Would you be interested in a ‘call-exchange’ program?
I’ve been thinking very recently, about Asterisk, and voice telephony. It started with the fact that I recently got a new apartment, and home phone service. I was thinking about getting a cordless phone.
But, alas, traditional cordless phones are so. . . 1980’s, you know? I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if I could get a WiFi phone, and a WiFi, or even corded Ethernet, base station that I could plugin to my home telephone line, then not only could I use my ‘cordless phone’ from home, but from school, work, cafes, bars, hotels, airports, anywhere I can get a WiFi connection. I could take advantage of free calls to my local calling area from anywhere in the country, and the decent rates I get on long-distance from my telephone company, which aren’t horrible.
That’s when I started thinking about Asterisk, which I first learned about a couple years ago at a Linux conference, I think (don’t remember exactly where I first learned about it, but I think that’s right). I got to thinking about the fact that what I was describing was basically an Asterisk PBX.
I then also began thinking about the fact that Asterisk has something to connect to other Asterisk PBX’s (is it called IAX I think), and I got to wondering about the possibility of ‘trading’ phone calls with other Asterisk users, so that other users could call greater Cincinnati, OH for free through my asterisk box, while I would, in return, get free calls in their local calling areas. (Note, this does raise some interesting legal questions, in terms of what happens if someone uses my asterisk connection to make a ransom call in a kidnapping, setup a drug deal, make terrorist threats, or assasination threats against the President, etc; might be able to deal with that by logging calls, so that if the police, FBI, or Secret Service come knockin’ at your door, you can at least provide them some identifying information).
The only problem - I don’t currently know of any cheap, “in-a-box” asterisk solutions, although there very well might be some. I tried checking the Digium website, but they seem to be targetting the business market, with devices starting at prices > $1000.
So, 1) Does anyone make a cheap (< $300) Asterisk device for personal use at home (would provide basic features - voicemail, caller ID, etc, for me and any friends/relatives I grant access to; would have a POTS interface for outgoing/incoming phone calls [incoming phone calls would ring through to my handset or voicemail]; in order to provide storage for the voicemail, etc, maybe it would have an memory card slot and/or USB interface, and also the optional ability to use a network share on a PC as storage).
2) Is there any Asterisk 'call-exchange' program like I described, where people make their phone line available for calls to their local area (I would register which area codes and exchanges I can call for free, and users other than mysellf could not make any long-distance calls through my POTS line), and in exchange can make free calls to other areas.
Ideally, such a system would also have a program for people who do not want to make their phone line available (or don’t have their own phone line), but they might have to pay 1 or 2 cents a minute for the phone call, which would be split between the service and the person who provides the ‘terminal’ for the phone call, so maybe I can make 10 or 20 bucks a month, to offset the cost of the POTS line.