I’m at a point now where I need to setup a phone line for Aspendora.
In the past, we’ve used ISDN BRI lines and I’ve tied it into our Lucent/Avaya/Whoever Merlin/Legend/Whatever phone system.  I wanted to do away with that.  I wanted to experiment some.  I found an open source PBX system called Asterisk that runs on Linux.  This looked like a good fit.  I like all the features.
Still the question remains.  What should I do about the phone line?  Granted, if there were any affordable ISDN cards available for this system in the US, I would probably go with BRI.  I don’t consider >$2,000 affordable.
So, I’m now looking at VOIP.  Asterisk does this well.  The problem I have is that we are now relying on the internet to do one more thing.  With VOIP, we are running our voice communications over the internet which runs over phone lines.  So, instead of using the phone lines for voice, we are using the phone lines for data, then running voice over this data line.  Did you catch that? 
Person >> Phone >> VOIP server >> phone line (or some form of line, T1, DSL, cable, etc) >> internet >> phone line >> VOIP server >> phone >> person
now, what happened to:
Person >> Phone >> Phone line >> switching network >> Phone line >> Phone >> Person
We have substituted the switching network for the internet and have added VOIP servers.
Ok, now, what I am most concerned about has to do with reliability.  Is our internet connection as reliable as our phone service?  Here at the office, we use Covad’s enterprise class DSL service with a service level agreement.  We’re supposed to have 99.9% or something uptime.  Our speed is equilivant to a T1.
I think I’m going to give it a shot and see how well it works.  Our internet connection really is pretty reliable.  We have downtime, but that’s usually when I knock the plug out of the socket for our main router (happens a lot lately, too).
I just have to find an Asterisk friendly VOIP provider.

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