My Ideal Phone System

We're getting ready to move and it's time to figure out the phone thing again. This will be the fourth phone decision our family is making in the past eleven years. And in a world that is moving fast, we've had an interesting path.

In 1999, we moved back to NYC from the suburbs and picked up a block of about ten 212 phone numbers from Verizon. We used one for our main line, each person in the family got a number, and we used one for fax. We ran them on a panasonic phone system with rollovers.

In 2001, we moved into another home and ported the numbers to a CLEC who provided us a voice T and we bought an inexpensive NEC PBX/phone system. That system worked great but it was overkill and expensive.

In 2007, we moved again and this time we ported the numbers to a VOIP provider and bought Cisco IP phones. That was a step backward in terms of functionality, particularly the phone handsets. I'm still paying for that decision at home.

So it's time to move again and this time I've put together this spec of the ideal phone system:

1) get a dedicated 768k internet connection from verizon (dsl probably)
2) buy SIP phones for everyone
3) connect all the SIP phones into a network with router and hang that off the dedicated internet connection
4) find a cloud based VOIP PBX out there that is commercially supported that provides dial tone
5) send my block of ~10 phone numbers to that provider
6) map the phone numbers to the SIP phones via the cloud based PBX
7) live happily ever after

I've been looking around for a "commercially supported cloud-based VOIP PBX that provides dial tone" for the past few weeks and I keep coming up empty on the SIP phones. I want this system to support any SIP phone I choose to put on the system.

That's the mistake I made last time. We went with a very good VOIP provider but they could only support the Cisco phones. And nobody in our home wants an office phone on their desk or in their bedroom. My kids are fine with routing their incoming calls to their cell phones. The Gotham Gal and I still want a traditional phone handset but we want something that you'd typically find in a home; wireless and with a headset.

It's really not about the handsets that each provider "supports." It's about a design principal that I take from the world of computers and the internet. When you get a new laptop, you don't worry if it will work on your home network and the internet. You simply connect to your wifi network or wired network and it works.

That's how I want my ideal phone system to work. I want to be able to walk into Best Buy, select any SIP phone that I like, buy it, bring it home, plug it in, and make a phone call.

So that's my ideal phone system. I tweeted it out last night and I've gotten dozens of suggestions which I will now cull through.

When I find the ideal phone system, test it out, and am sure I've found it, I'll report back and let you know where you can get it.