Is VoIP Service Necessary?

Do I need to have a 3rd party VoIP service (like Vonage) in order to use Asterisk, or is it capable of running as it’s own VoIP on my existing broadband internet connection?

Thanks for all the input…this forum has been a great help!

you don’t need an ITSP, but if you want to terminate (send) calls to the PSTN, you’ll need a provider at some point.

it’s possible to run an Asterisk server without using VoIP at all, either internally or externally.

I will just add that the beauty of asterisk is that you can use any number of ways to originate and terminate a call. You can use only voip, only pots, only PRI’s or you can blend them together. The beaty of asterisk is that you can pick and choose what gets used for what where when and how. Your options are only limited by your imaginations.

As Bacon said, you need some kind of service if you want to talk to the PSTN. This can be VoIP, or it can be more traditional such as PRI (T1) or analog POTS lines. You can pick and choose which you want and you can use more than one at a time.

If you use VoIP service, you need a Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP). This is a company that you pay to provide you with access to the PSTN. Check out: all three support Asterisk.

However the main point of this post is one point of clarification- Many VoIP providers are ‘locked’, and the service is bound to an ATA (Analog Telephony Adapter, aka the little vonage box thing). The service can ONLY be used via this device and the ANALOG TELEPHONE PORT on the back of it. This means that Asterisk can’t fully talk to the provider, so many features like call waiting don’t work as well.
On the other hand, there are also providers that support BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). These providers will, as an option, NOT ship you the ATA and instead just give you the login/password required to connect to their VoIP server. You can then plug this info into Asterisk and it talks directly to the provider. This is the way you want to do it.

So if you hire a VoIP company, make sure they support BYOD. Vonage, Packet8, and all cable company phone service systems DO NOT SUPPORT BYOD and thus won’t work well with Asterisk. The providers I linked above do. There is more info on the VoIP wiki at

hope that helps!