I work in a small law firm and we are going to be moving to larger offices soon. Part of this move will require a new phone system. I would like to push an Asterisk solution so we can take advantage of a greater range of features than would otherwise be available in a system in our price range. Initially, we would be using IP phones internally and all inbound/outbound calls would be through POTS lines via FXO ports. Ultimately, we’d like to start moving to a completely VoIP implementation.
I’ve perused the forums, been through a good chunk of the VoIP wiki, and I have one question for which I can’t find a solid answer. My other questions are really requests for advice, based on your experiences.
Is there a way to identify inbound calls by the number on which they come in so that the agent answering the call can greet accordingly? For example, only one receptionist exists who will personally answer all incoming calls to screen them, forward them, take messages, etc. accordingly. Bob’s number is 1111, and he wants all of his calls answered “Bob’s Office.” Barbara’s number is 2222, and she wants all of her calls answered differently. Each number would initially be coming in on its own FXO port. Can the number called in on be identified in some way to the agent, either through use of different lights on the phone, distinctive ring, or a text display?
My next couple of questions are hardware related.
Is there a significant performance or reliability difference between a PCI FXO interface, like the 4 port Digium cards, versus a standalone FXO gateway, like those offered by AudioCodes or others?
What minimum PC hardware should we plan on using to implement 8 lines and 20 phones to ensure good voice quality at all times?
I’ve seen some fax to pdf solutions for Asterisk. Is it possible to make a pdf of an incoming fax while also shunting the call to an FXS port with a fax machine? The purpose for this would be to keep a backup copy of all incoming faxes.
Finally, telephones…can they be mixed and matched to suit individual users’ preferences? Or is it best to stick with one brand/model across the board?
Thanks for your suggestions!