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Sunday, March 26, 2006

VOIP - Asterisk@Home


Asterisk@Home is an open source Linux based PBX system. I have a couple of friends from work who have setup AAH in their homes and have shown me some of the cool features, so I decided to check it out for myself. Since I already have VMware Server running I decided to test out the system virtually. Thanks to vmwarez.com, you can download the virtual machine already setup and ready to go from their website. AAH comes with a nice web GUI that makes it a breeze to setup. For extensions, I am trying two different softphones because, hey they are free! X-Lite (SIP) on my Linux machine and Idefisk (IAX2) on my Windows machine.
I wanted people to be able to call me, since I dont have a land-line and didn't want to spend any money I looked at some good VOIP providers. I found two VOIP providers that offer free inbound calling, FWD (you also need IPKall) which gives you a free Washington state number. The registration time for this took a while, an hour for the IPKall # to go active, and a whole day for FWD to turn on the IAX2 service. It also seems like FWD is a lot less reliable at connecting incoming calls.
Another VOIP provider is StanaPhone, they give a New York # free for incoming calls. The registration and activation of the number only took around 10 minutes. I am using both services, I use FWD to call out to Toll Free numbers for free, and I use StanaPhone for my incoming calls. (StanaPhone also has a pre-paid outbound service which is only 1.6 cents per minute for all domestic calls.)
Asterisk@Home is very powerful and customizable, for example some of the simple to setup features are; auto-attendant, wake-up calls, a weather extension, voice-mail, you can also view detailed calling reports, setup advanced dialing plans and so much more.
For more information on VOIP and tip and tricks for setting up AAH check out, VoipJots.com and NerdVittles.com.


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