[New to FreePBX] Can it meet our small biz requirements?

Hello,

I work for a very small company of handful of people. All our business calls including international come from a single non-geographic number, like 0800-xxx-xxxx, which is forwarded to our single landline number. The caller is greeted with a message, like ‘Hello. Thank you for calling our company. Your call will be answered shortly’. If the call is not answered within 10 seconds it goes to our telco provider’s voicemail and the voice message is later forwarded to us via email. Additionally, calls out of working hours are forwarded straight to the voicemail box and then to our email.

This has worked very well for us for some time now but a few things have now happened forcing us to look for another provider. We will probably lose the 0800 number as well but that’s okay as we were looking to change it anyway.

We have recently upgraded our main machine which now runs mail server and accounting package virtually in ESXi. The idea is to try and run FreePBX virtually as well to see if we can get the same phone features as before. Namely:

  • During normal business hours we’d like calls to our 0800 number greeted & answered by the FreePBX. Calls to our landline number (to which 0800 callers are fowarded), picked up by our landline handset.

  • Calls that go unanswered, picked up by FreePBX voice messaging system, a voice mail recorded and forwarded to an email address, using our in-house email server.

  • Out of business hours calls to the main biz 0800 number should go straight to the voicemail. Calls to the landline go to the landline handset.

A few thoughts to note:

I understand we would need a card of some sort for the landline copper wire to go in. I checked the list of approved cards and OpenVOX A400P is available where I live, however I don’t know what module we will need - FSX? FXO? It’s a bog standard landline we have here.

I understand that there’s an extensive documentation available on all features of FreePBX but for those who only want basic functionality, is there a simplified ‘Get Started’ guide available somewhere on the website?

Lastly, would it be at all possible for all business calls to be routed to an IP phone not the landline handset?

Many thanks for your help and sorry for the first long post and possible silly questions!
-bsd

Just to add that 0800 number services like greeting and timed voice messaging are provided by the company we got the 0800 number from. Anybody who will call that number will get a greeting first, then the call will be forwarded to the landline number. If it goes unanswered, the 0800 number company will switch on the voicemail and forward its message to our email. We’re basically looking at replicating this setup.

Thanks.

Have a look here on how to get started: http://wiki.freepbx.org/display/HTGS/How+to+Get+Started+Home

What you want is all perfectly possible under FreePBX. If you are using a hardware board to handle the landline then you won’t be able to use a virtual machine under ESXi as it can’t address the hardware directly. You could look at a networked box to handle the landline which the PBX will communicate with over a SIP trunk. To interface with the landline you will need an FXO module/adapter.

Lee,

Many thanks for the quick reply.

So the PCI pass-through cannot be configured for the landline card? That’s a shame. How about USB adapter? I believe I’ve seen some on the FreePBX hardware list.

Thanks for the guide, checking it out now.

PCI pass through in KVM’s will work if your hardware supports it (vt-d on intel) Save yourself headaches, an old linksys 3000 series ata has one fxo and one fxs and can be got on ebay for 30 bucks or so, it can also “pass through” the fxo (. . our single landline number. . ) to the fxs (your current setup) when your asterisk box is offline.

Grandstream HandyTones (HT in part number) are also cheap. Some models have FXO’s on them.

Cisco/Linksys SPA232d has a single FXO port and a Single FXS port

Cisco SPA 8800 has 4 fxo’s for $500.

Any external box would be better than trying to get VMware to behave with an internal device or USB device. (Even though VMWare supports USB mapped to a virtual, it was never intended to be a time sensitive USB device. More for storage or a usb key for license enforcement)

You can plug your Landlines into FXO ports which can feed into FreePBX or port the landline numbers to a SIP provider which goes into FreePBX by IP (Known as SIP trunks), and ring analog phones off FXS ports as well as SIP phones over IP.

Option 2 is more flexible/growable down the road, but option 1 gets you going quicker.

FXS/FXO

For the record, an analog device like a fax machine or analog phone or analog “CO” lines on your PBX, postage machine, or cordless analog phone or the analog phone line port on your satellite receiver, is an FXO device that wants to be plugged into an FXS port. Such as plugging your cool new Costco cordless 2 line phone into a 2 port FXS ATA gateway (Analog Telephone Adapter) such as a Cisco SPA 112 (about $65).

An analog CO line from your phone company, such as by wire on a typical 66 punch down block in the phone closet, or on the back of a DSL modem, or a T1/E1 to ATA device (or similar MUX device) like a 24 port Cisco IAD, Adtran TSU, or on your classic phone switch labelled as “analog stations” or other, etc is an FXS port looking to be plugged into (and providing a dialtone to) an FXO device such as “CO lines” on your classic PBX, or a telephone, or analog fax machine or your cool Costco cordless phone or your postage machine, your alarm panel, your elevator alarm, etc.

Also, if you have overhead paging designed to use analog phone lines, they amplifier port is usually switchable to be fxs or fxo and some automated entry gates can do that too.

Guys, many thanks for taking the time to answer and explain the differences between FXO and FXS! All very clear now.

We’re going with Cisco SPA232d or SPA232d/SPA302D bundle.

One last question though: Will the above combo work with FreePBX running under ESXi? Sorry, if I’m asking the same thing over and over again, I just want to make sure before placing an order.

Many thanks again.

Yes it will work, they are Ethernet equipped devices so ESXi doesn’t come into play.

As was pointed out make sure you know how to install VMware tools for Linux.

If you are still making your virtualization choice look at Proxmox.

Hi guys,

I have good news and bad news.

The good: The Cisco kit has arrived. I also installed FreePBX distro and it appears up and running.

The bad: I am completely overwhelmed with settings on both, Cisco SPA232d and the FreePBX itself. Currently trying to understand how to make Cisco and FreePBX talk to each other. My train of thoughts after reading the FreePBX wiki and comments above:

  • Create a SIP trunk.
    This is where it gets difficult. I enter the Trunk name and Outbound Caller ID, enter Cisco SPA232d IP address in PEER text box but I’ve no idea what “username” and “secret” and if I need to use them at all. Shall I leave them untouched for now?

  • Create an Outbound Route using the trunk above.

  • Create an Inbound Route for all calls made to 0800xxxxxx number to go… where exactly is my next question. I just want them to go to the Cisco handset. Do I select “Trunks” (Cisco SPA232d) from the drop down menu in Set Destination?

Am I on the right path here? As much as it all seems common sense, I don’t want to mess the system up. Please correct me if I missed something.

Thanks again!

Another problem I have, which might be unrelated to FreePBX, is that I cannot make or receive regular calls on Cisco gear. The handset, which is paired to the base, rings fine but upon answering the call, all I hear is some “white noise” and garbage. The handset then keeps ringing again.

When I try to make a call out it says “Line not ready”. Do I need to set this kit up before using it with PSTN lines? Sorry again if it’s wrong to ask here but there don’t seem to be any discussions about this on the web, which indicates that either I’ve got a dud or I do something wrong.

You do not create a trunk for the phone. You need to create an extension for the phone. Look at Applications|Extensions and create a Generic SIP Device. You can log into the phones GUI and point it at the FreePBX server.

Thanks Alan. I will give it another go. Turned out our telephone extension has been playing up so we’re unable to test it at the moment.

As the subject says I have Free PBX on our server in Christchurch and it works great. My company has two Italk lines in an Auck and ChCh number. We route outgoing calls through the appropriate trunks and incoming calls are basically local calls for our clients. The incoming has the IVR setup so callers can choose who to talk to in the building. After hours is another IVR so callers can still call staff inside the building or go to VM or the on call cellphone.
We have had this system running for almost 8 years. If you need any advice feel free to contact me.