Sunday, September 13, 2009

BCM50 and IP Telephony for Remote Offices

I have spent past few weeks figuring out how to extend the Nortel BCM50 telephone extensions to the Heaven Fresh remote offices by spending the least amount of money. My inner computer geek is forcing me to write this post as the only information I could find on this topic is from the companies eager to sell you expensive switches and their “expertise” for hundreds of dollars per hour.

In an effort to cut the payroll costs, we decided to move the phone customer support to our Pakistan office. It meant that we needed to install some telephone extensions there via the Internet so that the offshore staff could pass the calls back and forth to the US and the Canadian offices.  We knew that the Nortel BCM50 PBX that we bought from Bell Canada about a year ago had the capability to support both the traditional and the IP telephony. Naturally, we called Bell to help us with the project. Bell was happy to do it but wanted $5000 for something that we finally got done in just $500. It involved buying refurbished IP phones (Nortel IP2004) and the cheapest LinkSys VPN routers (WRV210 / WRV200). Once the VPN was setup between the remote offices and the Canada office, it was just a matter of plugging in the IP telephone sets into the network ports. Voilà, the Nortel IP phones automatically found the BCM50 in the Canada office and the Heaven Fresh was one step further in becoming the true Micro-Multinational. Following is the diagram of our telephone network:


Note: My wife wants me to let every one know the she drew this diagram for me. As you can see, she is good with Photoshop :)

Advice: If you are buying the Nortel BCM (Business Communication Manager), don’t go for the “Standard Bundle” offered by most of the resellers. Just get the licenses for IP seats unless you have a specific reason to go with regular digital telephone. This will save you the money for installing separate phone jacks plus you will have the flexibility to use the IP phones within and away from the office.