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Asterisk step-by-step setup

Greetings all,

I have a Vonage line servicing my home. With it most of my international calls are free. There are some other countries that I can't call with Vonage. Plus, I'm interested in some other features that I can't get with this service.

I'm very interested in free/cheap VOIP solutions that would help me achieve my targets.

That being said. Is Asterisk the best way to go?

What are my hardware requirements besides a decent linux grade server?

Do I need a Digium card that I keep reading about?

How does it integrate with my setup? I have my ISP provide me internet and cable. There's a Vonage box that plugs itself into the ISP's modem/router. My phones connect to that ATA box.
If it turns out to be cheaper, I can just ditch Vonage and go VOIP via Asterisk completely.

How do I, by using a dialplan, call this VOIP box from my cellphone and get routed to a preset international call? eg. I would like a preset number to be dialed from my home line, where this VOIP solution resides, when my cell phone calls it or dials an access code or something. Please let me know when my scifi goes beyond today's tech.
Anything else I need to be aware of?

Any current guides or how-tos with pictures will help, but I need advice.

Thanks for looking. I can branch off with more points later. I know I've asked a lot.
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1 Solution
Asterisk is a Open Source PBX.   You will need SER for a proxy I believe.
You will definately need a IP media board to interface with.  I use dialogic but that is for conferencing not just single user setup.

Im thinking you need two or three machines.  
1. Linux Suse for the Proxy
2. Linux running asterisk
3. Windows Box that has the Digital Telephony board.

netcmhAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the reply, but that becomes expensive in terms of hardware. Anything to tone it down a couple of notches?
Its not that bad if you have some machines lying around that you can put the linux ISO's on.
EBAY will have the cheapest digital telephony boards.
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Have you read the free asterisk document?

Asterisk is a software PBX with pstn/voip capabilities. You do not need more than one server for your needs. You do not need any extra software. No need for SER. For a home pbx with just one or two lines you do not need great hardware either. I have small pbx running with a pentium III processor and 512Mb of RAM (3 lines / 10 extensions).

If you have a regular telephone line, you will also need an analog card with one FXO port for each of your phone lines, and you might also want to have as many FXS ports as phones/extensions you want to connect to your PBX. You can also use hardware or software ip phones if you want. An analog card with FXO/FXS will let you connect regular PHONE LINES/ANALOG TELEPHONES.

If you use asterisk , you might want to shop for voip providers that lets you use their service openly, and not locking you down to use some particular device. That way you configure services providers as "trunks" on your pbx, and then you can create routes to dial out through them.

If you want to call your PBX so you can obtain "cheap voip dialtone", you can use DISA for that. It ask for a pin and lets you dial out.

And for starting, the best way is to install a linux distribution already prepared for that, like Elastix http://www.elastix.org or PBX in a Flash http://pbxinaflash.net/

You do not want to connect your vonage box into an FXO port as you will be doing a double analog/digital convertion. As far as I know vonage does not provide the information needed to configure them as trunks on an ip pbx (maybe they do now?), however there are plenty of good an open voip providers, you can see a list an lots of useful information in www.voip-info.org.  There are several voip providers that are "asterisk" friendly and even provide with sample configurations and dialplans.

netcmhAuthor Commented:
I'm really looking for specifics. But, thank you.
Too broad of a question.. It is impossible that you will have one answer that will tell you how to do all of that. I gave your all the proper pointers.

1) A decent linux server will work
2) You can use only Asterisk on it, for a quicker install and shorter learning curve, install Elastix
3) Elastix uses FreePBX that is a web based GUI for configuring extensions and your dialplan
3) You will install a PBX at your house
4) You need an analog card, either digium or other brands, with FXO ports for your PSTN lines, and FXS lines for your regular analog phones.
5) Do not use vonage but another voip provider, so you can configure it directly on the asterisk server without the need for extra hardware/connections
6) You can use DISA in Asterisk to call your home phone, dial some code, and get outbound dial tone that might be routed to your cheap voip provider.

Elastix has pretty good documentation. Expect to read a  lot, you cannot build this by reading a reply on Experts Exchange.

Good luck!
netcmhAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I downloaded the Elastix with no tears book and am going through it now.

So, an elastix server with a TDM card should suffice my need. I can switch to VIaTalk. But, as an expert, would you be willing to say that that would be all that I need to complete my requirement?

If your requirement is to dial your home phone, get answered by the PBX where you can dial some auth code so you get dialtone again to make cheap calls via voip to international numbers using your voip provider configured in asterisk, then that is all you need.

As I said, you will be installing a PBX at your house, for your regular PSTN line, maybe that is NOT what you want, but it is not clear from your question. You will be installing a PBX at your house, that means that you can have auto attendants, IVR, mailboxes, extensions, in your house.

You can configure routing based on callerid, so if you call from your cell you get directed to a different place than regular inbound calls, that special place could be an IVR that ask you to enter some digit to dial your own home, and another digit to call DISA (Direct Inward System Access). The DISA application will let you enter a code to get dialtone again, and from then you can dial any number and your call will go through your voip provider.

You can event install a gsm gateway. If your mobile provider has a plan where you can call for free between some numbers/group, then you can save a little more. (You install a gsm chip on your gateway, so it becomes a trunk on your pbx, it can get inbound calls or you can make outbound calls to the gsm network, very much like a tdm card but for mobile).

Best regards,
netcmhAuthor Commented:
Thank you asternic
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