Newbie Question

Hi There,

Stumbled upon asterisk after my two-line siemens 8825 phone system kicked the bucket. I loved the siemens setup and it worked perfectly for me, however the only option I could find to replace it was the exact same system which is no longer produced and is now 3 years old at least.

Here is what I need a system to do, and was wondering if asterisk will fit the bill.

  1. I have two seperate lines entering the house, one for a personal line and one for a business line.

  2. On the business line I have the defualt ring, and two distinctive rings, one for a seperate number for a second business and one for a fax line. Can Asterisk handle various distinctive ring patterns?

  3. The siemens phone system had the two line base station phone and three cordless phones that did not need to be plugged into a phone line. The base station and the cordless would allow you to answer calls from either of the two lines. Can asterisk do the same, and if so when a call comes in, is there a way to know what line is ringing, or is a special phone / setup required for this.

  4. In terms of voicemail, the siemens phone had 4 seperate mailboxes with 4 outgoing messages. The personal line went to mailbox 1, the business line went to mailbox 2 and the first distictive ring went to mailbox 4. Obviously fax did not go to voicemail.

  5. I have been reading up on asterisk, and think it will do what I need, but I havent been able to confirm it all, so here is what I am looking to do i think…

a. Setup *@home to start and hopefully it will fit the bill, if not or when I am ready move up to *

b. have 2 fxo and 2 fxs ports in a tdm400p

c. have the personal and business lines enter asterisk box

d. have a cisco desk sip phone or something very reliable / good sound quality in my office

e. I would also like to still have say three wireless phones that plug into 1 of the 2 fxs ports. You know one of those expandable analog cordless deals, provided I can answer or make calls on both lines and be able to tell which line is ringing. I hate having to run around the house looking for the “right” phone.

f. fax would be plugged into other fxs for outgoing faxes.

g. distinctive ring would be setup on second line.

h. each line would have seperate voicemail along with distinctive ring, and I can not use an autoattendant.

That is about it, I greatly look forward to your responses.




Depending on how you anticipate using the phone system, you could likely use Asterisk to do what you want.

My main concern is with the cordless phones. Unless you get a two-line cordless, you’d obviously only be able to dial out on one of the handsets at any given time. Even with a two-line cordless, I believe you’d need to hook it up to two FXS ports. If you don’t plan on using more than one of the cordless handsets simultaneously for different calls, you could buy a single-line cordless system and set up your Asterisk dialplan to choose the line (for example, 5551212 might dial out on your home line and #25551212 might dial out on your business line).

Asterisk has no problem generating distinctive rings for handsets connected to an FXS port. You’re in for a little more work if you decide to use SIP handsets, as every manufacturer tends to expect different things of distinctive ring data. (Although if you stick to one brand of SIP handsets, this won’t be an issue.)

As for calls incoming to your FXO ports, Asterisk can be configured to recognize up to three distinctive rings in addition to a standard ring. From your description you only need support for two incoming distinctive rings plus a standard ring, so you’re covered.

Using a two-line cordless, the phone should handle that itself.
Using a single-line cordless, you can configure your dialplan to modify the incoming Caller ID information to prefix the caller’s name with something meaningful like “H:” or “B:” to tell you which line was called.
If you don’t subscribe to Caller ID services, you could generate your own information to display “Home Line” or “Business Line” on your handset when it rings.

You can have any number of voicemail boxes, and you can readily configure each line for a different voicemail behavior. The voicemail system included with Asterisk allows you to change your greeting messages (for both “line unanswered” and “line busy”), change your password, etc.

No problem directing your distinctive rings to a different mailbox.

If you can afford a Cisco phone new, you’ll have the best luck as you won’t have any problem getting support and firmware updates from Cisco. Buying used Cisco gear can be a crapshoot, as they won’t sell service contracts for merchandise that’s already been registered (leaving you stuck with whatever firmware’s already on the phone). Anyone using a used Cisco phone is also technically in violation of the firmware’s user license, but that doesn’t stop anyone. (I won’t comment on how stupid this policy is :wink:

My recommendation would be to pick up a 7940 (the two-line model), unless you plan on having many more lines in the future.

Shouldn’t be a problem. Additionally, you could very easily configure Asterisk so an incoming fax on any line will go to your fax machine.

No need to use an autoattendant. You’d be doing a lot of recording your own voice if you wanted to use one. :slight_smile: As a matter of fact, your dialplan’s much easier to write and read when you just let calls ring through instead of going through a menu tree.

I hope this addresses some of your concerns. If you have any more questions or need a clarification about something I’ve mentioned, please feel free to ask!

– Colin