OnCall Voicemail System using FreePBX

New here… hoping to get some insight on what I hope will help my situation.

I am the IT administrator for a small tech company. We offer managed services and 24/7 support. Outside of business hours we have a rotating oncall schedule that consists of 1 primary technician, 1 backup technician, and 1 dept. manager, with oncall priority in that order.

For our phone system we are provisioned to a hosted provider (Voyant). We subscribe to 25 premium seats, and 4 standard seats. We use the 4 standard seats with 4 ATA’s to facilitate our legacy oncall voicemail system, a Panasonic TVA-50 voicemail appliance.

The reason we continue to use the legacy voicemail box, vs. other solutions, is because we cannot find a solution that offers us the same features that we are dependent on.

Here is how the system currently works, and what we are trying to mirror in another solution:

Customer calls the hunt group phone number that is registered to all 4 ATA’s. The voicemail box then answers the call with our emergency voicemail greeting, instructing the customer to leave a message and wait for a call back. The voicemail box then calls the primary oncall technician, if the technician answers, the voicemail box give them the option to take and listen to the message. If the technican doesn’t answer, and/or the message is not listened to within 5 minutes, the system then calls the backup technician, and the cycle starts again finally ending with a call to the manager. In the GUI of the voicemail box, you can specify who is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the calling order, and we manually change this twice a week when the schedule rotates.

Is it possible to accomplish this using Freebpx? Here is what I’d like to make happen:

  1. Host the Freepbx instance in a VM
  2. Use a SIP trunk as the primary inbound/outbound calling method, which would allow us to eliminate the 4 ATA’s and the associated service fees.
  3. Mirror the functionality our current system using an add-on like VM Notify (can’t post a link).

Based on the above, I’m unsure of a few things:

  1. I know I can run freepbx in a VM, but does the VM need to make any external connections other than network?
  2. Does 1 SIP Trunk cover several concurrent inbound/outbound calls at once? This would need to replace the concurrent capacity of 4 analog lines.

The commercial module, VM Notifiy does pretty much exactly what you are looking for. To your questions:

  1. No
  2. Depends on your SIP provider. A SIP trunk is capable of concurrent channels (calls), so any limits would be those imposed by the provider and your subscription agreement.

Thanks! Would I need anything other than FreePBX, and VM Notify? Do you have any recommendations on where to obtain the SIP Trunk and phone number?

SIPStation is a good place to start. FreePBX integration is flawless, and it sends some revenue to Sangoma, the FreePBX corporate sponsor.

In addition to SipStation, which is a solid choice, there are several other “wholesale” providers that you can contact. Look back through the forums for “recommendation” and you should find a few common recommendations for comparison purposes.

I ended up going with Flowroute. Everything is setup and working but I have 2 issues:

  1. Outbound caller ID comes up as +1 XXXXXX (where X’s are my tech prefix with Flowroute). I set the CID in the trunk and set it to override all others.

  2. If I miss a call from the voicemail notification system, I have no way of calling back in to accept the message. If I call back in and listen to or even delete the message, the voicemail notification continues to call out, until someone “accepts” the message by pressing 1 when prompted. I can’t find any setting on this, but I need to be able to call back in, or somehow “accept” the message before the next priority number is called.

There is no supported way to call in and accept a VM notification. Interesting idea tho, feature requests can be submitted for commercial modules as outlined here.

To combat missed messages, I recommend you put the same number(s) in repeatedly for successive priorities before going to the next tier. So if I was on call at ext 1001 and a supervisor was at ext 1002, I would do this:

 ... etc ... 

This way I have 3 opportunities to answer and accept before 1002 rings.

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