I’ve been reading up on Asterisk for the last few days, and well, I’m as confused as ever! I guess its because I’ve never worked with CTIs before, but that’s the direction I want to take our company (i think!)
I’m not really sure where to begin? What program - the asterisk, or maybe switchvox? What type of connection will I need and what costs am I looking at (recommendations appreciated!) - I’ve got multiple options right now…we’ve got a T1, a PRI, and at my home I’ve got high speed DSL, so which should I go with? Do I need to get SIP trunk lines installed? Is there a way I can provide my own SIP lines? Is there a way to bypass a VoIP provider to connect to the PSTN, or do I have to use someone like vonage or another VoIP provider? How much bandwidth will I need for good quality service?
I guess with the number of questions I have, maybe I should describe what we are looking to do.
We have a small telephone answering service. Right now, we’re taking about 70,000 minutes worth of calls a month, and our customers continue to ask for more and more time. We’re at the breaking point right now where we have to decide to purchase more licenses @ a couple grand a piece(bah!!!) for more seats, or developing our own PBX (asterisk) to route our more basic calls specific extensions that would act as an expansion to our current call center software platform.
Enter ASTERISK! I am very talented at developing web based interfaces that correlate to mysql databases, so I figure if I can route the calls accordingly with the Asterisk PBX to the appropriate computer on our network…I can custom design accounts according to customers needs. So rather than pay close to $30k to expand our current system for more seats, I’m under the impression that ASTERISK may provide us with a feasible solution.
Here’s what I’m looking to do:
Transition to VoIP - our current system is all analog, and we’re paying around 3.5 cents/minute. I’ve heard of people getting rates of around $.005 a minute with voip! I’ve found some providers that offer $.012/minute. So we’ll be paying a 3rd of what we are paying now on a portion of our calls. We plan on sending around 20-30k minutes a month through the new VoIP system when we bring it online after an initial test at home.
Call center routing - we’ll need to have Asterisk route the calls to the station that has been idle the longest, and if no one is available, send them to a call queue. When an operator is available, it transfers the call to the first available operator. We’d also like to have an auto attendant pickup after the 4th or 5th ring. We’d also like to eventually run the gauntlet with Asterisk and add many of its other features like IVR, voicemail, etc.
We would like to eventually allow customer’s of ours to buy our local phone service - say as if we were AT&T. One of the really attractive features of the IP Phones that would be in our customer’s office is the ability to remotely call forward their lines. That is one of the biggest questions I get all the time “Do you guys control the call forwarding, or do I have to do that every day?” Not to mention there would be added revenues from providing local phone service.
Bandwidth isn’t really an issue. I’ve got a couple of places we are looking at installing Asterisk. To test it, I’d like to install it on my naked DSL line 6mbps up/768kbps down ( I know I’ll need more at the office, but for testing on my home servers, I figured this is sufficient ) So what hardware/software would I need to deploy Asterisk over a DSL line initially? I’ve already go the linux server, and dsl line…but pretty much nothing else.
Upon deployment at the office after a successful home test, we could be looking at using anywhere from as few as 5 stations to up to 30. We plan on the g729 (if memory serves me correctly ~40kb/line) codec. That means bandwidth wise, we’ll need at least 200kbps up to 1200kbps. We’re currently running a cable modem at 5mbps down/1.5mbpsup…so I assume that should suffice. If not, it is easily expandable. What hardware/software would I need to deploy this over a cable modem at the office. If a cable modem won’t work, can I deploy it using our PRI or T1? Should I add another T1 just for this application?
I’m not sure how many SIP trunks we would need, or if we would need any at all? I assume since we are looking at providing IP office phones to future customers, we’ll have to SIP lines. The whole SIP trunk thing has really been confusing me. Any idea on what a good price for SIP trunks is? Also, can someone dumb down a SIP trunk explanation, so I can understand it? Is that the connection between the VoIP protocol & sending calls over the PSTN?
I’ve got 3.5 weeks to role out this system, so I am definitely under the gun. Anyone will to help me out with this, I would really, really appreciate it!