How "free" is FreePBX?

Hello All!! Hope everyone is well.

We are a business looking to upgrade our PBX (on premises)

I am a novice in telecommunications and am researching how implement FREEPBX at the office here.

Since I dont’ know what I’m doing I have contacted Sangoma for their options but it only left me more confused.

I would like a phone system to service 2 locations with common features such as voicemail paging and forwarding along with options to work from home and have the switchboard or soft phones from remote locations.

Digium has supplied me with a quote (i expected it would be from sangoma)

I thought Sangoma resold freepbx with business support under PBXACT . But I was left with a quote for “switchvox”
The quote also included a bunch of maintenance costs and registration codes costs.

  • Here is what I expect / hoping
  • I would personally buy the hardware whether it is from Sangoma or pieing an old PC together.
  • I would then install FREEPBX myself ( I would register it and pay since I’m a business, (one time cost? maintenance cost not sure. )
  • I would pay for business support and setup
  • I would pick the phones (new / old whatever works for us, as long as they work with FREEPBX) and have these configured to the PBS box. either by myself of Sangoma.

Am I out to lunch with my expectations? I need a bit more clarity as to how “free” FreePBX is.


FreePBX is free both in terms of price and in terms of freedom.

However, there are obviously costs associated with setting up any system, from the cost of the server hardware (or vm), the phone cost, etc. It’s also important that you factor in the soft costs of the effort needed to setup and maintain a system. The more hands-on you are, the less you have to pay someone else to provide this effort.

You can absolutely setup a new system on your own hardware (or your own VM) and consult the forum here for help or pay Sangoma Support to assist with configuration when you get stuck. On the other end of the scale is purchasing a new server with an Up-And-Running package and have Sangoma Support setup the entire system to your specs.

Sounds like there is a comm breakdown with your sales rep. If you’re not interested in Switchvox (which is a great system too), just say so and get them pointed toward FreePBX.


is switchvox Sangoma’s paid service? if so what is PBXACT?

if I went with FREEPBX I see the add-ons listed I likely need the 2 tier (advanced bundle) and would buy a 25 year license.

Then I realize there are some features in the cheaper module (starter bundle) I would like, does buying the 2nd tier add-on include all options in tier 1 + tier 2?

If I purchase the modules I require is there additional licensing costs (since we are a business?)


FreePBX is free, you can download the distro and install it and go. You’re also free to use the underling hooks to create whatever functionality you wish. Sangoma has created commercial phone modules you can buy, hook into your FreePBX instance and have support for.

PBXact is a paid product that includes commercial modules. This can often be a cheaper route if you are planning to use a lot of the commercial modules (you can look up the prices in the Sangoma customer portal and determine for yourself. Additionally if you go the PBXact route, Sangoma can support the hardware, if you go the route of using their hardware (vs. buying a PBXact license).


They are both commercial products from Sangoma. They are similar, but different product lines.

There’s a bit of a wording problem that we’ve been beating Sangoma up about. A 25-year license will include annual maintenance fees, so there is an annual cost that may get passed over if you’re not paying attention.

Whether you buy individual modules or bundles will be driven by your needs. In general, the method I recommend is to look at all of the modules, pick out the ones that you think you’re going to want, and look if there’s a bundle that saves you money. If not, it’s nothing to buy just the ones you want. Think of the bundles as ‘short cuts with a discount’.

It doesn’t matter if you are a business. The modules you want will come with a ‘base price’ for the 25-year license followed by an annual maintenance fee that will cover the updates. You pay for the ones you pay for - it’s pretty ala carte that way.

Now, another approach is to download the Distribution (it’s free) and see if it meets most of your needs. Many of the ‘extra’ things you’ll need can be identified later, and if you come back here, we’ll help you sort out which modules would benefit you. Some of them (like the “System Admin” module) is worth every dime. Some of the others are there to satisfy specific needs that not a lot of people have. Once you have the software downloaded and put on some old junk PC in your office, you can experiment with it and see what it can and can’t do. There’s no investment required (except your time) to see if this is going to be something you can manage and if you need additional horsepower, hardware, or support.

If you feel like you can manage it, I’m sure you can. We’re here to help.

If you need a professional phone system and if you dont want to spend time fixing issues (or missing features), go with Switchvox and Digium/Sangoma D-series phones.
Sangoma bought Digium. Switchvox and the D-series phones are actually Digium products, which are, in my opinion, the most advanced products.
PBXact and the S-series phones are the original Sangoma products and, in my opinion, inferior.
freePBX is an incomplete & free product, which always requires some sort of coding or scripting…even if you use some of the commercial modules.

Keep in mins those down talking FreePBX/PBXaxt are all here :slight_smile: they are apparently doing something right :joy::rofl:

Sorry for the non-answer, but FreePBX is as free or as expensive as you want it to be. You can have a very good PBX using no commercial modules at all, depending on your needs. I think that’s the greatest thing about FreePBX.


In the simplest concept, PBXact is FreePBX with most of the commercial modules as part of the package. It is on a slower update track so FreePBX module updates released to general availability are not available to PBXact for a while.
So there is almost no difference between the two aside from the full availability of the commercial modules.
Support, direct from Sangoma, is included with the initial purchase of PBXact in varying support plans.
Direct support is also available with FreePBX.

Switchvox is Digium’s commercialized verison of Asterisk, with a GUI. As already mentioned Switchvox is from Digium, which was acquired by Sangoma a two years ago. They are still a separate business entity.

Switchvox , PBXact, and FreePBX can all be installed on hardware or as a virtual machine in a local or cloud environment. How you want it installed depends greatly on many factors that no one could answer on here with a lot of information.

As you have posted some information in an other thread, some things could be generally recommended. Your desire to remain on legacy POTS/PRI for your service is the restricting factor.
In those types of scenario’s I would highly recommend using a gateway device even if you stay on prem for the system. Because that abstracts the PBX from the delivery mechanism of the service.

This is the biggest thing. PBXact sounds nice and all. But many companies gain no benefit from the various commercial modules enough to offset the cost. On the other hand, some companies would spend much more on a one by one approach to commercial modules than if they just went with PBXact.

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This is the first I’ve heard of a maintenance fee on the module licenses? Granted I’ve only had my system 8 months. However, I would have expected my reseller to mention this to me. Thanks, Dave

It has been this way for many, many years, if not always. At least for as long as I have used FreePBX. a 25 year license with one year of support. It is posted in the detail of the license descriptions. It is also on the activation page of system admin (Expiration Date YYYY-MM-DD Free Updates until YYYY-MM-DD). If you need support outside of that one year you need to purchase support.

You are not required to buy support, and FWIW, I often do not spend additional dollars outside the original purchase. If you are thinking you will need frequent help with the module, it is something to consider.

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You also lose the ability to update the commercial module.

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And this is the most important bit. Look back at the issues people had upgrading things in the summer of 2019 when a required version of restapps was needed for endpoint to update. Since most people were not using restapps, the easy answer was to uninstall it. It still caused a ton of problems for people who had no idea.

You have a bad reseller. More common than not honestly.

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