhyer could deliver the smooth and painless installation promised by our VAR,” he said. “However, having worked with the same VAR for more than 15 years I decided to trust them and I'm glad I did!"
"The UniPhyer installation was absolutely painless,” McCarn added. “Our VAR sent four cabling techs on the day of our cutover: two techs moved from desk to desk identifying the lines to be moved, while two more stayed in the phone closet and moved the connectors for each phone from the old analog system to the new UniPhyer/VoIP system. The switchboards were done within minutes, with the rest completed within two hours."
In some cases the Uniphyer can be installed in under a half hour – that’s just 30 minutes to take advantage of the tremendous cost savings and productivity-enhancing features that VoIP brings.
To view a recent video demonstrating the fast and easy deployment of UniPhyer in a 20-person office, click here.
For more information about UniPhyer, including data sheets, click here.
Patrick Barnard is Group Managing Editor, TMCnet. In addition to leading the online editorial department, he focuses on call and contact center technologies. He also covers IP communications, networking and a variety of other topics. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard