Barging in on a call in progress

Im just getting my feet wet with ip-PBX systems and have a specific scenario that I am trying to accommodate. Excuse me if I don’t have all the lingo down but this is what I am trying to do.

We have a small office with 5 people. We have a book-keeper/administrative assistant who usually answers the phone. We are in a one room office with some partitions, usually we just holler at each other to pick up line 1 or whatever. Here is the situation that I am trying to accommodate with free-PBX or the like, if possible.

A call comes in and is answered by Alice at the front desk, she determines who the call is for and places the call on hold and tells Bob that line 1 is for him. Bob picks up and speaks with the caller, a few minutes later Bob asks Charlie to pick up on line 1 and join the conversation.

This is very common in our office. I want to move our system to an ip-pbx system from our analog Nortel system, but the powers that be will insist that this function or something very similar is a possibility.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

As far as I’m aware… this kind of key system functionality is a bit difficult to achieve in Asterisk + FreePBX… but can be done if you know what you are doing. (Someone, please jump in and say if this can be done easier these days)

You can however do something similar by having the person answering, put the caller in a virtual conference, instead of hold… then Bob connects to the conference room number… then yells for Charlie to join in etc. Sort of achieves the same thing but in a different way.

Additionally, from my understanding with the upcoming FreePBX 12 + Asterisk 12… things like SLA would be much easier.

There is no Line-1 and Line-2 in Asterisk. Asterisk uses what is called park orbit which is a group of extensions where callers can be temporarily “parked” until picked up or “unparked” by an extension such as yours. Procedure for your receptionist would be to transfer a caller to that parking orbit. If she just push hold button, the call will be on hold at her phone and is not able to bi picked up by your extension without some clever acrobatics.

In principle using “conference room” extension to park calls bound to you is a pretty good concept. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can stop the receptionist send the next caller over while you are still in conference with the previous one. This can create some confusion.

What I would recommend is to setup the parking orbit as well as the conference room extension. Receptionist would receive a caller and send him to a parking orbit, then tell you that there is a call on 701 (lets say that is the parking extension). You pick up and chat with the chap… Once you decide that another guy needs to join in on conversation, you can forward the caller to the conference room extension. Then you can call other guy and ask him to join in as well as you join in yourself. Good thing with that, you can have the entire office there if you want and on top of that if the other guy is at home today, he can call in and be joined in still, as well if the caller need to bring another person in, it would be possible as well. This will give you pretty flexible solution a a cost of a couple of more clicks on the phone. At the same time, receptionist can “park” your next caller and he can wait for you to free from previous call, or if caller is part of the existing conversation, the receptionist can send him straight to your conf room to join in on the party in session.

Generally if you need to be able to simply barge lines you are never going to be happy with a PBX. Users are not going to embrace the overhead to achieve similar functionality.

If there are other compelling features such as find me follow me, DID’s or individual voice mail that have more benefit than the loss of line barging your users may be happy.

Generally line barging is only useful in very small settings so you may be better off with a key/hybrid system.