VOIP in the meetinghouse

Discussions around standard phones and phone service in meetinghouses and what the future of meetinghouse telephones should hold
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Re: VOIP in the meetinghouse


Post by aclawson »

dpenrod75 wrote:On the topic of disaster outages, we have hooked into the regional church amature radio network in our stake and have a couple operators called. Amature radio is the way to go if your looking at reliable communication in a disaster.
Did they let you install antennas in your building(s)? I've been hoping that OPB changes their policy and allows antennas to be placed - you don't even need to put any holes in the roof.
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Re: VOIP in the meetinghouse


Post by mevans »

I've sometimes wondered about the church adopting VOIP systems. There are some good ideas above. Overall, I don't know how the cost compares with POTs. I don't like that in many church buildings, the foyer phone has been eliminated and if there was VOIP, it may not be so expensive to have a foyer phone again. I've always viewed it as important for emergencies (for example, I've heard of a situation where parents dropped off kids for an activity. The church door was opened, so they just let the children go in. Unfortunately, the church was open, but there were no adult leaders and the children didn't have phones and were unable to call anyone.)

The "always on" aspect of land lines is going away with the way many phone lines are sold now. For example, with AT&T U-verse, you can get a "land line" but it's not POTs. They give you a U-verse box which breaks out services, including telephone. There's a battery inside to keep the landline working, even if your internet and TV go out. I wasn't at all happy when I did the U-verse bundle for my parents and found that out. Suddenly, some landline phones that had worked for decades were "not compatible" and we had to buy new phones (amongst many other headaches).

My current home service is with Cox and they power the landline from their system. They put DC voltage on the center conductor of the coax. There's a special coax cable to the house that has additional DC wires in the same jacket with the coax. They connect these to the phone breakout box at the house. The non-powered phones still work when the power goes out. And it works well with things like fax machines and alarm systems. Sometimes those devices don't play well with VOIP (although I've seen them work). But I think in newer installations, that may not be the case and they use a U-verse-type device instead.

Some companies where I've worked have kept a few POTs lines coming in so they have some phone that will work in the event of a major VOIP problem. I think they had it set up so that if the main phone number wasn't answered it rolled over to the POTs line. That way they could still talk to customers or have another possible way to call out in the event of an emergency.
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Re: VOIP in the meetinghouse


Post by rknelson »

Our stake center had an old phone system which was apparently purchased using stake funds in the 1970’s. The system allowed the stake center with stake offices and 3 wards to operate on 2 phone lines. Over time the system was having serious problems and became unreliable. FM indicated they could not replace it.

Our Stake President felt that we should minimize the overall cost, even if that meant spending stake budget funds to purchase equipment since all of the funds including the ongoing monthly costs used sacred funds. With the approval of our FM Group we replaced the phone system in the stake center with hosted VoIP phones in April, 2008. Because the phone service was reliable, we upgraded the other 4 buildings in the stake over the next 2 years. We have 31 IP Phones and 5 Analog Phone Adapters (one for the hall phone in each building). These phones support 14 wards/branches, the stake offices, and 2 family history centers in 5 different buildings. Each building has a single phone number with an auto-attendant (“Press 1 for…, ETC”), with one additional phone number for one of the Family History centers. The phones and POE switches have paid for themselves many times over since we installed them. The labor for network cable installation was donated and was done at the same time as internet wiring in the buildings for MLS computers. The system continues to be solid and very reliable with features like voicemail, call forwarding, audio conferencing, and much more. As of this writing, the savings has been well over $30,000.

I’m not advocating that others do this, since it sounds like there are pilots for an official church system. However, it has been very successful in our stake.
For years we kept an (unused!) analog phone line in each building because that was the policy at the time. The FM group dropped those lines after several years. We have used the VOIP phones as backup for stake conference webcasts, but never needed them. I’ve heard the concerns addressed above, but in practical terms, we have never experienced a downside with VOIP in our usage.
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Re: VOIP in the meetinghouse


Post by johnshaw »

You've inspired me. I can double that 30K $$ figure yearly by eliminating scouts in my stake. This is going to be great!
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense
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Re: VOIP in the meetinghouse


Post by roblad »

We carefully looked at this at least twice. Making this change would save several hundred dollars every month. The cost savings is substantial. Our FM group told us the current policy was to not make this change. One of the reasons given was that some local fire departments require POTS circuits to be connected up to the fire alarm systems. I'm sure this will change because most businesses are moving form POST to VOIP services. A quality uninterruptible power source can be a required component. Modern alarm systems don't require phone connections at all. They have CELL radios inside of the alarm system cabinet. I think/hope that a change in this area will come soon.
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Re: VOIP in the meetinghouse


Post by fullmer »

I have installed and built VOIP systems for 6 years. Our stake president approved with the FM group to change to VOIP. Our stake center building is 6 phones (3 wards, 1 stake office, 1 Family History Center, and a hall phone). It has been used VOIP for several months. We are about ready to the 2nd building phones. We used a 8-port Telephony Gateway, SPA8000. It makes easy by keep the old POTS phones.

I asked Global Service Center, but they didn't have a contact looking at VOIP projects. I wish I knew someone that ran a trial
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Re: VOIP in the meetinghouse


Post by marieselden »

Are you VoiP In good signal when using?
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