Connecting FreePBX with a existing analog PBX system


I have a problem, our office uses a analog PBX phone system, we have a small remote office where we need to extend the phone system, with the extensions and such, we already have a VPN tunnel, I am wondering if there is a way to install free PBX and get the sangoma phones for the remote office. We would install the server at the main office and some device that would plug in to the analog PBX. then we can put the phones on the remote site and have the extensions extended.

What would the best way be?

Any options are appreciated.

It really depends on how many free extension ports you still have on your analog PBX. The only way to have a “direct” connection for every extension on the remote office is if you still have as many free extension ports on your analog PBX as the desired remote phones. Otherwise, you can create an “analog” trunk between your analog PBX and FreePBX to multiplex the calls between your analog PBX and FreePBX, but that will cause that you won’t be able to have all your remote extensions calling simultaneously through your analog PBX. In any case, you will need analog ports on your FreePBX, either from an analog card or an ATA. Depending on which ports are still free on your analog PBX, you will need either FXS or FXO ports on your FreePBX. If you could provide a little more specific info of what you are trying to achieve, maybe I can provide more specific recommendations, instead of the previous “general” info.

What model is that analog phone system?
You should check if it has the capability for digital trunking, such as PRI, etc.

So the existing phone system is a Norstar

(also we have no reliable support for this system and want to slowly phase it out with IP)

We need 7 phones at the new location and I think we can still get 7 more phones in the existing system.

The phone line right now comes in as PRI I believe.

So essentially I need to make the 7 extension on the analog system and the freePBX??

and where would I plug in the analog in?

Given those requirements, I’d talk to Sangoma about getting a small PBXact system with a PRI card in it and replace the entire PBX in one fell swoop. Get seven new phones for the remote location and however many you need to set up for the main office. Set the remote ones up with a VPN to the Server, the rest with local network connection, and go to town. Get everything set up on the local LAN (including the new PBX) and cut the PRI over to the new server on a Saturday. If you’ve been planning and set your extensions up, everything should light and go within the first couple of tries. After you get the new PBX up and running, dump the old one. You can probably pay for everything with the scrap value of the old cables and the old PBX.

I dont think changing the whole system is a option, as the wiring in the office isn’t CAT5e for the phones, and most users use laptops on wifi.

SO from the nor star system -> ATA (any model?) -> Free PBX

So would I connect 7 cables to the ATA and then into network?

I just want to know how to 1 connect and 2 how would it integrate?

for example if I had a extension 200 on the analog PBX would we have to remake the extension on FreePBX?

The problem is that you are going to have to make changes to the existing PBX, then add the new FreePBX, then add the new phones, then undo it all when you replace the Norstar with the FreePBX server.

Without a clear understanding of all of the moving parts, there’s no way to answer your question. You are doubling the complexity of your telephone system and doubling the amount of work you are going to have to do to avoid running some Cat5 cable. In addition, you are adding new phones to a new location and trying to run it all back into a PBX that may or may not be able to support what you want to do.

I’m not sure there’s is a safe and inexpensive way to do what you want to do. Adding a new PBX to the mix is the same in both cases. Adding cable for the new phones is the same in both cases. We don’t know how many phones you are talking about, so no one here can even get a feel for the level of work. Not only that, but the Norstar is a big black box with no support. Adding $1000 worth of ATAs to avoid spending $100 on cable doesn’t seem like a good investment.

I’ve give you my suggestion. As far as I’m concerned, any other course is just asking for unnecessary trouble, expense, and frustration. Sometimes, you need to just do it right the first time rather than trying to patch around something that you already know is a dead end product.

If you have 1000 phones, we can revisit it, but it doesn’t sound like you are looking at that many stations, and even if you are, going with the new PBX everywhere gives to the maximum safety. It’s the wing-walker rule: don’t turn off the old system until you are sure the new system is 100% ready to go.

An oldie but goldie

has all the guts, there is even a specific one specific for Norstar/BCM, use the analog flavor.

Voicemail integration is a little tricky :wink:

A longer term solution might be to install a dual port T1 card connect one side to the wall and the other to the Nortel, configure Asterisk as a “pass-through” for the legacy pbx and add SIP phones as needed. (not for the faint of heart, but well documented in the above link and elsewhere.

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Late response but may be of help to someone …
I had a similar situation needing to add some IP extensions to a Toshiba Strata pbx. I used a Grandstream GWX4108 FXO gateway to connect to the Toshiba pbx extensions, setup a Freepbx VM with extension numbers matching those from the Toshiba, and IP phones at the remote location. The gateway will handle 8 lines which was enough to work around a number of failed analog extension pairs on a site.

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