GETTING STARTED WITH ASTERISK OPEN SOURCE PBX
What is Asterisk?
Asterisk is an open-source software based PBX (i.e. business phone system) - plus a lot more. The term “open-source” simply means that the software that Asterisk is based upon is free to download, use and modify for anyone who chooses to do so. The open-source nature of Asterisk is what has caught the attention of so many application developers over the years. Many of the applications that are built on the Asterisk platform is also available for free. As such, Asterisk has quickly developed into a full-featured robust business communications system suitable for businesses of any size or specialty.
Flavors of Asterisk
Over time developers have created their own specific version or “flavor” of Asterisk, each with their own creative niches or specialties. There are currently countless versions of Asterisk flavors. Choosing the one that's best for you, is just a matter of deciding what's most important and pairing your needs with the version that suits you.
While there a lot of opinions regarding which flavor is best, for the most part, there are a few stand-out versions that the average business can't go wrong with (FreePBX, PBXinaFlash, trixbox CE, and Elastix to name a few). The difference between most of these flavors of Asterisk mostly centers around the user experience. Most of these versions have developed their own graphical web interface along with tools and wizards that simplify common administrative and user-based tasks like software installation, voicemail management, user and extension creation, and SIP trunk management to name a few. However, all are built on top of Asterisk's open-source platform.
In addition, there are also Paid “flavors” of the Asterisk phone system. For the most part, these paid versions provide even more simplicity and most importantly, they also include expert product support to assist you in installing and managing your Asterisk PBX. This makes implementation and management much simpler is typically considered a more reliable solution for those who may feel a bit intimidated by the thought of building their own phone system. However, regardless of the version of Asterisk you choose, free or paid, each will include an abundant supply of phone features for your business, as they are all based upon the powerful Asterisk foundation.
These days installing Asterisk is as simple as locating a PC, downloading an Image, and typing a few simple commands to convert your PC, laptop, or even Raspberry Pi to into a sophisticated and reliable business phone system. In addition, there's no special hardware required. Asterisk runs on practically any basic PC. Of course, the more power you throw into the PBX hardware, the better response and capacity you'll get out of it. However, Asterisk is pretty efficient and robust. So, for the average business (say 5 to 25 users), the pc you're viewing this website on right now is probably more than capable of supporting your business.
Asterisk System Configuration
Configuring your new Asterisk PBX server is easy using one of the free available web interfaces like the previously mentioned FreePBX. FreePBX provides a web front-end for the Asterisk command line interface. Think of it in terms of what Windows did for the DOS operating system. FreePBX makes it much easier to navigate through the Asterisk system with little technical know-how.
Getting Connected (SIP Trunking)
So, your Asterisk PBX is installed up and running. You can place calls from one extension to the other. However, if you want to place or receive phone calls from the outside world, you'll need a SIP trunk provider. That's where IPComms comes in. IPComms has built our network around the Asterisk Open Source PBX community. Over ninety-five percent of our customers use Asterisk Open Source PBX for their business communications.
IPComms provides Asterisk PBXs a connection to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) over VoIP (voice over the Internet) this is a far better advancement from the old days when traditional phone systems required physical phone circuit or PRI (primary rate interface) to connect to the PSTN. SIP trunking takes advantage of your existing broadband Internet connection to transport your voice calls to and from the PSTN. Some of these advantages include:
SIP trunks save money by combining voice with your existing connection
SIP trunks can expand easily as your business grows – add lines and numbers as needed.
SIP trunks enable communications over multiple geographic locations.
SIP trunks provide instant expansion into new markets.
We've put together many articles and how-to guides to assist you in getting started with your Asterisk PBX implementation. In addition, we provide free technical support for our customers to help them with any technical questions they may have in getting your system connected with our SIP trunks. Have a look at our Asterisk PBX Support page for helpful Asterisk related articles and video guides.