Asterisk for the buis

We are currently converting the office to voip to save on phone costs and reap the advantages of voip my boss tells me. I have been assigned to research a telephone solution that will give the business a professional feel. Today I came across Asterisk and I like what I see. After watching the system explanation on utube I am pumped. I have currently pieced together a linux box for around 200. Case, mother board & cpu w/ integrated sound and video and onboard lan, 40 gig hd, and cd rom. From this point on I am a little lost and I am not sure if I need a special card or not. I also need to upgrade the phones and it seems like there are so many options. To better understand what we are trying to accomplish I work for a small company with like 6 people. We want a more professional feel when people call in. Basically we want a caller to be greeted with a welcome message and then be able to choose through some menu options or dial an extension of a person and if the person doesnt pick up then they will be sent to their voice mail. Now i know that all this is possible with Asterisk and so I need help to make sure that I get all the right equipment. I am unsure of how voip works and so i wonder if we need more than one voip line to talk to a customer and have more in queue and at the same time be able to dial out? Also I wonder what kind of internet upstream do I need to make all this work? Sorry for the long post and thank you for any help.

First off, how important is it that your phone rings when someone calls, and how important is it that you get dialtone when someone tries to call?

Your Asterisk server is the most important piece of equipment in your phone system. Piecing together a system for under $200 might be ok, if the questions asked above are not that important.

I know some businesses will die without a phone system, a cheap computer running Asterisk is not the way for them to go. Others can get by with downtime.

For testing purposes, go for it! Read the book Asterisk: The Future of Telephony. Understand it is based on an older version. Explore the wiki at http://www.voip-info.org. Read the messages here. Goto http://www.asteriskguru.com, read the mailing list archives.

Understood and I agree. I guess I was misled when watching system. They informed ppl that you can get away with just any computer lying around the house to be an effective asterisk server. What type of specs would make an effective server for let?s say a 10 person phone system?

Understood and I agree. I guess I was misled when watching system. They informed ppl that you can get away with just any computer lying around the house to be an effective asterisk server. What type of specs would make an effective server for lets say a 10 person phone system?

Personally I have no problems with cheap machines, as long as they are reliable. My main business * box is a P2-300 that I found in my basement. I’ve never had to reboot it and it never crashes, so I’m happy! I have also installed a few setups for people on a budget using leftover computers they have. No problems so far. So I wouldn’t say you were misled. An old machine can make a great * server, esepcially for a small office.
OTOH, if you have 200 users and no phones for a day will create a catastrophic problem, then yeah i’d probably spend $1200 on a new box.

Second, mindsink, the Enter key is your friend!

Third- each call you have to deal with at a time is one channel. If you have three calls waiting on hold and a fourth talking to a customer, that is four channels. If you then want to dial out you need 5 channes (3 on hold, one talking, one outgoing = 5).
If you get standard BYOD VOIP service (viatalk, broadvoice, etc) then your account will usually have two channels (only two to support 3way calling). For 6 people this should be fine unless you get a lot of calls. If that is the case you may want to consider a wholesale service- for that you pay about $10/mo for your phone number (DID) and then about 1c/min/channel for outgoing. One advantage to this is you set your own caller-id on outgoing calls, so you can generally have as many channels as you want but still dial from the same number.

As for what phones to buy-
I personally recommend AAstra or SNOM phones. They both have good remote-config support (you can put all the common settings in one server file and all the phones use it; server files are text-based and easy to edit, no wierdo config tools needed). They also have good * support (vendors are responsive to * community) and are built like tanks.
If you are on a budget try Grandstream GXP2000 phone, not as solidly built and config files must be processed with a grandstream provided tool but still not bad to work w/.

As for bandwidth, that depends on what codec you use. G.711 ulaw will give you the best quality but requries about 80kbit/sec including overhead per call. Smallest common one is G.729 but this requires a $10/channel license fee paid to Digium.

Hope that helps!

Yes IronHelix you are of much help! The linux box that I have peiced together should be ideal for my office size.