Using Asterisk for VoiceMail only

I would like to slowly move my company from a Toshiba Strata DK40 to Asterisk. We currently use(d) Lingo for out voicemail before it died a few days ago. We are in no hurry to get voice mail up again, but Asterisk seems like a compelling option.

Is it possible to use Asterisk just for voicemail?

The reason we do not want to replace the Toshiba is we do not want to buy all new phones. Any suggestions would be appreciated.



sure it is. you can put something like

exten => _XXXX,1,Voicemail(${EXTEN})

which will make asterisk do nothing but voicemail for any 4 digit extension. You can then attach * to the pbx with a PRI interface or a handful of analog channels…

The other option woudl be to put the PBX into ‘dumb’ mode and have * perform all call routing and stuff… just dialing the phone over a PRI to the pbx when needed…


Just to make sure I understand correctly, I could in theory put the Toshiba “bumb” mode and then I could have * handle all of the call handling. Please let me know if this sounds correct


               +--->Existing Phones
T1--->Toshiba--|                     +--> IP Soft Phones
               +--->Asterisk Server--|
                                     +--> New IP Phones (Future)

When a call would come in over the T1 line, the Toshiba would forward it to the Asterisk Server. The asterisk server would handle the dialplan and when needed rout the call to an existing phone via the toshiba.

Does that sound correct\possible?

that is how to add on asterisk for now. As far as placing the toshiba in dumb mode, I meant more like:

                +--> Toshiba PBX --> Existing Phones
                +--> IP Soft Phones
                +--> New IP Phones (Future)

Then have the toshiba do nothing but send a call to a phone and turn MWI on/off.

I again appreciate all of the help. Would I need an FXO card in the * box to be able to connect to the Toshiba anologly (if anologly is a word)? Can I have a analog connections the whole way like:

           +==>New IP Phones
           +==>Soft Phones

  --> = Analog Connection
  ==> = Digital Connection

yes you can put FXO cards in the * box, and then connect them to extension ports on the toshiba. When asterisk wants to dial an extension on the toshiba, it will pick an FXO port that is free and dial the exten. Toshiba will be ‘dumb’ and do nothing but ring until call stops, no VM, no IVR, etc.
Asterisk will turn MWI lights on and off by using FXO ports and dialing feature codes to turn lights on/off.

ideally though, you will want a dual-port T1 card for * and hook * to the toshiba with the T1 interface. This will be far more useful, you will get less echo, better call quality, and you will ahve more channels…

Hi IronHelix, Long time. I am fully interested in this. Can you please explain a little bit more. I want to use * as a voicemail server only for the following PBXes. Avaya G3si, Erissons BP250 (and d likes), Panasonic TD500 (and others).

Now, I understand that I will use an interface like T1 to have more channels on the asterisk side. But how will every ext. on the proprietary side be routed to a corresponding mailbox on the * side?

A brief on this will be appreciated.


that depends on how you set it up and what you want to do.

To just use it with your old PBX as a voicemail system:

               +--->Existing Phones
T1--->Old PBX--|                     +--> IP Soft Phones
               +--->Asterisk Server--|
                                     +--> New IP Phones (Future)

link it to your PBX with a PRI (t1) and program the old pbx to send calls to * when voicemail is needed. How this will be done depends on your old PBX. Asterisk can (thru dialplan programming) deal with just about anything the PBX will send it. The simplest way would be a pattern like i posted above (the exten => _XXXX thing), where the PBX first calls that extension, then calls the extension @ * pri or something like it. You will also need the PBX to route calls to future IP phones, if that interests you.
In case you care, here is a writeup I did for integrating * with a low end SOHO pbx. Your MWI (voicemail light) programming would be much the same.

If you do not like your old PBX, or if it does not offer the required call routing (cannot route a voicemail call to something other than its built in voicemail system), you can put the pbx in ‘dumb’ mode. That means turn off most of the PBX call routing, all the PBX will do is provide an interface between its extensions and one or more PRIs. Then, * does all the routing, voicemail, etc.

                +--> Old PBX --> Existing Phones
                +--> New IP Phones (Future) 

Program the old PBX so that extension dialed calls first ring the exten, then go to VM on the * box. You will also need to program that some extens (or ranges of extens) go to the * box directly, for the future IP phones. If it can’t do that, you can program it so ALL calls go to the PRI, and let * sort it out, but this will take up two PRI channels for each extension dialed call…

Hope that helps!

Asterisk as only a voicemail is a bad option in my opinion. Asterisk is a great VOIP system in respect to SIP, IAX, Unistim etc… but it was not intended to be an analog Voicemail system there are OpenSource VM’s already available that are designed to handle analog extensions from the phone system just check sourceforge. If you are looking to replace the DK 40, Asterisk will work fine just make sure you get a decent machine to put it on, no irq conflicts and a decent amount of memory. Keep in mind this is a business phone system and it should work right all the time, you can’t have stability when you are cobbling a VM together using components and software that were not designed for their intended purpose. I would suggest if you want it to work right, either go all Asterisk or find some voicemail software that is designed from the ground up to work with various systems.

I am not a pessimist just a realist.