A Short history of Shoretel and a cost comparison

What is Shoretel

Shoretel is a trademarked name of Shoreware Communications which was started in September of 1996 as Shoreline Teleworks by Edwin J. Basart and Mike Harrigan.  Their principal product was a hybrid network and analog private branch exchange (PBX) that combined a digital voice switch with analog phones and a software based management station.  The voice switches combine all phone handsets into the PBX, their other products include trunking devices to allow PSTN services such as T-1 voice trunks, and analog POTS lines to be brought into the PBX.  Their first products shipped in 1998.  Historically, all of their PBX equipment have been half depth 19 inch rack mount format, embedded microcontroller based with signal processing devices that convert analog to digital, the internal operating system within the devices was always VXWorks.  On the early models, there was a secret hidden RS232 serial port on the microcontroller mainboard that you could use to access the secret configuration menus.  The management station has always been an IIS web service running on Windows server. The management station always provided call routing and voice mail services as well.  The early phone models were rebranded.  Shoretel equipment is  very durable and long lasting.  Often you will see businesses with first generation analog systems such as the 400e deskphone.

Company History

Acquisitions and buyouts have driven the expansion of the company.  In 2012, the company acquired M5 Networks, based in New York City, for $146 million, thus gaining the “Connect” platform, which later was rebranded “Shoretel Connect”, other buyouts brought in proprietary SIP functionality and SIP trunking, finally, their death knell was brought about by Shoretel buyout by MITEL,  while Shoretel and its products still exist in their original form, they are being rebranded as Mitel products.   Historically, Mitel has always had a similar PBX system, now it owns 2 similar competing products.

Pricing Comparison

The cloud is the newest buzzword in the industry, and cloud based, or so called hosted PBX systems are very popular with small and medium sized business. Unfortunately, for small and medium sized business, hosted PBX or VOIP systems can really eat into the bottom line over 5 years. That’s why big enterprise business does not embrace hosted PBX.  It is also why small and medium sized business should never embrace hosted PBX, they should instead stick to on-premise PBX with traditional PSTN trunking services.   We have estimated the 1  and 5 year cost of both Shoretel and Ring Central.  With Shoretel, we are assuming a pre-owned or grey market installation composed of pre-owned or refurbished equipment.  It is assumed that some components will need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear over time.  With Ring Central and many other hosted systems, the VOIP provider will replace them at no cost, with Shoretel you will have to buy them yourself. Refurbished Phone handsets are $95 – $120 each, voice switches are about $500 each, servers are about $2500 each.  Even with regular parts replacement, over 5 years, Shoretel is clearly the winner in the cost category.  We have worked up a cost comparison for 1 and 5 year terms.  Even with the Cox VoiceManager MRC at $775/month, Ring Central is clearly more expensive in the long term for systems over 24 extensions.

Shoretel Vs Ring Central

Shoretel VS Ring Central Pricing for Cox Internet Voice Manager in South Coast Metro, Orange County, CA

The long term cost of Ring Central or any other cloud/hosted PBX grows in proportion to the number of lines that you subscribe to, while Shoretel’s costs are more limited over the long term.

CTI Features

Getting Root Access to Shoretel

The shoretel voice switches and T-1 PRI switches are microcontrollers with signal processing units. They run a version of Wind River VXworks. The newer switches also run something that looks a lot like debian linux.  To get root access to the switches, you simply need to get a DB9 connector with null modem cabling, and then connect it to your RS232 jack on your computer, then you can use Putty as a serial terminal to connect at 9600 or 19200 baud. See our blog entry on how to connect to a shoretel 90V with putty.

Voicemail to Email Service with a free SocketLabs SMTP gateway account

Socketlabs is a free and paid service that can allow you to send 10000 free SMTP relays every month from your verified domain. But first you need a real domain with it’s own email accounts and a professional looking website on top of that, plus you need to look like a legitimate business with contact numbers and email addresses. It is not for spammers. Once you are ready, you create a free account at then allow the admins to verify your email and your web presence.  Once that’s done, you get your credentials for their free SMTP relay that you can use in your IIS SMTP gateway to send free emails from your voicemail appliances, and your other IOT things that need to send email out, but cannot authenticate.  Many devices cannot authenticate such as Shoretel voicemail servers, all in one printers, fax machines. They only know how to send simple SMTP to port 25.  SocketLabs and your own IIS server can be the intermediate gateway for these devices. We wrote a great blog entry to show you how to do this.

Call Reporting

Shoretel Director uses MySQL to store all configuration and call report records.  We wrote a great blog entry on how to connect to the database and run your own custom SQL. Please be extra careful when running commands as the root user.

Choose an Expert

Eleven Dimensions Technologies is a certified Shoretel, Avaya, and Mitel reseller serving Orange County, California. Call or text us for a free estimate to build or maintain your Shoretel, Avaya, or Mitel system. Call us or text us at (949)371-5079 for your free consultation.   In addition to our sales and installation services, we also develop a custom call reporting application for Shoretel, that will exceed capabilities of the built in call reporting tool.  Our call reporting tool is a web application that displays workgroup, huntgroup and individual extension call reports in very intuitive single page format.

Our Designers

our tech staff is located in Orange County CA

Shoretel 400e analog phone, circa 1998

An early Shoretel voice switch circa 1998

A more recent phone handset, the IP230 phone.

Shoretel IP212K receptionist phones with programmable buttons