Asterisk PBX Installations

Hello everyone,

Our organization is currently looking at upgrading our phone systems.  We currently have 7 office sites around our state, which all have old key based phone systems.  One avenue I would like to explore would be the deployment of the Open-Source Asterisk PBX software system.  As with all Open Source solutions I am usually hesitant and would like to receive some responses from those of you have Asterisk currently deployed in your organization.  Please be as detailed as possible and provide to me why you chose to use the software, what type of phones you are using, strong features which you love ..etc along with server specs for your installation.  In addition how was the learning curve for the software, and how long did your implementation take.

Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Hi akant74,
A good place to start would be

You can find a list of case studies and examples at

I've done a fair amount of playing around with Asterisk, but I've not been able to use it in a production environment as yet.
I suggest that you speak to one of the growing number of Asterisk consultants ( as they'd be able to advise you in more detail.

I'm happy to provide any other help that I can though! :-)
akant74Author Commented:
Have you had any experience in your test environment with soft clients clients?  The the cost savings for such a solution on the desk is very appealing :)
Dear Akant74,

I have a few Asterisk installs that were used in a production enviroment, this is in addition to a few thousand installing AT&T, Convergence Center, Nortel, Altigen, Mitel, Cisco and so on. The Asterisk installs were sucessfull  and served the purpose for the clients.

There are a few things to consider from the get go:

For an Asterisk system to be fully loaded with all the bells and whistles you need to use the Digium cards for your connections to the PSTN.

In regards to phones you can use many different ones, one way to help to determine this is based upon the current system being used today. What key systems are you using today? Some open source systems only support analog phones, which sometimes is a big hurdle when moving from a big key or digital based system phone (its a comfort level people get use too). Also using a softphone might not be an option if you do not have multimedia based pc's at each desk.

Can you be more specific on your enviroment and business? Network connections betrween sites and equipment, amount of users? Call Center? ACD? Voice Mail? Unified Messaging? Remote users? Call recording? IVR? Also what is your budget and timeframe to deploy?

Let me know if I can be of any help.

Kindest regards


Keep up with what's happening at Experts Exchange!

Sign up to receive Decoded, a new monthly digest with product updates, feature release info, continuing education opportunities, and more.

akant74Author Commented:

Thank you the great information on this.  The phone systems that we have installed now are very basic from what I know.  We have 7 office sites with a total of about 70 employees.  All office sites are connected via router to router VPN's to our main office which has about 25 or so employees in it.  Broadband Internet at  the smaller offices with T1 internet at the main office.  All current phone systems are not linked together in anyway.  We have Samsung Prostar key systems at two of the smaller office sites, new panasonic key systems at two other smaller sites and one old old generic key and Small Executone IDS system at the remaining smaller sites.  At the main office is a larger Executone IDS key system.  No one with voicemail ..etc and I have been holding off on ripping any of these out until I get something figured out.  We also have receptionists at ALL sites who answer phones!! sick eh?  even if the office is very small.

My thought was to put an Asterisk server at each site and then start off by using softphones for all employees (we have good computers). If we needed a random phone we could then just add a standard VoIP phone.  We have good network wiring at all buildings.  I would be interested in how I could use our current phone systems with this however.

 These setups would be seperate and non connected and would take care our immediate voice mail ..etc needs.  Then we can begin to log calls and get a better idea of our call activity.  Then formulate a plan to connect the systems so call routing could occure between the sites via out VPN's (we have QoS on the routers).  It would be nice to centralize all phones to one Asterick server but I dont think our VPNS could handle it now.

  We have so many phone numbers with many different services (health, social service ...etc) based out of any and all offices.  Departments are seperated from each other and no plan is given thought of when expanding services so its my job to make the communicate smarter ;) lol  The membership we serve usually has to make two or three calls in order to find the one staff member they need.

Any tips on assessing our current calling and making a plan for expansion?

I appreiciate you listening to this.. it helps to bounce ideas off someone on such a fun topic!

Based upon the current systems and size of sites, it could be possible to set up communications between sites using the exsisting phone systems and data equipment. In order to set up some form of communciations you would basically have a one FXS for inbound and one FXS port for outbound connected to each PBX. Then you could set up a dial plan in each current phone system that will access the ports based on digits dialed. i.e dial 800 to get interoffice lines, then dial sight number (1-7) then extenstion number. Call goes to router and then based upon its dial plan routes call to the right system or something like this. Also similar setup coul dbe done to setup a centralized voice mail.

Now you could set up an Asterisk at each location and use that as the interoffice gateways for the exsiitng phone systems. Then you can turn up each sight to use the Asterisk as a whole one by one. This would be more cost effective than upgrading the routers to handle news cards for the voice (i.e. adding a FXS card to a Cisco router).

To figure out a more detailed plan, then first thing you would need to do is create a detailed list of all your equipment, PBX type, software version, avaliable trunk ports, station ports (digital and analog) and system slots. Also what each current sight has in regards to POTS lines, T1 and or PRI and what the key system is using inregards to trunks. Also need the same information about your network (router types, internet connection type(dsl,cable), carriers.

Once you get the above infomration we could take a look at what the best route is to take and a plan for migration.

Kindest regards

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
akant74Author Commented:

Thank you again for the quick response.  I am very excited to know that there is still some hope of connecting our systems together even witout Asterisk in the pictures.  I will be the first to admint that telephony stuff is alittle over my head so I am slow to get up to speed with some of the terms that you reffered to such as the FXO and FXS lines...etc anything that crosses over into PBX ;)  I have done some research to understand more about these interfaces and what is possible. So please bear with me alittle if I continue to ask some naive questions.

Your idea of connecting the systems together by adding FXS ports to our phone systems and then using our router to move calls between sites will not work for us given our current routers.  We are not using any router that is expandable in anyway (no ciscos here)  they are linux based firewall appliances.   That was the original idea for Asterick was to get the phones into the IP/Computer realm of thought so I could then connect via our network which is more my strenth area.

I will work on getting a detailed equipment list to you.  As for network connections we have the following:

Central Office - T1 Dedicated Line to our ISP for Internet 1.5 - 19 POTS Lines

Remote 1 - Corporate Cable Connection via Road Runner - 1M + / 768 up - 4 POTS lines
Remote 2 - Business Class Cable Connection via Cable One - 2M down / 800 + up - 9 POTS lines
Remote 3 - Residential ADSL 512k down / 256k up - 4 POTS Lines
Remote 4 - Shares the above connection via Fiber to building but has seperate phone system with 4 POTS lines
Remote 4 - Resdential ADSL 512k down/ 256k up - 2 POTS Lines
Remote 5 - Corporate Cable via Cox Communications / 3 - 4M down / 768 up 4 POTS Lines

All of our phone lines at each location are not on any T1 type of service from what I know....

I would like to continue our conversation and learn more from you on this however I feel I should close this questions and award points to you thus far.  I would you like to proceed.  open a new question?  email??

I appreciate everything...

Few things:

Will gladly accept any point you may award my way :)

In regards to your addtional questions, I would recommend posting then to the EE sight. Main reason is that, though I have a deep backround in voice and data, there is always someone who knows more or has been thru the exact scenerio. So I believe in the community support, I found this site because of needed I had for database information a few months ago.

In regards to learning more on voice, the first book you need to purchse is Newtons Telecom Dictionary, it is the bible for the voice industry and has all the TLA's defeined. Also I will paste below parts of another post I had from a few days ago:

Some areas of study include:

IVR, Voice Mail, TTS, ASR, structured cabling ,BICSI, RCDD, FCC site, CALEA, 1996 Telecommunications ACT

Some books to study:

Newtons Telecom Dictionary, by Harry Newton

Guide to T-1 Networking: How to Buy, Install & Use T-1 From Desktop to Ds-3
by William A. Flangan

Here is a list of links to keep you busy this weekend:    basic overview of VoIP      basic telecom link    debug sample   all of IOS voice commands

MGCP rfc's below 


Just some general phone info:

First the new Toshiba CTX is fully IP enabled, but you get to use your existing phones and do need to change your cables. One of the previous comments talked about Artisoft, they have a decent product, but one issue, few resellers that know how to install a phone system.

The Mitel system is also a very good system, top 3 in the VoIP market today. Only issue with Mitel is the lack of certified dealers this is for various reasons which would take a page to explain.

I have been installing the Cisco product before Cisco purchased it. Works well, but the price point for 150 users is steep and I could not justify the cost.

3COM NBX has a good product, would work on a CAT5 cable plant running 10MB switched. Not keen though on the multi-site features.

Altigen, stay away, used them 1997 and sent system back, they still have many issues today and have the second worst rating for availability (system is down for at least 35 hours each year.

Avaya IP office, you think, hey its AT&T, they invented the phone right? Late in the game and have the worst rating for availability out of everyone.

Nortel BCM, great system, great multi-site features, lacks all the other bells and whistles some other systems have, but do you really need a feature called Zoomerang?

Vertical Networks all around great system, but made for the satellite office connecting to a traditional PBX at HQ.

ConvergenceCenter, SIP based system with fully integrated CRM, Business Management software, Knowledge base, IM, and email. Main issue with them is they are a newer company. But so was Ford at one point.

If you have any addtional questions do not hesitate to ask.

How are things coming along?

It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Voice Over IP

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.