Phone Systems for Hutterite Colonies

Installing a colony phone system depends on the skill level of the people installing the system. If the colony has people that are interested in computer networking and making technology work then the installation goes much easier and smoother. A typical colony phone system take 6-8 weeks

A typical Colony phone system has phones in each of the shops, home and kitchen. These may be table top phones or cordless phones. Many colonies include a table top phone for each phone as well as a cordless phone. There is also a phone unit in the Church so that service can be broadcast and paging units in louder areas where the phone is not loud enough.

Phone System Components

The major components of a phone system install are:

  1. Internet Connection
  2. SIP base Phone Company
  3. Point to Point wireless network to connect buildings
  4. Internal Building Wiring to connect phones
  5. Internet Security Gateway (aka Firewall or Router
  6. Church
  7. Phone System Server
  8. Phones

Other components


If Ipads, laptops are allowed and used for school and shops, a colony wifi system is a good addition. With colony wifi, the colony has control over the internet and what access is give to which people. For instance, internet can be restricted for school and children and more access can be given to shops. Also certain websites can be restricted like social media and facebook while education sites are allowed access. Time limits can also be applied so that internet is only available during school hours or only up to 7pm. With proper WiFi and internet controls, the colony has control over the internet access

WiFi antennas have limited range so for colony WiFi, we engineer and place multiple WiFi antennas throughout the colony so that good connections are available thoughout the Colony just like the coverage available from cell phones

Enterprise Cordless Phones

Regular cordless phones have limited range. When used in homes, their range is usually limited to the home. Enterprise cordless phones have a much broader range and can provide coverage across the entire colony. For those that spend most of their time on the colony, this can be an alternative to cell phones and save money.

Multiple antennas need to placed throughout the Colony to provide consistent coverage for the phones

Security Cameras

Some colonies have problems with vandalism and troublemakers coming onto Colony property. Security cameras can be strategically placed in areas that are away from the housing areas and be recorded for security reasons. A industrial grade security camera allows much better night visibility at further distances. Usually these cameras are mounted for static viewing so that stay in one place however PTZ cameras are also available so they can moved remotely and zoomed in on an area. The camera can also be programmed to sense motion and so when there is unusual movement at night, the camera starts recording and sends out an alert

Installation of security cameras rely on the PTP wireless infrastructure that is installed for the phone system. Each camera also has a wireless antenna to connect it back to the colony network.

Regular 120v power is required to power the cameras however if it is not possible, the camera can be powered by a solar panel

Installation of the Wireless Infrastructure and Phone System

The installation of the phone system and required infrastruture usually take 6 - 8 weeks. Most of the work is done by the colony which keeps the cost down and allows the colony to understand the system so they can maintain it in the future. Having HELIA support and maintain the phone system as well as provide full installation is also an option

Internet Connection Installation

A good, strong, reliable internet connection is the most important for all equipment to work properly. A minimum of 5M "up" is the most important for phones. 5M up usually comes with 25M "down". If the connection can be requested as "managed" with "QoS prioritization" and "optimized for VoIP", it should be. Axia internet tends to be the best choice but can be more expensive. Other options are CCInet, Labb computers, Bell LTE, Telus LTE, or ABNet. If a good choice is not available, internet can be beamed over from another colony. Internet can be beamed up to 100 km away but must be line-of-site without trees or hills in the way. A tower is usually required to allow the antenna to be high enough.

Once you have chosen an internet provider, they will take care of installing the internet connection and providing a network jack for the colony to plug into.

Internet Security Gateway Installation

The Internet Security Gateway must be placed near where the Internet service provider has placed the network jack. It must be placed in a building away from the elements and the tend to be rated for a temperature range of 20'C to 40'C. This means they should be placed indoors. Its also important that they be placed in an area without an excessive amount of dust as dust build up overtime and causes equipment to overheat. In some colonies a wall mounted environmently protected box is used that includes a heater and protects the equipment from the elements.

We recomend PFSense firewalls for all colonies. PFsense provides excellent security capabilities so that internet can be restricted and intruders are locked out. A UPS power conditioner and power backup should also be used with the PFSense hardware

Point to Point Wireless Network Installation

The wireless network is installed in a "spoke and hub" configuration. This means that a central hub antenna is placed on the colony and all other buildings connect to this central antenna as spokes. The hub antenna must be high enough so that all spoke antennas can be placed line-of-sight to the hub. It should not be placed too high though as there is a maximum vertical angle that the hub is designed for, beyond which the connection quality degrades. If there is no suitable place to mount the hub, an antenna tower can be used.

Lightening and ESD (Electrostatic discharge) must be taken into consideration when mounting antennas. The hub antenna is the most succeptable as its the highest up. Both the antenna and tower should be grounded separately. Special network cable that includes an extra conductor designed to drain electrostatic energy is used with all antennas. The 120v power should all be tested to have reliable earth grounds so that any extra energy can be drained away and not damage the equipment. An extra ESD jack is used with the Hub Antenna to ensure the Internet Security Gateway is not damaged in case of a lightening hit. We also recommend that extra lightening devices are kept on hand so that if there is a hit that damages the equipment, the device can be replaced quickly and service restored

Each building has its own spoke antenna. This antenna is mounted on the outside of the building and uses the same network cable that has the extra ESD drain. The antenna must be line-of-sight to the Hub antenna. For aligning, its good to have a inexpensive consumer-grade wifi to plug into the spoke antenna. It can be plugged in while the spoke is being aligned and give you access to the Android based alignment tools available for the antennas.

Internal Building Wiring Installation

For each building, the spoke antenna is connected to a PoE power injector that provides the grounding for the antenna and then to a single smart switch for the building. We recommend that the smart switch has more ports than are required as you'll find that more devices such as more phones, printers, WiFi access points, computers, cameras are added and you will quickly run out of available ports. These switches are also PoE which means they provide power to the phones and so the phones don't require 120v power. The switch must also be a smart switch or a managed switch that supports VLANS, QoS, SNMP and other advanced protocols. This network switch is a important part of network security and the ability to restrict internet access at the colony. Standard Cat5e cable is used for all internal wiring and a cable is run for each phone. During installation you'll want to have a cable tester so that each cable can be properly tested.

Church Installation

Our system allows church to be broadcast to homes, shops and the kitchen. Where church is broadcast and who has permission is decided by the minister. In church we use a device that connects to the PA sound system in the church and connects to the phone system. A simple two button system is used to start and stop the broadcasting. If there is no PA sound system in the church, we recommend a conference phone be used instead. The conference phone has good microphones that can pick up the minister and congregation well.

Watch our video on broadcasting church with your 3CX Phone System at:

Phone System Installation

The phone system is a Windows based computer running 3CX Phone System. Its mounted in a area with some air flow and and not dusty. It doesn't require a keyboard mouse or monitor to be attached as its designed to be remotely managed by any computer in the Colony with proper access.

Once internal wireing and the Point-to-point wireless network is installed, the Phone system server can be connected. Installation is simply plugging the provided computer into the network cable that is installed for its location and connecting to 120v power. A UPS power conditioner and battery backup is recommended for the phone system.

The Auto attendant message that callers hear when calling the colony must be recorded. Choose a person at the colony that has a pleasant voice and can speak with confidence. The message is recorded using one of the new phone system phones and so can only be done after the phone system is connected along with at least one phone. The message is relatively standard and can be modified. For Colonies the message is typically "Thank you for calling [Alberta] Colony. Press 1 for shops or 2 for residences". When the caller presses 1 or 2 they will hear the appropriate list of residences or shops. Each of these messages will need to be recorded and updated as required.

Businesses at the colony have the option to have a dedicated phone number that goes directly to the shop. Callers can also be directed to cell phone if required

SIP base Phone Company

A SIP based Phone company provides phone lines and service for the colony. If the current phone lines is with Telus, Bell or another company, then they will need to be transferred to the new phone company. This can take time and is often 3 to 4 weeks. Its important to start this process early.

We provide phone service through our sister company, HeliaVoice. There are two different plans available through HeliaVoice. The first is per minute calling with very low per month costs. The second is a traditional unlimited calling plan which allows free calling across Canada.

Phone Installation

The final part of the system to be installed are the phones. The directory of phones is first added into the phone system. Each phone has a "MAC" address which is like a serial number. This number is placed in the phone system along with the name and phone type. This allows the phone to automatically program themselves when they are first plugged in.

The phones can either be mounted on the wall or placed on a table top. If they are to be mounted on a wall, a separated wall mounting adapter is required. Please count the number of phone that will be wall mounted.

Final Notes

Installing a colony phone system is complex and though we've provided an overview here, there are a lot more details involved

HELIA as created procedures and special software for use with colony phone systems that we include when we install a system. Most of the work is done by the colony but we do include a block of 20 hours to do much of the remote configuration and setup as well as provide telephone support during the installation. If these hours are not used, they're carried forward for future support

We provide training so the colony has full control over their phone system and can fully manage it if they choose. HELIA will always be available to provide backup support or full management depending on the needs of the colony. Time is provided as pre-purchased blocks.


Most phone systems we've seen from other providers are around $50,000. HELIA provides special pricing for colonies and its much much less. Phones and equipment can be found on our website but does not reflect the pricing we provide to colonies which is significantly discounted. Contact us directly for information

Learn More

To learn more about colony phone systems or for more details, contact:

Learn More

Call our Specialist. He can be reached at:

Picture of Dar ZuchDar ZuchBusiness IT Specialist - CalgaryHelia Technologies(403) 698-0700

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