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My DIY VOIP experience

As an electrical engineer with years of computer experience, how hard could it be to buy a couple of VOIP phones and set up a Hosted PBX?

I signed up with Engin and purchased 4 phones from The Telecom Shop. The phones were refurbished Polycom IP550 and at $60 each were awesome value for money.

Reality comes crashing down

The supplied documentation from Engin was minimal, and the documentation with the phones was non-existent.

To make it worse, the connection information that came from Engin assumed that they had pre-configured the phones. The information the Polycoms were asking for did not match the information provided by Engin.

So the rounds of support calls started. The support provided by both companies has been great, but with a bit more documentation it could have been so easily avoided.

For the phones, I needed to upgrade the firmware – but the only way to find the instructions was through a link provided by The Telecom Shop. Why didn’t they just supply a piece of paper or email with instructions instead of waiting for me to call?

And even then the connection information had to be provided verbally by Engin. Why didn’t they just include a sheet with a list of common phones and the connection information required? Or have it online?


So here are my top 3 tips for DIY VOIP:
1. Don’t
2. Get them to do it
3. Spend the extra couple dollars buying the phone from the service provider, and save on time and effort

DIY VOIP tips for those who didn’t listen

1. Be prepared to spend many days on this
2. Make sure you have the latest firmware on the phone. Whatever brand you buy, make sure you can access the firmware before you commit.
3. Then make sure you can talk to the VOIP provider when connecting. They should be able to provide instructions for the phone that you buy. Get this before signing up.
4. Before signing up with the VOIP provider, make a list of all the features that you actually require, and make sure that they are provided in the standard package. Get them to reply to your email confirming the features.
5. Ideally get their support to set up as many features as possible, or make sure you allocate many days (see point 1).
6. Ensure that your router has also been correctly setup to maximise the bandwidth for VOIP.