Using FreePBX in place of a VoiceMail System

Basically, I was wondering if it is reasonable to use FreePBX as a voicemail system. Mainly for a Hotel with a PBX in place that lost it’s Voicemail system.

I have all the manuals and info on the old PBX, I’d like to not spend 7k on a replacement VM system if FreePBX can do it. I suspect not though.

Let me know! I appreciate you tolerating my n00b question.

It is relatively easy if you know your PBX well, send unanswered calls to your FreePBX with the inbound route to accept your forwarding extension as a locally defined extension ( use a SIP extension if you want to expand later) you then need to turn your pbx’ wmi lamps on and off , easiest way is to have the voicemail notification option to write a call.file as appropriate in /var/spool/asterisk/outgoing, many recipes for that out there.

You PBX may also use SMDR messaging for turning on the lamps. FreePBX supports that too.

Another possibility is to make your pbx inline between your provider and your pbx, then you have access to all FreePBX’ abilities at the points of ingress directly, and all FreePBX/asterisk’s ability to save you money and add function on your points of egress (add a SIP trunk). For belt and braces, implement a HA topology.

If you have over 100 rooms you could add analog ports for about $15.00 a room using a T1 channel bank to convert the T1 to FXS.

Then you could scrap the old turd.

Thanks for the input all, I find it refreshing. I just can’t reconcile paying almost 7k for an 8 port VM system when the original system is a 4 port.

I do NOT know the PBX well, just have a lot of documentation. I understand the technology and agree that this can’t be all that difficult.

The hotel has 242 rooms. The system that was sold to us has 250 VM Max, which annoys me since it’d be another 2k to get one to cover office staff phones. What a racket, but I have to assume that there are things that I don’t understand.

SkykingOH, I like the growth potential there, but to get VM back up and running, wouldn’t it be smarter for me to have the 4 port FXS card installed to a base FreePBX and decipher how to port unanswered calls from the Definity system to freepbx?

Thanks a ton guys.

There are certain limitations hwhen using pbx fxo ports as far as CID pass through.

maybe as a starting point.

Well, the key is the interface. I took on a similar project for a large newspaper, had a quite a budget. I burned almost 40 hours of time hacking up SMDR to make it work but in the end I could not.

The system I was working on, to get over the DID limitation, sent the channel number in the SMDR field. I had no way to evaluate that against the DAHDI channels. I would hate to see you have the same failure.

The definity should be smarter. You need to set the VM ports up as Direct Inward Dial. Then put FXS ports in the PBX. The definity will come off hook and draw current towards FreePBX. Then it can send the mailbox number inband using DTMF and you can manage that in the dial plan. For MWI you will need one FXO port and you should be able to set using a feature code.

For 242 extensions, the business case is strong to forklift it. I bet it would cost you less to bring a consultant to you (assuming you are in the lower 48) install the whole system, cross connect and cut it for what you pay annually for maintenance. Then you a full featured PBX you can hang nice new IP phones for the admins and all the other benefits.

One generic solution is to prepend your extension and then a marker * or # to the the forwarded extension port (FXS) , and then make a custom context that on answer parses out the string before and after the marker, it almost always needs FXO ports on the legacy PBX and a modicum of RTFM :wink:

But as Skyking says adit 600 with 48xfxs and 2xT1 are on ebay for less than 100 bucks, the 8xT1 card from a legitimate vendor will be a couple of thousand but use the xorcom stuff and you still save money at you 7k or 9k pricepoint and allow a very cheap HA solution down line.

(Bloody stupid software that only allows admins to edit their posts)

it almost always needs FXS ports on the legacy PBX. . .

No, it would be a DID port that is logically FXO, battery towards office.

Also, you don’t need an expensive T1 card. I would use a Cisco as5300 with 8 Multiflex T1’s, again way south of $1000 on secondary market. You could by two routers and two extra channel banks to make a nice spares kit.

The router makes more sense than a card especially in an HA environment with two servers.

At this point I have to disclose that I am advocating a solution that I designed and we support through my company. To my knowledge it’s the most cost effective and dense analog solution for Asterisk.

We have used them in Hospitals, Senior Care facilities and other non-health care applications.

Then if the mwi works it’s a no brainer, go with Skyking.

First off, I’m just a very very capable I.T. guy who consults for a company that specializes in hotel management. As a favor, I’ve been asked to look into this issue, and I sure don’t mind expanding my horizons as I hope I can get their networking business.


Then put FXS ports in the PBX.

Do you mean “FreePBX”?

Other than that, I’m hearing everything you’re saying. Right now, I’m just looking to see if I could plug a FreePBX VM system into it, not sure I’m looking to replace the whole system with FreePBX. The current Definity PBX is working for everything, just can’t receive VM.

I like where you’re head’s at though. If I am understanding you! If you’re in OH, I may have to get contact info. My work tends to get me in the face with a lot of PBX stuff.

But as Skyking says adit 600 with 48xfxs and 2xT1 are on ebay for less than 100 bucks

So am I gathering that it may be simpler to just replace the unit, even if I had a decent tech available?

Since I want provide context, I’ve redacted and, now, attached a zip file that carries pics from the site. We JUST got the client the day of this thread so I’m sorry if it appears I’m piecing info together. Here’s the pictures redacted heavily due to lack of site compliance.

Don’t even ASK when the last time the filters were changed. OMG.

Wow, that’s a mess, fire your wiring guy!!

If you want to pay for support, why not, throw the whole POS out and start new, either with fxs channel banks and old 2500 style sets or maybe replace the extensions with SIP phones, at around 100 bucks for a good but cheap hardware, then you just need to update your wiring, but in a hotel nowadays, you need cat 5 already, right?

The decision to fork lift is based on a number of factors, including the flexibility and depth of integration to the property management software.

On the surface an end of life definity of this size is probably costing about 20k a year to maintain. The ROI on the forklift is quick if all the criteria are met.

I was rambling a bit, the definity would have DID ports that are electrically FXO (all analog DID’s are). The FreePBX system for voicemail would utilize FXS ports.

My company Micro Advantage, is listed on the sites partner page, and I am the only Scott. I don’t like trolling the forums for business but I love the large analog conversions.

Hey Scott,

Just tried reaching you. Hope to hear back!

So to finish this thread, like all things worthwhile this turned out to be 2 days work. The balls thing is I spend most of it sitting on a milk crate in that phone room with a butset and dtmf decoder.

I am sure I could have worked out a digital solution but the D-Channel FAC messages for MWI were above my pay grade.

We ended up reusing the hunt group as analog DID’s. The Definity sends an 18 digit string with # separators. Since Asterisk uses # as stopdial for the Read() application this sucked donkey balls. Ended up using single digit reads in a loop and then parsing out the room number.

Lastly, the MWI was a hack, turns out the Defitiny has a LMP FAC code. Use VM externnotify to launch a call file and you are off to the races.

Biggest strugle was I couldn’t find a VT220 emulator. Had to find the craft terminal function key template picture on the web, compare that to a stock vt220 and make a cheat cheat for forward, back, help and execute esc{6~ must have typed it a thousand times.

So I left you enough breadcrumbs if you have functioning brain cells and an understanding of analog telephony to recreate my work. If you don’t understand this yet are attempting the task more than likely you are attempting to charge someone for your lack of skills in the area. So please I will not provide “step by step” instruction because your are new to FreePBX so you can charge some helpless soul. No other requests that involve handling your genitalia.

If you a specific question I will be more than happy to answer.

My thanks to sabrtooth for this engagement. He truly understands the role of a consultant and was a pleasure to work for.