Choosing the Right IP Phone: Part 1 – End User Features

Choosing an IP Phone for your business can be an overwhelming task when considering today’s extensive market offerings. It’s difficult to identify the clear ‘winner’ when most makes and models offer similar hardware specifications when compared to their class, such as large color displays, multiple programmable buttons, HD voice, speakerphone and more line extensions than you’ll ever need.

So, playing the numbers game down a data sheet is clearly not the correct way to make a selection, but then how do you make the right choice?

The compelling differences between IP phone vendors becomes evident when focusing on the level of integration they have with the phone system (or PBX) they are paired with. Typically, IP phones designed by the same manufacturer as the phone system provide the highest level of integration because all the time and money is spent perfecting the combination. This allows the IP phone to leverage the full software capabilities of that phone system, enabling phone users with an advanced level of features. Check back soon for a future blog post where we will be discussing phone system features.

For businesses using FreePBX or PBXact phone systems, the IP phones that have the tightest level of integration are Sangoma s-Series IP phones, since they are all designed to work together and made by the same manufacturer – Sangoma Technologies. The s-Series IP phones offer users many advanced features and in fact go even a step further to offer some very unique features not seen on the market today.

Some of Sangoma’s s-Series IP phone unique features are:

BLF (Busy Lamp Field) Long & Short Press: The ability to long press or short press BLF extensions to have customized actions. For example, you can program a BLF extension so that it can intercom the extension if idle state, or go straight to voicemail on busy state, by simply short pressing the BLF extension. BLF Long & Short Press Features Guide

5-way Conference Calling with Leader Drop-off: Allows users to intuitively add up to 5 participants on a phone call. Great for taking care of business right away instead of having to schedule a conference call to invite your parties. The conference leader can even disconnect from the call without affecting others on the call. More on Conference Calling

Phone Apps: Advanced phone applications allowing users to control most popularly used features using the display and navigation buttons. Think of PhoneApps as having full-screen control to manage each of the tools most commonly used, such as DND, call-forwarding, conferencing, which completely eliminate the need to remember feature codes. This saves users and businesses time and money. List of Phone Apps & Demos

UC Intelligent Features: Most of the features users control from their IP phone are actually adjusted on the phone system! This keeps all the intelligence with the phone system (and not locally on the phone) so that it is able to do things such as: update all the user’s other devices when they update their presence settings to Do-Not-Disturb; send voicemail to the user’s extension if a call is forwarded to the user’s alternate number which goes unanswered…etc. Many of the other manufactures’ phone features are controlled locally on the phone, leaving the phone system unaware of those change, which spells unexpected phone events for users. What is UC?

UCP Integration: Ability to customize Sangoma IP phone programmable buttons and PhoneApp settings directly from the User Control Panel of FreePBX and PBXact, allowing users to customize the look and feel of their s-Series phones without the need for IT support. Check Out UCP for EndPoint Manager

So, which is the right IP phone for you? It all depends on what type of solution you are looking for. If you are looking for a basic phone any phone will do, but if you are looking for a solution to help users be more productive, save your business time and provide staff and customers the best experience possible, then it’s the IP phone that best utilizes its ecosystem.

For more information on Sangoma IP Phones for FreePBX or PBXact visit: https://www.sangoma.com/products/phones/

It’s Time to Improve Your Workplace Collaboration

Author: Leo D’Alessandro – Product Marketing Manager, Sangoma

By now, over 40% of businesses have implemented VoIP (Voice-Over-IP) technology within their communication infrastructure, helping themselves save significant costs on dial-tone, but are they truly leveraging all the benefits that VoIP brings to their entire organization?1

VoIP allows businesses to consolidate their infrastructure to operate over a single type of connection, IP (Internet Protocol), which effectively provides them the opportunity of UC (unified communications). This means the ability of unifying employee collaboration and productivity tools into one location, such as instant messaging (chat), voice, mobility features, desktop sharing and web/video conferencing. Here are some of the benefits of UC in the workplace:

  • Companies save on average 32 minutes per day per employee due to increased success rate of employees reaching their colleagues on the first try2
  • Enterprises of 100 employees save up to 191 company-wide hours per day or, 49,660 hours/year3
  • 77% increase in productivity when companies invested in UC technology to promote remote working4

As businesses grow and more projects are spread across multiple teams, accessing these tools from many different locations will hinder performance and productivity. Hence collaboration in the workplace is very important.

Collaboration provides a greater level of flexibility where staff are able to work outside of traditional 9-5 hours, from home, or from the office, from multiple devices, all while staying connected with their colleagues. And this fits with the lifestyle of today’s young professionals. Many studies have shown that the best productivity occurs when employees are not ‘chained’ to their desk and when their creativity shines, which could be after work or while away from their desk. It also improves remote worker engagement as all staff, remote or not, benefit from the same real-time communication tools, which effectively produces better results for the company.

Sangoma’s Zulu UC is the collaboration and productivity solution for businesses using FreePBX and PBXact phone systems, providing users with seamless integration of all the popular UC tools, all in one platform. It is centered around user interaction, creating a much more efficient experience for one-to-one, and team communication.

Zulu UC Benefits

Enhanced Conversations
Discuss project goals with colleagues using one-to-one chat or create a room for group chat with your teams. And when the conversation needs to break off into a phone call or screen-share, it’s a click away. All the conversations and file uploads are saved in history for quick reference, using the intuitive search bar feature.

Zulu-Collaboration

Mobile & Remote Worker Friendly

The integrated desktop client allows users to move around offices and work offsite while having their extension follow them. It is also perfect for environments without desk-phones, allowing users to make/receive calls directly from their workstation and popular headsets.

The iOS and Android mobile client provides an even higher level of flexibility for colleagues needing to stay “connected” when away from the office, without their workstation available.

The presence control feature allows users to update their availability status, which updates their status across all of their devices, so that no matter where a user is attempted to be reached, availability will be known at all times.

Zulu-Collaboration

Screen-pop, CRM Integration & Click-to-call
Helpdesk staff will appreciate the seamless integration of screen-pop on inbound calls as well as click-to-call phone numbers which are directly on websites and within email clients. And with CRM integration all phone call details are pushed from the PBX to CRM.

Zulu UC is enabled by simply installing the module within FreePBX / PBXact (just like any other module) and managed from the standard User Management module, making it very easy for IT managers to implement UC within their environment.

Join the Zulu UC Beta program by visiting wiki.sangoma.com/display/ZU/Zulu+3+Beta


1. Eastern Management Group
2. MegaPath Blog
3. visual.ly
4. CoSo Cloud Survey

Why isn’t the term ‘Self-Serve’ part of your business phone system?

Today’s society has become completely self-serve. How we interact with consumer products and services has opened up into a plethora of methods, empowering the consumer. The consumer can now log-in to personal online accounts, purchase and manage services without a single phone call or visit to a store front; they can now pay for products and services from their mobile device using technologies such as NFC and Apple Pay; they can transfer funds from the comfort of their electronic devices without requiring visiting the bank, and the list goes on.

This trend of empowering the consumer provides benefits to both the consumer and manufacturer. The consumer benefits from becoming more productive in their daily activities and the manufacturer benefits from selling more product and service based on this fact, as well save on support costs as the consumer have access to the same tools.

So why isn’t this trend as inclusive with the telecommunication industry? For example, in a typical office environment, an employee still requires the assistance from their IT personnel for things like conference phone call setup and management, or to adjust their extension features. Another example is an employee deciding to work from home on a given day, still require IT to setup their tools and access. Or from a consumer point of view, if a business wants to purchase a cloud based phone systems or SIP trunks there is no completely automated self-serve method to do so, without waiting for a response from the provider, or requiring assistance to configure the service.

Self-serve would benefit the telecommunication industry in the following ways:

  • Office staff become more productive as they have access to all communication mediums at their fingertips, without waiting for IT permission
  • Increase remote office work, as staff can become more mobile and thus accomplish more work
  • Businesses can purchase telephony service through online portals, when they want, and configure their services immediately, getting their own businesses running more quickly

Sangoma Technologies has been responding to this need in many of its products and services.

Productivity

Unified Control Panel (UCP)
FreePBX and PBXact phone systems offer a unique web-based dashboard for every user, empowering users to manage and control their own features. They simply log into UCP from any internet capable device and have access to things such as:

  • Voicemail: listening, delete, voicemail-to-email, and recording voicemail greetings
  • Follow-me: enable/disable and add phone numbers
  • Conference: Create unlimited conference rooms, manage live attendee, and administrator level conference room features
  • Presence: manage your presence across all your devices
  • Device management: customize the applications and features of your deskphone
  • WebRTC phone to make/receive calls and SMS with your colleagues…and the list goes on…

UCP Dashboard

Phone Apps
Sangoma IP Phones are pre-built with device applications which completely remove the need for feature-codes and allow users to have administrator level access to all the typical features they require, saving them and their business time and money. For more information on phone apps visit: sangoma.com/phoneapps

Online Sign up & Configuration

SIPStation & PBXact Cloud Service
Whether your business is looking to connect to SIP Trunks or require a complete fully-featured cloud based phone system, Sangoma’s SIPStation and PBXact Cloud offer a completely self-service online portal, allowing customers to immediately register, purchase and configure service, and manage features, without the need for email responses or service connection delay.

Visit the following pages for information and a live demo of the entire setup process.
SIPStation: sangoma.com/sipstation
PBXact Cloud: sangoma.com/pbxact-cloud

FreePBX 15: Feedback Wanted!

FreePBX Suggestion Box

As we enter 2018, we decided to take a step back and reflect on what we’ve accomplished as a community in the last year.

It’s been a long year and a rather busy one for FreePBX. Throughout the year we saw several improvements to FreePBX 13, but one of the most notable included improved directory support in User Manager. This gave users the ability to setup multiple Active Directories, LDAP, or even internal directories to control their users on the PBX and even auto-create extension from the directories their company already uses.

By now you’ve probably heard that we released FreePBX 14 on August 2, 2017, as well as our Enterprise Linux 7 based distro, which contained a slew of updates. Fast forward to December and we announced the General Availability of our 6 to 7 distro upgrade script which has been in Beta since our EL7 based distro was released.

Since the release of FreePBX 14, we’ve been digging through tickets trying to find some of the biggest pain points and we think we’ve found a couple of good ones. The first one we found was that it hasn’t always been easy to restore a previous backup to the latest version of FreePBX. In fact, if you were going between versions, FreePBX didn’t even support it. Well, you’ll be happy you know that this pain point is being addressed in FreePBX 15.

Starting in version 15+, you will now be able to take a backup and restore it to any future FreePBX version. To do this, each and every module will control its own backup and restore process, telling the system what files and data it needs to backup. This led us down the path of breaking out the ability to have different places to store your backups into its own module which we plan to further expand on in the future. Currently, this allows for backups to be stored and restored from your usual places such as Email, FTP, Local storage and on another system via SSH. By abstracting backup and restore into smaller pieces, it will allow us to be able to better test and maintain each piece while still being able to look to the future of how you are using your phone system.

The second thing we’ve heard from you is that many of you would like an easier way to configure FreePBX, from your own applications. With that we plan on bringing a GraphQL API to FreePBX, making it easier to do more with your PBX as well as help you build custom applications.

But that’s not all! While we feel we’ve found some of the biggest pain points you’ve brought up, we also want to ensure that your feedback is heard and that you have a voice as well. So, to ensure this, we want to know what other pain points you have with FreePBX and what you’d like to see in future revisions.

To tell us, head on over to our forums.

Wrapping Up Sangoma PhoneApps Month

Sangoma PhoneApps

All month long we’ve been exploring Sangoma PhoneApps, releasing new videos on all 14 applications each week, on our social media pages and website.

Sangoma PhoneApps allow users to control functions and settings directly from the screen of their phone.

These applications instantly improve user productivity, eliminating the need to remember feature codes or access the admin panel of the phone system to make simple changes.

Sangoma PhoneApps

For example, users can use the Visual Voicemail app to easily view and listen to all their voicemails…the Presence app to quickly change their availability across all their end points…and the Login/Logout app to jump from any phone in the office or other locations on their network, instantly pulling in all preferences and custom settings.

PhoneApps are included with all Sangoma IP Phones and connect seamlessly with your FreePBX or PBXact phone system.

The final two PhoneApps videos to be released this month are the Queue Agents and Time Conditions applications, scheduled for Thursday November 30th.

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For additional information and all of our Sangoma PhoneApps videos to date, please visit https://www.sangoma.com/products/phoneapps/