Business owner wants to replace PBX system

Searched through old “newbie” posts and this one seems close. … wbie+guide Except the answers require a deeper understand than I currently have.

I’m a small business owner and want to replace my PBX system with something computer based. don’t like having the ‘black box’ in the back requiring high priced technicians to service or change.

I have 6 telephone lines (hunting) and a dedicated fax/credit card machine line comming in and 8 actual phones. Every work station has a networked computer. I have DSL on the dedicated fax line with a router.

My thoughts are: can I get a computer with a card that will accept the 7 incomming lines and has software that will send the incommings calls to all the workstations. This system needs to allow each workstation to place outgoing calls. In short I need the functionality of my current PBX and the added features of a computer based system.

What questions should I be asking?
What direction should I be going?
Is there someone I can buy this stuff from?
and what stuff should I buy?
and etc…?

thanks for any help…

I recommend having a look at this book: … +Telephony

You should have a look at, great from home use as well as an SMB such as yourself.

Digium ( offers a business edition here: … roduct=ABE

Various solution providers:

Various system vendors: … em+vendors

It would be best to plan a roll-out in phases based on your requirement and ability to leverage your existing PBX in the meantime. I would recommend starting with a software only implementation (ie - with Asterisk@Home linked above) and then work your way into a full system from there.

All you need to get started is an old PC.

I could go on and on…

Yes, I’ve already downloaded this book and am working my way through it. Perhaps I will be in a better position on the learning curve shortly.

thanks for the suggestions.
Okay, I’ve read the book (didn’t fully comprehend it but understand what it was saying).
Familarized myself with Digium, Xorcom, and did a quote from Switchvox.

What I think I need is a server with asterisk and ports for 6 incomming lines (may consider VoIP but haven’t looked into it yet so my concern at this time is with standard phone lines), this is in the back room. Then I’d like single cards in each of my workstations where I can plug in a standard analogue phone. each workstation would have a popup with the call information & status. Plus an alternate dial pad with basic command keys…hold, transferr, confence, and perhaps the option to update this feature as I learn to use additional capabalities.

I’ve seen charts of Asterisk’s emplementation but each of them show lines running from the server to phones and workstations on a lan. None show the extension phones hooked to workstations. so I don’t know if I’m wanting something unique, or not understand the flow and functions of each part.

You may either put Digium cards in the Asterisk server to provide FXS (station side) lines, or you may use something like an ATA ( Or, even a channel bank: … annel+Bank

I’ve checked out the digium products and quite frankly I could not decipher their model numbering system which was so clearly enumerated. Yes, I can tell you what they offer, but that isn’t quite the same as knowing what I need.

I did pickup a few clues. Seems they have a card which is capable of handling 6 lines. Is this the card that goes in the linux server running asterisk? Is this card where I hook the incoming telephone lines?

I Install and service PBX’s for a living so I’d be curious to know what type of system you have.

As far as the change over to Asterisk goes you will be making a big step. Really. I also support and work on computer networks and really believe the Asterisk style systems are the future and I am getting a * server going for that reason (Plus I love hacking around on Linux!). But I am currently no where near the point where I am going to be recommending to clients that they should swap out their traditional PBX’s for an asterisk box.

You are on the right track in figuring out what feature sets are important for you and working it from there. Personally I am taking some of my clients to VOIP with simple adapters like the one broadvoice sells you. For CTI screen pop-ups take a look at what ACT can do for you. Follow the advice to leverage your existing PBX system and start working with an asterisk@home system. Oh yeah, don’t buy cheap phones. . . .

I really think the Asterisk style systems are the way to go, especially for the SOHO market but you will want to take the time to get it under your belt before you bet your business on it. Take a few months and have some fun!


rayonack, thanks for the straight forward advice. sounds like you have a good handle on my situation.

I’ve got a toshiba PBX and it is working. I just want to get ready for the future by positioning myself for the transition.

I’m not quite ready to go to VoIP. Will let them continue to make improvments. At home I may adopt an early tech. but at work I’m forced to be conserative.

After all: I am from Missouri, the “Show-Me” state.

PS I’m really enjoying this site, great information from sharp folks.