A device worth investigating is the PBXtra, manufactured by TotalCom,
which is also known as ACNC, a company in northern Illinois, in one of
the western suburbs of Chicago. Although the company says it should
not be used as a small home/office style PBX, there is no reason it
cannot be, and it works very well for that purpose.
It is entirely modular with 8 ports, labled port 0 through port 7.
Out of the package, it defaults to 6 'extensions', and 2 outside
lines. The extensions call each other by dialing 100 through 105.
Dialing Zero, '0' is an alias for port 100, and dialing 9 is an alias
for ports 6 and 7, the two outside lines. Dialing 9 toggles back and
forth between ports 6 and 7, the two outside lines. You can also reach
the two outside lines by dialing 106 or 107 instead of 9 if you
There are several additional things you can put into the PBXtra via
programming commands. All programming is done through a phone which is
plugged into port 0. For example, you can arrange it so that the
outside line plugged into port 7 is reachable by dialing '8'. So you
can plug your single (landline) phone into port 6 and your Vonage
phone into port 7 as I have done; then dialing '9' gets an outside
dial tone on your landline phone, while dialing '8' gets the dial tone
from your Vonage line. Incoming calls from Vonage or landline both
ring into port 0 where they can be answered by 'the operator' or can
be picked up by anyone dialing "*70" when they hear the common audible
ringing. (Actually, '*7xxx' answers any ringing phone; I presume *7106
or *7107 would also intercept incoming calls.)
One drawback is the PBXtra does *NOT* pass caller ID. You can get
caller ID by installing a caller ID box _prior to (but in series
with)_ the incoming port 6 or port 7. And PBXtra defaults to DISA
(which means it answers upon getting the slightest signal of an
inbound call; not enough time for caller ID to get through); but you
can dismiss DISA via a programming command, so the phones will ring
long enough (2 rings) to insure caller ID gets through.
There are lots of things you can program into the PBXtra; conditions
to make busy lines (in your system) hunt to other lines; 'camp on' to
busy extensions, 'call forward' one extension to ring elsewhere; you
can 'call park' (another name for 'hold') incoming calls while you
search for information, etc. If the call left 'parked' or on hold is
forgotten about, after a programmed period of time, it rings back to
the operator. You set all that up by programming it through the zero
port telephone. You can add other parties to a conference call. If you
have 'custom calling' features on your telco or Vonage line, you can
dial *6 to allow the switch hook flash to get past PBXtra and go to
telco instead. Oh yes, also an RS-232 output to go to a printer as
desired, an audio input for music, etc and a real time clock for
wakeup calls at any extension.
My personal configuration here is:
Dial 100 (or '0') for 'the operator' (an unattended phone I use for
the programming stuff mounted on the wall in the closet where the
PBXtra is mounted.
101 is the phone in my bedroom.
102 is the phone on Lisa's desk.
103 is the phone on my desk.
104 is a wireless phone/answering machine in my parlor.
105 (or dial '7') is Cingular Wireless cell phone dialtone.
106 (or dial '9') is landline phone dialtone from Prairie Stream.
107 (or dial '8') is my Vonage line dialtone.
(You can attach a cell phone to this system if you have a 'Cell
Socket' type device. If no Cell Socket device, then ignore this
additional 'dial 7' step.)
I ran a 10-pair cable from the PBXtra through the wall to outside my
house to the phone demarc. One pair to bring the landline into the
house and the PBXtra; the other pairs to 'shuttle' the PBXtra back to
the demarc for distribution around the house.
Its not that I have such a huge volume of phone traffic; actually I
have very little, but its great to be able to go to any phone and
answer any call (VOIP, landline or cellular).
You can get PBXtra from Mike Sandman http://sandman.com and then
searching for 'PBXtra' in his catalog. And you will get a large --
about fifty pages -- manual with all the codes you can dial in to
program it. About $350.00 plus shipping, but Mike is very honest and
very prompt with shipping. Call 630-980-7710 for more details.
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 20:25:55 -0500
From: Danny Burstein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Norvergence: NJ Settles With More Leasing Companies
Organization: PANIX Public Access Internet and UNIX, NYC
X-Telecom-Digest: Volume 24, Issue 16, Message 2 of 10
TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today announced settlements
with two major financing companies - General Electric Capital
Corp. ("GE") and CIT Technology Financing Services, Inc. ("CIT") -
that will result in the forgiveness of nearly $8 million in payments
owed by New Jersey customers under long-term service agreements with
NorVergence, Inc., a bankrupt New Jersey telecommunications company.
NorVergence, which was based in Newark, is under investigation for
allegedly deceiving thousands of customers across the U.S., mostly
small businesses, in its leasing of telecommunications equipment and
services. NorVergence sold its long-term service agreements to 26
financing companies. Although NorVergence stopped providing services
to the customers, the financing companies have continued to bill
customers and, in some cases, have initiated legal actions against
them. Some customers have monthly payments as high as $5,700.
(GE and CIT...) "have agreed to forgive the majority of payments owed
by 525 customers, more than one-third of the roughly 1,450 NorVergence
customers in New Jersey ..."
( snippety snip. rest of press release gives more of the details,
including the sordid NorVergence history )
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
[to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Are there *still* some small business
people plugging away paying on their Norvegence lease each month?
People who have read this Digest for a few months now know starting
early in 2004 I began encouraging people to **freeze all accounts
payable to Norvergence effective immediatly**, and only release those
funds on the advice of their attorney. I guess now most attornies, by
and large, would agree with my position. Oddly, I do not get much
mail on this topic any longer, only now and then the occassional
'holder in due course' argument, but as sacrosanct as that argument
may be, it does not apply in the case of fraud, and I am not at all
convinced that the finance companies were not parties to the fraud;
either they knew **or should have known** what Norvergence was about.
Those companies should have spent some money investigating the leases
thoroughly rather than spending the money on bonuses and fancy dinners
for the employees who brought in that bogus business to them. PAT]