Setting Up the Asterisk Phone System at Home

The Asterisk phone systems are Linux-based VOIP PBX systems. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, and this refers to a division of the phone line within a building, be it a business or home. PBX systems are commonly used in businesses. Several phone lines come into the building and then are distributed to several individual extensions spread throughout the company. A few lines out of the building connecting to the phone lines are also part of the system, allowing outgoing calls. You typically have to dial a number, such as 9, to get one of these outside lines. Some people find that setting up a PBX at home is convenient, but not work the thousands of dollars necessary. With Asterisk, this type of system can be set up for relatively little cost.

The Hardware

There are some pieces of hardware that you will need to set up an Asterisk phone system in your home. One is a Linux server with an extra PCI slot. While the program can run on Windows based servers, it does not run well. Linux is a must if you want everything to run efficiently, as the Asterisk system was designed to be run on Linux. Most people find that a dedicated server works best for this application, especially if they are going to use a Windows based system. The system will need 40 GB of available disk space.

Besides a server, you will also need a Digium Wildcard TDM400P. This is the card that allows you to connect your phones and your phone line to the Asterisk server and the VOIP PBX system. The card has four ports, so you will need to decide how many lines you need. The ports can be configured to be incoming or outgoing, depending on your needs. Incoming ports take the phone line coming from outside of your home and connect it to the system, allowing you to receive calls. Outgoing ports allow you to connect your regular phone to the system, so you can receive calls. If you need more than four ports, you will need to buy an extra card.

Software

Once you have the hardware, you are ready to set up your operating system and install the Asterisk phone system software. The best way to do this and avoid the need for Asterisk consulting as you install the product is to download the ISO of [email protected]. This will begin to install automatically and will reformat your disk if needed, so installing it on a machine that does not have important information on it first is a good idea. There are other ways to set up the system, but they are quite confusing.

Setting up the System

After you have installed the software, you can use the new Web server to view the Asterisk Management Portal. This portal has an interface where you can set up your system. The interface is fairly straightforward and has documentation to help with any questions that you might have.

Once you have the basic setup entered, you will need to add your extensions. This is simple to do on the “Ring Group” screen. Simply add the number of extensions you intend for your home to have. This is also the page where you will configure your voicemail box. To record your voicemail messages, call the chosen extension from a phone inside your system and record the message.

The final step to completely configuring your system is configuring the rules for incoming calls. You can choose whether you want to have the calls go to the phones or an operator, where the caller can choose an extension. Once you have made these choices, you are ready to start using your new VOIP PBX system!

Once installed, Asterisk phone systems work much like a regular PBX system. You simply pick up the phone, dial the extension for an outside line, and make your call! Soon you will forget that you are using a high-tech VOIP PBX Toronto system at all as your new phone setup becomes part of your daily life.

Consider Asterisk Phone Systems For Your Business Communications Needs

All business operations want to save money. One of the biggest office expenses can be the various aspects of telecommunication, from PBX setups to call center operations. Utilizing open source telephony, Asterisk phone systems have been under development since 1999, and can provide a wide range of services and applications. This free software can transform an ordinary computer into a communications server.

What exactly does the Asterisk system do that other systems can not? This software system is often referred to as a “development platform, ” and it can be used to run everything from small business PBX systems to huge media servers. Open source technology, besides being free, is customizable and versatile. The Asterisk system uses Linux, the freely available source code that has challenged other major systems.

Asterisk, while originally designed for Linux, now also incorporates Mac OS X, NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Solaris. It can also provide a Microsoft Windows port called Asterisk Win32. When installed, the Asterisk software can transform an ordinary computer into a device that can function as a conference server, PBX or VoIP gateway. Asterisk PBX systems include many of the same features found in proprietary systems, including voice response for phone menus, conference calling, voice mail, and call distribution.

The original operating code was written by Mark Spencer of Digium Inc., in addition to contributions from open-source engineers worldwide. Asterisk is not a phone company in the sense that it manufactures telephone sets or physical components. Rather, it will provide the basic software building blocks for many communications systems, and can be constantly changed as conditions require.

Many call centers around the world have adopted the Asterisk system primarily because it is flexible and adaptable to existing features such as bulk dialing, remote IP agent capabilities, and advanced routing. It requires no additional hardware for use with voice over IP. It does require hardware devices and cards for certain kinds of interfaces, including standard telephony cards, and this support comes from the parent company, Digium, Inc.

Featured in telephony and PBX are VoIP and PTSN drivers for interface cards, and routing and handling inbound calls as well as outbound. There is control of media management functions such as tone generation, record and play, and call detail for billing purposes. The system can convert from one protocol or media format to another, and is capable of database integration as well as Web services integration. It is capable of single or multiple party bridging and recording and monitor functions.

Asterisk can also provide a telephony setup program called AsteriskNOW. Downloading it allows customization, and the creation of solutions by building the inner workings of a system. Much of the complexity of Asterisk and Linux is handled by the administrative GUI. This allows your system engineer to completely incorporate into an existing system such products as VoIp or Skype Gateway, IP PBX, a Call Center ACD, Conference Bridge, and much more.

The free open-source technology of Asterisk phone systems has been adopted by call centers and businesses of all sizes worldwide. If you are looking for a different solution to your PBX or call center issues, the Asterisk system can combine the time-proven features and functionality of traditional PBX with the advanced Voice over IP system for a solution that is both cost-effective and up-to-the minute.

Business Phone System Maintenance Is Essential for Optimum Performance

A business phone system not only improves the customer experience, but also provides the business with a cost-effective and efficient way to route calls. However, this is only true if the system is running properly and is maintained by knowledgeable personnel. As with any type of technology, over time parts and components can cease to function and will need to be replaced. Depending on the system purchased, these replacement parts can either be nonexistent or very expensive to procure.

This is why it is essential that support and maintenance of the business phone be considered prior to purchase. Although replacement hardware is a key component of keeping a business phone system up and running, there are other maintenance tasks that should be completed on a regular basis to keep the phone system running at its optimum performance.

As technology advances, the operating system and firmware versions need to be consistently updated to keep pace with new technology. Many performance issues can appear when additional features are added without upgrading the core components of the system. In many cases, advancements in network technology can have a direct effect on the performance of a voice over IP enabled phone system. In most cases, the system vendor will have recommendations to upgrade firmware on key hardware components or they might even suggest that you upgrade to the latest version of software available.

In the case of upgrading software, the upgrade will come at an additional cost with the expense of labor for the upgrade being included in the total cost. When upgrading firmware, if the business system is covered under a maintenance agreement, the labor is covered under this agreement with no additional cost to the business owner. Firmware upgrades should be completed periodically to ensure that the system is always running with the latest version of firmware. Most manufacturers make changes to the firmware to address particular performance issues and they release this firmware for specific reasons. If the firmware is not periodically upgraded, the business might not be taking advantage of advancements in technology.

Backing up the business phone system is another area of importance that should be completed on a daily basis or at least whenever there’s a change made to the system. As with any computerized technology, should the system have a major failure you’ll need a backup to restore service as soon as possible. Without a backup of all extensions, call routing, and announcements, the phone system information would have to be re-entered manually. This essentially causes the system to have to be set up all over again which would cost the business valuable time and money. The preferable way to maintain backups would be to create a directory on a server where backups could be written to this directory on a nightly basis. The backups for the system would then be backed up as part of the backup for the file server. Having these backups immediately available is added assurance that should a catastrophic failure occur that communications could be restored in minimal time.

System monitoring is another way to ensure optimal performance and to stay ahead of potential issues before they arise. In most cases, when hardware begins to fail it will often trigger alarms on the phone system. Using software to monitor these alarms, a system administrator can become aware of a potential problem and arrange to have the hardware replaced before it fails completely. This is also true in the case of circuits or phone lines that are performing poorly. When the circuits are not performing properly, this can contribute to poor call quality or audio issues. Even though the issue resides outside of the phone system, monitoring tools can help the system administrator determine which circuit is having the issue so that the problem can be reported to the communications provider. Monitoring the system allows for a proactive approach for troubleshooting and system maintenance.

Since most business systems today are voice over IP enabled, network performance is a key element in how well the phone system performs when making or receiving calls. Monitoring on the network side should also be completed with VoIP technology in mind. The business phone system also has tools that will help the system administrator pinpoint causes of poor audio quality that are related to network performance issues. These tools are dependent on the model of phone system purchased however; most manufacturers recognize the need to have a way to monitor VoIP traffic on a converged network.

The purchase of a business phone system is not the last major decision that needs to be made for communications for your business. Ongoing maintenance and repair is required to keep the phone system running at the highest levels of reliability. Being proactive through monitoring and maintenance will ensure that the phone system for your business will always provide a professional and efficient way of communication.