Oh, soft phones...



  • I forgot how much I loved soft phones. We are using a bunch of Polycom gear and the service is hosted with a provider. The CEO posed the question "how much of you love your desk phones?" Personally, I hate my desk phone. It's something that just takes up space, and could be virtualized.

    If I had a soft phone, I wouldn't be able to use it if my computer crashed. But if my computer crashed, my phone would be the least of my worries since I couldn't manage anything or help anyone without a workstation. 🙂

    Is anyone else using soft phones, or better question... What are people using for VoIP in small-medium business, for the back end? The last thing I setup and configured was Cisco UCM... Did not like it.


  • Service Provider

    We use them. I have used several in the past. Zoiper was decent. Now I use Linphone everywhere, including my desktop and my iPhone. Works great. And it's free.



  • @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Is anyone else using soft phones, or better question... What are people using for VoIP in small-medium business?

    Small non-profit - we inherited / were gifted with a full fat Mitel system which alternates between "meh it's a phone" and "the living incarnation of Satan" depending on if it's working or I need to fix it.

    For a (rapidly) growing portion of our calls / confs we use skype.

    In the future should we move buildings I would leave the Mitel system in place and transition to either soft phones or cell (user owned, company reimbursed). Perhaps both but I would strongly prefer to go 100% cell.


  • Service Provider

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂 Then I can take it with me. I use this all the time, really useful when out and about.

    I still have a Polycom physical phone for my desk, the click to dial and other features are just handy.

    As for the bankend, there are a huge number of options. Just beware of the resellers.


  • Service Provider

    @Breffni-Potter said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂

    why not both?



  • @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @Breffni-Potter said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂

    why not both?

    One less thing to forward to my cell? 🙂


  • Service Provider

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @Breffni-Potter said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂

    why not both?

    I don't want another thing screaming for my attention when working, plus it's one more window to get lost in.


  • Service Provider

    I don't like having to have my cell charged and unpredictable when at my desk. I've not even seen mine all day today.



  • @Breffni-Potter said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂 Then I can take it with me. I use this all the time, really useful when out and about.

    I still have a Polycom physical phone for my desk, the click to dial and other features are just handy.

    As for the bankend, there are a huge number of options. Just beware of the resellers.

    We have the option of an app on a smart phone, I sit at my desk with my headphones on and listening to music so a call coming in on my workstation during business hours is more likely to be answered.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @Breffni-Potter said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂

    why not both?

    Any reason to have the app on a cell? I mean your cell is already a phone... The only thing I've come up (as I know this is going to be a question some might ask me at work) is having it access internal resources like possibly connecting a central directory so people can simply look up names, rather than looking up our directory on SharePoint then dialing the number...


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @Breffni-Potter said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂

    why not both?

    Any reason to have the app on a cell? I mean your cell is already a phone...

    So that you can call direct without having to go through the PSTN. Great for high quality calls, and calls for free from anywhere no matter what. I do that so that I can make US calls for free from any country.



  • LDAP on this particular app would be nice, since I put all numbers in AD. Eventually our HR application (external) which points to SNAP, will then point to AD so we can have the onboard process for accounts start with HR, as it should. Having the app point to some kind of directory that comes down from HR would be sweet. The most simple I can think of is LDAP, instead of having some kind of tie-in to SP via the application server and serving up the employee directory that way.


  • Service Provider

    Using your phone as a cell phone means you hit the outside line for every call instead of using the network.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Using your phone as a cell phone means you hit the outside line for every call instead of using the network.

    What about when you have unlimited minutes on every phone within the US? You made a good point when you're international though.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @Breffni-Potter said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Why a soft phone on a desktop? Why not on a smartphone? 🙂

    why not both?

    Any reason to have the app on a cell? I mean your cell is already a phone...

    So that you can call direct without having to go through the PSTN. Great for high quality calls, and calls for free from anywhere no matter what. I do that so that I can make US calls for free from any country.

    Ah, I forgot to mention... We have 3 split companies operating as separate entities for various services (front end cell company, backend cell company, MPLS and other services to major and minor carriers, we also own the colos and all the fiber), but they are all under the same umbrella. We are the PSTN in this instance as we operate on a regional level for telephone switching.

    Edit: I'm digressing though. How is everyone tying in their central directory? Is it something manual during the on-board process that you add them to your directory, LDAP tie-in, etc?


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Using your phone as a cell phone means you hit the outside line for every call instead of using the network.

    What about when you have unlimited minutes on every phone within the US? You made a good point when you're international though.

    Do you have unlimited bidirectional minutes on your SIP trunks and unlimited lines?



  • @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Using your phone as a cell phone means you hit the outside line for every call instead of using the network.

    What about when you have unlimited minutes on every phone within the US? You made a good point when you're international though.

    Do you have unlimited bidirectional minutes on your SIP trunks and unlimited lines?

    I don't have a good answer to that one... That's getting out of my comfort zone as I don't touch that stuff day to day.

    Care to take me to school on that question? 🙂


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Using your phone as a cell phone means you hit the outside line for every call instead of using the network.

    What about when you have unlimited minutes on every phone within the US? You made a good point when you're international though.

    Do you have unlimited bidirectional minutes on your SIP trunks and unlimited lines?

    I don't have a good answer to that one... That's getting out of my comfort zone as I don't touch that stuff day to day.

    Care to take me to school on that question? 🙂

    Well, normally you have trunks coming in from somewhere to have a connection to the PSTN and you have to pay for that termination. That's not free, even if you are a phone company (although then it might be basically free.) You have to pay for it in some form. Typically you pay for lines, minutes or both. No matter how you pay for it, it is rare that using it when unneeded does not incur a cost or risk of some sort.

    Sometimes incoming is free but outgoing is not, though. So it differs. But if anything is "unlimited" then likely there is a line limit so you use external lines up for internal calls. That can get costly quickly.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @scottalanmiller said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Using your phone as a cell phone means you hit the outside line for every call instead of using the network.

    What about when you have unlimited minutes on every phone within the US? You made a good point when you're international though.

    Do you have unlimited bidirectional minutes on your SIP trunks and unlimited lines?

    I don't have a good answer to that one... That's getting out of my comfort zone as I don't touch that stuff day to day.

    Care to take me to school on that question? 🙂

    Well, normally you have trunks coming in from somewhere to have a connection to the PSTN and you have to pay for that termination. That's not free, even if you are a phone company (although then it might be basically free.) You have to pay for it in some form. Typically you pay for lines, minutes or both. No matter how you pay for it, it is rare that using it when unneeded does not incur a cost or risk of some sort.

    Sometimes incoming is free but outgoing is not, though. So it differs. But if anything is "unlimited" then likely there is a line limit so you use external lines up for internal calls. That can get costly quickly.

    We don't do anything free, we still have the company pay itself to look good for metrics to the board, works out better in accounting as well I guess. Mostly just metrics.

    Per minutes or calls, we're paying for the line only. Now it's really getting confusing because after 10 years we're absorbing the cell company we put up about $20M in cash for. It's simply not viable in the market to compete with smaller companies over about 6 states. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon are the ones everyone is going with. But we aren't getting out of the game, we just aren't selling service. The Big 3 are still paying a ton of money (pretty much 90% of our worth) to our company for traffic. If you make a call within about 500 miles of here on one of those carriers, it touches our network most of the way.

    That side of the network is one thing I would love to learn. I do all of the internal stuff for the company (internal networking & systems), whereas that is all customer facing services.



  • This discussion is basically moving toward - why do we still have a PSTN?



  • @Dashrender said in Oh, soft phones...:

    This discussion is basically moving toward - why do we still have a PSTN?

    Probably the same reason some still have POTS lines? Not putting in the time or money to do things a different way. I'm sure there is probably something in the legal area that they have to exist as a public service as well. Much like municipal WiFi, provided by the city, getting a lot of push back from larger ISPs and ending up suing the city or threatening to completely leave (looking at you Comcast, and you TimeWarner).

    I read an article a long way back when Google Fiber was still just a rumor, that municipal WiFi was getting pushed, and a larger ISP in the southern California area (where the paper was written about... some small suburb), basically told the city that if they provided free WiFi (which isn't really free cause it would be included with taxes), then the ISP would completely pull out of the city. I would think this is a huge bluff because they're not just going to give up the rest of the city because there is wireless Internet in the downtown area. Nonetheless, they were just being jackasses about it.



  • Let them pull out. If there are businesses and residental that need/want more, there will be someone else willing to do it. We need to break these probable illegal monopolistic contracts these vendors have with cities.

    Hell the city should be the one who owns the infrastructure, not the companies, but we see the lack of maintaining on both sides of that fence, be it private or gov't run.


  • Banned

    @BBigford said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Edit: I'm digressing though. How is everyone tying in their central directory? Is it something manual during the on-board process that you add them to your directory, LDAP tie-in, etc?

    No point in duplicating work. Make it easy. we used LDAP search. There is a reason there an IP Phone Field in AD/LDAP. Use that as the primary number then you can set the Phone Number (External DID) and Cell as Alternate numbers in the directory. Everything is automated this way.


  • Banned

    Heck there's still plenty of Telecom companies that only have business because they are exempt from LNP (Local number portability) and can hold customers hostage.



  • @Jason said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Heck there's still plenty of Telecom companies that only have business because they are exempt from LNP (Local number portability) and can hold customers hostage.

    why do those customers feel like they are locked in?

    Sadly without a whole sale replacement for the phone that provide unique contact info for each user, we'll never get rid of the POTS system.
    While the analog portion may actually die, the general connection ideals won't.


  • Banned

    @Dashrender said in Oh, soft phones...:

    why do those customers feel like they are locked in?

    Because changing phone numbers can be very bad for a business.. heck, It could shut some down..



  • @Jason said in Oh, soft phones...:

    @Dashrender said in Oh, soft phones...:

    why do those customers feel like they are locked in?

    Because changing phone numbers can be very bad for a business.. heck, It could shut some down..

    Really? I suppose if a customer gets a disconnected message, they might just assume you are closed and not look to see if they can find another number for you. ug.. again getting screwed by the insert your own term.


  • Banned

    @Dashrender said in Oh, soft phones...:

    Really? I suppose if a customer gets a disconnected message, they might just assume you are closed and not look to see if they can find another number for you. ug.. again getting screwed by the insert your own term.

    Why would they go look? or why should they have too. If you have a lot of customers getting ride of a number costs you customers..

    That's why we have any inactive DiDs translated to Main/Rollover Hunt Group Queues.



  • But why should you be allowed to be held captive to a bad vendor?


  • Banned

    @Dashrender said in Oh, soft phones...:

    But why should you be allowed to be held captive to a bad vendor?

    Because it's a business decision, not an IT one. If a company had this case they would not want to go out and get all new numbers, and even if they did they would not be local numbers since then LEC is locked down. Then you likely will also have issues with 911..

    It's not the vendor that is bad, it's just how it works for rural telecoms they are exempt from number portability.


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