VoIPowering Your Office: VoIP Appliance Power-Shopping, part 2

Last week we compared Asterisk and its new corporate sibling, Switchvox, which is really its offspring. Today we’re adding VoIP servers for our mythical 50-user office from Pingtel and Fonality.

Pingtel’s SIPxchange ECS

Pingtel was acquired in 2007 by Bluesocket. They’re still using the Pingtel name, which is convenient for those of us whose brains are full. SIPxchange ECS is a SIP proxy. It does not support any other transport protocol, only SIP. This means it routes SIP traffic the way it is intended to be routed, with the media and signaling streams separated. A SIP proxy handles only signaling, and the media stream is routed directly between endpoints. Asterisk servers become their own bottlenecks because they function as back-to-back user agents (B2BUA), so all traffic must flow through them. There are advantages to both approaches, which we will address in a future article.

The lowest-end Pingtel appliance is the SIPxchange ECS SE. This goes for $2,945.00, and for this you get:

  •  License for up to a hundred users
  •  Number of concurrent calls limited only by your network capacity
  •  Unlimited trunks
  •  Celeron 2.66Ghz CPU
  •  512 MB DDR2 RAM
  •  80Gb SATA drive
  •  3 gigabit Ethernet ports
  •  Small form-factor chassis (not rackmount)
  •  1-year support/35 users, 2 hours “Jumpstart” installation support
  •  Easy high-availability setup

If you need PSTN integration you’ll need a media gateway, and you can choose
from a range of certified devices. These cost from $234.95 for a two-port FXS
gateway (for two incoming analog phone lines) to a T1/E1 gateway for $4,550.
Another T1/E1 option is to have the Audiocodes TP260 PCI T1/E1 gateway card
installed in your SIPxchange server. I forgot to get a price for one of these,
but typically they’re around $3,000 for single-span. Before you keel over from
price shock, this is not a mere T1/E1 interface, which typically cost well under
$1,000. This is a complete media gateway that, just like the standalone units,
supports faxing, echo cancellation and jitter buffer, tone detection and generation,
PSTN signaling, embedded Web server to power the management interface, and multiple
VoIP codecs and protocols. Having your media gateway incorporated into your
server saves a bit of space and cabling, though it puts a bit more load on your
server. A standalone gateway offloads some of the work and gives you more flexibility.

Pingtel will also sell you, as part of their certified hardware line, an Ingate
SIP capable firewall. These range from about $3,700 to just under $5,000.

Pingtel offers certified hardware packages and a rather bewildering array of individual support options. They also offer all-in-one support deals that cover your entire system- phones, servers, gateways, the works.

RockBochs’ Phonebochs

With the Phonebochs you get both stout hardware and bad puns. It comes with Trixbox
CE 2.2 installed, and you may choose to have either Elastix or FreePBX installed
instead. RockBochs offers both 1U and 3U models. The 1U units are sleek, and crammed
with all manner of good things. The RBB-00 is the lowest-end base 1U and costs

  •  Intel 1.6Ghz Core Duo mobile processor
  • 1GB Crucial RAM
  •  2 80GB SATA hard drives
  •  RAID 1 (mirror)
  •  3 gigabit Ethernet ports
  •  220-watt power supply

These are all good-quality components that won’t get the vapors and keel over.
The chassis and power supply are warranted for ten years, and the rest of the
components for one year, except where the manufacturer’s warranty is longer. There
are no software licensing fees, because they bundle only free-of-cost open-source

Next up the ladder is the RBS (standard) series, which come with 2GB RAM and
dual 160GB SATA hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration. The base unit is about

Finally, for just under $2,000, the PhoneBochs RBP (premium) has 2GB RAM and
dual 1TB SATA hard drives. That’s right, a whopping terabyte per drive, in RAID
1. (Who else is old enough to remember when 100 megabyte hard drives were standard,
and cost about $125, back when $125 was a lot bigger than it is now?)

RockBochs uses only Sangoma interfaces, which are the best of all. All three
base models have two full-length PCI slots for expansion, and can accommodate
up to eight FXO ports or two T1/E1. Adding four FXO ports with hardware echo
cancellation adds roughly $800, while eight ports gets you a volume deal at
about $1,000. One T1 adds about a thousand dollars, while two cost about $1,600

Support options are the simplest of all. You can purchase support in either 1-hour increments at $99.00 per hour, or 5-hour blocks for $396.00. They will help you with anything, including remote helpdesk via Web or SSH.

Next week we’re going to look at Fonality’s PBXtra, which seems to be in direct competition with its corporate twin, trixbox Pro, and a mystery guest that I’ll choose between now and then.

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