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Small company phone system recommendations and any insights on NEC/Earthlink phone systems?

Charlie Witzke's Profile

We are a small company (just under 50 employees) and we’re in the market for a new phone system.  We are leaning towards a system from NEC (the 8100 Server series) with service provided by Earthlink Business.

Can anyone share their experience with either this NEC system and / or EarthLink?

Thank you.


Andrew Hyde
Title: CFO
Company: Sparxent, Inc.
(CFO, Sparxent, Inc.) |

I would highly recommend OnSip (, and not buy any system equipment (other than handsets) at all. I have NO association with OnSip at all, other than being a very satisfied customer. I know the whole VoIP space quite well as former CFO of Speakeasy, a nationwide provider of VoIP services. In my current company we have a number of folks who happen to have very deep background in this area as well. We ended up choosing OnSip and have been VERY happy. No equipment to manage other than the handsets themselves which you can buy separately (we have Polycom IP 550 Sip units). I have one handset in the office and one in my home office -- they ring simultaneously so it doesn't matter where I am physically, I'm always "in my office." Pricing is good, sound quality is PERFECT, including our daily staff conference calls with employees in CA, UT, TX, FL, and Jordan (yes, the country). Please don't buy hardware that will become obsolete. I strongly recommend taking your phone service to the cloud.

Charlie Witzke
Title: CFO
Company: Ecoflo
(CFO, Ecoflo) |


Thank you for the feedback. We will check out OnSIP.


Bryant Bloedorn
Title: EAM
Company: Comm3
(EAM, Comm3) |

Shoretel is ranked as the #1 VoIP system out there - the problem with hosted is that it still usually ends up costing more in the long run and if you lose internet or if the hosting provider has an issue with theirs then you have no dial tone.

James Linday
Title: CFO
Company: The Great Books foundation
(CFO, The Great Books foundation) |

We are about your size and are very happy with M5. We get our handsets, Cisco, on the refirb market and with about 30% of our staff remote it is just a perfect fit.

Jonathan Sizemore
Title: Asst. Dir. Bus./Fin. Admin.
Company: Calvary Baptist Church
(Asst. Dir. Bus./Fin. Admin., Calvary Baptist Church) |

Star2Star, is a company that provides VoIP systems using a "blended architecture." It gives you the benefits of the cloud, without the concerns of a purely hosted model. Phones supported include Polycom and Cisco. I have a good friend who recently started a dealership, and he tells me that 80% of the time, he can get customers a newer, better system while saving them money over their current system.

Jack Ormberget
Title: CFO
Company: Color Star Growers of Texas, Inc.
(CFO, Color Star Growers of Texas, Inc.) |

I don't have an opinion on the hardware side of your question, but with many people chiming in on the VoIP aspect, I felt I would add my two-cents.

My last company was continuously plagued with terrible phone/internet service as the copper infrastructure was old and under-maintained by the telecomm provider in our area.(At the time, we were only served by DSL service) The reason I bring this up is that if you are going VoIP, be certain that your internet connection is in-line with your mission-critical expectations. We ultimately had to foot the bill to bring fiber to our building, which finally gave us reliable phone(VoIP)/internet service.

William Bockwoldt
Title: CEO/Founder
Company: Vibato, LLC
(CEO/Founder, Vibato, LLC) |

I would echo Jack's comments about your quality of service. VOIP is rarely perfect but is becoming much more cost-effective. We use Jive Communications out of Utah and have been pleased with the flexibility and performance - but internet QoS is a must-have for reliable VOIP.

Good luck with your search!

Topic Expert
Brenda Goudey
Title: CFO/VP of Finance
Company: KDR Designer Showrooms
(CFO/VP of Finance, KDR Designer Showrooms) |

I'm also with a similarly sized company and agree wholeheartedly with the previous comments. We use Elastix software (an Asterisk based product) on a Dell server with Polycom phones. It took 18 months of misery while evaluating every component in the configuration to finally come to the realization that the problem was the internet connection. Initially we were using a high-speed Broadvox (Covad) connection going across the public internet and had on-going problems with call quality. We've now switched to an MPLS network with Windstream who can manage Quality of Service (QoS) between our offices until the call is handed off to AT&T (without ever going across the public internet) and FINALLY have crystal clear voice service like we did pre-VOIP. Initially, MPLS service had been cost prohibitive but prices have dropped significantly so we were able to get it a price comparable to the Broadvox service.

CV Sudarshan
Title: Sr. Executive
Company: Gorilla Expense
(Sr. Executive, Gorilla Expense) |


I recommend RingCentral. So far, the service has been very reliable and their plans are economical.

Don Lightbody
Title: Partner
Company: B2B CFO
(Partner, B2B CFO) |

I also recommend RingCentral for your size company. That's their sweet spot and they are locally based in San Mateo. Check them out.

Bryan Frey
Title: VP Finance/Corp Controller
(VP Finance/Corp Controller, ) |

We use Panterra WorldSmart ( It's cheap and easy to use. We buy Polycom phones (but they work with Cisco phones as well) which cost us about $250ea through IPPhoneWarehouse so our per employee cost is low. They have been quite reliable.

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